Daily Archives: October 5, 2019

October 5 Accepting Our Inadequacies

Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 3:1–6

Key Verse: 2 Corinthians 3:5

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.

As we press past all our fears of being inadequate to fulfill the call God has on our lives, we begin to see the full blessing that comes with accepting our inadequacies. Paul wrote, “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5 nasb).

Here are some blessings from recognizing our inadequacies:

  • They drive us to God. If we feel we are self-sufficient in all things, we may not seek the Lord’s guidance.
  • They relieve us of the burden of trying to do the will of God in our own strength. The burden rests upon Him.
  • They force us to live our lives and do His work in the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • They provide God the opportunity to demonstrate what great things He can do with so little. We know we are incapable and that He is capable of all.
  • They free God to use us to the maximum of our potential. We stop trying to interject our own contributions, giving all of who we are for His purposes.
  • They allow God to receive the full glory for His work. If we know He is responsible, we will point to Him.
  • They enable us to walk in contentment and quietness of spirit. Nothing is more satisfying than seeing God use our willingness to advance His kingdom.

Father, it is a miracle in and of itself that You use my inadequacies to fulfill Your purposes and draw me closer to You in the process. You are an awesome God.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 292). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

October 5 The Cure for a Heavy Heart

Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 2:1–10

Key Verse: 1 Peter 2:9

You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

Praise seems to be a natural part of what we want to do when things are going our way. But on the days when the dishwasher breaks or the children are sick or the mechanic gives you bad news about the car, it is much more difficult to be effusive with thanksgiving.

God understands how your emotions are built; He made them. He also knows the cure for a heart weighed down by concerns and irritations—praise.

Praise focuses your attention upon God. When you take a long and deliberate look at the character and ways of the Lord who loved you enough to die for you, your eyes are naturally shifted away from the difficulty and onto His ability to care for you.

Praise increases your faith. Telling God what you love about Him always involves reciting His past actions of might and power on your behalf. You can look back at the times He sent special provision at just the right moment and thank Him for them. This process results in a heart that expands with joy and security in Him.

Praise gives you a sense of identity. When you praise God, you act as one who belongs to Him. According to 1 Peter 2:9 (nasb), you are a member of “a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” That is reason enough to praise Him forever.

Lord, on difficult days—when I don’t feel like it—I still want to praise You. Thank You for delivering me from darkness into light. That is reason enough to praise You forever.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 292). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

October 5 Provision and Instruction

Scripture reading: 2 Timothy 3:14–17

Key verse: Psalm 119:105

Your word is a lamp to my feet

And a light to my path.

Many people approach the subject of God’s will with a good deal of fear and confusion. A certain air of mystery seems to surround it, as though finding His will is a lifelong hunt for a hidden and hard-to-find secret purpose.

It’s true that God doesn’t tell you everything about your entire life right now. You cannot possibly know all that He has in store for you. God is interested in your relationship with Him today, and along the way of day-by-day walking with Him, He unfolds your path according to the light of His Word (Ps. 119:105). He wants you to let Him lead.

In his book Knowing and Doing the Will of God, J. I. Packer explains,

Scripture presents guidance as a covenant blessing promised to each of God’s people in the form of instruction on how to live, both in broad policy terms and in making particular decisions.

How does God guide? By instructing. How does he instruct? Partly by his shaping of our circumstances, and partly by his gift of wisdom to understand and digest the teaching of his word and to apply it to ourselves in our circumstances.

So God’s regular method of guidance is a combination of providential and instructional action … Wisdom will always be given if we are humble and docile enough to receive it.

Father, design my circumstances to lead me to the center of Your will. Give me the wisdom to understand and digest the teaching of Your Word.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 292). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

10/05/19 In Christ — ChuckLawless.com

READING: Isaiah 1-2, Ephesians 1

In Jesus, our life is never again the same. In fact, don’t miss words like “in Christ” and “in Him” in Ephesians 1—a chapter that includes a series of images that remind us who we are in Christ:

  • He has “blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Eph 1:3)
  • God “chose us in him” (Eph 1:4)
  •  He “predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ. . . . “ (Eph 1:5)
  • “to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves” (Eph 1:6)
  • In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Eph 1:10)
  • In him we were also chosen” (Eph 1:11)
  • “you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation”  (Eph. 1:13)
  • “When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit” (Eph 1:13)

Other images like these echo in much of the book of Ephesians. At the bottom line, however, is this truth: our salvation is not dependent on us, but on God.  It is entirely in Him and through Him that we have life. He is worthy of our praise and our obedience.

PRAYER: “Thank You, God, for all You’ve done for me.”

TOMORROW’S READING: Review and catch-up day

via 10/05/19 In Christ — ChuckLawless.com

October 5, 2019 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

God Does Not Forget His Own

For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. (6:10)

God knows who are really His and who are faithful. He will not forget His own or their work for Him. Our names are securely in His book of life. Our salvation will not be lost and our rewards will not be forgotten. “Rest easy,” the writer says. “Don’t worry.”

Many Christians today, as throughout history, experience times of doubt and even anguish at the supposed prospect of losing their salvation. When they read or hear a message of judgment, they are shaken and insecure. They do not know what it is to rest in the finished work of Christ and in their positional standing in Him before God.

After Malachi had given his severe warning of judgment, many of the faithful believers apparently were worried that it applied to them. But the Lord calmed their fear. “A book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who esteem His name. ‘And they will be Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘… I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him’ ” (Mal. 3:16–17). In the next chapter, after still another warning to the wicked, God again reassures His own: “But for you who fear My name the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings” (4:2). God always knows His faithful; He always knows His own. We should not fear the final judgment. If we are in Christ, we can never be condemned. We should not worry about missing the rapture. If we belong to Christ, He will be sure to take us with Him. The sovereignty of God and His faithfulness secure us.

works are evidence of love

A Christian’s works are not what saved him or what keep him saved, but they are an evidence of his salvation. As James tells us, faith without works is dead—not alive, not real, not genuine. Our faith is demonstrated by our works (James 2:18, 26). God is not so unfair and insensitive that He fails to see the works of love His beloved children perform. He clearly sees the fruit of our righteousness.

Paul told the Thessalonian believers that he knew God had chosen them to be His, to be saved, because of their “work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 1:3–4). They had the fruit of good works to go along with their statement of faith. Love is a product of faith.

love his name

Love for and service to the brethren is an evidence of salvation (cf. John 13:34–35). But an even more significant evidence is love shown toward His name. God knows when our service is truly for His glory by whether or not it is done out of love for His name.

As important as loving fellow Christians is, loving God is immeasurably more important. In fact, without loving God first and foremost, we are not able to love each other as we should. The Jewish Christians being commended here ministered … to the saints first of all out of their love for God’s name. The very reason they could love each other so much and serve each other so well was because they loved God so much. The key to true Christian service is a burning love for the Lord. All Christians ought to be attractive and lovable; but all are not. In this we often do not differ from unbelievers. But our responsibility, our calling, is to love and serve fellow Christians—and also unbelievers—first of all because of God, not because of themselves.

