Posted in theology

Let us often think of home!

By Elizabeth Prata

The devotional is from GraceGems, a site stuffed with goodies from the past. Much to read and be edified by there.

Today is Sunday, the Lord’s Day. I pray you have a good church to attend. Gather with the saints in fellowship to worship, pray, sing, learn. This world wearies us, this is where we go to drink the Living Water, be refreshed, and go on in the week proclaiming His excellencies. Sunday is a day of rest, and don’t you feel rested after resting in Him? And just think of the eternal rest we will be given by our gracious Savior. DO think of home more often!

Tim Challies posted this from Dan Doriani:

Now on to James Smith’s devotional-

James Smith, (1802—1862) “A Devotional Glimpse at Psalm 23

“I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever!” Psalm 23:6

Notice, David’s expectation for eternity. Not in the sheepfold in the wilderness, but in the house of the Lord! The dwelling-place of God, the family residence of the Father of mercies and His beloved children. In that house, we shall have . . .
  all our desires gratified,
  all our prayers answered, and
  our highest expectations more than realized!

There we shall dwell in peace, united to all the saints, and enjoying the society of all the ransomed brethren! All friendship will be unchangeable, and fellowship perpetual and pure.

There we shall dwell and worship–and our worship will be spiritual, pure, and perfect!

There we shall dwell and enjoy–and our enjoyments will be dignified, delightful, and eternal.

There we shall dwell and obey–and our obedience will be perfect, hearty, and perpetual.

There, we shall dwell and rest–and our rest will be sweet, refreshing, and satisfying.
There will be no wilderness storms there.
There will be no cruel, crafty, malignant foes there.

O glorious prospect! O sweet anticipation!


In our Father’s house are many mansions; and all those mansions will be occupied, for . . .
  every one beloved and chosen by the Father,
  every one for whom Jesus became a substitute and sacrifice,
  every one ever born of the Spirit, will be there!

All God’s children shall be there–not one of them lost!
All God’s sheep shall be there–not one hoof left behind!

There the Eternal Father will be surrounded by, and enjoy the society of all His happy family.
There the glorious Savior will see of the travail of His soul, and be fully and forever satisfied.
There the Holy Spirit will fill all His temples, and enjoy His divine workmanship, and the presence of all whom He has prepared for glory.
There, Jehovah, at home with His people–will manifest forth His glory, and pour floods of light, love, and blessing upon them forever!

Well then may the Psalmist say, “In Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand are eternal pleasures!”

Let us often think of home!
This vain world is not our rest.
Here on earth, we have no continuing city.
Home, the home of the believer’s heart, is in the skies . . .
  where Jesus is,
  where Jesus reigns,
  where love is perfect,
  where there is always a full tide of joy,
  where God displays all his glory,
  where grace satisfies the utmost desires of every renewed soul!

Posted in theology

Do we forgive people who haven’t said ‘I’m sorry’?

By Elizabeth Prata

Forgiveness is a Christian activity we should have on our heart and mind often. When Mike Riccardi preached at Grace Community Church recently he addressed the topic. Later on his Facebook page, he posted Albert Martin’s words. Someone asked him a question that I’ve been asked, and it was a question I’ve often wondered myself. Are we supposed to forgive a person who is unrepentant of their sin against you?

First, Albert Martin words posted from Mike Riccardi:

The one who forgives makes a solemn four-pronged promise. When you say to someone who has asked your forgiveness for a specific sin, ‘I forgive you,’ you are making this promise:

1. I will not knowingly remember this thing against you.

2. I will not speak of this thing to any others.

3. I will not raise it with you again.

4. I will not allow it to be a barrier in the restoration of our relationship.

I grew up in an Italian family. There were certain things I was taught, either implicitly or explicitly. One was that we must hold grudges. If a wrong done to us was bad enough, you turn a grudge turned into a vendetta. Secondly, the longer you hold a grudge or perpetuate a vendetta, the stronger you looked to others. Naturally in the family there were arguments, splits, and anger abounding. Segments of the family that were “not talking” to others. People were ‘in’ or they were ‘out’. Sigh. Needless to say, forgiveness offered was fairly unknown. So was seeking forgiveness. So, needless to say, after I came to Christ (thankfully!) I had a hard time understanding the concept of forgiveness.

After Mike Riccardi’s post above had been up a while, a lady asked this question based on the 4 points:

Should this be our promise even if one does not ask for forgiveness?

Mike Riccardi answered:

“Otherwise sound Bible teachers disagree on this point, namely, whether mutual forgiveness (sinner to sinner) is to be conditional (as is God’s forgiveness of us, conditioned upon genuine repentance) or unconditional (unlike God’s forgiveness of us).”

“I am one who takes the former position: that the Bible makes a distinction between the disposition or readiness to forgive (e.g., Ps 86:5) and forgiveness itself, and instructs us to always cultivate that disposition or readiness to forgive, such that there is never any bitterness or vengeance in the heart, and such that the moment that forgiveness is genuinely sought from us we grant it eagerly from the heart.”

