Freelance Writing to the Glory of God

Author: A. Scott Mace

Trump’s Compromise on Abortion

Looking at the situation with former President Trump is more than a little disheartening. For those of you who don’t know he recently gave his public stance on abortion. What Trump intended to be a unifying statement that would rally centrist votes to him, seems to be turning people against him. But even though we are all angry at Trump right now, doesn’t mean we are all angry at him for the same reasons. The right is angry at him for one reason, and the left is angry at him for another reason. So I wanted to take a moment to dissect his comments to see what he had to say.

Many people have asked me what my position is on abortion and abortion rights. . . It must be remembered that the Democrats are the radical ones on this position because they support abortion up to and even beyond the ninth month.

Christians should be the first to point out that the logical consequence of the pro-choice position is infanticide. Speaking from personal experience, I have met people who would support post-birth “abortions.” However, it is a hasty generalization to say that all Democrats believe this. And, there is a reason that Trump makes the generalization that he does. Trump is trying to show that his position is not really that radical by comparison. But here’s the problem. Democrats aren’t radical because they (allegedly) support abortion up to and beyond nine months. Democrats (and even many who call themselves pro-life) are radical because they believe that the mother should be allowed to murder her child with legal impunity.

 Trump goes on to articulate his position by saying that he believes that it should be decided by the states. Listen to this:

My view is now that we have abortion where everybody wanted it from a legal standpoint. The states will determine by vote or legislation or perhaps both, and whatever they decide must be the law of the land. In this case, the law of the state.

The bottom line is that Trump does not think abortion is murder. If he did he would recognize it as a federal crime. What Trump thinks he’s doing is defending State’s rights, or what Reformed protestants might call “the doctrine of the lesser magistrates.” But this isn’t what’s happening. What he’s doing is giving the state’s permission to disobey federal law. Federal law says “murder is the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought.” Children in the fetal stage of development are under every definition “human beings,” both scientifically and morally.

Democrats have been quick to point out that most Republicans have no right to be mad at Trump, and to an extent, I actually agree with them. The Republicans were calling for it to be pushed to the States just a moment ago right as Roe was being overturned, and now Trump is simply being consistent with that platform. So Trump might say to the so-called “Pro-Life” Republicans “Wait, I thought you wanted this?” All Trump is doing is saying the quiet part out loud. Unfortunately, the “Pro-Life” industry has never really been in favor of criminalizing abortion. He makes this clear in the next part of his statement:

 Like Ronald Reagan, I am strongly in favor of exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother. 

He appeals to Reagan, a fan favorite, to bolster his position. Fair enough. But then he says that he is in favor of exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother. Rape and incest are not legitimate justifications for abortion. Furthermore, abortion is never medically necessary. The hypothetical situation where an abortion is required to save the life of the mother simply does not happen. Abortion is murder: No exceptions.

Often we will hear from people who try to justify abortion using these difficult circumstances by saying “It’s unfair that a woman should have to bear the child of her rapist.” The answer to this is simple. Yes, it is unfair. It is disgusting and immoral and the man who did that deserves the death penalty. But you don’t answer evil with evil. You don’t create justice by committing another injustice. There are born children alive today who are the products of rape and still physically dependent upon their caretakers. Do we have the right to kill them because they are dependent? Rape is not a valid justification for abortion

Incest is an even clearer case. Just because a child will have potential problems growing up, whether that be health or relationship concerns, doesn’t mean we have the right to kill them. If Trump thinks there should be an exception that gives the right to kill unborn people who are the results of incest, then why does he think that it should be illegal to kill a born person who is the product of incest? Incest is no excuse for murder.

While there are rare cases where complications arise and the mother’s life can be at risk, in none of these cases is it advantageous to the life of the mother to abort the baby. I have learned from listening to abortion abolitionist Hayden Rhodea that these complications can always be mitigated through emergency c-section, expectant management, or premature delivery. Expectant management is the most common treatment option, and this is when parents wait for the problem to resolve itself while providing the necessary medical care to both the woman and the child. When this does not work, sometimes women have to either perform an emergency c-section or induce premature labor. A c-section can be performed in a matter of minutes, while an abortion can take multiple days. In rare cases, such as in the case of ectopic pregnancy, a child must be born prematurely through induced labor or emergency c-section with the unfortunate consequence that the child perishes. This is simply because we do not have the technology required for fetal development outside of the womb. But in no case is it medically necessary to deliberately kill an unborn baby and then deliver the baby dead.

Trump demonstrated abject moral failure in these comments. Rather than speaking out against abortion as the unjust killing of an innocent human life, he has capitulated to the culture. In many ways, his argument is utterly indistinguishable from the pro-choice position. Trump wants to reduce this to a matter for the States, but murder is a federal crime. If we truly believe that abortion is murder, than we should not allow for this kind of rhetoric. Children are being slaughtered every day in the west and we must put an end to it. We must fight for equal protection for our unborn neighbors. The red states are not enough. Do not compromise on this issue and continue to fight for the unborn until abortion is ended and the coastlands wait for His Law in the area of human dignity.

Taming The Tongue

It’s strange how someone can say something totally innocuous and that can stick with you for decades. Like, I remember someone once told me when I was a kid that they didn’t like a movie that I liked and I still remember that years later. But, by the same token, I can still remember my childhood pastor’s exact intonation and cadence with which he used to virtually sing certain bible verses from the pulpit. Our words don’t seem all that important until we consider how fundamentally our lives are shaped by the words that we speak.

James 3:1-12

(English Standard Version)


Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. 3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. 4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.
How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

James was not being hyperbolic when he said that “if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body” (v. 3). The tongue is not inconsequential. It is small, but it boasts great evil. The smallest turn of a phrase can destroy lifelong friendships. The tongue is the most destructive muscle in the human body. With it, we curse people who are made in God’s likeness. But with the same tongue, we turn around and sing amazing worship songs, lift truly sincere and penitent prayers, and point our brothers and sisters toward Christ in mutual confession. In this way, the tongue functions as a bit or a rudder that steers our lives. Imagine if all of us were as kind of people behind closed doors as we present ourselves as when we go out in public. Wouldn’t the world be such a nicer place? If we can get this right, the rest of our lives will follow suit.

We all understand why our words might be a source of evil and sin in a Christian’s life. We can use them to lie, deceive, and slander. It is possible to do all kinds of evil just with your tongue. But what might not be as obvious to us is why, of all things, James would single out the tongue. Why not bring up adultery or drunkenness like Paul does in 1 Tim 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9? Or, since James was steeped in the Old Testament, why didn’t he just instruct us to “ love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deut 6:5) like Jesus did (who was probably his big brother, by the way)? So why single out the tongue? It almost sounds like James and Jesus are giving two different answers here. Why is this?

When we lack integrity, the result is a world of unrighteousness. James says that “the tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.” The picture here is that of a flaming whirlwind spewing fire this way and that until the entire forest is consumed. Jesus’ brother goes on to say in Chapter 5 “But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation” (5:12). What James is talking about here is not just a matter of uttering the words “I promise” or “I swear.” He is calling us to a certain cohesion between what we profess to believe and the way we act behind closed doors. Do you profess one thing, but then act another way? That’s double-mindedness. It is the same principle as the fact that when you say “yes,” then your “yes” should be taken at face value for what it is. Don’t be the kind of person who says they will do one thing, but then doesn’t deliver. 

Since we all stumble in various ways, we can’t attain this kind of integrity. Instead of seeking the wisdom that is from above, we doubt and use our tongues to curse those who are made in God’s likeness. James 1:18 says “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” When God made us, his Word was perfect, and everything that he brought forth from his Word, was very good. It is by the same power that he brought forth the people that James was writing to so that they would be a firstfruits, or an indicator of a greater harvest yet to come. So don’t treat your brothers and sisters like they were brought forth by the words of gas station graffiti. Rather, “let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls”

Jesus says in Matthew 12:33 

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” 

“By your words you will be justified.” What does this mean? 

We are justified by grace through faith, and generally speaking, we use our tongues to profess our faith (I suppose right now I’m using my fingers, but you get the point). Here’s why that’s important:

Can you imagine if Abel, after giving the better offering, turned around and killed Cain? Or what if Noah believed God’s foretelling of the flood, but decided to put off building the ark for a few more years? Would Abraham have believed God if he slept in the next morning instead of heading off for the promised land? “May it never be!” (Rom 6:2) “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17).

In James chapter one, James teaches us what it means to tame the tongue by contrasting two different ways that we can use our tongues. We can either use our tongues to 

  • ask God for wisdom
  • doubt Him

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:5-8).

James singles out the tongue because it is with the tongue that we bless God. Namely, we bless him by acknowledging that he is our lord and submitting to him for the rest of our lives in repentance and faith. But, the challenge for us is living in a way that is consistent with what we say we believe. This is why those of us who teach are held to a higher standard. When we proclaim certain truths, it then becomes incumbent upon us to live in light of the truth that we have just proclaimed. If we say we believe in God, why don’t we act like it? But as it is, we all stumble in various ways. If I could just get my speech to line up with my actions, I would be a perfect individual.

When we use our tongues to judge others, we should do so in a merciful way, just as we have been shown mercy. James 2:12 says “So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” This means that we should recognize that we are sinners who have been shown mercy and should not hold other people to a standard that we have not attained. We have all broken God’s law, so when someone wrongs us, we should be merciful because God has shown mercy to us.