In the introduction of his letter to the Romans, Paul tells them of his gratitude for their faithfulness and of his longing to visit them (Rom. 1:8–10). But he also tells them that the driving force behind his ministry to them is the sake of God’s name and that it is first of all God that he serves (1:5, 9). God’s name stands for all that He is. To love His name is to have a passionate desire for the glory of all that God is. Speaking of some traveling ministers, John says of them, “For they went out for the sake of the Name” (3 John 7). They ministered because of their overwhelming love for the Lord. When Jesus recommissioned Peter, He did not ask him if he loved men and, if so, then to go out and serve them. He asked Peter three times, “Do you love Me?” After each of Peter’s affirmative replies, Jesus commanded him to feed His sheep (John 21:15–17). Our service to Jesus Christ must be based on an overriding love for Him. We can never properly love men, saved or unsaved, lovable or unlovable, until we properly love Christ.

These faithful believers to whom Hebrews was primarily addressed loved the name of the Lord. This was positive proof that their faith was the real thing. They were ministering to each other because they loved their Lord. We hear a great deal about loving and ministering to the Body of Christ, about serving each other in the life of the Body. No emphasis could be more scriptural—if it is in the right perspective. The genuineness and the effectiveness of the ministry we have to one another as saints is directly related to the love we have for Christ. The more we love God, the more we will want to do His will. Our concern should not be for trying to whip up love for people, but for loving God more and more. When our love for Him is right, our love for others will be right.

an unbroken ministry

Keeping God as our focus and first love not only gives us the desire and power to love others and to serve them, but it also sustains us in our love and service. Only God’s love has such staying power. The faithful, loving Hebrews had ministered and were still ministering. Their love issued in an unbroken ministry to the saints. They just kept loving and serving. They could always speak of their fellowship with the Lord and of their Christian service in the present tense.

How Should We Serve?

First of all we serve by ministering our spiritual gifts (cf. Rom. 12:3–8; 1 Cor. 12:9–11; 1 Pet. 4:10–11). Our frontline of service is through our spiritual gifts. But our spiritual gifts are not given for us to take and use by ourselves, much less for ourselves. They are to be used for God’s glory, in His power and for His name’s sake. Whether our gift is counseling, showing mercy, helping, teaching, preaching, administration, or whatever, it is to be ministered because we love the One who gave it to us.

Much service to one another, of course, has nothing to do with our spiritual gifts but is simply part of every Christian’s responsibility. Every believer’s ministry, for example, involves praying for other believers. We are to “pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18). Our ministry to one another also involves rebuking sin in a brother, seeking to restore him in love, confessing to one another, forgiving, bearing one another’s burdens, caring for the weaker brother, giving to the needs of the saints, and many other responsibilities. All these things are part of our ministry to one another, and none of them can be generated on its own. All must be generated by the right kind of love for Jesus Christ.

The Christian life boils down to one thing: the measure of our love for the Lord. How preoccupied are we with His name—not with saying it sentimentally in a “spiritual” tone or with vainly repeating it in our conversation and prayer—but with doing His will for the sake of His glory? How lofty and exalted is our view of God and how overwhelming are our concern and genuine love for Him? When we love Him with all our “heart and soul and mind and strength,” we will then be able—and only then be able—to love our neighbor as ourselves.

The saints that are ministered to are simply fellow Christians. All true Christians are hagios, “holy ones,” or saints (cf. 1 Cor. 1:2). It goes without saying that we often do not think or act like saints, in the popular sense. But the writer is speaking of our identity in Christ. We are holy ones in our Lord, even when we are unfaithful and act unsaintly. Being a saint has nothing at all to do with one’s degree of spiritual maturity or rank. It refers to any person who is saved, who is set apart by God for Himself in His Son Jesus Christ. Because God sees us as He sees His Son, we are all “holy in His sight.”

The proof that the Hebrews addressed in 6:9–10 were true believers was their loving, faithful, and continuing ministry to fellow believers, fellow saints. The greatest gift our love can give God is that of loving, faithful service to each other, His children. If we love Him, we will serve one another. To say we love God while we have no use for our brothers in Christ is to lie. John, often called the apostle of love, goes into this truth in depth in his first letter. “The one who says he is in the light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now.” A few chapters later, he puts the same truth even more strongly: “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” In the last chapter he summarizes the truth: “Whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him” (1 John 2:9; 4:8; 5:1). Loving one another is not an option or an extra; it is bedrock Christian living.[1]


10 The fruits of righteousness which have shown themselves in their lives are the acts of service performed for their fellow-Christians. There is no good reason for restricting God’s “holy people” (“saints”) here to those in Jerusalem because of the similar language in Rom. 15:25; 1 Cor. 16:1; 2 Cor. 9:1—in those passages it is the context that shows that Jerusalem believers are intended. The “holy people” are as general here as are the “holy brothers” of Heb. 3:1. As for the acts of service referred to here, further details of the circumstances in which they were rendered are given later, in 10:32–34. If the recipients of the letter were resident in Rome, then the behavior for which our author commends them was a precedent for the reputation for Christian charity which the Roman church enjoyed in later times. We may think of Ignatius’s description of that church as “having the presidency of love”; or the words of Dionysius, bishop of Corinth, in his letter to Soter, bishop of Rome (c. a.d. 170): “This has been your custom from the beginning, to do good in manifold ways to all the brothers, and to send contributions to the many churches in every city, in some places relieving the poverty of the needy, and ministering to the brothers in the mines.” The point here, however, is that deeds of kindness done to the people of God are reckoned by God as done to himself, and will surely receive their reward from him.[2]


10 The pastor’s confidence is founded on two of his favorite themes: the faithfulness of God and the corresponding faithfulness due from God’s people. With an emphatic double negative he asserts: “For God is not unjust to forget your work.”6 God’s faithfulness is beyond question, as vv. 13–20 will certify.

Signs of his hearers’ faithfulness provide the second foundation for assurance: their “work” encompasses the full scope of their past faithful conduct (cf. 10:32–34). The pastor becomes more specific with “the love which you demonstrated for his name by having ministered to the saints and by ministering to them” (cf. 13:1–6). Their service to other believers has demonstrated their love for God. They have even risked their own security by supporting those subjected to persecution (10:33–34). The use of both aorist and present participles makes it plain that their past demonstration of love continues into the present. We need not wonder at the pastor’s mention of love for God instead of his favorite themes of faith and obedience.9 Mention of this love (evidenced by their service) allows him to affirm the sincerity of their faith. They lack, however, something necessary for their perseverance in that faith—a firm grasp on the reality of God’s promises for the future and his provision for their attainment. The pastor is intent on supplying this lack.[3]


6:10 / God remembers the readers’ laudable performance in the past and is ready to sustain them in the midst of present difficulty. Later in the epistle (10:32–36) the author details some of that past performance and exhorts the readers to remember it themselves. As then, so now, God is on their side and will sustain them. Their good deeds in the past continue (to help them) in the present, and this itself bodes well for the future. niv omits the opening logical connective “for.” His people is literally “the saints,” a technical expression for Christians used in this sense elsewhere in the epistle only in 13:24.[4]


6:10. What had the readers of Hebrews done to make the writer confident that they were believers? The readers’ works and God’s justice convinced him that his friends had given a demonstration of divine grace.

