Saturday, August 31, 2019

How sour sweet music is, and other music quotes

The posting of quotes by human authors does not constitute agreement with either the quotes or their sources. (I try to confirm the sources that I give, but may miss on occasion; please verify when possible.)

"How sour sweet music is, when time is broke and no proportion kept." -- William Shakespeare

"A choir is made up of many voices, including yours and mine. If one by one all go silent then all that will be left are the soloists." -- Vera Nazarian

"If the lyrics in our worship songs do not move us without music, then we are being moved by music and not by the beauty of Christ in the gospel." -- Marshall Segal

"Communal singing draws forth “beauty beyond ourselves that we get to see, get to participate in.”" -- Bob Shoup

"Singing is for teaching. Praise is for instruction. Adoration is for admonishing." -- Bobby Jamieson

"Cappella – as in a cappella – has two a’s, two p’s, and two l’s. Stick a “c” and an “e” in there somewhere and you’ve got it. Capella is a goat."

"It is better to leave your fellow singers wishing the song had gone on longer than to have them wishing you had stopped!" 

"The Sacred Harp tradition is both archaic and living, which inter-dependency is what makes it so compelling and unique." -- David Fetcho

" Sacred Harp is the truest and purest form of religion that I have ever experienced." -- Clarke Lee

"Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who happen to be walking around." G. K. Chesterton (not exactly a music quote, but applies well to traditional music)

"Behold their sitting down, and their rising up; I am their musick." -- Lamentations 3:63

Friday, August 30, 2019

The abomination of desolation

Q. What about the abomination of desolation and the winter flight in Matthew 24:15-20?

A. Many people, maybe most, in churches like mine generally think this refers to some time in the future related to the Antichrist. It is true that one of the questions Jesus is answering in Matthew 24 is about the sign of his coming, and of the end of the world. However, he is also answering the question of when concerning when the destruction of the temple: “There shall not be left here one stone [of the temple] upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” The abomination of desolation may best fit with this, when the Romans destroyed the temple in Jerusalem. This also seems to fit best with what Daniel said on the subject (Daniel 9:27; 11:31, 12:11). Daniel connects the coming of the “abomination that maketh desolate” with the first coming of the Messiah in 9:24-27. The things following about being with child, winter travel, etc. would make the flight from the destruction more rigorous and troublesome. It may be that some of this includes that in the past and foreshadows something else in the future, too, as do several other prophecies.

See also Luke 21:20-21, which puts “desolation” at the time of the destruction of the temple.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Baptist puppies

A young boy was trying to sell puppies at a street corner. A man approached him and asked the small boy what kind of puppies they were, and the boy replied “church of Christ puppies.” 

A week later, the same boy was at the same corner selling the same puppies. He cried loudly, “Baptist puppies for sale, Baptist puppies for sale!” The same man was there again. He approached the lad and said to him, “I thought these were church of Christ puppies.” 

The boy replied, “They were last week, but this week they are Baptist puppies – because their eyes are open.”

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Against Empathy, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Baptist Universalism

What is universalism?[i] By “universalism,” I mean a teaching that in some way Christ’s death guarantees salvation for every member of the human race – past, present, and future.[ii] Or, at the least, that every member of the human race will ultimately be saved, however it is accomplished.[iii] defines “Universalism” as “the doctrine that emphasizes the universal fatherhood of God and the final salvation of all souls.” Universalism is the belief that, in the end, all men will be saved.

A friend suggested something of which I had never given thought, writing, “I acknowledge the Calvinist heritage of the doctrine [of universalism].” This is interesting. Universalism shares with Calvinism some sort of idea of “unconditional election” and “irresistible grace.” Universal salvation is not based on human choice but God’s choice. The “grace” may not be “irresistible” until after an individual’s death, but ultimately it is irresistible because all individuals – atheists, agnostics, other religions, unbelievers – will be saved whether they want to be or not![iv]

