Ezekiel 21 - 22
The LORD Has Drawn His SwordEzekiel 21:1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, set your face toward Jerusalem and preach against the sanctuaries. Prophesy against the land of Israel 3 and say to the land of Israel, Thus says the LORD: Behold, I am against you and will draw my sword from its sheath and will cut off from you both righteous and wicked. 4 Because I will cut off from you both righteous and wicked, therefore my sword shall be drawn from its sheath against all flesh from south to north. 5 And all flesh shall know that I am the LORD. I have drawn my sword from its sheath; it shall not be sheathed again.
6 “As for you, son of man, groan; with breaking heart and bitter grief, groan before their eyes. 7 And when they say to you, ‘Why do you groan?’ you shall say, ‘Because of the news that it is coming. Every heart will melt, and all hands will be feeble; every spirit will faint, and all knees will be weak as water. Behold, it is coming, and it will be fulfilled,’ ” declares the Lord GOD.
8 And the word of the LORD came to me: 9 “Son of man, prophesy and say, Thus says the Lord, say:
“A sword, a sword is sharpened
and also polished,
10 sharpened for slaughter,
polished to flash like lightning!
14 “As for you, son of man, prophesy. Clap your hands and let the sword come down twice, yes, three times, the sword for those to be slain. It is the sword for the great slaughter, which surrounds them, 15 that their hearts may melt, and many stumble. At all their gates I have given the glittering sword. Ah, it is made like lightning; it is taken up for slaughter. 16 Cut sharply to the right; set yourself to the left, wherever your face is directed. 17 I also will clap my hands, and I will satisfy my fury; I the LORD have spoken.”
18 The word of the LORD came to me again: 19 “As for you, son of man, mark two ways for the sword of the king of Babylon to come. Both of them shall come from the same land. And make a signpost; make it at the head of the way to a city. 20 Mark a way for the sword to come to Rabbah of the Ammonites and to Judah, into Jerusalem the fortified. 21 For the king of Babylon stands at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination. He shakes the arrows; he consults the teraphim; he looks at the liver. 22 Into his right hand comes the divination for Jerusalem, to set battering rams, to open the mouth with murder, to lift up the voice with shouting, to set battering rams against the gates, to cast up mounds, to build siege towers. 23 But to them it will seem like a false divination. They have sworn solemn oaths, but he brings their guilt to remembrance, that they may be taken.
24 “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Because you have made your guilt to be remembered, in that your transgressions are uncovered, so that in all your deeds your sins appear — because you have come to remembrance, you shall be taken in hand. 25 And you, O profane wicked one, prince of Israel, whose day has come, the time of your final punishment, 26 thus says the Lord GOD: Remove the turban and take off the crown. Things shall not remain as they are. Exalt that which is low, and bring low that which is exalted. 27 A ruin, ruin, ruin I will make it. This also shall not be, until he comes, the one to whom judgment belongs, and I will give it to him.
28 “And you, son of man, prophesy, and say, Thus says the Lord GOD concerning the Ammonites and concerning their reproach; say, A sword, a sword is drawn for the slaughter. It is polished to consume and to flash like lightning— 29 while they see for you false visions, while they divine lies for you—to place you on the necks of the profane wicked, whose day has come, the time of their final punishment. 30 Return it to its sheath. In the place where you were created, in the land of your origin, I will judge you. 31 And I will pour out my indignation upon you; I will blow upon you with the fire of my wrath, and I will deliver you into the hands of brutish men, skillful to destroy. 32 You shall be fuel for the fire. Your blood shall be in the midst of the land. You shall be no more remembered, for I the LORD have spoken.”
Israel’s Shedding of BloodEzekiel 22:1 And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2 “And you, son of man, will you judge, will you judge the bloody city? Then declare to her all her abominations. 3 You shall say, Thus says the Lord GOD: A city that sheds blood in her midst, so that her time may come, and that makes idols to defile herself! 4 You have become guilty by the blood that you have shed, and defiled by the idols that you have made, and you have brought your days near, the appointed time of your years has come.
Therefore I have made you a reproach to the nations, and a mockery to all the countries. 5 Those who are near and those who are far from you will mock you; your name is defiled; you are full of tumult.
6 “Behold, the princes of Israel in you, every one according to his power, have been bent on shedding blood. 7 Father and mother are treated with contempt in you; the sojourner suffers extortion in your midst; the fatherless and the widow are wronged in you. 8 You have despised my holy things and profaned my Sabbaths. 9 There are men in you who slander to shed blood, and people in you who eat on the mountains; they commit lewdness in your midst. 10 In you men uncover their fathers’ nakedness; in you they violate women who are unclean in their menstrual impurity. 11 One commits abomination with his neighbor’s wife; another lewdly defiles his daughter-in-law; another in you violates his sister, his father’s daughter. 12 In you they take bribes to shed blood; you take interest and profit and make gain of your neighbors by extortion; but me you have forgotten, declares the Lord GOD.
13 “Behold, I strike my hand at the dishonest gain that you have made, and at the blood that has been in your midst. 14 Can your courage endure, or can your hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with you? I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it. 15 I will scatter you among the nations and disperse you through the countries, and I will consume your uncleanness out of you. 16 And you shall be profaned by your own doing in the sight of the nations, and you shall know that I am the LORD.”
17 And the word of the LORD came to me: 18 “Son of man, the house of Israel has become dross to me; all of them are bronze and tin and iron and lead in the furnace; they are dross of silver. 19 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Because you have all become dross, therefore, behold, I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. 20 As one gathers silver and bronze and iron and lead and tin into a furnace, to blow the fire on it in order to melt it, so I will gather you in my anger and in my wrath, and I will put you in and melt you. 21 I will gather you and blow on you with the fire of my wrath, and you shall be melted in the midst of it. 22 As silver is melted in a furnace, so you shall be melted in the midst of it, and you shall know that I am the LORD; I have poured out my wrath upon you.”
23 And the word of the LORD came to me: 24 “Son of man, say to her, You are a land that is not cleansed or rained upon in the day of indignation. 25 The conspiracy of her prophets in her midst is like a roaring lion tearing the prey; they have devoured human lives; they have taken treasure and precious things; they have made many widows in her midst. 26 Her priests have done violence to my law and have profaned my holy things. They have made no distinction between the holy and the common, neither have they taught the difference between the unclean and the clean, and they have disregarded my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. 27 Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, shedding blood, destroying lives to get dishonest gain. 28 And her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD,’ when the LORD has not spoken. 29 The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have oppressed the poor and needy, and have extorted from the sojourner without justice. 30 And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none. 31 Therefore I have poured out my indignation upon them. I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath. I have returned their way upon their heads, declares the Lord GOD.”
What I'm Reading
Unbelievable? Four Simple Principles to Determine Ancient Historical Reliability
By J. Warner Wallace 8/27/2017
Are you prepared to answer every challenge that might be offered about the historicity of the Gospels? Do you even know every challenge that might be offered? How do you respond when someone offers a challenge for which you don’t have immediate access to the all the pertinent data? There’s an important principle for all of us as Christian Case Makers: Historical challenges are often complicated, nuanced and detailed, and while it is nearly impossible to remember all the data related to every objection, there are four overarching principles of witness reliability appropriate to the task. These are the same four principles I’ve offered as a template in Cold Case Christianity. I used this template to evaluate the Gospels when I was an unbelieving skeptic, and these four principles will help you assess any challenge offered against the Gospel accounts:
Principle One: Make Sure the Witnesses Were Present in the First Place
There are times in cold case investigations when a witness emerges with a story, even though he or she was not involved in the case when it occurred. Sometimes a person such as this is motivated by a desire to become “famous”, sometimes by a desire to harm the defendant or help the victim. It’s my job as an investigator to make sure the witness was truly present (and in a position to see anything) before the witness takes the stand in front of a jury. When it comes to the Gospel accounts, we have to ask a similar question: Were the gospels written early enough to have been written by true eyewitnesses? If the accounts were written and circulated early, the possibility of an errant or deceptive inclusion is greatly reduced. Early authorship allows the accounts to be fact-checked by those who were present and could expose the accounts as a lie. The gospels are the earliest ancient accounts describing the life of Jesus and the historical events surrounding His life. This must be considered when evaluating the gospels against any ancient account that follows them.
Principle Two: Try to Find Some Corroboration for the Claims of the Witnesses
Jurors are encouraged to evaluate witnesses in a trial on the basis of any evidence offered to verify or corroborate their testimony. Sometimes witness testimony can be corroborated with physical evidence, sometimes with the direct testimony of another witness. In either case, the witness becomes more reliable as different lines of corroborative evidence begin to support his or her testimony. In a similar way, the Gospel accounts can be evaluated on the basis of their corroboration. I wrote an entire chapter in Cold Case Christianity examining the “external” corroboration of archaeology and ancient non-Christian sources, and the “internal” corroboration between Gospel accounts (what I call, “unintentional eyewitness support”), the accurate referencing of regional 1st Century proper names, the correct description of governmental structure, the familiar description of geography and location, and the reasonable use of language.
J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of:
Passive Christianity Is Dead Christianity
By Jon Bloom 7/21/2017
What do you want? What do you desire? What is your ambition?
Do you really want to know? Look at your behavior. You do what you want.
This is a devastatingly simple psychology of motivation. But it’s what the Bible teaches:
James: Faith without works is dead. Don’t tell me you have faith if the way you live doesn’t back up what you say. (James 2:17–18)
John: Love without deeds is dead. Don’t tell me you love if the way you live doesn’t back up what you say. (1 John 3:17–18)
Jon Bloom serves as author, board chair, and co-founder of Desiring God. He and his wife live in the Twin Cities with their five children.
Jon Bloom Books:
The Coming of the Kingdom part 15
By Dr. Andrew Woods 05/01/2013
Because today's evangelical world believes that the church is experiencing the Messianic kingdom, we began a study chronicling what the Bible teaches about the kingdom. This earthly kingdom is anticipated in the office of Theocratic Administrator that was lost in Eden, in the biblical covenants, in the predictions of the Old Testament prophets, and in the earthly theocracy governing Israel from the time of Moses to Zedekiah. This theocratic arrangement terminated with the initiation of the "Times of the Gentiles" when the nation had no king reigning on David’s Throne as Judah was trampled by various Gentile powers. Against that backdrop entered Jesus Christ, the rightful Heir to David's Throne. Had first-century Israel enthroned Christ, the earthly kingdom would have become a reality. Despite this unprecedented opportunity, Israel rejected the kingdom offer leading to the kingdom's postponement.
Due to this postponement, Christ explained the spiritual conditions that would prevail during the kingdom's absence. This interim program includes His revelation of the kingdom mysteries and the church ( Matt. 13; 16:18 ). Because neither the kingdom mysteries nor the church represent the fulfillment of God's Old Testament kingdom promises, the kingdom will remain in a state of abeyance as long as God's present work in the world continues through His interim program. However, one day the church's mission on the earth will be completed resulting in the church's removal from the earth through the rapture. Then God, who is not forgetful of His prior unconditional covenants with Israel, will re-extend the offer of the kingdom to national Israel in the midst of the coming Great Tribulation.
Unlike at the First Advent, this time the offer will be accepted leading to Christ's return and subsequent earthly kingdom. Revelation therefore explains how the world will eventually transition from the rule that Satan has had over the world ever since the Fall in Eden ( Luke 4:5-8 ) to the future time in history when God and His people "will reign upon the earth" ( Rev. 5:10b; 11:15b ). The Apocalypse also furnishes the important detail of the Messianic kingdom's duration, namely one-thousand years ( Rev. 20:1-10 ). A chronological approach to Revelation reveals that the Millennial kingdom will be followed by the Eternal State. Thus, God's kingdom program will extend beyond Christ's one-thousand year earthly reign as it transitions into the Eternal kingdom ( Rev. 21-22 ).
Far from the incorrect or imprecise "kingdom now" terminology typically employed by many evangelicals today, the biblical idea of the kingdom is quite specific. It will manifest itself at a future time in history. When the kingdom comes it will culminate many biblical themes that begin as early as Genesis chapter one. In addition to being moral and ethical in tone, the kingdom will be tangible, literal, physical, geographical, and earthly. In anticipation for the glorious appearing of our Lord and His kingdom, we can pray as Christ taught us, "Your kingdom come" ( Matt. 6:10 ).
Belief Of The Early Church
The articles in this series have carefully articulated the coming reality of a future, earthly reign of Christ drawn explicitly and exclusively from the entire Bible. If this biblical interpretation is clear, then it stands to reason that the earliest church fathers also held to a belief of a future, earthly reign of Christ. While the writings of these church fathers should not be elevated to the same level as the divinely inspired biblical text, their work can serve as a check upon our interpretation of Scripture. In other words, we can be further confident that the scriptural interpretation given thus far is correct since those closest to the biblical text, the early church fathers, also held to premillennialism or the reality of the coming, earthly kingdom of Christ. Interestingly, according to the writings of the earliest church fathers, the premillennial view was dominant in the first two centuries of the church. For example, Justin Martyr (A.D. 100–165) in his Dialogue with Trypho declared,
"But I and every other completely orthodox Christian feel certain that there will be a resurrection of the flesh, followed by a thousand years in the rebuilt, embellished, and enlarged city of Jerusalem as was announced by the prophets Ezekiel, Isaiah, and the others." 
