A Slavery In The Sphere Of The Mind

This is an excellent post – and right on!

Kernels of Wheat

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Wise words from J. Gresham Machen in his Testimony before the House & Senate Committees on the Proposed Department of Education (1926):

“I think we can lay it down as a general rule…that money given for education, no matter what people say, always has a string tied to it.”

“it…represents a tendency which…seems to be opposed to the whole principle of liberty for which our country stands. It is the notion that education is an affair essentially of the State; that the children of the State must be educated for the benefit of the State; that idiosyncrasies should be avoided, and the State should devise that method of education which will best promote the welfare of the State.”

“To that idea our notion has been diametrically opposed…[ie.] that parents have a right to educate children as they please; that idiosyncrasies should not be avoided; that the State should prevent…

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“…on earth…”

This is a follow-up to my last post, in which I asked the question, “In praying ‘thy kingdom come,’ what are we praying for?”  In that post, I connected the request for the coming of the kingdom to the request that God’s will be done on earth in the same way that it is done in heaven.  In other words, isn’t praying for the kingdom praying for something that happens or will happen on the earth?

I understand that there is a lot of discussion about “the kingdom.”  Some simply cannot accept the idea of what they consider to be “an earthly, carnal, political” kingdom.  According to these folks, it’s a “spiritual kingdom,” that is, the rule of Christ in the hearts of His people.  It’s already happening, because He’s ruling in Heaven.  But that in itself is nothing new.  “Relationship with God,” as it’s called today, has always been about God’s rule in the lives of people.  Even under the Law, obedience was the prime requisite, and disobedience was severely punished.

As far as the “earthly, carnal, political” part is concerned:  I’ve never been able to understand why it’s alright for the Lord Jesus to sit on a throne in Heaven, but not for Him to sit on a throne in Jerusalem.  What difference does it make WHERE the throne is?  It’s about the Occupant, not what He’s sitting on, or where!  For my own part, I’d much rather have Him, say, in the White House than its current occupant – or any of its previous occupants.

It seems to me to be a great insult to our Lord to say that an “earthly” kingdom of His would be “carnal” and/or “political.”  Scripture says that His scepter, His royal insignia, is a scepter of righteousness, Psalm 45:6; Hebrews 1:8.

We just recently completed elections here in the US.  But when the Lord sets up His kingdom, there won’t be any campaigning.  There won’t be any signs out in the front yard or any TV commercials.  There won’t be any of the back room deals or the wheeling and dealing associated with current politics.  There won’t be a Democrat or Republican or Libertarian or Green or Prohibition party.  [Yes, there used to be a Prohibition Party candidate on the ballot in Colorado, long after Prohibition itself was gone.]   There won’t be any voting about it.  Daniel 2:44 says, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom….  And there won’t be any focus groups or polls about how He should do it!

Yes, but didn’t our Lord say that His kingdom was not of this world, John 18:36?  I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that from the pulpit or read it as a “proof” that there will be no “earthly” kingdom.  But clearly, the Lord was talking about the source of the kingdom, not where it will be located or operate.  He said this Himself in a part of v. 36 that’s never quoted, “My kingdom is not from here.”  Otherwise, He said, His disciples would fight.  But the kingdom God will set up will not be set up in any manner remotely similar to other earthly kingdoms.

Furthermore, the Lord Jesus said that He Himself was not of this world, John 8:23.  He said that of His disciples, John 15:19.  Yet, clearly, He and they were located and functioned, physically and actually, in this world.

In the New Testament, there are a couple of clear references to the reign of our Lord as over more than just some ephemeral something that has no relationship to this world.  In Revelation 19:15, after a brief description of our Lord’s return to this earth in vs. 11-14, we read, Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations.  And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron.  If the kingdom is only related to believers, why then is “a rod of iron” necessary?  And who are the nations whom He will “strike” as well as “rule”?  Certainly not believers.  The word translated “rule” means “to shepherd,” i.e., John is saying that Jesus will shepherd the nations.  This seems to me to be a far cry from the idea that He will return, officiate at the final judgment and then usher in eternity.  For an idea of what His return and rule entails, read Zechariah 14.  We’ve done a couple of posts on that chapter.

Revelation 20, which continues ch. 19, indicates this “shepherding” will last for 1000 years.  And, yes, I’m aware of the uproar over that figure.  As one Reformed writer put it, the thousand years simply refer to the present Gospel age of 2000 years (!)  However, it seems to me that the Holy Spirit had a reason for inspiring John to write 1000 years six times in six verses.  Perhaps it was  to impress on us that He meant 1000 years, not just some indeterminate period of time.

He shall rule them with a rod of iron.

Psalm 110:2 says that Messiah will rule in the midst of His enemies.  Where is this happening today?  What kind of a king is it who rules “in the midst of His enemies,” and they don’t know it, but continue to reject, ridicule and rebel against Him? When our Lord sits on the throne of His glory, Matthew 19:28, that will not be possible.

There is so much more that we could say on this subject, but have decided to save it for other posts.  Also, we recognize that there are many good, earnest Christians who differ with us on these subjects.  Further, we recognize that the subject of “prophecy” is not considered “a fundamental of the faith” by many, not worth “fighting over” or causing controversy.  While we do believe that one’s view of prophecy doesn’t determine or deny their salvation, we also believe that it is important and not to be neglected or ignored.  After all, assuming we believe in divine inspiration and not that the Bible is just a miscellaneous collection of ancient writings, written long after the events they describe, the Holy Spirit saw fit to give it to us.  We should try to know as much about it as possible. 