First, he mentioned the work of the readers. They had labored in Jesus’ name. Their works included concern for others, righteous living, and other Christian virtues. Hebrews 10:32–36 points out additional details of righteous living.

Second, he pointed out the love of the readers. They had ministered to other Christians in the past. They continued to follow this ministry. We see a past and a present participation in their ministry.

Third, he cited the justice of God. In the face of such overwhelming moral evidence, it seemed inconceivable to the writer that God would overlook the works and the love which were evident products of divine grace.

We should be careful not to see this verse as offering support for any doctrine of salvation by works. God had no obligation to the readers, nor did they have any claim on him. Their works were the normal fruit which we should expect from believers. We would expect that God would look with favor upon the evidence of transformed lives which they put out.

In 1979, Vladimir Bojev, a tough, hard-drinking Russian unbeliever, barged into a Baptist service in Russia and blustered, “I’m going to destroy you all. You are just religious fanatics.” To his surprise a beautiful young lady suggested that the believers gather around him and pray for him. Bojev said, “The next thing I knew, I was the center of a prayer circle. I had never before known such love.” The Baptists invited him back, and Vladimir returned to meet with the Baptists daily for two months. He received Christ, married the young lady, and became pastor of a Baptist church in Lipetsk, four hundred kilometers southwest of Moscow. Vladimir said, “Their love won me to Christ and I was converted.” Transformed lives convince others that our Christianity is genuine. Transformed lives attract others to Jesus.[5]


6:10. The author knew that God is not unjust. His readers would not be forsaken. God would remember their work and the love they had shown Him in their helping other believers. The author’s words were a skilled touch on the hearts of his fellow Christians. In speaking of them, he reminded his readers of what they had done for their fellow Christians and were still doing. He thus encouraged them to keep it up while assuring them that God was conscious of all their aid and available to help them in any needed way.[6]


10. For God is not unrighteous, &c. These words signify as much as though he had said, that from good beginnings he hoped for a good end.

But here a difficulty arises, because he seems to say that God is bound by the services of men: “I am persuaded,” he says, “as to your salvation, because God cannot forget your works.” He seems thus to build salvation on works, and to make God a debtor to them. And the sophists, who oppose the merits of works to the grace of God, make much of this sentence, “God is not unrighteous.” For they hence conclude that it would be unjust for him not to render for works the reward of eternal salvation. To this I briefly reply,—that the Apostle does not here speak avowedly of the cause of our salvation, and that therefore no opinion can be formed from this passage as to the merits of works, nor can it be hence determined what is due to works. The Scripture shews everywhere that there is no other fountain of salvation but the gratuitous mercy of God: and that God everywhere promises reward to works, this depends on that gratuitous promise, by which he adopts us as his children, and reconciles us to himself by not imputing our sins. Reward then is reserved for works, not through merit, but through the free bounty of God alone; and yet even this free reward of works does not take place, except we be first received into favour through the kind mediation of Christ.

We hence conclude, that God does not pay us a debt, but performs what he has of himself freely promised, and thus performs it, inasmuch as he pardons us and our works; nay, he looks not so much on our works as on his own grace in our works. It is on this account that he forgets not our works, because he recognises himself and the work of his Spirit in them. And this is to be righteous, as the Apostle says, for he cannot deny himself. This passage, then, corresponds with that saying of Paul, “He who has begun in you a good work will perfect it.” (Phil. 1:6.) For what can God find in us to induce him to love us, except what he has first conferred on us? In short, the sophists are mistaken in imagining a mutual relation between God’s righteousness and the merits of our works, since God on the contrary so regards himself and his own gifts, that he carries on to the end what of his own good-will he has begun in us, without any inducement from anything we do; nay, God is righteous in recompensing works, because he is true and faithful: and he has made himself a debtor to us, not by receiving anything from us; but as Augustine says, by freely promising all things.

And labour of love, &c. By this he intimates that we are not to spare labour, if we desire to perform our duty towards our neighbours; for they are not only to be helped by money, but also by counsel, by labour, and in various other ways. Great sedulity, then, must be exercised, many troubles must be undergone, and sometimes many dangers must be encountered. Thus let him who would engage in the duties of love, prepare himself for a life of labour.

He mentions in proof of their love, that they had ministered and were still ministering to the saints. We are hence reminded, that we are not to neglect to serve our brethren. By mentioning the saints, he means not that we are debtors to them alone; for our love ought to expand and be manifested towards all mankind; but as the household of faith are especially recommended to us, peculiar attention is to be paid to them; for as love, when moved to do good, has partly a regard to God, and partly to our common nature, the nearer any one is to God, the more worthy he is of being assisted by us. In short, when we acknowledge any one as a child of God, we ought to embrace him with brotherly love.

By saying that they had ministered and were still ministering, he commended their perseverance; which in this particular was very necessary; for there is nothing to which we are more prone than to weariness in well-doing. Hence it is, that though many are found ready enough to help their brethren, yet the virtue of constancy is so rare, that a large portion soon relax as though their warmth had cooled. But what ought constantly to stimulate us is even this one expression used by the Apostle, that the love shewn to the saints is shewn towards the name of the Lord; for he intimates that God holds himself indebted to us for whatever good we do to our neighbours, according to that saying, “What ye have done to one of the least of these, ye have done to me,” (Matt. 25:40;) and there is also another, “He that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord.” (Prov. 19:17.)[7]


10. not unrighteous—not unfaithful to His own gracious promise. Not that we have any inherent right to claim reward; for (1) a servant has no merit, as he only does that which is his bounden duty; (2) our best performances bear no proportion to what we leave undone; (3) all strength comes from God; but God has promised of His own grace to reward the good works of His people (already accepted through faith in Christ); it is His promise, not our merits, which would make it unrighteous were He not to reward His people’s works. God will be no man’s debtor.

your work—your whole Christian life of active obedience.

labour of love—The oldest manuscripts omit “labor of,” which probably crept in from 1 Th 1:3. As “love” occurs here, so “hope,” Heb 6:11, “faith,” Heb 6:12; as in 1 Co 13:13: the Pauline triad. By their love he sharpens their hope and faith.

ye have showed—(Compare Heb 10:32–34).

toward his name—Your acts of love to the saints were done for His name’s sake. The distressed condition of the Palestinian Christians appears from the collection for them. Though receiving bounty from other churches, and therefore not able to minister much by pecuniary help, yet those somewhat better off could minister to the greatest sufferers in their Church in various other ways (compare 2 Ti 1:18). Paul, as elsewhere, gives them the utmost credit for their graces, while delicately hinting the need of perseverance, a lack of which had probably somewhat begun to show itself.[8]