Moreover, church historian Schaff summarizes the millennial views of the early church fathers:
The most striking point in the eschatology of the ante-Nicene age (A.D. 100–325) is the prominent chiliasm, or millenarianism, that is the belief of a visible reign of Christ in glory on earth with the risen saints for a thousand years, before the general resurrection and judgment. It was indeed not the doctrine of the church embodied in any creed or form of devotion, but a widely current opinion of distinguished teachers, such as Barnabas, Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Methodius, and Lactantius. 
In this series, the biblical teaching on the kingdom of God has been surveyed from Genesis to Revelation. In view of this, why do so many believe that the Messianic kingdom has already materialized? Is there a biblical basis for such a belief? The same handful of New Testament texts are routinely and consistently employed in an attempt to argue for "kingdom now" theology. The purpose of subsequent articles is to scrutinize those passages that "kingdom now" theologians routinely use and to demonstrate that these texts really do not prove "kingdom now" theology. First, this article will set forth some general problems with a New Testament based kingdom now interpretation. Second, future articles will examine a few isolated texts that kingdom now theologians use and show their insufficiency to convey kingdom now theology. Third, coming articles 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 radically alters God's design for the church.
Some Basic Problems With Kingdom Now Theology
There exist two general problems with how kingdom now theologians use the New Testament to argue for a present, spiritual form of the Messianic kingdom. First, as explained throughout this series, the Old Testament portrays the kingdom in earthly, terrestrial terms ( Gen. 15:18-21 ). When the kingdom comes, it will exercise dominion over a repentant Israel ( Ezek. 36–37 ). Although the kingdom certainly has other qualities, an inductive study of the kingdom as portrayed in the Old Testament makes it impossible to divest the kingdom of these terrestrial, geo-political characteristics. Thus, an understanding of the kingdom in strictly spiritual, non geo-political, non-terrestrial terms is not found in the Old Testament. This reality causes Renald Showers to observe:
Several items of Scripture reveal that no form of the future Kingdom of God foretold in the Old Testament will be established before the Second Coming of Christ...No Old Testament revelation concerning the future Kingdom of God indicated that the Kingdom would consist of two forms, one spiritual and the other political, established at two different points of time in the future. 
Therefore, the problem with using New Testament verses in an attempt to argue that the Messianic kingdom now exists in spiritual form is to interpret the New Testament in a manner that contradicts the Old Testament. Hebrew-Christian scholar Arnold Fruchtenbaum explains the fallacy of such a proposition:
…it is incorrect to say that the Old Testament should be interpreted by the New Testament because if that is the case, the Old Testament had no meaning and seemed to be irrelevant to the ones to whom it was spoken. On the contrary, the validity of the New Testament is seen by how it conforms to what was already revealed in the Old Testament. The Book of Mormon and other books by cultic groups fail to stand because they contradict the New Testament. By the same token, if the New Testament contradicts the Old Testament, it cannot stand. It is one thing to see fulfillment in the New Testament, but it is quite another to see the New Testament so totally reinterpret the Old Testament that what the Old Testament says carries no meaning at all. 
Such an Old Testament understanding of a literal kingdom explains why the bulk of the New Testament passages referring to the Messianic kingdom unambiguously refer to it as a future reality rather than a present one ( Matt. 6:10; 20:20-21; Luke 23:42; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; 15:24, 50; Gal. 5:21; Eph. 5:5; Col. 4:11; 1 Thess. 2:12; 2 Thess. 1:5; 2 Tim. 4:1, 18; Jas. 2:5; 2 Pet. 1:11; Rev. 5:10 ). For example, why did Jesus instruct the disciples to pray for the coming of the kingdom ( Matt. 6:10 ) if the kingdom had already been realized? Interestingly, the entire prayer outlined in Matthew 6:9-13 revolves around a request for the coming kingdom and interim requests to be fulfilled during the kingdom’s absence.  Similarly, Acts 14:22 says, "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God." Regarding this passage, Thomas Ice observes, "If they were in the kingdom, this statement would make no sense." 
Second, the Old Testament teaches that the Messianic kingdom will only manifest itself after a time of unparalleled tribulation ( Dan. 9:24-27; Jer. 30:7 ). In other words, the Old Testament predicts that the kingdom cannot be established until judgment precedes it. Thus, if the New Testament is interpreted to teach that the kingdom has come despite the absence of the preceding time of tribulation, then the New Testament is again rendered contradictory to the Old Testament. This problem causes Stanley Toussaint to note, "If the kingdom began in the ministry of Christ, where is the prophesied judgment in the Gospels? Were the Old Testament prophets and John incorrect in their message?" 
ENDNOTES Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 80.
 Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Volume II: Ante-Nicene Christianity. A.D. 100-325. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976), 2:614.
 Renald Showers, "Critique of Progressive Dispensationalism," Friends of Israel National Conference (June 2003), 5.
 Arnold Fruchtenbaum, "Israel's Right to the Promised Land," online: www.pre-trib.org, accessed 9 March, 2013, 17-18.
 Stanley Toussaint, Behold the King: A Study of Matthew (Grand Rapids, Kregel, 2005), 108-12.
 Thomas Ice, "Amillennialism," in The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2004), 20.
 Stanley Toussaint, "Israel and the Church of a Traditional Dispensationalist," in Three Central Issues in Contemporary Dispensationalism: A Comparison of Traditional & Progressive Views (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1999), 231.
Dr. Andrew Woods Books
Note I copied this article from The Bible Prophecy Blog.
Dr. Andrew Woods Ministry Page, YouTube Channel, and Church.
Job: Reverent in Suffering
By John Piper 7/7/1985
One of my duties as your pastor is to preach and pray in such a way that you are prepared in mind and heart not to curse God in the day of your calamity. But even more: That instead of cursing, you might worship God and bless him as your free and sovereign Father no matter how intense the grief or deep the pain he brings into your life.
So for the next five Sundays I would like for us to try to understand the message of the book of Job, and be changed by it.
Baffling and Unexpected Grief | Virtually everyone in this room will experience a bitter calamity sooner or later. And you can mark it down ahead of time: It will almost certainly seem absurd and meaningless and undeserved when it comes.
You may be sitting in a restaurant in El Salvador or walking along a street in Paris or making a flight connection in Athens. You may be shaving and singing a hymn when you feel the lump on your neck. You may be buying supper for the family at the Country Club when all of a sudden you realize your two-year-old is gone.
It will seem very absurd, and you will cry out, “Why?” a hundred times before the cloud passes over. Most of our grief and pain does not come as a clear punishment for sins. Most of it comes out of nowhere and baffles our sense of justice.
John Piper Books:
- Reading the Bible Supernaturally: Seeing and Savoring the Glory of God in Scripture
- Don't Waste Your Life
- Desiring God, Revised Edition: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist
- When I Don't Desire God (Redesign): How to Fight for Joy
- A Peculiar Glory: How the Christian Scriptures Reveal Their Complete Truthfulness
- Future Grace, Revised Edition: The Purifying Power of the Promises of God
- When the Darkness Will Not Lift: Doing What We Can While We Wait for God--and Joy
- This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence
- Five Points: Towards a Deeper Experience of God's Grace
- Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ (Revised Edition)
- Living in the Light: Money, Sex and Power
- The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God's Delight in Being God
- Taste and See: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life
- A Camaraderie of Confidence: The Fruit of Unfailing Faith in the Lives of Charles Spurgeon, George Müller, and Hudson Taylor
- A Camaraderie of Confidence: The Fruit of Unfailing Faith in the Lives of Charles Spurgeon, George Müller, and Hudson Taylor
- Let the Nations Be Glad!: The Supremacy of God in Missions
- God Is the Gospel: Meditations on God's Love as the Gift of Himself
- Rethinking Retirement: Finishing Life for the Glory of Christ
- The Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God's Triumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin
- Doctrine Matters: Ten Theological Trademarks From a Lifetime of Preaching
- A Hunger for God (Redesign): Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer
- The Dangerous Duty of Delight: The Glorified God and the Satisfied Soul
- Battling Unbelief: Defeating Sin with Superior Pleasure
- Brothers, We Are Not Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry, Updated and Expanded Edition
- The Supremacy of God in Preaching
- Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Redesign): A Response to Evangelical Feminism
- Risk Is Right: Better to Lose Your Life Than to Waste It
- Filling Up the Afflictions of Christ: The Cost of Bringing the Gospel to the Nations in the Lives of William Tyndale, Adoniram Judson, and John Paton (The Swans Are Not Silent)
- A Godward Heart: Treasuring the God Who Loves You
- The Roots of Endurance: Invincible Perseverance in the Lives of John Newton, Charles Simeon, and William Wilberforce
- Don't Waste Your Cancer
- Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian
- The Hidden Smile of God: The Fruit of Affliction in the Lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd
- Seeing Beauty and Saying Beautifully: The Power of Poetic Effort in the Work of George Herbert, George Whitefield, and C. S. Lewis
- Suffering and the Sovereignty of God
- Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist
- The Justification of God: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Romans 9:1-23
- Finally Alive
- A Godward Life: Seeing the Supremacy of God in All of Life
- Spectacular Sins (Redesign): And Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ
- Pierced by the Word: Thirty-One Meditations for Your Soul
- God's Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards (With the Complete Text of The End for Which God Created the World)
- Life as a Vapor: Thirty-One Meditations for Your Faith
- Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God
- 50 Crucial Questions: An Overview of Central Concerns about Manhood and Womanhood
- What Jesus Demands from the World (Paperback Edition)
- What's the Difference?: Manhood and Womanhood Defined According to the Bible
- Contending for Our All: Defending Truth and Treasuring Christ in the Lives of Athanasius, John Owen, and J. Gresham Machen
- Finish the Mission: Bringing the Gospel to the Unreached and Unengaged
- John Calvin and His Passion for the Majesty of God
- A Hunger for God: Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer
- Does God Desire All to Be Saved?
- Preparing for Marriage: Help for Christian Couples
- The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent
- The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright
- The Satisfied Soul: Showing the Supremacy of God in All of Life
- Thinking. Loving. Doing.: A Call to Glorify God with Heart and Mind
- A Hunger for God (Redesign): Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer
- Quest for Joy (Pack of 25) (Proclaiming the Gospel)
- Ruth: Under the Wings of God
- Not a Day Care: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth
The Real Root of Sexual Sin
By Jon Bloom 5/26/2017
The most powerful weapon against sexual impurity is humility. Patterns of sinful thought and behavior are fruits of a deeper root. If we want to stop bearing bad fruit, we must aim our primary attack against the root. And the root of sexual sin is not our sex drive; it’s pride.
We live in an age dominated by Darwinian explanations of biology and psychology. So we easily absorb certain naturalistic assumptions. One such assumption is that our sexual drives and impulses are remnants of our primordial, bestial ancestors, and therefore we deal with them with cages of external personal and social restraints.
This is a very conflicted perspective. It views us as both victims and monsters. On one hand, we’re victims of our ancient past, and on the other hand, we’re sexual monsters if we express our primal impulses in ways not sanctioned by the prevailing level of social tolerance.
t’s also a wholly inadequate explanation in view of our consuming sexual problem. The degrees of human sexual depravity, distortion, and destruction are of such a nature that nearly everyone thinks things and many do things that we have no other word for than evil.
Sex Is Not the Problem | It’s shocking how little our inner evil bestial impulses have to do with our primal genetic intent: procreation. No other human instinct has so many deviations in its expressions. Our culture can’t keep up with the expanding sexual definitions. LGBTQ is now just shorthand for LGBTTQQIAAPPK (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally, pansexual, polygamous, kinkiness). And this is likely obsolete already. It’s getting tragically ridiculous.
Jon Bloom serves as author, board chair, and co-founder of Desiring God. He and his wife live in the Twin Cities with their five children.
Jon Bloom Books:
The Nashville Statement
By Albert Mohler 9/3/2017
This past week I was part of an effort that put America’s theological and moral fault lines fully in view. I was a signer of something called the Nashville Statement, a document adopted by a group of evangelical Christians seeking to reaffirm traditional Christian values on sexuality.
Within hours, the vitriol in response to our document showed why such clarification is necessary.
One of the most intense lines of criticism was that we, signers of the document, dismiss the pain and suffering of those who live outside those historic Biblical sexual norms. That we weren’t acknowledging the rejection they feel in the church and were making their sins appear more significant than our own.
To be clear: Christians understand the brokenness of the world. We signers know ourselves, like all humanity, to be broken by sin. We have no right to face the world from a claim of moral superiority. We know and confess that Christians have often failed to speak the truth in love.
In releasing the Nashville Statement, we in fact are acting out of love and concern for people who are increasingly confused about what God has clarified in Holy Scripture.
