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19 august (1855) 365 Days with Spurgeon

What are the clouds?

“The clouds are the dust of his feet.” Nahum 1:3

suggested further reading: Isaiah 40:12–26

Great things with us are little things with God. What great things clouds are to us! There we see them sweeping along the skies! Then they rapidly increase till the entire sky becomes black and a dark shadow is cast upon the world; we foresee the coming storm, and we tremble at the mountains of cloud, for they are great. Great things are they? No, they are only the dust of God’s feet. The greatest cloud that ever swept the face of the skies, was but one single particle of dust starting from the feet of the Almighty Jehovah. When clouds roll over clouds, and the storm is very terrible, it is only the chariot of God, as it speeds along the heavens, raising a little dust around him! “The clouds are the dust of his feet.” Oh! Could you grasp this idea my friends, or had I words in which to put it into your souls, I am sure you would sit down in solemn awe of that great God who is our Father, or who will be our Judge. Consider, that the greatest things with man are little things with God. We call the mountains great, but what are they? They are but “the small dust of the balance.” We call the nations great, and we speak of mighty empires; but the nations before him are but as “a drop of a bucket.” We call the islands great and talk of ours boastingly—“He taketh up the isles as a very little thing.” We speak of great men and of mighty—“The inhabitants [of the earth] in his sight are as grasshoppers.” We talk of ponderous orbs moving millions of miles from us—in God’s sight they are but little atoms dancing up and down in the sunbeam of existence. Compared with God there is nothing great.

for meditation: Are you experiencing great distress or great success? Try to look at both kinds of circumstances from the viewpoint of God (Zechariah 4:6–7).

sermon no. 36[1]

[1] Spurgeon, C. H., & Crosby, T. P. (1998). 365 Days with Spurgeon (Volume 1) (p. 238). Leominster, UK: Day One Publications.

Monday Briefing August 19, 2019 –


 The Culture of Death Advances in the Pacific: ‘Decriminalizing’ Abortion in New Zealand and New South Wales


 Contrary to Claims of Liberal Minister, Historic Christianity Has Condemned Abortion


 A World in Which ‘Ladies’ and ‘Gentlemen’ No Longer Makes Sense? In California, ‘First Lady’ Gives Way to ‘First Partner’


 Why is Alabama’s Marriage Law Changing on August 29? You Can Trace the Reasoning Directly to the U.S. Supreme Court





 New Zealand Takes On a Long-Avoided Issue: Decriminalizing Abortion, by Charlotte Graham-McLay




19 AUGUST 365 Days with Calvin

Seeking Selfless Love

… doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil. 1 Corinthians 13:5

suggested further reading: 1 Corinthians 12:12–31

Love does not exult in foolish showiness, nor does it bluster, but it observes moderation and propriety in all things. Paul thus indirectly reproves the Corinthians for shamefully putting aside all propriety by unseemly haughtiness.

The apostle says true love seeketh not her own. From this we infer how very far we are from having love implanted in us by nature, for we are naturally prone to love and care for ourselves and aim at our own advantage. To speak more correctly, we rush headlong into activity that promotes self. The remedy for so perverse an inclination is love, which helps us to stop caring only for ourselves and to be concerned for our neighbors by loving them and being concerned for their welfare.

What is more, to seek one’s own things is to be devoted to self and to be wholly taken up with concern for one’s own advantage. This definition of love solves the question about whether it is lawful for a Christian to be concerned for his own advantage. Paul does not here reprove every kind of care or concern for self, but the excess of it, which proceeds from an immoderate and blind attachment to self.

Excess self-concern is thinking of ourselves to the neglect of others, or so desiring our personal advantage that we let go of the concern that God commands us to have for our neighbors. Paul says love is also a bridle to repress quarrels. This follows the first two statements; for where there is gentleness and forbearance, people do not suddenly become angry and are not easily stirred up to disputes and contests.

for meditation: The kind of love that Paul speaks about here is unconditional and sacrificial. Such love does not seek to serve itself; it seeks the good of others and the honor of God. If such love brings rewards, these are to be rejoiced in, but they are never to be the goal. How much of our love seeks its own? How can we love more unconditionally today?[1]

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 250). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

August 19 – The sun stood still – Reformed Perspective

“The LORD heeded the voice of a man.” – Joshua 10:14

Scripture reading: Joshua 10:12-15

When they come to this passage, liberal Bible scholars focus all their attention on explaining why we no longer need to believe that the sun literally stood still for Joshua. Don’t listen to that lie. Of course we believe this literally! The same God Who created the sun and moon and Who hung them in space is fully capable of stopping them in space if He so chooses.

If your “god” cannot do miracles like this, then you do not believe in the true God; and if you do not believe in the true God, then your fate will be no different than these five Canaanite kings. So our focus is not on whether God can make the sun stand still; of course He can! Our focus is on Joshua’s prayer and how the Almighty God of all Heaven and Earth would choose to “heed the voice of a man” (vs. 14).