Ver. 10.—For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and the love (τοῦ κόπου in the Textus Receptus is ill supported, having, perhaps, been interpolated from 1 Thess. 1:3) which ye showed towards his Name, in that ye ministered to the saints, and do minister. It appears that the Hebrew Christians had formerly (some especial occasion being probably referred to) been active in their charity towards fellow-Christians in distress, and that such charity had not ceased. On this is grounded the persuasion that they will be kept steadfast in the faith. Those who had so shown their faith by their works would surely not be allowed to lose it. The very idea of the Divine justice implies that the use of grace, thus evidenced, will be rewarded by continuance of grace. Cf. Phil. 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perfect it (ἐπιτελέσει) until the day of Jesus Christ;” where also there is reference to deeds of charity, shown in the case of the Philippians by their sympathy with the apostle in his bonds, which charity he prays may “abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all discernment.” No difficulty need be felt in this reference to God’s justice, as though it involved the doctrine of human merit, de congruo or de condigno, claiming reward as of debt. The simple and obvious view, that God, in virtue of his justice, will be most gracious to those who have used his grace, by no means contravenes the doctrine of all grace being the free gift of his bounty (cf. 1 John 1:9; Rom. 2:6, etc.). Observe, too, as bearing on the idea of this passage, how the will to do the will of God is said by our Lord to be followed by knowledge of the doctrine (John 7:17), and how works of charity are the very tests of the final judgment (Matt. 25:31, etc.).[9]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1983). Hebrews (pp. 153–157). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Bruce, F. F. (1990). The Epistle to the Hebrews (Rev. ed., pp. 150–151). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[3] Cockerill, G. L. (2012). The Epistle to the Hebrews (pp. 281–282). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[4] Hagner, D. A. (2011). Hebrews (p. 93). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[5] Lea, T. D. (1999). Hebrews, James (Vol. 10, p. 113). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[6] Hodges, Z. C. (1985). Hebrews. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 796). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[7] Calvin, J., & Owen, J. (2010). Commentary on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews (pp. 141–144). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[8] Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 454). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[9] Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). Hebrews (p. 161). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

October 5 – Marvelling at His grace — Reformed Perspective

Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you too will be cut off. – Romans 11:22

Scripture reading: Luke 4:16-30

As Jesus said, God could have sent Elijah to many widows in Israel. So why to a foreigner? Our multi-tasking God did this for at least two reasons.

First, as a judgment on His own people. God’s prophet was unacceptable in his “hometown” and so he was sent to shower grace to a foreigner. He came to his own but his own did not receive him.

Second, to showcase His grace. Grace comes to those who don’t seek it. Clearly, the widow wasn’t a believer. She speaks about the Lord, Elisha’s God (1 Kings 17:12). But the Lord sought her. Grace comes to enemies. Zarephath is of Sidon. Wicked Jezebel introduced the worship of the Sidonian god, Baal, in Israel and to that place and those people the Lord sends His servant and His grace. As seen in the incarnation of the Lord Jesus and the Great Commission, God directs His grace to enemy-occupied territory. Grace stops at nothing to save the elect. God used the disobedience of the chosen nation to send His prophet to save this chosen foreigner. The Jews’ rejection means salvation for the Gentiles (Romans 11:11) and the death of His Son is a price God is willing to pay to save His own. Grace comes to those who believe. The widow’s faith is evidenced by her works. She trusted the word of the prophet and “did as Elijah said.” Christ, the final Prophet, invites us to come to Him and faith does precisely that, repenting and receiving the offer of salvation.

Suggestions for prayer

Pray for the Holy Spirit to open the eyes of your hearts that you may marvel at the glory of His grace and mercy. Pray that your minister may faithfully proclaim God’s Word, reproving, rebuking, and exhorting, with complete patience and teaching and that you would receive Christ as He is offered to you.

This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. John van Eyk is the Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta.

via October 5 – Marvelling at His grace — Reformed Perspective

October 5 The Foundation of Faith

scripture reading: Psalm 33
key verse: Psalm 33:21

Our heart shall rejoice in Him,
Because we have trusted in His holy name.

One significant problem concerning faith is reliance upon personal experience. Although the Lord’s answers are cause for celebration, you must be careful not to base your confidence on individual cases.

Many foundational principles govern faith’s exercise. God always responds to faith in a manner that glorifies Him. You were created to glorify the Lord, but not all of your requests are designed to honor Him.

God alone knows how to answer you so that His provision magnifies His name above all else. That is why He meets your needs often in unusual or unexpected ways. In such instances you know the Lord has worked sovereignly, and your praise is amplified. God always responds to your faith so that you are conformed to the image of Christ.

Though marred by sin, you are being molded into Christlikeness. Thus, God’s focus is greater on transforming you into Christ’s image than on answering your requests. That explains why your prayers sometimes seem to go unanswered. The omniscient Lord understands exactly how you can be shaped into Christ’s image. When you place your confidence in God, your faith depends on His criteria, not yours.

Magnify Yourself in me today, Father. Let my faith depend on Your criteria, not mine. I place my confidence in You.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (1998). Enter His gates: a daily devotional. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Saturday Selections – Oct. 5, 2019 — Reformed Perspective

Man embraces woman who killed his brother, urges her to give life to Christ

The brother of Botham Jean – a man killed by his neighbor in what she’s says was a tragic mistake — extended forgiveness to his brother’s killer. And to add to the wonder, the judge then went on to give the killer a bible.

Research into happiness echoes what the Bible has always said 

Randy Alcorn shares how research into happiness has discovered 8 factors that are also found in God’s Word.

BC pays for euthanasia but not full homecare

This is what happens “when euthanasia is legal and the money runs out” – the BC government recently forced a man to choose between being institutionalized or being killed. He chose death.

Why isn’t there online voting in Canada’s federal election?

How do you make an electronic vote both anonymous and verifiable? How can our ballot be secret, and yet still leave a trail to preclude fraud and errors? To say this is a tough problem understates it. Might the security and anonymity that is easy to do with paper be simply impossible to do online? The title link is to an in-depth look, while a briefer case for paper is made here.

40 lessons we tried to teach our children

You only have them for a little while – what do you want to teach your children?

Snopes.com fact-checks Christian satire site Babylon Bee’s jokes (5 min)

Snopes.com is the go-to fact-checker for many online, so it’s important Christians understand they too have their biases and glaring blind spots.

via Saturday Selections – Oct. 5, 2019 — Reformed Perspective

Top Weekly Stories from ChristianNews.net for 10/05/2019

‘For God So Loved the World’: Judge Gives Amber Guyger a Bible After Botham Jean Murder Trial   Oct 03, 2019 07:56 pm

The judge in the murder trial of Amber Guyger, the former Dallas police officer sentenced to 10 years for fatally shooting her neighbor, caused a stir Wednesday when she gave Guyger a Bible and told her to start reading in John 3:16 and pointed her to the gospels. ‘This is where you start,” Judge Tammy Kemp stated after giving her the Bible. “For God so loved…

Continue reading the story

‘Give Your Life to Christ’: Botham Jean’s Brother Forgives, Embraces Cop Who Killed His Brother   Oct 03, 2019 03:44 am

(Faithwire) – Brandt Jean, the brother of a black man who was shot dead by Amber Guyger, a white Dallas Police officer who said she mistook the victim’s apartment for her own, forgave his brother’s killer and hugged her in front of the courtroom Wednesday. As some people outside of the courtroom reacted angrily to the 10-year sentence given to Amber…

Continue reading the story


Nigerian ‘Torture House’: Hundreds Freed From Slavery, Abuse in Islamic School   Sep 29, 2019 01:14 pm