We must not judge our neighbor with unjust and partial weights and measures. When we say to the rich man “You sit here in a good place,” and then say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet” we are judging and making distinctions with a total disregard for the fact that Christ came to save the weak and the poor (James 2:3). We should not determine one believer to be more or less honorable on the basis of race, socio-economic status, appearance, or family background. All of us are beggars at the foot of the King, crying out for mercy lest we perish in the way. “Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.”

In light of this, we ought to live in accordance with the meekness of wisdom. Meekness means that you recognize that you are nothing without God and everything you have is a gift. James 4:13 says “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” Do not think that you can get right with God tomorrow. Your life may be demanded of you this very day. Instead, show your good conduct in the meekness of wisdom.

James was illustrating how our lives are so thoroughly tainted by sin that we cannot even speak without contradicting ourselves. He makes several illustrations to make his point. He compares it to a horse’s bit and points out how it can be placed in a horse’s mouth that will steer the whole beast. Then he speaks about how a small rudder can steer a large ship. In the same way, the tongue directs the rest of the body. Those who worship false gods will find themselves acting more and more like the false gods that they emulate. We who worship Christ will be conformed to his likeness. Those who worship folly will be directed towards folly. The tongue is small, but it boasts great things! (v. 5)

He draws a distinction, though. While a ship and a horse can be tamed, the tongue cannot. So he gives another illustration. The tongue is like a raging fire that consumes the entire course of life set on fire by hell itself. What is so amazing is that the tongue is being used to both bless God and curse those made in God’s likeness. It has a great capacity for good and a great capacity for evil, which makes it especially prone to duplicity and hypocrisy.

Nobody can tame the tongue. None is wise or understanding among us. All of our good deeds are as filthy rags. Jesus Christ alone is the one who can give us the wisdom that is from above. If we look at our track records, we will only see how we all have lives filled with hypocrisy and double standards. But if we look to Christ, we have hope. He had mercy on us not by lowering the standard, but by meeting the standard for us, and by giving us his righteousness by dying on the cross and bearing the wrath of God in our stead. When we used our tongues to mock him, he looked down on that group of slanderous hypocrites and said “Father, forgive them” Luke 23:34.

All of us are guilty of speaking out of both sides of our mouths and trying to produce fresh and saltwater from the same spring. Out of the same mouth comes blessing and cursing. (Jas 3:10-11) So, we need a mediator who always tells the truth and always keeps his promises. James 1 promises us that God will give wisdom generously to all who ask in faith without doubting. So if you seek him today you will find him to be a good unchanging and perfect mediator who can guide you and your tongue in the way everlasting. We cannot tame the tongue, but Jesus can. He never doubted, but instead looked into the perfect of mirror of God’s law and fulfilled it. By faith, He can be our Wisdom and he can tame our tongues by giving us his righteousness. Has Christ tamed your tongue?

The Gospel and Identity

You might ask: “What’s the problem? Why can’t I just live my life and you live yours? Why do Christians always feel the need to worry about what I do behind closed doors?” As I am sure you are aware, this whole movement that has been going on centers on the question of identity. Specifically, there are three identity questions that I want to address. Different answers to these questions will result in radically different views of the world. Take a look at this chart:




Who Am I?

No different than the animals

Image Bearer of God

How Did I Get Here?

Random accidents and natural selection

Created by God’s Righteous Decree

Where is This All Going?

No guarantee of tomorrow.

All things go according to God’s Plan, to His Glory

Who Are We?

Naturalistic materialism and evolution teach that we are just animals. If all humans are is merely animals, there is no reason we shouldn’t act like it. The animals eat and kill one another. Why can’t we? What is wrong with hurting people if all we are morally is sophisticated over evolved vegetation? All you have is preference.

It doesn’t stop at cannibalism, either. One society might prefer to call chattel slavery evil and racist, while another society might accuse black people of being less evolved and subhuman. Who is right? Give me a reason that slavery is wrong besides the fact that it is your preference. Tell me why it is actually wrong.

The only satisfactory answer to this question is found on the pages of Scripture in Genesis 1:27 where it teaches:

“God created man in his own image,

in the image of God he created him;

male and female he created them”

God has made every one of us for a purpose. We are not created to live for ourselves, but have been created to enjoy and serve Him. God does not see us as mere animals, but as unique persons worthy of glory, dignity, and honor because we are reflective of Him.

How Did I Get Here?

And this is where we start to get into the issue of our day. The unbelieving worldview would tell you that you got here because of a bunch of random accidents. If all you are is nothing but the result of chemicals bumping up against other chemicals, then you have no guarantee that your thoughts are coherent. Your thoughts are simply the result of chemicals fizzing in a particular way. Why assume that all of this brain fizz corresponds to what is going on in the “real world.” Wouldn’t it be simpler and more likely if you were a potato or a blade of grass having a dream? It’s far more likely to think that a single brain came into existence from nothing than all of space and time.

Simply put, the problem is it is always possible for you to be wrong about everything you claim to know. There could always be some unknown factor that undoes your entire worldview. So, the only way that we can know anything at all, is if the One who knows everything reveals it to us. This is what God has done for us in the Scriptures. In Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Gen 1:27) and “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov 1:7). The only way to have any certainty and true knowledge at all is to submit to Christ.

Where Is This All Going?

Imagine you flipped a coin and the first five times you flipped it, it landed heads up. Would you be rational to conclude that the next time that you flipped it, it would be guaranteed to land heads-up? Let’s pretend again and say that this coin is magical. If it lands heads up, a brand new universe pops into existence with the appearance of age. People in this universe will think they have been alive for decades when in reality they were flipped into existence a few seconds ago. Alternatively, if it lands tails up, that whole universe disappears never to be seen again.

In an unbelieving worldview, there is no guarantee that the future will be like the past. There is no promise that gravity, electromagnetism, and the stuff that holds neutrons and atoms together will still all work together the same way today as it did yesterday. You might argue that it will be that way because it has not changed in the past, but this is begging the question. If you flipped that coin a thousand times, and each time got heads, the next time you flipped it your odds of getting heads are still one in two.

While in an unbelieving worldview, we have no guarantee of tomorrow, the Biblical message provides a stark contrast. Ephesians 1:11 teaches that God works all things according to the counsel of his will. In Romans 8:28 Paul reminds the Church “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” This promise is available for anyone who would repent from their sins and confess that Jesus is Lord.

Why Does This All Matter?

True meaning can only be found by submitting one’s life to the Risen Savior. Jesus calls us to come to him, to die to our old selves, and to be raised to walk in His Righteousness. Romans 3:23 says “. . .for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” This means that all of us have ways in which we have wronged God that separate us from a relationship with him. Paul Washer once retorted that the most terrifying truth in all of Scripture is that God is good. The reason that should terrify us is because we are not. He asked “What does a good God do with people like us? Sinners.” The only way we can come before a holy God is if we do so, not with our own identity (which is that of a sinner) but, with the identity of Christ. He earned this for all who would believe in Him by dying on a cross for their sins, bearing the punishment that we deserve before the good and holy God, rising from the dead, and ascending to the right hand of the Father, where he now reigns over every rule dominion and authority. Therefore, repent of any sinful identities that you may pretend to possess, and be the man or woman who you have been called to be in Christ.


The Moabite Stone

I thought I would do something different and talk about something a little bit nerdy. In 1869 a man named Fredrick Klein discovered a large basalt stela that appears to corroborate with the biblical account of 2 Kings 3. While there may be some interpretations of these two texts that do not allow for complete harmonization, however, you slice it, you have to contend with the fact that the Moabite Stone explicitly references biblical names and places. Consequently, the Moabite Stone serves as an excellent apologetic against those who believe that the Bible should only be used as little as possible in archeology and dismiss any attempt to understand the Bible as a part of history.

You will also hear the Moabite Stone called the Mesha Stele or the Dibon Inscription. Regrettably, the stone was destroyed due to an ownership dispute sometime in the 1870s. This was owing to a belief that the stone may contain gold. Before its destruction, the large basalt stela stood around four feet tall with a two-foot-wide base. Fortunately, there were some crudely done paper-mâché’ squeezes taken of the stela before it was destroyed. Today, pieces of the original stela can be seen embedded in a re-creation based on those paper-mâché molds. 

The Moabite stone was written from the first-person perspective of King Mesha. Like the account in 2 Kings 3, it details Mesha’s kingship over Moab, how he was subjugated to Israel under the leadership of King Omri, and how he led a rebellion against the Omrides. In the stela, Mesha demonstrates a polytheistic perspective and a belief in regional, tribal gods. Specifically, Chemosh, the national deity of the Moabites, to whom he appeals to execute justice against Israel. It potentially differs from the account in 2 Kings 3 in that it seems to imply that Mesha was able to escape the dominion of Israel.

In seeking to understand the chronology, it is helpful to turn to the parallel account in Scripture. 2 Kings 3:8-9 explains that there was a three-nation alliance between King Jehoram of Israel, King Jehoshaphat of Judah, and the King of Edom against the Moabites. After marching northward for seven days through Edom, they began to run out of water. Miraculously, Yahweh provided water for the Hebrew people.

Skeptics will often dismiss the Bible out of hand on the presupposition that such miraculous happenings discredit the Bible. However, this kind of naturalism is a tenuous position that leaves one without a foundation for real knowledge. It is the biblical worldview that gives one a basis to point out how weird it is when things don’t seem to follow the general pattern because it is the biblical worldview that teaches that God consistently upholds creation.

