Friday, December 30, 2011

Where Priceless Eternity Is Heading In 2012

It's that time of year again. The New Year is right around the corner, and people are reevaluating their lifestyles and thinking about what resolutions they should make for 2012.

This seemed like the best time to look back on the past year and let you know what's in store for Priceless Eternity in 2012.

A Look Back At 2011
I've wrote on a wide range of topics over the past year, from how humanity's diet changed after the Flood to Nero's persecution of early Christians. My main focus over the past year, though, was the worldwide flood described in the early chapters of Genesis.

In 2012, I will not focus nearly as much on the Flood. In fact, by the end of January, I will be finished going through Genesis 9, the chapter which marks the end of the Flood account in Scripture.

Coming In 2012: More Writing On Genesis
In this coming year you can expect to see more posts on Genesis. After spending so much time writing about passages from this book, I do not think that I will be able to take myself away from it once I'm finished with the chapters on the Flood.

I do not (at least right now) intend to write verse by verse commentary on all of Genesis, but I do intend to cover the main themes contained in the book. In the coming year you can expect a couple posts on Genesis 10 and several posts on the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11.

Coming In 2012: More Topical Writing
When I started this blog I wrote down a list of about 50 topics that I wanted to address, and since then that list has grown considerably. There is no common theme among these 50+ topics, so you can expect see some posts in the coming year on a wide variety of content. Some of the upcoming topical posts will be how-to posts (such as How To Study For God's Glory) and some of them will answer common questions (such as Will We Recognize People In Heaven?).

Coming In 2012: More Quotes
One of my favorite parts about this blog has been posting helpful quotes. You can expect more quotes from Charles Spurgeon, William Gurnall, and others in the coming year.

As a reminder, if you ever come across a good quote, feel free to send an email with the quote according to the guidelines listed here.

Thank You!
Finally, for all who regularly read Priceless Eternity, I want to say Thank You. If you ever have a question or suggestion, feel free to leave a comment or send an email. I always enjoy hearing from readers.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Quote of the Day #192 - William Gurnall


A quote from William Gurnall:
If the minister does not study and pray to increase his stock of knowledge and wisdom, he is the worst thief in town.
~William Gurnall (The Christian In Complete Armor Volume One, Chapter 4, Part 1)

This quote was taken from the book The Christian In Complete Armor Volume One - A modernized abridgement of the Puritan Classic by William Gurnall, published by Banner Of Truth.

Related Posts:

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Magi Worship Jesus, Offering Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh - Matthew 2:11-12 Bible Commentary

And going into the house they [the Magi] saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:11)
After two years of intense travel, the Magi finally arrived. What the Magi longed for— what they yearned for and so desperately sought after, they finally obtained: a glimpse of the new King. All they could do was fall down in worship.

Had their worship been directed towards anyone else, it would have been blasphemous. But before them there was a sight that few in history have ever had the privilege of beholding: God Himself in human flesh— fully God, and yet fully man.

The sweet simplicity of it all must have fueled the Magi's adoration. God had humbled Himself, becoming a man. Though His face did not shine— for His glory was veiled— the Magi knew, to some extent, what was before them.

The Magi offered to Christ their precious treasures. They gave (to the One who owns all things) gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Never had these Magi been so in tune with divine, heavenly things. Never before had they so firmly set their eyes on eternity.

The Magi provide for us a picture of true worship. They bowed their knee to the young Christ, offering to Him the best of what they had brought on their journey. If the Magi rejoiced exceedingly with great joy (Matthew 2:10) when they saw the star appear, what words can describe their joy when they actually saw the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords?
And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. (Matthew 2:12)
When that majestic, breathtaking day came to an end, the Magi laid down to rest. The dream that came to them from God Himself would scarcely have seemed out of place in light of all they had witnessed that day.

When the Magi awoke, they escaped from the hand of Herod by the grace of God. The Magi departed to their country, doubtless telling all those whom they met on the way all that they had seen and experienced.

Related Posts:

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Magi Rejoice Over the Reappearance Of The Star - Matthew 2:9-10 Bible Commentary

After listening to the king, they [the Magi] went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. (Matthew 2:9-10)
The star that the Magi saw had some rather strange qualities. No ordinary heavenly body would have had the ability to "go before them" and then come "to rest over" a certain spot. The star that the Magi saw, however, did have these abilities. It would be best, then, to interpret this star as something supernatural— something put into place by God Himself for a certain purpose, for a certain people, and a at a certain time— something that would not fit into the modern, narrower definition of a star (for more info on the nature of the star see Matthew 2:1-2).

When the Magi saw the star they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. This small statement seems to imply that the star, which the Magi had so curiously observed, disappeared sometime during their journey to Jerusalem. When the star finally reappeared, the Magi rejoiced at the sight.

If we assume that the Magi did lose the star for some time, this naturally leads to the question: Why? Assuming that the star was of entirely supernatural origin, this question becomes even deeper: why did God choose to hide the star that He had been using to guide the Magi? This is a question that delves into the very purposes and plans of God.

One possibility is that God hid the star from the Magi so that they would have to go to Jerusalem (and not directly to Bethelehem). While in Jerusalem, the Magi alerted Herod concerning the birth of the King of Kings. Without this key component of history, Jesus' family would have had no reason to flee from Bethlehem and into Egypt— and if Jesus had never entered Egypt, the prophecy that He would be called up out of Egypt would not have been fulfilled (Matthew 2:15).

The star likely reappeared after the Magi left Jerusalem. The supernatural sight brought joy to the Magi and also confirmed that Herod had spoke the truth when he said that the Child was in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:8). They Magi now knew where they were going, and they had a divine guide leading them there— who wouldn't rejoice exceedingly with great joy?

Related Posts:

Thursday, December 22, 2011

King Herod's Plan To Murder God - Matthew 2:7-8 Bible Commentary

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him." (Matthew 2:7-8)
Since Herod asked for the time of the star's appearance, he may have been wondering just how hard it would be to destroy this new "King". What sort of rebel was he dealing with? It must have come as somewhat of a relief that the star had appeared only two years ago (for more info see When Did The Magi Arrive At The "Manger"?). This was not a fully grown man that he needed to track down and destroy. This was a mere child!

If there is one thing that God hates more than the man who refuses to bow his knee in worship, it is the man who bows his knee pretending to worship. Herod in verse eight quite literally demonstrates the heart of the false worshiper. Herod's intent was not worship; it was murder. The heart of every such pretender is the same.

When a man pretends to worship, he is demonstrating that he regards serving God as an unbearable burden. Such a man, if it were more convenient, would choose to forsake God all together.

