Jonathan Edwards – Of the Obligation of Christians to Perform the Duty of Charity to the Poor

edwards_0 THIS duty is absolutely commanded, and much insisted on, in the word of God. Where have we any command in the Bible laid down in stronger terms, and in a more peremptory urgent manner, than the command of giving to the poor? We have the same law in a positive manner laid down in Levit. 25:35, &c. “And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee, then thou shalt relieve him; yea, though he be a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with thee.” And at the conclusion of ver. 38. God enforces it with saving, I am the Lord thy God.

It is mentioned in Scripture, not only as a duty, but a great duty. Indeed it is generally acknowledged to be a duty, to be kind to the needy; but by many it seems not to be looked upon as a duty of great importance. However, it is mentioned in Scripture as one of the greater and more essential duties of religion: Micah 6:8. “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Here to love mercy is mentioned as one of the three great things that are the sum of all religion. So it is mentioned by the apostle James, as one of the two things wherein pure and undefiled religion consists: James 1:27. “Pure religion, and undefiled, before God and the Father, is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

So Christ tells us, it is one of the weightier matters of the law: Matt. 22:23. “Ye have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith.” The Scriptures again and again teach us, that it is a more weighty and essential thing than the attendance on the outward ordinances of worship: Hos. 6:6. “I desired mercy, and not sacrifice;” Matt. 9:13. and 12:7. I know of scarce any duty which is so much insisted on, so pressed and urged upon us, both in the Old Testament and New, as this duty of charity to the poor.

The reason of the thing strongly obliges to it. It is not only very positively and frequently insisted on by God, but it is most reasonable in itself; and so, on this account, there is reason why God should much insist upon it.

1. It is most reasonable, considering the general state and nature of mankind. This is such as renders it most reasonable that we should love our neighbour as ourselves; for men are made in the image of our God, and on this account are worthy of our love. Besides, we are all nearly allied one to another by nature. We have all the same nature, like faculties, like dispositions, like desires of good, like needs, like aversion to misery, and are made of one blood; and we are made to subsist by society and union one with another. God hath made us with such a nature, that we cannot subsist without the help of one another. Mankind in this respect are as the members of the natural body, one cannot subsist alone, without an union with and the help of the rest.

Now, this state of mankind shows how reasonable and suitable it is, that men should love their neighbours; and that we should not look every one at his own things, but every man also at the things of others, Phil. 2:4. A selfish spirit is very unsuitable to the nature and state of mankind. He who is all for himself, and none for his neighbours, deserves to be cut off from the benefit of human society, and to be turned out among wild beasts, to subsist by himself as well as he can. A private niggardly spirit is more suitable for wolves, and other beasts of prey, than for human beings.

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Dominic Statham – Scrambling Scripture: Denis Alexander and Original Sin

Augustine, a church father who believed in a young earth, (painting: Botticelli, c. 1480).

Denis Alexander is one of the UK’s leading theistic evolutionists. As an accomplished molecular biologist and Director of the prestigious Faraday Institute, he holds a prominent and influential position within the evangelical Christian community, and his book Creation or evolution: do we have to choose? reviewed here and here, has undoubtedly influenced many.

A few days before Christmas, he published an article in The Guardian in which he admitted that belief in evolution is incompatible with the doctrine of original sin. Since humanity evolved through the deaths of countless chimp/human intermediates, he claimed, it’s clear that death preceded human existence and sin. How, then, can it be said that evolution is compatible with the Bible? According to Dr Alexander, the answer is very straightforward;there is no doctrine of original sin in scripture. Nowhere; he argued, does the Bible teach that physical death originates with the sin
of Adam, nor that sin is inherited from Adam.

Dr. Alexander’s view is that Adam’s sin led to spiritual death, rather than physical death. According to Alexander, Nowhere in the Old Testament is there the slightest suggestion that the physical death of either animals or humans, after a reasonable span of years, is anything other than the normal pattern ordained by God for this earth. How can he, as a professing evangelical Christian, make such a bizarre claim? Part of God’s judgement upon Adam’s sin was that he would ‘return to the ground’. ‘You are dust’, God said, ‘and to dust you will return’ (Gen. 3:19). This clearly refers to physical death.

