A Forgotten Verse

Happy 4th of July to all our American readers.

The USA has become secularized in many ways. Much of our history has been intentionally obscured from the text books in our schools, leaving the next generation unaware of the principles on which our great nation was founded. One such evidence is a forgotten verse of the Star Spangled Banner. A former marine reminds us of this in this heart stirring rendition in front of a large crowd. Enjoy!

Time Lapse Map of European History

(1) Here is a time lapse map of the history of Europe showing the shifting borders, alliances, unions, territories, occupied land, etc. from around 1000 AD until the 21st Century.
Software: Centennia
Music: Inception OST

(2) Here is an slower annotated version of the time lapse map of Europe – more zoomed in on the Continent, showing years and some important events.
Music: Inception OST
Software: Centennia

To her gracious Majesty, our beloved Queen Victoria

I wrote the following transcript which is an excerpt from a sermon by Dr. Sinclair Ferguson on Romans 10:5-13:

One of our ladies gave me a little sheet the other day and I have searched this out and I’ve found this information in more than one place, but let me tell you what it is all about…

The Great Queen Victoria, one day as she left St. Paul’s Cathedral there in London with that great dome, she asked one of her chaplains, “can one be absolutely sure in this life of eternal safety?”

Sadly the chaplain responded that he did not know any way in which one could be certain.

The Court News published this conversation and a man by the name of John Townsend who was a little nobody knows Evangelist saw the comments and he began to pray for Queen Victoria and he thought about writing to her. And he wrote to her as follows:

To her gracious Majesty, our beloved Queen Victoria,

from one of her most humble subjects.

(that is the kind of thing we British people say to our rulers)

With trembling hand but heartfelt love and because I know we can be absolutely sure now of our eternal life in the home that Jesus went to prepare, may I ask your most gracious Majesty to read the following passages of Scripture: John chapter 3, verse 16 and Romans 10, verses 9 and 10?

These passages prove that there is full assurance of salvation by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, for those who believe and accept His finished work.

I sign myself your servant for Jesus’ sake,

John Townsend

John Townsend and his friends prayed for Queen Victoria and some weeks later he received a letter through the mail:

To John Townsend,

Your letter of recent date I received, and in reply would state that I have carefully and prayerfully read the portions of Scripture referred to. I believe in the finished work of Christ for me and trust by God’s grace to meet you in that home of which He said “I go to prepare a place for you.”

Victoria

Paul and the Pagan Poets

From virginiahuguenot.blogspot.com

There are interesting passages in the New Testament that demonstrate the Apostle Paul’s willingness to employ verses from pagan poetry to speak Biblical truth. There may be others; some trace 1 Timothy 5.4 to a line from Terence (195/185–159 BC), Andria IV. Be that as it may, it is clear that Paul was learned in pagan poetry, and found good uses for it, even apart from the idolatrous intentions of the poets themselves. Without adopting the whole false system of belief represented by the sources he quoted, Paul with discernment and for godly purposes, was able, because of his familiarity with pagan poems, to find the good within and bring it to light to God’s glory.

Acts 17.28: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

This verse spoken during his famous speech at Mars Hill in Athens shows the apologetic use that such acquaintance with pagan poetry can provide. The first quote seems derived from a work on Crete by Epimenides in which he rebukes the Cretians for building a tomb to Zeus, whom he believed to be immortal.

Epimenides (6th century BC), Cretica:

They fashioned a tomb for thee, O holy and high one—
The Cretans, always liars, evil beasts, idle bellies!
But thou art not dead: thou livest and abidest forever,
For in thee we live and move and have our being.

Paul also may have in mind Cleanthes, who said something similar.

Cleanthes (c. 330 BC – c. 230 BC), Hymn to Zeus:

Most glorious of the immortals, invoked by many names, ever all-powerful,
Zeus, the First Cause of Nature, who rules all things with Law,
Hail! It is right for mortals to call upon you,
since from you we have our being, we whose lot it is to be God’s image,
we alone of all mortal creatures that live and move upon the earth.

The latter quote seems to come from a work by Aratus again in praise of Zeus.