In the presence of the Magi, it was most convenient for Herod to play the part of a false worshiper. It was the best way that he saw to carry out the true intent of his heart: attempting to murder God.

Related Posts:

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

When Did The Magi (Wise Men) Arrive At The "Manger"? - Matthew 2 Bible Commentary


Many Nativity Scenes give off the false idea that the Magi (sometimes translated Wise Men) arrived at the manger immediately after the shepherds did. This is far from the truth. Scripture indicates that the Magi did not find the Christ until about two years after he was born.

The Gospel of Matthew (the only Gospel which includes the story of the Magi) explains that the Magi began their journey to find the Christ when they saw His star rise (Matthew 2:2). From Matthew 2:2 and Matthew 2:7, it can be concluded that the star first rose at the time of Jesus' birth. The Magi's journey lasted about two years, a duration which can be found by piecing together Matthew 2:7 and Matthew 2:16.
Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. (Matthew 2:7, emphasis added)
Later, in Matthew 2:16, Herod orders all boys two years or younger in Bethlehem to be killed, which means the star must have appeared two, or perhaps three years from the time of Jesus' birth (I say "perhaps three years" because some of those killed who were two years old would have been close to three complete years of age).
Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. (Matthew 2:16, emphasis added)
Another false idea that many Nativity Scenes give off is that Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were still in the manger when the Magi arrived. This idea, after a little thought, will quickly become absurd. Over the two years that the Magi traveled, surely Joseph and Mary would have been able to find a house! Thankfully, Scripture directly tells us that they found one:
And going into the house they [the Magi] saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:11, emphasis added)
So the question, then, of when the Magi arrived at the manger, would be better asked like this: When did the Magi arrive at Jesus' house? The answer to which is, of course, (as already clearly shown) about two years.

Related Posts

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Matthew's Portrayal Of Gentiles (The Magi) As The First Christ Worshipers - Matthew 2 Bible Commentary


There is something intrinsically fascinating about the story of the Magi: there's the bright, glowing star, the encounter with Herod, and then there's the gold, frankincense, and myrrh. One of the most interesting aspects of the story concerns the identity of the Magi.

The Gospel of Luke tells us the most about the events surrounding Jesus' birth. Specifically, it tells us of the worship Jesus received from fellow Jews (the shepherds in the flocks, Simeon, and Anna). Matthew's gospel, however, does not contain anything about the shepherds, Simeon, or Anna. Instead, Matthew chooses to focus on the worship that Jesus received from Gentiles— the Magi.

The story of the Magi, in a sense, foreshadows the salvation that was soon to come to the Gentiles. The Magi were not Jews, and yet they ask King Herod, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?" (Matthew 2:2) Ironically, when the Magi's news of the new King of the Jews spread through the city of Jerusalem, all the people were troubled.

What a vibrant contrast Matthew chronicles! On the one hand, the people living in the heart of Judaism— the city of Jerusalem— are troubled by the news concerning their own prophesied Messiah. On the other hand, the Magi— likely wealthy, Gentile kings from many miles away— are filled with joy that this very Messiah has been born. Jerusalem is troubled by the coming of their Messiah, but Gentiles are painstakingly searching for Him out of a desperate desire to worship Him!

Matthew's portrayal of Gentiles as the first worshipers of the Christ is not something to be skipped over. We can only wonder what must have happened about two years after Jesus' birth when the Magi arrived at His house. What must His father, Joseph, have thought? Perhaps he was pondering those words he had heard from the angel so long ago: She [Mary] will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).

Maybe... just maybe, Joseph began to consider that the people whom his "Son" would save from their sins included people from every tribe, and nation and tongue— even Magi!

Let us never forget the graciousness of God in saving people from every nation on earth!

Related Posts:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Jesus Born In Bethlehem: The Fulfillment of Micah 5:2 - Matthew 2:5-6 Bible Commentary


Many years before the events of Matthew 2, God spoke through the prophet Micah. The chief priests and scribes of the Jews knew the words of Micah well and responded to Herod (for more info see King Herod Troubled) with a quote from Micah 5:2.
They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
"'And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.'"
(Matthew 2:5-6)
The book of Matthew is filled with quotes from the Old Testament. The purpose of these quotes is to point us to the man who fulfilled them: Jesus Christ. By quoting from Micah 5:2, Matthew shows us that Jesus' birth happened just as the Scriptures say.

About seven hundred years before the birth of Christ, Micah walked the earth and prophesied. Seven-hundred years later, Micah's prophecy was fulfilled. Think about that for a moment: 700 years.

Think of all that has happened between now and seven hundred years ago! To put it into perspective: about 750 years passed between the death of the patriarch Abraham and the birth of King David. Seven hundred years is a long time.

Time, however, is not a barrier to God, not even 700 years. God can see all of history. He knows everything that will ever happen. He knows the when, the how, the where, and the why of every event that has ever happened or ever will happen. When God speaks, His words always come to pass.
I am God, and there is none like me,
declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, 'My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose'
(Isaiah 46:9-10)
Therefore, when God prophesied through Micah that the Christ would be born in Bethlehem, the prophecy happened exactly as He said that it would. That God's words came to pass should not, of course, be a surprise. God is always faithful to keep his word. He is the one who controls, guides, and governs history in order to accomplish His purposes.

Related Posts:

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Quote of the Day #191 - Charles Spurgeon


A quote from Charles Spurgeon on backsliding:
Little by little, as a rule, backsliding leads on to overt apostasy and sin. No, no—so mature a servant of the devil as Judas is not produced all at once. It takes time to educate a man for the scorner’s seat. Take care, therefore, of backsliding because of what it leads to. If you begin to slip on the side of a mountain of ice, the first slip may not hurt if you can stop and slide no further. But, alas, you cannot so regulate sin! When your feet begin to slide, the rate of their descent increases, and the difficulty of arresting this motion is incessantly becoming greater. It is dangerous to backslide in any degree—for we know not to what it may lead.

It is a defiling thing to backslide, for a man cannot lose the intensity of his love to Christ and holiness without becoming thereby worldly and impure in heart. You cannot be less in prayer without being less like God. Sin is quite certain to seek a dwelling for himself in any heart where the Spirit of God is not actually present. Let your God withdraw His manifest fellowship, and sin is sure to come in to fill up the vacuum.
~Charles Spurgeon (Backsliding Healed 920)

Related Posts:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

How Many Magi (Wise Men) Were There? Three? - Matthew 2 Bible Commentary


About a month before Christmas, all across the world, nativity scenes begin popping up everywhere. These scenes contain many fictitious, invented elements that never appear in the Bible. The very presence of the Magi (also sometimes translated "wise men") at the nativity scene is a historical inaccuracy.