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J. D. Greear – Our Everyday Obedience is Our Best Witness

Greear A few weeks ago I reflected on the ways that Titus 2 showed gospel change in four different life stages. (You can read that series here.) As I compiled that series, though, something began to jump out at me. Paul might have been giving different specifics to young women than he did to old men, but they were clearly all on the same team, all headed in the same general direction. A common theme began to emerge: Paul was encouraging each of them to extraordinary obedience, even thought the applications were often seemingly ordinary.

Here are three truths about extraordinary obedience in ordinary situations:

1. Our everyday obedience is our best witness.

Look at some of the values in Titus 2:1–6, and you’ll quickly find a few that our culture finds antiquated and foolish. The most striking are the virtues of self-control and submission. You may find some Americans who cherish the idea of self-control, but few who live it out. And you’ll find even fewer who will voluntarily say, “Yes, submission, that’s my favorite!” Instead, our culture praises those individuals who follow their hearts and defy convention.

What this means is that when people live the way Paul describes, the world will notice. Not only that, but they’ll often be pleased by the counter-cultural life that they see. As Tim Chester says,

“People may not like it when we talk about self-control and submission. But they find it attractive when we live it. Unbelievers who are repelled by the Christian teaching on headship within marriage are attracted by the Christian marriages they see. Unbelievers who find Christian morality restrictive are attracted by the good lives of the Christians they know.”[1]

The Apostle Peter would say it like this: “In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” (1 Peter 3:15). When is the last time the way you treated your spouse, or ran your business, or spent your money, made someone ask you to tell you about your hope?

Walking in obedience to Christ isn’t always flashy. But it’s that everyday obedience—in our marriage, in our jobs, in our schools—that acts as a theater for bringing glory to God and demonstrating his grace to the world.

2. The best testimony to the gospel happens in the “mundane.”

Paul was a missionary, and his life was chock full of dramatic sacrifices. So when he takes up the pen to instruct Titus, you might expect him to say things like, “Give all your money away! Leave your home to preach the gospel to the nations! Be prepared to die for Jesus!” But instead he addresses the seemingly mundane reality of the home. What gives?

We often think of great Christianity as revealing itself in grand sacrifices and heroic missionary stories. And it does. But heroic Christianity isn’t born on the mission field. It’s born in the “small” areas of life, in the home. Your Christianity is best measured by the relationships most people don’t see.

That’s a chilling thought for a lot of people. If God judged your faith only by your relationships in your home, how would you measure up? As Robert Murray M’Cheyne said, “It is the mark of a hypocrite to be a Christian everywhere but home.”

But for many of you, this doesn’t need to be a rebuke; it can be an empowerment. For those men who feel like failures because they haven’t achieved all of their life’s ambitions, know that your integrity in your career matters. For those women who sacrificed more than we can quantify to stay home and raise children, that faithfulness matters. Books probably won’t be written about the way we treat our spouse and kids, but that doesn’t make the home any less a theater for the extraordinary. Because if what Paul says is true, miraculous power comes through mundane faithfulness.

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Tony Breeden – Deflating Dobzhansky’s Grand Assumption, Revisited: Is the Assumption Still Necessary?

Theodosius Dobzhansky on Equating Microevolution and MacroevolutionRecently, a fellow Appalachian objected to my use of a 1937 quote from Theodosius Dobzhansky based on an implied appeal to novelty. An appeal to novelty is the fallacious assumption that just because something is newer, it must be better or more true than something older. He basically asked, given my 1937 quotation, whether I would also use 1937 medical science and then accused me of supposing that science “never changes, never gathers evidences, never formalizes a hypothesis into a theory” because I did not use a more recent quote. I know, I know… it’s a bad argument, but let’s make this an educational experience.