Aratus (c. 315 BC/310 BC – 240 BC), Phaenomena 1-5:

From Zeus let us begin; him do we mortals never leave unnamed;
full of Zeus are all the streets and all the market-places of men;
full is the sea and the havens thereof;
always we all have need of Zeus.
For we are also his offspring;

It is interesting to see how Paul borrowed expressions intended to glorify a false God, which his hearers would have recognized, and applied them to the true God. Eusebius records (Preparation for the Gospel 13.12) how Aristobulus of Paneas, a Jewish philosopher (c. 160 BC) had similarly quoted from the same beginning lines of Aratus, Phaenomena, but to demonstrate that the praise of Zeus was rightly given to God instead. Aristobulus thus: ‘It is clearly shown, I think, that all things are pervaded by the power of God: and this I have properly represented by taking away the name of Zeus which runs through the poems; for it is to God that their thought is sent up, and for that reason I have so expressed it.’ The apologetic purpose of Paul — and Aristobulus — thus finds truth in a pagan poem and employs it for godly ends.

1 Cor. 15.32-33: If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die. Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

The phrase “let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die” may be an allusion to both Isa. 22.13 and Eccl. 8.15. However, it is not unreasonable to suppose that Paul may have had in mind the philosophy of Epicurus (341 BC – 270 BC), who put forth a similar view of life.

The phrase “evil communications corrupt good manners” is apparently a direct quote from either Menander or Euripides (John Milton attributes it to Euripides in the preface to his Samson Agonistes). Paul thus bears witness to the maxim of a heathen poet.

Menander (ca. 342–291 BC), Thais: Bad company corrupts good character.

Euripides (c. 480 BC – 406 BC) (fr. 609): Evil communications corrupt good manners.

Titus 1.12-13a: One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. This witness is true.

The quotation here seems to be from Epimenides, cited already above, or perhaps from Callimachus. Again, Paul shows his extensive knowledge of pagan poetry, and selectively quotes as appropriate to demonstrate a true statement found within an idolatrous poem.

Callimachus (310/305–240 BC), Hymn I. To Zeus: “Cretans are ever liars.”

The Apostle Paul by these examples shows that indeed, as I have noted before, “all truth is God’s truth,” wherever we may find it. The words of Charles Spurgeon on this point are worth heeding.

Charles Spurgeon, Exposition of 1 Corinthians 15:

“Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die.” Oh! wicked Paul! to quote from a heathen poet! How disgraceful. If I were to repeat a verse, and it looked as if Shakespere or any profane author ever wrote such a thing, how criminal! say you. But I like good things wherever I find them. I have often quoted from the devil, and I dare say I shall often quote from his people. Paul quoted this from Meander, and another heathen poet, who wrote far worse things than have been written by modern poets, and if any of us who may have stored our minds with the contents of books we wish we had never read, and if there be some choice gems in them which may be used for the service of God, by his help we will so use them.

Sing the 46th!

I am not alone in considering the Protestant Reformation the greatest move of God in Church history (outside of the New Testament), yet it came with a great price. It was not uncommon for precious saints to be rounded up and burnt at the stake, as Roman Catholic authorities sought to prevent the spread of the gospel.

On such occassions, as men and women were marched through the streets and facing certain death in the flames, sympathizers in the crowd would shout out words of courage. An oft repeated refrain was “Sing the 46th!” – a reference to Martin Luther’s hymn “A Mighty Fortress” which was based on Psalm 46. It became the battle cry of the Reformation. For many saints of God now in their heavenly rest, the words of this hymn were their last recorded words on earth.

Unlike the very superfical songs which fill the landscape of the visible Church in our day, this is a hymn with depth and passion, inspiring courage to stand for the truth of God in a day of much milktoast, politically correct, spineless Christianity. As many of our departed saints would no doubt testify, this, in contrast, is a hymn to die to.

A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD
1. A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing;
our helper he amid the flood
of mortal ills prevaling.
For still our ancient foe
doth seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great,
and armed with cruel hate,
on earth is not his equal.

2. Did we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing,
were not the right man on our side,
the man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth, his name,
from age to age the same,
and he must win the battle.

3. And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God hath willed
his truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of Darkness grim,
we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure,
for lo, his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him.