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:
- 1 God and the Transgender Debate
- 2 The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters
- 3 Live Smart: Preparing for the Future God Wants for You
- 4 God's Word Alone---The Authority of Scripture: ...and Why It Still Matters
- 5 Culture Shift: The Battle for the Moral Heart of America
- 6 Echoes of the Reformation
- 7 The Call to Ministry
- 8 A Guide to Church Revitalization
- 9 Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism
- 10 Living The Cross Centered Life Keeping The Gospel The Main Thing
- 11 Feed My Sheep: A Passionate Plea for Preaching
- 12 Essential Reading on Preaching (Volume 1)
- 13 Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy
- 14 The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters
- 15 Unashamed of the Gospel
- 16 Desire and Deceit: The Real Cost of the New Sexual Tolerance
- 17 Culture Shift: The Battle for the Moral Heart of America
- 18 Gods of This Age Or... God of the Ages?
- 19 Acts 1-12: The Church is Born
- 20 More Faithful Service
- 21 The Disappearance of God: Dangerous Beliefs in the New Spiritual Openness
- 22 Preaching: The Centrality of Scripture
- 23 Theological Education in the Evangelical Tradition
- 24 More Faithful Service
Under the Blood (Prayer)
By Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)
JEHOVAH our God, we thank Thee for leaving on record the story of Thine ancient people. It is full of instruction to ourselves. Help us to take its warning to avoid the faults into which they fell! Thou art a covenant God, and Thou keepest Thy promises and Thy Word never faileth. We have proved this so hitherto :—
"Thus far we find that promise good,
Which Jesus ratified with blood."
But as for ourselves we are like Israel of old, a fickle people, and, we confess it wath great shame, there are days when we take the timbrel and we sing with Miriam "unto the Lord who triumphed gloriously," and yet, we grieve to say it, not many hours after, we are thirsty, and we cry for water, and we murmur in our tents ; the brackish Marah turns our heart and we are grieved with our God. Sometimes we bow before Thee with reverence and awe when we behold Thy Sinai altogether on a smoke ; but there have been times when we have set up the golden calf and we have said of some earthly things, "These be Thy gods, O Israel." We believe with intensity of faith and then doubt with a horribleness of doubt.
Lord, Thou hast been very patient with us. Many have been our provocations, many have been Thy chastisements, but :—
"Thy strokes are fewer than our crimes.
And lighter than our guilt."
"Thou hast not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities." Blessed be Thy name ! And now fulfil that part of the covenant wherein Thou hast said, "A new heart also will I give thee and a right spirit will I put within thee. I will put My fear in their hearts and they shall not depart from Me." Hold us fast and then we shall hold fast to Thee. Turn us and we shall be turned ; keep us and we shall keep Thy statutes.
We cry to Thee that we may no more provoke Thee. We beg Thee rather to send the serpents among us than to let sin come among us. Oh! that we might have our eye always on the brazen serpent that healeth all the bites of evil, but may we not look to sin nor love it. Let not the devices of Balaam and of Balak prevail against us, to lead Thy people away from their purity. Let us not be defiled with false doctrine or with unholy living, but may we walk as the separated people of God and keep ourselves unspotted from the world. Lord, we would not grieve Thy Spirit. Oh! may we never vex Thee so as to lead Thee in Thy wrath to say," They shall not enter into my rest." Bear with us still for His dear sake whose blood is upon us. Bear with us still and send not the destroying angel as Thou didst to Egypt, but again fulfil that promise of Thine, “When I see the blood I will pass over you."
Just now may we be consciously passed over by the Spirit of condemnation ; may we know in our hearts that "there is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." May we feel the peace giving power of the Divine absolution. May we come into Thy holy presence with our feet washed in the brazen laver, hearing our great High Priest say to us, "Ye are clean every whit." Thus made clean may we draw near to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Further, our heavenly Father, we come before Thee now washed in the blood, wearing the snow white robe of Christ's righteousness, and we ask Thee to remember Thy people. Some are sore burdened ; lighten the burden or strengthen the shoulder. Some are bowed down with fear ; peradventure they mistrust ; forgive the mistrust and give a great increase of faith that they may trust Thee where they cannot trace Thee. The Lord remember any who bear the burden of others. Some cry to Thee day and night about the sins of the times, about the wanderings of Thy Church.
Lord hear our prayers ! We would bear this yoke for Thee, but help us to bear it without fearing so as to distrust Thee. May we know that Thou wilt take care of Thine own case and preserve Thine own truth, and may we therefore be restful about it all.
Some are crying to Thee for the conversion of relatives and friends ; this burden they have taken up to follow after Jesus in the cross bearing. Grant them to see the desire of their heart fulfilled. God save our children and children's children, and if we have unconverted relatives of any kind, the Lord have mercy upon them for Christ's sake. Give us joy in them—as much joy in them as Christians as we have had sorrow about them as unbehevers.
Further, be pleased to visit Thy Church with the Holy Spirit. Renew the day of Pentecost in our midst, and in the midst of all gatherings of Thy people may there come the downfall of the holy fire, the uprising of the heavenly wind. May matters that are now slow and dead become quick and full of life, and may the Lord Jesus Christ be exalted in the midst of His Church which is His fulness, "the fulness of Him that filleth all in all." May multitudes be converted ; may they come flocking to Christ with holy eagerness to find in Him a refuge as the doves fly to their dovecotes.
Oh ! for salvation work throughout these islands and across the sea and in every part of the world, specially in heathen lands. Bring many to Christ's feet, we pray Thee, everywhere where men are ready to lay down their lives that they may impart the heavenly life of Christ. Work, Lord, work mightily! Thy Church cries to Thee. Oh, leave us not ! We can do nothing without Thee ! Our strength is wholly Thine ! Come to us with great power, and let Thy Word have free course and be glorified.
Remember every one that calls Thee Father. May a Father's love look on all the children. May the special need of each one be supplied, the special sorrow of each one be assuaged. May we be growing Christians, may we be working Christians, may we be perfected Christians, may we come to the fulness of the stature of men in Christ Jesus. Lord Jesus Thou art a great pillar ; in Thee doth all fulness dwell. Thou didst begin Thy life with filling the waterpots to the full ; Thou didst fill Simon Peter's boat until it began to sink ; Thou didst fill the house where Thy people were met together with the presence of the Holy Ghost ; Thou dost fill heaven ; Thou wilt surely fill all things ; fill us, oh ! fill us today with all the fulness of God, and make Thy people thus joyful and strong, and gracious and heavenly!
But we cannot leave off our prayer when we have prayed for Thy people, though we have asked large things ; we want Thee to look among the thousands and millions round about us who know Thee not. Lord, look on the masses who go nowhere to worship. Have pity upon them ; Father forgive them, for they know not what they do. Give a desire to hear Thy Word. Send upon the people some desire after their God. O Lord take sinners in hand Thyself. Oh! come and reach obstinate, obdurate minds ; let the careless and the frivolous begin to think upon eternal things. May there be an uneasiness of heart, a sticking of the arrows of God in their loins, and may they seek too the great Physician and find healing this very day. Ah! Lord, Thou sayest "To-day, if ye will hear His voice," and we take up the echo. Save men to-day, even to-day. Bring them Thy Spirit in power that they may be willing to rest in Christ. Lord hear, forgive, accept and bless, for Jesu's sake. Amea
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 98Make a Joyful Noise to the LORD
98 A Psalm
1 Oh sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done marvelous things!
His right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him.
2 The LORD has made known his salvation;
he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations.
3 He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.
4 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
5 Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre,
with the lyre and the sound of melody!
6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn
make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD!
By John Walvoord
The Mysteries Of The Kingdom Of Heaven | The Purpose of God in the Revelation of the Parables
Matthew 13, presenting seven parables of the kingdom of heaven, is a unique chapter in the Gospels because it deals with the kingdom of heaven in its mystery form — that is, the kingdom of heaven as it will be fulfilled in the present age before the second coming.
The Jews had expected their Messiah to deliver them politically from their oppressors and establish them as the leading nation of the world. It became increasingly obvious that Jesus was not going to fulfill this expectation. Accordingly, Matthew was presenting the truth to explain the real answer to this question to those among the Jews who were questioning the role of Jesus as the Messiah.
Earlier in the gospel of Matthew the lineage of Jesus from David to Joseph, His legal father, constituted proof that Jesus was indeed qualified to be the Messiah. The record of His conception and birth, also presented in Matthew, made clear that Jesus was the One promised to be born of a virgin in Isaiah 7:14. The visit of the magi confirmed that Jesus was indeed the Messiah.
With the coming of John the Baptist, Jesus was baptized and had the further witness of John that He was indeed the promised One.
The problem with the Jews was that their expectation of their Messiah was onesided. They had anticipated the political side of it only —that is, that Jesus would redeem them from their enemies. The Jews did not realize that the coming kingdom would also have demands on them in the way of spiritual life. To correct this, Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount as recorded in Matthew 5–7. Only Matthew recorded all these parables, though Mark and Luke also revealed the parable of the sower ( Mark 4:1–9, 13–20; Luke 8:5–15 ) and the parable of the mustard seed ( Mark 4:30–32; Luke 13:18–19 ). The parable of the leaven, not found in Mark, is revealed in Luke 13:20–21.
The high ethical standards of the kingdom to come did not appeal to the Jewish people. In support of His revelation, Jesus performed many miracles, as described in Matthew 8–10, but in general, the Jewish people rejected Jesus though many individuals became His followers. Because of this, Jesus turned to the individual rather than the nation as a whole, inviting each person to come to Him and find rest ( Matt. 11:28–30 ). As the opposition of the Jews increased, Christ delivered His own denunciation of their unbelief and hardness of heart in Matthew 12.
In view of the fact that the Jews, for the most part, had rejected Christ, the moral standards of His kingdom, and the evidence that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, Jesus now turned to what would result — namely, that the kingdom would not come immediately but that, instead, a new form of the kingdom not anticipated in Old Testament revelation would be fulfilled.
The idea of a postponed kingdom has been opposed by some who view God as changing His mind and as nullifying the offer of Christ as Messiah and as King of the Jews. It should be understood that postponement of God’s plan to bring in the kingdom is only from the human side. From the divine side, the plan of God included this contingency. God knew that a rejection would take place and that His purpose concerning the present age would accordingly be fulfilled. Isaiah 46:10 (NASB95) Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;
The comparison may be made between Israel at Kadesh Barnea and the followers of Jesus in the first century. At Kadesh Barnea the children of Israel were promised the land if they would go in and possess it ( Num. 13:26–14:26 ). The entrance of the children of Israel into the Promised Land was delayed forty years because of their unbelief. This was anticipated, however, in the plan of God and does not represent a change of mind on the part of God but rather a change in human expectation of fulfillment of God’s purpose.
In Matthew 13, accordingly, Jesus answered the question as to what is going to happen before Christ comes back to set up His kingdom. Jesus did not reveal all the details of this period but rather revealed the general character of the present age. What He revealed to them was in parables designed to be understood by the people of God but not by unbelievers. The truth that Jesus revealed was declared to be a mystery: “the secrets of the kingdom of heaven” ( Matt. 13:11 ).
As defined in Scripture, a mystery is a truth that is not discerned simply by investigation, but a truth that requires revelation.
Generally speaking, it refers to a truth hidden in the Old Testament and unknown to that period, but a truth that is now revealed. A definition is found in Colossians 1:26, where the mystery, or secret, is defined: “the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints.” Similar references can be found to mysteries throughout the New Testament ( Rom. 11:25; 16:25; 1 Cor. 2:7; 4:1; 13:2; 14:2; 15:51; Eph. 1:9; 3:3–4, 9; 5:32; 6:19; Col. 1:27; 2:2; 4:3; 2 Thess. 2:7; 1 Tim. 3:16; Rev. 1:20; 10:7; 17:5, 7 ).
From these passages it becomes evident that a mystery is not a truth hard to understand but one that requires revelation before understanding is possible. Because the present age was largely hidden from the Old Testament, where Christ’s first and second coming are often presented as the same event, truths to be fulfilled in the present age constitute mysteries or truth once not revealed but now revealed. The setting for the message on the mysteries of the kingdom was along the Lake of Galilee, where Jesus sat in a boat and a large crowd stood on the shore to hear Him speak.
The Parable of the Sower and Various Kinds of Soil
Matthew 13:1–9; Mark 4:1–20; Luke 8:4–15. In presenting the parables, Jesus used illustrations that referred to common aspects of life in Israel. In this first parable Jesus described how there was a variety of reception of the seed. Sometimes farmers would sow where they had not even plowed, and Jesus referred to the seed falling on a hard, beaten path where it would be unable to root and birds would eat the seed ( Matt. 13:4 ). Some seed would fall on soil that thinly covered rock. Here, too, because the soil was shallow, the seed, though beginning to take root, would soon wither (vv. 5–6 ). Still other seed would fall on ground that was good but choked by weeds. It, too, would never grow well (v. 7 ). Some seed, however, would fall on good soil, which would be receptive and produce up to a hundredfold (v. 8 ). Having delivered the parable, Jesus urged them, “He who has ears, let him hear” (v. 9 ).
In the interpretation of the parable, it should be remembered that the interpreters come from various points of view eschatologically. Those who are premillennial interpret this as referring to the present age preceding the second coming of Christ, with the kingdom following for a thousand years after Jesus returns. Amillenarians come to the passage and attempt to find fulfillment of the promise of the kingdom on earth in one sense or another. Postmillenarians attempt to find in this passage evidence that the gospel is going to be ultimately triumphant and will, for all practical purposes, dominate the entire world.