Nigeria (BBC) — Nearly 500 men and boys have been rescued from a building in the northern city of Kaduna, where the detainees were allegedly sexually abused and tortured, Nigerian police said. Children as young as five were among those in chains at what was thought to be an Islamic school, officers said. Kaduna police chief Ali Janga told the BBC the building…

Continue reading the story


U.K. Christian Doctor Fired for Refusing to Use Preferred ‘Gender’ Pronouns Loses Legal Battle   Oct 04, 2019 10:36 am

A Christian doctor in the United Kingdom, who says he was fired for refusing to use a patients’ preferred “gender” pronoun, has lost his court battle. Dr. David Mackereth, who lost his job after 30 years of employment because he refuses to refer to men as women and vice versa, stated to staff that he could not in good conscience use pronouns that do not align with…

Continue reading the story


Planned Parenthood Has Been Secretly Constructing an Abortion ‘Mega-Clinic’ in Illinois   Oct 03, 2019 03:15 am

Fairview Heights, Ill. (CBS News) – After over a year of secret construction, Planned Parenthood announced its newest abortion facility on Wednesday: an 18,000-square-foot mega-clinic in southern Illinois. The new location is just 13 miles away from Missouri’s last remaining abortion clinic, a facility in St. Louis fighting to keep its license. Since…

Continue reading the story


Dominican Republic Busts Sex Trafficking Ring, Rescues Dozens of Women   Oct 03, 2019 01:55 am

BOGOTA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Police in the Dominican Republic have rescued dozens of women from forced sex work in bars and nightclubs across the Caribbean island in its biggest anti-trafficking operation this year, authorities said on Tuesday. The 49 women from the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Venezuela were freed in simultaneous raids in the provinces…

Continue reading the story


Christians in Algeria Hit With More Church Closures   Sep 28, 2019 09:18 am

TIZI-OUZOU, Algeria (Morning Star News) – Authorities have sealed shut a church building in Tigzirt, Algeria, two days after shutting another building serving two churches without prior notice, sources said. Acting on orders from the governor of Tizi-Ouzou Province, eight police officers arrived at 11:45 a.m. on Tuesday (Sept. 24) at the Church of Boghni…

Continue reading the story

Weekend Snapshot · Oct. 5, 2019 – Top Stories This Week

Impeachment: Two Ways to Go With Coup d’Etat 2.0

Do NOT underestimate the combined power of the Democrat Party and its Leftmedia impeachment machine.


How MSM Impeachment ‘Pollaganda’ Shapes Public Opinion

The more the Leftmedia trumpets impeachment, the more popular it becomes.


The Power of Economic Pollaganda

The economy is reasonably healthy, but Leftmedia harping has Americans souring on it.


Clinton: Trump Is ‘An Illegitimate President’

Clinton declares that Trump defeated her because of “funny things that happened.”


Trump Reshaping Ninth Circuit Will Be Felt for Decades

It’s not just the Supreme Court but lower ones being helped by the president.


Preserving ‘Catch and Release’ by Any Means Necessary

More injunctions by Obama judges undermine Rule of Law on immigration.


Chinese Communism at 70

Beijing projects a lot of power to celebrate, but there’s underlying weakness.


The Educational Dysfunction We’re Paying For

The most-often assigned college summer reading topics dealt with racism in America.


Dems’ ‘Gun Safety’ Proposals Trample Second Amendment

A majority of Democrat candidates jump aboard a proposal to “buy back” firearms.


The Power of Real Forgiveness

“Giving your life to Christ would be the best thing that Botham would want you to do.”



Today’s Meme

For more of today’s memes, visit the Memesters Union.

Today’s Cartoon

For more of today’s cartoons, visit the Cartoons archive.

Quote Of The Week

“When you elevate victimhood as virtue, you will create a culture in which people are tripping over themselves to be oppressed.” —Allie Beth Stuckey

Source

5 october (preached 4 october 1857) 365 Days with Spurgeon

Thy Redeemer

“And thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 41:14

suggested further reading: Psalm 118:5–14

Hear Jehovah, the everlasting Father, saying, “I will help thee.” “Mine are the ages: before the ages began, when there were no worlds, when nothing had been created, from everlasting I am thy God. I am the God of election, the God of the decree, the God of the covenant; by my strength I did set fast the mountains; by my skill I laid the pillars of the earth, and the beams of the firmament of heaven; I spread out the skies as a curtain, and as a tent for man to dwell in; I the Lord made all these things. I will help thee.” Then comes Jehovah the Son. “And I also, am thy Redeemer, I am eternal; my name is wisdom. I was with God, when there were no depths, before he had digged the rivers, I was there as one brought up with him. I am Jesus, the God of ages; I am Jesus, the man of sorrows: ‘I am he that liveth and was dead, I am alive for evermore.’ I am the High Priest of thy profession, the Intercessor before the throne, the Representative of my people. I have power with God. I will help thee.” Poor worm, thy Redeemer vows to help thee; by his bleeding hands he covenants to give thee aid. And then in comes the Holy Spirit. “And I,” saith the Spirit, “am also God—not an influence, but a person—I, eternal and everlasting co-existent with the Father and the Son—I, who did brood over chaos, when as yet the world was not brought into form and fashion, and did sow the earth with the seeds of life when I did brood over it,—I, that brought again from the dead your Lord Jesus Christ, the Shepherd of the sheep, I who am the Eternal Spirit, by whose power the Lord Jesus did arise from the bondage of his tomb—I, by whom souls are quickened, by whom the elect are called out of darkness into light—I, who have power to maintain my children and preserve them to the end—I will help thee.”

for meditation: 2 Corinthians 13:14: what a mighty benediction!

sermon no. 157[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H., & Crosby, T. P. (1998). 365 Days with Spurgeon (Volume 1) (p. 285). Leominster, UK: Day One Publications.

5 Oct 2019 – Rapture Ready News

“Flat-Out False”: WaPo Calls Out Adam Schiff For Lying About Whistleblower
“Schiff earns Four Pinocchios”

Hurricane Lorenzo makes history as one of the biggest storms in the world
First in August, meteorologists saw the slow development of Hurricane Dorian: It is the strongest hurricane of the year so far, and also took the title of one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded to make landfall in the western Atlantic with maximum sustained winds of 185 mph. Dorian matched the same strength observed in the devastating 1935 Labor Day hurricane.

The Civil War Which Is Commencing in California-Impeachment Is the First Shot
In 20 years, historians will write that the impeachment of Donald Trump was the first shot of the coming civil war in modern-day America.  All week long, I have been landing on the square that the civil war is going to begin in California. The following will clear up some misreporting that has taken place in the past few days.

Light Poles That Are Spying On You
Seven years ago, I reported on this when it was being beta tested. Today, Intellistreets is everywhere. These light poles are spying on you. This video tells you what all the they can detect.

Two Rockets Fired At Israel Friday Night By Palestinian Terrorists After March Of Return Riots Resulted In The Death Of Gaza Man Shot While Trying To Breach Border Fence
The liberal fake news media loves to promote the ‘enduring struggle of the brave Palestinian people’ as they fight against the ‘occupying regime of Zionist Israel!’, that’s how the phony headlines they write play it off. But the reality is so very much different.