For think on this: this same God Who controls the spinning of this earth and the rising of the sun each day; Who rules every nation and controls every event of human history; this same sovereign, holy and majestic God STOPS EVERYTHING the moment He hears you call out His name! He answers the deepest sighing of your soul. He bends low to hear the weakest stammering of your hurting heart. Everything else takes a back seat when God hears you call His name, and He takes action on your behalf. Find comfort in the fact that God answers your prayers.

Suggestions for prayer

Praise God for His loving heart shown to you. Thank Him for hearing your prayer. Ask Him to bring you His comfort through the working of His Spirit within you.

This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois.

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Prata Potpourri: Angels, Spiritual Warfare, Lake of Fire, Apostasy, Moms, more — The End Time

By Elizabeth Prata

Included in this edition of Prata Potpourri are some things that either aren’t talked about enough (Lake of Fire) or are talked about so much that the wackadoodles have gotten a-hold of the issue and twisted it beyond all recognition (angels, spiritual warfare). Here are some credible links to these and other topics.

Jim Osman and Justin Peters’ video series on Spiritual Warfare is excellent. Here is the 8-part series-

Show 1 of 8: Justin Peters & Jim Osman on the: Doctrine of the Sufficiency of Scripture as it relates to Biblical Spiritual Warfare. Justin Peters interviews Pastor & Author Jim Osman on the subject of Spiritual Warfare and Jim’s book: “Truth or Territory: A Biblical Approach to Spiritual Warfare”. Some examples of False Teaching on Spiritual Warfare are briefly discussed as well as some False Teachers are named. These issues will be discussed in greater detail in coming episodes. Jim Osman starts this series off by giving viewers a brief Testimony of how the LORD changed his thinking on this very important subject, then both Justin & Jim introduce viewers to the topic of the Doctrine of the Sufficiency of Scripture which is briefly defined and defended from 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and 2 Peter 1:3-4.

Show 1: Spiritual Warfare & Sufficiency of Scripture
Show 2: Spiritual Warfare: Truth or Territory
Show 3: Carnal Weapons: Hedges & Hexes
Show 4: Carnal Weapons: Binding & Rebuking
Show 5: Carnal Weapons: Spiritual Mapping
Show 6: Demon Possession & Sanctification
Show 7: Authority & Exorcisms
Show 8: Armor Of God: Spiritual Warfare – Ephesians 6

There have been some high-profile people proclaiming their abandonment of the faith this week. There have subsequently been a lot of response articles of various kinds. Here are two:

What to Do When Professing Christians Leave the Faith: Reflections on Joshua Harris and Perseverance

What in God’s Name is Happening in Christianity?

Are you surprised when you come across so-called Christians who claim to be followers of Jesus, but never ‘follow’ Him into a church? They say that attending church isn’t necessary to be a fully devoted Christian? I am. I am actually shocked when I deal with this among professing Christians. And it’s spreading.

Here is Derek Thomas with an essay about Loving the Church, For Better or Worse

What DOES the Bible say about angels, anyway? I love the thought of angels and I study Angelology (from credible sources). Here are two credible sources on a teaching about angels you might enjoy.

TableTalk Magazine: What does the Bible say about Angels? First in a series. I love angels and learning about them.

John MacArthur has a series on angels, called God’s Invisible Army. Here is part 1
Here is part 2

From Founders, something for Moms. Moms, you have a hard job and often it’s lonely. Hope this encourages you- Eight Lies Moms Believe.

From Media Gratiae: The newly released trailer of Puritan. Documentary coming soon, this summer they say!

From Nate Pickowitz, new book. If you’re interested in the American Puritans, this is a good one to pick up- John Cotton: Patriarch of New England

From Ligonier: The Final State of the Unbeliever. This will happen. Pray evangelistically and frequently! Romans 10:1 says, Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.

angel verse 1

via Prata Potpourri: Angels, Spiritual Warfare, Lake of Fire, Apostasy, Moms, more — The End Time

Special Revelation and the Work of the Spirit — Grace to You Blog

In the lead-up to the Truth Matters conference in October, we will be focusing our attention on the sufficiency, authority, and clarity of Scripture. One of our previous blog series, Looking for Truth in All the Wrong Places, stronglyemphasizes those doctrines. The following entry from that series originally appeared on June 5, 2017. -ed.

God told me.

The Holy Spirit laid it on my heart.

The Spirit is compelling me.

Those phrases and others like them are frequently thrown around the church today without giving many people pause. In fact, it seems the Holy Spirit’s primary role is laying burdens on believers and compelling them to deliver specific, timely messages to the church.

But how do we know when it’s actually the Holy Spirit, and not just a heavy conscience, a strong personal desire, or emotion-driven enthusiasm? For that matter, what’s to say it wasn’t simply some bad pizza? For all the talk about the Holy Spirit directing us, speaking to us and through us, and compelling us this way and that, how do we know when God is truly leading us?

