Thursday, May 31, 2012

Quote of the Day #207 - Charles Spurgeon

A quote from Charles Spurgeon on the doctrine of election:
Two races have revolted against God—the one angelic, the other human. When a part of this angelic race revolted against the Most High, justice speedily overtook them. They were swept from their starry seats in Heaven and henceforth they have been reserved in darkness unto the great day of the wrath of God! No mercy was ever presented to them; no sacrifice ever offered for them. They were without hope and mercy, forever consigned to the pit of eternal torment! The human race, far inferior in order of intelligence, sinned as atrociously—at any rate, if the sins of manhood that we have heard of were put together and rightly weighed, I can scarcely understand how even the sins of devils could be much blacker than the sins of mankind! However, the God who in His Infinite Justice passed over angels and allowed them forever to expiate their offenses in the fires of Hell, was pleased to look down on man. Here was election on a grand scale! The election of manhood and the reprobation of fallen angelhood! What was the reason for it? The reason was in God’s mind—an inscrutable reason which we do not know and even which if we did know, we probably could not understand. Had you and

I been put given the choice of which would have been spared, I think it probable we would have chosen that fallen angels should have been saved. Are they not the brightest? Have they not the greatest mental strength? If they had been redeemed, would it not have glorified God more, as we judge, than the salvation of worms like ourselves? Those bright beings—Lucifer, son of the morning and those stars that walked in his train—if they had been washed in His redeeming blood; if they had been saved by Sovereign Mercy, what a song would they have lifted up to the Most High and everlasting God! But God, who does as He wills with His own and gives no account of His matters; He who deals with His creatures as the potter deals with his clay—took not upon Him the nature of angels, but took upon Him the seed of Abraham and chose men to be the vessels of His mercy! This fact we know, but what is its reason? Certainly not in man! “Not for your sakes do I this. O house of Israel, be ashamed and be confounded for your own ways.”

Here, very few men object. We notice that if we talk about the election of men and the non-election of fallen angels, there is not a cavil for a moment! Every man approves of Calvinism till he feels that he is the loser by it. But when it begins to touch his own bones and his own flesh, then he kicks against it. Come, then, we must go further! The only reason why one man is saved and not another lies not, in any sense, in the man saved, but in God’s bosom!
~Charles Spurgeon (Free Grace 233.66)

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Priceless Eternity Update - 5/29/2012 - Genesis To Matthew

As I expressed my previous post: The Darkest Ages In Human History, it feels weird to be finished writing about the history presented in the early chapters of Genesis (after all, I've spent the past two years of my life writing about Genesis four through eleven!). When I reached Genesis 11, I thought about blogging my way through the rest of Genesis. However, after some careful thinking, I have decided to shift my focus to the book of Matthew.

I have already written posts on the first chapter and a half of Matthew, so you can expect me to pick up halfway through the second chapter (right where I left off last December). This means that over the course of the next year, you can expect to read about such topics as: what Matthew has to say about Jesus' childhood, John the Baptist, Jesus' baptism, Jesus' time of temptation, and the Sermon On The Mount.

You can also expect to see more topical posts on various subject intermixed with the Matthew posts.

Lastly, I thought I would mention that I'm always open to suggestions from readers. If you have a topic or verse you would like me to blog about, feel free to either leave a comment or send an email.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

The Darkest Ages Of Human History - Genesis 4-11 Summary

When you think of the darkest age in human history, perhaps you think of medieval Europe, shining knights, and towering castles. But the medieval era was not dark at all in comparison to another time period in human history.

The time period I am talking about began when Adam and Eve were thrown out of the garden; it ended with the dispersion at the Tower of Babel. I have decided to call this time period "The Darkest Ages of Human History".

In calling this era the "darkest ages" in human history, I don't mean that nothing happened over these first two thousand or so years of human history. I'm only calling this era "dark" because we don't know much about whatever was happening. Scripture gives us very little information.

What We Know About The Darkest Ages Of Human History

We know that Cain murdered Abel (Genesis 4:8). We know the name of a single city in the pre-flood world: The City of Enoch (Genesis 4:17-18). We know the names of a small number of Cain's descendants, including Jabal, who was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock (Genesis 4:20), Jubal, who was the father of musical instruments (Genesis 4:21), and Tubal-cain, who was the forger of all implements of bronze and iron (Genesis 4:22).

We know the lineage from Seth to Noah, including when each person in the lineage was born in comparison to his father; we also know the total number of years each man in that lineage lived (Genesis 5), which allows us to calculate the total numbers of years between Creation and the Flood.

We know that by the time of Noah, the pre-flood world was thoroughly corrupt (Genesis 6:5). We know that violence filled the planet (Genesis 6:11-13), and we are also given a little information about those mysterious, probably demonic "sons of God" (Genesis 6:1-4).

We know that God saw Noah as blameless in the midst of a corrupt world (Genesis 6:9-10). We know that God commanded Noah to build an ark and that only Noah's immediate family found safety in the ark when the flood came (Genesis 6:14).

We know that God sent a global flood upon the earth that destroyed all of humanity outside the ark (Genesis 7:21-22). We know when the flood came (Genesis 7:11), and we know how long it took for the earth to become dry again (Genesis 8:13-19).

We know that Noah offered up a sacrifice to God after the Flood (Genesis 8:20). We know that God afterwards established what has been called the Noahic covenant (Genesis 9:12-17).

We know that sometime after the flood Noah fell into the sin of drunkenness (Genesis 9:20-21), cursed Canaan (Genesis 9:24-25), and blessed Shem and Japheth (Genesis 9:26-27).

We know that Nimrod, a descendant of Ham, founded some of the most famous cities of the ancient world (Genesis 10:8-12). We also know the names of many of the other earliest descendants of Shem, Ham, and Japheth (Genesis 10).

