|The Biblical Examiner
An Examination of Biblical Precepts Involved in Issues at Hand
1) Ante-Nicene, 100-325 - Paganism
2) Clemet, 153-193-217
3) Personal Note: Good Health
4) R.J. Rushdoony - Prayer
One of the better investments this pastor has made was a CDROM containing the complete 37 volume set of Nicene Fathers. However, the CD does not contain the index (vol 38), the translator's footnotes, nor the introductions to the different men whose writings are reproduced thereon. But Divine Providence provided the complete 38 volume set of Fathers for this pastor before the CD became available, so he is able to include what is missing on the CD. Enjoying the research of other's ideas on different subjects, the CD makes it easy to check the Father's teachings on whatever topic is at hand. It would not be near as easy, however, without the index volume.
The period of Ante-Nicene Christianity was from the death of John the Apostle to Constantine the GreatA.D. 100-325: It was the age of persecution and martyrdom. The Christian writings of that period, covered in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, contain the Christian teaching that led to the overthrow of the one-world government of the day, Rome.
Though Christianity has its supernatural origin in Christ and the Apostles, there was an abrupt transition: God no longer worked supernaturally as He did through the Apostles; rather, now He worked through the every day faith of His people. Schaff describes this period: the religion of Christ was prohibited by law and the profession of it punished as a political crime. Thus the Ante-Nicene fathers lived in a time of tremendous cost to be a Christian. They, accordingly, taught from very practical experiences, and their teachings are extremely applicable for Christians of all ages.
The turning point of both world and church history was Constantine's 312 vision, leading to his 313 Edict of Toleration, which prepared for the 325 Nicene council. The Nicene Council marks the inauguration of the imperial state-church. Emperor Constantine belongs to both periods, i.e., Anti-Nicene and Post-Nicene. He was the first Christian emperor, and his Edict of Toleration marked the fall of paganism to Christianity and the beginning of the next period of church history, 313-600, Constantine the Great to Gregory the Great:
The reign of Constantine the Great marks the transition of the Christian religion from under persecution by the secular government to union with the same; the beginning of the state-church system. (Schaff, III.6. See also The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon, ESQ, with notes, by the Rev. H.H. Milman, in six volumes, New York, Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 1879, I.406.)
For 300 years, 33-313, ancient Greco-Roman paganism had exerted all of its fierce hatred, anger and might against the Church. The Christians of that age, in spite of the terrible persecutions, refused to give up their Christian faith which required no king but Jesus, refusing to worship the pagan Greek and Roman gods. As Rome persecuted the Church, it, of course, fought against God, and signed its own death warrant.
Greco-Roman paganism died at the issuance of the Edict:
[Constantine] ...understood the signs of the
times and acted accordingly. He was the man for the times, as the
times were prepared for him by that Providence which controls
both and fits them for each other. (Schaff, III.12.)
He... clearly saw that idolatry had outlived itself in the Roman empire, and that Christianity alone could breath new vigor into it and furnish its moral support. Especially on the point of the external Catholic unity his monarchical polities accorded with the hierarchical episcopacy of the church. Hence from the year 313 he placed himself in close connection with the bishops, made peace and harmony his first object in the Donatist and Arian controversies, and applied the predicate catholic to the church in all official documents. And as his predecessors were supreme pontiffs of the heathen religions of the empire, so he desired to be looked upon as a sort of bishop, as universal bishop of the external affairs of the church. (Constantine carried to his death the pagan title, Pontifex Maximus, or high-priest of the heathen hierarchy, ibid, 15. This purely pagan title is still carried by the Roman Pope, ed.) All this by no means from mere self-interest, but for the good of the empire, which now shaken to its foundations and threatened by barbarians on every side, could only by some new bond of unity be consolidated and upheld until at last the seeds of Christianity and civilization should be planted among the barbarians themselves, the representatives of the future. His personal policy [to retain his power and authority as supreme ruler, Emperor] thus coincided with the interests of the state.
Christianity appeared to him, as it proved in fact, the only efficient power for a political reformation of the empire, from which the ancient spirit of Rome was fast departing, while internal, civil, and religious dissensions and the outward pressure of the barbarians threatened a gradual dissolution of society.
...Constantine adopted Christianity first as a superstition, and put it by the side of his heathen superstition, till finally in his conviction the Christian vanquished the pagan, though without itself developing into a pure and enlightened faith. (Ibid, 13, 14)
With his every victory over his pagan rivals, Galerius, Maxentius, and Licinius, his personal leaning to Christianity and his confidence in the magic power of the sign of the cross increased; yet he did not formally renounce heathenism, and did not receive baptism until, in 337, he was laid upon the bed of death. (Ibid, 15.)