Two prominent Baptists in U. S. history, Elhanan Winchester (1751-1797) and Hosea Ballou (1771-1852), adopted the theory of Universalism. Winchester was originally a Calvinist, and moved from Particular Redemption to General Redemption to Universalism. Winchester remained what Nathan Finn called a “Revivalistic Universalist.” Ballou on the other hand seems to have developed his universalism from his Calvinism and moved to a more rationalistic version of universalism. Probably most Baptists who embrace universalism move on elsewhere, and do not remain Baptist in persuasion. However, I am aware of a few kinds of Baptist Universalists.
1. Primitive Baptist Universalism. Held by several Appalachian Primitive Baptist Associations who embraced universalism. Howard Dorgan wrote about them in In the Hands of a Happy God: The “No-Hellers” of Central Appalachia.
2. Interspersed Baptist Universalism. Held by individual Baptists or individual churches who are dispersed within Baptist churches and/or Baptist denominations that do not hold universalism.
3. Functional Baptist Universalism. Held by individual Baptists in practice – that is, those whose theology may say otherwise but their lifestyles and life’s actions are lived as if in the end everyone will be saved.[v]
Primitive Baptist Universalism
The following articles of faith from the Washington District [Universalist] Primitive Baptist Association demonstrate their theology and their conservatism: (1) their conservatism in that their Abstract of Principles were only slightly changed from its original wording to show how they interpreted matters in a universalist way, and (2) their theology in that they did actually make a slight change from their previous abstract.
Article 10. We believe there now is a general judgment and the punishment of the wicked is everlasting and the happiness of the righteous is eternal. [i.e., the believe the judgment and punishment are in the temporal world.]
Article 11. We believe there will be a resurrection of the dead bodies of all people when Christ shall change these vile bodies of ours like unto His most glorious body.
The churches believe the atonement is for all humankind, that the “elect” are the true church (basically, the Primitive Baptist Universalist churches),[vi] that people experience their judgment & hell here on earth, that there is no hell in the afterlife, and that all people without exception go to heaven.

The split of Primitive Baptists over this issue occurred in 1924. According to various sources, there are either four or six “No-Heller” associations in Central Appalachia Washington District Association, Three Forks of Powell’s River Regular Primitive Baptist Association, two Elkhorn Primitive Baptist Associations,[vii] Stony Creek and Union. They likely no more than 2000 members, perhaps much less.[viii]

Interspersed Baptist Universalism
In our inclusivist age and society, it is likely that there is a high number of individuals in Baptist churches who hold a universalist theology. Developing any idea of numbers or percentages is well-nigh impossible. I have identified two churches in the American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts who hold dual-affiliation with the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA): The Federated Church of Sturbridge and Fiskdale, Sturbridge, MA and First Parish of Bolton, Bolton MA.[ix] Their affiliation with the UUA indicates they are no longer Baptist in much if any meaningful way, but they maintain a semblance of Baptist heritage by continuing to affiliate with the ABC of Massachusetts.[x]

Functional Baptist Universalism
For retired Baptist pastor William Thornton, it means those who “live as if somehow, someway, everyone will make their way to heaven. No one ever admits to this as a concrete belief…” I found the “Functional Baptist Universalists” described this way: “Christians who live, act, or function as though every person is bound for heaven. Their daily routines do not emphasize spiritual or eternal priorities. Though they regularly converse with friends and acquaintances on various subjects, they never discuss religion, God, or salvation.” For Christians who believe that God has already done all he can do and the salvation of lost souls depends upon them to not be evangelistic is a virtual denial of their theology. It is a practical acceptance of functional universalism.