Sadly, even if the Magi were portrayed in the right way (hundreds of miles to the east when Jesus was born), there would still be a problem. Ever notice that whenever the Magi are portrayed there are always exactly three of them? The Bible never states that there were exactly three Magi. It is only an assumption, based on this text from the second chapter of the gospel of Matthew:
And going into the house they [the Magi] saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:11)
The assumption is that since the Magi offered the Christ three gifts, then there must have been exactly three Magi. But is this really a good assumption?

The only information Matthew gives us regarding the number of Wise Men is that he refers to them as "they". From this, we can conclude that there had to be at least two Magi, but we have no way of making any firm conclusion beyond that.

Perhaps there were only two wise men, or perhaps there were twenty. We really have no way of knowing. It does, however, seem reasonable to conclude that, at the very least, the Magi would have brought along several servants. The wise men, after all, are thought to have been wealthy kings, and they were making a journey probably hundreds of miles long. It would have been almost unthinkable to not bring along guards and servants for what was likely a treacherous journey. This makes it all quite likely that the Magi's party had more than three people in it.

So the next time that you see a nativity scene with three wise men bowing down and giving gifts, know that the scene is mostly fictitious. The Magi were hundreds of miles away when Jesus was born, and in all likelihood, there were more than three of them.

Related Posts:

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Quote of the Day #190 - Matthew Mead


A quote from Matthew Mead on the infinite greatness of Christ's sacrifice:
Alas! it is Christ's infinite righteousness which must atone for our sins--for it is an infinite God whom we have sinned against! If ever your sin is pardoned--it is Christ's infinite mercy which must pardon it! If ever you are reconciled to God--it is Christ's infinite merit which must do it! If ever your heart is changed--it is Christ's infinite power which must effect it! If ever your soul escapes hell, and is saved at last--it is Christ's infinite grace which must save it!
~Matthew Mead (The Almost Christian Discovered)

Related Posts:

Thursday, December 08, 2011

King Herod Troubled By The News From The Magi - Matthew 2:3-4 Bible Commentary

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him." When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him (Matthew 2:1-3)
As king, Herod must have been a master of disguise. He was a master politician. He acted in whatever way was required in order to get what he wanted. Morality was not a concern. When he heard the Magi's question about the new king of the Jews, he put on a mask and pretended to be someone who he was not (see Matthew 2:8).

On the inside,
Herod burned with a murderous rage.
On the outside,
Herod kept a kind, curious countenance.

The words of the Magi were troubling. Was not he, Herod, king over the Jews? There was not room for another king. And who did these Magi think they were? They were seeking a new king of the Jews to worship like a god... but why, then, weren't these Magi worshiping him?

Herod must have wanted to lash out at the Magi, but there was something holding him back. What if the Magi were speaking the truth? What if a new king really had been born? He knew that the Jews were anticipating the coming of Christ (and ironically all of Jerusalem was troubled by the news from the Magi that the Christ had come!). Where the Christ was supposed to come from, Herod had never bothered to investigate.

But now... now it was time to investigate. He desperately needed to know more about this new supposed king. Luckily, he knew exactly how he could find out more:
and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. (Matthew 2:4)

Related Posts:

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Quote of the Day #189 - William Gurnall


A quote from William Gurnall:
The desire to resist death is not so strong in one who has long been ill and wasting away, as it is in the one who has been sick only a few days and still has strength to fight. The same tendency is found in the saint. That Christian whose love of this life has been wasting away for many years will more easily part with his earthly life then he whose love for it is stronger.
~William Gurnall (The Christian In Complete Armor Volume One, Chapter 4, Part 2)

This quote was taken from the book The Christian In Complete Armor Volume One - A modernized abridgement of the Puritan Classic by William Gurnall, published by Banner Of Truth.

Related Posts:
Quote of the Day #190 - Matthew Mead
Quote of the Day #186 - William Gurnall
Quote of the Day #187 - John Winthrop
Quote of the Day #188 - Charles Spurgeon
Quote Index

Monday, December 05, 2011

The Magi Search For Jesus, The King Of The Jews - Matthew 2:1-2 Bible Commentary


Near the beginning of our common era, a child was born. Actually, lots of children were born at that time, but there was one baby boy in particular that was different from the rest. This baby boy was the Immanuel. He was God with us (Matthew 1:23).

On the night when Jesus was born, angels appeared to nearby shepherds. The angelic host told the shepherds of the birth of the Saviour, crying out the words, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!" (Luke 2:14).

On that same glorious, angel-filled night, something else happened: a star appeared in the sky. Many, many miles away from the manger, a group of Magi saw the shining-wonder in the sky.

When we use the word "star" today, we often use it in a technical sense. We call massive, gaseous balls of energy flying around in space "stars". The world at the time of Christ would have been unfamiliar with such a definition of "star" (telescopes weren't invented until nearly 1500 years after the time of Christ).

It is important, then, not to import the modern meaning of "star" into the times of Christ. Doing so would only create trouble. Why? Because from the pages of Scripture, it's apparent that the star that the magi saw had some unusual characteristics that would not fit the modern definition of "star". The star that the magi saw was able to "go before them," and then eventually come to a rest in a certain place (Matthew 2:9).

When the Magi first saw the star appear at the time of Christ's birth, they began their long journey. The Magi, somehow, connected the appearance of the star to the birth of the King of the Jews. How they knew this, we do not know. Scripture tells us few specifics about the Magi, simply stating that they came from the general direction "east". The lack of specifics should not surprise us. Matthew's goal is not to give us a detailed biography of the Magi, but to give us knowledge of Christ.

Matthew tells us that the primary reason the Magi were looking for the King was so that they could worship Him. Since the Magi knew that they were looking for the King of the Jews, they logically traveled to Jerusalem, the city that was the world's center of Judaism. Perhaps they thought that out of all the cities in the world, Jerusalem would be the city that would know of this new King— and if they were lucky, perhaps the new King would already be in Jerusalem.

The Magi must have been shocked to discover that neither the king of Jerusalem nor the people of Jerusalem knew anything about the recent birth of their King. The simple, honest question that they asked when they arrived did not even bring joy to Jerusalem, but trouble— especially to King Herod.