We recently asked John MacArthur about how we can discern the Spirit’s ongoing work in the lives of believers. Here’s what he said:

We ought to look for the Holy Spirit’s leadership, but we must be cautious about assigning to Him responsibility for our words and actions. Our feelings are not necessarily a trustworthy source of information, nor are they an accurate indication that God has a special message to deliver to us or through us.

God’s people need to be circumspect when it comes to His leadership, particularly through subjective impressions and inclinations. Moreover, we need to be wary of those who highjack the prophetic seat and presume to speak for God.

In the days ahead, we’re going to look at some landmark teaching from John MacArthur regarding the propensity of many believers to look for eternal truth in all the wrong places. You won’t want to miss this engaging, insightful series that deals with the pitfalls of subjectivity and postmodernity, and the sufficiency of Scripture.

via Special Revelation and the Work of the Spirit — Grace to You Blog

J.C. Ryle on Preparing for Our Dying Hour – Blog – Eternal Perspective Ministries

I love these perspectives from Anglican bishop J. C. Ryle (1816–1900) on preparing for death by living well. With every passing year, each of us have more precious family and friends who have gone to be with Christ. As we look forward to the day when we too will see Jesus face to face, may we lean in to and serve Him like never before.  —Randy Alcorn

In Our Dying Hour

The day may come when after a long fight with disease, we shall feel that medicine can do no more, and that nothing remains but to die. Friends will be standing by, unable to help us. Hearing, eyesight, even the power of praying, will be fast failing us. The world and its shadows will be melting beneath our feet. Eternity, with its realities, will be looming large before our minds.

What shall support us in that trying hour? What shall enable us to feel, “I fear no evil”? (Psalm 23:4.) Nothing, nothing can do it but close communion with Christ. Christ dwelling in our hearts by faith,—Christ putting His right arm under our heads,—Christ felt to be sitting by our side,—Christ can alone give us the complete victory in the last struggle.

Let us cleave to Christ more closely, love Him more heartily, live to Him more thoroughly, copy Him more exactly, confess Him more boldly, follow Him more fully. Religion like this will always bring its own reward. Worldly people may laugh at it. Weak brethren may think it extreme. But it will wear well. At even time it will bring us light. In sickness it will bring us peace. In the world to come it will give us a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

The time is short. The fashion of this world passeth away. A few more sicknesses, and all will be over. A few more funerals, and our own funeral will take place. A few more storms and tossings, and we shall be safe in harbour. We travel towards a world where there is no more sickness,—where parting, and pain, and crying, and mourning, are done with for evermore.

Heaven is becoming every year more full, and earth more empty. The friends ahead are becoming more numerous than the friends astern. “Yet a little time and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” (Heb. 10:37.) In His presence shall be fulness of joy. Christ shall wipe away all tears from His people’s eyes. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is Death. But he shall be destroyed. Death himself shall one day die (Rev. 20:14).

In the meantime let us live the life of faith in the Son of God. Let us lean all our weight on Christ, and rejoice in the thought that He lives for evermore. Yes: blessed be God! Christ lives, though we may die. Christ lives, though friends and families are carried to the grave. He lives who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light by the Gospel.

He lives who said, “O death, I will be thy plagues: O grave, I will be thy destruction” (Hos. 13:14). He lives who will one day change our vile body, and make it like unto His glorious body. In sickness and in health, in life and in death, let us lean confidently on Him. Surely we ought to say daily with one of old, “Blessed be God for Jesus Christ!”

—J.C. Ryle, “Sickness” in Practical Religion: Being Plain Papers on the Daily Duties, Experience, Dangers, and Privileges of Professing Christians(London: Charles Murray, 1900), 372-374. (online source)

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Todd Starnes: Are celebrity Christian influencers dumbing down the church? | Fox News

The narcissism of social media culture has affected too many Christian “influencers.”

Todd Starnes speaks with President and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse Franklin Graham about his support for a New Jersey mayor who opposes a law that requires public schools to teach LGBT history.

The lead singer of one of the most popular bands in Christian rock music is joining the growing chorus of believers concerned about the dumbing down of the church and the rising influence of so-called “celebrity influencers.”

“There’s a problem here,” Skillet lead singer John Cooper said on The Todd Starnes Radio Show. “We could be doing a much better job in Christendom of not elevating people because they are young, cool or look the right way or sound the right way.”

Cooper wrote a now-viral message on his Facebook page expressing his deep concerns about so-called Christian influencers who are openly renouncing their faith and others who are turning their back on biblical teachings.


“I’m bummed out,” he said. “I’m pleading with the church we can all do a better job of elevating the right people.”

While Cooper did not name names, there has been considerable news coverage given to statements made by Hillsong worship leader Marty Sampson and “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” author Joshua Harris.

Harris publicly renounced his faith in Christ while Sampson publicly said he was “genuinely losing” his faith.