4. That word above all earthly powers,
no thanks to them, abideth;
the Spirit and the gifts are ours,
thru him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
this mortal life also;
the body they may kill;
God’s truth abideth still;
his kingdom is forever.

Pillars of Grace

GROUNDBREAKING OVERVIEW OF THE DOCTRINES OF GRACE IN CHURCH HISTORY

I wish every Christian would watch this video below to gain a sense of history when it comes to the doctrines of grace. It would be extremely enlightening to so many people.

The fact is, Calvinism did not begin with John Calvin. There was very little in the teachings of Calvin that was not first in Martin Luther (Calvin was merely the one who taught the doctrines in a structured and systematic way). Furthermore, it would be a huge mistake to think that the doctrines of grace started with the Magisterial Reformers. The concept of God’s Sovereignty in grace and redemption has been the constant declaration of the people of God throughout the history of the Church. Yet very few seem to be aware of this.

At a short session at the recent Ligonier 2011 National Conference, Dr. Steve Lawson was asked to talk about his new book. There’s good reason he was asked to do so. The book is the second in a series, the first being “Foundations of Grace” which articulates just about every Scripture verse in the Bible that deals with the doctrines of grace, starting with Genesis and ending in Revelation. I am not aware of another book of its kind.

Now, Dr. Lawson has produced another ground breaking work in “Pillars of Grace.” It is ground breaking because it combines four years of study, delving deeply into the writings of the great gifts of the ascended Christ to His Church through the centuries, men of God who taught the precious doctrines we hold dear.

I cannot recommend this video highly enough. I really hope you can carve out 23 minutes of your time to watch it. For every Reformed Christian who embraces the precious doctrines of grace, it will do your heart and soul much good.

Steven Lawson: “Pillars of Grace” from Ligonier on Vimeo.

UPDATE: Readers of this “EFFECTUAL GRACE” blog are now allowed an EXCLUSIVE 10% discount on ALL purchases at Ligonier. When you place your order online, simply type in the coupon code EGRACE10

For those wishing to purchase the book you can do so by typing in the words “Pillars of Grace” in the “Search Store” feature at the top right of the page at this link: Ligonier Ministries Online Store

Happy Holy Days!

“For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” – 1 Corinthians 5:7

“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord…” – Romans 1:1-4

When I first discovered that many of the Biblical sites in the ancient holy land were now Christian Churches (of different persuasions and denominations) I immediately felt saddened. I guess I expected to see the hillside where Jesus delivered His “Sermon on the Mount” kept in its original condition; I wanted to see the birthplace of Christ, and be on the lookout for sheep, shepherds, donkeys and farmyard animals. But as anyone who has been to Israel knows, such is not the case. Christians through the centuries, after making careful inquiry as to the exact locations, have claimed many of these sites for their own by building grandiose Church structures right on top of them. Continue reading

Luther’s Gate to Paradise

In the last 1,000 years, what came to be known as “The Tower Experience” of Martin Luther might well be the most significant historical event in the Western world for all the ramifications which ensued. Here are Luther’s own words as he describes what happened as he was studying Romans 1:17 (and reading the insights of Augustine on this verse from a fairly obscure article he had written centuries before):

“For in it (the gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” – Romans 1:17

“I greatly longed to understand Paul’s epistle to the Romans and nothing stood in the way but that one expression “the righteousness of God,” because I took it to mean that righteousness whereby God is just and deals justly in punishing the unjust.

My situation was that, although an impeccable monk, I stood before God as a sinner troubled in conscience, and I had no confidence that my merit would assuage Him. Therefore I did not love a just angry God, but rather hated and murmured against Him. Yet I clung to the dear Paul and had a great yearning to know what he meant.

Night and day I pondered until I saw the connection between the righteousness of God and the statement that “the just shall live by faith.” Then I grasped that the righteousness of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. The whole of Scripture took on a new meaning, and whereas before “the righteousness of God” had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love. This passage of Paul became to me a gate to heaven…”

Evidence for the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus

Dr Peter Williams and Dr David Instone Brewer look at the Munich Talmud, and discover how even the deleted text provides evidence for Jesus’ crucifixion!

Dr Peter Williams gives a short summary of the biblical evidence for the heart of the Christian faith – Jesus’ bodily resurrection.