Around-the-Horn[1]8 Things Everybody Should Do Before 8 am
Life is busy. It can feel impossible to move toward your dreams. If you have a full-time job and kids, it’s even harder.  How do you move forward?

Stott Bowdlerized
Clearly the editor wanted to introduce a new generation to Stott’s beautiful book; his intentions were noble. But the project was a mistake. The Basic Christianity people are buying and reading today is a bad imitation of the original. The editor and publisher had no right to transform Stott’s book as they did, whether or not the author granted his permission.

Keeping the Faith In A Faithless Age: The Church as Moral Minority
“The greatest question of our time,” offered historian Will Durant, “is not communism versus individualism, not Europe versus America, not even East versus the West; it is whether men can live without God.” That question, it now appears, will be answered in our own time.

Preston Sprinkle on Grace, Truth, and Homosexuality
It is an understatement to say that the question of homosexuality stirs up controversy among Christians today. Every month, we see news of various denominations and churches either struggling to come to agreement or taking opposite sides on questions related to sexual morality, love, fidelity, and marriage.

Knox: The Life and Legacy of Scotland’s Controversial Reformer
Renegade. Reformer. Revolutionary. Five centuries after his birth, the influence of John Knox can still be felt right across Scotland. But who was this man? What did he do and why today is he both valued and vilified?

Pope Francis and The Shipwreck That Is Marriage In The Modern World
Imagine that there is an active Catholic layman named “Bob” and that his complicated life has included a divorce or two. But there is no one person named “Bob.” Instead, there are legions of Catholics whose lives resemble this case study described by Father Dwight Longenecker in an online essay responding to “Amoris Laetitia (On Love in the Family),” a 60,000-word apostolic exhortation from Pope Francis.

Watch: College Kids Can’t Explain Why A Short Man Is Not A Tall Asian Woman
An amusing and incredulous video.  This isn’t moral relativism, it’s a completely fact-free new moral code, one based entirely on consent and harm. Or, I should say, immediate harm.

“God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – JOHN III. 16.

jc_ryleLook at the well-known text which heads this page. Its words are probably familiar to your ears. You have very likely heard them, or read them, or quoted them, a hundred times. But have you ever considered what a vast amount of divinity this text contains? No wonder that Luther called it “the Bible in miniature!” -and have you ever considered what an immensely solemn question arises out of this text? The Lord Jesus says, “Whosoever believeth shall not perish.” Now, reader, DO YOU BELIEVE?

Questions about religion are seldom popular. They frighten people. They oblige them to look within and to think. The insolvent tradesman does not like his books to be searched. The faithless steward does not like his accounts to be examined. And the unconverted Christian does not like to be asked home-questions about his soul.

But questions about religion are very useful. The Lord Jesus Christ asked many questions during His ministry on earth. The servant of Christ ought not to be ashamed to do likewise. Questions about things necessary to salvation,-questions which probe the conscience, and bring men face to face with God,-such questions often bring life and health to souls. I know few questions more important than the one before you today. DO YOU BELIEVE?

Reader, the question before you is no easy one to answer. Think not to thrust it aside by the off-hand answer, “Of course I believe.” I tell you this day that true belief is no such “matter of course” as you suppose. I tell you that myriads of Protestants and Roman Catholics are constantly saying on Sundays, “I believe,” who know nothing whatever of believing. They cannot explain what they mean. They neither know what, nor in whom, they believe. They can give no account of their faith. Reader, a belief of this kind is utterly useless. It can neither satisfy, nor sanctify, nor save.

I invite you in all affection to consider the question which heads this tract. I ask you to give me your attention while I try to place it before you in its full proportions. In order to see clearly the importance of “believing,” you should ponder well the words of Christ to which I have already referred. It is by the unfolding of these words, that I shall hope to make you feel the weight of the question, “Do you believe?”

There are four things which I wish to show you, and to impress upon your mind.

I. God’s mind towards the world – He “loved” it.

II. God’s gift to the world – “He gave His only begotten Son.”

III. The only way to obtain the benefit of God’s gift – “Whosoever believeth on Him shall not perish.”

IV. The marks by which true belief may be known.

Read it all.