“But at the same time, I believe the Bible teaches that the actual conferral of forgiveness, by definition, only happens when an offending party confesses and seeks forgiveness from an offended party. I base that on a couple of strands of biblical teaching.”

  1. The distinction between the readiness to forgive and forgiveness, as above.
  2. The consistent teaching that God’s forgiveness of sinners (which is conditioned upon the sinner’s confession and repentance) is to be the pattern of our forgiveness of one another—not only explicitly in passages like Eph 4:32 and Col 3:13, but also indicated by the fact that the very same terms are used for God’s forgiveness of us and our forgiveness of one another. If God does not confer forgiveness upon any except those “who call upon” Him, but rather stands “ready to forgive” them (Ps 86:5), then this ought to be our practice as well.
  3. Luke 17:3-4 seems to me to be the clearest passage in which this topic is dealt with, and Jesus’ instruction is explicitly conditional: Be on your guard! “If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” Here, forgiveness is explicitly conditioned upon repentance. I simply cannot square the teaching of unconditional forgiveness with the “if-then” conditional statements in this passage.

“But again, let me repeat: this does not mean I think we should cherish an unforgiving spirit or nurse resentment against someone who has sinned against us but who hasn’t come to seek our forgiveness. Both I (who think forgiveness is conditional) and the one who thinks forgiveness is unconditional believe that the Christian’s behavior should look exactly the same in this scenario—cultivating a cheerful disposition and readiness to forgive, eliminating any vengefulness or bitterness in their spirit against the other person, behaving happily and without rancor toward him even before he asks forgiveness. The only difference is in what we call that behavior (readiness to forgive vs. forgiveness itself); there’s no distinction in any behavior itself. Hope that helps.” –end Riccardi quote

It does help. A biblically based answer to a Christian life question is always helpful. So, have a soft heart and abounding love for others in the faith, always being ready to forgive, but actively conferring it only if the offending party has sought it. And don’t nurse bitterness.

I noticed that in my family, nursing grudges and fanning the flames of anger is a heavy baggage. It is a burdensome load to carry around. If a person who genuinely wronged us seeks forgiveness, the Holy Spirit empowers us to be genuinely forgiving. And once we release that load, how light we feel! How clearly we can see the other person’s pain and hurt. We should be empathetic to the person who wronged us, because people don’t usually hurt us out of malice. They’re hurting too. Clearing that up with the fragrance of forgiveness heals wounds.

But on the other hand, it was good to read that we are not doormats, not allowing every kind of behavior and forgiving it whether the person is sorry or not. I, too, agree that if the person comes to you, we should be ready to forgive.

Some years ago I accompanied the kindergarten class on a field trip to the Fire Station. Of course the kids were excited to see the big shiny trucks and all the gear. The firemen explained how they are always ready to race out and fight a fire. They do a lot of work in advance of a fire. Firefighters make sure the truck is clean and everything stored in its place. Even their personal gear is ready, down to the boots they can hop into, so they can race out to do their job immediately. A Christian should likewise be actively preparing ahead of time for the moment we can forgive.

Cultivate a soft heart, be ready to forgive if the person coms to you, and don’t feel guilty about not conferring forgiveness if they haven’t. Your cultivation of forgiveness will be ready for the next person to come to you!

Posted in theology

God laid it on my heart?

By Elizabeth Prata

I’ve been writing lately about how the constant barrage from female so-called Bible teachers claiming “God told me,” known as direct revelation, is building a foundation of sand rather than on the rock of biblical sufficiency. I’ve said many times not to accept someone’s claim of direct revelation. If they teach that, avoid the teacher.

But it does beg the question- HOW does God lead? We know He does. We know the indwelling Spirit in believers illuminates the scriptures, leads us in the path of holiness, and convicts us of sin. He is involved. But how?

I was asked this good question: “How do I respond when someone says ‘God laid it on my heart?’ “

First, understand that God, rather, the Holy Spirit, has a ministry of illumination. He brings light to your mind when you study the scriptures. He reveals wisdom and understanding to your mind, transforming it to a likeness of Jesus’ mind. When you read the Bible, then meditate on the scriptures, then apply them to your life, it is the Spirit sustaining you in this process. When you are reading the Bible another day and bazinga! something suddenly makes sense from something you read before, that is the Spirit’s illumination. When you are in a situation and bazinga! You suddenly know what to do based on a biblical principle, that is the Spirit illuminating the word to your mind.

When you feel something laid on your heart that convicts you, something you feel bad about, like harsh words, or a sin, or wounding another person, or even a secret sin- that is the Spirit ‘laying on your heart’ a conviction to repent.

The Spirit DOES ‘lay on our heart’ illumination and conviction. That is His ministry to our conscience and our mind.

If you feel ‘God laid it on my heart’ to tell someone a foretelling prophecy, or to move the family to another city, or to change jobs, or to drop out of college, or to take a trip, etc, well, that’s just your own decision making. You’re attributing your own personal decision to the Spirit, which is dangerous to do. We can’t put words in His mouth He didn’t say.