Related Posts:
Isaiah's Prophecy - Matthew 1:22-23
The Messiah the Jews Expected and the Messiah that Came
Was the Virgin Birth Necessary? Why was the Virgin Birth So Important?
Summary of Matthew 1

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Quote of the Day #188 - Charles Spurgeon


A quote from Charles Spurgeon on the centrality of Calvary:
The hill of comfort is the hill of Calvary; the house of consolation is builded with the wood of the cross; the temple of heavenly cordials is founded upon the riven rock, riven by the spear which pierced its side. No scene in sacred history ever gladdens the soul like the scene on Calvary. Nowhere does the soul ever find such consolation as on that very spot where misery reigned, where woe triumphed, where agony reached its climax. There Grace has dug a fountain which always gushes with waters pure as crystal, each drop capable of alleviating the woes and the agonies of mankind!
~Charles Spurgeon (Justification By Grace 126.153)

Related Posts:
Quote of the Day #189 - William Gurnall
Quote of the Day #185 - Charles Spurgeon
Quote of the Day #186 - William Gurnall
Quote of the Day #187 - John Winthrop
Quote Index

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Herod, The Magi, And Jesus Christ On The Stage Of History - Matthew 2:1 Bible Commentary

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem (Matthew 2:1)
In Matthew 2, the manger is gone from history's stage. The curtain had long ago closed on that scene, and we have no way of peeking around it and catching a glimpse of Christ in his earliest months.

The next scene from Christ's life does not begin until nearly twenty-four months after His birth, in Matthew 2:1. In this chapter, history's stage contains three main groups of characters: Herod, the Magi, and the Christ.

The scene opens in Jerusalem, the place where King Herod reigned. History has much to say about this wicked king's cruelty. The most famous of his cruel acts is the one that appears in the pages of Scripture: the time when he ordered all boys under the age of two in Bethlehem to be slaughtered.

The magi are the other figures onstage. We know only a few things about them from the pages of Scripture. For instance, we know that they must have been faithful to the one true God. How they came to know and love Him, however, is unknown. Perhaps they were familiar with parts of the Old Testament. After all, Scripture states:
For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues. (Acts 15:21)
Perhaps the magi— the wise men from the East— had come to know of the ways of God through Jewish influences in their own lands.

The final figure onstage is Jesus Christ Himself. Although Jesus in not physically onstage at the beginning of the Matthew 2, the plot focuses completely on Him. Both the Magi and King Herod are seeking to find Christ. The Magi seek Him in order that they might worship Him, but Herod seeks Him in order that he might slay Him.

Related Posts:
The Magi Search For Jesus, The King Of The Jews - Matthew 2:1-2
The Messiah the Jews Expected and the Messiah that Came
Was the Virgin Birth Necessary? Why was the Virgin Birth So Important?
Joseph's Obedience and Jesus' Birth - Matthew 1:24-25
Summary of Matthew 1

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Quote of the Day #187 - John Winthrop


This is a famous quote from John Winthrop, a well-known puritan leader in early Colonial America. The quote below comes from a sermon Winthrop wrote while crossing the Atlantic Ocean in 1630.
For wee must consider that wee shall be as a citty upon a hill. The eies of all people are uppon us. Soe that if wee shall deale falsely with our God in this worke wee haue undertaken, and soe cause him to withdrawe his present help from us, wee shall be made a story and a by-word through the world. Wee shall open the mouthes of enemies to speake evill of the wayes of God, and all professors for God's sake. Wee shall shame the faces of many of God's worthy servants, and cause theire prayers to be turned into curses upon us till wee be consumed out of the good land whither wee are a goeing. (source)
Here's the same excerpt with modern English spelling:
For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world. We shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God, and all professors for God's sake. We shall shame the faces of many of God's worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into curses upon us till we be consumed out of the good land whither we are a going.
~John Winthrop

Related Posts:
Quote of the Day #188 - Charles Spurgeon
Quote of the Day #184 - John Owen
Quote of the Day #185 - Charles Spurgeon
Quote of the Day #186 - William Gurnall
Quote Index

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Blessing On Shem And Japheth - Genesis 9:26-27 Bible Commentary


After cursing Canaan, Noah speaks of his two sons Shem and Japheth:
He also said,
"Blessed be the LORD,
The God of Shem;
And let Canaan be his servant.
"May God enlarge Japheth,
And let him dwell in the tents of Shem;
And let Canaan be his servant."
(Genesis 9:26-27)
Notice that twice in this blessing, Noah reinforces the curse on Canaan. Notice also that between Canaan, Shem, and Japheth, Shem is the son that Noah honors the most. Noah calls Yahweh the God of Shem, but does not call Yahweh the God of Canaan or the God of Japheth.

This distinction may seem strange at first, but if you jump forward a few chapters to Genesis 11, you will see that Shem is one of Abraham’s ancestors. Shem, then, is singled out by Noah because the Hebrew people would come from his lineage. Even more importantly, from the lineage of Shem came Jesus Christ: who saves all those who come to Him, regardless of ancestry.

After blessing Shem, Noah speaks of Japheth's future, saying, "May God enlarge Japheth". Noah then says that Japheth will "dwell in the tents of Shem". This could possibly be referring to the Romans who were descendants of Japheth and eventually conquered Judah— thus the descendants of Japheth would be dwelling in the "tents" of Shem. Another possible interpretation is that through the lineage of Shem they received the good news of the gospel, which could be considered a type of spiritual tent.

Related Posts:

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Noah's Curse On Canaan (Part 2) - Genesis 9:24-25 Bible Commentary


I ended the previous post by bringing up a lingering objection you might have. You might be wondering how it is right for an entire line of unborn descendants to be cursed on the basis of a decision made by one of their ancestors. Ham wronged Noah, but Noah cursed Canaan. How is that right?

The concept of God punishing people based upon the actions of their ancestors makes an appearance in the Ten Commandments. God said to Moses:
You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. (Exodus 20:4-6, emphasis added)
The sinful decisions made by a person's ancestors often have a negative influence on the generations that come after them. The first generation of Israelites that let a tiny bit of idolatry into their lives allowed those who came after them to let even more idolatry into their lives.

The truth is, as humans, we like to think we are independent. But in all reality, we are not. Although we are ultimately condemned on the basis of our own actions, from Adam onward, the decisions made by other humans have affected every part of our daily lives. When Adam sinned, God cursed Adam and every other human that would come after Adam.

The sinful decisions made by our more recent ancestors can also have a negative effect on us— and it is only by the grace of God that we can escape our idolatry, turn from the ways of our sinful ancestors, and kneel before the foot of the cross.