When We Pray, “Thy Kingdom Come”…

…what are we praying for?

Is it just a rote prayer recited during a certain part of the liturgy?

What are we praying for?

Is it just another portion of Scripture we’ve memorized without much thought?

What are we praying for?

Doesn’t the next phrase amplify what we’re praying for?

Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. 

How is “God’s will” done in heaven?

Fully.  Willingly.  Joyfully.  A lot of other adjectives.

Is that how it’s done “on earth”?

Anywhere?

What are we praying for?

 

The Beautiful Snow, 2014

Last year, I started the custom of reposting this to mark the first snowfall of the winter.  With a few changes, it’s essentially the same post that I’ve done twice before, except that this time I put the poem first and all the background material second.  Also, I added “2014” to the title to distinguish this post from the others.

Whether you’ve read this poem before, or this is your first time, I hope it’s a blessing to you.

Oh!  The snow, the beautiful snow,
Filling the sky and the earth below.
Over the housetops and over the street,
Over the heads of the people you meet.
Dancing,
Flirting,
Skimming along.
Beautiful snow!  It can do no wrong;
Flying along to kiss a fair lady’s cheek,
Clinging to lips in frolicsome freak;
Beautiful snow from heaven above,
Pure as an angel, gently as love!

Oh!  The snow, the beautiful snow,
How the flakes gather and laugh as they go
Whirling about in maddening fun,
It plays in its glee with everyone:
Chasing,
Laughing,
Hurrying by,
It lights on the face and it sparkles the eye;
And the dogs with a bark and a bound
Snap at the crystals as they eddy around;
The town is alive, and the heart is aglow,
To welcome the coming of beautiful snow.

How the wild crowd goes swaying along,
Hailing each other with humor and song;
How the gay sleighs like meteors flash by,
Bright for a moment, then lost to the eye:
Ringing,
Swinging,
Dashing they go,
Over the crest of the beautiful snow;
Snow so pure as it falls from the sky,
To be trampled in time by the crowd rushing by –
To be trampled and tracked by thousands of feet
Till it blends with the horrible filth on the street.

Once I was pure as the snow, but I fell,
Fell like a snowflake from heaven to hell;
Fell to be trampled as filth in the street,
Fell to be scoffed at, to be spit on and beat.
Pleading,
Cursing,
Dreading to die,
Selling my soul to whoever would buy;
Dealing in shame for a morsel of bread,
Hating the living and fearing the dead.
Merciful God!  Have I fallen so low?
And yet I was once like the beautiful snow!

Once I was fair as the beautiful snow,
With an eye like a crystal, a heart like its glow;
Once I was loved for my innocent grace –
Flattered and sought for the charm of my face!
Father,
Mother,
Sisters – all,
God and myself I have lost by my fall.
The veriest wretch that goes shivering by,
Will make a wide sweep lest I wander too nigh.
For all that is on or above me I know,
There is nothing that’s pure but the beautiful snow.

How strange it should be that this beautiful snow
Should fall on a sinner with nowhere to go!
How strange it should be when the night comes again
If the snow and the ice struck my desperate brain!
Fainting,
Freezing,
Dying alone,
Too wicked for prayer, too weak for a moan
To be heard in the crash of the crazy town:
To be and to die in my terrible woe,
With a bed and a shroud of the beautiful snow.
_______

The poem ended there.  Later, a Christian added the following:

Helpless and foul as the trampled snow,
Sinner, despair not!  Christ stoopeth low
To rescue the soul that is lost in sin,
And raise it to life and and enjoyment again.
Groaning,
Bleeding,
Dying for thee.
The Crucified hung on the accursed tree!
His accents of mercy fall soft on thine ear,
There is mercy for thee; He will hear thy weak prayer:
“O God, in the stream that for sinners did flow,
Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.”

There are several versions of who actually wrote the poem.  The main one seems to be that it was written by Joseph Warren (Whitaker?) Watson.  It’s found among his published poems.  Perhaps he did write it.  I really don’t know, although the poem is written in the first person.  Unless Mr. Watson had a really vivid imagination, I find it hard to believe that he “dealt in shame for a morsel of bread.”  It’s certainly possible that he wrote the last stanza.

The background from years ago that I remember about the poem I found again in avisoland.blogspot, dated March 26, 2011.  Briefly, here it is:

In the early part of the Civil War, a young woman of 22 or so died at the Commercial Hospital in Cincinatti, Ohio.  She had once been beautiful, but a hard and dissolute life had written another story on what had been a fair countenance.

This poem was found among her belongings.  It was given to the editor of the National Union, where it was printed for the first time.  When the paper came out, the girl hadn’t yet been buried.  A noted American author (some sites say Walt Whitman) was impressed with the poem and followed her to her burial.

Perhaps this is the first time you’ve read the poem, or it may be a second or third time, and you’re feeling a little like the poor young woman who wrote the poem: abandoned and helpless.  So far as we know, though there are varying thoughts about it, this lady died without the Lord Jesus.  You, though, have an opportunity.  The Lord says to you, “Come.”  The Spirit says to you, “Come.”  I say to you, “Come.”  Come to the Lord Jesus just as you are.  You don’t have to dress up or clean up or shape up.  You just have to ‘fess up.  With all your discouragement, your depression, your depravity, just come.  “But,” you say, “You don’t know me, or what I’ve done.”  That’s all right.  He does.  And He died for such as you, anyway.  And me.  He didn’t die for the “good people;” He died for sinners.  That’s all you have to be to come to Him.  O, that you might do it today.

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, Acts 16:31.