Here is an article excerpt explaining-

How can I know the will of God? First, I need to realize that God’s revelation has been “once for all delivered” (Jude 3), which means no further revelation will be made. Second, I need to accept that God’s revealed will in His Word is complete and all-sufficient (2 Tim. 3:16-17), supplying me with everything I need to live and to serve God (2 Pet. 1:3). Third, I need to admit that if I believe God laid something on my heart, then someone else has an equal right to claim that God has laid the complete opposite on his heart, and who is to say who is “right” and who is “wrong”? That’s why God’s Word is the perfect, complete and final standard in all things (John 12:48). ~Source

We might feel an impression to do something, or have a feeling, or follow a leading, but we cannot know specifically that it is the Spirit impressing or leading in that particular instance. Here is Phil Johnson of Grace Community Church, speaking to that issue after the Strange Fire Conference held some years ago:

“The Bible is perfectly sufficient, and that means someone’s personal impression based on a dream or a vision or a voice in the head has no place in the church’s teaching ministry. Those things have no legitimate authority over the conscience of any believer. We are to order our lives by a more sure word of prophecy, namely Scripture.” ~Phil Johnson

So to the question at hand: The following was asked at The Strange Fire Conference, answered by Phil Johnson:

Q. How do we distinguish between the legitimate prompting of the Holy Spirit and our own thoughts or will?

A. While God can prompt us to think or do something, He has not given a clear and objective mechanism to identify when He is doing that. Since no one can identify with absolute certainty the source of the impressions he experiences, he must not ascribe authority to them or rely upon them as direction from God. John MacArthur gives good advice on that point in this downloadable audio. Mistaking a personal impression for divine guidance can lead us far astray from God’s will and may cause serious problems in our lives. ~Phil Johnson

Q. How should a Christian respond to what he thinks might be a leading of the Holy Spirit?

By comparing the impression with the objective, authoritative revelation God gave us—the Scripture. So, does the thought you are having agree with biblical theology? Is the action condemned or condoned in God’s Word? Will that choice ultimately bring glory to God? As you answer these questions in light of biblical teaching, you can know whether you are walking in the will of God.

Look for the word “decided” in the New Testament. Paul decided to do this or that, decided to go here or there. He legitimately received direct instruction from the Holy Spirit, the canon was not written yet. But Paul also decided to do things. We do not leave our decision making faculties behind when we become a Christian.

Acts 16:4, Acts 20:3, Acts 20:16, Acts 27:1, Titus 3:12

So, ladies, if it is something you want to do and it’s aligned with the scriptures in principle, you do not have to say “God laid it on my heart.” That’s unnecessary. Just say, “I decided…” God’s will for your life is to obey Him where there are explicit commands and to obey Him to the best of your interprtation where there are implicit concepts. In between, just decide.

Further Resources

Ligonier: The Holy Spirit’s Ministry

Grace To You: Does God Give Personal Direction through a Still Small Voice?

Posted in theology

Just thinking…about my Bible reading the other day

By Elizabeth Prata

Virgil Walker and DB Harrison have a podcast called “Just Thinking“. They discuss cultural issues of the day and instruct listeners how to think about them biblically. They are big on thinking. The men do an excellent job of showing how to think through biblical concepts.

I am big on thinking too. We should read the Bible every day. And not just read it but at least some of the time we should think deeply about what we read. Meditate on it. To do that we ask questions as we read. Why is that phrase there? What does that word mean? What does an acacia tree look like? What does this metaphor about an ox being muzzled mean? And then spend some time finding the answers. I like BibleHub, GotQuestions, looking up parallel verses, and reading a larger context before and after the pertinent verses, to help me.

Other times, we just read it and then RE-read it. Then stop to think. This is what I did the other day and here was my thinking process.

Genesis 14:12-14

They also took Lot, Abram’s nephew, and his possessions and departed; now he was living in Sodom. Then a fugitive came and told Abram the Hebrew. Now he was dwelling by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner, and these were in a covenant with Abram. So Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, and he led out his trained men, born in his house, 318 in number, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.

In Genesis 13, just one chapter prior, Abraham and Lot had separated. One took his flocks one direction and the other man took his in the opposite direction. They settled. The Bible is 7000 years of actual history and in order to put it all in one book, the timing of things is conflated. We read chapter 13 and go to 14 and think it’s a few days later because the events being described are successive. What we might visualize in our minds is Abraham and Lot not much older or not much time had passed. But there IS a clue to how much time had passed.

In the passage above, there is a phrase we should pay attention to. “Born in his house.” Let’s put 2 and 2 together. Abraham sent his trained men out to rescue Lot from the king that had grabbed him. The men who were trained had been “born in his house”. Three hundred and eighteen men had been born under Abraham’s headship and had been trained and were ready to go out to battle. So that means these men must have been at least 15 or 20 years old. THAT’S how much time had passed.

And indeed Abram was 70 when he got the call from God in Ur, and 86 when the covenant between God and Abraham happens (seen in the next chapter) so that at least is a passage of time of 16 years when Uncle Abraham goes out to get Lot.

I find the best way to put insights together is to read slowly, or several times. And to think about what I read and what it means. The very best way to gain insight into what you read in God’s word is to pray to the Spirit for wisdom and illumination. He will give it.