<< Prev

Related Posts:
The Blessing On Shem And Japheth - Genesis 9:26-27
Ham's Evil Act Against Noah - Genesis 9:22-24
Noah's Fall - Genesis 9:20-21
Why You Are Related To Noah - Genesis 9:18-19

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Noah's Curse On Canaan (Part 1) - Genesis 9:24-25 Bible Commentary


When Noah was drunk, Ham did something to Noah. Something that was wrong. And whatever that something was, when Noah awoke, he cursed Ham's son:
When Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his youngest son had done to him. So he said,
"Cursed be Canaan;
servant of servants
He shall be to his brothers."
(Genesis 9:24-25)
This passage probably causes numerous questions to come to mind. However, I want you to first focus on this question: Did Noah have the power to control the future?

The answer is probably what you think it is: No. Noah definitely did not have the power to control the future. No mere human has the power to determine the future of countless generations by speaking a few words.

Noah's curse, then, should be seen as a type of prophecy. Noah was not determining what would happen hundreds of years down the road; he was just prophesying (through God's grace) what would happen because of Ham's actions.

Which brings us to the next point: We know that Noah was prophesying, but what does his prophetic curse mean?

This question can best be answered by looking to Abraham. Nearly one thousand years after Noah uttered his curse, God made a covenant with Abraham. Part of the covenant was that Abraham's descendants would receive the Promised Land. The only "problem" with this covenant at the time was that the Canaanites- descendants of Canaan- were already living in the Promised Land (Genesis 17:8).

The Canaanites were a thriving culture for many generations after God's covenant with Abraham. It was not until about 500 years later that the Israelites, under the command of Joshua, conquered the Canaanites. Yet even then, they did not conquer them completely:
It came about when the sons of Israel became strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but they did not drive them out completely. (Joshua 17:13)
This could be a fulfillment, or at least a partial fulfillment of Noah's curse. Some, however, see a more broad fulfillment of the curse. The argument goes something like this: throughout history, the descendants of Canaan have generally been in positions of servitude. Perhaps this is a good argument, or perhaps not. Either way, Noah's curse on Canaan should never be used as a justification to mistreat Africans as people of "Ham's descent" (as was done in the past by some slave masters in the American South).

It is important to keep in mind what Paul wrote to the Galatians:
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)
Ancestry no longer matters for those who are in Christ Jesus. No Christian should ever look down on another man because of his "race" (note that every human can find Adam and Noah in his family tree, for more info see Genesis 9:18-19).

You probably still have one lingering objection to Noah's curse. You might be wondering how it is possible for an entire line of unborn descendants to be cursed on the basis of a decision made by one of their ancestors. In the second part of this series, I intend to address this objection.

Next >>

Related Posts:
The Blessing On Shem And Japheth - Genesis 9:26-27
Ham's Evil Act Against Noah - Genesis 9:22-24
Noah's Fall - Genesis 9:20-21
Why You Are Related To Noah - Genesis 9:18-19

Monday, November 21, 2011

Quote of the Day #186 - William Gurnall


A quote from William Gurnall:
What would you say of a prisoner who was sent money for his release, but used it instead to amuse himself while in prison? This is in essence what we do when we take the talents God expects us to use in preparation for the hour of death, and instead bestow them upon our lusts.
~William Gurnall (The Christian In Complete Armor Volume One, Chapter 4, Part 2)

This quote was taken from the book The Christian In Complete Armor Volume One - A modernized abridgement of the Puritan Classic by William Gurnall, published by Banner Of Truth.

Related Posts:
Quote of the Day #187 - John Winthrop
Quote of the Day #183 - William Gurnall
Quote of the Day #184 - John Owen
Quote of the Day #185 - Charles Spurgeon
Quote Index

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Quote of the Day #185 - Charles Spurgeon


A quote from Charles Spurgeon on the most noble of the sciences:
He who often thinks of God will have a larger mind than the man who simply plods around this arrow globe. He may be a naturalist, boasting of his ability to dissect a beetle, anatomize a fly, or arrange insects and animals in classes with well-nigh unutterable names. He may be a geologist, able to discourse of the megatherium and the plesiosaurus and all kinds of extinct animals. He may imagine that his science, whatever it is, ennobles and enlarges his mind. I dare say it does, but after all, the most excellent study for expanding the soul is the science of Christ and Him crucified and the knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity.

Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity.
~Charles Spurgeon (The Immutability Of God 1)

Related Posts:
Quote of the Day #186 - William Gurnall
Quote of the Day #182 - Charles Spurgeon
Quote of the Day #183 - William Gurnall
Quote of the Day #184 - John Owen
Quote Index

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Always Look To Christ - The Gospel (Part 9 of ∞)


Do not merely trust in Christ in the low points of your life. Do not merely trust in Him when you are at your weakest and sin is at its heaviest. Instead, trust Christ in both the low and the high points of your life. When you are at a high point, filled with confidence, and filled with the joy of Christ— keep on looking to Him!

If you do not look to Christ at all times, then you are sure to fall. That old saying that pride comes before a fall is true. In those moments when you feel as if you are in control of your life— when you feel as if sin is absent, and when you feel as if everything is going according to plan— it is in those moments that the temptation arises to turn your gaze away from Christ. And, oh, how easy it can be to fall prey to such temptation!

It is in the moments that we are least sorrowful over sin and most confident in ourselves that we fall. Look to Him! Look to Him in everything! Never be content with your spiritual condition. There is always more to be done. There is always a deeper communion with God to be found. Seek after that, and never stop seeking! Because if you do stop seeking, spiritual idleness will begin to creep into your life. Your pride will begin to grow, and soon, you will find yourself weeping before God because of a great fall— a fall that you could have avoided if you had been diligent to keep watch over your soul.

As Jesus said to His disciples: Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. (Matthew 26:41 ESV)

<< Prev | Next >>

Related Posts:
The Gospel (7 of ∞)
The Gospel (6 of ∞)
The Gospel (5 of ∞)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Quote of the Day #184 - John Owen


A quote from John Owen:
The difference between believers and unbelievers as to knowledge is not so much in the matter of their knowledge as in the manner of knowing. Unbelievers, some of them, may know more and be able to say more of God, his perfections, and his will, than many believers; but they know nothing as they ought, nothing in a right manner, nothing spiritually and savingly, nothing with a holy, heavenly light. The excellency of a believer is, not that he has a large apprehension of things, but that what he does apprehend, which perhaps may be very little, he sees it in the light of the Spirit of God, in a saving, soul-transforming light; and this is that which gives us communion with God, and not prying thoughts or curious-raised notions.
~John Owen (Of The Mortification Of Sin In Believers, Part 2, Chapter 12)

This quote was taken from the book Overcoming Sin and Temptation, Three Classic Works By John Owen, published by Crossway in 2006.