Some links that might interest readers

[i] I have tried to follow Finn in using the terms “universalism” and “universalist” when referring to the theological position, and “Universalism” and “Universalist” when referring to groups that embraced the universal salvation and individuals who were the members of such groups. See “The Making of a Baptist Universalist: the Curious Case of Elhanan Winchester,” footnote 3.
[ii] This is in reference to soteriology. Some people who hold General Atonement refer to it as Universal Atonement. In reference to ecclesiology, “Universalism” often is used pejoratively regarding the universal church versus local church only.
[iii] Some Universalists move this completely out of the realm of Christian theology.
[iv] This is assuming an initially Christian version of universalism, of course.
[v] This is usually confined to those who hold the theoretical possibility that all men could be saved (general atonement), but make to attempt to reach them with the gospel or call them to repentance and belief. On the other hand, “Functional Baptist Universalism” could not apply to those who believe that God regenerates the sinner and repentance & faith are mere fruits of God’s act.
[vi] Johannes Steenbuch distinguished the Primitive Baptist Universalists idea of “saved believers” as those who “enjoy the comfort of knowing their salvation here and now, while unbelievers are still unaware that they are already saved in principle.”
[vii] Due to a split in the early 1980s.
[viii] In 2011 Bill Leonard estimated around 1,000. “Baptist scholar says remember Appalachia before it disappears,” Norman Jameson, The Christian Century, March 31, 2011.
[ix] Both these churches also affiliate with the United Church of Christ.
[x] For example, for the church in Sturbridge “All questions regarding the Sacrament of Baptism shall be left to the conscience of the individual member” – which includes being exempt from any type of baptism if that is one’s conviction.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Georgia United Baptist

See History of the Baptist Denomination in Georgia

  1. Pursuant to public notice, a large number of Baptist ministers met at Forsyth, Monroe county, Georgia, on the 7th of July, 1836, for the purpose of endeavoring to heal the unhappy difficulties which have existed for some years in the denomination. The morning was spent in prayer by those brethren who arrived in season, and at half past eleven o’clock, at the request of those assembled, brother Jesse Mercer preached from Canticles ii, 15.
  2. At 2 o’clock P.M., the meeting was organized by calling brother Mercer to the chair, and appointing brother I. Langly, clerk, pro tempore. The names of the following ministers were enrolled: Jesse Mercer, Wilson Conner, Jonathan Nichols, Humphrey Posey, James Steely, John Ross, Benjamin Bussey, John Milner, Joseph R. Hand, Jonathan Davis, Isaiah Langly, C. D. Mallary, Green B. Waldrop, Davis Smith, Joseph Chipman, Richard Pace, Henry Collins, 
Francis Callaway, A. T. Holmes, William A. Callaway, J. H. Campbell, George Granberry, Benjamin Roberts, John R. Humphrey, Isaac E. Deavers, Andrew Cumbie, V. R. Thornton, Reuben Thornton, Gideon Leverett, William Henderson, James Reeves, Jacob King, Allison Culpepper, Zed. R. Gordon, James Perryman, Obadiah Echols, James Carter, William R. Wellborn, John W. Cooper, William Maund, George B. Davis, James Davis, Charnick A. Tharp, Ephraim Strickland, Adiel Sherwood, S. G. Hillyer, John Reeves, Jeremiah Reeves, William Byars, Albert G. Beckham, Allen Morris, Jesse H. Davis, Robert Burt... (p. 186)

  1. Do we, as a body, on doctrinal points, hold those sentiments which have characterized orthodox Baptist churches from time immemorial, and particularly as embodied and set forth in the Articles of Faith adopted by the Georgia, Flint River, Ocmulgee and Yellow River Associations? (p. 187)
  “12. The first article was adopted unanimously without discussion. On the first query, after reading one of the Articles named, a general expression of approbation was given by almost every member present, except some few
belonging to the United Association, who dissented. Then each name was called separately, whether the doctrines of the Confession were heartily believed, and all answered Yes. The members of the United Association handed in their answer afterwards.
  “16. The members from the United Association handed in their answer in writing, touching the Articles of Faith : ‘Nothing in the Articles of Faith alluded to, presents any difficulty, except a part of the fourth Article, and some connexion with it in the sixth,’ signed E. Strickland, John Reeves, Andrew Cumbie, William Byars.
  “From this it is seen clearly that they do not agree with us in faith. The fourth and sixth Articles alluded to, are those in our Articles touching election and effectual calling.”

See also Abstract of Principles of the Georgia Baptist Association.