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5)

But ask in confident trust that God will deliver it.

But he must ask in faith, doubting nothing, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. (James 1:6)

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is dignified, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, consider these things. (Philippians 4:8)

Posted in theology

What was the difference between a Judge and a King?

By Elizabeth Prata

Pics from unsplash

A friend asked me the titular question yesterday. It’s a good one. I was encouraged because this was a young person, and the question reveals how she thinks- biblically.

It’s a big question which would require multi-week study for me, so I went to my Logos, and my answer is copied and pasted from the resources Logos offers.

Roles
Samuel served as the pivotal transitional figure between the time of the judges and the inauguration of the monarchy. He led Israel in several roles:

• Prophet
• Seer
• Priest
• Judge
• Father

Judge
Samuel was the last judge presented in the Bible. He is described as a judge in two places. In 1 Samuel 7:6 he judged the people at Mizpah. Also, 1 Samuel 7:15–17 records that he judged Israel all of the days of his life and travelled on a circuit throughout Israel. Additionally, in 1 Sam 12:6 he tells the people that he is entering into judgment with them. Samuel is also presented in a list of judges who presided over Israel in 1 Sam 12:11 (Stuessy, Samuel, 35–36).

Part of his duties in being a judge seem to have been calling Israel to battle (1 Sam 4:1) and subduing the Philistine threat (1 Sam 7:13).

~Source: Samuel the Prophet. In The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Lexham Press.

The Emergence of the Role of Judge

Moses acts as Israel’s first judge (Exod 18:13), among his many roles. He describes his judgeship by saying, “And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God. When they have a matter, it comes to me, and I judge between a man and his neighbor and make known the statutes of God and His laws.” (Exod 18:15–16).

It is Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, who suggests that Moses stop doing this task alone and appoint others to help him.

It may be that the reference to these judges in military terms (“commanders”) and their roles around the time of the invasion of Canaan foreshadows the judges becoming not just arbitrators but also military leaders (Josh 8:33; 23:2; 24:1; compare Num 25:18).

Moses’ description of this office also incorporates spiritual leadership over the people, as he is careful to note that the people come to him to seek God and to know God’s rule and instructions. It is this same spiritual leadership that seems to be expected of the judges within the book of Judges, although many do not live up to the expectation.

~Source: Judge, Role in Israel. In The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Lexham Press.

Israel’s Monarchy

Much of the material in Judges relates to the idea of leadership and the monarchy. For example, Gideon refuses kingship, declaring that only Yahweh is king (8:23). Yet he and his sons looked like kings (8:18); Gideon lived like a king (8:30–31) and named one of his sons “Abimelech,” which means “my father is king” (9:1). The narrative shows negative aspects of kingship. For instance, Abimelech kills his 70 brothers to gain the position of leader (9:5), and Jotham gives a scathing parable against kingship (9:7–21). Such features have led to the perception that Judges argues against any type of monarchy.

However, the concluding chapters of Judges (17–21) include stories that show the need for a king, leading to the perception that Judges is an apologetic for the monarchy. In addition, this section explicitly states the lack of royal leadership four times: “In those days, there was no king in Israel” (17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25). The final occurrence of this statement is the closing line of the book.

There are a variety of views regarding what or whom the author of Judges has in mind when it comes to kingship:

  1. Israel needs a king (Lilley, “Literary Appreciation“; Cundall, “An Apology,” 178–81).
  2. Judges’ main theme is the Israelites’ failure to realize their goal because they had no king (Wolf, “Judges”).
  3. Josiah is portrayed as the ideal earthly king, but Yahweh is the divine king (Matthew, Judges, Ruth).
  4. Judges represents three stages of kings—Hezekiah, Josiah, and a future king (Stone, “Judges, Book of”).
  5. Jeroboam and Rehoboam are in view (Butler, Judges).
  6. Judges sets David against Saul and his followers (O’Connell, Rhetoric; Sweeney, “Davidic Polemics”).
  7. Kingship is not ideal, but it is preferred over the judge system (Amit, The Book of Judges, 93).
  8. All forms of leadership are imperfect; kingship will vanish in Israel just as judgeship did (Olson, “Judges”).
  9. Judges originates in the Josianic Deuteronomistic History and uncovers a polemic against the Levites and their taking of tax money (Yee, “Ideological Criticism”).
  10. Deteriorated relationship with Yahweh ultimately leads to monarchy as Israel’s only way out of its leadership crisis (Schneider, Judges, xii—xiii).

Judges appears to examine various types of candidates for leadership in Israel, demonstrating that none qualifies as a proper model for kingship:

  1. Othniel is the top choice as a model king, but he is inactive and passive.
  2. Ehud’s straightforward, violent approach is effective but unsuitable for all situations.
  3. Shamgar may be foreign and leaves no sign of action.
  4. Gideon becomes a demanding leader who follows his own vengeful path and ultimately forsakes Yahweh for better financial arrangements.
  5. Abimelech is a bloodthirsty, self-centered warrior who lives recklessly.
  6. Jephthah knows Israel’s history and negotiates well, but he recklessly makes deals with Yahweh, resulting in his sacrifice of his daughter and the eventual decimation of the tribe of Ephraim.
  7. Samson has great strength but doesn’t show respect for anyone; he acts to protect himself and is highly independent.