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Around-the-Horn[1]

Getting Better By Not Trying Harder
It’s not our hard work that changes us, as if we were paying God back, it’s the Spirit of God within us, empowering us to do what God wills.

Gender Non-Conformity Running Roughshod Over Parents’ Rights
Excellent article from Carl Trueman at First Things: One objection that has been made a number of times to my criticisms of transgenderism is that, if someone want to change from their birth sex to the opposite, what harm does that do to me? Why should I worry if, to borrow from Jefferson, it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg? That is true, and from that perspective I care as little about the issue as I do about what my neighbors may or may not be doing in their bedrooms after dark. That is part of what living in a free country means. What I do care about, however, is how the issue is being used to transform the public square, in particular to undermine parental and women’s rights.

Will Pope Francis Break the Church?
From Ross Douthat, NYT: The media are not deceived in thinking that Francis differs from his predecessors in substance as well as style. He may not be a liberal Catholic as the term is understood in an American or European context, but he has a different set of priorities than the previous two popes did. He reads the times differently, and elements of his agenda are clearly in tune with what many progressive Catholics (and progressives, period) in the West have long hoped for from the Church.

Keeping the Faith in A Faithless Age
From Albert Mohler: “The greatest question of our time,” offered historian Will Durant, “is not communism versus individualism, not Europe versus America, not even East versus the West; it is whether men can live without God.” That question, it now appears, will be answered in our own time.

Is Speaking Your Mind A Christian Virtue?
We live in an age where “speaking your mind” is considered a virtue and a hailed as a sign of good leadership. But is this trait something the Bible commends? Should Christians be known for “speaking their mind?”

Church in Hard Places
The Church is a display of God’s glory, mercy, and wholeness in the midst of a broken and hurting community. Churches in hard places often share common struggles: A lack of well-trained leadership; a lack of resources to equip workers in these communities; a sense of alienation from the broader evangelical church.

How Your Possessions Are Affecting Your Heart
It is not necessarily that my actions follow the desires of my heart. Instead, I find that my heart appears naturally drawn to the places where I have invested most.

Ann Voskamp Addresses Conference Via Translator
From the Babylon Bee: Ann Voskamp, author of the immensely popular One Thousand Gifts, spoke to a packed house last night at the Passionate Borderless Empowered Frontiers Without Borders Conference through her recently-hired translator, who is fluent in Voskamp-to-English.

I. “Look to see:

edwards1) That the influence be upon the will or heart, not on the imagination, nor on the speculative understanding or thought processes of the mind, even if these processes sweep the emotions along with them as a consequence. That the disturbance in their thinking not be excessive, in that their thinking is [actually] bothered by those things it has reason to be disturbed about; and that the troubling of their minds seems to function in such a way, with the kind of troubling and exercising of the mind that is thoughtful: meaning that it is based on reasonable, solid consideration; a solid perception and conviction of truth, that is, of things as they really are.

2) That it is because their state appears terrifying on account of those things, because their state is indeed a dreadful one; and that their concern over their state be of a substantial quality, not so much characterized by pangs of conscience and sudden changes of emotion, abnormal and frightened behavior, and a capriciousness of mind.

3) That according to their expressed opinion, their state really is one of sin; that they are convinced of their guilt which consists in offending and insulting so great a God: One who hates sin and has set himself against it to punish it, etc.

4) That they are convinced of sins, both inward and outward: that their outward show of the sense of sin in the heart is not apart from a reflection on their wicked lifestyle; and also that they are not only convicted of sin in their lifestyle, but of sin in their heart. And in both, that what is disturbing them are those things in which their sinfulness is the real cause.

5) That they are convicted of sins of the spirit, which find their origin in their spiritual defects, such as living without love for God, without accepting Christ, without thankfulness to Him, etc.

