Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pilgrim's Progress - Meeting The Porter


Having retrieved his roll, retracing his steps up the hill, more nimbly this time having his evidence in hand, Christian is tested by the lions before Palace Beautiful. The Porter, whose name is Watchful, provides the needed encouragement and Christian now stands on the right side of the lions face to face with The Porter.

The Porters Encouragement:
... perceiving that Christian made a halt, as if he would go back, cried unto him, Is thy strength so small? Mark 4:40. Fear not the lions, for they are chained, and are placed there for trial of faith where it is, and for discovery of those that have none: keep in the midst of the path, and no hurt shall come unto thee. Then I saw that he went on, trembling for fear of the lions, but taking good heed to the directions of the Porter; he heard them roar, but they did him no harm. Then he clapped his hands, and went on till he came and stood before the gate where the Porter was.

And so The Porter probes Christian a little:

The Porter also asked whence he was, and whither he was going.

Christian: I am come from the city of Destruction, and am going to Mount Zion: but because the sun is now set, I desire, if I may, to lodge here to-night.

The Porter: What is your name?

Christian: My name is now Christian, but my name at the first was Graceless: I came of the race of Japheth, whom God will persuade to dwell in the tents of Shem. Gen. 9:27.

We do not rightly know our own name prior to conversion. It is only after the Spirit of God has begun a work in us do we perceive truly what we were before "Graceless," "Dead," "Enemies of the Most High God." And the longer I walk in Christ, the more I see how true these words are of me prior to the day-dawning within. My name is now CHRISTIAN, but my name at the first was GRACELESS. Thanks be to God! 2Pet 1:19 also Rom 8:15

The next part of Christian's response to the Porter stumped me.

"I came of the race of Japheth."

The biblical reference coming from this portion of scripture:

Gen 9:19-28
Gen 9:19 These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread. 20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: 21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. 23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness. 24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. 25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. 26 And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. 27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. 28 And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years.

Bunyan's point in mentioning this can be explained from the Geneva Bible Notes, or even Calvin's, or later also Poole's and John Gill's Commentaries, which explain that this is prophecy from the lips of Noah by the Spirit of God teaching us that:

Japheth is standing for his descendants the Gentiles of which Christian says "I am of their race."

Christian adding: "whom God will persuade to dwell in the tents of Shem" AND God did bring both the sons of Shem, which are the Jews, and the sons of Japheth, which are the Gentiles, together in one common household of faith.

Eph 2:11-20
Eph 2:11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

What can I say? More and More my enjoyment of God's Word increases as does my enjoyment
of Bunyan teaching it to me through his little book, how true Bunyan's own encouraging Apology:

May I not write in such a style as this?
In such a method too, and yet not miss
My end-thy good? Why may it not be done?
Dark clouds bring waters, when the bright bring none.
Yea, dark or bright, if they their silver drops
Cause to descend, the earth, by yielding crops,


Art thou for something rare and profitable?
Or would’st thou see a truth within a fable?
Art thou forgetful? Wouldest thou remember
From New-Year’s day to the last of December?
Then read my fancies; they will stick like burs,
And may be, to the helpless, comforters.

I strongly encourage if you haven't to click here to read the whole Bunyan's Apology

Geneva Bible Notes:
He declares that the Gentiles, who came from Japheth, and were separated from the Church, should be joined to the same by the persuasion of God's Spirit, and preaching of the gospel.

Calvin's Commentary: -- Click here for full text
27....the meaning will be, that the posterity of Japheth, which for a time would be scattered, and removed far from the tents of Shem, would at length be increased, so that it should more nearly approach them, and should dwell together with them, as in a common home. But I rather approve the other version, ‘God shall gently bring back, or incline Japheth.’302 Moreover, whichever interpretation we follow, Noah predicts that there will be a temporary dissension between Shem and Japheth, although he retains both in his family and calls both his lawful heirs; and that afterwards the time will come, in which they shall again coalesce in one body, and have a common home. It is, however, most absolutely certain, that a prophecy is here put forth concerning things unknown to man, of which, as the event, at length, shows God alone was the Author. Two thousand years and some centuries more, elapsed before the Gentiles and the Jews were gathered together in one faith. Then the sons of Shem, of whom the greater part had revolted and cut themselves off from the holy family of God, were collected together, and dwelt under one tabernacle.303 Also the Gentiles, the progeny of Japheth, who had long been wanderers and fugitives were received into the same tabernacle. For God, by a new adoption, has formed a people out of those who were separated, and has confirmed a fraternal union between alienated parties. This is done by the sweet and gentle voice of God, which he has uttered in the gospel; and this prophecy is still daily receiving its fulfillment, since God invites the scattered sheep to join his flock, and collects, on every side, those who shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. It is truly no common support of our faith, that the calling of the Gentiles is not only decreed in the eternal counsel of God, but is openly declared by the mouth of the Patriarch; lest we should think it to have happened suddenly or by chance, that the inheritance of eternal life was offered generally to all. But the form of the expression, ‘Japheth shall dwell in the tabernacles of Shem,’304 commends to us that mutual society which ought to exist, and to be cherished among the faithful. For whereas God had chosen to himself a Church from the progeny of Shem, he afterwards chose the Gentiles together with them, on this condition, that they should join themselves to that people, who were in possession of the covenant of life.