Related Posts:
Quote of the Day #185 - Charles Spurgeon
Quote of the Day #181 - Augustine
Quote of the Day #182 - Charles Spurgeon
Quote of the Day #183 - William Gurnall
Quote Index

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ham's Evil Act Against Noah - Genesis 9:22-24 Bible Commentary


Noah— the man who had accomplished so much and had been so faithful to God— was lying in his tent, drunk and naked. Noah's already bad day turned worse when his son, Ham, walked into the tent:
Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it upon both their shoulders and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were turned away, so that they did not see their father’s nakedness. (Genesis 9:22-23)
Noah's reaction to Ham's actions is described in the next few verses:
When Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his youngest son had done to him. So he said,
"Cursed be Canaan;
A servant of servants
He shall be to his brothers." (Genesis 9:24-25)
What exactly did Ham do that caused Noah to curse him? This question has stumped people for a long time, but for a good reason: The Bible does not tell us what Ham did to Noah!

The only thing that we can be sure of is that Ham did something to Noah. Some suggest that Ham merely saw his father, but verse 24 clearly implies that Ham did something to Noah. What that something was, we do not know. Some have suggested Ham committed some sort of lewd act against his father. Yet it is important to remember that such a suggestion is merely speculation, not firm fact.

So why is this here? Why is Ham's evil act in Scripture? What's the point? If anything, Ham's evil act shows us that although the flood had passed, man was still the same. Noah sinned after the flood— and so did his son. Just as the pre-flood era was filled with rebellion against God, so too would the new post-flood era world be filled with rebellion.

Related Posts:
Noah's Curse On Canaan (Part 1) - Genesis 9:24-25
Noah's Fall - Genesis 9:20-21
The Genealogy: Adam to Noah - Genesis 5
Why You Are Related To Noah - Genesis 9:18-19

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Quote of the Day #183 - William Gurnall


A quote from William Gurnall on pain:
Our death was bred when our life was first conceived. And as a woman cannot stop the hour of her travail, which is a natural consequence of conception, so neither can man hinder the bringing forth of death with which his life is impregnated. Every physical pain you endure is a groan from your dying nature, warning you that death is at hand.
~William Gurnall (The Christian In Complete Armor Volume One, Chapter 4, Part 2)

This quote was taken from the book The Christian In Complete Armor Volume One - A modernized abridgement of the Puritan Classic by William Gurnall, published by Banner Of Truth.

Related Posts:
Quote of the Day #184 - John Owen
Quote of the Day #180 - William Gurnall
Quote of the Day #181 - Augustine
Quote of the Day #182 - Charles Spurgeon
Quote Index

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Quote of the Day #182 - Charles Spurgeon


A quote from Charles Spurgeon on the cross:
Leave out the cross, and you have killed the religion of Jesus. Atonement by the blood of Jesus is not an arm of Christian truth; it is the heart of it... I know nothing of Christianity without the blood of Christ. No teaching is healthy which throws the Cross into the background.
~Charles Spurgeon (The Blood Shed For Many 1971.375)

Related Posts:
Quote of the Day #183 - William Gurnall
Quote of the Day #179 - Charles Spurgeon
Quote of the Day #180 - William Gurnall
Quote of the Day #181 - Augustine
Quote Index

Friday, November 11, 2011

Noah's Fall - Genesis 9:20-21 Bible Commentary

Then Noah began farming and planted a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent. (Genesis 9:20-21)
Noah was blameless.
He had walked with God,
and heard God's voice.
He had built an ark,
survived the flood,
built an altar,
and received God's covenant.

Everything was finished.
Now he could
settle down,
rest,
and relax.

And so, Noah began to farm.
He planted a vineyard.
Soon enough,
The vineyard grew.

The fruit from the vineyard was gathered.
Wine was made.

Noah drank the wine.
And he drank some more wine.
And then, he drank some more.

The man who had weathered so great a storm—
The man who had been so faithful for so long—
had given into temptation.

Noah fell.
And his fall was great.

He uncovered himself so that his drunken sinfulness was on full display.
Noah, after being mightily used by God, fell, just as so many others have.
He fell like Samson did with Delilah.
Like David did with Bathsheba.

If you do not get anything else out of Genesis 9:20-21, get this: It does not matter how much God has used you. It does not matter how faithful you have been in the past. You are still living in a mortal body that is subject to temptation. You are not yet in a pure, resurrected body, and every single day you must seek to kill off the sin that clings to you. If you do not, you will be caught off guard, and you will fall— just as Noah did.

Related Posts:
Ham's Evil Act Against Noah - Genesis 9:22-24
Noah's Obedience - Genesis 6:22
Noah's Name: Its Meaning and Significance - Genesis 5:29
Noah: Blameless In His Time - Genesis 6:9-10
Why You Are Related To Noah - Genesis 9:18-19

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Quote of the Day #181 - Augustine


This is a quote from Henry Bettenson's translation (1972) of Augustine's book, City of God, on the grace of God in saving sinners:
For it is only sins that separate men from God; and in this life purification from sins is not effected by our merit, but by the compassion of God, through his indulgence, not through our power; for even that poor little virtue which we call ours has itself been granted to us by his bounty.
~Augustine (City of God (Penguin Classics), 1984, Book X, Chapter 22)

Related Posts:
Quote of the Day #182 - Charles Spurgeon
Quote of the Day #178 - J. C. Ryle
Quote of the Day #179 - Charles Spurgeon
Quote of the Day #180 - William Gurnall
Quote Index

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Why You Are Related To Noah - Genesis 9:18-19 Bible Commentary


Were you born after Noah was born? Then you are related to Noah.

It really is that simple.

But if you would like a more complex explanation, here it is: Around 2349 BC (according to James Ussher's dating system), a massive flood filled the entire earth. This flood, usually referred to as "Noah's Flood," destroyed everyone living on the earth— everyone, that is, except for eight people.

Scripture tells us the names of only four of the eight people who survived the flood: Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. The other four people who survived were each of their wives.

Since the seven people who left the ark with Noah were all in some way related to Noah, it is simple enough to conclude that everyone who has lived after Noah's flood is also related to Noah. This fact is clearly supported by Scripture:
Now the sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem and Ham and Japheth; and Ham was the father of Canaan. These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the whole earth was populated. (Genesis 9:18-19)
After all the corruption in the pre-flood world, after all the destruction, and after nearly a year on the ark, Noah and his three sons left the ark. From these four men and their wives, the entire earth was repopulated.