6) That the opinions that they hold concerning the insufficiency and uselessness of their own doing, are not simply from some imaginative wandering of their thoughts brought on by bad behavior, but are rather from a conviction that they did their duties in a defective way, that it, not being done from a right motivation; with the conclusion that it is not some good mixed with the bad, but that they are entirely corrupt.

7) That it is truly a conviction of sin that convinces them that God would be just in their eternal condemnation, in rejecting their prayers, in paying no attention to their sorry state along with all their desires and attempts to find deliverance [from it], etc. and is not simply an imagination or pang of conscience, and cooling of emotion through some real or supposed sign of Divine Goodness.

8) That they are so convinced of sin that in their inward thoughts and reasonings they do not make excuses, and implicate through a quarrel with God that they are in some way unable: for instance, they do not make excuses for ignoring Christ, for lack of love for Him, on the basis that they are not able to honor and love him.

9) That they do not introspectively consider their conviction as being so important, and that they are humble now [in God’s sight]. That which is chiefly their focus of attention is the Gospel. If this conviction [of sin] is genuine, we will not need to insist on it, otherwise it will become obvious that it was purely out of works, having nothing to do with grace.

So with regard to conviction and humbling, look to see if the mind is really convinced of these things, even while looking for that which many theologians insist we look for, things that are actually only outward works. But also look for convictions that seem to be deep and fixed, that have a powerful controlling influence on the character of their thinking, with a direct relationship to lifestyle.

II. Look to see:

1) That they have not only a appearance of conviction of sin; but a fitting sorrow for sin. That is, that sin is a burden to them, and their hearts are tender and sensitized to how they relate to it — as the object of concern and anxiety.

2) That God Himself and spiritual things are to be admired on account of the beauty of their inherent goodness.

3) That it can be discerned in their perception of the sufficiency of Christ, a sense of that divine, supreme and spiritual superiority of Christ; and that their understanding of this inherent superiority is the real foundation of their satisfaction that He [alone] is sufficient.

4) That their deeply held view of the truth of the things of God is discerned [by others] to be in actuality in some way or other primarily based on a perception of their spiritual superiority.

5) That their ideas, enlightened thoughts, and experiences in general, are not superficial pangs of conscience, flashes of spirituality, imagination, or unusual occurrences, but solid, substantial, deep, and worked into the very fiber and character of their souls, and found to be directly related to a [changed] lifestyle.

6) That they desire to be holy, and that all their experiences increase this longing. Ask them about their attitude and willingness to bear the Cross, giving up everything for Christ, choosing instead to wait for their possessions till heaven, etc. — that is, whether their spiritual experience has a direct relationship to their lifestyle in these ways.

7) That their behavior at present seems to agree with such experiences — meaning, whether this experience inclines them to think much of how they are living now, and even more of how wrong their past lifestyle was. Is there an attitude of digust toward past evil practice? Is there a longing for a complete freedom from sin, and a longing for those things that are holy, along with determined and strong resolutions, combined with fear and a jealous guarding of their own hearts.

[Finally,] whether, when relating these experiences, they put on an air expecting to be admired or applauded, and would be disappointed if they do not see something of that admiration in you; but are shocked and displeased if you do admire them. Inquire whether their joy truly and in a proper way is joy in God and in Christ, joy in His Divine Goodness; or whether their joy is completely directed to themselves, joy in their own superiority or privileges, in their experiences; what God has done for them, or what He has promised He will do for them; and whether they are not taken with their own ideas and feelings.”

updated language version by Bill Lowry

Adam Lambert, Mad World

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Carrie Underwood, I’ll Stand By You

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Phillip Phillips, Home

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Jordin Sparks, I Who Have Nothing

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Katharine McPhee, Somewhere Over the Rainbow

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Lee DeWyze, Hallelujah

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Kelly Clarkson, Respect

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Reuben Studdard, How Can You Mend A Broken Heart

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Fantasia Barrino, Summertime

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William Hung, She Bangs

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We’ll end with Daughtry’s performance of Home.  While it was not a song he sang in competition he did come back the following year and perform it live on the show.  It would also be the walk off song for those eliminated in season 6.