It should be obvious that this parable does not anticipate the gospel as a triumphant force in the world. Rather, only a small portion of the population will receive the message of the gospel and respond favorably and bring forth fruit. This and other parables make clear that the Bible does not teach a world getting better and better, climaxing in the second coming of Christ. Rather, it portrays a dual fulfillment of good and evil that will be judged at the second coming.
This parable of the sower also does not correspond to amillennial interpretation that the millennial kingdom is being fulfilled now. Rather, there is emphasis on the rejection of the gospel in a way that would not be true in fulfilling the prophecies of the kingdom on earth.
Reasons for Revelation in the Form of Parables
Matthew 13:10–17. After the first parable the disciples came to Jesus asking, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” (v. 10 ).
The secret of why parables were used was that those who rejected Jesus Christ as presented without parables were not entitled to understand the secrets that belong to those who are of faith. Accordingly, Jesus said, “Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him” (v. 12 ). What was lacking is the element of faith. In other words, those who refuse to accept a clear presentation of the gospel are not going to be inducted into the secrets that are involved in spiritual truth.
As a result, Jesus characterized their hardness of heart in not accepting the truth in the words, “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand” (v. 13 ).
Jesus also quoted from Isaiah, who, as a prophet, anticipated the difficulty of people hearing the Word of God: “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn, and I would heal them” ( Matt. 13:14–15 ). Deeper knowledge of the truth of God requires acceptance of earlier simpler truths without which the deeper truths will never be revealed. Jesus, however, commended the disciples as those who heard and stated that what they heard, “many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it” (v. 17 ).
The Parable of the Sower Interpreted
Matthew 13:18–23. With this background Jesus interpreted the parable of the sower. The seed on the hard path is immediately snatched away by the evil one because there is no receptivity (vv. 19–20 ). Seed falling on the rocky places indicates shallow reception that does not last long enough for the seed to grow effectively (vv. 20–21 ). The seed among thorns refers to one who is receptive but whose life is choked up with “the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth” (v. 22 ), with the result that the seed is choked and does not bear fruit (v. 22 ). The seed that is productive, however, falls on good soil where the gospel is understood, and it may produce as much as a hundredfold (v. 23 ). The gospel, though rejected by many, will be received by a few.
The Weeds among the Wheat
Matthew 13:24–30, 37–43. In contrast to the first parable that taught various types of reception of the seed, the second parable refers to the difference between true wheat and weeds. For the parable, Jesus used the situation where a man sows good seed in his field (v. 24 ). However, after the man has sown the good seed, his enemies come and sow weeds (v. 25 ). When both begin to grow up, it becomes evident that the wheat and the weeds are growing together. When servants ask whether they should try to pull up the weeds, they are told to wait until the harvest (vv. 28–30 ). At the time of the harvest the harvesters are instructed to collect weeds first and then the wheat (v. 30 ). As in the first parable of the kinds of soil, the parable here does not support the postmillennial idea that the gospel will be triumphant and bring in a golden age. Also, it does not support the concept that the present age is the fulfillment of the kingdom promises of Christ. Instead, it is an accurate portrayal of the present age, where both the true gospel and false gospels are proclaimed.
This parable is used by the posttribulationists as proving that the rapture cannot be placed before the end-time events of the great tribulation because the weeds are gathered first. This would refute the pretribulationists who teach that the rapture gathers out the saved first. Accordingly, they place the rapture as an event preceding the second coming of Christ to earth.
The answer to this is quite simple. First of all, the order of the gathering is not significant as illustrated in the final parable of the dragnet, when the reverse is true: The good fish are gathered out first, and the bad fish are thrown away (v. 48 ). The fact is that there will be a series of judgments at the second coming, and the order is not significant here.
However, the real answer is that the rapture is not in view here. The period involved is the whole period between the first and second advents of Christ without special consideration of the church age as such from Pentecost to the rapture.
The disciples did not readily understand the parable of the weeds in the field, and Jesus explained it to them, stating, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear” (vv. 37–43 ). Once explained, the parable is simple to understand and believe, but this parable, like others, requires interpretation.
The Parable of the Mustard Seed
Matthew 13:31–32; Mark 4:30–32. Jesus used the mustard seed as an illustration of the rapid growth of the kingdom. The mustard plant is not the one used for condiments today, but a different variety. A single pod would often contain hundreds of small seeds, each of which would produce a plant. Jesus used this, therefore, as an illustration of the growth from little to much, stating, “Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches” ( Matt. 13:32 ). In general, this parable refers to the rapid growth of the church. The kingdom of heaven refers to a sphere of profession (those who only profess belief) that obviously grows fast, or it refers to a true kingdom of God, as in Mark 4:30–32, which also grows rapidly. Note is taken, however, of the fact that the birds of the air perch in its branches, referring to evil influences of those who are not even in a sphere of profession that relates to the church.
A question is sometimes raised about the passage’s statement that the mustard seed is “the smallest of all your seeds” (v. 32 ). Actually, the text in the Greek New Testament is a comparative (mikroteron), which means that it is smaller. Some hold that this is an error in Scripture because the seed of the orchid, for instance, is still smaller. This, however, is ruled out by the passage itself, which limits the seeds under consideration to those that are planted in the Holy Land. The fact that smaller seeds are found elsewhere in the world is without significance.
This parable is especially significant because it is found only in Matthew’s gospel, which reveals the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, as well as in Mark, where the kingdom of God is related to this parable. Though most scholars consider the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God as reference to the same entity, in Matthew 13, in particular, the kingdom of heaven seems to include that which is not a genuine part of the kingdom but an area of mere profession in contrast to the kingdom of God, which includes only saved men and angels. This parable is significant, however, as including both because it so happens that both the kingdom of heaven as a sphere of profession and the kingdom of God as a sphere of salvation (the true body of Christ) grow rapidly. It should be pointed out that the parables in Matthew 13 include a sphere of profession as in the case of the wheat and the weeds and later on in the case of the dragnet, which gathers both good and bad fish. These parables are not used of the kingdom of God in the other Gospels.
Rekindling the Flame
By Starr Meade 7/01/2012
“You never know what depths of sin and wickedness of hell are in your nature till you turn and start to walk the path that leads to God and Christ, the path that is paved with righteousness and truth, but bordered with grinning fiends and smiling serpents who stretch out hands to help the traitor in your soul,” said I. M. Haldeman.
What threatens a heart aflame with love for God? When this column was introduced, Sinclair Ferguson wrote that one of the things it would explore would be ways in which a heart aflame with love for God can be threatened. I look back over almost four decades of Christian experience and realize that the contribution I am most suited to make is one that addresses the threat to a heart aflame.
Long ago, in the middle of teen years ripped apart and made lonely by the dissolution of my family, it hit me with all the blinding force of Saul’s light on the road to Damascus: God loves me. It was not just people in general whom He loves, and me as one of them. He loves me. He had given His Son to die for me. He had taken great pains for me. If no other person in the universe ever cared about me, I would have all the love I could ever need in this one great Lord who loves me.
It was then that I gave myself to the life goal of knowing God. Like the Apostle Paul, my desire was to “gain Christ.” I wanted to “know him and the power of his resurrection, and … share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Phil. 3:8–11). I wanted to be a woman after God’s heart. Back then, it felt like I had an infinite amount of time for pursuing that goal. Now, though, I look back over years that have flown by, and I wonder: how can it be that I have lived so many years and yet made so little progress in learning to love and imitate a Savior so worthy of praise?
One thing I don’t wonder about is this: what is it that has held me back? What is it that so constantly threatens the flame of love for God in me? It is the very heart that should be on fire; it is the sin in me, that “traitor in my soul.” So many years have gone by, and still that same old idol, myself, though I have cast it down so many times, gets put back in place once more. Why don’t I give more glory to God, who is so great? Because I’m so hungry for praise for me. Why don’t I seek the face of God with greater zeal? Because I’m so busy seeking comfort and pleasure for me. Why don’t I love God as He ought to be loved? Because I’m so full of love for myself.
Yet something comes time and again to my little, Spirit-created spark of love for God and blows on it, coaxing it once more into a blaze. What is it that fans the flame? It is the ugly vision, yet once more, of my sin combined with the sudden awareness of God’s infinite grace. It is the reminder that God gives grace for this precise reason: that I can never be as passionate about God, as faithful to Him, as I ought to be. It is the assurance that my salvation rests so securely on what Jesus Christ has done that none of my failures will ever undo it. Caught sinning yet again and reminded of God’s grace in Christ, my heart bursts afresh into a blaze of love and delight in Him.
God’s power is such that He takes the very things most threatening to His purposes—rebellion in a garden, family favoritism and betrayal, genocide by a pharaoh, crucifixion of the Messiah—and uses those very threats to accomplish the purposes they meant to thwart. In the same way, God has used, time and again, the horror of my sin and unfaithfulness to revive, once more, a heart on fire with love for Him, His Word, and His ways.
How does that happen? It happens when I read the accounts of Israel rebelling, whining, and making idols, and I see myself right there with them. Then I hear God’s words of promise to them and know they are for me as well:
They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions. But I will save them from all the backslidings in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. (Ezek. 37:23)
Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch… . And this is the name by which he will be called: The Lord is our righteousness. (Jer. 23:5–6).
It happens when I hear the gospel proclaimed in such a way that it pulls my eyes away from my sin and calls to me: “Behold, your God!” It happens when I sit, unworthy, at the feast spread at the Lord’s Table and realize, as Isaac Watts wrote, “Here peace and pardon bought with blood is food for dying souls.”
So, my sovereign God makes use of my worst enemy and His, my sin, to renew in me the vision of His sweet, infinite grace. So He ushers me again into His glorious presence, my heart aflame once more with grateful love for Him.
- 1 Training Hearts, Teaching Minds: Family Devotions Based on the Shorter Catechism
- 2 The Most Important Thing You'll Ever Study, Volume 34: A Survey of the Bible: Vols.3-4: The New Testament
- 3 Comforting Hearts, Teaching Minds: Family Devotions Based on the Heidelberg Catachism
- 4 Grandpa's Box: Retelling the Biblical Story of Redemption
- 5 The Most Important Thing You'll Ever Study: A Survey of the Bible - OT - Volumes 1 & 2
- 6 Wondrous Works of God: A Family Bible Story Book
- 7 Mighty Acts of God: A Family Bible Story Book
- 8 Give Them Truth: Teaching Eternal Truths to Young Minds
- 9 God's Mighty Acts in Salvation
- 10 Keeping Holiday
- 11 A Survey of the Bible: OT Volume 1
- 12 A Survey of the Bible: OT Volume 2
- 13 A Survey of the Bible: NT Volume 4
The Continual Burnt Offering (Acts 13:38)
By H.A. Ironside - 1941
September 5Acts 13:38 Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. ESV
Forgiveness and justification. Here are two things divinely joined together which man cannot reconcile. We cannot both forgive one and justify him. If he is justified he does not need forgiveness. If forgiven, he is not justified, but is admittedly guilty. But God not only forgives the repentant sinner because of the work of Christ on his behalf, but He justifies forever, clears of every charge all who trust in Him. All such are “accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6). The soul that receives God’s testimony concerning His Son is seen henceforth as in Christ, and therefore as truly accepted as He is. He is justified in the risen Savior, for it is written, “As He is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17).
Ephesians 1:6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
1 John 4:17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. ESV
What about terror!—it hasn’t a place
In a heart that is filled with a sense of His grace:
My peace is divine, and it never can cloy,
And that makes my heart over-bubble with joy.
Nothing of guilt?—no, not a stain,
How could the blood let any remain?
My conscience is purged, and my spirit is free—
Precious that blood is to God and to me!
What of the law?—ah, there I rejoice,
Christ answered its claims and silenced its voice:
The law was fulfilled when the work was all done,
And it never can speak to a justified one.
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
by Bill Federer
The world was shocked as just five days after Princess Diana was killed, Mother Teresa died this day, September 5, 1997. The daughter of an Albanian grocer, she joined an order at age 18 and began working in the slums of Calcutta. She started the Missionaries of Charity, caring for the blind, aged, lepers, crippled, and the dying. A Nobel Prize recipient, she spoke at a National Prayer Breakfast, attended by the Clintons and Al Gore, saying: “Please don’t kill the child… I am willing to accept any child who would be aborted and to give that child to a married couple who will love the child and be loved by the child.”American Minute
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
Suffering is permanent,
obscure and dark,
And shares the nature of infinity.
--- William Wordsworth
Night is a time of rigor,
but also of mercy.
There are truths which one can see only when it’s dark.
--- Isaac Bashevis Singer
Teibele and her demon
Life is God’s novel. Let him write it.
--- Isaac Bashevis Singer
Let the past sleep,
but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ.
--- Oswald Chambers
We must not only have a loud voice, but an elevated soul; not only a bended knee, but a broken heart; not only a supplicating tone, but a groaning spirit; not only a ready ear for the word, but a receiving heart; and this shall be of greater value with him, than the most costly outward services offered at Gerizim or Jerusalem.