Sin never more odious

“Sin never appears more odious than in the glass of forgiving love; shame, confusion of face, and silence, are never more manifest, than when a soul knows that God is pacified towards it for all that it has done; this produces a godly sorrow, a sorrow after a godly sort, for sin committed against a God of love, grace, and mercy.”
John Gill

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Look for the Waymarks

I did not have time to write about a song today, so I am posting Look for the Waymarks. I happened across this title and was intrigued by its use of the biblical word “waymarks.” It is quite different from most songs you see, and I’m not exactly sure what I think about it! Both the words and music were written (or published) in 1886 by Franklin E. Belden (1858-1945). The author was an Adventist, but also wrote songs for the evangelist Billy Sunday. It is 10s. meter with a chorus, related to the scripture in Daniel 2:31-44. The main point seems to be that the next big thing on God’s agenda is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Some of you might find this interesting.

1. Look for the waymarks as you journey on,
Look for the waymarks passing one by one;
Down through the ages, past the kingdoms four;
Where are we standing? Look the waymarks o’er.

Look for the waymarks, the great prophetic waymarks,
Down through the ages, past the kingdoms four.
Look for the waymarks, the great prophetic waymarks;
The journey’s almost o’er.

2. First, the Assyrian kingdom ruled the world,
Then Medo-Persia’s banners were unfurled;
And after Greece held universal sway,
Rome seized the scepter; Where are we today?

3. Down in the feet of iron and of clay,
Weak and divided, soon to pass away;
What will the next great, glorious drama be?
Christ and His coming, And eternity.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Quotes I have heard

But do not know or have lost the original source.

"The scriptures we need to read the most are the ones we don’t highlight or underline."

"Dysfunctional family: any family with one or more persons in it."

"Pessimists feel bad when they feel good, thinking they will feel worse when they feel better."

"Gender Dysphoria is a thinking disorder, not a body disorder."

"Not to condemn is to condone."

"Politicians can teach new tricks to the devil."

"There will be two big surprises when we reach heaven – Them that’s there, and them that ain’t."

"Speech is silver and silence is golden."

"Silence is golden -- except when it is yellow!"

"Words hurt -- I have the scars to prove it."

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Edmund Shackleford, reprise

Rev. Edmund Shackleford was born in Orange county, Va., June, 1781, but his father, soon after, removed to Elbert county, Ga. He first united with Falling Creek Church, and, probably, began to exercise his gifts in that region, and thence removed to Greene, and was some time member in County Line Church. While pastor of Ridgeland, he taught a school, as many pastors were compelled to do in that day, and even in the more enlightened age. In November, 1811, he was chosen pastor of Milledgeville, which he supplied till 1822, but did not remove his family to town till 1817. Here, also, he was compelled to teach to sustain the heavy expenses of a large family.
Mr. S. was a natural orator and good English scholar. I do not affirm that “the bees were at his mouth” in the cradle, as runneth the fable concerning an ancient orator of most persuasive speaking powers; but, so popular a preacher was he, when first settled in Milledgeville, that his congregations were always the largest in town.
About 1822, Mr. S. removed to Morgan county, settled on a small plantation, and served the churches at Antioch, Fellowship, Indian Creek, and Monticello. Here he continued till 1829, and was, a few years, moderator of the Ocmulgee Association—wrote a valuable circular in 1829, the year of the great revival.
While in Milledgeville, drinking spirits was fashionable with both ministers and lay members, and Mr. S. was carried away with the flood. He indulged in it so much as to bring the cause of religion into disrepute. His congregation, which was the largest in town, dwindled to a mere handful, and the church was well nigh extinction! He did not, to be sure, become dead drunk; but was every day excited by alcohol. What a sad picture! yet it is a faithful one, and over which piety yet weeps, and even then expostulated with the fallen yet infatuated man, but to no purpose!
While residing in Morgan the temperance cause began to make some impression on a few minds. Like most drinkers he was mad at it at first, and resolved that no such shackles as subscribing a pledge should be put upon his freedom. But, upon more sober thought, he determined to abstain privately, though the temperance society was the object of his perfect scorn. In April, 1828, when the State Temperance Society was organized, he was chosen its first Secretary. In 1830, at its anniversary, Bethesda, Greene county, he delivered an address with much feeling and great effect. He spoke on the evils of alcohol from experience, and his immense congregation were in tears. When he first began to refrain he had the agonies and horrors of a man getting sober—his health seemed to fail. But said he, “I’ll die a martyr to the cause, rather than drink again.”
While in Milledgeville he was admonished by his brethren, and cautioned against the dangerous road he was traveling—perhaps, however, not with all that kindness that wins and breaks a heart. But said he, “I was offended that a suspicion even existed that I should some day be overpowered by liquor—and I drank sometimes when I did not thirst for the poison, to show I would drink when I pleased—that I was an independent man, and would not be controlled by officious interference!” But over this unwise, head-strong course, he often wept “tears of blood.” Had he lived till the origin of the Washingtonian Society in Baltimore in 1840, he would, no doubt, have entered into their cause with a zeal and energy which would have resisted opposition. Yes, methinks his noble spirit would have more calmly yielded to the summons of the monster death, if, in prophetic vision, like old Simeon, he could have viewed the “salvation” that was to rescue so many of his species from a drunkard’s grave.
About 1829 he married his second wife, and removed to Hancock county, where he died in the summer of 1830. His constitution had been injured by ardent spirits, and for his wayward course he exercised deep repentance. He did all he could to efface the impression and neutralize the influence which his bad habits had occasioned.
Like most of his ministering brethren, he accumulated but little property. His orphan children were left, in a great measure, destitute of the means of sustenance. Some of them, however, have found a treasure since his departure, in the good hope through grace of the forgiveness of sins. That must be a disinterested philanthropist who is so forgetful of self, and all that is dear to self, as to spend his time and expend his earnings in the service of the public, and leave his children to the charity of a cold world! Such was Edmund Shackleford, and such were many who have gone up to their reward on high. Many of those now laboring, have talents and education to shine in any of the learned professions, and amass immense wealth; but as they devote themselves to the churches and the public wholly, ought not those who enjoy their services to provide for their present wants, and, in prospect, for their weeping, needy orphans? The subject of ministerial support has received a new impulse since Mr. S.’s death, and, it is hoped, will continue to bear on the public mind, till the apostolic direction shall be faithfully regarded.

