For the Lord’s Day (490)

Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching, for the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain” [Deuteronomy 25.4] and “The laborer deserves his wages” [Matthew 10.10; Luke 10.7].  Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.  As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all so that the rest may stand in fear.  In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels, I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality.  Do not be hasty in the laying-on of hands nor take part in the sins of others.  Keep yourself pure.  (No longer drink water only, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.)

The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later.  So also, good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden.  (1 Timothy 5.17-25)

Matthew Henry (14)

We have here what we had before (2 Kings 11.1, etc.).  (1) A wicked woman endeavoring to destroy the house of David, that she might set up a throne for herself upon the ruins of it.  Athaliah barbarously cut off all the seed-royal (verse 10), perhaps intending to transmit the crown of Judah, after herself, to some of her own relations that, though her family was cut off in Israel by Jehu, it might be planted in Judah.  (2) A good woman effectually preserving it from being wholly extirpated.  One of the late king’s sons, a child of a year old, was rescued from among the dead and saved alive by the care of Jehoiada’s wife (verses 11-12) that a lamp might be ordained for God’s anointed, for no word of God shall fall to the ground. – Matthew Henry (1662-1714), commenting on 2 Chronicles 22.10-12.

Was John Wesley a Lightweight?

[John Wesley] managed to combine incessant missionary. . .activity with a vast literary output, yet it would be hard to find another man so famous whose words are less generally read. . .His copious reading was not digested by a habit of sane criticism.  He will tell you that Ossian* is “little inferior to Homer or Virgil and, in some respects, superior to both,” and an hour or two with Voltaire is enough to convince him that “French is the poorest, meanest language in Europe.”  He leaps to conclusions, is easily taken in or no less easily repelled by the last author who has been in his hands.  Altogether, he is not a good advertisement for reading on horseback. – Ronald Knox (1888-1957)

*”Ossian” refers to a famous 18th-century literary hoax.  Wesley’s opinion is not correct.

Chesterton on Gratitude

The test of all happiness is gratitude. . .I am ordinary – in the correct sense of the term – which means the acceptance of an order (the Creator and the creation), the common sense of gratitude for creation, life and love as gifts permanently good, marriage and chivalry as laws rigidly controlling them, and the rest of the normal traditions of our race and religion. – G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

Faith and Hope

Hope is no other than an expectation of those things which faith has believed to be truly promised by God.  Thus, faith believes the veracity of God.  Hope expects the manifestation of it in due time.  Faith believes Him to be our Father.  Hope expects Him always to act towards us in this character.  Faith believes that eternal life is given to us.  Hope expects it one day to be revealed.  Faith is the foundation on which hope rests.  Hope nourishes and sustains faith. – John Calvin (1509-1564)

See? Nothin’ to It!

It is assumed the reader is already familiar with the Bible, not necessarily previous classroom courses in Bible, but the acquaintance which comes through reading the Book.  With extra effort in diligently reading the Bible references furnished and use of reference works, an inadequate knowledge of Scripture may be overcome.  Reading fifty pages a day in a moderately large-print Bible will take you from Genesis through Revelation in a month.

From: Systematic Theology: Biblical and Historical by Robert Duncan Culver (Fearn, Scotland: Mentor, 2005), p. xvii.  Emphasis added.

For the Lord’s Day (489)

My anguish!  My anguish!  I writhe in pain!  Oh, the walls of my heart!  My heart is beating wildly.  I cannot keep silent, for I hear the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.  Crash follows hard on crash.  The whole land is laid waste.  Suddenly, my tents are laid waste, my curtains in a moment.  How long must I see the standard and hear the sound of the trumpet?  For My people are foolish.  The know Me not.  They are stupid children.  They have no understanding.  They are “wise” – in doing evil!  But how to do good they know not.  (Jeremiah 4.19-22)

Matthew Henry (13)

We may observe, here, (1) there is no man who has such a sufficiency in himself but he has need of his neighbors, and has reason to be thankful for their help: David had a very large kingdom, Hiram a very little one, yet David could not build himself a house to his mind unless Hiram furnished him with both workmen and materials (verse 1).  This is a reason why we should despise none but, as we have opportunity, be obliging to all.  (2) It is a great satisfaction to a wise man to be settled and, to a good man, to see the special providences of God in his settlement.  The people had made David king, but he could not be easy nor think himself happy, till he had perceived that the Lord had confirmed him king over Israel (verse 2).  “Who shall unfix me if God hath fixed me?”. . .(4) It is difficult to thrive without growing secure and indulgent to the flesh.  It was David’s infirmity that, when he settled in his kingdom, he took more wives (verse 3), yet the numerous issue he had added to his honor and strength.  Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord.  We had an account of David’s children, not only in Samuel, but in this book (ch. 3.1, etc.) and, now, here again, for it was their honor to have such a father. – Matthew Henry (1662-1714), commenting on 1 Chronicles 14.1-7.

On Theodicy

The Bible never mounts an effort at theodicy, an effort to save the character of God from harmful inferences derived from the presence of evil.  Evil is allowed in the world for reasons God has never seen fit fully to disclose and which no human wisdom, Christian or otherwise, has been able fully to discover or to explain.  As we have seen, evil is not beyond His control.  This has prompted such biblical sayings as, “Surely, the wrath of man shall praise You” (Psalm 76.10).  It also has resulted in reports of how God raised up wicked tyrants “that My name may be proclaimed in all the earth” (Exodus 9.16; cf. Romans 9.17) and in prophetic declarations wherein God called an oppressive and destructive emperor “My servant” (Jeremiah 25.9).

This does not mean that it is wrong to wonder if God was obligated to create the best of all possible worlds or if the best possible is one where there would have been no freedom to sin, or if there really is something rightly called “free will” without qualifications.  These and other musings have been canvassed enough.  There has been great difference of opinion among theologians on these questions.  Gordon Clark’s chapter, “God and Evil,” treats the problem of theodicy in a manner deserving respect.  Anyone interested might start his research by examining the articles by John Feinberg on “Theodicy,” “Problem of Sin,” and “Pain” in his 2001 volume on the doctrine of God, No One Like Him and pursue the bibliographical suggestions.  These topics are of more legitimate interest in the philosophical disciplines of ethics and its recent twin, axiology (values) and the theological disciplines of religion and apologetics.  [Dr. Feinberg has also published a book in which he addresses the problem of evil.]

. . .both the musings and the severest rational reflections of theists – whether devoutly orthodox Christians or not – have usually come to the conclusion that God willed that moral evil (sin) should enter the world, but did so not antecedently but consequentially.  This means that He planned for good ultimately (beyond the detailed history of creation) as a fruit of history, that the presence of temptation to moral evil was necessary to the good of fixed moral character, that sin came to be a consequence. . .

From: Systematic Theology: Biblical and Historical by Robert Duncan Culver (Fearn, Scotland: Mentor, 2005), p. 211.  Bracketed statement in the original.