That said, these accounts have distinct biases and do not always agree. To be faithful to Scripture, we do not need to prove that everyone in history always agreed with the biblical perspective. A few places where they seem to differ are on the timing of the war relative to Ahab’s death, and through the presence of a forty-year occupation.” In preparation for this blog, an article that I read by Dr. Joe Sprinkle explained it by pointing out that while the Scriptures date Israel’s war against Judah after Ahab’s death, the Moabite stone states that it occurred during the reign of Omri, and implicitly during Ahab’s life. Thus, the two accounts seem to be contradictory. Another point of distinction can be found in lines 8-9 of the Moabite Stone, which say “Omri had taken possession of the land of Medeba, and dwelt there his days and much of his son’s days, forty years; but Chemosh dwelt in my days.” A forty-year occupation of the land of Medaba under Omri’s rule is difficult to reconcile with the biblical text. In the Bible, Omri’s dynasty lasted 44 years, which was occupied by a 4-year civil war. Thus, many consider these texts to be irreconcilable.

Critics use these (apparent) discrepancies to attempt to undermine the authority of Scripture. This is an awful argument. The Hebrew record has proven itself so reliable that should there be any discrepancy between it and the Moabite inscription, the biblical record should take priority. There is no reason to choose the testimony of the Mesha Stele over the Bible to appease modern naturalist sensibilities. The Moabites appealed to the supernatural just like the Hebrews did.

Furthermore, there are better interpretations of the Moabite inscription that harmonize the two accounts. John Davis attempts to do this in his work The Moabite Stone and the Hebrew Records. As he works to date the stone, he notes three things:

  1. The Stela is a memorial stela.
  2. The stela must have been erected after the death of Ahab because the author writes with a knowledge of how long Ahab ruled.
  3. It was written after the sons of Ahab experienced “utter humiliation” which likely refers to the extermination of his lineage by Jehu in 2 Kings 10.

These three things would place the dating of the Moabite stone sometime during or briefly after Jehu’s reign. Davis then addresses Mesha’s words in the stela that say “Omri had taken possession of the land of Medeba, and dwelt there his days and much of his son’s days, forty years; but Chemosh dwelt in my days.” Davis argues that “son of Omri” can refer to not only Ahab but any descendant of Omri who carries the throne.

While there is some minor disagreement regarding the identity of the son of Omri, there is no ambiguity in that the Moabite stone refers to the Israelites. J. A Emerton writes “To speak to Omri dwelling in the land may in a sense be figurative, but it is clear that the reference is really to the Israelites, as subjects of Omri.”[1] These two texts are not contradictory but complimentary.

There is also the possibility that the Moabite Stone makes a reference to David, although this is, admittedly, somewhat tentative. In lines 12b-13a it says “And I brought back (or took captive) thence the altar-hearth of Davdoh, and dragged it before Chemosh in Qeriyyoth” If this is a reference to David, it would be a unique spelling not found in either the Bible or the Tel Dan inscription. That being said, it is entirely feasible that the ending is a dialectical distinctive relating to how feminine nouns are formed. While there is some uncertainty, the possibility of this being a reference to David remains.

Any set of people who go to war and possess differing worldviews are going to come to different conclusions. So, we should not be surprised when the Mesha Inscription doesn’t 100% agree with the Bible. What should take you off guard, though, is that the Moabite Stone and the Bible, actually agree on a lot of historical realities. Both accounts:

  • Affirm there was a Moabite King named Mesha who was subjected to the house of Omri and later rebelled against it.
  • Affirm that Chemosh was the Moabite God.
  • Affirm that Yahweh was the Israelite God.
  • Affirm that Mesha would kill as an act of worship.
  • That the Gadites occupied territory north of Arnon
  • And, that Mesha was responsible for flocks of sheep.

These parallels should not be overlooked because they ultimately serve as yet another reminder that God is sovereign over all of history. It provides evidence against skeptics who doubt the validity of the Hebrew account. The fact of the matter is the Bible says what it says, and history backs it up pretty clearly. Even assuming that these texts are completely contradictory in no way takes away from its value as a phenomenal witness to the biblical text. Ultimately it doesn’t matter if you think the Mesha Stele can be harmonized with the Bible. The authority of Scripture doesn’t stand or fall on some guy who disagrees with what Jesus has to say – whether he be Moabite or Modernist.

True Manna From Heaven Is More Filling

Christ alone is sufficient because Christ alone has been sent by the Father. For many, John chapter six is a difficult text. In it, Jesus says some very difficult things. But, simply because a text is difficult does not mean that it is not clear. When we approach a text of Scripture, we all approach it with a set of traditions and beliefs. It is our responsibility to take those traditions and weigh them against what God has spoken in his Word.

John 6:35-40

English Standard Version

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

Only Jesus is enough because he is the only one that God the Father has sent. Christ is sufficient to reveal the Father to us. As the one sent from the Father, he is true spiritual food. He always does the Father’s will – and it is the Father’s will that everyone who believe in him be raised on the last day. It is God alone who accomplishes this. It is not an act of our own strength. The Father’s drawing is always effective to save those for whom it is intended. Jesus is sufficient because he does his Father’s will perfectly.

Jesus does the Father’s will perfectly in the incarnation. In this passage, it is important to take careful notice of what the crowd believes is true of Jesus. The crowd that Jesus was preaching to did not have an issue with necessity of Christ, but the sufficiency of Christ. After Jesus performed the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand, the crowd responded by trying to make Jesus king by force. These people clearly understood that Jesus was the king. They even called him “the Prophet who is to come into the world!” The crowd is so persistent that Jesus flees the crowd into the mountains by himself, and once it becomes dark he uses his ability to walk on water to regroup with the disciples. But that doesn’t dissuade these followers of Christ. The crowd notices that Jesus is mysteriously gone and they follow him all the way across the lake in what is probably stormy waters. These were not a group of random pagans. The crowd was a group of people who believe that Jesus was king, that he’s the prophet they were looking for, and that he was powerful enough to do miracles.

The problem, however, was that these people’s faith was not a genuine faith. In verse 26-27 Jesus tells them “. . . you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” They just wanted to have their bellies filled. Rather than focusing on the Messiah himself, they were focused on all the blessings that the Messiah had to offer. They were working for the wrong food.

They thought that eternal life came through Jesus and adherence to God’s commandments. But eternal life comes through Christ alone. While God’s commandments are important, they aren’t the source of eternal life. Rather, “It is the Spirit who gives life” and true food – true justification and peace with God – doesn’t come from Moses but from the Father. These particular Jews understood that Christ was necessary, but they just didn’t understand that he was sufficient. And the reason that they didn’t understand Jesus sufficiency is because they didn’t recognize that Jesus was sent by the Father.

When Jesus claims to have seen the Father the Jews began to grumble. And if Jesus was not God, then it’s sort of understandable why they got upset about this. In Isaiah chapter 6, the prophet Isaiah is transported to the throne room of God where he sees mighty seraphim covering their faces crying out day and night. And when Isaiah sees just this small glimpse of God’s glory he is struck with despair and cries out “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” So it is understandable why they where a little skeptical when this carpenter guy from Nazareth claims that he has seen the Father.

But if he has seen the Father, then there is an exclusivity there. He’s unique in that way. He is the only one who has seen him. And, since he alone has seen the Father, only he can reveal the Father to us. We get this same sort of idea back in John chapter 1 when he says “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.”

God the Son humbled himself, not by depriving himself of his divinity but by taking on humanity. Think about how marvelous it is that the holy, good, and just God of the entire universe would not only reveal himself, but take on a created human nature to do so. The simple fact that Jesus came down from heaven should blow us away. Though the crowd understood that Christ was necessary they failed to recognize that he was sufficient. As a result, they were offended when Christ said that he was sent by the Father. We can only have a relationship with the Father through Christ. The God-man is sufficient because he was sent by the Father to reveal himself to us.

Christ is sufficient because he raises all who believe in Him. Verse 40 reads “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” Jesus always accomplishes his Fathers will, and the Father’s will is that Christ would always raise everyone who believes in him on the last day. Do not be like the crowd who though seeing, they did not believe. Rather understand that the law has been fulfilled in Christ. He himself is the sign that they were seeking. If you are a believer, you have the hope of a future resurrection because Jesus always accomplishes the Fathers will. Jesus is sufficient because he has been sent by the Father to resurrect all those who believe in him.


When Jesus claimed to be the bread of life, he was claiming that he was authoritative in and of himself, not because of some external standard. The crowd kept asking for a sign while failing to recognize the significance of those signs. They kept pressing “what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you?” They wanted a sign. They wanted Jesus to miraculously provide more bread for them to eat. So Jesus responds to them by saying “I am the bread of life.” It’s as though he is saying, that he himself is the sign that they are seeking.

Their problem was not a lack of evidence. They had just seen the feeding of the five thousand. Their problem was an unbelieving heart. Jesus expresses a similar idea in one of his parables in Luke 16:31 where he says “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” They didn’t want a sign so that they could worship Jesus as God, they just wanted to scrutinize Jesus. To fear Jesus, is the beginning of wisdom.

Do not put your trust in a sign. We should not look to some external thing to put our faith in instead of Christ. I am asking you to look to yourself and ask what is your trust in? Is it in a wonderful emotional experience that the Lord blessed you with once? Praise God for that, but your heart is deceitful. Maybe you’re the kind of person who places their faith in their intellect. But how inscrutable are the Lord’s judgments. However God has blessed you don’t mistake the blessing for God himself. He is the Bread of Life. He is the sign. And if we miss him because we were so focused on what we could get, we will be like those of whom Jesus said “you have seen me and yet do not believe.” So, are you today placing your trust in the person of Jesus Christ? Because, only he is sufficient to raise you from the dead.