The text of Judges ultimately provides no clear resolution about the monarchy. Would a king serve Yahweh or personal power? Is monarchy with anyone as king better than moral anarchy? These questions are left unanswered as the book draws to a close.

~Source: Judges, Book of. In The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Lexham Press.

Jehoshaphat also stressed the connection between human and divine justice, recognizing that decisions of the appointed judges were being made on behalf of Yahweh Himself (2 Chr 19:6–7; Jung, “Judicial System in Ancient Israel,” 290). However, while the judges in early Israel saw themselves in more of a discerning role, seeking to determine Yahweh’s will, the judges in Jehoshaphat’s time saw themselves in more of a representative role, judging on Yahweh’s behalf.

Generations later, King Hezekiah consolidated the judicial system further. Puckett argues that under King Hezekiah’s leadership, the state took up most of the judicial authority, as judges were tasked with hearing and deciding cases in the king’s name.

~Source: Judicial Courts. In The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Lexham Press.

There was a difference between a king and a judge. A judge was a leader raised up by God, usually to meet a specific need in a time of crisis. When the crisis was over usually the judge went back to doing what he did before. A king not only held his office as king as long as he lived, he also passed his throne down to his descendants. Judges did not make a “government.” They met a specific need in a time of crisis. Kings establish a standing government with a bureaucracy, which can be both a blessing and a curse to any people. ~Source: Enduring Word Commentary


So…clear as mud, right? The idea is to always ask questions. As you read God’s word, ask, why is this word here, what does that mean? What does this topography, tree/plant look like, and so on. The word IS living and active, so ask it questions. Pray for wisdom, and then go for it in researching the answer.

Posted in theology

This is why I love Twitter

By Elizabeth Prata

The other day Beth Moore tweeted something stupid in a Twitter thread. She dismissed Jonathan Edwards and his impact, saying for the life of her she can’t figure out the attraction. She disliked his forceful approach to preaching the wrath and conviction of sin, preferring to focus on her usual emotional feelings and such. I introduced Edwards in a previous essay, encouraging people to go look up his works, which are great even 300 years later.

Here is an article remarking on the resulting controversy if you’re interested. I’m much more interested in the replies. I screen shot a few. I love how some people can tweet a pithy reply within the character limits, concisely stating a truth, presenting a witticism, or even doing apologetics in short form.

@MichelleDLesley: “Posting a tweet that caused bunches of people to Google and read “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” is probably the greatest gospel impact Beth Moore has ever had.”

LOL

I love Twitter. If you follow the right folks, Godly and intelligent, you will be edified. I learn a lot from folks on that particular social media. I follow good links, see grace, know who to pray for and am prayed for, observe wisdom, charity, and grace. It’s also fun. Not that I can’t experience those things in real life, I do. But Twitter gives me another window to the global church and I’m grateful for it. We are not alone, not a remnant, and the church is thriving!

Further Resources

On this day: Jonathan Edwards preached Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

Posted in theology

Who was Jonathan Edwards?

By Elizabeth Prata

The Puritans are certainly worth reading. If you follow this blog for even a short time, you know I’m going to bring those guys up, lol. They were part of my pre-salvation, arousing a curiosity in me as to the worth of God, that they would leave all they knew to come to the New World so as to worship. That alone told me the worth of Jesus, something in my sinful, unconverted state I didn’t understand but was curious about.

Jonathan Edwards is considered the ‘last Puritan’. He is also almost universally acknowledged as America’s greatest theologian. Joel Beeke, a Puritan authority, said Edwards “was a powerful force behind the First Great Awakening, as well as a champion of Christian zeal and spirituality.”

Edwards lived from 1703-1758. During his shortish life, he wrote profusely, constantly, and expertly. His writings on theology were well-founded and concise, always pointing to the greatness of God.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy says “His work as a whole is an expression of two themes — the absolute sovereignty of God and the beauty of God’s holiness.”

Encyclopedia Britannica says, “Jonathan Edwards, (born October 5, 1703, East Windsor, Connecticut [U.S.]—died March 22, 1758, Princeton, New Jersey), greatest theologian and philosopher of British American Puritanism, stimulator of the religious revival known as the “Great Awakening,” and one of the forerunners of the age of Protestant missionary expansion in the 19th century.

That is an incredible legacy.

He ascended his first pulpit as a sole pastor in Northampton, the most important church in Massachusetts outside of Boston. In his first published sermon, preached in 1731 to the Boston clergy and significantly entitled God Glorified in the Work of Redemption, by the Greatness of Man’s Dependence upon Him, in the Whole of It. Edwards preached 1 Corinthians 1.29, 30, 31, saying at the outset, “All the Good that they have is in and through Christ; He is made unto us Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption.”