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Around-the-Horn[1]‘Who Are You Sleeping With?’ My Conversation with Timothy Keller
Drawing on his experience in urban, culture-shaping Manhattan, Keller responded that one of the biggest obstacles to repentance for revival in the Church is the basic fact that almost all singles outside the Church and a majority inside the Church are sleeping with each other. In other words, good old-fashioned fornication.

Everything That is Solid Melts into Air – The New Secular Worldview
The story of the rise of secularism is a stunning intellectual and moral revolution. It defies exaggeration. We must recognize that it is far more pervasive than we might want to believe, for this intellectual revolution has changed the worldviews of even those who believe themselves to be opposed to it.

Howard Schultz Wants You To Try Some Civility With Your Coffee
“I’ve always viewed the American dream as a reservoir, and it has constantly been replenished with values, work ethic and the spirit of the American people,” he said. “But sadly, our reservoir is running dry — depleted by cynicism, despair, division, exclusion, fear and yes — indifference.” 

The Death of Moral Relativism
“Some sort of moral system is coming into place,” Brooks says. “Some new criteria now exist, which people use to define correct and incorrect action.”

White City: The New Urban Blight is Rich People
There is really only one strike against the New Urbanism, but it’s a strike thrown by Nolan Ryan: It turns cities into playgrounds for moneyed, childless whites while pushing out the poor, the working-class, immigrants, seniors and anyone else not plugged into “the knowledge economy.”

How To Read Dante in the 21st Century
These breathtaking lines conclude Dante’s Divine Comedy, a 14,000-line epic written in 1321 on the state of the soul after death. T. S. Eliot called such poetry the most beautiful ever written—and yet so few of us have ever read it. Since the poem appeared, and especially in modern times, those readers intrepid enough to take on Dante have tended to focus on the first leg of his journey, through the burning fires of Inferno. As Victor Hugo wrote about The Divine Comedy’s blessed realms, “The human eye was not made to look upon so much light, and when the poem becomes happy, it becomes boring.”

5 Ways “God’s Not Dead” Fails Christians
“God’s Not Dead 2” opened this weekend.  I have low expectations and zero desire to see it. “God’s Not Dead” sets out to be an encouragement for young Christians encountering challenges to their faith. But in the end, it actually fails its key audience and becomes the thing it’s preaching against. Here’s how:

I’m A Christian and I Hate Christian Movies
It’s practically catechistic among many faith-based devotees and movie producers that mainstream critics pan the films because they “don’t believe in Jesus.” The problems run deeper. Jesus is all right; the screenwriters, not so much.

The Omni-Directional Blessing of Bible Reading
I can easily name the most important lesson I ever learned about being a Christian. This advice has guided me for nearly 20 years as I’ve walked as a disciple of Christ. And it applies to every single believer.

martyn-lloyd-jones. . . He [Jesus] tells us His kingdom is not like earthly kingdoms. In what way?

First of all, it is not a visible kingdom. It is not an external kingdom. He said Himself that “the kingdom of God cometh not with observation” (Luke 17.20). You can see an earthly kingdom, the kingdom of Great Britain, for instance. It is visible, it is obvious, it has its limits and it can be defined. We know all about it; it can be seen. It cometh with observation, it can be observed and examined. His kingdom is not like that; it is quite different. That is where they went wrong. They would persist in estimating what He said in terms of their visible, external kingdoms and because His did not correspond, they said, “This is no kingdom at all.”

I the same way, His kingdom is not great in an earthly sense. There is no pomp and show with respect to it. He put this very plainly to His own disciples who were muddled on this point: “But Jesus called them unto him, and said, ‘Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercised dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon the. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20.25-28).

That is the trouble. With an earthly kingdom, there is a great prince on his throne and every one is standing at attention, he remains there, they bring him everything, he does nothing, everything is done for him, they minister unto him. But Jesus says, “My kingdom isn’t like that. And I myself have not come to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give my life as a ransom for many.” And just before He went to the cross, beholding the king of glory, the everlasting kind, He took up a towel and He washed their feet and He wiped them with the towel. Is this a king? Is this a kingdom? “It’s all wrong!” they said. “It’s baffling, it’s bewildering.”

