Saturday, November 08, 2008


Comic Art

One barely knows where to begin to discuss today's New Gods Character. Is he the greatest creation every from the pen of Jack Kirby? Certainly he is the greatest character from the New Gods. He is Darkseid.
The son of Yuga Khan and Queen Heggra, Prince Uxas, second in line to the throne of Apokolips, plotted to seize power over the planet. When his brother, Drax, attempted to claim the fabled Omega Force, Uxas murdered him and took the power for himself; transforming him into a rock-like creature, and taking a new name: Darkseid.[2] At some point, he falls in love with an Apokoliptian scientist named Suli, with whom he has a son, Kalibak; however Suli is poisoned by Desaad on Heggra's behalf, who believes that Suli was corrupting her son. Following Suli's death, Darkseid's heart grew even colder, and has Desaad poison Heggra, finally becoming the supreme monarch of Apokolips. Darkseid had briefly been forced by his mother to marry Tigra, with whom he also had a son; after murdering his mother, Darkseid had both Tigra and their son, Orion, banished on Apokolips.
Nice people wouldn't you say. Darkseid may be the only character ever to truly give Supes a run for his money. Oh sure, it was Doomsday that killed the big guy, but Darkseid has often manipulated him like a cat with a bird.

Old Darkseid's not looking for much just ultimate power and control of ALL universes. A man, after all, has to know his limitations.

You also have got to love the look. Those heavy stone lines through the face and a more subtle and effective application of the basic idea that lead to the ever-loving blue-eyed Thing. Whereas in Ben Grim, Kirby used the idea to create something both monstrous and lovable, here he has simple created menace - pure menace.

Some of Kirby's creations have been rendered better, but not this one. No one should ever draw this guy but Kirby, which means they should have retired him a long time ago, but he is just to good a character to stop.

BTW, enjoy the video at bottom. It fits the character to a "T" - even if it is crappy TV rendered animation.

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Friday, November 07, 2008



Adrian Warnock recently looked at a bunch of scripture on success. He looked at figures like David, Nehemiah, Jacob and concluded:
It struck me that those of us who believe in the sovereignty of God have a common temptation to react so strongly against "faith" teaching that we feel fearful to ever follow this biblical example and ask for success. But it really does seem that a mark of the Lord being "with" someone is this surprising success that seems disproportionate to a person's natural ability. This is what the grace of God is all about. It means that God often chooses someone and plucks them from obscurity to be successful. It also means that we should not feel so shy about asking for God to grant us success.

God doesn't grant such favor in order for us to be proud. Quite the opposite, because it is his to give and he makes us look better than we are, the glory goes to him alone.
There is some truth in that, but that last sentence is a real kicker. For generally, with the Lord's blessings of success, comes His lessons in humility. Jacob's success in Egypt began with his humiliation at the hands of his brothers. David's reign as king was marked with the tragedy of his personal sin and the anguish so evident in his many Psalms.

Do I fear to pray for success? Absolutely, but mostly because I believe, in a fallen world, success is unattainable. I have enjoyed much material success in my life, but with it have come many painful lessons in other parts of my life. Humility is the most necessary and the hardest of lessons.

Should we pray for success? Indeed, but not for our own, for the Lord's. Adrian discusses "Success beyond our natural abilities." Sadly that border is not always evident - particularly to ourselves. Unless of course, we realize that we have no capability absent God's genuine gift.

Therein lies the key to praying for success - deep, abiding humility. I want to make sure I have that firmly in hand before I ask for God's success. The alternative is that God will use that success to teach me that humility.

But then, maybe that is God's true measure of success?

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Friday Humor

"How come you're late?" asks the bartender as the blonde waitress walks in the door.

"It was awful," she explains. "I was walking down Elm street and there was this terrible accident. A man was lying in the middle of the street. He'd been thrown from his car. His leg was broken, his skull was fractured, and there was blood everywhere. Thank God I took that first-aid course and all my training came back to me in a minute."

"What did you do?" asks the bartender.

"I sat down and put my head between my knees to keep from fainting!"