If we choose to live with Jesus plus our works, we have robbed the gospel of its value by claiming that Christ is not good enough. These particular Jews thought they had a relationship with the Father through Jesus and obedience. Doctrinally, they had a better understanding of who Jesus was than most other people of their day. They acknowledged that he is king, that he was the Prophet, and that he had miraculous supernatural capabilities. They understood that Jesus was necessary, but they failed to recognize that he was sufficient.

And how easily do we fall in to the same trap. We might not say it out loud, but we think it. “If I could just be humble enough, pure enough, sober enough, spiritual enough, loving enough, contrite enough…” Stop thinking that way! Jesus is enough!

Jesus is sufficient because he has fulfilled the law as the true manna from heaven. The crowd thought that Moses was the source of all this manna. They thought that adherence to the law of Moses would bring them eternal life. But manna doesn’t come from Moses, but from the Father. It’s not that God’s standard has changed in the New Testament. It’s simply that the Law presented a standard that we could never uphold. It is the Father, not Moses, who sends his Son into the world to be our life. Jesus was obedient to the law, and kept it perfectly. Since Jesus has kept the law perfectly, he is righteous enough to be eternal life. Because Christ has obeyed the Father who sent him, Jesus is sufficient to raise all who believe in him.

Manna is temporary and transient, but the Son whom the Father has sent is eternal and unchanging. He is the living bread. Manna certainly was a sign of God’s provision but the problem with it is that everyone who ate it eventually died. Manna doesn’t keep very long. It lasts for a day or two, and then gets filled with maggots. Rather, we worship Jesus Christ who is the same yesterday today and forever. Since Jesus is the living bread, we ought to trust him. So how is your diet going? Are you feasting on Christ, or are you chowing down on a maggot-infested jar of smelly day-old manna? Christ alone is able to give us the spiritual diet that we need, because only he is eternal. By saying ego eimi “I am the bread of life” Jesus asserts his divinity. Christ is sufficient to raise everyone who believes in him because he is living, eternal food.

Christians have hope here. Jesus is not authoritative from some external standard. Jesus himself is the sign. He has fulfilled the law and the prophets and was perfectly obedient to the Father, even to the point of death on a cross. As true, living, everlasting, bread, he did not stay dead. We have a bread who lives. A bread that resurrected, entered into the Holy of Holies and now makes intercession for us. This bread has shown us who the Father is in his Word and in his incarnation, and now this bread is seated at the right hand of God where he declares that the only way for us to have a relationship with the Father is to eat of him. Our living bread is sufficient to save all of those who believe in him.

Christ is sufficient because the Father effectively draws a people unto himself. This passage presents a unified argument. Those whom the Father draws, are those who believe, and those who believe are those whom Christ will raise on the last day. This passage does not present Christ as potential savior, but as an actual savior. Apart from God’s grace none of us would come to him. We cannot have come to God in repentance unless God grants us repentance. Christ is sufficient because he has been given a people whom the father will draw effectively.

We cannot repent unless God grants us repentance. Jesus taught in verse 44 that “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” He then repeats himself in verse 65 by again saying “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” Paul recognized that repentance is something that must be granted when he gave instruction for overseers in 2 Timothy 2:24. We cannot come unless it is granted by the Father for us to come.

The context demands that this drawing be effective, and particular. Not everyone is drawn, and everyone who is drawn comes to Christ. Jesus elaborates on what it means to be drawn by the Father in verse 45 when he says “Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.” Now we can tell from the rest of the passage, especially verses 35 and 36 that Jesus is using coming and believing synonymously. So, anyone who has been taught by God in the way that this passage is talking about will assuredly believe in Christ. Christ is sufficient to raise all of those whom he is given through the Fathers drawing.

Because Christ is sufficient, we can know that he doesn’t draw everyone, but a particular people. Jesus says of those whom are given to him by the Father “I will raise him up on the last day.” Since not everyone comes to the Father and enjoys resurrection unto eternal life on the last day, the Father’s drawing must be a particular drawing. This is because what is presented in this passage is not mere potentiality. It says that Christ “will raise him up on the last day.”

Christ is sufficient because the Father has chosen a particular people for himself and has effectively granted them faith. No one can come to Christ unless the Father draws him. Apart from Christ, we can do nothing. All our righteousness is as filthy rags. As Romans 8:8 says “those who are according to the flesh cannot please God.” I think everyone would agree that it is pleasing to God when we believe in him. But the problem is pleasing God is precisely what this text says that we cannot do. Therefore, our salvation is completely dependent upon God’s grace. In verse 63 Jesus says “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all.” Knowing that our salvation comes entirely from the act of the sovereign God ought to humble us. We who were dead in our trespasses in sins have been made alive together with Christ. Christ is sufficient because he has effectively redeemed a particular people from their sins.

Jesus is sufficient because he has been sent by the Father to do his will. Christ perfectly did the Father’s will in his incarnation. Though the crowd didn’t see it, Christ the God-man reveals to us who the Father is. Since he alone is sent from the Father, he alone can restore us in a relationship to the Father. Christ is sufficient because he will raise everyone who places their faith in him on the last day. He does so not on the basis of some merit in them, but solely on the basis of what he has accomplished on the cross. We do not look to what is temporary to save us, but we look to Christ, who resurrected and lives forever. He is enough because the Father has given him a particular people, and drawn them unto Christ effectively. He is not merely a potential savior, but an actual savior, and he is now seated at the right hand of God, making intercession for his people by virtue of what he has accomplished on the cross. It is only through Christ that we can have a relationship with the Father. So, dear reader, abide in Christ. Only Jesus is sufficient because only Jesus has been sent by the Father to do his will.

Drop Your Censors

In Numbers 16:1-40 we learn that only those whom God has appointed can serve as his priest. The only way that we can serve as faithful priests of God is if we come through Jesus Christ the only High Priest. Fundamentally a priest was a go-between between God and the people. To understand this we need to understand that there was (and is) a distinction between a priest and the High Priest. Even the priests could not go directly to God. Instead, the priests were required to go through the High Priest who was the only one who could enter into the Most Holy Place where God dwelt. What’s more, even he could only enter in to the Most Holy Place once a year on the Day of Atonement. This system had just been set up by God through Moses, but there was a growing number of people who did not think it was very fair lead by some men named Korah, Dathan and Abiram.

Now Korah the son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men. And they rose up before Moses, with a number of the people of Israel, 250 chiefs of the congregation, chosen from the assembly, well-known men. They assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! For all in the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?” When Moses heard it, he fell on his face, and he said to Korah and all his company, “In the morning the LORD will show who is his, and who is holy, and will bring him near to him. The one whom he chooses he will bring near to him. Do this: take censers, Korah and all his company; put fire in them and put incense on them before the LORD tomorrow, and the man whom the LORD chooses shall be the holy one. You have gone too far, sons of Levi!”

Korah’s rebellion was based on the premise that he was just as deserving of the priesthood as anyone else in the assembly. Before we start diving into where Korah went wrong, let’s try and understand things from his perspective. In a way, his desire was not entirely a bad thing. He desired to burn incense before the Lord and wanted that incense to be a pleasing aroma to God. So in some capacity, he wanted to please God. Furthermore, the priesthood had just recently been established, so from his perspective it seemed like Aaron and Moses were arbitrarily propping themselves up. After all, the whole congregation was supposed to be set apart and holy to the LORD, not just Moses and Aaron. His desire, even if it was mixed up with a desire for power and a failure to trust God’s promises, actually had some truth to it. The problem was not that Korah wanted a relationship with God. The problem was that he wanted a relationship with God his way.


But, the call of the gospel is that you come through Jesus, or don’t come at all. Korah rightly understood what it says Deuteronomy 7:6 “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. But he failed to understand what Moses would say to us in just the next two verses where he says “It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery.”  God’s anointing on an individual, whether to salvation in general or to a specific ministry or gifting, is solely a gift of a God’s grace. Korah did not understand this and thought that he (and the entire assembly) were righteous enough on their own. Moses addresses this attitude by saying to Korah “The one whom he” that is God “chooses he will bring near to him.” Korah failed to understand his need for a mediator and that he needed an external holiness applied to him in order to come to God. Only Jesus Christ is holy, so only those who have his righteousness can serve as his priests.

Like Korah, we demonstrate that we are not holy enough to serve God on our own by our obstinate attitude of dissatisfaction in the grace of God. In addition to failing to recognize his inability to come to God in his own strength, he and his followers had a general spirit of discontentment. Korah was a Levite. More than that, he was a Kohathite and a cousin of Moses. Numbers 3:31 tells us that as a Kohathite and a Levite Korah had the very special task from God to help guard the “ark, the table, the lampstand, the altars, the vessels of the sanctuary with which the priests minister and the screen.” How often is it that we are given a task to
do, and we respond by saying “that’s not good enough, I want to do this instead.” Christians often talk about finding our “calling.” Our callings are not these enigmatic things. Simply look around you and see how you can serve in your immediate context. What responsibilities, giftings, and opportunities, has he given you today. “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring” (Prov 27:1). Rather, “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” (Eph 4:1) We need his calling, otherwise we will never possess the contentment necessary to serve as one of his priests.

Another way that we demonstrate that we are not holy enough to serve God by our own merit is by our constant impatience and distrust in the promises of God. Korah’s followers, Dathan and Abiram, would have surely remembered what God said to Moses in Exodus 3:8 during the burning bush incident. The Lord said “I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey.” This is a wonderful promise. But, Korah and his followers thought to themselves, “where is this ‘promised land’ Moses? What gives?” Recall what happened and why they had to wander the wilderness for forty years. God brought them to the land and instructed them to take it, but they fled out of cowardice. They saw these large strong men and they felt like grasshoppers in comparison. Dathan and Abiram’s failure to recognize how the congregation had just sinned two chapters ago at Kadesh-Barnea, caused them to fail to trust in God’s promises.