They had not listened to what He said: “My kingdom is not of this world.” It does not belong in the same category. You can drop your old way of thinking for this is new in every sense. We can also put it like this: because it is different, there are no armies in this kingdom. He has no great officials. There is no great hierarchy of officers. There is no great pomp and show and ceremony. Alas, my friends, the church herself has forgotten this, at times, has she not? She has become so much like earthly kingdoms, with great pomp and show and her dressing up and all her ceremonies and all her hierarchies. I tell you, it is not in the New Testament.

But, alas, it has come into the church, this very great confusion against which He warns people (and here warns Pilate). He puts it quite simply, He says, “You know, if my kingdom were an earthy kingdom, I wouldn’t be arrested as I am now and the high priest wouldn’t have sent me to you. I would have had soldiers and they would have protected me and defended me against the Jews. And the Jews would never have been allowed to arrest me. But,” he says, “My kingdom is not like these other kingdoms, it doesn’t’ look like them, it’s not like them in any respect.”

His kingdom is unlike earthly kingdoms in that it is not concerned with the types of things that earthly kingdoms are concerned about. Now, this is the very essence of the modern difficulty. The Jews always wanted our Lord to deliver them from the Roman Empire. Before our Lord came into this world, the Roman Empire had conquered Palestine and the Jews; that was why Pilate was there, he was a representative of the Roman Emperor and the Roman power. The Jews, of course, did not like that. They had a nationalistic spirit and they thought that when the great Messiah cam that He would come as a great warrior, form a great army and lead them against the Romans, and, with His power, He would conquer the Romans and dismiss them from the country and then He would elevate the Jews to the highest positions and lead them as a great world conqueror.

When Jesus began to preach and call Himself the Messiah and the King and when He began to say that He was going to found a kingdom, they said, “Now, when are you going to do this?” Their ideas were political and they were military and they were always waiting for Him to speak in that way, but He would not do it. Remember earlier in John 6, they tried to take Him by force to make Him a king and He fled away from them up on top of a mountain!

Do you remember how often they tried to get Him to speak about these things? Do you remember how one afternoon the Herodians and others came to Him and they pulled a coin out of their pockets and they said, “now, we’ve got a question to put to you: Is it lawful to pay a tribute unto Caesar or not?” It was a very clever question. They wanted Him to commit Himself on the political issue. But He saw it and Hew was not to be drawn in. He said, “Let me see that coin.” He took it in His had nans said, “Whose is this image and superscription?” They said, “Caesar’s.” “Very well,” He said, “and at this point He did not begin to give a political oration and say, “It’s a shame we have ever been conquered! It’s time we rose up and delivered ourselves out of this!” He did not suddenly turn into a politician. No, this is what He said: “Very well, render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s, whose image is on you. You’re interested in the coin, what about yourself? I’m concerned about you – not coins, but souls! Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and render unto God the things that are God’s.”

Even John the Baptist seems to have stumbled at this point. He sent his two disciples to ask the famous question: “Art Thou He that should come or do we look for another?” (Matthew 11.3). “I thought you were He,” John says, as it were, “but I am beginning to doubt it. You’re spending your time up there in Galilee with just a handful of common people and preaching your sermons and doing your miracles. When are you coming to Jerusalem? When are you going to do the big thing.” But our Lord never spoke politics. He never touched them. He never had anything to say about the contemporary political situation. As He said to His father and mother in Luke 2.49: “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” Read your four gospels and try to see Him dealing with contemporary political or social events. He never touches them and neither do His apostles. Read through the Act of the Apostles, read the Epistles. You cannot find it there! If He were here today He would not be talking about the problem in South Africa, He would not be dealing with these political questions, and yet we are being told that Christianity comes right into politics and that the tragedy of the world it that the church is not preaching politics! It’s a lie, I say, a travesty of the New Testament gospel!