Now I know that there are some people who would object to such a statement. Such objectors might try to claim that there were other people on the Earth who were not destroyed by the flood— and that since those people were not related to Noah, it is impossible to conclude that everyone on Earth is related to Noah. This objection, however, has no basis in Scripture. In fact, such an objection is directly contradicted by Genesis 9:18-19, as well as everything else that Scripture has to say about the flood.

If there is one thing about the flood that Scripture makes clear over and over again it is this: Noah's Flood was a global flood. During the flood, the highest of the mountains were covered (Genesis 7:19-20). Every living thing with the breath of life died (Genesis 7:21-22). And only Noah's household survived (Genesis 7:23). How much clearer could it get?

Related Posts:
Noah's Fall - Genesis 9:20-21 Bible Commentary
The Destruction of The City of Enoch - Genesis 7:17-18
What Is The Noahic Covenant? - Genesis 9:12-17
The Origin Of The Death Penalty - Genesis 9:5-7
The Cave Men of Genesis - Genesis 4

Monday, November 07, 2011

Quote of the Day #180 - William Gurnall


A quote from William Gurnall on putting on the whole armor of God:
Satan is not challenging you to a mock battle; this war is a life-or-death struggle... This war is a spiritual holocaust. Either you destroy the power of Satan in your life by putting on the whole armour of God and keeping it on, or Satan will destroy you.
~William Gurnall (The Christian In Complete Armor Volume One, Chapter 4, Part 1)

This quote was taken from the book The Christian In Complete Armor Volume One - A modernized abridgement of the Puritan Classic by William Gurnall, published by Banner Of Truth.

Related Posts:
Quote of the Day #181 - Augustine
Quote of the Day #177 - William Gurnall
Quote of the Day #178 - J. C. Ryle
Quote of the Day #179 - Charles Spurgeon
Quote Index

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Quote of the Day #179 - Charles Spurgeon


A quote from Charles Spurgeon on the Bible's promises:
Believer, there was a delightful promise which you had yesterday—and this morning when you turned to the Bible the promise was not sweet. Do you know why? Do you think the promise had changed? Ah, no, you changed— that is where the matter lies. You had been eating some of the grapes of Sodom and your mouth was thereby put out of taste and you could not detect the sweetness. But there was the same honey there, depend upon it—the same preciousness.
~Charles Spurgeon (The Immutability Of God 1)

Related Posts:
Quote of the Day #180 - William Gurnall
Quote of the Day #176 - Charles Spurgeon
Quote of the Day #177 - William Gurnall
Quote of the Day #178 - J. C. Ryle
Quote Index

Friday, November 04, 2011

The Hopeless, Melting Marvels Of Life - The Gospel (Part 8 of ∞)


As Christians, we should not put our hope in the things that this world hopes for. This world puts its hope in the well-polished pleasures of this life. Such pleasures, while at first satisfying to the people of this world, soon melt away. What was once a splendid pleasure becomes boring. And so what do the people of this world do? They run after greater pleasure! Why? Because that is where they have put their hope. They have put their hope in themselves— in self-satisfaction.

The hope of the Christian should be different. Much different. Oh Christian, do not delight in the marvels of this life that, like ice, melt away in the heat and passion of the moment— but pursue Christ with all your strength!

In Christ: that is the only place where true and enduring hope can be found!

The ultimate hope is the Gospel— that one day Jesus Christ will come back to reign forever and ever. On that day, we will be perfectly clean and pure and whole— like Him! Put your hope in that and you will be pure, just as He is pure (1 John 3:3).

Of all people, Christians should be the most hopeful. They have the hope of eternity. The hope of the coming resurrection— of the new Heaven and the new Earth.

The hope of the Christian is not an ignorant hope, but a confident hope. A hope which will more surely come to pass than the rising of the sun. The hope of the Christian is this: that this world is temporary— that the pleasures of this world are empty, deceptive pursuits. And most important of all: that God, by His grace, saves undeserving men through the blood of Jesus Christ.

<< Prev | Next >>

Related Posts:
The Gospel (6 of ∞)
The Gospel (5 of ∞)
The Gospel (4 of ∞)

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

What Is The Noahic Covenant? - Genesis 9:12-17 Bible Commentary


What is the Noahic Covenant? The Noahic Covenant is a promise that God made shortly after the global flood described in Genesis 7 and 8. Its contents are rather simple: God promised to never again send a global flood to destroy every creature (man and animal) living upon the earth.

The Noahic Covenant is called "Noahic" because the covenant is specifically for people who are related to Noah. Since Noah and his family were the only ones to live through the flood, you can be certain of the fact that the Noahic Covenant also applies to you. It does not matter who you are or what the color of your skin is, your lineage (in some way or another) can be traced back to Noah. In fact, everyone who has ever lived in the post-flood world can trace their lineage back to Noah (and ultimately back Adam, the first man on Earth).

Even if you have never read the flood narrative in the Bible, you probably know a few things about the flood from various other sources. First, you probably know that there was a guy named Noah. Second, you probably know there was a boat, a lot of animals, and a flood. And third, you probably know that there was a rainbow. But what did the rainbow mean?

Simply put, the rainbow was (and still is) the sign of the Noahic covenant. After the flood, God turned the rainbow into a visible reminder that He would never again flood the entire earth. As the book of Genesis states:
And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth." God said to Noah, "This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth." (Genesis 9:12-17)
One common objection against the Noahic Covenant is that floods kill people all around the world on a regular basis. Such floods, however, are merely local floods, and the Noahic covenant has nothing to say about local floods. The only thing that God promised in the Noahic Covenant is that He would never send another flood to destroy all flesh (Genesis 9:15)— in other words, God only promised to never again send a global flood.

Another possible misunderstanding of the Noahic Covenant is to conclude that God promised to never again destroy all flesh. This is a misunderstanding, because God only promised not to do so through the means of a global flood. The day is in fact coming when God will bring an end to all flesh on the earth. The next time, however, He will not do this with a global flood, but with fire:
By the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. (2 Peter 3:5-7)

Related Posts:
God's Covenant With Noah: Promised - Genesis 6:18
God's Covenant With Noah: Fulfilled - Genesis 9:8-11
How Man's Diet Changed After The Flood - Genesis 9:3-4
God Chooses To Be More Merciful To The Post-Flood World - Genesis 8:21

Monday, October 31, 2011

Select Quotes From Martin Luther's 95 Theses - 1517 AD - Church History


It was the eve of All Saints Day— October 31st. The year was 1517, and a man named Martin Luther was about to release something that would light the world on fire.