From The Christian Repository and Family Visitant, Volume VII, S. H. & Mrs. S. R. Ford, editors, Louisville, KY: Bradley & Gilbert, pp. 288-290

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Patience, by J. C. Philpot

“But let patience have her perfect work.” James 1:4

Patience then has its work; and what is that? Twofold, according to my explanation of the word. 1. To endure all trials, live through all temptations, bear all crosses, carry all loads, fight all battles, toil through all difficulties, and overcome all enemies. 2. To submit to the will of God, to own that he is Lord and King, to have no will or way of its own, no scheme or plan to please the flesh, avoid the cross, or escape the rod; but to submit simply to God’s righteous dealings, both in providence and grace, believing that he doeth all things well, that he is a Sovereign, “and worketh all things according to the counsel of his own will.”

Now until the soul is brought to this point, the work of patience is not perfect; it may be going on, but it is not consummated. You may be in the furnace of temptation now, passing through the fiery trial. Are you rebellious or submissive? If still rebellious, you must abide in the furnace until you are brought to submission; and not only so, but it must be thorough submission, or else patience has not its perfect work. The dross and slag of rebellion must be scummed off, and the pure metal flow down. It is all of God’s grace to feel this for a single moment.

But are there not, and have there not been, times and seasons, in your soul, when you could be still and know that he is God? When you could submit to his will, believing that he is too wise to err, too good to be unkind? When this submission is felt, patience has its perfect work. Look at Jesus, our great example: see him in the gloomy garden, with the cross in prospect before him on the coming morn. How he could say, “Not my will, but thine be done!” There was the perfect work of patience in the perfect soul of the Redeemer. Now you and I must have a work in our soul corresponding to this, or else we are not conformed to the suffering image of our crucified Lord.

Patience in us must have its perfect work; and God will take care that it shall be so. As in a beautiful piece of machinery, if the engineer see a cog loose or a wheel out of gear, he must adjust the defective part, that it may work easily and properly, and in harmony with the whole machine; so if the God of all our salvation see a particular grace not in operation or not properly performing its appointed work, he by his Spirit so influences the heart that it is again brought to work as he designed it should do. Measure your faith and patience by this standard; but do not take in conjunction, or confound with them the workings of your carnal mind.