“We must STOP making worship leaders and thought leaders or influencers or cool people or “relevant” people the most influential people in Christendom,” Cooper wrote in a now-viral Facebook post. “We are in a dangerous place when the church is looking to 20 year old worship singers as our source of truth,” he wrote. “We now have a church culture that learns who God is from singing modern praise songs rather than from the teachings of the Word.”

Franklin Graham, the president of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, was especially troubled by Christian influencers who seek to make headlines by renouncing their faith publicly.

“Shame on them,” Graham said. “You’ll stand before God one day and give an account to Him. God warns churches that turn their back on him and these young men who have renounced their faith have made it so public. Why did they make it so public? I think they just want publicity. Otherwise, why didn’t they just leave their faith and just be quiet about it?”

Cooper said such behavior speaks to the narcissism of social media culture.

“Social media is not your diary,” he said on my radio show. “There are things you can struggle with in your life. You don’t have to say every one of them on your Instagram page.”

Dr. David Wheeler, a professor of evangelism at Liberty University, said he is concerned about the dumbing down of the church.

“We take the flashiest bait out there and so often we end up falling in the wrong direction,” Wheeler said on my radio show. “Students love to worship, but they don’t understand that the heartbeat of worship is obedience to a holy and righteous God. It’s not just an experience. It’s not just an emotion.”

Wheeler suggested that the broader problem facing the church and the culture is an “easy kind of believism” and humanism.

“If you really know the God that I know you wouldn’t want to renounce Him,” the professor said.

To that point, Cooper implored his fellow believers to “rediscover the preeminence of the Word.

“And to value the teaching of the Word. We need to value truth over feeling,” he wrote. “Truth over emotion. And what we are seeing now is the result of the church raising up influencers who did not supremely value truth who have led a generation who also do not believe in the supremacy of truth. And now those disavowed leaders are proudly still leading and influencing boldly AWAY from the truth.”


Todd Starnes is host of “The Todd Starnes Radio Show” and “Starnes Country” on Fox Nation. He is the author of a number of best-selling books. Follow him on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

August 19, 2019 Morning Verse Of The Day

4. God here confirms what we have observed respecting his gratuitous reconciliation, nor is the repetition useless; for as men are disposed to entertain vain and false hopes, so nothing is more difficult, than to preserve them in dependence on the one God, and to pacify their minds, so that they disturb not nor fret themselves, as experience teaches us all. For when we embrace the promises of free pardon, our flesh ever leads us to distrust, and we become harassed by various fancies. “What! can you or dare you promise with certainty to yourself that God will be propitious to you, when you know that for many reasons he is justly angry with you?” Since, then, we are so inclined to harbour distrust, the Prophet again confirms the truth which we have before noticed, which is, that God is ready to be reconciled, and that he desires nothing more than to receive and embrace his people.

Hence he says, I will heal their defections. The way of healing is by a gratuitous pardon. For though God, by regenerating us by his Spirit, heals our rebellion, that is, subdues us unto obedience, and removes from us our corruptions, which stimulate us to sin; yet in this place the Prophet no doubt declares in the person of God, that the Israelites would be saved from their defections, so that they might not come against them in judgment, nor be imputed to them. Let us know then that God is in two respects a Physician while he is healing our sins: he cleanses us by his Spirit, and he abolishes and buries all our offences. But it is of the second kind of healing that the Prophet now speaks, when he says, I will heal their turnings away: and he employs a strong term, for he might have said, “your faults or errors,” but he says, “your defections from God;” as though he said, “Though they have so grievously sinned, that by their crimes they have deserved hundred deaths, yet I will heal them from these their atrocious sins, and I will love them freely.”

The word נדבה, nudebe, may be explained either freely or bountifully. I will then love them bountifully, that is, with an abounding and not a common love; or I will love them freely, that is, gratuitously. But they who render the words, “I will love them of mine own accord,” that is, not by constraint, pervert the sense of the Prophet; for how frigid is the expression, that God is not forced to love us; and what meaning can hence be elicited? But the Lord is said to love us freely, because he finds in us no cause of love, for we are unworthy of being regarded or viewed with any favour; but he shows himself liberal and beneficent in this very act of manifesting his love to the unworthy.

We then perceive that the real meaning of the Prophet is this, that though the Israelites had in various ways provoked the wrath of God, and as it were designedly wished to perish, and to have him to be angry with them; yet the Lord promises to be propitious to them. In what way? Even in this, for he will give proof of his bounty, when he will thus gratuitously embrace them. We now see how God becomes a Father to us, and regards us as his children, even when he abolishes our sins, and also when he freely admits us to the enjoyment of his love. And this truth ought to be carefully observed; for the world ever imagines that they come to God, and bring something by which they can turn or incline him to love them. Nothing can be more inimical to our salvation than this vain fancy.