--- Stephen Charnock Attributes of God
... from here, there and everywhere
Thanks to Meir Yona
6. Now the opinion of the Idumeans and of the citizens was one and the same. The Idumeans thought that God was angry at their taking arms, and that they would not escape punishment for their making war upon their metropolis. Ananus and his party thought that they had conquered without fighting, and that God acted as a general for them; but truly they proved both ill conjectures at what was to come, and made those events to be ominous to their enemies, while they were themselves to undergo the ill effects of them; for the Idumeans fenced one another by uniting their bodies into one band, and thereby kept themselves warm, and connecting their shields over their heads, were not so much hurt by the rain. But the zealots were more deeply concerned for the danger these men were in than they were for themselves, and got together, and looked about them to see whether they could devise any means of assisting them. The hotter sort of them thought it best to force their guards with their arms, and after that to fall into the midst of the city, and publicly open the gates to those that came to their assistance; as supposing the guards would be in disorder, and give way at such an unexpected attempt of theirs, especially as the greater part of them were unarmed and unskilled in the affairs of war; and that besides the multitude of the citizens would not be easily gathered together, but confined to their houses by the storm: and that if there were any hazard in their undertaking, it became them to suffer any thing whatsoever themselves, rather than to overlook so great a multitude as were miserably perishing on their account. But the more prudent part of them disapproved of this forcible method, because they saw not only the guards about them very numerous, but the walls of the city itself carefully watched, by reason of the Idumeans. They also supposed that Ananus would be every where, and visit the guards every hour; which indeed was done upon other nights, but was omitted that night, not by reason of any slothfulness of Ananus, but by the overbearing appointment of fate, that so both he might himself perish, and the multitude of the guards might perish with him; for truly, as the night was far gone, and the storm very terrible, Ananus gave the guards in the cloisters leave to go to sleep; while it came into the heads of the zealots to make use of the saws belonging to the temple, and to cut the bars of the gates to pieces. The noise of the wind, and that not inferior sound of the thunder, did here also conspire with their designs, that the noise of the saws was not heard by the others.
7. So they secretly went out of the temple to the wall of the city, and made use of their saws, and opened that gate which was over against the Idumeans. Now at first there came a fear upon the Idumeans themselves, which disturbed them, as imagining that Ananus and his party were coming to attack them, so that every one of them had his right hand upon his sword, in order to defend himself; but they soon came to know who they were that came to them, and were entered the city. And had the Idumeans then fallen upon the city, nothing could have hindered them from destroying the people every man of them, such was the rage they were in at that time; but as they first of all made haste to get the zealots out of custody, which those that brought them in earnestly desired them to do, and not to overlook those for whose sakes they were come, in the midst of their distresses, nor to bring them into a still greater danger; for that when they had once seized upon the guards, it would be easy for them to fall upon the city; but that if the city were once alarmed, they would not then be able to overcome those guards, because as soon as they should perceive they were there, they would put themselves in order to fight them, and would hinder their coming into the temple.
The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, by Flavius Josephus Translator: William Whiston
by D.H. Stern
people call a schemer.
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 missionary watching
Watch with Me. --- Matthew 26:40.
“Watch with Me”—with no private point of view of your own at all, but watch entirely with Me. In the early stages we do not watch with Jesus, we watch for Him. We do not watch with Him through the revelation of the Bible; in the circumstances of our lives. Our Lord is trying to introduce us to identification with Himself in a particular Gethsemane, and we will not go; we say—‘No, Lord, I cannot see the meaning of this, it is bitter.’ How can we possibly watch with Someone Who is inscrutable? How are we going to understand Jesus sufficiently to watch with Him in His Gethsemane, when we do not know even what His suffering is for? We do not know how to watch with Him; we are only used to the idea of Jesus watching with us.
The disciples loved Jesus Christ to the limit of their natural capacity, but they did not understand what He was after. In the Garden of Gethsemane they slept for their own sorrow, and at the end of three years of the closest intimacy they “all forsook Him and fled.”
“They were all filled with the Holy Ghost”—the same “they,” but something wonderful has happened in between, viz., Our Lord’s Death and Resurrection and Ascension, and the disciples have been invaded by the Holy Spirit. Our Lord had said—“Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you,” and this meant that they learned to watch with Him all the rest of their lives.
the Poetry of RS Thomas
Selected poems, 1946-1968
Bread (Poetry for Supper)
Hunger was loneliness, betrayed
By the pitiless candour of the stars'
Talk, in an old byre he prayed
Not for food; to pray was to know
Waking from a dark dream to find
The white loaf on the white snow;
Not for warmth, warmth brought the rain's
Blurring of the essential point
Of ice probing his raw pain.
He prayed for love, love that would share
His rags' secret; rising he broke
Like sun crumbling the gold air
The live bread for the starved folk.
Bob: Excuse me, Mr. Jones, could I talk to you for a minute?
Boss: Sure, Bob. Come on in and have a seat. What’s up?
Bob: Is that a new tie, Mr. Jones? It looks great with that suit.
Boss: Oh, thanks. My wife picked it up for me for Father’s Day.
Bob: Well, she’s got exquisite taste in ties, and exquisite taste in husbands.
Boss: You’re very kind, Bob. What can I do for you?
Bob: About the Smith account … I just had to tell you that I was so impressed by your leadership on this project.
Boss: Thanks, Bob.
Bob: You handled things in an incredibly professional manner.
Boss: I appreciate your sharing that.
Bob: You were visionary, imaginative, and creative.
Boss [to himself]: Hmmm, a “visionary.” Go on, Bob, flattery will get you everywhere!
Bob: You came in well organized.
Boss [to himself]: Yes, I did, didn’t I!
Bob: You were thoroughly prepared, down to the tiniest detail.
Boss [to himself]: Well, I’m good at what I do!
Bob: You inspired us, and motivated us to work to our utmost capabilities.
Boss [to himself]: I guess I’m just a natural-born leader!
Bob: You were tough when you had to be strong.
Boss [to himself]: You’re beginning to embarrass me.
Bob: And you were flexible and willing to compromise at just the right moments.
Boss [to himself]: All right, enough.
Bob: You demonstrated great people skills; you were equally good with the bank president in the boardroom and with the receptionist over the phone.
Boss [to himself]: I’m getting a little uncomfortable now.
Bob: And you demonstrated an expertise of the field that left us all in awe.
Boss [to himself]: You’re starting to annoy me.
Bob: You stayed cool during the crises and taught us how best to deal with stress.
Boss [to himself]: You’re really “kissing up” now.
Bob: I know I speak for everyone here, sir, when I tell you that we are so proud to work for you.
Boss [to himself]: What is it you want from me? A raise? A corner office?
Bob: And if I may add a personal note, Mr. Jones: I consider myself blessed to be working for a man of your substance and stature.
Boss [to himself]: You’re making me sick, damn it! I hate you!! Get out of my sight!!!
Bob: So, again, thank you for being the best boss that a person could ever hope for!
Boss [to himself]: One more word and you’re fired!
Bob: That really is a great tie, sir.
hould we be worried that people might get swelled heads? That there might be too much praise? Overdoing compliments is not our problem today! Halevai—if only people showed appreciation to others to the degree they deserve it.
Our problem today is that we hardly give praise at all. We live in a world filled with criticism—drama critics, food critics, theater critics. We rate each other’s performance on a scale of one to ten, as if Mom’s dinner or an e-mail from a friend is a Hollywood movie. We give the “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” to almost everything. College professors lose bids for tenure not because their credentials or scholarship are in any way lacking but rather because online reviews of their courses have been negative.
While some of these disapproving reviews may be deserved, it is questionable that the majority are. Whether it’s toward our children, fellow workers, or friends—we are very quick to point out faults and criticisms. In most cases, we would do better, as they would, if we were to offer them a little praise. In the words of the well-known axiom, “Honey works better than vinegar.” Or as the poet Edgar A. Guest once wrote:
Let me be a little kinder,
Let me be a little blinder
To the faults of those around me,
Let me praise a little more.
In my Father’s house are many rooms. --- John 14:2.
Heaven is God’s house. (Selected Sermons of Jonathan Edwards) When the disciples perceived that Christ was going away, they expressed a desire to go with him. Peter asked him where he went, that he might follow. Christ told him that he could not follow him now, but that he would follow him afterwards. But Peter said, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now?” (John 13:37).
A house of public worship is a house where God’s people meet and is called God’s house. The temple of Solomon was called God’s house. God was represented as dwelling there. There he had his throne in the holy of holies.
Sometimes the whole universe is represented in Scripture as God’s house, built one story above another. But the highest heaven is represented in Scripture as the house of God, reserved for himself for his own dwelling. The heavens are the Lord’s, [thus], though he is everywhere present, God is represented both in Old Testament and New as being in heaven in a special and peculiar manner. Heaven is the temple of God. Solomon’s temple was a foreshadow of heaven. The epistle to the Hebrews calls heaven the holy of holies, the place of God’s most immediate residence. Houses where assemblies of Christians worship God are in some respects figures of this house of God above. When God is worshipped in them in spirit and truth, they become the outworks of heaven and, as it were, its gates.
Heaven is represented in Scripture as God’s dwelling: “I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven”
(Ps. 123:1). Heaven is God’s palace. ’Tis the house of the great King of the universe; there he has his throne, which is therefore represented as his house or temple: “The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD is on his heavenly throne” (Ps. 11:4).
God is represented as a householder or head of a family, and heaven is his house. The saints, being the children of God, are said to be of the household of God (Eph. 2:19). Heaven is the place that God has built for himself and his children. And though some of this family are now on earth, all are going home. God has many children, and the place designed for them is heaven.
Heaven is the house not only where God has his throne, but also where he keeps his table, where his children sit down with him and where they are feasted in a royal manner becoming the children of so great a King (Luke 22:30).
God is the King of Kings, and heaven is the place where he keeps his court. There are his angels and archangels that, as the nobles of his court, attend him.
--- Jonathan Edwards
No Stone Unturned September 5
Allen Francis Gardiner grew up in a Christian home, took to the sea, and achieved a successful British naval career with little thought for God. But in 1822 he fell ill and reevaluated his life. He scribbled in his journal: After years of ingratitude, unbelief, blasphemy and rebellion, have I at last been melted? Alas, how slow, how reluctant I have been to admit the heavenly guest who stood knocking without!
Traveling around the world had given Captain Gardiner a glimpse of the need for missionaries, and he gave himself for the task. Leaving England for South America, he hoped to minister among the Araucanian or Mapuche Indians of southern Chile. Government interference and intertribal fighting forced him back to England. Three years later he was at it again, visiting the Falklands and investigating the possibility of taking the Gospel to the islands of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. Sensing opportunity at hand, Gardiner returned to England and on July 4, 1844, established a small organization called the Patagonian Missionary Society. He wrote, I have made up my mind to go back to South America and leave no stone unturned, no effort untried, to establish a mission among the aboriginal tribes. While God gives me strength, failure will not daunt me.
Gardiner visited South America a third time, but his efforts were again thwarted by intertribal fighting and governmental interference, the land being strongly Catholic, intolerant of Protestant missions. He returned to England, recruited six missionaries, and set sail for Tierra del Fuego. But all seven men died of disease, starvation, and exposure on Picton Island. Gardiner, the last to die, dated his final journal entry September 5, 1851: Good and marvelous are the loving kindnesses of my gracious God unto me. He has preserved me hitherto and for four days, although without bodily food, without any feelings of hunger or thirst.
Captain Allen Gardiner died without seeing a single soul saved among those for whom he was most burdened. But he lit a fire which has never gone out. His South American Missionary Society (as it came to be called) has been sending missionaries and saving souls for over 150 years.
My dear friends, stand firm and don’t be shaken. Always keep busy working for the Lord. You know that everything you do for him is worthwhile.
1 Corinthians 15:58
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - September 5
"Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar." --- Psalm 120:5.
As a Christian you have to live in the midst of an ungodly world, and it is of little use for you to cry “Woe is me.” Jesus did not pray that you should be taken out of the world, and what he did not pray for, you need not desire. Better far in the Lord’s strength to meet the difficulty, and glorify him in it. The enemy is ever on the watch to detect inconsistency in your conduct; be therefore very holy. Remember that the eyes of all are upon you, and that more is expected from you than from other men. Strive to give no occasion for blame. Let your goodness be the only fault they can discover in you. Like Daniel, compel them to say of you, “We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.” Seek to be useful as well as consistent. Perhaps you think, “If I were in a more favourable position I might serve the Lord’s cause, but I cannot do any good where I am”; but the worse the people are among whom you live, the more need have they of your exertions; if they be crooked, the more necessity that you should set them straight; and if they be perverse, the more need have you to turn their proud hearts to the truth. Where should the physician be but where there are many sick? Where is honour to be won by the soldier but in the hottest fire of the battle? And when weary of the strife and sin that meets you on every hand, consider that all the saints have endured the same trial. They were not carried on beds of down to heaven, and you must not expect to travel more easily than they. They had to hazard their lives unto the death in the high places of the field, and you will not be crowned till you also have endured hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Therefore, “stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.”
Evening - September 5
“Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea?”
--- Job 38:16.