“But wait a minute,” says someone. “Didn’t your Old Testament prophets deal with these matters?” Of course they did, not because there were politicians but because the nation of Israel was the church at the same time. The nation of Israel was a theocracy. She was the church; she was God’s people and so the prophets spoke to the people of Israel as God’s people. They do not speak to them as they would speak to any other nation, they are not interested in the other nations, they are speaking to God about His own people and the business of Christianity is still to do the same thing. In the first instance, the gospel has nothing to say to man except that he is lost and damned and in need of salvation.

Listen to the entire sermon.

Around-the-Horn[1]50 Books J.I. Packer Thinks You Should Read
As I look down the list of what Packer has read I’m struck yet again by the crucial role of reading in the life of the believer. That may sound trite, but in our highly image-driven world many have lost their zeal for reading. I can almost guarantee that Packer has not spent his life watching the banal and mind-numbing drivel of television nor has he squandered his mental and emotional energy in the world of social media. If one wonders how a man such as Packer could have attained the knowledge and wisdom that he so consistently displays and could exert such a remarkable influence on the life of the church, I suggest it largely has come from having immersed himself in reflective reading of good books.

Moral Relativism Gives Way to a New Moralism
Moral relativism is over.  Moral absolutes are back.  The problem is, these are new moral absolutes, with little connection to traditional objective morality.  And yet because the new moralism is concerned only with tolerance and inclusion, it lacks principles such as justice, temperance, and mercy that can temper its harshness.  As a result, it is just as judgmental, shame-inducing, and self-righteous as the old moralism at its worst.

Hope For A Hopeless Marriage
An encouragement for you and your marriage

Will Phoebe Have Down’s Syndrome in Heaven?
It seems even too trite to write a blog post such as this but at our dinner table the other night my 6 year old son asked the question.

His Damnation our Liberation, His Defeat our Victory
Karl Barth on Easter

15 Pieces of Writing Advice From C.S. Lewis
In his letters and other sources, C. S. Lewis left various bits of advice on the craft of writing. Following are 15 of the things he said.

7 Lies You’ve Been Telling Yourself About Church
Here are seven lies that you may also have encountered, whether personally or from other people, about church . . .

The Future of Religion in a Secular Age
Charting a future for Christianity first requires some genealogical work: How did we get here?

 

Luke 24.13-35

I. THREE THOUGHTS TAUGHT BY THIS GOSPEL.

luther1. This Gospel brings out and enforces especially three thoughts on the article of faith concerning Christ’s resurrection. First, that this narrative transpired and was written along with others as a sure witness and proof of our faith in this article of our Creed. First, in that we see these two disciples leave the company of the others, full of unbelief in the resurrection. They commune together about the things that transpired as if they despair of Christ, and he is now dead and forever buried in their hearts, who does nothing more and is unable to do anything. This appears from their own confession where they say: “We hoped that it was he who should redeem Israel. Yea, and besides this, it is now the third day since he is dead.” And though they had heard from the women that these had seen a vision of angels who told them that Christ had risen and was alive, yet they urged that he had not been seen or found by anyone. In the second place–and this is the most important fact–we here see Christ not only showing himself alive to the unbelieving disciples, so that they might become assured of his resurrection and return at once to announce it to the others, and to hear the same truth from them, the testimony on both sides agreeing and being thereby established; but also that Christ, before they knew him, proved fully and clearly from the Scriptures that it behooved Christ both to die and to rise again from the dead. For this reason he upbraided them for their unbelief because they ought to have known the Scriptures concerning Christ, since he himself had taught them that his sufferings were foretold in the Scriptures.

2. The second thought this Gospel presents is an example of the power and fruit of the resurrection as manifested in these two disciples while they are talking of him and listening to his preaching. This also is nothing less than a portion of the proof of his resurrection. For Christ here proves by word and deed that he is not dead, as they believed before, but works in them and exercises his power through the Word, even before they know him, and makes believers of them who have another mind, reason, heart, and will. This they also recognize and confess, saying: “Was not our heart burning within us while he spake to us, etc?” After this manner he still works in the whole Christian church; though unseen, he yet carries on his work and shows his dominion in that, as the living Lord, he enlightens them through his Word, comforts and strengthens them, defends them with his power and keeps them against the wrath of the devil and the world.