Footnotes taken from Calvin's Commentary:
302 See marginal reading of English version, “God will persuade Japheth.” — See also Schindler’s Lexicon, sub voce פתה, and Ainsworth in loco. It is however objected, and not without reason, that the word here rendered persuade is rarely, if ever, used in a good sense, that it generally means to entice, or allure to evil; and, therefore, the most judicious critics seem rather inclined to fall back upon the version given in the text of our translation, than to accept the marginal reading, with which Calvin agrees. See Professor Bush’s note on this place. Dathe gives the preference to the Arabic version, which signifies that God will prosper Japheth; but for this there is no sufficient authority. — Ed

303 Allusion here seems to be made to the words quoted by James from the prophecy of Amos: “I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof and I will set it up.” — Acts 15:16. — Ed.

It is not clear whether the original really means that “Japheth,” or that “God,” “shall dwell in the tents of Shem.” If the former, then this is a plain prediction of events which have been in a remarkable manner fulfilled, by the conversion of the Gentiles, and by the diffusion of a vast European population over those regions which were originally occupied by the descendants of Shem. If the original really means the latter, then it has been fulfilled by the manifestation of God’s glory among the Israelites, first through the Shechinah which appeared in the tabernacle and temple, and then more especially through the advent of the Messiah, of whom St. John says, “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us; and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth,” (John 1:14.) — Ed.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Gospel for Real Life

A few years ago I had the privilege a long with a few others friends to have lunch with Jerry Bridges. During our dining time together I asked him of all the books you have written, which is your favorite. His response: "The Gospel for Real Life." Finally, I have a copy in my hands as my 13 year old is about to begin reading and studying this book with a few other young ladies in a study led by our Pastor's daughter. I'm excited for my daughter and I'm excited for myself as I plan to be reading along with her.

The Preface has already got me excited. Jerry Bridges writes:

...preaching the gospel to yourself every day is what this book is about. It is intended to answer three questions:
  • What is the gospel we should preach to ourselves?
  • Why do we, who are already believers, need to preach it to ourselves?
  • How do we do it?
And like Jerry who wrote in his preface: "Some years ago I heard someone say that we should 'preach the gospel to ourselves every day.' though I had already been doing that to some degree, that statement brought clarity and focus to my own practice..." When I first heard this phrase "Preach the Gospel to Yourself everyday," for me also that statement brought clarity and focus to my own practice. Excitedly I look forward to discover if that focus will become even sharper as I read together with my daughter, "The Gospel for Real Life."

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Pilgrim's Progress - What is the Roll?


WHAT IS THE ROLL that the Shining ones gave to Christian at the cross?

I've been reading and listening to Pilgrim's Progress for many years and I never really felt that I grasped the allegorical meaning of Christian's sealed roll.

Let's review what we know about this roll (or scroll):

It was given by the third Shining One at the cross.

It had a seal upon it.

He was directed to look on it as he ran.

He must give it in at the celestial gate.

He described it thus to Formalist and Hypocrisy: "I will tell you, moreover, that I had then given me a roll sealed, to comfort me by reading as I go on the way; I was also bid to give it in at the celestial gate, in token of my certain going in after it:"

He was often reading it upon going before Formalist and Hypocrisy towards Hill Difficulty.

He read from it at the arbor partly up Hill Difficulty.

He lost it there at the arbor when he fell asleep and then ran on without it.
The roll can be lost.

He kept it in his bosom.

After the fright Timorous and Mistrust gave him with their running back down the Hill Difficulty he reached into his bosom in order to read from it for some comfort as Bunyan describes: "But thinking again of what he had heard from the men, he felt in his bosom for his roll, that he might read therein and be comforted; but he felt, and found it not."

The roll can be found again, which Christian did once he retraced his steps back to the arbor repenting all the way for his sinful sleeping even in the daytime even in the midst of difficulty ... even easing his flesh in a place where the Lord had only purposed a little relief of the spirits of pilgrims.