First, to demonstrate how silly his rhetoric is, let’s answer the question of whether I would use 1937 medical science? Well, it depends upon the science. Consider, for example, medical hygeine. History records that in the late 1840′s, Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis, then working as an assistant in the maternity wards of a Vienna hospital, observed that the mortality rate in a delivery room staffed by medical students was up to 3 times greater than that of a second delivery room staffed by midwives. He further observed that these medical students were coming to the delivery room straight from working on cadavers, so he figured these guys must be carrying infection from their autopsies to birthing mothers. Accordingly, he ordered doctors and medical students to wash their hands with a chlorinated solution before examining women in labor, and the death rate in his maternity wards eventually dropped to less than one percent.

Amazingly enough, I still insist that doctors practice 1840s medical science when it comes to pre-exam handwashing precisely because it works. Medical science has marched onward, but some things remain true despite the passage of time. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Which brings us to our 1937 Dobzhansky quote, from Genetics and the Origin of Species:

“There is no way toward an understanding of the mechanism of macroevolutionary changes, which require time on a geological scale, other than through a full comprehension of the microevolutionary processes observable within the human lifetime. For this reason we are compelled at the present level of knowledge reluctantly to put a sign of equality between the mechanisms of micro– and macroevolution, and proceeding on this assumption, to push our investigations as far ahead as this working hypothesis will permit.” [emphasis mine]

In an article entitled Deflating Dobzhansky’s Grand Assumption, I noted:

“Dobzhansky had to make an assumption that small changes could account for big changes. Why? Because he couldn’t observe them. Because such changes allegedly took place over long periods of time that were, well, prohibitive to say the least. So he had to make an assumption.”

I went on in that article to demonstrate why this was essentially impossible, since the horizontal changes observed do not add genetic information as would be required of the microbes-to-man evolution model, but rather are more consistent with the creationist position of variation within created kinds.

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Jason Helopoulos – Rejoice in the Midst of Suffering?

JH Image We only need to read the headlines in the morning paper or turn on the evening news to have confirmed what we already know to be true, suffering is an ever-present companion in this world. As a result of the Fall, every individual throughout the history of humanity has known suffering and Christians are not exempt from this experience. Rather, in many ways the suffering Christians are called to endure can even be greater (John 15:20) than that which the unbeliever endures in this world.

As we face this truth, I have found that nothing is as realistic about suffering as the Bible. The Scriptures do not follow the path of eastern mysticism and deny the reality of suffering. Rather, they treat it as very real. Neither do they make the error of accepting suffering as something that is real, but dismiss it as insignificant. No, much of the suffering in this world is far from trivial. The Scriptures are honest about the trials of the saints of God and about the severity of those same trials. From Abraham to Job to David to Paul, they all suffered and suffered greatly. We could even say that many of them endured some of the worst afflictions that this life has to offer. The life of Job is a monumental testimony to this fact.

However, the Scriptures do no leave us there. Even as there is nothing as honest about suffering in this life as the Scriptures, so there is nothing as comforting in the midst of these trials. The Bible attends to the soul like a physician’s balm. There is healing in its pages, comfort in its words, and hope in its exhortations. Maybe the most surprising, yet comforting, aspect of the Scriptures in the midst of our trials is what they expect from the Christian as we experience these “dark nights of the soul.”

It is not what many Christians will advise and counsel one another, let alone believe themselves, that suffering must merely be endured. Make no mistake, the Bible teaches the need for endurance in the midst of trial (Romans 5:3), but it does not let us stop there. The Lord calls us to approach suffering in a unique and wholly uncommon way. As Christians, we are exhorted to rejoice in the midst of our suffering! Paul says in Romans 5:3, “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings…” He says in Colossians 1:24, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake…”

We may be tempted to think that Paul was a little confused on this point. Maybe the suffering he experienced was superficial and therefore it was easy for him to pen such lofty words. If only he was accustomed to what we have been forced to endure, he may have sung a different tune. But then we read of the miseries the Apostle Paul experienced (2 Corinthians 11:23-28). He was imprisoned, beaten, lashed, shipwrecked, stoned, and in constant danger. He was subjected to hunger, thirst, extreme temperatures, and the mental anguish of worrying about the churches under his care. He was no stranger to suffering and his afflictions were anything but minor. The Apostle Peter, who also knew suffering by experience, exhorts the distressed churches in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, “But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings…” (1 Peter 4:13).