In order to establish who was an authority over the congregation and the priest, God instructed the rebels and Moses to take censers and light them and wait until the next night. A censer was a basin mounted on a pole where you would light incense. After they finished waiting, on the next night God would reveal who he had chosen to serve in the priesthood.

So every man took his censer and put fire in them and laid incense on them and stood at the entrance of the tent of meeting with Moses and Aaron. Then Korah assembled all the congregation against them at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And the glory of the LORD appeared to all the congregation.

And the LORD spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, “Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.” And they fell on their faces and said, “O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and will you be angry with all the congregation?” And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Say to the congregation, Get away from the dwelling of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.”

John Calvin is helpful in this passage by pointing out that If they had any sense of the fear of God at all, they would drop their censors in terror. Rather, they acted senselessly against God as if to extinguish the light of the sun with a little smoke. He writes:

John Calvin

Commentary on Harmony of the Law Volume IV

“It is manifest how greatly they were blinded by pride, since, although admonished both by the confidence of Moses and also by the previous examples, they still obstinately go forward. Surely if any spark of the fear of God had remained in them, their censers would straightway have fallen from their hands; but Korah seems to have sought, as it were, deliberately how he might cast aside all fear, and totally bereave himself of his senses. For in the next verse, Moses narrates how ostentatiously he hardened himself in his rebellion, before he should offer the incense; for he gathered the people together to his party, in order that the magnificence of his array might overwhelm the grace of God, which opposed him. Herein also his senselessness is clearly seen, when he seeks to fortify himself against God by the favour of the mob, as if he had desired to extinguish the light of the sun by interposing a little smoke.”

We must not make the same mistake that they did. It is of men such as these that the Lord says “Vengeance is Mine, and recompense; Their foot shall slip in due time; For the day of their calamity is at hand” (Deut 32:35; NKJV). These men underestimated how seriously God takes his holiness and incurred his wrath. Listen to the reign of the Lord’s anointed in Psalm 2 “Why do the nations rage \ and the peoples plot in vain? \The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, \against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, \“Let us burst their bonds apart \ and cast away their cords from us.””  Those who have been chosen by God to serve as his priests must humble themselves before the Lord. 


By the way, “those who are called to serve as priests” is not restricted to people who are called to special ministry work like the pastorate or the mission field. While there the desire to go into ministry is a noble one, it’s not what makes you a priest. What makes an individual a “go-between” between the world and God is not their occupation, but whether or not they are in Christ. Meaning, if you are a Christian, you are priest.


So, priests, how are you doing at your job? Are you praying for unbelievers? Being a royal priesthood comes with responsibilities. It is your job to be a go-between for God and the unbelievers in your life. When was the last time you went out and evangelized? How often are you praying for your lost friends and coworkers?

Moses and Aaron modeled what faithful intercession looks like in this passage. The congregation, evidently, shared some guilt by association. But, Moses and Aaron came before the Lord and interceded for them. They fell on their faces and appealed to God’s own character by saying “O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and will you be angry with all the congregation?” Abraham prayed a similar thing for Lot when he prayed “Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?”


God would have been completely justified to sweep away Lot and his daughters with the city. Likewise, he would have been completely justified to swallow up the entirety of the congregation into his judgment. But he didn’t do that. Spend hours on your knees reminding God of his character imploring him to show mercy on you and on your neighbors. Cast yourself on Christ who is Yahweh, Yahweh, “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation”  Are you being the priest?


The only way you can answer yes to that question is if you have been set apart by God on the basis of what Christ did on the cross. Jesus, the Great High priest, “is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb 7:25).  Even though Jesus was not descended from Aaron, he is of a greater priesthood, just as Melchizedek was a priest yet was not a descended from Aaron. It was at his baptism that Christ was anointed by the Father who said “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3:17). This was to fulfill what was said in the second Psalm “The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; \ today I have begotten you” (Ps 2:7). Christ is the Lord’s anointed. He is the only one who is able to save us to the uttermost. Any attempt to go around Him is treason.


God hears Moses’ prayer and graciously shows mercy to the congregation and does not judge them with the same judgment that he is about to show the rebels.

So they got away from the dwelling of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. And Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the door of their tents, together with their wives, their sons, and their little ones. And Moses said, “Hereby you shall know that the LORD has sent me to do all these works, and that it has not been of my own accord. If these men die as all men die, or if they are visited by the fate of all mankind, then the LORD has not sent me. But if the LORD creates something new, and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into Sheol, then you shall know that these men have despised the LORD.”

And as soon as he had finished speaking all these words, the ground under them split apart. And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the people who belonged to Korah and all their goods. So they and all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol, and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. And all Israel who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, “Lest the earth swallow us up!” And fire came out from the LORD and consumed the 250 men offering the incense.

Moses understood that unless he had been uniquely appointed by God, he had no right to claim the things that he was claiming. But, if he really was sent by God to do all these works, then Korah and his followers and would rightly be judged for blasphemy. God wanted to make it clear to the entire congregation that Moses had been uniquely sent by him. The followers of Korah display their pride by standing outside their tents even after everyone else had fled from them. This is really an incredible prophetic prediction that Moses makes here. He doesn’t just predict that they would be judged in general, but that they would be judged through the earth opening up and swallowing them alive into Sheol. God used this miracle to vindicate Moses as being uniquely appointed by Him for the task of interceding between God and the people.

The rebels became a very clear warning for the rest of the congregation that you were not to go around the high priest. The warning was to be so clear that God told Moses to tell Aaron’s son Eleazar to take the censors, and to shape them into a covering for the altar. It was to be a continual reminder that only a descendant of Aaron was to stand before the altar on that day. Every morning and every evening the high priest was instructed to go into the Holy Place (which was just outside the Most Holy Place) and burn incense on it. And the idea was that the tabernacle, and by extension the people, would always “smell good” to God. But, every time Aaron did this he would see those plates covering the altar and he would be reminded of his people’s need and his own need for an intercessor and how if anyone ever tried to come to God on their own terms, strict judgment would await them.

God is extremely particular with who is allowed to come before him and how he is to be worshiped. So it raises the question, on what basis are you trying to appeal to God. Are you trying to come to God on your own terms? Are you standing at the tent of meeting trying to show God how you are holy without Him? Maybe you have a whole bunch of people on your side that you have fooled. Korah had an entire mob that was willing to go along with him. Maybe you have fooled yourself. “Be sure your sin will find you out”  At the end of the day, God saw his heart. The only way to God is through the High Priest, and no outsider will ever be able
to offer a pleasing aroma on his altar because without faith it is impossible to please God. Jesus understood this principle in John when he tells his disciples “No one can come to the Father except through me”  and earlier when he was preaching to the crowd in John “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him”
Do not perish in the way. Are we trying to, as Calvin put it “extinguish the light of the sun” with a little smoke? Brothers and sisters, we must drop our censers.


“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion” There is one calling, one election, and one basis upon which you can stand before God. We, as New Testament Christians, are a royal priesthood and a people for his own possession, and therefore have the unique responsibility of making “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings,” for all people. But, we only do these things because he first loved us. Only Christ can intercede for us, because only Christ has been appointed by the Father to serve as our great High Priest. Since only those who have been appointed by God can serve in his priesthood, we need intercession, and we need to be interceding. Christ, the Only True High Priest can give us the relationship with God we need in order to show who God is like to others.

Union With Christ

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.



The Father deserves all of the glory for what He has accomplished in Christ and the Church. He deserves all of the glory because his love surpasses knowledge. We will worship him forever because he has united Jew and Gentile into one family of Christ. And he is worthy of all praise because Christ and the Spirit now dwell in us through faith. God the Father is worthy of all glory in the church and in Christ Jesus because his love is boundless, he has united the church with one common bond of love, and because the Son and the Spirit now indwell us by faith.

Ephesians 3:14 introduces one of Paul’s many prayers that he offers for the church in the New Testament. This prayer in particular is an intercessory prayer, directed to the Father to whom belongs the glory. But before Paul gets to the prayer, he wants to really make sure we understand something that he calls “the mystery of his will.” In another place he calls it “the mystery of Christ” and in still another place he will call it “the mystery of the gospel.” And Paul does not keep us in suspense as to what this mystery is for too long either. In chapter three verse six he explains that “This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel”

The Father deserves all of the glory because he has united Jew and Gentile into one family of faith. This passage is preempted with a recognition that believing Jews and believing Gentiles constitute one single people of God who are united by faith in Christ. God is the prototypical Father, without whom we would have no concept of family.

This prayer begins by a recognition that God is “the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.” The words that the ESV translate as “the Father” and “family” actually share the same root – “pater.” Paul is emphasizing that since all family’s have their identity or being in God the Father who upholds them, and since the husband is the head of the household, we should strive to raise up the next generation in the fear and admonition of the Lord.

There is some interpretive difficulty when it says “every family.” While it could technically include things like animals, what Paul seems to be stressing here is that God united Jew and Gentile into one community of faith. By faith, all the nations can say “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD.”  Together, we will praise the LORD and give him all the glory as one family of faith.

This passage is an intercessory prayer. When defining prayer, the Puritan and author of Pilgrim’s Progress John Bunyan once said “Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God has promised, or according to His Word, for the good of the Church, with submission in faith to the will of God”  By praying for one another we guard one another from a multitude of sins.