Upon arriving back at the arbor Bunyan paints the following description of both Christians sorrow and then joy he had at finding once again his precious roll:

"Now by this time he was come to the arbor again, where for a while he sat down and wept; but at last, (as Providence would have it,) looking sorrowfully down under the settle, there he espied his roll, the which he with trembling and haste catched up, and put it into his bosom. But who can tell how joyful this man was when he had gotten his roll again? For this roll was the assurance of his life, and acceptance at the desired haven. Therefore he laid it up in his bosom, gave thanks to God for directing his eye to the place where it lay, and with joy and tears betook himself again to his journey."

When Prudence quizzes Christian we learn also that this roll is useful in the vanquishing of those things that trouble him.

Prudence: Can you remember by what means you find your annoyances at times as if they were vanquished?

Christian: Yes: when I think what I saw at the cross, that will do it; and when I look upon my broidered coat, that will do it; and when I look into the roll that I carry in my bosom, that will do it; and when my thoughts wax warm about whither I am going, that will do it.

Christian later spoke of losing his roll when communing with his new friend Faithful as the told of their various experiences one with another.

Finally Christian presented this roll at the gate of the celestial city: "and then the pilgrims gave in unto them each man his certificate, which they had received in the beginning: those therefore were carried in unto the King, who, when he had read them, said, Where are the men? To whom it was answered, They are standing without the gate. The King then commanded to open the gate, “That the righteous nation (said he) that keepeth the truth may enter in.”


Knowing this is an allegory it is difficult always for me to make the connection between the figure and the real to which it points. But this roll sounds like something I could very much use and hope to have. Something to which I can read from often for comfort, encouragement, refreshment for I very often am in need of these very things. Something which I should guard over carefully since it appears that it is possible to lose it, at least for a time.

Another clue we have in Bunyan's book is the biblical reference given when the Shining one first passed this roll with a seal into Christian's hands:

EPH 1:13-14
13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise,
14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

This morning I asked my girls, "What is the Roll?" 11 yr old bubbled over with the following explanation. She talked fast, I tried to write it down word for word. I asked her to repeat it again a few times and so to the best of my ability below is what she said. Read it fast, excitedly and with a happy ring to it and you will recapture our conversation this morning.

"The roll is the call of God in your life, as you sense that and look at that then the wonders of God's word are opened up to you, and they amaze you and excite you, and make you so happy that you run faster for heaven. And each time you look into that call of God in your life his word is speaking to you, and you are being thrilled so that you should do this often for refreshment. But if you are lazy, slothful, and sinning you can lose that sense of the call of God in your life. It becomes dull to you, you look and it's not there because of sin. So you need to go back in your thoughts to the place where you lost it and through all that laziness and sloth and sin, repenting of it, sorry for it and find again God's call in your life. And once more have the wonders of God's word opened up to you and making you happy and excited so that you run fast for heaven again."

I don't think she was to far off from Bunyan's intention. Upon finding the roll we read this description from Bunyan: "For this roll was the assurance of his life, and acceptance at the desired haven. "

The scriptures tell us plainly that after we believed, we "were sealed with that Holy Spirit of Promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance. " Eph 1:13-14

The spirit of God bearing witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. Rom 8:16

An earnest - that is a foretaste of heaven - heaven begun in our hearts now. An assurance of the inheritance to come made known in us by the Holy Spirit and to us by the Gospel and the promises of God contained in it. For therein the righteousness of God is revealed. Rom 1:17

We can lose that comfort through neglect, sleeping in the light, sin and sloth. And if we upon reaching into our own bosom for some comfort and assurance of salvation find it lacking we may very well be in a place where we need to "go back in our thoughts" to the sin that brought this upon us - to the root of the sin, and now having an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, confess our sins and he will indeed cleanse us from all unrighteousness - and once again we are refreshed, we are made glad, and know the sweetness of communion with our God and Father through Jesus Christ. 1John 2:1, 1John 1:9

Let's guard our roll of assurance carefully. And enjoy and rejoice to the uttermost that daily sweet communion with our dear Saviour. Looking unto Jesus, who bore in himself the guilt and punishment of our sins, satisfying to the fullest our debt and purchasing us to himself. We are his, we belong to him and he will in no wise cast us out. Be killing sin or it will be killing you and robbing you of the sweet and precious roll of assurance, that heavenly witness.


Below is an excerpt from Lectures on the Pilgrim's Progress by George Cheever where he discusses at length Christian's Roll.