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Thursday, November 06, 2008


Pride In Missions

Milt Stanley links to a Theolog post:
Which leads to a second complaint: the use of the term “mission” invites the worst sort of Christian pride. We, in our wealth and magnanimity, are going to help our less fortunate brethren. Yes, smart leaders of trips will knock this attitude right out of participants. They’ll argue we go not to help others but to help ourselves, to come back from that poverty, see poverty right in our midst differently, and so on. Those are good counter-arguments. But it’s hard to get out of our minds (and the minds of our supporters) that we’re going to save somebody. In two weeks? Give me a break.

I know these trips change lives. They changed mine—I might not be in ministry without trips to Guatemala, inner-city Boston, Russia and Honduras. I learned about hospitality from those who had little yet gave to us freely. The world got bigger. So did the church. I’m glad those trips happened.

We just shouldn’t call them “mission” trips. They’re pious tourism and little more
Strong language, but, I think fair. These trips really are about the "sender" not the "receiver." I know for fact that some of the hosting churches in the "mission areas" consider their hosting duties as their ministry and mission to the pagan consumeristic Americans. Think about it....

But what makes me most sad is what this says about how we view Christianity. Whether it is a short term mission to an impoverished place or a rousing revival speech with an alter call, we act as if Christianity is a package that can be handed from one person to another - a mere exchange.

Oh, I know, "one sows and another harvests," but I am talking about something different here - Christianity is not even that simple.

My thirteen years of marriage have taught me more about being a Christian than the previous twenty-five as a single Christian (This is no bash on singleness, just my experience) The reason is straightforward - living with someone, no scratch that, BONDING TO SOMEONE, produces changes that simply cannot be experienced in the mere exchange.

In Christianity we bond to Jesus. The old covenant was an exchange, but the new, the one that came with Christ is something quite different indeed. We could not possibly hold up our end of the old deal, so God did what was necessary to make us people that could, which meant He incarnated and bonded to us - we just need to wake up to that fact.

The problem with a short term mission tip is not the lack of mission, but the short term - it is a way of holding not the impoverished, but Christ Himself, at a distance. "Okay God you can have me fully this week, but then I have to get back to business."

When will we start challenging ourselves and each other to the kind of radical change that Christianity truly represents?

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Illuminated Scripture

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008


How Are We Put Together?

Jollyblogger Looks at a quoted quotation and discusses some interesting points. He quotes John Frame:
But Scripture does not warrant “the primacy of the intellect.” For one thing, Scripture does not even distinguish between intellect, will, and emotions, as distinct “faculties” of the mind. It talks about our thoughts, our decisions, and our feelings, but it never presents these as the products of three competing organs. Therefore, it never exhorts us to bring our decisions and feelings into conformity with the intellect.
And then he comments:
My only comment, other than "amen!" is that in our current historical situation evangelicals have swung way far to the anti-intellectual side to such an extent that many are suspicious of intellectualism and treat it as an impediment to true spirituality. As such, I think we need to be jumping up and down and screaming and shouting for an elevation of the intellect.
My first reaction is does not "jumping up and down and screaming and shouting for an elevation of the intellect," somehow flys in the face of the underlying assumption that "Scripture does not even distinguish between intellect, will, and emotions." These are not different things to be balanced, they are instead parts of an integrated whole. The key is not to change the relative levels of each, but to come to view ourselves in a very different fashion - one where these non-existent things are not somehow in competition with each other, but are simply expressions of ourselves.

I wonder what that would look like? There seems to be a necessity to differentiate these parts of ourselves, even Frame, after denying the differentiation slips into it,
For another thing, Scripture teaches that we are totally depraved, and that includes our intellectual, as well as our volitional and emotional aspects. Yes, our feelings sometimes lead us into sin, but the same is true of our intellects. If we seek to remedy our emotionalism by bringing our emotions into line with depraved intellectual concepts, there is no net gain.

Similarly, Scripture teaches that God’s grace saves us as whole persons. Our thinking, acting, and feeling are all changed by regeneration. God’s grace leads us to seek conformity with God’s Word. The important thing is not to bring the emotions into line with the intellect, but to bring both emotions and intellect into line with God’s Word.
But I think he is onto the core of how to step out of this when he says, "Scripture teaches that we are totally depraved," and as such, we should, on some level, stop trying to figure ourselves out.