3. As a third truth, we are here shown in what manner Christ reveals his resurrection, and how it may be be known and apprehended, namely, above all first through the Word and faith, rather than through bodily vision or sensation. Therefore he is unknown to them at first when he comes to them and walks with them, though he is with them in very truth, the selfsame Christ whom they had so often seen and heard and known full well. Yet now they do not know him at all, because they know that he had died and had been buried the third day before; and hence can think of him only as a dead man. So strange and unknowable had he become to them that they would not have known him, had he stayed with them ever so long, until he announced to them his resurrection and preached about it. The text says: “Their eyes were holden, that they should not know him.” It was not he who had been changed, nor was it his will to remain unknown to them, but their hearts and thoughts had become estranged and far removed from his. In the same way neither Magdalene nor the other disciples recognized him until they had heard the Word of his resurrection.

4. His purpose is to show and teach us that the power of his resurrection and dominion will be exercised here on earth, and manifest itself in this life only through the Word, and through faith which holds fast to Christ, though it does not see him, and thus conquers sin and death in him, lays hold of righteousness and life, etc. This is a brief summary of the story contained in this Gospel, in so far as it pertains to the article of faith on the resurrection in general; of which we lately heard more.

5. But the special purpose of this Gospel is to show us how weak in faith the disciples were, and how Christ in his kingdom manifests himself to such persons of weak faith, and how he deals with them. For we see from the whole story of Christ’s resurrection, as recorded in the Gospels, how the Apostles, and all the other disciples after them, were so weak in their faith in this doctrine, even to the time of his ascension, that he had to upbraid them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them that had seen him after he was risen, Mk 16, 14. They manifested this weakness, though he had often told them from the Scriptures that he must be crucified and rise again on the third day, etc.

6. From this we learn, in the first place, that even in those who have become true Christians, weakness and frailties remain, especially in the deeper matters of doctrine and faith, they being unable to understand them or to grasp them as firmly and strongly as they ought. For faith is not so light or easy a matter as ignorant and inexperienced people fancy, and as our coarse blockheads, the popish dunces, pretend, who believe that faith is no more than to have heard the history and to know it. Having heard or read just once what the Gospel tells of Christ, these people fancy that they have fully understood and believed it, and henceforth need no longer to learn and believe it.

7. That this is naught but an idle, vain fancy, is proved by their own confession that this knowledge of the Bible story rests in their hearts as a cold, lifeless thing, a mere empty husk, lacking all life-giving power, of no use or help to them, neither giving strength nor making them better; whereas this great, exalted miracle of Christ’s resurrection was peformed and is to be preached, learned, and known, to the end that it may be fruitful in us, quicken and kindle our hearts, and work in us new thoughts, new knowledge, new forces, life, joy, comfort and strength. If this does not take place, the story has been heard in vain, and is dead within you, being of nor more value to you than to Turks and heathen who have never heard it, or have not believed it to be true. You dare not boast of faith, though froth on your tongue, or a sound in your ears, or a dream in your memory give witness that you have heard the story, of which your heart has neither experienced nor tasted aught. The papists show plainly, in all their doctrine and life, that they do not from their hearts believe and hold fast to this article of faith, because they seek the power and effect which ought to come from the resurrection of Christ in themselves and outside of Christ, teaching that it must be sought and obtained through their own works and merits, while they condemn, blaspheme, and persecute the saving doctrine that tells us to turn from these foolish lies to Christ and to the power of his resurrection.

8. Christians, however, and true believers know by sad experience in others as well as in themselves how weak they are, and they deplore the fact that they are unable to grasp this doctrine, or to hold it fast in their hearts with as strong a faith as they ought. Their entire life is spent in combating this weakness, as even Paul says in Phil 3, 12, that he had not grasped it, nor was already made perfect, but that he was pressing on, if so be that he might lay hold of it, and obtain a knowledge of the power of Christ’s resurrection, etc.

Read it all.