In other words, Constantine credited Christianity's signs and ceremonies with more magical virtue than what was present in paganism's. Furthermore, each victory proved his belief correct. What was the source of his victories: God or his own military genius? His coins bore on one side the letters of the name of Christ, on the other, a figure of the Sun-god, and the inscription Sol invictus. (Ibid, 15.) Of course, this developed from his vision and the resulting victory.
At all events Christianity did not produce in Constantine a thorough moral transformation. He was concerned more to advance the outward social position of the Christian religion, than to further its inward mission. (Ibid, 17.)
...Not a decided, pure, and consistent character, he stands on the line of transition between two ages and two religions; and his life bears plain marks of both. (Ibid, 12-18.)
After this victory at Rome (which occurred October 27, 312), Constantine, in conjunction with his eastern colleague, Licinius, published in January, 313, from Milan, an edict of toleration, which goes a step beyond the edict of the still anti-Christian Galerius in 311, and grants, in the spirit of religious eclecticism, full freedom to all existing forms of worship, with special reference to the Christian. The edict of 313 not only recognized Christianity within existing limits, but allowed every subject of the Roman empire to chose whatever religion he preferred. At the same time the church buildings and property confiscated in the Diocletian persecution were ordered to be restored, and private property-owners to be indemnified from the imperial treasury. (Ibid, 30.)
The edict of toleration was an involuntary and irresistible concession of the incurable impotence of heathenism and the indestructible power of Christianity. It left but a step to the downfall of the one and the supremacy of the other in the empire of the Caesars. (Ibid, 11.)
In the writings of the Ante-Nicene fathers, we get insight into the Christianity that won over the world to Christ, and established a Christian nation lasting over a thousand years, The Byzantine Empire. It was founded by Constantine in 324, and ended when its capital, Constantinople, fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. At which time, Constantine XI was killed, and one of his brothers captured by Muhammed II. It is interesting that a niece to Constantine XI, Zoe, married the Grand Prince of Moscow, Ivan (John) III; she is known in Russian sources as Sophia Palacologina, bring up a very interesting situation, viz., Moscow's rulers were the representatives and defenders of eastern Orthodoxy, and heirs to the throne of the Byzantine Empire.[The History of the Byzantine Empire, II.589, 590].
Admittedly, there were many confusing issues that came out of the marriage between the church and state, the Byzantine Empire, but we cannot ignore the fact of its long endurance in the name of Christ and of its tremendous influence in establishing the law that Western Civilization was built upon, viz. The Justinian Law Code. Since WWII, Western Civilization has returned to paganism as it departs from the laws formulated by the Byzantine Emperor [527-565] Justinian. The Justinian Law Code that stood for 1,400 years was a result of the teachings of the Ante-Nicene fathers.
As the Byzantine Empire law code is destroyed [Christians are permitting its destruction with their indifference to social issues], chaos develops in the West: The West can no longer be considered civilized as it reverts back to the barbarism existing in the world before the Council of Nicene.
Reading any of the Ante-Nicene Fathers' material, one cannot help but be impressed with the abundance of Scripture, particularly Old Testament, these men used to counter the false teachings of their day. The men of the Ante-Nicene age were men of their time:
The Church was formulating its doctrine in the midst of pagan Greek philosophy. Though heavily influenced by the paganism they were standing against, their unBiblical ideas fell away as they developed not a doctrine of withdrawal and wait, as often prevails today, but a doctrine of victory that applied the Christian faith to every area of thought and life.
The fathers had their share of errors, clearly showing that paganism was infecting the most faithful segments of the church. All the Ante-Nicene fathers could probably be considered Gonstics in terms of God's Word: The early fathers many times confused grace and faith, and failed to properly understand and develop God's sovereignty. The Ante-Nicene fathers were heavily influenced by paganism as they stood on the great divide between pagan Greek philosophies, e.g., Plato, and Christianity with only the indwelling Spirit of God and His Word. Conversely, the apostles had the literal inspiration of the Spirit as they stood. Despite their weaknesses, it must be remembered that these men were not the heretics of their day but the wandering and blind champions of the faith...
These men and others with them were the Anti-Gnostic fathers of the Church. Whatever their failures, they did stress the reality of the incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection of the flesh. With this faith they armed the saints against persecution. They paved the way for the Roman Catholic doctrine of the church, but they also kept alive the reality of Christ's life and work. ... [World History Notes, R.J. Rushdoony, Thornburn Press, 83, 84.]
Sadly, it seems that many modern, renowned Christian leaders are going back to the pagan Greek philosophies that these men, and many who followed, worked so hard, even giving their lives, to separate Christianity from.