When we talk about ourselves in terms of some sort of competition between intellect and emotion, what is really going on? It is all about us! We are indeed, as David points out, in a place where emotionalism seems to drive the church - but what that really is is an expression of selfishness since with our physical needs largely cared for in this nation, we feel needy emotionally.

It is difficult to think of the intellect as being needy, but it so often is. If nothing else, it is a means of ego gratification - "I'm smarter than you!" (Hence blogging....) But the desire to know is certainly rooted in the desire to control, and that, again, is about me.

To begin to view ourselves wholistically we must learn to adopt a different viewpoint, one in which we see ourselves as others see us - we must engage on some level in self-denial. Such is only possible when we confess sin.

On a practical level where we are is that the church has yet to fully incorporate the lessons of the therapeutic. There is a therapeutic role to what the church is supposed to do, but like the emotions and the intellect in us as individuals, it is about complementary parts of a whole, not competing entities of a bifurcated thing. The church has largely allowed the therapeutic to supplant the sacramental and the learned in what it does rather than to find a way to incorporate it into its whole.

This, as in the case of ourselves as individuals is because the church has worried more about itself than its mission. The church has sin to confess as well.

In the realm of the Christian, self-examination can only arrive at one conclusion - "I am a sinner," "We are sinners." Everything else flows from that.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008



Did you ever read a story that made you react like this dog? Boy I did when I read this MSNBC piece on church promotion. Before I get into it too deeply, an aside. It is amazing how fast events move. When I saved the story to comment on, the price of gas was the overwhelming "economic concern" of the average American. As I write, it is the day after the DJIA dropped 800 points in the course of a day (recovering to only 300 down by the end of the day), oil is less than $90 a barrel and pumps have been seen in the country with unleaded at less than $3. People's economic concerns have shifted a bit. By the time I hit the "publish" button on this one, who knows where will be?

The story is about churches giving away gasoline as a means of enticing souls to attend. Do I really need to say that's a loser idea? Sure, it will attract people, but for all the wrong reasons and without any motivation to partake of the product you are trying to sell. Forget this from a spiritual aspect and look at it purely in marketing terms. If you are trying to attract people to buy a high-powered V-8 sports car, do you really want to draw them to the store by offering a lecture on global warming? You may get a crowd, but they are not going to have the least interest in your product, all you have done is waste your marketing budget.

But what really bothers me is our, meaning the church's, willingness to conduct a debate on this matter in the mainstream press. Sure, it's cool to get a call from a reporter for a comment on something, but shouldn't we have a little restraint. When we have differences with our brethren, we are urged in scripture to go to them privately.

But my upset does not end there. I am less concerned that this is truly a form of "bribery" than I am that it is just flat out a lie. When we sell faith as something other than it is - whether that be gas cards, or just happiness, we are lying. We devalue the faith, we misrepresent the Lord that we are attempting to serve, and we allow the sin of lying to grow deeper roots in our midst. Maybe we worship the church more than God. Do you honestly think the mainstream secular press is going to convey that message? So in this instance, even our attempts at correction end up exacerbating because they too are misrepresented.

I cry for the church, I really do.

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Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, November 03, 2008


Style and Tone

MMI carries an Alan Nelson piece on the role of rules:
The big question is "Are you a rule keeper or a customer keeper?" An empowered team understands the importance of providing front-end people with the authority to make the right decisions for the customer in a given situation. Translated to the church, the question becomes "Are my team members told that they're empowered to make decisions that make sense?" Do you affirm this by telling stories of people who do?

Every church culture is different. I've been in some churches where I could tell that the fear of the senior pastor, board, or treasurer thwarted people from being creative, flexible, and responsive to people as needs arose. Of course, the antithesis of this is a church where there are no rules and everyone just sort of does his or her own thing...
I'd like to suggest that the balance here is not in finding the right moderate set of rules, but in having the right people dealing with them.

For example, Nelson discusses a relatively trivial problem inside a church:
I coordinated the first Super Bowl party they’d ever done, as a community outreach. When the crowd overwhelmed the seating, I instructed the team to go into the halls and push in the comfy couches from the lobby. The next week in staff meeting, I heard about it.
I look at that story and I say that both sides had legitimate concerns. A Super Bowl party is not very conducive to the maintenance of what may have been very expensive, very well appointed furniture. Likewise condemning what may have been a very good, very effective event on the basis of that single issue lacked a certain grace.