PAGE 292-293

But the Lord does not forget to be gracious. About midway of the Hill there was a pleasant arbor, for the refreshment of weary travellers, where Christian with thankfulness sat down to rest him. And now he began to look over his evidences, and to regard with great comfort and delight the garment that the Shining Ones had given him, so that he almost forgot that he was to go any farther, or that there was any more work for him to do. He forgot the exhortation to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, and to press forward towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus; and he was so well satisfied with himself, his roll, his robe, his acceptance with God, that while he was resting, the spirit of slumber came over him, and what at first he intended should only be a moment's nap, like a man asleep during sermon time in church, became a thorough deep sleep, which endured even till the twilight; and in.this sleep, Christian's roll fell out of his hand. Ah, if the great adversary had been there, ill would it have fared then with poor Christian. He is fast asleep, and his roll has fallen, and the night is coming, and he is only half way up the hill, and still he sleeps on. He that sleeps is a loser, says Bunyan in the margin; that arbor was never designed to sleep in, but to rest in. But there is One who watches over him, who will not leave him, who helpeth our infirmities. This gracious Being whispered in his ear, Go to the ant, thou sluggard ; consider her ways and be wise ! Ay, that was a timely awakening and warning—so great is the Holy Spirit's faithfulness and mercy, even when we lose ourselves in slumber.

Christian could now say, in that very striking verse of Watts, which those who have such a passion for altering our familiar hymns to make them correspond to their self-constituted musical judgment, have dephlogisticated in the hymn-book :

The little ante, for one poor grain,

Labor, and tug, and strive;
But we, who have a heaven to obtain.

How negligent we live!

Awakened thus by the Spirit of God, Christian started up, and ran as fast as he could, not yet knowing that he had lost his roll, till he came to the top of the hill. We sometimes fall into a state through our own heedlessness, in which assurance is gone, and the way is prepared for great gloom and anguish, if circumstances of trial come on. And yet we may run well, even without our roll, so long as there is nothing special to alarm us. Poor Christian had to endure a great deal of sorrow by that indulgence in sleep. As he was running on, Timorous and Mistrust met him, running full of terror the other way. What is the matter, said Christian, you run the wrong way ? Why, said Timorous and Mistrust, the farther we go, the more danger we meet; we had but just conquered the Hill Difficulty, when just before us we discovered two lions in the way ; so we turned, and are hurrying back as fast as possible. With that they ran down the hill.

Now was Christian himself greatly afraid, for there is nothing so takes away the courage as the consciousness of guilt; and Christian, on feeling for his roll, that he might have that to comfort and sustain him amidst these dangers, found that he had lost it. And now what should he do ? What had become of it! Examining himself on this point, he remembered that he had slept in the arbor, and then at once falling on his knees, he asked of God forgiveness for that foolish sleep, and then with great heaviness and sorrow of heart went back to look for his roll. Thus, when the Holy Spirit brings to mind the sins of the Christian, as he is asking himself why he has so little heavenly evidence, there is no way for him to do but to seek forgiveness, confessing his guilt. But it is a fearful thing, when the night comes on, when danger and perhaps death are drawing near, and yon need all the comfort, consolation and support that you can possibly derive from a good hope in Christ, to find that that hope is gone from the soul, to find darkness where there ought to be light.

It is not to be doubted that Bunyan was writing this experience of Christian out of his own heart; it is almost the counterpart of his own inward trials about the time of his commitment to prison, when you will remember there was great gloom upon his soul, and the things of God were hidden from him, and neither sun nor stars appeared for many days. Then there were dreadful lions in the way, nor could he see that they were chained ; then he felt afraid to die, because he had no spiritual comfort. Bunyan resolved to die for Christ, whether comfort came or not, whether he found his roll or did not find it. But Christian could not go on without his roll. Oh how did he chide himself for being so foolish as to fall asleep in that place, which was erected only for a little refreshment of his weariness. When he came back to the arbor, the very sight of it renewed his sorrow and shame for that foolish sleep in the day-time and in the midst of difficulty; that he should have used that arbor of rest for ease to the flesh, which the Lord of the hill had erected only for the relief of the spirits of the Pilgrims. Alas, cried he, that I should have to tread those steps with sorrow, and thrice over, which I might have trodden but once, and with delight? This is what Christians are often doing, and this evil is certainly a great one, of using for indulgence and ease to the flesh what God has given us to minister to the advancement of our spirits. We are not anxious enough to be making progress towards heaven ; we are too fond of comfort, and too averse from labor.