What Is The LaRouche Cult? The Group Taking Credit For ‘Eating Babies’ Ocasio-Cortez Troll
LaRouche PAC, a fringe political action committee, took credit for the stunt Thursday evening on Twitter and noted the congresswoman didn’t “rule out eating babies.”

Barr Asks Facebook To Halt Rollout Of Privacy-Focused Program Over Criminal Evidence Concerns
Attorney General William Barr sent a letter to Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday asking the Facebook founder to halt a program officials believe could hide criminal evidence.

Elizabeth Warren Fires National Organizing Director Over “Inappropriate Behavior”
“multiple complaints”

U.S. trade deficit widens.
With the value of imports rising by more than the value of exports, the Commerce Department released a report on Friday showing the U.S. trade deficit widened by more than anticipated in the month of August.

Hepatitis A Outbreaks Flare Up Across USA…
Hepatitis A outbreaks are erupting across the U.S., reversing a long-term decline in cases of the viral liver disease and prompting state health departments to mount aggressive vaccination campaigns.
Since outbreaks of the virus began in 2016, 30 states have reported cases totaling more than 26,000, including 268 deaths.

Bernie Sanders Released From Hospital After Suffering Heart Attack
“After presenting to an outside facility with chest pain, Sen. Sanders was diagnosed with a myocardial infarction. He was immediately transferred to Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center”

— Read on www.raptureready.com/2019/10/05/5-oct-2019/

5 OCTOBER 365 Days with Calvin

Called to Faith and Love

Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers. Ephesians 1:15–16

suggested further reading: Habakkuk 2:1–4

The heathen, of their own free will, believe they are under no obligation at all to God, except for good luck, as they call it, for they imagine they have earned all things by their own power and skill.

Here Paul shows us that wherever the church exists in the world, or where any people call upon God and are settled and grounded upon the beliefs of the gospel, God deserves all the glory. For there is so much rebellion in us that we are not only weak and feeble, as the papists imagine, but also utterly contrary to God until he has cleansed us. This is what God means by saying through his prophet Ezekiel that hearts which were formerly of stone shall be changed into hearts of flesh, indicating that he will soften them and cause them to bow in submission to him.

Furthermore, with the two words faith and love, Paul comprehends the whole perfection of Christians. The goal of the first table of the law is that we should worship one God only and cling to him for all things, acknowledging ourselves to be so indebted to him that we ought to flee to him alone for refuge and endeavor to spend our whole life in his service. That is the essence of the first table of the law.

The contents of the second are that we should live together in equity and uprightness, dealing with our neighbors in such a way that we strive to help all people without hurting anyone. We are certain that God has set forth such a good and perfect rule of good life in his law that nothing can be added to it.

for meditation: Faith and love are the great goals we should be striving for and, by the grace of God, attaining. We will have neither perfect faith nor perfect love in this life, but we are still called to strive for them. When we finally achieve these in glory, it will not be because of our doing, but God’s. And he will get all the glory. Let his glory urge you on today.[1]

 

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 297). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

October 5, 2019 Morning Verse Of The Day

Praise

And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth. (14:2–3)

Standing with the Lamb on Mount Zion, the 144,000 will join in the heavenly song of redemption. With all the devastation they have seen, with all the trouble they have faced, with all the rejection, hostility, hatred, and persecution they have endured, one might expect them to be too sorrowful to sing (cf. Ps. 137:1–4). But instead they will joyously praise the Lord for their protection and triumph.

This is not the first time John heard a voice from heaven (cf. 4:1; 10:4, 8; 11:12; 12:10), nor will it be the last (cf. v. 13; 18:4; 19:1). The voice he heard was very loud and continuous, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. Ezekiel 43:2 likens the voice of God to the sound of many waters, while Revelation 1:15 describes the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ in the same way. But since Revelation 19:6 uses both of those phrases to describe the voice of a heavenly multitude, it is best to understand them in that sense here.

The song began in 5:9–10, when the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders “sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.’ ” The next to join in were myriads of angels, who began “saying with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing’ ” (5:12). Finally, “every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them [began] saying, ‘To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever’ ” (5:13). In 7:9–10, the Tribulation martyrs joined in the escalating chorus of praise: “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’ ”

The mighty voice was not mere noise; it had a musical quality, like the sound of harpists playing on their harps. The reference to harpists and harps suggests that the voice expressed not thunderous judgment but joy. Harps are frequently associated in the Old Testament with joyous praise (cf. 2 Sam. 6:5; 1 Chron. 13:8; 15:16, 28; 2 Chron. 5:12–13; Neh. 12:27; Pss. 33:2; 71:22; 144:9; 150:3). Heaven will resound with loud praise when the Lord Jesus Christ returns in triumph to establish His earthly kingdom.

The new song sung in heaven before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders is the song of redemption (cf. Pss. 33:1–3; 40:3; 96:1–2; 98:1–2; 144:9–10; 149:1; Isa. 42:10). The angels will join the Old Testament saints, the raptured church, and the redeemed Tribulation martyrs in praising God for salvation. While angels do not experience redemption, they do rejoice because of it (Luke 15:10). All heaven will overflow with praise because God’s redemptive work culminating in the return of Christ is accomplished.

Heaven’s praise overflows to earth, where the new song is taken up. John notes that no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth. The unregenerate cannot, of course, sing the song of redemption; it is only for the redeemed, those purchased by Christ’s blood. Why the song is restricted to the one hundred and forty-four thousand is not stated, but Henry Morris has offered a possible explanation:

Although the words of the song of the 144,000 are not recorded, it surely dwells in part at least on the great truth that they had been “redeemed from the earth.” Although in one sense all saved people have been redeemed from the earth, these could know the meaning of such a theme in a more profound way than others. They had been saved after the rapture, at that time in history when man’s greatest persecutions and God’s greatest judgments were on the earth. It was at such a time that they, like Noah (Genesis 6:8), had “found grace in the eyes of the Lord” and had been separated from “all that dwell upon the earth” (Revelation 13:8). Not only had they been redeemed spiritually but, precursively as it were, they had been redeemed from the very curse on the earth (Genesis 3:17), being protected from pain and death by the guarding seal. (The Revelation Record [Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale, 1983], 260)

The 144,000 will join with the heavenly chorus in praising God for His marvelous work of redemption. Some of the lyrics of their song may be found in 15:3–4:

And they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,

“Great and marvelous are Your works,

O Lord God, the Almighty;

Righteous and true are Your ways,

King of the nations!

Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name?

For You alone are holy;

For all the nations will come and worship before You,

For Your righteous acts have been revealed.”