Edwards is well known for his many books, such as The End for Which God Created the World, The Life of David Brainerd, which inspired thousands of missionaries throughout the 1800s, and Religious Affections, which is “probably the most profound analysis of spiritual experience ever written – and by the most brilliant philosopher/theologian to ever come from North America (and possibly the English language)” says one reviewer.

He also penned the ’70 Resolutions’, “As a young man – a teenager, really – Jonathan Edwards set down on paper a series of thoughts and practices to help cultivate his growth in grace. (See 2 Peter 3.18)  Edwards then re-read this list at least once a week to keep his mind focused and renewed. The result was that he became a man of humble godliness, who was to become a significant spark used to ignite one of the greatest revivals known to history.” (Source)

Edwards had a wide range of interests. He was was pastor, writer, theologian, missionary supporter, college President, but also a natural history expert. He was very interested in natural history and took long walks or horse rides with pen and notebook in hand to take notes on his observations. As a precocious 11-year-old, he’d observed and written an essay detailing the ballooning behavior of some spiders. He later published this as a scientific essay titled “The Flying Spider”.

When people think of Jonathan Edwards they most likely think of his most famous sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. In that sermon, widely acknowledged for sparking the Great Awakening, a massive revival where many souls were won to God, Edwards used hard truths and vivid imagery to make clear the dangerous state of the unconverted. He used a spider allusion, given his knowledge of and interest in the crawling arachnid. Here are just a few excerpts-

Your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead, and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell; and if God should let you go, you would immediately sink and swiftly descend and plunge into the bottomless gulf, and your healthy constitution, and your own care and prudence, and best contrivance, and all your righteousness, would have no more influence to uphold you and keep you out of hell, than a spider’s web would have to stop a falling rock. 

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. 

Wrath and God’s offense at sin and sinners is much discarded in the face of love and roses and our worth and lovableness, as many teach today (especially female ‘Bible teachers’). But we must understand the sinfulness of sin, God’s hate toward sin, and our precarious state as an unbeliever. Edwards made that vividly plain to the listeners that day in 1741.

In fact, they were so struck, they kept crying out in spiritual agony, pitching themselves toward the altar asking piteously “What shall we do to be saved?” Eventually the cries and mayhem were such that Edwards had to stop preaching, and pastors went down the aisles to pray with people and talk of salvation.

Though Edwards is famous for his focus on hell in that particular sermon, his voluminous works contained much more focus on heaven. For example, he is known for his book Heaven, a World of Love.

If you are unfamiliar with Jonathan Edwards, he is a good one to look up. His works are edifying and challenging, not to mention noteworthy. His contribution to the faith stands as monumental, 300 years after his passing into glory.

Further Resources

Meet the Puritans: Jonathan Edwards, by Joel Beeke (essay)

Jonathan Edwards: Author Bio by Banner of Truth (essay)

Marriage to a Difficult Man: The Uncommon Union of Jonathan & Sarah Edwards by Elisabeth D. Dodds (book)

Jonathan Edwards: Teaching series Stephen Nichols (6 videos) I enjoyed this course on Edwards. The first message is free. The rest are behind a paywall. I recommend it though, it’s an easy way to learn about the man, and so interesting.

Resolutions with Jonathan Edwards, 5 Minutes in Church History with Stephen Nichols. Take a listen, it’s only 5 minutes!

Posted in theology

I love you ladies!

By Elizabeth Prata

I was sitting here this early Saturday morning, thinking of the women who read The End Time Facebook page, my Twitter, the blog, and listen to the podcast. I thought about the comments and encouragements I’ve received lately. I recalled the prayers lifted up for me this week and all the previous weeks. Such kindness.

I thought about how happy it makes me when a sister messages me that they have tried out a book I recommended or a course at ICL or Ligonier, and enjoyed it. THAT is the biggest thrill, when I point sisters to credible ministries and it’s actually pursued. SOOO encouraging.

We really do have a global church, and the sisters who follow, comment, and engage with The End Time are extremely precious to me.

I wanted to let you all know my favorite time of the week, (after church services). I get up early on Saturdays, make coffee, and put on Pandora String Quartets or Mozart channel, softly. I crack my knuckles, hover my hands over the keyboard, take a deep breath, and begin to write. I spend all morning till about noon, writing the blogs for the week. I do them all at once so they are ready to post in the mornings before I go to work.

I truly love this time writing. It’s personally satisfying for me to be able to process my thoughts by scribing them onto paper, or these days, a screen. It’s the way I’d always figured out stuff; think, then write, then think some more.

After salvation, transferring this process to where I strive to understand the Bible more or Jesus more, is deeply fulfilling. And the ministry of doing so for like-minded ladies is personally rewarding.

I really do love your questions, they prompt me to pursue deeper answers. I love the engagement and encouragement, it prompts me to do the same for others. I don’t get tired of it. I think of how Jesus hung on the cross for me, a sinner, and absorbed all God’s wrath to the dregs, for me, it spurs me on to want to be busy for Him, proclaiming His excellencies. When a sister comes to me in life or online and says something that I wrote (thanks to the wisdom of the Spirit) helped them, I just about fall over in gratitude. There is nothing and no one better than Jesus, and learning that other women are growing closer to Him and that I might have been a part is a profoundly gratifying feeling.