Some things in nature must remain a mystery to the most intelligent and enterprising investigators. Human knowledge has bounds beyond which it cannot pass. Universal knowledge is for God alone. If this be so in the things which are seen and temporal, I may rest assured that it is even more so in matters spiritual and eternal. Why, then, have I been torturing my brain with speculations as to destiny and will, fixed fate, and human responsibility? These deep and dark truths I am no more able to comprehend than to find out the depth which coucheth beneath, from which old ocean draws her watery stores. Why am I so curious to know the reason of my Lord’s providences, the motive of his actions, the design of his visitations? Shall I ever be able to clasp the sun in my fist, and hold the universe in my palm? yet these are as a drop of a bucket compared with the Lord my God. Let me not strive to understand the infinite, but spend my strength in love. What I cannot gain by intellect I can possess by affection, and let that suffice me. I cannot penetrate the heart of the sea, but I can enjoy the healthful breezes which sweep over its bosom, and I can sail over its blue waves with propitious winds. If I could enter the springs of the sea, the feat would serve no useful purpose either to myself or to others, it would not save the sinking bark, or give back the drowned mariner to his weeping wife and children; neither would my solving deep mysteries avail me a single whit, for the least love to God, and the simplest act of obedience to him, are better than the profoundest knowledge. My Lord, I leave the infinite to thee, and pray thee to put far from me such a love for the tree of knowledge as might keep me from the tree of life.
O DAY OF REST AND GLADNESS
Christopher Wordsworth, 1807–1885
There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest … Hebrews 4:9, 10, 11
Christopher Wordsworth, a nephew of the renowned English poet, William Wordsworth, reminds us in this hymn that since God rested after His acts of creation, we who are made in His image also need a day of rest and spiritual renewal. We need the encouragement and fellowship of other believers to keep our lives aglow for God. The way we use the Lord’s Day reflects our true devotion to God. Very early in the Christian era, the first day of the week replaced the Jewish Sabbath as the day of worship because it was on Sunday that the resurrection took place. Although we do not observe it according to the many set rules such as the Jews had for their Sabbath, Sunday should always be a special day of refreshment and of giving honor and worship to our God.
Christopher Wordsworth was an Anglican bishop, a noted scholar, and a distinguished writer. He composed 127 hymn texts that were intended to teach the truths of Scripture and encourage worship. “O Day of Rest and Gladness,” his only hymn widely used today, focuses on the doctrine of the Trinity. In the second stanza, the triune Godhead is compared to three important events or a “triple light” that occurred on the first day of the week: The creation of light (Genesis 1:1), the resurrection of Christ, and the advent of the Holy Spirit. In the final stanza, Wordsworth addresses each member of the Godhead by name, as the church raises its perpetual voice to “Thee, blest Three in One.”
O day of rest and gladness, O day of joy and light, O balm of care and sadness, most beautiful, most bright: On thee, the high and lowly, thru ages joined in tune, sing “Holy, Holy, Holy,” to the great God Triune.
On thee, at the creation, the light first had its birth; on thee, for our salvation, Christ rose from depths of earth; on thee, our Lord, victorious, the Spirit sent from heav’n; and thus on thee, most glorious, a triple light was giv’n.
New graces ever gaining from this our day of rest, we reach the rest remaining to spirits of the blest. To Holy Ghost be praises, to Father, and to Son; the Church her voice upraises to Thee, blest Three in One.
For Today: Genesis 1:3–5; Psalm 118:24; Isaiah 58:13, 14; Revelation 14:13
Do you anticipate with joy the Lord’s Day, when you can worship God in your local church? How can Sunday become a more meaningful time of renewal and refreshment for you and your family? Reflect on this hymn as you go ---
“May those who love you be secure.”
NOTE: This prayer may be prayed in one hour, or it may be prayed section by section over a longer period of time. Although it is patterned after Daniel 9, it is my personal prayer. It comes from deep within my heart, because I believe the rapture of the church may be imminent. When that moment comes, and every born again believer is caught up to be with Jesus, along with the Holy Spirit who indwells them and presently restrains evil, Israel will be more alone in the family of nations than she ever has been since her rebirth in 1948. And I wonder…is it at that moment that God will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication? Is it at that moment that they will look on the One they have pierced, and recognize Him as their Messiah? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I am utterly convinced it’s time to pray for Jerusalem.
Our Father in Heaven. God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. You are the Eternal I AM. The One who is age to age the same. There is no shadow of turning with You. You are fully present in every generation—past, present, and future. You are the All-Mighty. Your power has not been deleted or depleted over the millennia of human history. We know that You so loved the world that You gave us Heaven’s treasure when You sent Your only Son to die, so that anyone and everyone who places their faith in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. Yet we also know that Your great heart of love still longs to pour out Your blessing on the City and the people that You have uniquely chosen as Your own. Jerusalem. The House of Israel. The Jews.
In this present worldwide climate of unbridled evil, we are desperate! Nations are unraveling. Wars are raging. There are rumors of more wars breaking out. Kingdom is rising against kingdom. Our spirits feel the turmoil and agitation that surely is a reflection of the warfare being waged in the invisible realms. We need You! For everything! But our hearts are now burdened for the Epicenter of the world. For Jerusalem and all that she represents at this critical, strategic last hour.
So we humbly turn to You now. For one hour we turn away from our responsibilities and routines, our busyness and our business, our own problems and pressures. We turn away from focusing on our own nation and the needs of the church. We turn away from any self-reliance or self-interests, and we look to You. We run to You. We join together with one heart and one voice to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. You alone are the One who makes us to dwell in safety. You alone are the One who makes us secure. You alone are God. And You alone are our God. We turn to You, deeply aware we do not deserve in ourselves to address You, yet boldly confident of access into Your most holy presence through the blood of Your Son and our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. And so…
We pray with confidence, because You are the God of Creation, Lord of the Universe. Elohim. The Strong One. You alone are The LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship You. We sing Your praises, for You are highly exalted. No one is higher than You. You are our strength and our song. Again and again, You have been the salvation of Your people: from bondage in Egypt, from Pharoh’s pursuing army, from Midianites and Amorites and Edomites and Moabites and Canaanites and Perizzites and Philistines; from captivity in Babylon, from the four corners of the earth, from the Nazi death camps, and now from Hamas and Hezbollah and ISIS and the Taliban and Al Queda and the Muslim Brotherhood and Boko Haram, You alone are able to shatter Israel’s enemies.
Your right hand, O Lord, is majestic in power. And in the greatness of Your excellence You overthrow those who rise up again You; You send forth Your burning anger, and it consumes them as chaff.
Who is like You among the gods, O Lord? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders? In Your lovingkindness You have led the people whom You have redeemed; in Your strength You have guided them to Your holy habitation.
You will reign forever and ever. We long for the day when our faith becomes sight and the whole world is filled with the glory of who You are. Our highest joy will be to see You face to face; to gather around Your throne with multitudes from every tribe, language, people, and nation that you have purchased with the blood of Your own Son, and worship You.
We pray with compulsion for the peace of Jerusalem, and for the whole House of Israel. Your people and the city that bear Your name are surrounded by a vast multitude of hostile, evil men seeking to kill and destroy. Men who behead those who refuse to embrace their evil dogma, who bury alive those who refuse to submit to their will, who crucify those who are identified with Your Son. Your people are under the incessant barrage of enemy missiles and mortars that are destroying farms and families, communities and children. While one ceasefire after another promises peace, peace there is no peace. Are You not the God who rules over all the nations? Power and might are in Your hand, and no one can withstand You.
We are compelled to pray for Your people because they are facing their enemies without the strength, wisdom, peace, comfort, security and hope that You reserve for those who are indwelt by Your Spirit through faith in Your Son, Jesus. They have no deep, blessed assurance that their sins are forgiven, that eternal life is theirs, and that a heavenly Home is waiting to welcome them.
We are compelled to pray because…
• You have promised that You will give Your people a new heart and put a new spirit within them; that You will remove their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.
• You have promised that in the very last days, You will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication.
• You have promised that You will open the eyes of the spiritually blind, and they would look on You, the One they have pierced.
• You have promised that all of Israel, tribe by tribe, clan by clan, family by family, will mourn for their sin of rebellion and rejection of their Messiah.
• You have promised that on that day of national mourning and repentance, all of Israel will be saved. That the deliverer will come from Zion; that You will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
• You have promised that You will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and You will cleanse them.
• You have promised that they will be Your people, and You will be their God.
• You have promised that You will make an everlasting covenant of peace with them.
• You have promised that one day, and we believe soon, You will set aside 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel who have been redeemed and on whose foreheads You write Your name, to be proclaimers of the Gospel to the whole world.
O Abba Father! We do not ask for what we want or what we hope. We are asking You to do what You have said! You are a great covenant-keeping God. You do not mock Your children. You keep Your word. We are therefore compelled at this moment when faced with problems that have no human solution to pray and hold You to Your promises.
We pray with a contrite spirit. We are ashamed and embarrassed to lift up our faces to You, for our iniquities have risen above our heads and our guilt has grown even to the heavens. So now, our God, what shall we say?
We have sinned and done wrong.
We have been wicked and have rebelled.
We have turned away from Your commands and Your Word.
We have not listened to Your servants the prophets…like Isaiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah…who spoke in Your name to our kings, our princes, our fathers, and to all Your people.
We have not obeyed or kept the laws You have given us.
We have rationalized and explained away the evidence of Your greatness that we see in Creation around us.
We have suppressed the truth that we were created by You and for You, and have exchanged it for the lie that we are masters of our own fate.
We do not glorify You as God, nor give thanks to You, but live our lives as though we have no accountability to You.
We have looked to our own strength for salvation and have forgotten Your mighty acts of deliverance in the past. As though the God of Abraham, Moses, David, and Elijah no longer exists. Or if You do, You no longer involve Yourself in the affairs of Your people.
We confess that our faith in You and Your strength is weak, as though what we face today is beyond Your ability to overcome. Or beneath Your interest to intervene.
We confess to pride and arrogance that have determined we must face our enemies in our own strength. That this present darkness will pass without Your intervention.
We confess to religious intolerance that condemns those who are not like us.
We confess to religious indifference that gives lip service to You, but lacks sincere faith so that our lives are lived and our decisions are made as practical atheists—as though You do not exist.
You are merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against You. But this day we are covered with shame.
We pray with clarity. We ask, great Creator God, that You give sight to those born spiritually blind. Open the eyes of Your people to see You for who You truly are. Don’t let their sight be dimmed or distorted by centuries of religiosity and rejection of the Truth. Open their eyes to Jesus as their Messiah. Then show up in great power, giving Your people supernatural strength to withhold vengeance, to execute justice, to remember mercy, to walk humbly as they acknowledge that victory will be won not by their might nor by their own power, but by Your Spirit. Yet we do ask You for victory over the enemy…
We pray for the enemies who are coming against Jerusalem to be convicted of their sin, for them to repent and turn from it and ask You for forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ. But if they do not, we ask that this day, You defeat and destroy them.
We ask that You strip Jerusalem’s enemies of peace and cooperation among themselves, so that they are divided and turn on each other.
We ask that their evil plans would be exposed or fall back on their own heads.
We ask that the face of every man, woman or child that they have slaughtered, beheaded, buried, or crucified be indelibly imprinted on their mind’s eye, filling them with turmoil and robbing them of clear thinking.
We ask that for every man, woman or child who is martyred for their faith in You, ten others would rise up to take their place, so that the persecution would fan revival fires throughout the Muslim world. Please, dear Jesus, keep showing up in dreams and visions and in any form You choose in order to change hearts and minds, melting generations of prejudice and hatred with Your love and peace.
We ask that the fear of the One, True, Living God would fall on Israel’s neighbors…and on Israel.
We ask that the ancient prince of the Persian kingdom and every other demonic force coming against Your City be bound and rendered powerless in the face of the hosts of Heaven.
We ask that the Iron Dome would be 100% effective, and that You would continue to anoint Israel’s engineers and physicists with ability to design systems that would provide a protective shield for The Beautiful Land.
We ask for supernatural wisdom for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his Cabinet, his counselors, and all government officials, so that they make decisions in line with Your perfect will. Draw the Prime Minister into Your Word; and when he opens and reads it, speak to him through it.
We ask that You turn the heart of The Honorable Nir Barkat, Jerusalem’s mayor, toward You; that he would acknowledge his need of You and issue a city-wide call to prayer.
We ask that You comfort the mothers, fathers, and children living in the farming communities near the Gaza border. Give them an overwhelming sense of Your presence and love for each of them. As they turn to You, give them peace…and a good night’s sleep.
We ask that You woo Your people to Yourself. Draw them to put their trust in You, so that You are their refuge and their fortress. Save them. Cover them. Be with them in trouble. Command Your angels to guard them and keep them in all their ways.
You are a great prayer-hearing, prayer-answering, covenant-keeping, miracle-working God. Hear our prayer! Listen to Your children as we pray for the peace of the city on which You have placed Your name. Rise up, great Lion of Judah, and defend Your people. Deliver Jerusalem from her enemies so that all the nations of the earth may know that You alone are God. Answer us! For the glory of Your great name!
We will pray until our prayers are confirmed, because we believe in You. We believe that Jerusalem’s God is God. We believe You are as strong today on her behalf as You were in the beginning, and always have been, and always will be. We believe that since the first day we set our minds to gain understanding and to humble ourselves before our God, our words have been heard. We believe that we have asked according to Your will, in the name of Your dear Son, and for His glory alone. Therefore we expect to receive answers.