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Tony Breeden – Was Noah A Millionaire? James McGrath’s Theology Stumbles On Scripture

What you’re about to read is what happens when a man who doubts the historical veracity of the Bible finds something in the Bible that contradicts his loosely Bible-inspired theology. Basically, he’s stubbed an opinion on a passage of Scripture. It’s sad. It’s instructive. It underscores the truth of Jesus’ warning in John 3:12 about the interconnectedness of earthly facts and heavenly truths.

Dr. James F McGrath recently posed the snide question “Does Ken Ham Think Noah Was A Millionaire?” His reasoning, if we may use that term loosely, is that the Ark Encounter’s modern-day price tag is $24.5 million dollars. Tellingly, he scoffs alongside atheists like PZ Myers over the fact that the Ark Encounter project has raised only $4 million of the money needed, to date. That McGrath takes his seat with the scoffers should give us a clue how low his view of Scripture is.

In fact, in a rather misleading statement, he says:

“Why does one need even 4 million dollars to demonstrate the literal truthfulness of an ancient story about a lone man, without modern technology, perhaps helped by some family members and slaves, building a box-shaped boat capable of housing two or seven of all kinds of animals, if Answers in Genesis and their interpretation of the Noah story is correct?”

We pause here to correct a handful of erroneous notions evident in McGrath’s analysis.

First, we note that the height, width and length of the Ark are indeed given in the Bible, but this in no wise means that the Ark was box-shaped, any more than giving the basic height, width and length of a modern yacht or cargo ship require a box shape. If he had bothered to do the research [he either hasn’t, evidencing willful ignorance, or he has and he hopes to purposely mislead folks], he’d know that Biblical Creationists affirm that these are the basic dimensions of the Ark and that, while a box shape would in no wise invalidate the Genesis account, there’s quite a bit of creative room within those dimensions.

Second, even if Noah, Shem, Ham and Japheth worked alone on the Ark, is McGrath suggesting that the feat could not have been completed in a time frame of 120 years?? Ridiculous!

Thirdly, McGrath makes the point that Noah built the Ark without modern technology. I remind him that Stonehenge and the pyramids were built without modern technology and modern technicians marvel at these feats because they are not able to determine how such things were accomplished in the timeframes history records. Of course, McGrath and others who scratch their heads at how the pyramids were built by “primitive” peoples with “primitive” technology are begging the evolutionary question. The Bible records that man was never primitive in this sense, but has degraded to such “primitive” conditions in many cases.

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David Hall – Religion should be Shown—not a Show

picture-10155 Jesus opposed ostentatious piety. Tell that to your friends and also to yourself. And he was not fooled by the counterfeit. In Matthew 6, he developed these important ideas.

Our Lord called for giving that is not ostentatious. The ancient practice of almsgiving (giving offerings) is rooted in the Old Testament and commanded by God to financially support the Temple and the needy. “Almsgiving stood first in the catalogue of good works . . . it was the most sacred of all religious duties . . . in fact the Jews interchanged the same word for either righteousness and almsgiving . . . to give alms and to be righteous (therefore) were one and the same thing . . . to give alms was to gain merit in the sight of God.”[1]

Jesus exposes the Pharisees as giving to the needy in order to be recognized by others as great philanthropists. The Pharisees when giving to the needy may have had a trumpeter precede them, supposedly to call all the charitable citizens to contribute to an urgent need. The trumpet grabbed attention and soon came to be an announcement and recognition of some philanthropist. This custom gave rise to public recognition and receiving outward praise.