Oh, said Christian, that I had not slept! Oh that God would have mercy on me ! And now the fifty-first Psalm came into his mind, and he cried out with David, Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with thy free Spirit then will I teach transgressors thy ways, and sinners shall be converted unto thee. But oh, thought Christian, without my roll I can never have the heart to speak to another person as long as I live. What shall I do, what shall I do ? He knew now that it was an evil and bitter thing to depart from the living God ; yea, this experience was as dreadful to him as that under Mount Sinai. Yea, says Doddridge, in his Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul, the anguish of broken bones is not to be compared with the wretchedness of a soul that has departed from God, when it comes to be filled with its own way. Oh that God would have mercy upon me, said Christian. Make me to hear joy and gladness, that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me! Oh that I knew where I might find him, said Christian. Behold, I go forward, but he is not there ; and backward, but I cannot perceive him. This must always be the case, when a child of God departs from God ; and if it be not so, then there is great reason to believe that the person so wandering, and yet not troubled on account of it, is not a child of God. If Christian had said within himself, when he found his roll was missing, Well, it is not essential, or I shall find it again by and by, and so had gone on, indifferent and easy, it had been enough to show that either he was not Christian, or that much sorer evil awaited him, and sharper discipline to bring him to repentance. But he could not go on in this manner, his conscience was too tender, and his sense of divine things too vivid; and so the sorrows of death compassed him, and the pains of hell gat hold upon him; he found trouble and sorrow; and back did he go, weeping and looking for his roll, and crying, O Lord, I beseech thee deliver my soul. Now God sees all this in his children, and permits them to endure this distress, that they may gain a lesson from it, which will last them as long as they live. But he knows what he does unto them, and just what they need. When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my way. And just so, when Christian had well nigh given up in despair, and was sitting himself down to weep, disconsolate and broken-hearted, as kind Providence would have it, looking through his tears beneath the settle, there he espied the roll, and with what trembling, eager haste did he catch it up and secure it again in his bosom ! Oh, who can tell how joyful he was when he had gotten his roll again ! And now returning thanks to God for directing his eye to the place where it lay, (and ever should the Christian who has been wandering from God, and so has gotten into darkness, be thankful for the least ray of returning light, and ever will he, for no deliverance is so grateful to the soul as that,) Christian did with joy and tears betake himself again to his journey. But he had lost a great deal of time, and it was now growing dark....

--- END
If you read this far, you might be wondering, what does "dephlogisticated" mean. From Websters' 1828 Dictionary:

DEPHLOGISTICATED, pp. Deprived of phlogiston. Dephlogisticated air, is an elastic fluid capable of supporting animal life and flame much longer than common air. It is now called oxygen, oxygen gas, or vital air.

PHLOGIS'TON, n. [Gr. to burn or inflame.]

The principle of inflammability; the matter of fire in composition with other bodies. Stahl gave this name to an element which he supposed to be pure fire fixed in combustible bodies, in order to distinguish it from fire in action or in a state of liberty. But the theory has been proved to be false and is generally abandoned.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Romans 1:18-21 -- QUESTIONS

Joshua's latest post, click here, gave an example of arcing plus links to learn how we could do arcing ourselves. Although I've studied the technique of arcing a little, I've never really done the hard work to put it into practice. Though not putting it into practice I did note in that the technique of arcing requires one to identify the propositions within the text, their nature, and how they relate in context. This whole relationship once discerned is diagrammatically expressed by arcing. Often times as I'm studying and meditating on a passage, I try to identify propositions, to ask questions to make sure I grasp the passage, think on it deeply, and understand it within the context. Below is an example of how I tried to work this out on Romans 1:17-21. I simply think of it as "Questions." Sometimes the answers are obvious but the asking and verbalizing helps to see the flow, and make sure I really do have some understanding of the text. Sometimes the answers are elusive and it's necessary to do some extensive study to make sure I really do have a grasp of God's intended meaning of the text. And other times the questions remain, hopefully I make note of this and wait sometimes weeks later, months or even years when occasionally and joyfully the answer which previously evaded me becomes evident.

** Update ** And the more I read through the text and consider the questions usually the more questions that I see I should have asked.

KJV Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

NAU Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH."

NIV Romans 1:16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."

ESV Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith."

Starting with verse 17:
Q. Consider what is meant by THEREIN, (NASB/ESV “in it” NIV “in the gospel”.) What does this reference?

Q. How is the righteousness of God revealed in the Gospel?

Q. What does it mean from faith to faith?

Q. Where is it written, “the just shall live by faith.”

Q. How does this quotation connect with previous clause?

Q. What is the righteousness of God in this verse? (this is actually a point of contention these days especially in view of the New Perspective on Paul.)