Among other things,
1. Justin Martyr was almost ready to make Plato a kind of non-Israelite prophet who borrowed from Moses..., and he held that `Those who lived in accordance with Reason are Christians, even though they were called godless, such as among the Greeks, Socrates and Heraclitus and others like them...'; Clement confused the Biblical faith with Plato...; Origen held that there were two ways of salvation, called believers in predestination `heretics,' ...relied on `Secret tradition,' had an ascetic rather than Biblical view of morality, had to close his school because of his extremism, and became a source of many heresies, and Cyprian developed a doctrine of the unity of the church in the bishop; rebellion against the bishop was rebellion against God. Moreover, Tatian held to the independent reason of the natural man; Irenaeus did not see salvation as justification through the atonement of Jesus Christ; Tertullian was a member of the Montanist Church, and Policarp at times argued from the Book of Tobit. [World History Notes, 79-88.R.J.Rushdoony.]
2. The Greek philosopher Plato (c.428-347 BC) remains one of the most influential thinkers in Western civilization. Plato's dialogues, in their exploration of the basic questions raised by philosophical inquiries, were seminal works in the history of thought.
(See Plato's, The Republic, ed.) Plato was a pupil of Socrates, and his interest in education led to his founding (387 BC) of the Academy in Athens. (Multimedia Encyclopedia Version 1, CDROM.)
3. Socrates (c.469-399 BC), the great philosopher of classical Athens, reportedly spent his life in conversation with Athenian citizens, seeking true knowledge and exposing the errors of those who claimed to have wisdom. His persistent questioning so antagonized the city fathers that he was accused of heresy and of corrupting the youth; Socrates was sentenced to death by poisoning in 399 BC. (The Bettmann Archive) (Ibid.)
4. Heraclitus of Ephesus, fl. c.480 BC, is one of the most fascinating and enigmatic of the early Greek philosophers... Heraclitus introduces into philosophy a new self-consciousness about method and language and a new self-critical interest in the faculties used to attain knowledge. He was the first Greek to develop a theory of the human SOUL; he praised its creative resources and spoke of the importance of self-exploration.
When he spoke of the LOGOS that is common to all and said that the universe is ruled by logos, Heraclitus was probably speaking of the ordering of the shifting, changing world that is imposed by human beings in their discourse and thought. He always urged that close attention be given to the polarities and concealed structures embodied in language... Preoccupied with change, he declared that fire is the central element of the universe, and he postulated a world with no beginning and no end. Heraclitus's influence can be seen in Stoicism and, most recently, in the style and thought of Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche. He thus maintained that strife and change are natural conditions of the universe. (Ibid.)
2 Sam 1:19-27 The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: how are the mighty fallen! Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph. Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither let there be rain, upon you, nor fields of offerings: for there the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away, the shield of Saul, as though he had not been anointed with oil. From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan turned not back, and the sword of Saul returned not empty.
Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided: they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions. Ye daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet, with other delights, who put on ornaments of gold upon your apparel. How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle!
O Jonathan, thou wast slain in thine high places. I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women. How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!
Lamenting the death of Jonathan, David's statement gives several things to consider:
First, do not tell the pagans that the mighty men of God are fallen and no longer in the battle for God and Godliness. One should neither rejoice nor spread around about the fall of someone who has the reputation of being a Christian, especially Christian leaders.
However, we must also remember that Paul said, Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. [1 Tim 5:20.]
Second, the mighty are fallen, so Let the fields be barren, and bring forth no fruit to offer to the Lord. [Geneva]
Third, the mighty man of Israel, King Saul, was as though he had never been a king, but a common soldier.
Fourth, the mighty, Saul and Jonathan, had at one time been victorious. Fifth, the mighty, Saul and Jonathan, except for the situation with David, had been united in life and now united in death.
Sixth, the battle was great, claiming the lives of common soldiers, valiant men of war and leaders of menofficers.
Seventh, David was greatly distressed that such a great man as Jonathan fell in the battle.
Eighth, not only did the mighty fall, but notice what happened: and the weapons of war perished!
Obviously, Jonathan and Saul were involved in a literal, physical warfare, and lost their lives because of sin on Saul's part. The Spirit tells those since Christ that the Christian life is comparable to a warfare (1 Tim 1:18) in which one must endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ (2 Tim 2:3). However, the modern Christian warfare is not fought with carnal, physical weapons (2 Cor 10:2-5). The Christian battle will not be won with carnal, physical might, but the Lord Himself will give the victory (Zec 4:6).
The Christian's battle is in the day of small things (v. 10); in other words, the Christian's battle is in seemingly small, insignificant areas that are easily overlooked.
The point of pursuit is this: the mighty men of God fell, and the weapons of war perished!