Let us then learn from this passage, that God cannot be otherwise a Father to us than by becoming our physician and by healing our transgressions. But the order also is remarkable, for God puts love after healing. Why? Because, as he is just, it must be that he regards us with hatred as long as he imputes sins. It is then the beginning of love, when he cleanses us from our vices, and wipes away our spots. When therefore it is asked, how God loves men, the answer is, that he begins to love them by a gratuitous pardon; for while God imputes sins, it must be that men are hated by him. He then commences to love us, when he heals our diseases.

It is not without reason that he adds, that the fury of God is turned away from Israel. For the Prophet intended to add this as a seal to confirm what he taught; for men ever dispute with themselves, when they hear that God is propitious to them. “How is this, that he heals thine infirmities? for hitherto thou hast found him to be angry with thee, and how art thou now persuaded that his wrath is pacified?” Hence the Prophet seals his testimony respecting God’s love, when he says that his wrath has now ceased. Turned away then is my fury. “Though hitherto I have by many proofs manifested to thee my wrath, yet I now come to thee as one changed. Judge me not then by past time, for I am now pacified to thee, and my fury is from thee turned away.”[1]

4 [5] Receiving punishment from God is likened to being wounded or sick, conditions that only the divine Judge-Physician can heal (cf. 5:12–14; 13:7–8). This healing Yahweh promises to bring out of his great love for Israel. The reestablishment that the nation too cavalierly had assumed in its arrogant rebellion (6:1; cf. 6:11–7:1; 11:3) is grounded in his infinite grace (cf. Oestreich, 57–155). Love within a renewed relationship, not anger in judgment, is God’s design for his people. There are two wordplays with the verb “return” (šûb): When they “return” to Yahweh (vv. 1–2), he will heal their “turning away” (mešûbâ; often translated “apostasy” or “waywardness”; cf. 11:7) and his wrath “turns” from them.[2]

4 (5) YHWH speaks as if he has accepted every word of the proposed prayer of repentance from the previous verses. The verse is a classic tricolon in which each clause (colon) interprets the others. In v. 1 Hosea summarized Israel’s plight as stumbling in iniquity. Here in v. 4 their predicament is encapsulated in the term apostasy (mĕšûbâ). It is a noun formed from the root šwb and has the basic meaning of “turning” or “turning one.” Hosea also employs the term in 11:7 with the nuance of Israel as “turning” from YHWH. It is a favored term with Jeremiah, who uses it to describe both Israel and Judah as backsliding, treacherously turning, and faithless (2:19; 3:6, 8, 11, 12, 22; 5:6; 8:5; 14:7). The appeal of YHWH through Jeremiah to Israel in 3:22 is likely dependent upon Hosea’s prophecies: “Return (šûb) faithless children, I will heal (rāpāʾ) your apostasies (mĕšûbōtêkem).” The connection in Jer. 3:22 is explicit between the return to YHWH and the exercise of his forgiveness as “healing.” This follows Hosea’s point of view. YHWH’s healing has been active since Israel’s youth, even if Israel did not acknowledge it formerly (Hos. 11:3). And YHWH will heal Israel’s corporate failures when they turn to him. Apparently some of Hosea’s contemporaries believed that Assyria could heal them in the complexities of their historical predicament, although the prophet strongly contradicted them (cf. 5:13).

The second clause in v. 4 reinforces what YHWH’s healing of Israel entails. It is an uncoerced love. The root ʾhb (“love”) plays a significant role in the book, but nowhere a more important one than in YHWH’s own speech in v. 4. In 9:15 YHWH declared that he would drive his people out of his house and love them no longer. That declaration and its subsequent effects are reversed by YHWH’s declaration in v. 4. YHWH’s love will be freely extended to a penitent Israel. The adverb nĕdābâ refers to giving that is spontaneous and/or voluntary. When used as a noun, the term represents a “freewill offering” (Exod. 35:29; 2 Chr. 31:14). It is sometimes used with the noun “vow” (nēder; Num. 15:3; Lev. 22:18; 23:38) and the verb “to make a vow” (nāder; Deut. 23:23). As an adjective it indicates abundance or voluntariness (Pss. 68:9 [MT 10]; 110:3). Perhaps the term nĕdābâ is employed here as an echo of the vow language in v. 2. The confession that Hosea urges on Israel is that they will “present [šālam, Piel] the fruit of their lips” to YHWH. The Piel of šālam is often used in the paying or carrying out of vows. In YHWH’s response in v. 4, it is as if he makes a freewill vow of his own.

The third clause of v. 4 also contains a wordplay. In Israel’s invited return to YHWH, there is also a divine counterpart in the turning (šûb) of YHWH’s anger (ʾap) from them. That fierce anger is mentioned explicitly in 13:11, and its turning from Israel here in 14:4 is a reversal of its deadly effects.