KJV Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

NAU Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

NIV Romans 1:18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness,

ESV Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

NOTE: verse 17 talks of righteousness being revealed and now verse 18 of WRATH OF GOD revealed.

Q. What is the Wrath of God?

Q. In what way or what is meant by the “Wrath of God is Revealed from heaven?”

Q. Against whom or what is the Wrath of God revealed?

Q. What is the difference between ungodliness and unrighteousness - to what do they refer?

Q. What is meant by “hold the truth in unrighteousness?”

Q. What truth is held in unrighteousness?

KJV Romans 1:19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

NAU Romans 1:19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.

NIV Romans 1:19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.

ESV Romans 1:19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.

Q. What is “that which may be known of God?”

Q. And what does it mean to be “manifest in them” or “evident WITHIN them?”

Q. Do you think it is significant that the NASB and the KJV both indicate “IN THEM” or “WITHIN THEM?” NIV and ESV simply say “to them.” Greek says literally IN THEM -- not TO THEM.

Q. Note the two clauses beginning with BECAUSE…..FOR, or SINCE…BECAUSE… or FOR… BECAUSE. How do they relate to one another?

Q. Also note the noun in the first clause, manifest, and the verb in the second clause, shewed -- or EVIDENT…MADE IT EVIDENT. How does the noun - verb connection which are really practically the same word “manifest and to make manifest,” connected together.

KJV Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

NAU Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

NIV Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-- his eternal power and divine nature-- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

ESV Romans 1:20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Q. What are the “invisible things?”

Q. Is it from the creation or by the things created, or since the creation?

Q. What is it that is understood?

Q. Explain why they are without excuse?

Q. What is meant by "eternal power"?

Q. What is meant by Godhead?

KJV Romans 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

NAU Romans 1:21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

NIV Romans 1:21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

ESV Romans 1:21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Q. When did this take place, "who knew God?"

Q. How did they know God? What about God did they know?

Q. Is this applicable now? Or is this speaking of historical event or people? Specific people? Meant to be applied generally?

Q. Explain "their thinking became futile."

Q. What is it to have a "foolish heart" "darkened?"

Romans Chap 1 - Without Excuse

Romans Chap 1:

Keyword: Without Excuse

Suggested Memory Verses:
Short version: Rom 1:20
Intermediate: Rom 1:1, Rom 1:8, Rom 1:16, Rom 1:20
Ambitious: add to the Intermediate Rom 1:17-19.

Completing our two-week run through Romans Chapter One (Rom 1:1-32) it is appropriate to recap truths discussed focusing especially around our Keyword for the Chapter, "Without Excuse."

Rom 1:16-17 serve as an excellent Key Verse summing up the whole book of Romans.
-Never be ashamed of the gospel.
-The gospel is the power of God unto salvation.
-To Everyone both Jew and Gentile
-In the Gospel the righteousness of God is revealed.
-From Faith to Faith -- that is by faith alone, beginning with faith and faith ever growing.
-And now in this book of Romans we will see how verses 16 and 17 head up the rest of Romans. How it is that one can be righteous before our thrice Holy God, perfectly righteous.

During our last class it was pointed out by Jim P., that beginning with verse Rom 1:18 we could call it the "Indictment Begins." For me this new term will serve as an additional handle on chapter 1 and will prove to be very true as we continue on especially through chapters two and three. The "Indictment Begins" and we are shown to be WITHOUT EXCUSE.

HOLDING/SUPPRESSING the Truth in Unrighteousness:
Rom 1:18 - showing that God's wrath revealed from heaven upon all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men -- MEN THAT HOLD/SUPPRESS THE TRUTH IN UNRIGHTEOUSNESS.

Let us mark these words. Not that they know nothing at all but that they will not know. That, in sin, the truth is suppressed.

WHY? It is plainly made known IN THEM. It is Plainly Shown TO THEM:
Rom 1:19 Again bringing on that INDICTMENT, What may be known of GOD is manifest/evident/plainly known IN THEM. Let us mark especially that phrase, IN THEM, which is coupled with the Greek noun for "plainly known" and the Greek verb for "plainly made known." (Note: I always think of this idea "plainly made known" when I read in my bible, Manifest.)

Rom 1:20
"For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world"

Ever since the world was made this is true -- since the creation.

"Are clearly seen"

That God who cannot be seen, yet somehow the invisible things of him, these invisible things are clearly seen every since the world was made.
"being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead"

Creation declares a creator. The heavens make known his glory, the design inherent in nature declares a creator. Every bird that flies, every blade of grass, the air we breath, the eyes with which they see, making understood that GOD IS.