#03627 AV - vessel 166, instrument 39, weapon 21, jewel 21, armourbearer + 05375 18, stuff 14, thing 11, armour 10, furniture 7, carriage 3, bag 2, misc 13; 325. 1) article, vessel, implement, utensil 1a) article, object (general) 1b) utensil, implement, apparatus, vessel 1b1) implement (of hunting or war) 1b2) implement (of music) 1b3) implement, tool (of labour) 1b4) equipment, yoke (of oxen) 1b5) utensils, furniture 1c) vessel, receptacle (general) 1d) vessels (boats) of paper-reed.(1)
The weapons of war perished! The instruments, the apparatus, the equipment of warfare perished in the battle! In a literal, physical war fought to defend or expand the kingdoms of men, the weapons are guns, knives, clubs, hands, teeth, &c. But what about the Christian's weapons of war for defending and expanding the Kingdom of God, the warfare in which he is involved? We commonly, and rightly, identify the Christian's weapons as, among other things, preaching the Word of God (Rom 1:16, 1 Cor 1:18, 24, &c.), subduing the mind by and for the Spirit (2 Cor 10:4), faith, and a good conscience (1 Tim 1:19), the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Eph 6:17, Heb 4:12), and the blood of the Lamb, and the word of testimony (Rev 12:11). But notice all these weapons are, using a poor term, spiritual. What are some practical weapons?
In the warfare since Christ, some key weapons of war have perished from the Christian's arsenal. The result has been some serious losses for the Kingdom of God. The King's soldiers have been striped of some very effective weapons, and we are not talking of guns, swords and knives. The lost weapons played a key role in conquering the known world for the Kingdom of God in the first few centuries after Christ, and they defended His Kingdom for many succeeding centuries.
We mentioned Clement of Alexandria in a recent mailing, and that he wrote to those rescued from paganism for the Christian faith. His writings made the new Christian faith relevant to the great influx of pagans into Christianity: He taught them how to apply their new-found faith. Clement wrote several books, including The Instructor and The Stromata, or Miscellanies. The full title of Stromata, according to Eusebius and Photius, is Titus Flavious Clement's miscellaneous collections of speculative (gnostic) notes bearing upon the true philosophy. (2)(3) The aim of the work, in accordance with this title, is, in opposition to Gnosticism, to furnish the materials for the construction of a true gnosis, a Christian philosophy, on the basis of faith, and to lead on to this higher knowledge those who, by the discipline of the Paedagogus, had been trained for it... In all probability, Stromata was given to the world c. 194.
As mentioned previously, Clement's date was before Christianity became approved by Rome, 312. Therefore, Clement's instructions in the principles of the Gospel had a major influence in overthrowing pagan Rome as the converted pagans placed into practice the principles of the Gospel outlined by Clement, in the midst of the all but incredible licentiousness and luxury by which society around was tainted. Obviously, the social climate in which Clement wrote was quite similar to our modern social climate.
The Fathers' footnotes are bracketed [text], and this editor's comments are noted (#), and placed at the end:
CHAP. IV.HUMAN ARTS AS WELL AS DIVINE KNOWLEDGE PROCEED FROM GOD.
Homer calls an artificer wise; and of Margites, if that is his work, he thus writes:
"Him, then, the Gods made neither a delver
nor a ploughman,
Nor in any other respect wise; but he missed every art."
Hesiod further said the musician Linus was "skilled in all manner of wisdom;" and does not hesitate to call a mariner wise, seeing he writes:
"Having no wisdom in navigation."
And Daniel the prophet says, "The mystery which the king asks, it is not in the power of the wise, the Magi, the diviners, the Gazarenes, to tell the king; but it is God in heaven who revealeth it."[6 Dan. ii. 27, 28.]
Here he terms the Babylonians wise. And that Scripture calls every secular science or art by the one name wisdom (there are other arts and sciences invented over and above by human reason), and that artistic and skilful invention is from God, will be clear if we adduce the following statement: "And the Lord spake to Moses, See, I have called Bezaleel, the son of Uri, the son of Or, of the tribe of Judah; and I have filled him with the divine spirit of wisdom, and understanding, and knowledge, to devise and to execute in all manner of work, to work gold, and silver, and brass, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, and in working stone work, and in the art of working wood," and even to "all works."[1 Ex xxxi.2-5.] And then He adds the general reason, "And to every understanding heart I have given understanding;"[2 Ex. xxi.6] that is, to every one capable of acquiring it by pains and exercise. And again, it is written expressly in the name of the Lord "And speak thou to all that are wise in mind, whom I have filled with the spirit of perception."[3 Ex. xxviii. 3.]