What was it? The 95 Theses.

Martin Luther, on that October 31st night, was unaware of exactly how great a fire he had lit. In fact, at the time, Martin Luther did not yet seem to have a desire to break with the Roman Catholic Church, stating the following:
I offer it with a most faithful heart, and one most devoted to your [Lord Albert] most reverend Fatherhood, since I too am part of your flock. May the Lord Jesus keep your most reverend Fatherhood for ever and ever. Amen. (Introductory Letter To The 95 Theses, emphasis added)
However, that's not to say that Martin Luther's 95 Theses were uncritical— because they were. Luther writes midway through his Introductory Letter To The 95 Theses:
Lastly, works of piety and charity are infinitely better than indulgences, and yet they do not preach these with such display or so much zeal; nay, they keep silence about them for the sake of preaching pardons. And yet it is the first and sole duty of all bishops, that the people should learn the Gospel and Christian charity: for Christ nowhere commands that indulgences should be preached. What a dreadful thing it is then, what peril to a bishop, if, while the Gospel is passed over in silence, he permits nothing but the noisy outcry of indulgences to be spread among his people, and bestows more care on these than on the Gospel! (Introductory Letter To The 95 Theses)
If you know anything about Martin Luther and his boldness in preaching justification "by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone", but have never read the Ninety-Five Theses, you will probably be a little surprised when you read through them for the first time. Why? Because that famous doctrine is not even mentioned in them.

It is important to remember that Martin Luther did not instantly become "reformed" when he wrote the 95 Theses. For the most part, the 95 Theses primarily consisted of objections concerning the sale of indulgences in the church. Luther states:
32. Those who believe that, through letters of pardon [indulgences], they are made sure of their own salvation, will be eternally damned along with their teachers. (95 Theses)
The sale of indulgences was was a source of funds for the Roman Catholic Church. Those funds were being used to build a lavish new church building: Saint Peter's Basilica. Luther boldly writes concerning this pricey construction project:
51. Christians should be taught that, as it would be the duty, so it would be the wish of the Pope, even to sell, if necessary, the Basilica of St. Peter, and to give of his own money to very many of those from whom the preachers of pardons [indulgences] extract money. (95 Theses)
Luther later states:
86. Again; why does not the Pope, whose riches are at this day more ample than those of the wealthiest of the wealthy, build the one Basilica of St. Peter with his own money, rather than with that of poor believers? (95 Theses)
Such critical objections directly pointed at the Pope did not go unnoticed. Martin Luther was sure to make clear how indulgences were to be considered:
62. The true treasure of the Church is the Holy Gospel of the glory and grace of God.

63. This treasure, however, is deservedly most hateful, because it makes the first to be last.

64. While the treasure of indulgences is deservedly most acceptable, because it makes the last to be first. (95 Theses)
If you have never read through Martin Luther's 95 Theses, I would encourage you to do so. It is important to be aware of your spiritual ancestors for a few reasons: (1) You can learn from their successes. (2) You can learn from their errors. (3) You can come to a greater understanding of why you believe what you believe today.

To read Martin Luther's 95 Theses online for free, click here.

Related Posts
The Beginning of the Reformation: Luther - James White
Nero Blames Great Roman Fire On Christians - Church History

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Beginning of the Reformation: Luther - James White - Sermon Sunday

This is a sermon/lecture from James White on Martin Luther and his contributions to the Reformation. Don't know who Martin Luther is? Then this is a great way to find out!

If you do know a few things about Martin Luther, then you will find this lecture quite enlightening.

Click here to go to the sermon/lecture.

For more sermons click here.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Quote of the Day #178 - J. C. Ryle


A quote from J. C. Ryle on how the victories of Christianity are won:
Mark what I say. If you want to do good in these times, you must throw aside indecision, and take up a distinct, sharply cut, doctrinal religion. If you believe little, those to whom you try to do good will believe nothing. The victories of Christianity, wherever they have been won, have been won by distinct doctrinal theology, by telling men roundly of Christ’s vicarious death and sacrifice, by showing them Christ’s substitution on the cross and His precious blood, by teaching them justification by faith and bidding them believe on a crucified Savior, by preaching ruin by sin, redemption by Christ, regeneration by the Spirit, by lifting up the bronze serpent, by telling men to look and live, to believe, repent and be converted.
~J. C. Ryle (Holiness, Chapter: Need Of The Times)


Related Posts:
Quote of the Day #179 - Charles Spurgeon
Quote of the Day #175 - Augustine
Quote of the Day #176 - Charles Spurgeon
Quote of the Day #177 - William Gurnall
Quote Index

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

God's Covenant With Noah: Fulfilled - Genesis 9:8-11 Bible Commentary


Over 121 years had passed since Noah had heard God say: "Everything... shall perish... but I will establish My covenant with you" (Genesis 6:17-18).

The first part— that everything would perish— had already been fulfilled. Everything really had perished! In fact, the entire earth— everything with the breath of life— had drowned in God's judgment.

The second part— that God would establish His covenant— had not yet been fulfilled. Whether Noah, over those 121 years, thought often about the coming covenant that would eventually be established is hard to tell. Yet when God finally did establish His covenant with Noah, Noah's mind must have raced back to that distant memory when God had first spoken of it.

When God made His covenant with Noah, He not only spoke to Noah, but also to Noah's sons. In doing this, God made it clear that the covenant did not merely apply to Noah, but to all of his descendants— to everyone living on the earth, from the flood to this very day.
Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying, "Now behold, I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you; and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that comes out of the ark, even every beast of the earth. I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth." (Genesis 9:8-11)
Stop for a moment. Think. Think deeply about this simple fact: God made a covenant with man.

God. The eternal one. The always present One. God who is all powerful, who is all knowing. God who is without the stain of sin. God who is spotless, unblemished. And above all, God who is holy, holy, holy...

That holy God made a covenant with man. Such an event would have been spectacular enough even if man had not been in a fallen state— but man is in a fallen state. God did not merely make a covenant with man, but He made a covenant with fallen man. Think about that! God made a promise to fallen man.

The God of all truth made a promise to sin-loving people who twist the truth and break their promises! He promised that He would never again send an all-consuming flood. Never again would He use a flood to destroy all flesh!

Related Posts:
What Is The Noahic Covenant? - Genesis 9:12-17
God's Covenant With Noah: Promised - Genesis 6:18
The Coming Flood of the Pre-Flood World - Genesis 6:17
The Origin Of The Death Penalty - Genesis 9:5-7
Noah's Name: Its Meaning and Significance - Genesis 5:29