Jesus says do not give in this way (v. 12) as the hypocrites do. No one should ever think that Jesus never judges, condemns, or publicly accuses of hypocrisy. He does so here. He is no un-discerning One who cannot judge right from wrong, who only affirms all people. He calls such self-glorified givers “hypocrites.” The classical Greek word – and it is a strong one – for hypocrite refers to an actor in a stage production. A hypocrite was one who in the Greek theater put on a mask and played another role. Everyone knew this was the same person, but as a stage convenience he assumed another personality. That’s what a hypocrite is, one who acts one way in one role, but completely different in another. One is not merely a hypocrite if he says he intends to do something for God and then fails. That person is merely a sinner. But a hypocrite is one who says one thing and then in a later context plays the opposite role.

So the hypocrite in view here, does not really want to help the needy. His philanthropy is motivated by self-serving interests, and he just wants to help himself and his reputation in the community. This type of hypocrite is like:

– The politician who says he is supportive of a minority group just to get votes;
– The pastor who placates the powerful just to keep his job;
– The giver in the church who wants to be recognized as the patron-boss of the congregation. When we give in order to be honored on the streets or in the synagogues (this includes both religious and civic charity), then we are guilty of the hypocrisy of modern day Pharisaism.

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Intelmin Week in Review – 6-12 Apr 2015


Here is what made it on Intelmin last week:

Michael Boling – Reflections on 1 Samuel 15-17

Michael Boling – Jesus as the Fulfillment of the Feast of Sefirat HaOmer (The Early First Fruits)

Paul Tripp – What Makes a Man

Jeff Robinson – Contentment in Christ, Part 2

Michael Boling – Reflections on 1 Samuel 13-14

Michael Boling – The Feast of Sefirat HaOmer (The Early First Fruits)

Book Review – The Lord’s Supper: Remembering and Proclaiming Christ Until He Comes

Matt Brown – How to Successfully Argue Your Point But Miss the Gospel

Alyssa Poblete – 3 Reasons Why Women Need Good Theology

Michael Boling – Reflections on 1 Samuel 9-12

Nick Batzig – Jesus and the Flaming Sword at the East Gate

Gavin Peacock – Marriage: The Modern Day Litmus Test for Inerrancy

Michael Boling – Reflections on 1 Samuel 4-8

C. Michael Patton – Four Characteristics of Legalism

Heath Thomas – Is the Old Testament Still Relevant Today?

Michael Boling – Reflections on 1 Samuel 1-3

Martyn Lloyd-Jones – The Essential Foundation (John 3:1–8)

Charles Bridges – God’s Faithfulness in Afflicting His People

Michael Boling – Reflections on Ruth 1-4

Michael Boling – Jesus as the Fulfillment of the Feast of Hag HaMatzah (Unleavened Bread)

A. W. Pink – Christian Fools

John Bradford – A Fruitful Sermon of Repentance

Michael Boling – Reflections on Judges 19-21

Michael Boling – Feast of Hag HaMatzah (Unleavened Bread)

Book Review – The One O’clock Miracle

John Flavel – Gospel Unity

John Piper – Sweetly Devastated by Grace

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Tony Breeden – Does the Bible Teach A Flat Earth?

Bible doubters, even ones who claim to be Christians, often make the accusation that the Bible of teaches a flat Earth. They do this in order to undermine the authority of the Scriptures concerning origins and thereby insert a wedge of doubt by which they can introduce millions of years of microbes-to-man evolution into the Scriptures. In other words, they use a wedge of doubt to subvert Biblical authority and supplant it with the authority of modern man. In the end, it really does come down to what we hold as our ultimate authority: God’s revealed Word or the word of fallible, finite men who weren’t there and suppress the truth of God in unrighteousness.

For example, Bible doubters often cite Isaiah 40:22 as proof of a flat earth. The passage reads:

“It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth…”

Bible doubters immediately seize upon the word “circle,” noting that a circle is a flat 2-dimensional shape and certainly not a 3-dimensional sphere. Of course, their entire analysis is based on a modern understanding of the word circle. When interpreting the Bible, it is important to note the context of the passage as it was originally intended to be understood.