Thus v. 4 reinforces the compassion that is predicated of YHWH at the conclusion of v. 3. The tricolon is made up largely of terms used elsewhere in the book. They are employed here as YHWH’s already-given response to the repentance urged upon Israel.[3]

14:4 / Hosea does not compose such a prayer for his people because he thinks they are capable of such repentance and renunciation of their apostasy. As he has stated before, Israel has no power in itself to return to its God (cf. the comment at 5:4). Rather, he envisions Israel uttering such a prayer because he believes God will heal and recreate them. And that is the central announcement of this passage, in verse 4. “I will heal their turning away; I will love them freely; for I will turn my wrath from them” reads the Hebrew of that verse. God here promises to remake Israel, to heal it (cf. 6:11), to love it freely, apart from any condition or repentance and turning on Israel’s part. What Israel cannot do for itself, God will do. That is the primary good news of the message of Hosea.[4]

4. God’s gracious reply to their self-condemning prayer.

backslidingapostasy: not merely occasional backslidings. God can heal the most desperate sinfulness [Calvin].

freely—with a gratuitous, unmerited, and abundant love (Ez 16:60–63). So as to the spiritual Israel (Jn 15:16; Ro 3:24; 5:8; 1 Jn 4:10).[5]

14:4. In response to Israel’s contrition, God promised to heal and love the nation without their sin causing any hindrance to the relationship (2:13–23). Characterizing Israel’s apostasy as in need of healing suggests that the nation’s waywardness was caused by an underlying spiritual condition requiring divine restoration. Though Hosea did not mention it explicitly here, in the new covenant God will finally remedy this ailment by giving believers a new heart of flesh through the Holy Spirit (Ezk 36:27).[6]

14:4 As so often happens with calls to repentance, there follow astounding promises to entice Israel to return. The Lord will heal their apostasy. As noted in 5:13–14, the prophets often depict sin as a sickness and renewal as healing. I will love them freely. It is not that the Lord had stopped loving Israel, but now he will love them without the prospect of imminent judgment.[7]

14:4 I will heal their disloyalty Yahweh responds to Israel’s confession. He promises to heal the people, reassuring them of His love and the temporary nature of His wrath.[8]

14:4 I will heal. The promise of healing began to be realized when Israel returned from its sixth-century exile in Babylon. It finds much greater fulfillment in Jesus Christ and His church, and is consummated at His Second Coming.

apostasy. Israel’s characteristic unfaithfulness (4:10–12; 5:4; 7:4; 11:7) will be healed by the great Healer, whose anger is now turned away.

love them freely. In this love song, we hear again the deep affection of God for His elect. This undeserved love is what the New Testament calls grace (Rom. 5:15; Eph. 2:5, 8).[9]

14:4 A believing remnant will experience restoration and blessing. God’s promise to heal their apostasy, as Duane Garrett noted, “implies that apostasy is more than an act of the will, but is also a kind of mental derangement … that God himself must cure.”[10]

[1] Calvin, J., & Owen, J. (2010). Commentaries on the Twelve Minor Prophets (Vol. 1, pp. 494–496). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[2] Carroll R., M. D. (2008). Hosea. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel–Malachi (Revised Edition) (Vol. 8, p. 302). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Dearman, J. A. (2010). The Book of Hosea (pp. 339–341). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[4] Achtemeier, E. (2012). Minor Prophets I. (W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston, Eds.) (p. 110). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[5] Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, p. 663). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[6] Goodrich, J. K. (2014). Hosea. In The moody bible commentary (p. 1329). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[7] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1642). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[8] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ho 14:4). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[9] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 1255). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[10] Clendenen, E. R. (2017). Hosea. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (pp. 1365–1366). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

Apostasy: It’s Never Been Easier – Stephen McAlpine

What has made apostasy such an attractive option these days?  It’s like a social contagion.  Or a social media contagion at least.

Christians wringing their hands about where it all went wrong as yet another celebrity Christian leader (a descriptor I have been unable to source in the original Greek) hits the dirt in a shower of Instagram pix and Twitter glitter.

Not that they call it apostasy.  They call it things like “freedom”, “repentance”, “being true to myself – finally”. All sorts of stuff.  All types of salvation words to describe what is, essentially, turning one’s back on salvation.

And the question is, why the sudden rush?  Is there a discount offer on?  A buy-one-get-one-free?  There’s certainly a rush for the door, and that’s just the visible celebs.  There’s plenty of common, garden variety apostasy going on among common, garden variety soon-to-be ex-Christians.

Something has changed in these past two decades.  And that something is the increase in pull factors that accompany the push factors. And churches are going to have to navigate this “push-pull” at an increasing rate in the coming decades.

You know what I mean by push and pull factors, don’t you?  Push and pull factors are central to a theory of migration. So, for example, a push factor for someone to leave their country is the lack of work opportunities in their home land.  They are pushed away from their land.

But for the push to be given true impetus, there must be am equal and opposite pull factor.  After all, there’s not much point in leaving a land of no opportunity for another land of no opportunity.  Something in that other land – in this instance, the chance of finding a job -, must be better!

And that’s exactly what we have with apostasy.  The push factors have always existed, but the pull factors have increased exponentially in the secular age.