We know that man rebelled again after the Flood by refusing to spread throughout the earth, and thus God decided to disperse all of mankind at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:6-7). We know that this dispersion confused the languages of mankind (Genesis 11:8-9).

We Don't Know Very Much

You probably feel overwhelmed after reading all of that (if you even did read all of it, that is!). Perhaps you're thinking that we actually know a lot about these supposed "darkest" ages in human history.

If you are comparing the amount we know about the darkest ages in human history to the number of pictures we have of the Loch Ness Monster, then I suppose you are correct. But if you compare the amount we know about the darkest ages of human history to the amount we know about the next 2000 or so years of history, then I think you'll see my point.

In Scripture, the first 2000 years are covered in the first eleven chapters of Genesis. The rest of the Bible (excluding the prophetic portions about the millennium and Heaven) covers the next 2000 years in human history.

For the first 2000 years of human history, the only reliable, authoritative source we have is the Bible. For the next 2000 years of human history, we not only have the Bible, but we also have ancient records from other nations (these, of course, are accurate to varying degrees).

From The Fall To The Dispersion: The Darkest Ages In Human History

I think I've proved my point in calling the time period from immediately after the Fall to the Dispersion the "Darkest Ages In Human History".

I ended up spending about two years writing on this era. In total, that amounts to over 140 posts, all of which are linked to in the Scripture Index. If I attempted to write to the same level of detail about the next two thousand years of human history, I think I would die before I finished (even if I lived as long as Methuselah!).

It's Over

This feels really weird to type, but.. it's over. I finished writing, verse by verse, on the darkest ages of human history. Perhaps one day I'll go back and write a few more posts on the names in Genesis 10, and perhaps in the near future I'll add a few more topical posts about the Flood or some other subject, but I don't intend any longer to focus on the "Darkest Ages" on this blog for months on end.

At this point, I'd like to thank all the readers that I might have left. If you have been reading since that very first post about Cain and Abel, I greatly admire your dedication.

When I look at the commentaries of various people who started their commentaries by writing about the book of Genesis, I am greatly encouraged. Why? Because for the most part, they aren't very good at writing yet (especially if you compare their writings about Genesis to what they wrote about some other book of the Bible much later in life!). This means that I have a lot of room for improvement. Sixty years down the road, if I'm still alive, I'll probably look back at everything I have written on "The Darkest Ages Of Human History" and want to rewrite the whole thing. But for now, I'll try to stop thinking about that and let out a sigh of relief that it's over.

It's Not Completely Over

I have written another post on what I plan to write about next, click here to read it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Quote of the Day #206 - Augustine

A quote from Augustine on the deity of the Holy Spirit:
[W]ere we ordered to make a temple of wood and stone to the Spirit, inasmuch as such worship is due to God alone, it would be a clear proof of the Spirit's divinity; how much clearer a proof in that we are not to make a temple to him, but to be ourselves that temple.
~Augustine (Ad Maximinum, Ep. 66)

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Tuesday, May 08, 2012

The Tower Of Babel: The Dispersion - Genesis 11:8-9 Bible Commentary

Nothing is hidden from God's gaze, yet people convince themselves that they can get away with rebellion against Him.

Human rebellion against God started in the Garden of Eden. Then it spread. Cain murdered Abel, and soon enough, violence filled the pre-Flood world.

In response, God decided to send a catastrophic flood. For a moment, it appeared that the rebellion had been squashed. Yet sin still haunted the eight people on the ark.

After the flood, Noah fell prey to sin. He became drunk. What a testimony it is to our fallen natures that Noah, a man described as "blameless in his generation" (Genesis 6:9), was the one who stained the first pages of the post-Flood world with sin! If only that had been the last sin-stained page!

Sadly, the page that follows Noah's fall is filled with more stains. The Tower of Babel is yet farther evidence of what God said immediately after the Flood: that "the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth" (Genesis 8:21).
So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.
Stop for a moment and think about the mercy God displayed toward the builders of the Tower of Babel.

Do you see any death mentioned in this passage?

Did God strike the early Babylonians with disease? Or, at the very least, did He give them a few scars?

What great mercy God showed the early Babylonians! They raised their fists in rebellion. In response, God relaxed His fist (so to speak), opened up His hand, gathered all the Babylonians up, and dispersed them throughout the earth. What great mercy!

We are not told exactly how God dispersed them. Perhaps simply changing their language was enough to cause them to disperse. Or, perhaps God dispersed them more directly, just as He moved Philip in the New Testament:
And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea. (Acts 8:39-40)
Perhaps the early Babylonians were happily building their tower when
all of a sudden
they found themselves
in a different place.

When they opened their mouths
words came out they had never heard
yet somehow understood.

Is this not evidence of the sovereignty of God? That He can do whatever He wants with His creation? He can scatter humanity throughout the globe as He pleases. He can even inject completely new languages into the human brain! Is not God the potter and man the clay?

Notice also that the passage does not say that God destroyed the city or tower of Babel. Why? Because the city wasn't the problem! The tower of Babel was made of bricks and mortar. Bricks are inanimate objects. They can't be evil. They were, however, were used with evil intent.

The hearts of the early Babylonians were the problem. Let this be a lesson for us. How many times have you sought to destroy the bricks in your life without tackling the problems in your heart? The material creation around you may be corrupt, but it is from your heart that come forth evil desires that make you want to participate in such corruption.

Let us never fall into the trap of those early Babylonians. Let us never think that our thoughts are hidden from our God— that we can get away with rebellion. Rather, let us cling tight to God, and cry out as David did, "You have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy" (Psalm 61:3).

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