Here we often mistake: we may be submissive as regards our spirit, meek and patient, quiet and resigned, in the inward man, yet feel many uprisings and rebellings of the flesh; and thus patience may not seem to have her perfect work. But to look for perfect submission in the flesh is to look for perfection in the flesh, which was never promised and is never given. Look to what the Spirit is working in you—not to the carnal mind, which is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be, and therefore knows neither subjection nor submission. Look at that inward principality of which the Prince of peace is Lord and Ruler, and see whether in the still depths of your soul, and where he lives and reigns, there is submission to the will of God.

Joseph Charles Philpot (1802 - 1869)

Monday, August 19, 2019

More things I thought of

or so I still think.

Too often we look for the big things and miss the little things (which are really the big things).

A church’s autonomy ends where her violation of Scripture begins.

A believer in Jesus marrying an unbeliever is sort of like a cat lover marrying someone who is allergic to cats.

There’s only one “in-crowd” that matters – those who are in Christ.

God is the truth of all true things, the good of all good things, and the beauty of all beautiful things.

To be New Testament Christians, we need to ask New Testament questions and give New Testament answers.

I ran from God as fast and as far as my swift sinful feet and wicked heart would carry me. God outran me. He overtook me.

Truth precedes knowledge, and knowledge precedes feeling.

The priests of Baal did not realize how much Elijah belittled their god, since they had such a little concept of god.

The inspired grammar of the Bible plainly shows that God actively, not passively, changed and/or controlled men’s thoughts and actions – deliberately, not accidentally.

Cappella – as in a cappella – has two a’s, two p’s, and two l’s. Stick a “c” and an “e” in there somewhere and you’ve got it. Capella is a goat.

Marriage, a cross and a crown

Marriage is not just some romantic notion. Man and wife enter a devout covenant for life. Too often, the illusion of perfection and false expectations of “happily ever after” define marriage. (That is what the fairy tales tell us!) No, the valley of love is also a valley of tears. Marriage is not only a blessing to cherish or a crown to wear, but also a cross to bear. Marriage defeats the oneness of you and deposits you in the oneness of two. It attacks self and selfishness, and embraces “the golden rule” – do unto others. The marriage not united to the cross of Christ will not be united at all.
R. L. Vaughn

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Sing praise to God who reigns above

“Sing praise to God who reigns above” – “Sei lob und ehr dem höchsten gut” – was written by Johann Jakob Schütz (1640-1690) in 1675. In addition to writing hymns, Schütz was also a lawyer. Frances Elizabeth Cox made the English translation below, and included it in her book Hymns from the German in 1864. The original German text had nine 6-line stanzas, with the theme derived from Deuteronomy 32:3. The meter hymn is usually paired with the tune Mit Freuden Zart.

1. Sing praise to God who reigns above,
the God of all creation,
the God of power, the God of love,
the God of our salvation.
With healing balm my soul is filled
and every faithless murmur stilled:
To God all praise and glory.

2. The Lord is never far away,
but through all grief distressing,
an ever present help and stay,
our peace and joy and blessing.
As with a mother’s tender hand,
God gently leads the chosen band:
To God all praise and glory.

3. Thus all my toilsome way along,
I sing aloud thy praises,
that earth may hear the grateful song
my voice unwearied raises.
Be joyful in the Lord, my heart,
both soul and body bear your part:
To God all praise and glory.

4. Let all who name Christ’s holy name
give God all praise and glory;
let all who own his power proclaim
aloud the wondrous story!
Cast each false idol from its throne,
for Christ is Lord, and Christ alone:
To God all praise and glory.

Friday, August 16, 2019

A. T. Robertson, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Deuteronomy 15:11

For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.

Deuteronomy 15:11 sits intriguingly in the midst of the context of Deuteronomy 15, which seems to hint in verse four of a time when there would be no poor among them.[i] It is noteworthy how well the statement in verse 11 intersects with the statement of Jesus in John 12:8.