I do it because I love Jesus and love you sisters in Jesus.

Posted in theology

Hospitality and Apostle John’s shocking words about false teachers

By Elizabeth Prata

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. (1 Peter 4:9).

Hospitality in Bible times in Palestine was a serious matter. There were cultural expectations, protocols, and traditions. The word host or hospitable is from a Greek word philoxenia meaning “love of strangers”.

Hospitality generally means ‘the gracious treatment of guests in your home’. There are many examples of hospitality in the Bible: (Gen 14:18–24181923:1–2024:10–4943:32Josh 2:1–216:22–25Judg 4:191 Sam 25:2–38Neh 5:14–17). The following pattern can be seen:

• a greeting with bow or kiss (Gen 18:219:1)
• a welcome for the guest to come in (Gen 24:31)
• an invitation to rest (Gen 18:4Judg 4:19)
• an opportunity to wash (Gen 18:419:224:32)
• a provision of food and drink (Judg 4:1919:5)
• an invitation to converse (Gen 24:33)
• a provision of security (Gen 19:8)
Source- “Hospitality” from The Lexham Bible Dictionary

We read much in the Old Testament about hospitality. It was expected to offer shelter and grace to those sojourning among them, because back in the day the Israelites were sojourners themselves. It was considered almost a sacred duty! Lack of hospitality was condemned. (Numbers 20:14–21; Deuteronomy 23:3–4).

In the New Testament we read Jesus’ parables urging believers to be hospitable even outside the 4 walls of one’s home, with the Parable of the Good Samaritan and the Parable of the Midnight Visitor. Jesus was the recipient of much hospitality since He had no place to lay His head, and relied on the hospitality of others (such as Mary/Martha/Lazarus) when he lodged for a period of time.

Lydia was quite hospitable. A native Thyatiran, living in Philippi, the first thing she did after her conversion was to press upon the band to come lodge at her house.

A woman named Lydia was listening; she was a seller of purple fabrics from the city of Thyatira, and a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. 15 Now when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us. (Acts 16:14-15).

The first New Testament missionaries would have had to rely on this Palestinian tradition of gracious lodging, made all the more sweet because of the message the missionaries carried.

As the first Christian churches were founded, the exercise of hospitality took on a new aspect, esp. after the breach with the Jews had begun. Not only did the traveling Christian look naturally to his brethren for hospitality, but the individual churches looked to the traveler for fostering the sense of the unity of the church throughout the world. Hospitality became a virtue indispensable to the well-being of the church—one reason for the emphasis laid on it (Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:2). As the organization of the churches became more perfected, the exercise of hospitality grew to be an official duty of the ministry and a reputation for hospitality was a prerequisite in some cases (1 Timothy 3:2; 5:10; Titus 1:8). Source- The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia.

That is why John’s words were shocking. In some cases, believers were instructed to DENY hospitality to another. It was a big, countercultural step. 1 Corinthians 5:11 instructs the believer thus:

But now I am writing to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is a sexually immoral person, or greedy, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one.

Believers were to DENY hospitality to anyone who teaches false doctrine. These false teachers were entering homes and abusing the graciousness of hosts to captivate weak women and lure them into the falsity. (2 Timothy 3:5).

Thy were also told to DENY hospitality to intentional deceivers:

If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting, (2 John 1:10).

This is why John’s words (and Paul’s) were so shocking. You can imagine how this behavior would be so startling. It isn’t so shocking today, we don’t entertain strangers in our homes. We don’t go house to house in fellowship much anymore either. It isn’t shocking to deny entertaining so-and-so when they never even came to your house in the first place. But to close the door against someone in Bible times, with thousands of years of a deeply embedded tradition in hospitality, would be shocking.

Times nowadays have completely changed the notion of hospitality. We do not and should not entertain unknown traveling itinerants. We have hotels. Unannounced guests knocking on our door is rare and rather scary. We aren’t nomads anymore either. But in today’s times we do have TV, radio, podcasts, and streaming entering our home. Do you allow false teachers and deceivers into your home via technology? Are you ‘hosting’ them daily, or weekly? Do your children see you offering your time to these false teachers, by offering them money by purchasing their materials?

Hospitality has changed definitions since John’s day, but today we can still host gatherings of believers from church, craft a celebratory party or dinner for struggling folks, or practice hospitality one-on-one with those whom we know.

DENY these false teachers entry to your home. Do not expose them to your family or to your own soul. Even though such ‘hospitality’ in today’s times is second hand through a screen, still, do not entertain them. And when or if a person in your church is disciplined as per Matthew 18:17b, and reaches the last stage, “if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as the Gentile and the tax collector” are you strong enough to obey and DENY them hospitality?

EPrata photo “Closed”
Posted in theology

The sheets lasted longer than the marriage

By Elizabeth Prata

I have a favorite set of sheets. They have a green flowery ivy type pattern on them. I don’t really care about how sheets look. I’m asleep when I lay on them so…I never really see them! What I do care about is how they feel. These are soft and slightly silky. (No they’re not silk). Because they slide a tiny bit, it’s easier to turn over on them.