A mark of triumphant Christian living in any era is constant praise to God. The 144,000 no doubt praised God throughout their time of trial and persecution. Because their ordeal is over and they are victorious, they will burst forth in praise to God for their deliverance. Joy is the proper outflow of a heart that trusts in God’s sovereign power (Phil. 3:1; 4:4; 1 Thess. 5:16; James 1:2; 1 Pet. 4:13).[1]


2 The “sound” John hears is probably a “voice” (phōnē, GK 5889), as in 1:15. It is important to recognize that this voice is not that of the redeemed; it is a loud angelic chorus (cf. 5:11), sounding like “the roar of rushing waters,” like “a loud peal of thunder,” and like “harpists playing their harps” (1:15; 5:8; 6:1; 19:1, 6; see comments at 5:8; Notes, 5:9–10). Charles indicates that grammatically the sentence is Hebraistic. Again the scene is liturgical, emphasizing the connection between the earthly victory and the heavenly throne.[2]


2–3 As elsewhere in John’s visions this one includes both seeing (v. 1) and hearing (vv. 2–3). What is heard is the (very loud) new song sung by the redeemed. It is not only loud but melodic as well, as the unfolding similes make clear. The sound that John hears from heaven is like the roar of a mighty cataract (or the roar of the ocean; NJB). Ezekiel uses the same figure for the sound of the winged cherubim in flight as they accompany the chariot throne of God (Ezek 1:24). It is like the voice of God approaching in his glory (Ezek 43:2). Apparently the Seer was greatly impressed by the sound, for he adds two more descriptive similes: it is like the sound of thunder (cf. 6:1; 19:6), and it is like the swelling refrain of an ensemble of harpists. The sound is not that of an angelic choir (as in 5:11–12 and 7:11–12), but is the anthem of redemption sung by the 144,000. They alone, having experienced deliverance, are able to sing its praise (cf. v. 4). Many commentators see the angels as teaching this new song to the redeemed, a concept that is theologically inappropriate and by no means necessitated by the text.

That the sound is actually a chorus of many voices is indicated by the plural, “they sing.” It is the “new song” of 5:9, but now it is sung by the very ones who have been purchased by the blood of the Lamb and made a kingdom of priests before the heavenly throne. As in so many of the “new songs” spoken of in the Psalms (96:1; 98:1; 144:9; etc.), the theme is deliverance. Only those who have paid the full price of endurance in the faith are equipped by experience to give voice to the subsequent anthem of victory. They sing before the throne of God, with the angelic orders of heaven (the living creatures and the elders) as audience. That they have been redeemed from the earth does not mean that they were removed bodily from the earth (cf. John 17:15) but that they were separated from the evil ways of the world and the tyranny of its pernicious philosophies.[3]


THE SONG WHICH ONLY GOD’S OWN CAN LEARN

Revelation 14:2–3

And I heard a voice from heaven like the sound of many waters and like the voice of great thunder, and the voice I heard was like the sound of harpers playing on their harps. And they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders, and no one was able to learn the song except the 144,000 who had been purchased for God from the earth.

This passage begins with a wonderful description of the voice of God.

(1) It was like the sound of many waters. Here, we are reminded of the power of the voice of God, for there is no power like the crash of the mountainous waves upon the beaches and the cliffs.

(2) It was like the voice of great thunder. Here, we are reminded of the unmistakableness of the voice of God. No one can fail to hear the thunderclap.

(3) It was like the sound of many harpists playing on their harps. Here, we are reminded of the melody of the voice of God. There is in that voice the gentle graciousness of sweet music to calm the troubled heart.

The Lamb’s company were singing a song which only they could learn. Here, there is a truth which runs all through life. To learn certain things, we must be certain types of people. The Lamb’s company were able to learn the new song because they had passed through certain experiences.

(1) They had suffered. There are certain things which only sorrow can teach. As the English poet Shelley wrote about the work of poets in ‘Julian and Maddalo’: ‘They learn in suffering what they teach in song.’ Sorrow can produce resentment; but it can also produce faith and peace and a new song.

(2) They had lived in loyalty. It is clear that, as the years pass on, the leader will draw closer to his loyal followers and they to him; then he will be able to teach them things that those who are unfaithful or who follow only when it suits them can never learn.

(3) That is another way of saying that the company of the Lamb had made steady progress in spiritual growth. A teacher can teach deeper things to a mature student than to someone who has just begun to learn. And Jesus Christ can reveal more treasures of wisdom to those who day by day grow up into him. The tragedy of so many is static Christianity.[4]


2. And I heard a sound out of heaven like a sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the sound that I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps.

John first saw the Lamb and the 144,000 on Mount Zion, and then he heard a sound coming to him out of heaven. His eye is fixed on a representative place on earth, while his ear is attuned to a sound in heaven. He fails to identify the speaker, which is common in the Apocalypse (see v. 13; 10:4, 8; 18:4). He describes the characteristics of the sound by giving comparisons taken from nature. He compares the sound with that of many waters, which is similar to the voice of Jesus addressing John on the island of Patmos: “his voice was like the sound of many waters” (1:15; 19:6; Ezek. 43:2). It is also like the sound of loud thunder, which indicates that the speaker calls everyone to pay attention (see 6:1).

In addition to the thundering loud noises heard in nature, the sound is like soft music coming from celestial harpists playing their harps (5:8; and see 15:2). John hears heavenly music entering his ears, first thunderous then soft and pleasing. It is comparable to an orchestra and choir that increase or decrease their volume at the command of the director. The sound is grand and gentle, lofty and lovely. John is privileged to hear this celestial music while he is on earth.[5]


14:2–3. John hears a voice (phōnēn, lit., “sound”) from heaven which he compared to the sound of many waters and loud thunder. He also hears harpists playing their harps. The voice and the harps represent the singing and music of the heavenly multitude (cf. 19:6). They are singing a new song before God’s throne, the living creatures (cf. 4:6–9), and the elders (cf. 4:4). A new song in the OT was a song of thanks to God for a blessing that caused a person’s heart to leap for joy anew and afresh (cf. Ps 40:1–3; 144:9–10). No one could learn this heavenly song except the 144,000 evangelists. The meaning of the song was reserved for the ears of these faithful men alone who were redeemed from the earth (cf. 14:4; 1 Cor 6:20; Rev 5:9).

Since the emphasis here is not on the contents of the song but on the fact that only the 144,000 could learn it, this could very well be a special reward for their dedication to God like the reward of the “new name” in 2:17 that is known only to Christ and the victorious one receiving it. Because these faithful witnesses will have an utterly unique experience in their service to Christ on earth, it is fitting that they enjoy a unique experience with Christ in eternity.[6]


Ver. 2.—And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder. Evidently the song of the heavenly inhabitants, as described also in ch. 7:9–11, where we are told they “cried with a loud voice.” The greatness of the voice is evidence of the vastness of the number. “Heaven,” from which the sounds come, includes the “Mount Zion” of ver. 1, on which the Lamb and his followers stand. And I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps. The Revised Version is better, and the voice which I heard [was] as [the voice] of harpers harping with their harps. This reading is supported by א, A, B, C, and other good authorities. As the voice; that is, in regard to its pleasantness; reminding the hearer of the temple-worship. (On the word “harp,” see on ch. 5:8†.)

Ver. 3.—And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders. They sing; that is to say, the heavenly inhabitants. The four living beings; viz. those of ch. 4:9, where see an explanation of the positions occupied, and of the nature and signification of the “living beings and the elders.” The “new song,” which can only be understood by the hundred and fortyfour thousand, is (as explained by ver. 4) a song of victory won by those who have been tried in the world and subjected to temptations. And no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth; even they that had been purchased out of the earth (Revised Version). These only can know the song for the reason given above. The joys of heaven and the song of victory are not for those who have succumbed to the world.[7]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2000). Revelation 12–22 (pp. 74–76). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Johnson, A. F. (2006). Revelation. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 720). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Mounce, R. H. (1997). The Book of Revelation (pp. 265–266). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[4] Barclay, W. (2004). Revelation of John (Vol. 2, pp. 118–119). Louisville, KY; London: Westminster John Knox Press.