Push factors? Always there> Read the New Testament letters.  It’s not all beer and skittles. Hence if you read the tweets and the Instagram and the blogs of those who leave the faith it’s all push factor, to begin with at least

There’s the way the church deals with X; or the manner in which the church has ignored Y; or the frustration of the church over Z.  All push factors.   And I am under no illusions about the nature of those push factors, the real frustrations, and the credibility gap for many people struggling with church.  Don’t hear me saying otherwise.  These need to be addressed.

Yet at the same time I’m convinced it’s the pull factors that have combined with these push factors that have tipped this over the edge in recent years.  My reading of Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age has convinced me of how much the conditions for unbelief (and belief) have changed.  Simply put, there’s never been a better time to be an apostate.

To move from believer to unbeliever in past centuries was bracing, sobering, cold, and often lonely.  It was the unbeliever as outcast.  As one against the world.  As a way of thinking that did not align with reality.  Brave it may have been, but foolhardy and isolating it certainly would be.

But today? There’s another social salvation story, another faith, another bunch of saints to turn to when one turns away from the old bunch.  And that pull factor has made all the difference.

Simply put, the push factor becomes all the more compelling when there’s an equal and opposite pull factor that offers the migrant a better opportunity on the other side.  A new story to imbibe and a new community that will embrace you.

That’s why we get an Instragram picture such as this from Josh Harris:

The push factors Harris laid out in his previous Instagram post about the malaise of the church is countered by the pull factor of a post-Christian sexular age that will reward those whose eyes have been open to their previous blindness.

They will be welcomed with open arms like the prodigals they are.  Come to think of it; the prodigal narrative is all push and pull.

The push factor of “he would have eaten the husks that were fed to the pigs“, is complemented by  the pull factor of “my father’s hired help eats better than this“.  Sure enough, the father runs to meet him.  So too with Josh Harris.  In his take on it, he fed on the stale bread of unreconstructed evangelicalism for so many years.   Now it’s rainbow donuts all the way.

This is all another way of saying this thing hasn’t bottomed out.  There could well be an unprecedented level of falling away over the coming decades, as many within the church are compelled by the pull factors of the Sexular Age and its salvation narrative, ably illustrated and promulgated by the likes of Harris who, ironically, continues to be a social influencer, except in the opposite direction.

If I were cynical I would say that being too old to dig and too proud to beg, he is being welcomed into the friendship circle of Mammon with open arms.  There’s probably a million-best-seller somewhere in this too. One that will only increase the pull factor for those who are feeling pushed already.

— Read on

08/19/19 Fear? —

READING: Psalms 46-50, Romans 9:6-33

What frightens you? Sickness? The dark? Crowds? Storms? Dogs? Loneliness? Death?

Prior to my becoming a volunteer firefighter years ago, I strongly feared heights. I simply wouldn’t put myself at a height that made me feel like I was certain to fall. Firefighting forced me to push beyond those fears, but I still don’t like the queasy feeling that develops when I look down from afar. I’ve also always feared snakes—and not for theological reasons! I just think they’re ugly and frightening.

I wonder, then, how you and I would respond if the following happened: “the earth trembles and the mountains topple into the depths of the seas, though its water roars and foams and the mountains quake with its turmoil” (Psa 46:2-3). I can’t help but think that fear would grip us, at least as long the trembling and quaking lasted. The whole picture is an alarming one.

The psalmist used this picture, though, to make a different point – that is, to remind us that our security rests in God, “our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble” (Psa 46:1). He who controls the world He created reigns over all, and we need not be afraid. It is indeed the case that, as the psalmist spoke in the refrains in this poem, “The Lord of Armies is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold” (Psa 46:7, 11).

PRAYER: “Thank You, God, for being my refuge. Help me to give You all my fears today.”

TOMORROW’S READING:  Psalms 51-55, Romans 10

via 08/19/19 Fear? —

Quick Shot: “Christianity is anti-science” | Cold Case Christianity

Our “Quick Shot” series offers brief answers to common objections to the Christian worldview. Each response is limited to one paragraph. These responses are designed to (1) answer the objection as concisely as possible, (2) challenge the objector to think more deeply about his or her claim, and (3) facilitate a “gospel” conversation. In this article, we’re offering “Quick Shot” responses to the objection, Quick Shot: “Christianity is anti-science.”

Response #1:
“Christianity isn’t anti-science, but it is anti-scientism. ‘Scientism’ is the belief that science is the only way to know anything. But there are many things we know without the benefit of science at all, like logical and mathematical truths (that precede scientific investigations), metaphysical truths (that determine if the external world is real), moral and ethical truths (that set boundaries for our behavior), aesthetic truths (like determining beauty) and historical truths. Christians believe that science can tell us many important things, but not all important things. How could science possibly tell us anything meaningful about the historicity of Jesus or the historical reliability of the Bible?”