Those who are wise in mind have a certain attribute of nature peculiar to themselves; and they who have shown themselves capable, receive from the Supreme Wisdom a spirit of perception in double measure. For those who practise the common arts, are in what pertains to the senses highly gifted: in hearing, he who is commonly called a musician; in touch, he who moulds clay; in voice the singer, in smell the perfumer, in sight the engraver of devices on seals. Those also that are occupied in instruction, train the sensibility according to which the poets are susceptible to the influence of measure; the sophists [thinking skills, e.g., mathematics, philosophy, biological sciences, &c., ed.] apprehend expression; the dialecticians [specializes in the study of dialects, ed.], syllogisms [a form of deductive reasoning, ed.]; and the philosophers are capable of the contemplation of which themselves are the objects. For sensibility finds and invents; since it persuasively exhorts to application. And practice will increase the application which has knowledge for its end. With reason, therefore, the apostle has called the wisdom of God" manifold," and which has manifested its power "in many departments and in many modes"[4 Eph. iii 10; Heb. i. X.]by art, by knowledge, by faith, by prophecy--for our benefit. "For all wisdom is from the Lord, and is with Him for ever," as says the wisdom of Jesus.[Ecclus. i. I]
For if thou call on wisdom and knowledge with a loud voice, and seek it as treasures of silver, and eagerly track it out, thou shalt understand godliness and find divine knowledge."[6 Prov. ii.3-5.] The prophet says this in contradiction to the knowledge according to philosophy, which teaches us to investigate in a magnanimous and noble manner, for our progress in piety. He opposes, therefore, to it the knowledge which is occupied with piety, when referring to knowledge, when he speaks as follows: "For God gives wisdom out of His own mouth, and knowledge along with understanding, and treasures up help for the righteous." For to those who have been justified [7 A passage much reflected upon, in questions of Clement's Catholic orthodoxy. See Elucidation VI., infra.] by philosophy, the knowledge which leads to piety is laid up as a help.(4)
Interestingly, Clement does not attribute to the prince of this world, the Devil, any power to impart wisdom and knowledge to individuals, not even to his slaves. Clement clearly held that the sovereign God of heaven totally controls all events on earth, and lifts up and put down whomsoever He will in the kingdoms of men; one method the Lord uses is imparting unique and special wisdom to every man according to His good pleasure alone.
However, Scripture clearly teaches that the enemy of God has limited power of divination, a supposed ability to foretell the future, communicate with the dead and/or reveal hidden secrets, Lev 20:27, Deut 18:11, 1 Sam 28:7, 1 Ch 10:13 [people would rather seek familiar spirits than the Lord God, Isa 8:19], &c. Moreover, we must admit that wicked spirits do have knowledge hidden from man, because they have access to the air around us. Acts 16:16, divination:
Literally, The spirit of a Pythoness. This meant, among the Greeks, a prophetic spirit, Pythias being one of the names of Apollo, the god of prophecy. The account shows (1) that the damsel was possessed, (2) that her strange power gave her value in that it was superhuman, (3) that she was a slave, owned by several masters, and brought them much gain by soothsaying. Luke does not say that she foretold the future, but the people thought she did. She was a demoniac. See PNT Mt 8:29.(5)
The liar, the father of lies, deceives people into thinking he and his servants can foretell the future; he deceives people into thinking he can exalt and put down whomsoever he will. Sadly, he deceives people who claim to believe Scripture into thinking he rules the earth and gives the kingdom of men to whomsoever he will. There are Christians who believe his lie despite the fact that God said that the heavens do rule the earth, Dan chapter 4 (v. 26). In other words, the Devil lied when he tempted Christ, for nothing was his to give, Luke 4:6. Mat 11:27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father:
This is to be understood of Christ, as mediator; for, as God, nothing was delivered to him; he had all things, all perfections, power, and glory his Father has; and is to be considered in the utmost extent: all persons are delivered to him, angels and men; good angels are delivered to him, to be confirmed in him, as their head, and to be made use of by him; spirits, evil spirits, which were subject to his disciples, are under him, and at his command and disposal; and their subjection to his disciples is owing to his power over them, which he communicated to them...(6)
As God, everything was already Christ's, so how could the Devil lay claim to anything without lying? In other words, the Devil's only power over man is his ability to lie and make his lies believable.
Even a superficial reading of the Revelation reveals that God gave both the desire and power to make war with the Lamb, and He did it so His word would be fulfilled, 17:17, For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.
Having established that the Devil has no power to impart skills and abilities, let us continue with Clement's teaching:
First, artistic and skilful invention is from God... The skill to invent and develop is God-given, though misused by man. Cf. Dan 4.
While speaking to a pastor friend, he pointed out that after watching The Rise of the Nerds some time ago on TV, he was impressed how the Lord used astoundingly wicked, immoral, greedy men to develop the amazing technology we have today: Christians did not and do not have to be in the cesspool of greed that fuels the computer information revolution, yet the technology has been handed to them at a reasonable price.