But I wonder if the people that grabbed the couches, had they been a bit more thoughtful, just a bit more energetic, and certainly as concerned about those concerned about the couches as they were about the people at the event might not have found some alternative means of seating. Likewise, I wonder if those concerned about the couches had bothered to pitch in for the event could not have been there to assist with finding that alternative means of seating instead of just griping about it afterwards.

See, what matters here is not the rules, but the grace with which the rules are applied.

I always wonder about this when it comes to the Old Testament laws. There are many we no longer abide by. Certainly the dietary ones, and I also often reflect on the rules of commerce wherein there are debt forgiveness laws, sabbatical years, jubilee years, etc. Oh sure, we have all sorts of wonderful and deep thought about why we no longer need to worry about them. But I cannot help but wonder if, in God's perfect created world, or in Christ's perfect, recreated world we would not and will not find those rules fully in force?

If they are in force in those worlds, it will be without the rancor and effort necessary to abide by them today - because people, absent the sin that weighs on us all and truly transformed into what we were created to be, will not view them as "rules" but as a natural expression of who we are.

Concentrating on the rules is missing the point - almost entirely.

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Sunday, November 02, 2008


Sermons and Lessons


James Orr, Professor of apologetics and theology at Theological College of United Free church, Glasgow, 1891-1901; born in Glasgow, April 11, 1844; educated at Glasgow University, Theological Hall of United Presbyterian church; minister of East Bank United Presbyterian Church, Hawick, 1874-91; professor of Church history at Theological College, Glasgow, of the United Presbyterian Church, 1891-1901; author of “The Christian View of God and the World,” “The Supernatural in Christianity,” “The Ritschlian Theology and the Evangelical Faith,” “Neglected Factors in the Study of the Early Progress of Christianity,” “ Early Church History and Literature,” “ Elliot Lectures on the Progress of Dogma,” “ Essays on Ritschlianism,” “The Image of God in Man and Its Defacement,” “The Problem of the Old Testament,” “The Bible Under Trial,” “The Virgin Birth of Christ,” one of the editors of the “Pulpit Commentary,” etc.


“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” - Matt. 24:35.

A word seems a light and fragile thing put in comparison with this mighty and glorious fabric of heaven and earth. “Heaven and earth,” Jesus says, “shall pass away,” yet nothing in itself might seem more unlikely. The first impression which the great objects of nature make upon us is that of strength, solidity, enduringness. The earth we tread on, the hills girding us, the rocks frowning down upon us, the stars in their nightly watch above us, all give the idea of objects which are the opposite of transient - which may be depended on to outlast all human generations.

And this at first sight seems the verdict of history. “One generation cometh and another goeth; but the earth abideth forever.” The constellations which the Chaldean astronomer dim ages past noted in his book; the planets to which he gave their names; the Pleiades and Orion spoken of by Job; all meet the gaze of the student of the skies just as they used to do. The traveler, as he visits the spots famous in ancient history, marks the mounds where lie buried the ruins of once great cities, and views the wasteness and desolation around, has the same reflection forced on him - the shortness of human life, the transiency of human affairs, and, as contrasted with this the enduringness of nature.

Over against this lasting reality of heaven and earth how frail, how perishable a thing seems a word! Of the numberless myriads of words spoken every day, how few have the faintest chance of living in memory even for an hour. Words, speaking generally, are the lightest, most trivial, most evanescent, least substantial of all entities. Words written are hardly more enduring than words spoken. Look at the mass of old books which cumber the shelves of any of our libraries, and ask the question, Who ever reads them? Our own day has its thick crop of authors and of books, but how many of them will be remembered or heard of twenty or fifty or one hundred years hence?

Yet Jesus says in this passage of the text that heaven and earth shall pass away, but His words shall not pass away. He deliberately puts His words in contrast with this mighty material fabric of the physical universe, and declares that while it is not eternal, His words are; that His words shall last while it perishes; that they are more enduring than it. It was a calm, great utterance, and the wonder of it is only increased when we think of what Jesus was as He appeared to His con¬temporaries. In any ordinary man in Christ’s worldly position such words would have been the height of madness; and so probably they would have been regarded by the Herods and Pilates and Caiaphases of his time. Yet his¬tory has verified this saying of Christ; His words have taken deeper and deeper hold upon the minds of men as the centuries have advanced; and thereby we have been taught to see the difference between Christ‘s outward seeming and His real greatness.