Christians believe that science can tell us many important things, but not all important things. How could science possibly tell us anything meaningful about the historicity of Jesus or the historical reliability of the Bible?
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Response #2:
“Christianity isn’t anti-science. In fact, some of the most famous scientists in history were Christians (like Johannes Kepler, René Descartes, Blaise Pascal, Isaac Newton, and Max Planck), and many current accomplished scientists are also Christ-followers (like John Polkinghorne, Francis Collins and Michael Behe). These scientists aren’t afraid to ask all the classic investigative questions; the what, when, where, how, why and who questions. Many modern scientists, however, now refuse to ask the who question, even when the best scientific evidence (like the evidence of information in DNA) points clearly to an intelligent who. They refuse to even acknowledge the possibility of a Divine who. Christianity isn’t opposed to science, just to scientists who refuse to ask all the questions. Why wouldn’t scientists be willing to ask the who question?”

Christianity isn’t opposed to science, just to scientists who refuse to ask all the questions. Why wouldn’t scientists be willing to ask the who question?
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Response #3:
“Science and Christianity aren’t at odds with one another. In fact, science can help us make the case for the God of the Bible. Science tells us that everything in the universe came into existence from nothing, and that this was caused by something powerful, non-spatial, non-temporal and non-material. Science tells us our DNA contains true information, and the best inference for the existence of information is an intelligent mind. The God of the Bible is a reasonable candidate for the non-spatial, non-temporal, non-material, intelligent mind that could explain this scientific data. Why do you think some people reject the existence of God when the scientific evidence is most reasonably explained by God?”

Why do you think some people reject the EXISTENCE of God when the scientific evidence is most reasonably EXPLAINED by God?
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— Read on

URC Learning » Atheism, Richard Dawkins, and “The God Delusion” (part 8 of 8): Religion Worse Than Child Abuse?!

Dawkins’ worldview lacks foundation for his outlandish claim that instructing children in the Christian faith is worse than sexually molesting them. His telling extreme stories of religious abuse is a cheap tactic to try and give credibility to this obviously ridiculous claim, and to hide its sinister implications.

Atheism, Richard Dawkins, and “The God Delusion” (part 8 of 8): Religion Worse Than Child Abuse?!

URC Learning » Atheism, Richard Dawkins, and “The God Delusion” (part 7 of 8): The Impossibility of the Contrary

Dawkins’ critique of typical God-proofs simply avoids the main one: the transcendental argument for the existence of God. Last time, we introduced this argument as an answer to the “ultimate Boeing 747 gambit”; this week, we present the transcendental argument to bolster the other more traditional proofs which Dawkins attempts to refute.

Atheism, Richard Dawkins, and “The God Delusion” (part 7 of 8): The Impossibility of the Contrary

URC Learning » Atheism, Richard Dawkins, and “The God Delusion” (part 6 of 8): This 747 Gambit Down In Flames (remixed)

Note: This show’s content was re-edited and replaces the original.

Dawkins’ central argument against God’s existence–the “ultimate Boeing 747 gambit”–fails for at least two reasons. First, the gambit needs Darwinian evolution by natural selection to be true in spite of its glaring logical and factual flaws. Second, the gambit’s conclusions cannot account for the principles it used to draw its conclusions.

Atheism, Richard Dawkins, and “The God Delusion” (part 6 of 8): This 747 Gambit Down In Flames (remixed)

URC Learning » Atheism, Richard Dawkins, and “The God Delusion” (part 5 of 8): The Reliability of the Bible

As if his simplistic attack against the Scripture’s moral fabric wasn’t enough, Dawkins marches forward to assault the Bible’s factual credibility. But evidence, common sense, and the modern scholarly consensus (even of the Bible’s detractors) are major obstacles to the credibility of his argument.

Atheism, Richard Dawkins, and “The God Delusion” (part 5 of 8): The Reliability of the Bible

URC Learning » Atheism, Richard Dawkins, and “The God Delusion” (part 4 of 8): Did He Even Read the Thing?

Unable to plug the gaping hole left by his inability to account for absolute standards of morality, Dawkins resorts in chapter seven to try and discredit the Bible as that plug. Of course, he again proceeds to critique something without any foundation for objectivity; also, he analyzes the Scripture in such a simplistic manner that you are forced to wonder if such a learned man ever actually read this Bible he attacks.

Atheism, Richard Dawkins, and “The God Delusion” (part 4 of 8): Did He Even Read the Thing?

URC Learning » Atheism, Richard Dawkins, and “The God Delusion” (part 3 of 8): Coming up Empty

The title of Dawkins’ sixth chapter, “The Roots of Morality: Why Are We Good?,” betrays his inability as an atheist to account for the absolute standards of morality which he so readily embraces and applies throughout the book and his own life. His speculations about humanity’s moral consensus are merely descriptive, and when he finally (though half-heartedly) acknowledges this problem, the chapter ends with but a whimper.

Atheism, Richard Dawkins, and “The God Delusion” (part 3 of 8): Coming up Empty