Communications, computers and publishing [paper and electronic media of all kinds] to spread God's good news over the face of the whole world are now within easy reach of anyone desiring to obey God and go into all the world, teach the gospel and Christianize the nations.
If one has little or no God-given abilities in the areas of these tremendous, modern opportunities, e.g., communications, computers, publishing, they can help finance others who do. Really, the only reason Mat 28:19, 20, cannot be fulfilled is because many of God's people have believed the Devil's lie that it cannot be done.
Second, Those who are wise in mind have a certain attribute of nature peculiar to themselves; and they who have shown themselves capable, receive from the Supreme Wisdom a spirit of perception in double measure. In other words, wisdom in every area is from God, and those who show themselves dependable to use that wisdom for God's glory receive a double measure from the Supreme Wisdom.
Third>, senses highly gifted: hearing, a musician; touch, mold clay; voice, singer; smell, perfumer; sight, engraver, i.e., Blue collar workers, such as factory workers, farmers, mechanics, truck drivers, equipment operators, building trades, computer technicians, communications, &c.
Fourth, occupied with instruction, or reasoning skills: poets, mathematicians, scientists, dialecticians, philosophers, instructors, i.e, White collar workers, such as architects, researchers, designers, developers, medical doctors, professors, lawyers, CEOs and other places of authority, &c.
Fifth, all areas of endeavors must be considered gifts from God, for God made the mariner wise; the wisdom of God is imparted to man for man's benefit and for God's glory. All wisdom must be regarded as such, and used according to His Word.
Sixth, the abilities given in His Divine Providence are to be developed through prayer, asking God to give wisdom, and through training and use. Natural talents are given by God, and each person will be accountable to Him for how he developed and used them. In other words, the talents of Mat 25:15ff., could be taken as abilities to work, sing, think, write, communicate, build, &c.
Seventh, we progress in piety as we develop our God-given talents. Clement used piety in its proper sense before the term changed to mean some kind of mystical experience of simply preaching, prayer and Bible reading. Piety, or increased Godliness, is gained by recognizing, developing and using God-given skills and abilities for His glory. In other words, Christian maturity is growth in the grace [i.e., the desire and power do the Lord's will, Ph 2:13: His good pleasure includes using the natural abilities for His glory] and knowledge of God, 2 Pe 3:18. Not only is God known through His Word and through His creation, but if natural abilities and skills are from God, which they are, then growth in the knowledge of God includes growth in and development of God-given individual abilities, e.g., the mariner, perfumer, engraver, mathematician, scientist, dialectician, philosopher. The prayer for wisdom, Ja 1:5, includes prayer to develop the natural abilities and skills received from God, whether it is the skill to be a lock smith, a truck driver, selling insurance or remodeling homes.
Before Christian activity was reduced to simply telling others about Jesus, prayer and reading one's Bible, Clement taught the new converts that Christianity was for every area of human endeavor. Every skill and ability possessed by the individual, whether pagan or Christian, was from God. Then, said Clement, upon becoming a Christian and through prayer, training and practice, the Christian could receive a double portion of wisdom if he was using his skills and abilities to glorify God.
Accordingly, a major portion of the weapons provided by God for advancing His kingdom on earth are the skills and abilities with which one earns his livelihood.
2 Sam 1:27 How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!
At the start of Christianity, 194, Clement taught that the natural skills and abilities given by God to individuals are part of the arsenal of weapons provided by the Captain of the Lord's hosts to help conquer the world for the Kingdom of Christ the King. He considered them weapons to be prayed over, studied, developed, practiced and used for the glory of God. Absolutely everything done by a Christian is to be for the glory of God. But since Clement, The mighty men of old have fallen: Where are the men to teach pagan converts to Christianity how to use art, science, music, architecture, agriculture, technology, and other skills and abilities for the Lord? A few mighty men have survived the battle, but not many. Having no one to instruct the converted pagans, the weapons of war perished! The instruments, the apparatus, the equipment of Christian warfare to obey Mat 18:19, 20, perished in the battle as teachers have failed to instruct the converts from paganism that everything is Christian and is to be developed for Christ and used for Him in the work place.
The fields be barren, and bring forth no fruit to offer to the Lord, for the mighty men are so few and far between. In fact, today is as though great leaders as Clement of Alexandria never lived, and never had a victory. The battle has been great, claiming the lives of common soldiers, valiant men of war and leaders of men, officers. No doubt the Son of David is greatly distressed as He sees how men have laid aside the weapons He has provided for His Kingdom. [Distressed is used very loosely, for the Lord is in total control as history works His sovereign plan.]
But the Lord is raising up again mighty men who see every occupation and area of life as an area to be used according to God's Word for His glory. The Home School movement is probably the brightest star that has shown in hundreds of years.