We are to try now to see for ourselves that what Christ says in this wonderful saying of His is true. And we may begin by remind¬ing ourselves of the falsity of the conception into which we so easily glide in thinking the material world to be more enduring than the spiritual. Christ‘s saying teaches us to recast our first impressions. That is a thing we are constantly under the necessity of doing. We are constantly being deceived by the outward appearances and shows of things, and have to learn the art - a great part of the wisdom of life just consists in learning the art - of getting behind appearances, and judging reality by other than material standards. When we do this we learn that mind is greater than matter, truth more enduring than the material order, thoughts and the words that embody them more permanent than even heaven and earth.

“Heaven and earth,” Jesus says, “shall pass away.” Now this, notwithstanding the apparent enduringness, is, as we know to-day, a simple and literal scientific fact. Stable as this great material universe seems to be, it is really in constant process of change. Only slowly and by prolonged and gradual steps has the universe been built up to what it is now. It had its beginning and it will have its end. Science makes perfectly clear to us that the existing conditions of things is not a permanent one; that the world, to use an illustration of its own, is in the position of a clock running down, and that it is as impossible for the present system of things to go on forever, without renewed supply of energy, as it would be for a clock to go on forever without renewed winding up. And there is nearly as little hesitation in science as there is in Scripture in saying in general terms what the end shall be. The end, in the view of men of science, may be postponed to an indefinitely distant period, but they no less than the believer in revelation most surely look forward and hasten unto the coming of a day - he may not call it a day of the Lord - when the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, and the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. No truth is therefore more certain than this, testified long ago by the prophet Isaiah – “Lift up your eyes to the heavens and look upon the earth beneath; for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner “ - though the prophet is able gloriously to add - and it is but the Old Testament anticipation of this New Testament saying - ”But my salvation shall be forever and my righteousness shall not be abolished.”

Look now at words. It may be true that many words are mere breath and nothing else; true also that most books often are destined to a very brief term of existence. But this is not true of all words. There are words which the world reckons among its choicest treasures and which it will not willingly let die - words of wisdom so imperishable, of truth so rare, of thought so deep, of counsel so wise, that they can never pass away. The Bible is a book of very old words, and what freshness and vitality still belong to them. But even outside the Bible there are words in other literature, words great and wise and noble and beautiful, to which this same quality of permanence in their degree belongs. They are the words into which the race has distilled its choicest wisdom, and they are bound to live. And let us not undervalue the might of words. The thoughts they embody may be invisible; you may not be able to see or weigh or measure them, but the force which resides in them is for all that, incalculable. Words have power to kill and make alive. The ideas embodied in words are the forces which make and unmake societies. Masses of men are moved by the ideas which gain possession of their minds and these ideas are implanted in them and propagated through winged words. Mere physical force avails little in the end against the growth of ideas. It is ideas which govern the world. We come to see then, that it is not the material but the immaterial in which resides the greatest vitality and permanence. Heaven and earth shall pass away but it may very well be that there are some words which shall not pass away.

This quality of permanence we speak of belongs preeminently to the words of Christ. Jesus says it does and we are to try to see that what He says is true.

To show this, glance for a moment at what kind of words they are which do endure and what kind of words they are which do not endure. There are three kinds of words regarding which we may say with all confidence that they cannot endure. The first is false words. Falsehoods, indeed, have often a surprising vitality. They live long, are hard to kill, and in the interval do an infinite amount of mischief. Nay, so greedily do the minds of men sometimes receive error, so easily are they led away by sophistry and by appeals to their passions and prejudices, that we might be tempted to think that it is error, not truth, which rules the world, and that the still, small voice of truth is scarcely heard in the noise and confusion of unwisdom and falsehood. But only a little thought is necessary to dispel this illusion. We cannot doubt that under the government of a God of truth the ultimate fate of everything false in this world is to be found out, exposed, condemned. An error, a superstition, may have a reign of centuries, but by and by, as thought widens and discovery advances, it is sure to be exploded. Every year sees the interment of some old-world fallacy, and if it also sees the springing up of some new fallacy of its own, future generations in like manner will see that buried.