[5] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Book of Revelation (Vol. 20, p. 402). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[6] Vacendak, R. (2010). The Revelation of Jesus Christ. In R. N. Wilkin (Ed.), The Grace New Testament Commentary (pp. 1299–1300). Denton, TX: Grace Evangelical Society.

[7] Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). Revelation (p. 347). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

October 5 For the love of God (Vol. 2)

1 Kings 8; Ephesians 5; Ezekiel 38; Psalm 89

 

chapters 38–39 of ezekiel are among the most difficult chapters in the entire book. In many ways they stand apart from what comes before and after. Perhaps the simplest explanation is the following. Chapters 40–48 are so much later than most of the book (the twenty-fifth year of exile, 40:1) that they are almost like an appendix to the rest of the visions and oracles. If so, then chapters 38–39 must be seen as a conclusion to the preceding thirty-seven chapters, but not necessarily as a bridge to chapters 40–48. Precisely how this prophecy against Gog serves as a conclusion to all that comes before it in Ezekiel depends very much on how these two chapters are interpreted. Even to catalog the possibilities would turn these brief meditations into a commentary, so I must largely restrict myself to some tentative conclusions.

It cannot have escaped notice that in several previous chapters I chose not to comment on certain sections. In part this was nothing more than selectivity based on my restricted space. But in part these passages belong to the same genus, and can usefully be thought about together. For instance, 37:25–28 anticipates the time when Israel, under God’s servant David, will live in the land “forever,” and “David my servant will be their prince forever.” God’s “sanctuary is among them forever.” Such language must either be taken at face value—a temple in Jerusalem, with a Davidic king, the throne and temple enduring forever—or it points beyond itself. For reasons that will become clearer, I am inclined to think that these and similar prophecies look forward to the glorious messianic future, but are largely cast in terms of the familiar categories of the old covenant. These same categories, the New Testament writers insist, have a predictive function fulfilled in Jesus the son of David and all that he brings.

Along similar lines, Ezekiel 38 begins by denouncing “Gog, chief prince of Meschech and Tubal” (38:3). The suggestion that these names refer to Moscow and Tobolsk is without linguistic merit. The pair of names appears elsewhere (Gen. 10:2; 1 Chron. 1:5; Ezek. 27:13; 32:26) and refers to the known tribes of Moschoi and Tibarenoi. Gog is perhaps to be identified with Gyges, king of Lydia (called Gûgu in some ancient records). More importantly, this anticipated horde of opponents to God’s people comes from the “far north” (38:6)—which is the direction from which the worst of Israel’s foes always came. The chapter ends in apocalyptic imagery (38:18–23)—which begins to make the scene feel like an idealized and final outbreak against the people of God, in which God vindicates his name and his cause. Thus all previous outbreaks anticipate, and are concluded by, this final apocalyptic struggle.[1]

 

[1] Carson, D. A. (1998). For the love of God: a daily companion for discovering the riches of God’s Word. (Vol. 2, p. 25). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

October 5 For the love of God (Vol. 1)

1 Kings 8; Ephesians 5; Ezekiel 38; Psalm 89

 

the dedication of the temple in Jerusalem and Solomon’s prayer on that occasion (1 Kings 8) overflow with links that reach both backward and forward along the line of redemptive history.

(1) The structure of the temple is a proportionate reproduction of the tabernacle. Thus the rites prescribed by the Mosaic Covenant, and the symbol-laden value all that God prescribed through Moses, continue: the altar, the table for the bread of consecration, the Most Holy Place, the two cherubim over the ark of the covenant, and so forth.

(2) Most spectacularly, after the ark of the covenant has been transported to its new resting place and the priests withdraw, the glory of the Lord, manifested in the same sort of cloud that signaled the Lord’s presence in the tabernacle, fills the temple. Not only does God approve the temple, but a new step has been taken in God’s unfolding purposes. While the symbolism of the tabernacle is retained in the temple, no longer is this edifice something mobile. The wandering years, and even the uncertain years of the judges, are over. Now God’s presence, manifested in this solid building, is tied to one location: Jerusalem. A new set of symbol-laden historical experiences adds rich new dimensions to the accumulating wealth pointing to the coming of Jesus. Here is a stable kingdom—and the kingdom of God; Jerusalem, and the new Jerusalem; the glorious temple, and the city that needs no temple because “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Rev. 21:22). Here are tens of thousands of animals slaughtered—and the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

(3) At his best, Solomon is thoroughly aware that no structure, not even this one, can contain or domesticate God. “The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!” (8:27).

(4) But that does not stop him from asking God to manifest himself here. Above all, Solomon knows that what the people will need most is forgiveness. So in wide-ranging and prescient descriptions of experiences the people will pass through, Solomon repeats some variation of the refrain: “Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive” (8:30ff). That is exactly right: hear from heaven, even if the eyes of the people are toward this temple, and forgive.

(5) Solomon’s forward glance includes the dreadful possibility of exile (8:46–51), followed by rescue and release. Further, while Solomon urges fidelity on the people (8:56–61), he also echoes a prominent point in the Abrahamic covenant (Gen. 12:3): Israel must be faithful “so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God and that there is no other” (8:60).[1]

 

[1] Carson, D. A. (1998). For the love of God: a daily companion for discovering the riches of God’s Word. (Vol. 1, p. 25). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

What is “Social Justice”? with J. Warner Wallace — Cross Examined – Christian Apologetic Ministry | Frank Turek | Christian Apologetics | Christian Apologetics Speakers

J. Warner Wallace guest hosts the show this week and answers a listener email about the nature of “social justice”. What is the definition of this term and how do people typically interpret it? Is social justice commanded in the Jewish and Christian scriptures? Is there a difference between “social justice” and “biblical justice”? If so, how do these two terms differ and how are we, as Christians supposed to respond in this area? J. Warner delineates the differences using an investigative template.

via What is “Social Justice”? with J. Warner Wallace — Cross Examined – Christian Apologetic Ministry | Frank Turek | Christian Apologetics | Christian Apologetics Speakers

Forgiveness Added To Database Of Racist Gestures — The Babylon Bee

U.S.—Forgiveness and hugs are among the 36 new entries recently added to a database of hateful gestures used by white supremacists and other far-right extremists.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, forgiveness became obviously racist after Brandt Jean forgave and embraced his brother’s killer, ex-police officer Andrea Guyger, prompting millions of white people to say things like, “this is beautiful” and other racially charged slurs. “While we do not think Brandt intended to use the racist gesture, it is obvious now that this was white supremacy at work. The KKK is known for their forgiveness and long, warm hugs,” said Mosen Hemlock of the ADL.

The judge in the case, Tammy Kemp, also embraced Guyger, then handed the white woman her personal Bible. Investigators later realized that this book is full of racist gestures of forgiveness, and even some hugs. Judge Kemp is now being investigated for her heinous actions.

via Forgiveness Added To Database Of Racist Gestures — The Babylon Bee