1. Online Bible, V. 6.34. Online Bible USA,
Bronson, MI. 1-800-243-7124. Every Christian's computer should
have Online Bible installed. John Gill's extensive commentary
alone, which every Baptist should have, makes the CD an excellent
investment. However, the serious student of the Word should have
additional resources to supplement Brother Pierce's abbreviated
word studies, e.g., The New Englishman's Hebrew/Aramaic
ConcordanceWigram, The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius
Hebrew-Aramaic LexiconBrown-Driver-Briggs, The New Thayer's
Greek-English LexiconJ.H. Thayer, The New Englishman's
Greek Concordance and LexiconWigram-Green [all 4 are keyed
to Strong's numbers and republished by Associated Publishers and
Authors, Lafayette, Indiana], Theological Wordbook of the Old
Testament [keyed to Strong]Moody Press, &c.
2. Nicene Fathers, II.168.
3. Clement defines philosophy:
"But as the encyclical branches of study contribute to philosophy, which is their mistress; so also philosophy itself co-operates for the acquisition of wisdom. For philosophy is the study of wisdom, and wisdom is the knowledge of things divine and human; and their causes." Wisdom is therefore queen of philosophy, as philosophy is of preparatory culture. For if philosophy "professes control of the tongue, and the belly, and the parts below the belly, it is to be chosen on its own account. But it appears more worthy of respect and pre-eminence, if cultivated for the honour and knowledge of God."
[4. Quoted from Philo with some alterations. See Bohn's translation, vol. ii. p. 173.] And Scripture will afford a testimony to what has been said in what follows. [Ibid, 306.]
4. Ibid, 304-305
5. Peoples New Testament Notes, Online Bible.
6. John Gill, Online Bible.
About three years ago, I was taken by ambulance to an emergency room, and remained in the hospital a couple days with an acute inner ear problem. Obviously, I was given medication to ease the sensitivity to the vertigo, which I learned to live with without the medication.
During the time I was on the medication, I noticed something that I had heard of but never experienced, for the Lord had been gracious, having to take very little medication in the past. We have also made it a practice to drink distilled water for the last fifteen years or so.
I noticed that the medication greatly hindered my ability to `think,' to plan and to put things together. While on the medication, I could not concentrate on Scripture or on surrounding events. I could go through the right motions, but there was no `conviction' behind them: the motions were habitual.
I am not what one would consider a `health food nut,' and take very few vitamins, e.g., alfalfa for bursitis. But the point I want to make is thisthe Lord has primarily provided man with two things for his physical health:
First, His Law-Word, commandments and statues which must be diligently searched and faithfully applied, including dietary laws, Prov. 3:1-8, 4:20-22. Without faithful adherence to His Words, man takes medicine in vain, Jer. 46:11.
Second, He provided man with herbs for man's benefit, with specialized herbs for specialized service, Ps. 104:14. We are not saying that God does not provide specialized synthetic medication, which we see so much of today; however, we know He is not the provider when it is developed so man can continue in and increase his rebellion against God. A large amount of medication is herbal-based.
Our point is this: The further man gets away from two keys to health provided for man by God, the more control he looses of his mind and emotions.
As we have turned from God, America has become a nation of drug addicts. The pharmaceutical companies are making the largest profits of any other type of companies (including oil), while the churches trying to remain true to teaching God's Law-Word shrivel up to nothing.
Godly pastors are shocked at people paying $75.00 a visit for a pagan counselor (psychologist or psychiatrist) to give them advice and prescribe a pill that they can take to calm their nerves while the same person will not even consider a man of God who might apply the Word of God. (Maybe he should charge $75 a visit so the people will feel like they are getting help.)
Avoiding God's plan for good health results in a population addicted to drugs of some kind, e.g., pain killers rather than taking care of the pain; muscle relaxers and nerve pills rather than sweet rest in the Lord, Heb 4note marg for v. 11, unbelief or disobedience. Man will try anything and spend any amount to keep from having to follow Prov. 3:1-8 and 4:20-22.
The results of a nation on pills to solve problems, is a nation unable to concentrate on anything except TV shows, unable to read (especially the Bible) and a nation easily controlled and swayed away from God.
The answer? Christians leaders must warn their people of what is happening. (Why are we surprised that people cannot follow the preaching of God's Word?) People must be encouraged to seek God's methods first, e.g., Prov. 3:1-8, 4:20-22, James 5, and urged to return to what He has provided for good health. Then as their health improves, the doctors can remove their synthetic medicines.
The vast majority of people have become little more than the blind following the blind, totally unable to comprehend that they are following blindly to their slaughter. One of the primary causes of our modern `drug controlled society' is acceptance of prescription drugs as a `magic pill' to solve physical and emotional problems. Can we expect fallen man to seek peace with God when he can take a pill for peace?