I just like these sheets a lot. I have other sets, and I put one of them on when I strip the bed and wash these faves of mine, but I can’t wait till the next week when I put these green ivy ones back on the bed again.

I got those sheets in 1979.

I was 18, a freshman in college. I was unsaved. Not a Christian. I’d lived in the dorm for the first semester. It was an off-campus dorm due to overcrowding on campus. Mixed in with us naïve newbies were returning students. Students who had flunked out, been in the Navy, worked a year or two before going to college. So a lot of the students in the dorm with me were older, like by 2 or three years.

I’d met a guy in my dorm and after a while we decided to move in together to an apartment adjacent to campus. That was the new thing to do. The sexual revolution of the 1960s had taken root and one of the dark fruits it bore was that young people didn’t think they needed “a piece of paper” – AKA a marriage certificate. W just moved in and cohabitated. Marriage was so old fashioned, you know!

The guy’s mom was a staunch Catholic and she objected to the move-in. LOUDLY. She actually chased my boyfriend down the hall of their home when we broke the news. With a wooden spoon. She was furious, yelling, “You’re going to live in sin?!?!?

We thought she was hopelessly old fashioned. We were young. We were free. We’re all right. We ignored her.

And…because the boyfriend was her last kid, because he was the only boy, because he was her baby, she caved in and gave us some things for the apartment. The sheets were one of the items.

Now, this was 1979. The sheets were old then, at least 10 or 15 years. So let’s say they were produced in 1965. Now it’s 2023. I still have the sheets. These are the favorite sheets I mentioned. They are a bit threadbare in the middle, but still in good shape for 58 year old sheets.

Every time I make the bed with them I think about that scene about the mother yelling “You’re going to live in sin?!’ I didn’t know what sin was. He was raised Catholic (though he obviously didn’t practice), but I wasn’t raised anything and had never heard the word sin, let alone know what it meant. But one of the things I think about is the fact that God is perfectly justified to punish sinners in the eternal fires of hell. Us living together (and engaging in the usual sexual activity as if we were married) IS a sin. It is called fornication, and the Bible condemns in the strongest terms. Many verses warn that fornicators will not inherit the kingdom. (AKA go to heaven).

1 Corinthians 6:18, Mark 7:21, 1 Corinthians 5:1, Hebrews 13:4, Galatians 5:19, Ephesians 5:3, Acts 15:29, 1 Thessalonians 4:3…

And that is just a few. And only the New Testament. There are just as many in the Old Testament warning people to remain chaste.

We got married. Deep down I suppressed the niggles of my conscience for living together (in those days, such a new moral convention!) by telling myself it was OK because we intended to get married. The sex before marriage part was covered under the umbrella of pre-marriage. (I’d made up a new moral convention, see how sin works! See how we suppress the truth in unrighteousness?) And we did get married after we graduated from college.

Not only sexual immorality is a sin, but treating marriage as of no account is also a sin. Inevitably when people cohabitate without benefit of having taken the solemn vows of marriage, their casual treatment of marriage can often result in divorce. Unbiblical divorce is also a sin.

We were young. We were free. We weren’t all right. After 4 few years he found someone else, had an affair, and left me flat for this new woman.

In Richard Adams’ novel Watership Down, where anthropomorphized rabbits are the main characters, the rabbits have a proverb, “One cloud feels lonely”. I find this a true proverb, lol. When you see one cloud, soon there are more and the sky becomes overcast.

I often change that fictional proverb in my mind to this: ‘One sin feels lonely’. One sin never really is performed in isolation. If a person is an adulterer, he or she is lusting, being an adulterer, and lying- not to mention being a hypocrite. No one is “sent to hell” to endure a forever stretch of time in punishment because of ‘one little sin.’ All sins are big and there is always more than one. They are an affront to a holy God, who is just and right to punish them.

I look back on my time before salvation and I gasp with incredulity that a holy God put up with so much sinning in me. I’m grateful for my salvation and now have a right mind about marriage even though I’m still single. Marriage is more than ‘just a piece of paper’. Fornication is a sin. I still have the sheets, but not the marriage.

But that is what happens when people distill what is a holy union before God and making a lifetime commitment before Him, to just a piece of paper that can be ignored. Because what we were really doing was ignoring God in that piece of paper. He instituted the convention of marriage and structured it so the man is the head, the woman is the helper and the children obey both.

He said to her, Go, call your husband and come back here.The woman answered and said, “I have no husband. Jesus said to her, You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; for you had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.” (John 4:16-18 LSB)

Ladies, living together isn’t a new immoral situation any more. It rarely causes an eyebrow lift. It certainly doesn’t usually cause mothers to run down the hallway with a wooden spoon to bat some sense into their son. It is seen every day on TV and in movies and all around the world people are doing it. But it’s wrong. Sex before marriage is wrong. It’s called fornication. That sounds like an old-fashioned word but trust me, no, trust the Bible, it’s still a sin. And Chastity is still a virtue.

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; (1 Thessalonians 4:3)