But this text presents us with a paradox. It challenges us to “know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.” How is it that we can know that which surpasses knowledge? Are we expected to know the unknowable? One of the primary ways that we know and experience the love of Christ is by loving the saints. Loving the saints is one of the primary means by which we comprehend and experience the love of Christ.

Knowing the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge means that through Christ, his Spirit and the church, we are able to experience a relationship with our Savior that surpasses mere intellectual pursuits. It does not matter how many books you have read, or what podcasts you listen too. What matters is do you know Christ. Verse 17 says “so that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith” Now, even though it is important, in this context Paul is not primarily talking about the initial indwelling of Christ at conversion. Remember Paul is praying for Christians. Rather, he is asking us has Christ “settled in” to your hearts?

I remember being a college student with a dorm to myself and, like a typical male college student, not the best at keeping it clean. Especially during the busy season of the semester, my dorm room was an absolute mess. At one point, I had a suitcase in the middle of the floor, trash all over the place, and an unidentifiable odor coming from the garbage can. And, even though it was my dorm, it never really felt like I had settled in. It was still necessary for me to clean my room. It was only after I cleaned my room that I started to feel at home in my dorm. This is the kind of indwelling that Paul has in view here. 


Does Christ feel at home in your heart?


Do you have faith in Christ? Faith may be the meekest of all virtues. Consider the faith of leper who said “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean” and thus found Christ to be a tender and willing savior when he said “I am willing… be clean!”  Or, think about the woman who thought to herself that if she could just touch the hem of the garments of Christ that she might be healed of her affliction. And do not forget what Jesus perceived when she did so – “that power had gone out from him.” In this moment the Holy Spirit strengthened her, so that Christ might dwell in her, through faith. “And… [Jesus] said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

The Spirit strengthens us in our inner being that is in our spirits. “Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.”  He, by his Spirit is strengthening us. The Lord says in Isaiah 48:10 “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.” He refines us, but not without respect to our weakness. And, he does so for his own name’s sake.

The Father deserves all of the glory because Christ’s love surpasses knowledge. His love is incomprehensible. It is boundless. He, by his gracious love strengthens us by his Spirit to face trials and suffering. God deserves all the glory in Christ because Jesus’ love surpasses understanding, because his Spirit now strengthens us, and because he has given us the church.

When we say that Christ’s love surpasses knowledge we do not mean that there is nothing that we can know about His love. Rather what we mean is that no matter how much we learn about his love there will always be more of his love to discover. Deuteronomy 29:29 says “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever.” There are things about God that He chooses to disclose and share with us, and there are things about Him that only He knows. There are aspects of his love that we will never understand, even into eternity. This is because love is not merely something God has, but who God is. “God is love.”  He is the creator of all things, on heaven and on earth. As the Father of all in heaven and on earth his love is transcendent. He deserves all of the praise and glory because his love surpasses understanding.


So the question becomes, if he can conceal some aspects of his love to us, in what ways does he reveal his love to us? 


As we have already discussed, one way is the church. But let’s also listen to these words from First John “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.”  The primary way that God has revealed his love for us is by sending his Son into the world as a propitiation for our sins. Indeed Paul says in our passage “that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened”

Now this is vital. Do not miss that tiny little phrase “according to.” In this context “according to” means in proportion to and as a result of. Our strengthening in the Spirit is commensurate with and accomplished by the same power as the “riches of his glory.” And his glories are indeed rich – as are his riches glorious.

There are a couple different way that you could take the phrase “the riches of his glory.” Is this describing glorious riches, as in rich blessings that God bestows upon us that are a direct consequence of his glory? Or, is this saying that God’s glory itself is wondrously rich? Or could it be both somehow? Ephesians chapter one verse seven gives us a pretty big clue even though it uses slightly different terminology. Paul says 


In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.” 


He deserves all of the glory because his love that surpasses understanding has purchased for us redemption.

Throughout Ephesians, Paul builds this theme of how glorious God’s grace is. In Ephesians 1 he talks about how we have been adopted to himself according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace. And, in chapter 2 he talks about how it is by grace we have saved. He talks about how believers will have “the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.” So when Paul, in Ephesians 3:16 says “the riches of his glory” he is not talking about some abstract thing. He is talking about that “which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands.”  He is talking about Him in whom “we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.”

So when we take this together with our text in Ephesians 3:16, it all of a sudden becomes much more apparent what Paul is saying. The same grace that once purchased for us redemption and forgiveness on the cross, now grants to us strength to grow in him and to face trials through the Holy Spirit. It is the same grace that once redeemed us that now sanctifies us and grants us strength to remain faithful in the midst of trials and suffering. God is worthy of all praise and honor because he, once demonstrating his love for us on the cross, continues to show his love for us as he grants us strength in the midst of trials.

Notice that this strength is something that must be granted. Just as it is true that it is “by grace you have been saved.” But do not forget that it is also by grace you are being sanctified. The Lord will be with us as we grow in sanctification and holiness. It is by his grace that we day by day our being renewed.  Ephesians 4:22-24 describes sanctification as a process of putting off the old self which belongs to our former manner of life, and putting on the new self being renewed in the spirit of our minds. It is a free gift of God that cannot be demanded. And, we know that Christ will keep his flock. As Jude 24 says “Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever.”

When we consider how the Spirit strengthens us in light of the depths of God’s love we have no reason to be downcast. As David says in the 139th Psalm:

“7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?

   Or where shall I flee from your presence?

8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!

   If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!

9 If I take the wings of the morning

   and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

10 even there your hand shall lead me,

 and your right hand shall hold me.

Because His love is boundless, he will strengthen us in the midst of trials and persecution. We must not lose heart over the sufferings that we endure for the gospel, because these light momentary afflictions are our glory. The same grace that bought for us redemption and forgiveness on the cross, now grants us strength by the Holy Spirit. The riches of his glory are unspeakable.

It was the riches of his glory for him to purchase redemption and forgiveness for us on the cross. It was the riches of his glory that he sweat drops of blood in the garden and told his disciples “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death.”  It was the riches of his glory that he was mocked, beaten and executed. Isaiah 53:10 says “It was the will of the LORD to crush him.” It was the riches of his glory to die. And it was the riches of his glory when he defeated death three days later. I could go on. In fact, if all we did in this bible study was gloss what the phrase “the riches of his glory” meant providing a dictionary definition of it, our study would literally never end. His love is massive.

The Father deserves all of the praise honor glory and dominion forever and ever because his love is incomprehensible. This doesn’t mean that he is altogether unknowable, but rather that we can never exhaust the depths of his love or know everything there is to know about how loving he is. Still, he reveals certain things about his character to us through His Son. It is Paul’s prayer that God would grant the church strength in the Spirit according to the riches of his glory. We are dependent upon God’s grace for sanctification just as we are dependent on Him for salvation. He strengthens us by His Spirit to face every form of suffering and temptation. We must therefore be killing sin daily, and be eagerly pursuing Christ.

The Father deserves all of the glory for what he is accomplishing in the church and in Christ because he has brought Jew and Gentile together into one family of faith, Christ and his Spirit now indwell us, and because his love surpasses understanding. He, as the prototypical Father, has united Jew and Gentile into one whole people of God. As one united people of God we should be praying for one another’s benefit and growing up into godly men and women. We must together be rooted and grounded in love so that we can comprehend, through faith with the assistance of the church, the all surpassing love of Christ. By faith, which is a gift of the Spirit, Christ settles in to our hearts and indwells us. He deserves all the glory because his love surpasses knowledge. This does not mean that he is unknowable, but rather that there will always be more of Him to fall in love with. He has strengthened us to face every trial and suffering according to the riches of his glory. And, it is the same grace that once redeemed us on the cross, which will preserve us now through every toil and snare.

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

The Mestizo Augustine – Book Review

 González, Justo L. The Mestizo Augustine: A Theologian Between Two Cultures (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2016)..

In The Mestizo Augustine Justo Gonzalez argues that Augustine was part of two cultures. Dr. Justo Gonzalez is an ordained minister, and was the youngest person to be given a Ph. D. by Yale in historical theology in 1961. He explains that a mestizo is someone who is of mixed descent. It is typically used to describe someone with Latin American ties, though it can have broader applications. In Augustine’s case, he was caught between the world of North Africa and Rome. Augustine’s theology came from both worlds. When we speak of Africa, Gonzalez notes that Africa did not mean the entire continent. Rather, in Augustine’s time “Africa” referred to just to the Coast and the Roman province of Africa, with Carthage as its center. Augustine was born in Tagaste, near the border and would have likely spoke Berber. Because of his education, he would have also spoken Latin. His parents paid for him to be educated in Tagaste with the little funds that they had. Augustine then continued his studies in Madaura. Leaving Tagaste, Augustine felt liberated from his parents supervision and pursued a life of rebellion. He joined a gang called “the destructors” and lived a life of licentiousness with them. In Augustine’s confessions he tells the story about how they would steal pears from a pear tree not to eat but simply for the thrill of being thieves. He continued to attend to church, but only to meet women. His womanizing was eventually successful and he did meet a woman who he took to be his concubine, with whom he eventually had a son named Adeodatus. Though his friends and mother did not approve of this relationship, it was socially acceptable to have concubines in this day. This arrangement was similar to marriage, but done more for purposes of ensuring an inheritance. Augustine’s mother, Monica, did not approve of this relationship and strongly encouraged Augustine to leave her. Her reasons were not only moral, but also pragmatic. If the relationship turned into a marriage, this woman of a lower social status might hinder Augustine career. `

Short on finances, Augustine returned home to Targaste only to not be received by his mother. While studying rhetoric for eight years he picked up Manichaeism, an early Christian heresy. He taught rhetoric for a while in Carthage but found it to be an unfulfilling prospect. This was because rhetoric was often taught without reference to whether something is true or not. It was the task of persuading through elegant speech, and was done regardless of truth. Augustine was struck when he encountered Cicero, who in addition to being a rhetorician was a philosopher. Cicero emphasized the importance of truth and honesty when speaking. Though Cicero was not a believer, this train of thought would eventually bring him back to Christianity, though his initial reaction to find other answers apart from Christ. Living in a time with limited access to Bible translations (the Vulgate wouldn’t be written until later in his life) the Bible seemed clunky compared to the writings of great rhetoricians like Cicero.