A second class of words which cannot endure is trivial words. How few of the words spoken every day have even the remotest right to continued existence. They relate to the mere trifles or accidents of life: what so and so thought; how he felt; what he did; our passing impression about this and about that; the news of the day; where we were; what we saw; whom we met - so a stream of irresponsible talk flows on. Words of this kind are not meant to live - you can compare them to nothing more appropriately than to those swarms of gnats which circle round your heads in the sunlight on a warm summer evening, to which nature allots but a brief hour or day of existence.

The third class of words which cannot endure are those which relate to subjects of but temporary importance. They need not be trivial words; the subjects to which they relate may be of the very highest interest and importance for the immediate present, but their interest is not a permanent one. There comes a day when they are things of the past and live only in history. Of what interest to us, e. g., except for historical purposes, are the questions of life and law and government affecting the Middle Ages? We have our own questions of political and social reform which arc to us of great moment, but even these will become things of the past and will cease to interest our successors. Prophecies will fail, for they shall be fulfilled; tongues shall cease, for they shall no longer be spoken; knowledge shall pass away, for that to which our knowledge and ordered sciences relate shall have vanished from existence!

From these considerations we can gradually infer by contrast the character of the words which must and shall endure. They must be true words; they must be weighty words; and they must be words which refer to subjects of perpetual and eternal interest. Now what we say is that this is preeminently the character of the words of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is upon the fact that His words are true, that they are weighty, and that they relate to subjects of infinite and everlasting moment, that He bases His assertion that heaven and earth shall pass away, but His words shall not pass away. Can we refuse the claim?

Christ‘s words are true. He came forth from the bosom of the Father to proclaim the truth to a world which had in large measure lost the knowledge of the true God and of the way of life. He can say of His words what no other could say, “I am the truth.” Approach Christ even from the human side and this quality in Him is apparent. The light of true knowledge of the Father shone in His soul and as it shone in no other. He had the clearest insight into the facts and laws of the spiritual world. Every chord of His nature vibrated in harmony with holiness and responded in delicate sympathy to impulses from above. What says even a skeptic of Christ (Greg): “ In reading His words we feel that we are holding converse with the wisest, purest, noblest being that ever clothed thought in the poor language of humanity; in studying His life we are following in the footsteps of the highest ideal yet presented to us on earth.” Christ spake as never man spake; and in this way, by his words, as well as by all else about Him, He vindicated His claim to be not son of man alone, but Son of God Most High.

If Christ‘s words are true do they not also possess the other qualities of permanence? They are certainly weighty words. No light, trivial, shallow utterances are they. They embody deep enduring principles; set forth more than master truths; move in a region as high above the ordinary teachings of man as heaven is high above earth. When a man asked Jesus to bid his brother divide his inheritance with him, He said, “Man, who made me a judge and divider over you? “ It was not Christ’s mission to occupy Himself with these petty controversies. It is this which give His words weight. Each age, as it comes round, finds them fruitful in applications to itself. Christ commits Himself to no side in party politics; to no one denomination or party in the Church; to no one form of Church government or action; to no one mode of social organization; to no one solution of the questions of capital and labor, of rulers and subjects, of rich and poor. And the reason is that the solution of these questions proper to one age and stage of society, would not be the solution proper to another age and stage of society, and Christ is not the Teacher of one age only, else his words would, like those of other teachers, have long since become obsolete, but the Teacher of all times and of all ages. Hence lie contents Himself with enunciating great truths, unfolding great principles which underlie and are to guide us in all our studies of these subjects and ought to regulate us in our thought and legislation upon them.

I was much struck in reading the "Thoughts on Religion “by the late Mr. Bomanes, that eminent scientific man who, during the greater part of his life, was under an absolute eclipse of his faith, who lost his faith even in God and wrote against belief in God, but who the last year or two of his life came back to the full Christian confession, and he tells us in these “Thoughts on Religion “ that one thing that most profoundly influenced him was the discovery that Christ ‘s words did not become obsolete as the words of other great teachers did; that while the words of Plato and others had passed away so far as actual living influence was concerned, the words of Jesus endured, and it was just this truth, that His words did not and do not pass away, that produced so remarkable an effect upon his mind.