First, as background, we understand that all Israelites became property owners after the conquest of Canaan and division of the land. Joshua divided the land of Canaan by lot to each of Israel’s twelve tribes (e.g. Joshua 19:51; see Joshua 13—21),[ii] as determined by God (Cf. Proverbs 16:33).

The first part of Deuteronomy 15 mentions the seven-year release. God placed this and other things within the legal system of the Law of Moses. The seven-year release and the year of jubile,[iii] in at least one of their effects, helped the poor and needy. These events recalibrated the scale to recreate just weights and balances and at least temporary relief. Verse 5 of Deuteronomy 15 suggests faithful adherence to these principles would fulfill that purpose.[iv] Yet God knew Israel would disobey the law of God, and that the poor would never cease out of the land. Verse 11 acknowledges that. It is a bare statement of fact, and makes inexcusable the attempt to excuse oneself from helping the poor and needy on prior grounds (verses 1-6). But for the nature of man, which we always have with us, poverty might be eradicated. So, like our sin nature, the poor we always have with us also.

[i] The Pulpit Commentary states, “This statement [v. 11] is not inconsistent with that in ver. 4, for there it is the prevention of poverty by not dealing harshly with the poor that is spoken of; here it is the continuance of occasion for the relief of the poor that is referred to.” John Gill says, “There would be always such objects to exercise their charity and beneficence towards, John 12:8, which is no contradiction to Deuteronomy 15:4 for had they been obedient to the laws of God, they would have been so blessed that there would have been none; so the Targums; but he foresaw that they would not keep his commands, and so this would be the case, and which he foretells that they might expect it, and do their duty to them, as here directed…”
[ii] Though the Levites did not have a political division of land, they received cities and land within the divisions of the other tribes.
[iv] There is difference of opinion whether the seven-year release meant a permanent release from the debt, or a year-long release for relief and rest from the debt. In comparison, the release of the land itself was only for the year, and was brought back into cultivation the next year (Cf. Exodus 23:10-11). Regardless, I don’t think the seven-year release or the year of jubile can be used to support the redistribution of wealth ideas that some think should be by secular governments. For example, the jubile return of the land was a fact known and accounted for in business dealings. The land could not, according to the Law of Moses, be sold in perpetuity (Cf. Leviticus 25:23-24). Most proposed current ideas for redistribution of wealth to alleviate “social injustice” would just create a different social injustice.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Least of These

Kevin DeYoung on Matthew 25:31-46

In verse 45 Jesus uses the phrase “the least of these,” but in verse 40 he uses a more exact phrase: “the least of these of my brothers.” The two phrases refer to the same group. So the more complete phrase in verse 40 should be used to explain the shorter phrase in verse 45...Matthew 25 equates caring for Jesus’s spiritual family with caring for Jesus. The passage does not offer the generic message: “care for the poor and you’re caring for me.” This doesn’t mean God is indifferent to the concerns of the poor or that we should be either. It simply means that “the least of these” is not a blanket statement about physical deprivation.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Singing in a choir, and other music links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Monday, August 12, 2019

We get to the finish line, and other quotes

The posting of quotes by human authors does not constitute agreement with either the quotes or their sources. (I try to confirm the sources that I give, but may miss on occasion; please verify when possible.)

"We get to the finish line at the exact time we are destined to cross it." -- Deshauna Barber

"If you don’t heal what hurt you, you’ll bleed on people who didn’t cut you." -- Unknown

"I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as an historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history." -- Attributed to H. G. Wells

"A pregnant woman and her baby are not radically separate individuals with isolated human rights “at war” with one another. A woman and her baby are a “unity of two persons” interconnected in love with everyone and everything. Whatever harms the baby harms the mother, whatever harms the mother harms the baby, and whatever harms either of them harms us all." -- Sue Ellen Browder

"Real change is an inside job." -- Copied

"Loyalty to Scriptural truth and authority is a higher consideration than momentary and sensational excitement." -- A. T. Robertson

"Everybody who belongs to Jesus belongs to everybody who belongs to Jesus." -- Steve Brown