This is what led him to Manichaeism. Augustine initially saw a solution to the problem of evil in Manichaeism. According to them the principle of light and the principle of darkness are both eternal. Though these things should have been kept separate, they have been mixed together. The mixing of light and dark is what brings evil into the world. Manichean anthropology teaches that the human soul is light and the human body is darkness. This means that the body is an hindrance to the salvation of the soul, which is the only part of an individual that can be saved in Manichaean thought. Though Augustine stayed in this sect for a long period of time, he did not progress far into the group. Though Manichaeism seemed to answers questions regarding the problem of evil, Augustine had many unanswered questions. After asking his leaders and even the great Manichean teacher Faustus his questions and receiving no satisfactory answers, Augustine lost trust in this religion.

Augustines did not immediately cut ties with the Manicheans, and depended on them for income for some time. After a year in Rome, a friend of Augustine found an opening for him to teach rhetoric. He turned from Manichaeism to Neoplatonism, which teaches that there is a One, from which all reality proceeds from. The Neoplatonists held that there is no such thing as evil, but that evil is a distancing from the one. Neoplatonism, though still deficient in many ways, helped Augustine to understand certain truths about Christianity.

Though Augustine was still persuaded that the Bible lacked philosophical value, one day Augustine decided that he would listen to Ambrose. Ambrose was the bishop of Milan and had a reputation of being a great orator. Augustine’s goal was to observe his speaking ability, not the content of his message. But as Augustine listened to the message, the “truth crept in”[1] and he realized that he could not separate his eloquence from the substance of what he was speaking. From that point on, Augustine began to return to the faith of his mother.

Augustine continued to receive pressure from his mother to abandon his concubine, and he did, though his motives are debated. He sent her back to Carthage and kept Adeodatus with himself. After that relationship was ended, Monica arranged for Augustine to wed a young girl. But, because she was still too young, Augustine waited for her to age by getting yet another concubine. Monica was not very vocally opposed to this, though she did not explicitly endorse it either. Her hope was that Augustine would climb the social ladder by marrying up. Augustine’s worry was that if he publicly announced his newly forming Christian convictions, he would lose status in the public square. In the garden though, he learned of a man named Victorinus who had the courage to proclaim his faith even when his faith would be ridiculed by his colleagues. His heart was convicted when he heard a child saying “tolle lege, tolle lege” which means take and read. He grabbed a book of Paul’s epistles and read from Romans 13 “Not in dissipation and drunkenness, nor in debauchery and lewdness, nor in arguing and jealousy; but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh or the gratification of your desires.”[2]

It was then that Augustine began to write. He wrote some of his early books such as Against the AcademiciansOn Order, and his Soliloquies. He was a prolific writer. Augustine was then baptized in Milan by Ambrose with his son. After this, Augustine decided to return to Africa. Unfortunately, the seaports were blocked and the ship was delayed to take them from the seaport town of Ostia, where they were temporarily living and their homeland. Monica died there, but not without getting to celebrate Augustine’s new faith with him.

At this point in his life, Augustine begins writing heavily. He is also now a member of the church. Augustine began to develop his theory of knowledge and taught that true knowledge needs both external illumination and virtue. He lived a monastic life, but the order of monks that he was a part of was focused on influencing the culture for good, not on isolation. He eventually received a letter from Hippo, who needed a presbyter. Augustine initially refused to be ordained, but eventually became bishop of Hippo.

As pastor he had the responsibility of “giving and returning the creed.” In particular, the Council of Nicea. It was also his responsibility to preside over presbyters. Each community only had one church, but sometimes more than one meeting place was necessary. In these cases, a presbyter presided over these meeting places in the place of the bishop. Augustine employed everyone to use their possessions for the enjoyment of God.

After his conversion, he labored to refute the teaching of the Manichaean faith that he once held to. Manichaeanism held that the religious leader Mani was the Paraclete that Jesus foretold. It was a very sophisticated system that appealed to intellectual people. Augustine writes the works The Catholic Way of Life and the Manichean Way of Life and On Genesis, Against the Manicheans were he attempts to refute the Manichaeans, as well as engaging in them in debate. For Augustine, theodicy was not just a academic issue, but a personal one that touched on the struggle with sin that he battled with in himself. He came to the conclusion that evil is not a truly a thing.

He also worked to fight against the donatists. The donatists taught that if a traitor denies the gospel, perhaps under persecution, and then attempts to administer the sacraments, then those sacraments are polluted and no longer effective for administering grace to recipients. This position was rejected at the council of Nicea. Augustine wrote against it by arguing that the holiness of the church comes from Christ, not from how obedient or not obedient the people in the church are.

The controversy that has doubtless left the biggest legacy is the Pelagian controversy. Pelagius was a ascetic monk, and well liked in the community. In 405 Pelagius heard someone quoting Augustine’s Confessions “Give what you command, and then command whatever you will” Pelagius argued that individuals must be counted worthy in order to be given the gift of the Holy Spirit. He believed that infants did not redemption on the basis that they had not sinned yet.

Gonzalez concludes by stating that Augustine was a bridge connecting the medieval and the ancient church. He left many traditions and ideas in his wake as this bridge. He reminds the reader that Augustine was a mestizo, that being a mestizo is not a sign of shame, and encourages his readers to be bridges between cultures just as Augustine was.

Critical Interaction

The Mestizo Augustine is an excellent book and summary of the life of Augustine’s life. It is carefully researched by one of the best scholars in the field. One possible criticism that a reader might encounter when reading this is how quickly he departs from his thesis. At the outset, he seems to be defending the notion that Augustine’s theology was shaped by a hybridization of African and Roman thought. While Gonzalez certainly shows how Augustine’s thought was shaped by various ideas, he does not show how any of these ideas are distinctly either African or Roman. In something of a backhanded compliment, Mark Clavier writes “That González is a good historian and recognizes his limits is demonstrated by the fact that much of the book does not even try to keep to his thesis.” Clavier explains that the information on how African theology impacted Augustine’s thought is very limited and it would be very difficult to write a book on this topic.

Not everyone agrees with Clavier that Gonzalez’s concepts of nationality are anachronistic. Many have found Gonzalez’s portrayal of Augustine as a mestizo as a source of encouragement for people. Nguyen writes “readers will obviously see how Augustine draws from his mestizo heritage to respond to theological controversies of his time.” While it is difficult to say how much of Augustine was influenced by his mestizo heritage, and it is a little bit anachronistic, Gonzalez is right in acknowledging that we need to study Augustine as a man of two cultures.

Jose F. M Torres says that Gonzalez did not go far enough, and says that Gonzalez should have leaned more into the mestizo motif. Torres agrees that there are times when he “deviates from the mestizo rubric” but he also adds that “there are parts where the mestizaje lens would have served González well, but he does not employ it.” One such instance that he suggests is Manichaeism as the product of a mestizo Persia.

There is not much material covering the theology of the various religions that Augustine interacted with. When dealing with the various beliefs, he could have spent more time explaining the theology behind them. He devotes plenty of time to the history surrounding them, but only explains the theological concepts briefly. One very important part of history is the history of ideas.

Even though The Mestizo Augustine does not accomplish precisely what it sets out to do on the cover, it is still a good book. It is a very articulate birds eye view synopsis of the life of Augustine. Though it departs from its thesis, in some ways that’s not necessarily a bad thing. He doesn’t seem to be trying to make things fit into a particular narrative. There is a danger of anachronism when we talk about Augustine as a mestizo, but the core claim that Augustine inhabited two distinct cultures is valid. It is a delightful book to read and very informative. I would recommend this book to students who are looking to study more about Augustine, and for anyone who is interested in early church history.


Clavier, Mark. “The Mestizo Augustine: A Theologian Between Two Cultures, by Justo L. González”, Journal of Reformed Theology 12, 3 (2018): 321-322, doi:

Morales Torres, J.F. (2018), Justo L. González: The Mestizo Augustine: A Theologian Between Two Cultures. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2016; pp. 175.. Journal of Religious History, 42: 136-137.

Nguyen, T. N. (2017). Book Review: The Mestizo Augustine: A Theologian between Two Cultures. By Justo L. González. Theological Studies, 78(3), 741–743.

Waiting On The Lord In Silence

Psalm 62:

To the choirmaster: according to Jeduthun. A Psalm of David.

For God alone my soul waits in silence;

from him comes my salvation.

He alone is my rock and my salvation,

my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.

How long will all of you attack a man

to batter him,

like a leaning wall, a tottering fence?

They only plan to thrust him down from his high position.

They take pleasure in falsehood.

They bless with their mouths,

but inwardly they curse. Selah

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,

for my hope is from him.

He only is my rock and my salvation,

my fortress; I shall not be shaken.

On God rests my salvation and my glory;

my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

Trust in him at all times, O people;

pour out your heart before him;

God is a refuge for us. Selah

Those of low estate are but a breath;

those of high estate are a delusion;

in the balances they go up;

they are together lighter than a breath.