But even this is not the most essential part of Christ’s teaching. It is not the kingdom of earth but the kingdom of God concerning which He specially came to enlighten men, and it is to this higher and eternal region that most of His teachings belong. Here most of all we see the truth of the statement” Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”

What are the special themes to which Christ‘s words relate? He speaks to man above all of God His Father, and truth about God - if only it be truth - can in the nature of the case never pass away. Truth about other things may pass away; but truth about eternal God, His being, character, love, grace - this can never pass so long as God Himself endures.

Christ speaks to us again about man, but about man under what aspect and in what relations? Not from the point of view of man in any of his natural characteristics, as rank, age, sex, race, culture; but solely of man as a spiritual and immortal being, in his capacity of enduring existence, in his relation to God and eternity. Christ speaks of that which is universal in man, therefore His teaching endures and applies to all grades of civilization and all stages of culture. In Christ Jesus there is neither Greek, or Jew, or Barbarian, or Scythian, or bond, or free, or male or female, or any of those things; but Christ regards man as a spiritual and immortal being; in his enduring aspect; in his relations to God and to eternity. Christ looked at man always and altogether in that one light, set man before Him in that light as He went through the world, taught about man in that light, legislated for man in that light, never looked at man in any other light than that.. It might be the poorest beggar on the street; it might be the greatest sinner in, the city; Christ always looked on that man or that woman in the light of their relation to God and to eternity, and therefore Christ’s teaching about man endures. It cannot become obsolete; it goes down deeper than all these distinctions that divide us. Oceans divide nations, interest divides nations, but Christ’s teaching about man, about the soul, goes deeper than all these things. His teachings are fitted for every race - experience proves that - for every age, for every civilization. The little child begins to lisp” Our Father “and takes in these teachings of Jesus, and the sage in the heights of his loftiest speculations feels that he can never get beyond them, and so Christ ‘s words about man endure.

Christ speaks again of spiritual truth and duty, of the righteousness of the kingdom of God, and this is truth which in its nature is eternal. There is no inherent necessity, so far as we can see, for the laws of the material universe, of the heaven and the earth, being precisely what they are. The planets, had the Creator willed it, might have revolved in other orbits, might have moved in different directions, the properties, laws and relations of substances might have been different from what they are. The fabric of the world is thus contingent on the Creator‘s decree, and so is alterable and can be thought of as passing away. But it is not so with spiritual and moral truth. That is eternal as the nature of God Himself. No decree of heaven could ever make that which is essentially right wrong or that which is essentially wrong right; could ever make falsehood, deceit or treachery into virtues, or make love, affection, fidelity into vices. But it is in this region of eternal truth that throughout His gospel Christ specially legislates.

Finally, Christ speaks to man of salvation, and one of His favorite names for salvation is eternal life. It needs no proof that words of truth about eternal life are words that must and shall endure; that after all sums up the whole nature of Christ‘s mission to the world. He came to seek and to save the lost. He came that He might redeem and save us and bring us back to God, and what is Christ’s own great name, or one of His great names for this salvation He came to bring? Is it not just this eternal life: “I give unto my sheep eternal life,” he says. He came that we might have life, that we might have it more abundantly. In the very nature of the case truth about eternal life is truth that cannot pass away. Truth about earthly, temporal things may pass away; truth about eternal life cannot pass away. All that Christ came into this world to do had for its end the bestowing upon us of that life which is everlasting. His coming, His living, his dying, His rising again, the gift of His Spirit, everything else, all has this for its end, that we poor, perishing sinners may be lifted up into participation with that pure, holy, incorruptible, blessed life of God Himself, which is just the other name for eternal life; and truth about this eternal life, as I say, is truth that can never pass away.

Thus we have turned these words of Jesus round and round. The more closely we look at them the more clearly we see that from their very nature they cannot pass away. They remain to us the touchstone of eternal truth, in all spiritual things, the rock foundation on which alone if men build they shall stand secure in that dread day, which shall try every man ‘s work of what sort it is. May God grant that at long and last, when our persons and characters and life work are brought unto judgment, they may be found enduring because resting on this rock of the eternal words of Christ!

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