For example, James Patrick Holding of comments on the word rendered “circle” here in this passage:

“Apologists dealing with this issue often cite Isaiah 40:22 with the explanation that Hebrew, having no specific word for sphere, may here indicate a spherical earth. Of course we may also read into the text a flat circle, as Seely does. Interestingly, Seely attempts to confirm his own interpretation by making an error exactly like that of a skeptic I once confronted on this issue:

“If Isaiah had intended to speak of the earth as a globe, he would probably have used the word he used in 22:18 (dur), meaning “ball”.”

Dur, however, no-more indicates sphericity than the word used in Isaiah 40:22, for it is used by Isaiah elsewhere thus (Isaiah 29:3):

‘And I will camp against thee round about, and will lay siege against thee with a mount, and I will raise forts against thee.’

Obviously, unless they were professional gymnasts as well as tacticians, the soldiers could not camp in the shape of a sphere around the city! Based on this, this word appears to be making a statement about a circular pattern rather than specifying a given shape.

Seely offers two citations in support of a ‘flat earth’ view that we need not spend much time on: Daniel 4:10, 11 and 20, and Job 37:3. The Daniel passage is actually a statement by a pagan king, which doesn’t mean that the Bible endorses that view. And it is a vision, and is therefore not intended to be a picture of reality any more than Pharaoh’s dream of cannibalistic cows and even cannibalistic ears of wheat (Genesis 41). And Job 37:3 hardly requires a flat-earth reading — it merely states that lightning occurs all over the earth. Even if it did teach a flat-earth reading, it would prove only that Elihu believed such a thing — not everything reported in the Bible is endorsed in the Bible.

As is standard to note in such cases, the statements of characters in the Bible are not automatically granted inerrancy unless the speaker is either God or indicated to be inspired of God.”

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Matt Brown – How to Successfully Argue Your Point But Miss the Gospel

3940473549_64b1c7bd55 Why are Christians so unkind to one another and the world? Why do we criticize, degrade, and dismiss? Why do we act like jerks?

I have experienced the sting of Christian criticism many times as I’ve posted Scripture or encouragements online. I’m sure you’ve experienced this, too. Christians critique my use of the Bible and correct my theological positions. This happens so frequently on Twitter, there is now a hashtag, #JesusJuked, for Christians who use Scripture as a correction-weapon to tell others how they are wrong. This isn’t cool and this isn’t classy. Nowhere in the Bible has God given us license to treat each other like jerks.

If we continue to pridefully announce our objections to everything, we will soon lose credibility to speak the truth of the gospel. We will be known for our desire to be right and prove others wrong, instead of being known for our love for one another. The world will not believe our points about God’s love when they are delivered with disrespect and pride. Some Christians have been so busy trying to make their argumentative points, they have lost the opportunity to make a difference. It’s that kind of non-Spirit-led, fleshly preaching that turns people from the gospel everyday.

Again, why do we act with such pride and arrogance toward one another?

At the root, we are relying on our own intellect, ego, and proven arguments instead of Christ. We are prideful and think we can get people to see the truth in our own strength. We trust our smarts and wit more than Christ. With our eyes on our selves, we miss others and the gospel.


Today, we have access to the Holy Spirit’s power to control our lives. The Holy Spirit empowers us to live with “gentleness and respect” (1 Pt. 3:15) and be “the aroma of Christ” (2 Cor. 2:15) to the world around us. God has commanded us to walk and live by the Spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. — Galatians 5:22-23

Scripture tells us “when the Holy Spirit controls our lives” we will have certain characteristics that demonstrate his character. Through our words and actions people should see certain aspects of God’s character: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. If we are speaking out of bitterness, anger, frustration, fear, we are not being controlled by the Spirit. The fruits of the Spirit are the picture of what it looks like to follow Jesus. If our actions do not display these fruits, we aren’t being controlled by the Spirit.

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