Now we await Your confirmation. We have prayed for the peace of Jerusalem. We don’t know what else to do. But our eyes are fixed expectantly on You.
For the Glory of Yeshua / Jesus Christ. AMEN
 Zechariah 12:10
 Nehemiah 9:6
 Based on the Song of Moses, Exodus 15
 The promises above were taken from Ezekiel 36:26; Zechariah 12:10-12; Romans 11:26-27; Ezekiel 37:23; Ezekiel 37:26, Revelation 7:1-4, 14:1-5
 Paraphrased from Ezra 9, Daniel 9, and Romans 1
 Israel has the most liberal abortion laws in the world. Tel Aviv is marketed as the gay capital of the Middle East. Alcohol consumption among Israeli children is surging to the extent that Prime Minister Netanyahu has called it “an epidemic.”
 Paraphrased from Romans 1; 42% of Israelis are secular.
 Zechariah 4:6
 Romans 2:9
 2 Chronicles 20:29
 Daniel 10:12-13
 Psalm 91
 Daniel 10:12
 John 14:13-14
 2 Chronicles 20:12
DISCOURSE IV - ON SPIRITUAL WORSHIP
2. Love must be acted to render a worship spiritual. Though God commanded love in the Old Testament, yet the manner of giving the law bespoke more of fear than love. The dispensation of the law was with fire, thunder, &c., proper to raise horror, and benumb the spirit; which effect it had upon the Israelites, when they desired that God would speak no more to them. Grace is the genius of the gospel, proper to excite the affection of love. The law was given by the “disposition of angels,” with signs to amaze; the gospel was ushered in with the “songs of angels,” composed of peace and good-will, calculated to ravish the soul. Instead of the terrible voice of the law, “Do this and live,” the comfortable voice of the gospel is, “Grace, grace!” Upon this account the principle of the Old Testament was fear, and the worship often expressed by the fear of God. The principle of the New Testament is love. The Mount Sinai gendereth to bondage (Gal. 4:44); Mount Sion, from whence the gospel or evangelical law goes forth, gendereth to libery; and therefore the “spirit of bondage unto fear,” as the property of the law, is opposed to the state of adoption, the principle of love, as the property of the gospel (Rom. 8:15); and therefore the worship of God under the gospel, or New Testament, is oftener expressed by love than fear, as proceeding from higher principles, and acting nobler passions. In this state we are to serve him without fear (Luke 1:74); without a bondage fear; not without a fear of unworthy treating him; with a “fear of his goodness” as it is prophesied of (Hosea 9:5). Goodness is not the object of terror, but reverence; God, in the law, had more the garb of a judge; in the gospel, of a father; the name of a father is sweeter and bespoaks more of affection. As their services were with a feeling of the thunders of the law in their consciences, so is our worship to be with a sense of gospel grace in our spirits; spiritual worship is that, therefore, which is exercised with a spiritual and heavenly affection, proper to the gospel. The heart should be enlarged according to the liberty the gospel gives of drawing near to God as a father. As he gives us the nobler relation of children, we are to act the nobler qualities of children. Love should act according to its nature, which is desired of union; desire of a moral union by affections, as well as a mystical union by faith; as flame aspires to reach flame, and become one with it. In every act of worship we should endeavor to be united to God, and become one spirit with him. This grace doth spiritualize worship; in that one word, love, God hath wrapt up all the devotion he requires of us; it is the total sum of the first table, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God:” it is to be acted in everything we do; but in worship our hearts should more solemnly rise up and acknowledge him amiable and lovely, since the law is stripped of its cursing power, and made sweet in the blood of the Redeemer. Love is a thing acceptable of itself, but nothing acceptable without it; the gifts of one man to another are spiritualized by it. We would not value a present without the affection of the nor; every man would lay claim to the love of others, though he would not to their possessions. Love is God’s right in every service, and the noblest thing we can bestow upon him in our adorations of him. God’s gifts to us are not so estimable without his love; nor our services valuable by him without the exercise of a choice affection. Hezekiah regarded not his deliverance without the love of the Deliverer; “In love to my soul thou hast delivered me” (Isa. 38:17). So doth God say, In love to my honor thou hast worshipped me: so that love must be acted, to render our worship spiritual.
3. A spiritual sensibleness of our own weakness is necessary to make our worship spiritual. Affections to God cannot be without relentings in ourselves. When the eye is spiritually fixed upon a spiritual God, the heart will mourn that the worship is no more spiritually suitable. The more we act love upon God, as amiable and gracious, the more we should exercise grief in ourselves, as we are vile and offending. Spiritual worship is a melting worship, as well as an elevating worship; it exalts God, and debaseth the creature. The Publican was more spiritual in his humble address to God, when the Pharisee was wholly carnal with his swelling language. A spiritual love in worship will make us grieve that we have given him so little, and could give him no more. It is a part of spiritual duty to bewail our carnality mixed with it; as we receive mercies spiritually, when we receive them with a sense of God’s goodness and our own vileness; in the same manner we render a spiritual worship.
4. Spiritual desires for God render the service spiritual; when the soul “follows hard after him” (Psalm 3:8); pursues after God as a God of infinite and communicative goodness, with sighs and groans unutterable. A spiritual soul seems to be transformed into hunger and thirst, and becomes nothing but desire. A carnal worshipper is taken with the beauty and magnificence of the temple; a spiritual worshipper desires to see the glory of God in the sanctuary (Psalm 3:2), he pants after God: as he came to worship, to find God, he boils up in desires for God, and is loth to go from it without God, “the living God” (Psalm 42:2). He would see the Urim and the Thummim; the unusual sparkling of the stones upon the high-priest’s breast-plate. That deserves not the title of spiritual worship, when the soul makes no longing inquiries: “Saw you him whom my soul loves?” A spiritual worship is when our desires are chiefly for God in the worship; as David desires to dwell in the house of the Lord; but his desire is not terminated there, but to behold the beauty of the Lord (Psalm 27:4), and taste the ravishing sweetness of his presence. No doubt but Elijah’s desires for the enjoyment of God while he was mounting to heaven, were as fiery as the chariot wherein he was carried. Unutterable groans acted in worship are the fruit of the Spirit, and certainly render it a spiritual service (Rom. 8:26). Strong appetites are agreeable to God, and prepare us to eat the fruit of worship. A spiritual Paul presseth forward to know Christ, and the power of his resurrection; and a spiritual worshipper actually aspires in every duty to know God, and the power of hia grace. To desire worship as an end is carnal; to desire it as a means, and act desires in it for communion with God in it, is spiritual, and the fruit of a spiritual life.
5. Thankfulness and admiration are to be exercised in spiritual service. This is a worship of spirits; praise is the adoration of the blessed angels (Isa. 6:3), and of glorified spirits (Rev. 4:11): “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor, and power;” and (Rev. 5:13, 14), they worship him ascribing “Blessing, honor, glory, and power to Him that sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb forever and ever.” Other acts of worship are confined to this life, and leave us as soon as we have set our foot in heaven; there, no notes but this of praise are warbled out; the power, wisdom, love, and grace in the dispensation of the gospel, seat themselves in the thoughts and tongues of blessed souls. Can a worship on earth be spiritual, that hath no mixture of an eternal heavenly duty with it? The worship of God in innocence had been chiefly an admiration of him in the works of creation; and should not our evangelical worship be an admiration of him in the works of redemption, which is a restoration to a better state? After the petitioning for pardoning grace (Hos. 14:2), there is a rendering the calves or heifers of our lips, alluding to the heifers used in eucharistical sacrifices. The praise of God is the choicest sacrifice and worship under a dispensation of redeeming grace; this is the prime and eternal part of worship under the gospel. The Psalmist (Psalm 149:; 150.), speaking of the gospel times, spurs on to this kind of worship; “Sing to the Lord a new song; let the children of Zion be joyful in their king; let the saints be joyful in glory, and sing aloud upon their beds; let the high praises of God be in their mouths;” he begins and ends both Psalms with “Praise ye the Lord.” That cannot be a spiritual and evangelical worship, that hath nothing of the praise of God in the heart. The consideration of God’s adorable perfections, discovered in the gospel, will make us come to him with more seriousness; beg blessings of him with more confidence; fly to him with a winged faith and love, and more spiritually glorify him in our attendances upon him.
6. Spiritual worship is performed with delight. The evangelical worship is prophetically signified by keeping the feast of tabernacles; “They shall go up from year to year, to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles” (Zech. 14:16): why that feast, when there were other feasts observed by the Jews? That was a feast celebrated with the greatest joy, typical of the gladness which was to be under the exhibition of the Messiah, and a thankful commemoration of the redemption wrought by him. It was to be celebrated five days after the “solemn day of atonement” (Lev. 23:34, compared with ver. 27), wherein there was one of the solemnest types of the sacrifice of the death of Christ. In this feast they commemorated their exchange of Egypt for Canaan; the manna wherewith they were fed; the water out of the rock wherewith they were refreshed; in remembrance of this, they poured water on the ground, pronouncing those words in Isaiah, they shall “draw waters out of the wells of salvation;” which our Saviour refers to himself (John 7:37), inviting them to him, to drink “upon the last day, the great day of the feast of tabernacles,” wherein the solemn ceremony was observed. Since we are freed by the death of the Redeemer from the curses of the law, God requires of us a joy in spiritual privileges. A sad frame in worship gives the lie to all gospel liberty, to the purchase of the Redeemer’s death, the triumphs of his resurrection: it is a carriage, as if we were under the influences of the legal fire and lightning, and an entering a protest against the freedom of the gospel. The evangelical worship is a spiritual worship; and praise, Joy, and delight are prophesied of, as great ingredients in attendance on gospel ordinances (Isaiah 12:3–5). What was occasion of terror in the worship of God under the law, is the occasion of delight in the worship of God under the gospel. The justice and holiness of God, so terrible in the law, becomes comfortable under the gospel; since they have feasted themselves on the active and passive obedience of the Redeemer. The approach is to God as gracious, not to God as unpacified; as a son to a father, not as a criminal to a judge. Under the law, God was represented as a judge; remembering their sin in their sacrifices, and representing the punishment they had merited: in the gospel as a father, accepting the atonement, and publishing the reconciliation wrought by the Redeemer. Delight in God is a gospel frame; therefore the more joyful, the more spiritual: “The sabhath is to be a delight;” not only in regard of the day, but in regard to the duties of it (Isa. 58:13); in regard of the marvellous work he wrought on it; raising up our blessed Redeemer on that day, whereby a foundation was laid for the rendering our persons and services acceptable to God (Psalm 118:24; “This is the day which the Lord hath made, we will be glad and rejoice in it.” A lumpish frame becomes not a day and a duty, that hath so noble and spiritual a mark upon it. The angels, in the first act of worship after the creation, were highly joyful (Job 38:7): “They shouted for joy,” &c. The saints have particularly acted this in their worship. David would not content himself with an approach to the altar, without going to God as his “exceeding joy” (Psalm 43:4). My triumphant joy when he danced before the ark, he seems to be transformed into delight and pleasure (2 Sam. 6:14, 16). He had as much delight in worship, as others had in their harvest and vintage. And those that took joyfully the spoiling of their goods, would as joyfully attend upon the communications of God. Where there is a fulness of the Spirit, there is a “waking melody to God in the heart” (Eph. 5:18, 19); and where there is an acting of love (as there is in all spiritual services), the proper fruit of it is joy in a near approach to the object of the soul’s affection. Love is appetites unionzs; the more love, the more delight in the approachings of God to the soul, or the outgoings of the soul to God. As the object of worship is amiable in a spiritual eye, so the means tending to a communion with this object are delightful in the exercise. Where there is no delight in a duty, there is no delight in the object of the duty; the more of grace, the more of pleasure in the actings of it; as the more of nature there is in any natural agent, the more of pleasure in the act, so the more heavenly the worship, the more spiritual. Delight is the frame and temper of glory. A heart filled up to the brim with joy, is a heart filled up to the brim with the Spirit; joy is the fruit of the Holy Ghost (Gal. 5:22). (1.) Not the joy of God’s dispensation flowing from God, but a gracious active joy streaming to God. There is a joy, when the comforts of God are dropped into the soul, as oil upon the wheel; which indeed makes the faculties move with more speed and activity in his service, like the chariots of Aminadab; and a soul may serve God in the strength of this taste, and its delight terminate in the sensible comfort. This is not the joy I mean, but such a joy that hath God for its object, delighting in him as the term, in worship as the way to him; the first is God’s dispensation, the other is our duty; the first is an act of God’s favor to us, the second a sprout of habitual grace in us. The comforts we have from God may elevate our duties; but the grace we have within doth spiritualize our duties.