Calvin said it is evident and obvious that everything that exists owes its origin to one who has no origin that is a self-existent one. " that from which all other things derive their origin must necessarily be self-existent and eternal . " -- from Instititues I.5.6

"so that they are without excuse:"

And if GOD IS, then we must WORSHIP HIM.

Everyone is without excuse, the invisible things of God BEING UNDERSTOOD BY THE THINGS THAT ARE MADE, plainly made known IN THEM, and plainly shown TO THEM, but the truth is SUPPRESSED, it is resisted. SIN has ruined us and in unrighteousness the truth is held back.

IN THEM/TO THEM/THE TRUTH HELD IN UNRIGHTOUSNESS all of these point to a guilt that lies deeper than simply ignoring evidence.

Jesus Christ is the light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world. John 1:9

And man made in the image of God, Gen 1:26-27.

Made upright, Ecc 7:29

In Righteousness and True Holiness, Eph 4:24

But fallen from our original state, we stand condemned with an indictment which is now unfolding beginning with Rom 1:18. Holding the truth in Unrighteousness, in the presence of the that which shows clearly and makes understood the invisible things of God --- we are WITHOUT EXCUSE. No Defense can be made, no excuse given.

Matthew Poole Comments on Rom 1:20

Rom 1:20

"Because it might be further objected in behalf of the Gentiles, that the notions of God imprinted in their nature are so weak, that they may be well excused; therefore the apostle adds, that the certainty of them is further confirmed by the book of the creatures, which was written before them in capital letters, so that he that runs may read. The invisible things of him: the apostle tells us afterwards himself what he means by the invisible things of God, viz. his being and his attributes, particularly his eternity and almighty power; to which we might add, his wisdom, goodness, &c. These, though invisible in themselves, yet are discernible by his works, and that ever since the creation of the world. By what they see created, they may easily collect or understand, that there is an eternal and almighty Creator; they may argue from the effects to the cause. So that they are without excuse: some render it, that they may be without excuse; but it is better rendered in our translation: the meaning is not, that God gave them that knowledge for this end and purpose, that they might be inexcusable, for they might catch even at that for an excuse; but the plain sense is this, that God hath given all men such means of knowledge as sufficeth to leave them without excuse, there can be no pretence of ignorance. "

Concluding I will leave you with some helpful quotes from John Calvin taken from Institutes Book I, Chapter five.

"...he has been pleased, in order that none might be excluded from the means of obtaining felicity, not only to deposit in our minds that seed of religion of which we have already spoken, but so to manifest his perfections in the whole structure of the universe, and daily place himself in our view, that we cannot open our eyes without being compelled to behold him." "Hence, the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews elegantly describes the visible worlds as images of the invisible, (Heb. 11: 3,) the elegant structure of the world serving us as a kind of mirror, in which we may behold God, though otherwise invisible. For the same reason, the Psalmist attributes language to celestial objects, a language which all nations understand, (Psalm 19: 1,) the manifestation of the Godhead being too clear to escape the notice of any people, however obtuse. The apostle Paul, stating this still more clearly, says, "That which may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has showed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead," (Rom. 1: 20.)
"We have no excuse

But though we are deficient in natural powers which might enable us to rise to a pure and clear knowledge of God, still, as the dullness which prevents us is within, there is no room for excuse. We cannot plead ignorance, without being at the same time convicted by our own consciences both of sloth and ingratitude. It were, indeed, a strange defence for man to pretend that he has no ears to hear the truth, while dumb creatures have voices loud enough to declare it; to allege that he is unable to see that which creatures without eyes demonstrate, to excuse himself on the ground of weakness of mind, while all creatures without reason are able to teach. Wherefore, when we wander and go astray, we are justly shut out from every species of excuse, because all things point to the right path. But while man must bear the guilt of corrupting the seed of divine knowledge so wondrously deposited in his mind, and preventing it from bearing good and genuine fruit, it is still most true that we are not sufficiently instructed by that bare and simple, but magnificent testimony which the creatures bear to the glory of their Creator. For no sooner do we, from a survey of the world, obtain some slight knowledge of Deity, than we pass by the true God, and set up in his stead the dream and phantom of our own brain, drawing away the praise of justice, wisdom, and goodness, from the fountain-head, and transferring it to some other quarter. Moreover, by the erroneous estimate we form, we either so obscure or pervert his daily works, as at once to rob them of their glory and the author of them of his just praise."