There is a place for man-made drugs, but that place is not what is being given to them today. We must get back to God's method first, using the man-made pills as a last resort.
Remember, when the `magic pill' is used, the ability to concentrate could be severely hampered, if not lost completely. Therefore, those taking the `magic pills' should avoid confrontations and making major decisions while under the influence of those pills.
1.) We are living in a nation of zombies, people who demand a `magic pill' to cure ills so they do not have to get right with God and get themselves under control to the Word of God. These people are rendered inoperative to a very large extent, unable to think things through.
2.) Do not take man-made medicine unless all else fails. However, if we must, we should not make any major decisions while on that medication unless absolutely necessary.
|R.J. Rushdooney, Prayer|
Over the years, I have read many books and articles on prayer. These have contained a number of good points, but basically I am at the least unhappy with, if not somewhat hostile towards, "how-to-pray" literature.
Such works begin with a fundamental fallacy; namely, that we need to be taught how to pray to God. This I find very strange. No one ever had to teach me how to talk to my wife. When I fell in love with her, I most definitely wanted to talk to her! After all these years, when I am away from home, I call her nightly, and we find it difficult to end our conversation. At home, we talk all day long; we share our experiences, reactions, ideas, and feelings. Talking to my wife is as natural as breathing! No more than I needed instructions before I started breathing at birth do I need instructions on how to talk to my wife. I love her, and talking to her is an aspect of the expression of our love. When by God's grace we are born again, talking to Him is an aspect of our new life, like breathing.
The how-to-pray literature does have, however, a certain value. It concentrates on formal prayer. It tells us how in our devotions, or in public prayer, to praise God, to thank Him, to remember the needs of all His people, the sufferings of the needy, and more.
Such prayer involves also the confession of sins, the commitment of ourselves and our hopes, fears, and needs to the Lord, and so on. At the table, in our private devotions, and in public prayer, these prayer manuals and instructions serve a very necessary and useful function. They keep our prayers from becoming self-centered and they require us to keep our minds fixed on the kingdom of God and all His glory.
But my concern is the prayer that is most basic, our talking to God. By this I mean our one-sentence prayers all day long, by which we silently but continually communicate with God. We thank Him for our night's rest and the day's joys. When we face a difficult situation, we ask, "Lord, give me patience to cope with this problem." Then, later, we thank Him for His guiding hand and care. If we have a difficult person to meet with, we ask, "Lord, I don't know what to say, and I don't want to lose my temper or hurt the Kingdom by my failure here. Give me grace to deal with this man." When we are afraid of something confronting us, we tell God so, and we ask for courage to cope with the problem or hurt.
But this is only the beginning. I do not talk with my wife about serious and important matters only. I talk to her for the joy of communion with her. We tell each other of our love a dozen or more times daily. I enjoy the sound of her voice, and she mine. The Song of Solomon speaks of this more than once, referring with joy to "the voice of my beloved."
So too when we delight in the Lord, we talk to Him all day long. Is it a beautiful day? "Lord, how glorious is Thy creation!" When I go fishing, the first one to hear about the results is the Lord. Of course, He knows before I do. But talking to Him is life itself.
(Last year, on a single cast, I caught two bass, each hitting the plug from different directions when it hit the water. Thanks, Lord, what a thrill!)
Prayer is talking to God. Now, when I talk to my wife, I do not limit my conversation to the start of meals, or morning or evening, beginning by saying, "Dear Dorothy..." I talk to her all day long, going and coming. The more we talk, the more we enjoy talking to each other. If I only talk to God when I am in church, at the dinner table, or in private devotions, my relationship to Him will be cold, formal, and a bit awkward. If I talk to Him in the shower, at my desk as I work, while gardening, or walking, or whatever I am doing, I am much closer to Him and more familiar with Him. I have then a happy relationship in which talking to God comes easily.
I once met someone I had known very well years before. We had been close friends, but about forty years ago, we moved to different areas, and our lives took very different directions. It was a pleasure to see him, but a bit strange. We very quickly ran out of conversation, because our lives had grown so far apart.
So too when our praying is merely formal, at the table, in devotions, or in church meetings, we grow apart from God.
But, if we walk and talk with God every hour of every day, we can't help but grow close to Him. We breathe easier and talk more easily and talk more around someone we love and delight in. Likewise, we pray more easily and are more alive when we maintain a continual conversation with the Lord: talking with Him and walking with Him all day long.
(From Systematic Theology, by Rousas John Rushdoony, Chapter 19, PRAYER, Section 1. Copyright, 1995, The Chalcedon Foundation, all rights reserved. From Website http://www.mother.com~dlh/Chalcedon Maintained by Paul Ferroni.)
['Document Archive'] ['Home Page'] ['The Biblical Examiner']