(2.) Nor is every delight an argument of a spiritual service. All the requisites to worship must be taken in. A man may invent a worship and delight in it; as Micah in the adoration of his idol, when he was glad he had got both an Ephod and a Levite (Judges 17). As a man may have a contentment in sin, so he may have a contentment in worship; not because it is a worship of God, but the worship of his own invention, agreeable to his own humor and design, as (Isa. 58:2) it is said, they “delighted in approaching to God;” but it was for carnal ends. Novelty engenders complacency; but it must be a worship wherein God will delight; and that must be a worship according to his own rule and infinite wisdom, and not our shallow fancies. God requires a cheerfulness in his service, especially under the gospel, where he sits upon a throne of grace; discovers himself in his amiableness, and acts the covenant of grace, and the sweet relation of a father. The priests of old were not to sully themselves with any sorrow, when they were in the exercise of their functions. God put a bar to the natural affections of Aaron and his sons, when Nadab and Abihu had been cut off by a severe hand of God (Lev. 10:6). Every true Christian in a higher order of priesthood, is a person dedicated to joy and peace, offering himself a lively sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; and there is no christian duty, but is to be set off and seasoned with cheerfulness: he that loves a cheerful giver in acts of charity, requires no less a cheerful spirit in acts of worship; as this is an ingredient in worship, so it is the means to make your spirits intent in worship. When the heart triumphs in the consideration of divine excellency and goodness, it will be angry at anything that offers to jog and disturb it.
7. Spiritual worship is to be performed, though with a delight in God, yet with a deep reverence of God. The gospel, in advancing the spirituality of worship, takes off the terror, but not the reverence of God; which is nothing else in its own nature, but a due and high esteem of the excellency of a thing according to the nature of it; and, therefore, the gospel presenting us with more illustrious notices of the glorious nature of God, is so far from indulging any disesteem of him, that it requires of us a greater reverence suitable to the height of its discovery, above what could be spelt in the book of creation; the gospel worship is therefore expressed by trembling (Hos.11:10): “They shall walk after the Lord; he shall roar like a lion; when he shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the West.” When the lion of the tribe of Judah shall lift up his powerful voice in the gospel, the western Gentiles shall run trembling to walk after the Lord. God hath alway attended his greatest manifestations with remarkable characters of majesty, to create a reverence in his creature he caused the “wind to march before him,” to cut the mountain, when he manifested himself to Elijah (1 Kings 19:11); “A wind and a cloud of fire,” before that magnificent vision to Ezekiel (chap. 1:4, 5); “Thunders and lightnings” before the giving the law (Exod. 19:18); and a “mighty wind” before the giving the Spirit (Acts 2.): God requires of us an awe of him in the very act of performance. The angels are pure, and cannot fear him as sinners, but in “reverence they cover their faces” when they stand before him (Isa. 6:2): his power should make us reverence him, as we are creatures; his justice, as we are sinners; his goodness, as we are restored creatures. “God is clothed with unspeakable majesty; the glory of his face shines brighter than the lights of heaven in their beauty. Before him the angels tremble, and the heavens melt; we ought not therefore to come before him with the sacrifice of fools, nor tender a duty to him, without falling low upon our faces, and bowing the knees of our hearts in token of reverence.” Not a slavish fear, like that of devils; but a “godly fear,” like that of saints (Heb. 12:28); joined with a sense of an unmovable kingdom, becometh us; and this the apostle calls a grace necessary to make our service acceptable, and therefore the grace necessary to make it spiritual, since nothing finds admission to God, but what is of a spiritual nature. The consideration of his glorious nature should imprint an awful respect upon our souls to him; his goodness should make his majesty more adorable to us, as his majesty makes his goodness more, admirable in his condescensions to us. As God is a Spirit, our worship must be spiritual; and being, as he is, the supreme Spirit, our worship must be reverential; we must observe the state he takes upon him in his ordinances; “He is in heaven, we upon the earth;” we must not therefore be “hasty to utter anything before God” (Eccles. 5:7). Consider him a Spirit in the highest heavens, and ourselves spirits dwelling in a dreggy earth. Loose and garish frames debase him to our own quality; slight postures of spirit intimate him to be a slight and mean being; our being in covenant with him, must not lower our awful apprehensions of him; as lie is the Lord thy God, it is a glorious and fearful name, or wonderful (Deut. 28:58); though he lay by his justice to believers, he doth not lay by his majesty; when we have a confidence in him, because he is the Lord our God, we must have awful thoughts of his majesty, because his name is glorious. God is terrible from his holy places, in regard of the great things he doth for his Israel (Psalm 68:35); we should behave ourselves with that inward honor and respect of him, as if he were present to our bodily eyes; the higher apprehensions we have of his majesty, the greater awe will be upon our hearts in his presence, and the greater spirituality in our acts. We should manage our hearts so, as if we had a view of God in his heavenly glory.
8. Spiritual worship is to be performed with humility in our spirits. This is to follow upon the reverence of God. As we are to have high thoughts of God, that we may not debase him; we must have low thoughts of ourselves, not to vaunt before him. When we have right notions of the Divine Majesty, we shall be as worms in our own thoughts, and creep as worms into his presence; we can never consider him in his glory, but we have a fit opportunity to reflect upon ourselves, and consider how basely we revolted from him, and how graciously we are restored by him. As the gospel affords us greater discoveries of God’s nature, and so enhanceth our reverence of him, so it helps us to a fuller understanding of our own vileness and weakness, and therefore is proper to engender humility; the more spiritual and evangelical therefore any service is, the more humble it is. That is a spiritual service that doth most manifest the glory of God; and this cannot be manifested by us, without manifesting our own emptiness and nothingness. The heathens were sensible of the necessity of humility by the light of nature; after the name of God, signified by in scribed on the temple at Delphos, followed Γνῶθί σεαυιον, whereby was insinuated, that when we have to do with God, who is the only Ens, we should behave ourselves with a sense of our own infirmity, and infinite distance from him. As a person, so a duty leavened with pride, hath nothing of sincerity, and therefore nothing of spirituality in it (Hab. 2:4): “His soul which is lifted up, is not upright in him.” The elders that were crowned by God to be kings and priests, to offer spiritual sacrifices, uncrown themselves in their worship of him, and cast down their ornaments at “his feet” the Greek word to worship, προσκυνείν, signifies to creep like a dog upon his belly before his master; to lie low. How deep should our sense be of the privilege of God’s admitting us to his worship, and affording us such a mercy under our deserts of wrath! How mean should be our thoughts, both of our persons and performances! How patiently should we wait upon God for the success of worship! How did Abraham, the father of the faithful, equal himself to the earth, when he supplicated the God of heaven, and devote himself to him under the title of very “dust and ashes!” (Gen. 18:27.) Isaiah did but behold an evangelical apparition of God and the angels worshipping him, and presently reflects upon his “own uncleanness” (Isa. 6:5). God’s presence both requires and causes humility. How lowly is David in his own opinion, after a magnificent duty performed by himself and his people (1 Chron. 29:14): “Who am I? and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly?” The more spiritual the soul is in its carriage to God, the more humble it is; and the more gracious God is in his communications to the soul, the lower it lies. God commanded not the fiercer creatures to be offered to him in sacrifices, but lambs and kids, meek and lowly creatures; none that had stings in their tails, or venom in their tongues. The meek lamb was the daily sacrifice; the doves were to be offered by pairs; God would not have honey mixed with any sacrifice (Lev. 2:11), that breeds choler, and choler pride; but oil he commanded to be used, that supples and mollifies the parts. Swelling pride and boiling passions render our services carnal; they cannot be spiritual, without a humble sweetness and an innocent sincerity; one grain of this transcends the most costly sacrifices: a contrite heart puts a gloss upon worship (Psalm 51:16, 17). The departure of men and angels from God, began in pride; our approaches and return to him must begin in humility; and therefore all those graces, which are bottomed on humility, must be acted in worship, as faith, and a sense of our own indigence. Our blessed Saviour, the most spiritual worshiper, prostrated himself in the garden with the greatest lowliness, an offered himself upon the cross a sacrifice with the greatest humility. Melted souls in worship have the most spiritual conformity to the person of Christ in the state of humiliation, and his design in that state; as worship without it is not suitable to God, so neither is it advantageous for us. A time of worship is a time of God’s communication. The vessel must be melted to receive the mould it is designed for; softened wax is fittest to receive a stamp, and a spiritually melted soul fittest to receive a spiritual impression. We cannot perform duty in an evangelical and spiritual strain, without the meltingness and meanness in ourselves which the gospel requires.
Martin Luther | (1483-1546)
Sect. CXXXIX. — BUT let us hear Paul, who is his own interpreter. In the third chapter, drawing up, as it were, a conclusion, he saith, “What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise; for we have before proved both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.” (Rom. iii. 9). Where is now “Free-will!” All, saith he, both Jews and Greeks are under sin! Are there any ‘tropes’or ‘difficulties’here? What would the ‘invented interpretations’ of the whole world do against this all-clear sentence? He who says “all,” excepts none. And he who describes them all as being “under sin,” that is, the servants of sin, leaves them no degree of good whatever. But where has he given this proof that “they are all, both Jews and Gentiles, under sin?” Nowhere, but where I have already shewn: viz., where he saith, “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.” This he proves to them afterwards from experience: shewing them, that being hated of God, they were given up to so many vices, in order that they might be convinced from the fruits of their ungodliness, that they willed and did nothing but evil. And then, he judges the Jews also separately; where he saith, that the Jew “in the letter,” is a transgressor of the law: which he proves, in like manner, from the fruits, and from experience: saying, “Thou who declarest that a man should not steal, stealest thyself: thou who abhorrest idols, committest sacrilege.” Thus excepting none whatever, but those who are Jews “in the spirit.”
Sect. CXL. — BUT let us see how Paul proves his sentiments out of the Holy Scriptures: and whether the passages which he adduces ‘are made to have more force in Paul, than they have in their own places.’ “As it is written, (saith he,) There is none righteous, no not one. There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are all together become unprofitable: there is none that doeth good, no, not one,” &c. (Rom. iii. 10-23).
Here let him that can, produce his ‘convenient interpretation,’ invent ‘tropes,’ and pretend that the words ‘are ambiguous and obscure!’ Let him that dares, defend “Free-will” against these damnable doctrines! Then I will at once give up all and recant, and will myself become a confessor and assertor of “Free-will.” It is certain, that these words apply to all men: for the prophet introduces God, as looking down from heaven upon men and pronouncing this sentence upon them. So also Psalm xiv. 2-3. “God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand and seek after God. But they are all gone out of the way,” &c. And that the Jews might not imagine that this did not apply to them by anticipation, and asserts, that it applied to them most particularly: saying, “We know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them that are under the law.” (Rom. iii. 19). And his intention is the same, where he saith, “To the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
You hence hear, that all the sons of men, all that are under the law, that is, the Gentiles as well as the Jews, are accounted before God ungodly; not understanding, not seeking after God, no, not even one of them; being all gone out of the way and become unprofitable. And surely, among all the “children of men,” and those who are “under the law,” those must also be numbered who are the best and most laudable, who aspire after that which is meritorious and good, with all the powers of “Free-will;” and those also of whom the Diatribe boasts as having the sense and certain seeds of good implanted in them; — unless it means to contend that they are the “children” of angels!
How then can they endeavour toward good, who are all, without exception, ignorant of God, and neither regard nor seek after God? How can they have a power able to attain unto good, who all, without exception, decline from good and become utterly unprofitable? Are not the words most clear? And do they not declare this, — that all men are ignorant of God and despise God, and then, turn unto evil and become unprofitable unto good? For Paul is not here speaking of the ignorance of seeking food, or the contempt of money, but of the ignorance and contempt of religion and of godliness. And that ignorance and contempt, most undoubtedly, are not in the “flesh,” that is, (as you interpret it,) ‘the inferior and grosser affections,’ but in the most exalted and most noble powers of man, in which, righteousness, godliness, the knowledge and reverence of God, ought to reign; that is, in the reason and in the will; and thus, in the very power of “Free-will,” in the very seed of good, in that which is the most excellent in man!
Where are you now, friend Erasmus! you who promised ‘that you would freely acknowledge, that the most excellent faculty in man is “flesh,” that is, ungodly, if it should be proved from the Scriptures?’ Acknowledge now, then, when you hear, that the most excellent faculty in man is not only ungodly, but ignorant of God, existing in the contempt of God, turned to evil, and unable to turn towards good. For what is it to be “unrighteous,” but for the will, (which is one of the most noble faculties in man,) to be unrighteous? What is it to understand nothing either of God or good, but for the reason (which is another of the most noble faculties in man) to be ignorant of God and good, that is, to be blind to the knowledge of godliness? What is it to be “gone out of the way,” and to have become unprofitable, but for men to have no power in one single faculty, and the least power in their most noble faculties, to turn unto good, but only to turn unto evil! What is it not to fear God, but for men to be in all their faculties, and most of all in their noblest faculties, contemners of all the things of God, of His words, His works, His laws, His precepts, and His will! What then can reason propose, that is right, who is thus blind and ignorant? What can the will choose that is good, which is thus evil and impotent? Nay, what can the will pursue, where the reason can propose nothing, but the darkness of its own blindness and ignorance? And where the reason is thus erroneous, and the will averse, what can the man either do or attempt, that is good!
The Bondage of the Will or Christian Classics Ethereal Library
Lectures 1 - 3 | David A. deSilva
1 Esdras, Ben Sira, 1-2 Mac
1-2 Macc, Judith
July 27, 1988
The Puzzle Of Prayer
July 24, 1988
The Puzzle Of Prayer 2
July 31, 1988
The Puzzle Of Prayer 3
August 7, 1988
Jon Courson | Jon Courson
Brett Meador | Athey Creek