For more on Rom 1:20, I encourage you to read the whole of Book 1 chapter five from The Institutes of the Christian Religion by clicking here.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Pilgrim's Progress - Hill Difficulty

Running, then walking, and finally clambering upon hands and knees

Leaving Simple, Sloth and Presumption, Christian is soon joined by two more rogues, two who thought they could get in the Way by climbing over the wall. Christian, though still young, wisely counsels and warns them that the only proper way to go to the celestial city is to enter in through the gate. But they thinking that they have over a 1000 years of tradition behind them are certain that for them there is no need to enter in through the gate.

Jesus is that Gate. John 10:10
No one can come but by him. John 14:6
There is no other name under heaven but his whereby we must be saved. Acts 4:12
If you come by any other way than Christ you are but a thief and robber. John 10:1

Bunyan lays out his dialog so that Formalist and Hypocrisy, interestingly, speak as one man. Their discourse is always headed with a "Formalist and Hypocrisy:" A study guide we are referring to said simply that Hypocrisy is Formalist full grown.

They said the following in order to justify themselves and their way which seemed right unto themselves:

If we are in, we are in: thou art but in the way, who, as we perceive, came in at the gate; and we also are in the way, that came tumbling over the wall: wherein now is thy condition better than ours?

I've had this exact conversation before with one who thought himself quite religious. He knew some things but Christ he did not claim to know. He persuaded himself by custom, tradition and good works that he was in same as I was in. "How is my state any different than yours?" I was young, like Christian, and not nearly so well equipped as him. I remember responding something like: "You seek to enter heaven by the good works you do, I know I can never do enough good works and seek to enter heaven by Christ alone who has already done the work."

I asked my girls: "How can someone appear to be in the Way as Formalist and Hypocrisy now appear so, and yet they entered not in at the gate?"

Some of their answers were:

Good works
Going to Church
By keeping up their religious tradition noting that they appealed much to "our custom...our custom... our custom.

Note there was a great deal of difference between Christian and these two:

Christian had a coat: clothed in the righteousness of Christ himself, a coat which brings him great comfort knowing that at the gates to the Celestial City..."will know me for good, since I have his coat on my back."

Mark on His Forehead: marking him as one of God's elect. Eze 9:1-7

Roll Sealed: The Holy Spirit of Promise, an earnest of our inheritance. Eph 1:13-14
(I'm still thinking on what and how to apply this symbol.)


Now as the trio approaches Hill Difficulty we read:

To these things they gave him no answer; only they looked upon each other, and laughed. Then I saw that they went all on, save that Christian kept before, who had no more talk but with himself, and that sometimes sighingly, and sometimes comfortably: also he would be often reading in the roll that one of the Shining Ones gave him, by which he was refreshed.

I beheld then, that they all went on till they came to the foot of the hill Difficulty, at the bottom of which there was a spring. There were also in the same place two other ways besides that which came straight from the gate: one turned to the left hand, and the other to the right, at the bottom of the hill; but the narrow way lay right up the hill, and the name of the going up the side of the hill is called Difficulty. Christian now went to the spring, Isa. 49:10, and drank thereof to refresh himself, and then began to go up the hill, saying,

Christian did not keep company with these two rogues. He warned them at first but now he must walk alone. Their company not suitable finally for one truly heading for the celestial city lest they also corrupt him.

Christ had "talk...with himself." This reminded me so much of "Preach the Gospel to Yourself Everyday." and also D. M. Lloyd Jones' book, Spiritual Depression, where we learn not to listen to ourselves but to talk to ourselves - to take our soul in hand and speak gospel truths and gospel promises, not to listen and dwell in despair but to speak God's word to our own soul as David in Psa 42:5 and Psa 42:11.

And so Christian drinks and refreshes himself and then begins up the hill. While Formalist and Hypocrisy each determining "That's too difficult," and going around in opposite directions to their own doom.

And as he starts up the hill he encourages himself with this:

“The hill, though high, I covet to ascend;
The difficulty will not me offend;
For I perceive the way to life lies here:
Come, pluck up heart, let’s neither faint nor fear.
Better, though difficult, the right way to go,
Than wrong, though easy, where the end is woe.”

I love this little poem which upon reflection thought of the following:

The Hill difficult may presently lie before me but this is the way of Life.

How high or how difficult does not matter.

To follow around the hill will in the end be of far worse consequence than climbing now what righteousness requires.

So "COME, PLUCK UP HEART." Drink from the streams of grace, read from the roll which comforts, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. A difficult, difficult hill lies before me but thanks be to God, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Search the great and precious promises for by these I shall be a partaker of his divine nature.

Better to follow RIGHTEOUSNESS though HARD.

THAN to go the Wrong way where the end is WOE!

And to God be all the Glory.

You may enjoy reading further from a Commentary on Pilgrim's Progress by clicking here.