Put no trust in extortion;

set no vain hopes on robbery;

if riches increase, set not your heart on them.

Once God has spoken;

twice have I heard this:

that power belongs to God,

and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love.

For you will render to a man

according to his work.


Since only the Lord can deliver us from our enemies, we ought to quietly wait on the Lord, just like Jesus did. Very frequently in the Psalms, David describes his experience in terms of “crying out.” In Psalm 130:1 the psalmist opens by saying “Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD!” Likewise, Psalm 40 begins with “I waited patiently for the LORD; \ he inclined to me and heard my cry.” And Psalm 61, the psalm that directly precedes our text in this chapter, opens with the fervent plea “Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer.” But, here, David doesn’t open his Psalm this way. Instead of crying out to God, he opens the Psalm with a description of how his soul is silenced before the Lord.


According to the Bible Knowledge Commentary verse one could literally be translated “only to God is my soul silence [sic].” So there is sort of a double meaning here. On the one hand David’s soul is silenced because he has peace with God who has delivered him from his enemies. But, his soul is also silenced because he is left absolutely speechless by God’s unspeakable justice and steadfast love. When we consider the awesome love that God has displayed to us in granting us a relationship with himself, we should be absolutely dumbstruck. The phrase “only to God is my soul silence [sic]” means both that God is the only one worthy of a quieted soul, and that he is the only one who is capable of quieting our souls.


Jesus is the perfect model of a quieted soul. This Psalm in particular is titled “A Psalm of David.” The phrase “A Psalm of David” is one that communicates authorship. Now some people claim that that phrase merely means the Psalm was about David. I respectfully disagree. When we read other Psalm titles that say things like a “A Psalm of Asaph” or “Of Solomon” or “…of the Sons of Korah” we generally understand those titles to be communicating authorship. Since most of us understand those titles to be communicating authorship, we should understand it to be communicating authorship when it says “of David” too. Jesus himself understood that the titles were to be interpreted this way when he attributed Davidic authorship to Psalm 110 in Mark 12:36.


But, in addition to these things being written by the individual, I think these Davidic psalms should also be understood as generally representative of the throne and Kingship of David. Since this Psalm gave us a little glimpse into the way King David thought about things, it also gave the people of God a rough idea about how the coming Messiah who would reign on his throne would think. This Psalm functioned as a description of how the Davidic King was to live and what the people were to expect from him. When Jesus came he modeled perfect silent submission to the Father and established “a kingdom that cannot be shaken.”


Since only Christ can protect us from our enemies, we should follow his example of humble quiet submission to the Father. The Psalm says “How long will all of you attack a man to batter him, like a leaning wall, a tottering fence?” These men “esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted… He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.” He came down from heaven, not to do his own will, but the will of Him who sent him. And yet “they mocked him, saying “Hail king of the Jews!” These men hated Christ and “they only plan[ed] to thrust him down from his high position.” “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.” As enemies of Christ, they took “pleasure in falsehood.” These are the kinds of men Isaiah prophesied when he said “this people draw near with their mouth \ and honor me with their lips, \ while their hearts are far from me”


Jesus modeled for us silence in suffering. This “silence” that the Psalm speaks of is not merely an emptying of ones mind. Rather it is, as John Calvin put it:

The word [silence] implies a meek and submissive endurance of the cross. It expresses the opposite of that heat of spirit which would put us into a posture of resistance to God. The silence intended is, in short, that composed submission of the believer, in the exercise of which he acquiesces in the promises of God, gives place to his word, bows to his sovereignty, and suppresses every inward murmur of dissatisfaction.

John Calvin
John Calvin
Calvin's Commentaries on the Psalms: Chapter 62

Jesus would regularly stow away to pray and be with the Lord. He did not display any resistance towards God, but rather said “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” Likewise, we should, as it says in Ephesians “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”


Only God can silence our souls. Psalm 18:31 says “For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?” And again in Isaiah 44:8 it says “Is there a God besides me? \ There is no Rock; I know not any.” The Rock is a hiding place, a source of security, a place of provision and a firm foundation. But there is only one Rock. To him alone belongs power and steadfast love. He promised us that when he said in Isaiah 42 “I am the LORD; that is my name; \ my glory I give to no other, \ nor my praise to carved idols.” What a hope and assurance we can have in that fact. What a glorious resting place. Only God can quiet our souls, because he alone is God.


Since God is the only one to whom belongs all power and authority and steadfast love, he is the only one who can give us lasting and true peace. Because of this, David stakes his reputation on God by saying “On God rests my salvation and my glory.” David again encourages us to lean on Christ in Psalm 20:7 when he says “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” We may endure sufferings in the midst of our faith, but if you are in Christ, he will be faithful to complete the work he began in you. For “a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.” It is from God Alone that our salvation comes.


Recall what happened at the Exodus. When being pursued by Pharaoh after fleeing from Egypt the Israelite’s found themselves stuck between Pharaoh’s army and an impassible sea. They began to be very afraid for their lives and cried out to the Lord and to Moses saying that it would have been better if they had stayed in Egypt. But Moses said to the people “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”


God is both the source of our salvation, and our salvation itself. Notice this, in verse 1 it says David’s salvation comes from God, and then in verse 6 David writes that God himself is his salvation. Salvation is not just something that God gives, it’s who he is. John 17:3 says “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” So we do not only silently wait for the things that God can do for us, we wait for God himself.


Only Christ can quiet our souls. In John 6 Jesus rebukes the crowd that had followed him across the sea by saying “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” These individuals were not interested in who Jesus was, but in what he had to offer. We also see Jesus rebuke the Pharisees and Sadducee for failing to see what was right in front of them by saying “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” – that is, his resurrection. Jesus Christ is not only the source of our salvation, but he is our salvation itself.


That alone is incredible, and I could just stop there and be content. You simply cannot beat the fact that God himself is our salvation. But remember that this Psalm also teaches that he is the source of our salvation. The fence that is the Christian heart may be beaten on every side. It may endure fiery darts and temptations from the devil that seek to destroy it. But, since Christ is upholding us with His steadfast love, we know that these enemies are but a delusion.


Only Christ’s holiness can leave us in silent faithful awe. When we realize just how huge God is, the things of earth grow strangely dim. He is the one that will defeat His enemies. I love the description that David gives in verse 9. He says that if you were to take a scale, and on one side of the scale have nothing but air, and on the other side of the scale put all of humanity – both the rich and the poor – the entire mass of humanity would float up like a balloon. It says “Those of low estate are but a breath; \ those of high estate are a delusion; \ in the balances they go up; \ they are together lighter than a breath.” All of Christ’s enemies weigh less than nothing. All of the concerns that we have about the culture and where it is headed are a vapor and a striving after the wind. Christ will render to a man according to his work.


And since he will render to a man according to his work “let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.” If you want to have peace with God you must place your trust in Christ. He is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him. We must be striving to enter into the Sabbath rest that Christ offers us by trusting in his promises and pouring out our hearts to him. The command to pour out our hearts to God, does not mean to simply loose control of our emotions. Rather, it means that we must open up all of our requests to God, and trust him to provide what we need. It is what we do when we pray “Give us this day our daily bread.” The work that is being discussed in this Psalm is a failure to possess the free gift of faith. If you are trusting in him at all times, and pouring out your heart before him, then you can be sure that he will be a safe and secure refuge.


Power belongs to only Christ. In 1 Chronicles 29, after the Temple had been constructed, when David was nearing the end of his life, he blessed the LORD in the presence of the entire assembly saying:


Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.


David understood that everything that he had was from God. The greatness, the power, the glory, the victory and the majesty all belong to him. Why? Because he made absolutely everything. Even though David was the king, David looked to God and effectively said “I’m not really king, God. You are King. The Kingdom actually belongs to you.” Power belongs not to riches or those of high estate, but only to Christ.


Because only the Lord can be a refuge from our enemies, we ought to quietly wait on the Lord, just as Christ did. As we have discussed, the Sixty Second psalm teaches us that Christ alone is our reward. He is the only one that can deliver us from our enemies. Because he alone is Lord, we should recognize that Jesus is the only way to have peace with God, and be in awe of his justice and steadfast love. God is both the only one worthy of a quiet submissiveness in our souls, and the only one who can produce that kind of faith in the first place. In defining what it looks like for a soul to be silent before the Lord, there is no better example that we can look to, than to the life of Christ. Jesus Christ modeled perfect quiet submission as he was esteemed by us “stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” Yet “he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” Christ is placing every enemy as a footstool for his feet, until he delivers the Kingdom over to God. Let us imitate him, by walking in obedient love and give ourselves up for one another. Christ is the only one who can bring our souls true silence. “For he himself is our peace.” Who is a Rock, but Christ? To him belong all glory majesty power and dominion. So whatever enemies come our way, we know he can take it. Recall the hymn How Firm A Foundation based on Isaiah 41 which says:


Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,

for I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;

I’ll strengthen thee, help thee,

and cause thee to stand,

upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.


The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,

I will not, I will not desert to its foes;

that soul, though all hell

should endeavor to shake,


I’ll never, no, never, no, never forsake.



When we are presented with Christ’s all surpassing holiness, our jaws should drop. Isaiah 40:15 says “the nations are like a drop from a bucket, \ and are accounted as the dust on the scales” All of our concerns about where the culture is headed are nothing to him. He’s got this. Be sure that a day is coming when he will render to each man according to his work. Christ will win. Our enemies may treat us like a tottering fence, but we will not fall over. He possesses a kingdom that will not be shaken. Let us silently wait on Christ alone – our only refuge from our enemies.

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