Monday, October 29, 2012

Write Naturally

Great advice from Truman Capote:

Since each story presents its own technical problems, obviously one can't generalize about them on a two-times-two-equals-four basis. Finding the right form for your story is simply to realize the most natural way of telling the story. The test of whether or not a writer has divined the natural shape of his story is just this: after reading it, can you imagine it differently, or does it silence your imagination and seem to you absolute and final? As an orange is final. As an orange is something nature has made just right.

And Buck Owens made a similar point, with a good deal more humor:

They're gonna put me in the movies
They're gonna make a big star out of me

We'll make a film about a man that's sad and lonely
And all I gotta do is act naturally

Well, I'll bet you I'm gonna be a big star
Might win an Oscar you can never tell
The movies gonna make me a big star
'Cause I can play the part so well

Well I hope you come and see me in the movies
Then I’ll know that you will plainly see
The biggest fool that ever hit the big time
And all I gotta do is act naturally

We'll make the scene about a man that's sad and lonely
And beggin down upon his bended knee
I'll play the part but I won't need rehearsin’
All I have to do is act naturally

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Birthday of Home

Away from home, my soul is weak and slivered,
and the world is big and cruel and bitter;
but, when I was home, the world was small, 
and I was so much bigger.

I was miserable in Missouri,
but I held on for too long:
there I stood; there I stayed.
I kept hoping tomorrow 
would be more like yesterday.
I kept trying to find a sign;
or, at least, the line
I was supposed to say.
Last night, 3:13, I sat up,
wide awake, in the middle of another night,
and suddenly I knew I wasn't 
going to be alright; I'd finally had enough:
I'd been counted out without a fight,
and my Missouri time was up.
So, I cashed in every last dime,
and packed my car just in time
to beat an ice storm moving west.

Southward lies home,
and the place of my birth.
And today is the birthday of coming home,
and the rebirth of green.

I dove down through Illinois
–  sorry to be leaving St. Louis,
but fickle, fidgeting, feeling newness.
Sorry for St. Louis, but glad; free
to be going home. Home is me.
Home is where I was when I was.
Away from home, I am some other
than the man I am when I am.
There lives my kin, my long lost brother.
There, I left my health, my self, 
my sisters, and my mother.
There lives my future past.
There lives me; away from home, I am some other
than the man I was when I was
baptized in the river.

In Tennessee, homeward bound,
and getting closer,
I repented winters present, passed
three hundred miles ago.
In Nashville, I slowed down,
and shivered; long winters held me, fast.
A long journey I've had till now;
the length I still feel.
I am broken yet: too broken yet to heal.

I grew weary at the wheel
at 2 a.m. in Johnson City,
and fell asleep in the parking lot
of a Gas and Run.
Next morn, I woke up with the Sun.
Like the prodigal, nervous, but hopeful,
I searched eastward anxiously
on a crumpled paper map.
I was searching, searching, searching:
for a short cut path back 
to my homeland; 
I was unaware -- how could I be? --
that home, long suffering, had 
long hence been searching for me.

I rolled down my broken window
and turned up the radio
just to stay awake;
Was it grace? or, was it fate?
I was too tired to debate.
And, besides, a George Strait song
was on. A George Strait 
song was on. And I was going
home, and a George Strait song
was on; so, I sung along.

An hour out of Franklin county,
I started to count change
for a cup of coffee, 
and ended up counting the cost
of friends gained, friends lost.
I didn't even have a dollar
for a single cup of java,
and my gas light blinked low;
I was running on fumes 
when I passed up the Chattanooga exit
at half past noon.
The friends lost remain,
and so does the pain.
For the first time, in a long time,
I took my foot off the pedal, and began to coast.
The friends lost I miss;
the friends gained, I miss most.
And what is home without the ones
you love most? My friends left home
when I did: even though they stayed
in all the same places; their faces fade
with every breath I take,
and every mile I travel:
no matter which direction I may go.
Such thoughts as these a tired mind harass;
even so, I put my foot
back firmly on the gas.
Perhaps I'll meet my old friends again
like new friends, as sparkling new men
with our sins forgiven, 
with a future, but no past.

I drove on weary eyed
(a smirk a heart broke disguised:
a sacrifice, I know, not in despise)
until, an hour out of Asheville,
I met a maze of misty mountains.
These mountains, they love to surprise;
they snuck up on all sides,
and then burst upon the canopy
of a surreptitious summer sky. 
Here they were; they had been, waiting 
for me for some time.
Here they were; here, at last, was I.
I laughed, and said, "Ah, friends!"
"Where have you been? Where did you go?"
said they, a little hurt it seemed. I sighed
and said, "I don't know. I really don't know."

And I remembered I was -- not quite,

but almost -- I was almost home.
And so I hit the road with  all my might
and drove the sun down that day,
and all through the night. 

Next morning, at 10 past 7, 

I pulled onto old Highway 11
as the Sun danced upward toward the heavens
in a manner warm and spritely.
In the new light, my old world surprised me:
something was different;
this world looked more lively
than I had ever seen her.
I was startled by the sight 
of green, and green, and greener.
All creation wore a garment
of a million shades of green to meet me.
"Did you fix up just for me?
Did you dress up just to greet me?"
I said. And, in reply, creation waved kind
salutations, but demanded explanations:
"Where have you been, my dear?"
she said. "Away," I answered, then
added, "but my heart was always here."
"Oh my," she said, and nearly wept,
"Look at you! Just look at you! You look a fright; 
your face is aged; your hair, frayed. 
Are you... are you quite alright?"
"I have," I said, "of late not been myself 
-- but nearer you, I am better."
She said, "You should have stayed." 
"True," I said, "but look at you! Just look at you! 
You have been remade!"

At a quarter past nine,
I crossed the state line into Caroline.
I was -- not quite -- but almost -- almost home:
a matter of minutes away.
And so I sat up, and put the petal
to the metal, and drove like a madman.
I swear, I could hear the birthday
song of home in the ripple of the rivers;
I could feel in my blood the good
wishes of the red hills.
I shouted, "Happy birthday! Here am I, at last!"
A sweet breeze of blessing kissed me,
and said, "O, how you have missed me!"

A mile out of Six Mile,
for the first time in a country mile, I smiled.
I was close-- not quite -- but almost-- almost
home. And a sense of joy filled my soul
from my fingers to my feet;
And a sense of solemn filled my heart
as I turned down my old street.
I drove on quickly, still too slow:
afraid, afraid even to speak;
afraid, afraid even, to turn on the radio.

"Where have you been?" I whispered,

mostly to myself. But, even as I spoke, 
I knew, there was no telling and no knowing.
"Where I've been is where I was;
home is where I''m going."

Away from home, my soul was weak and slivered,
and the world was big and cruel and bitter;
but, when I am home, the world is small, 
and I am so much bigger.

Southward lies home,
and the place of my birth.
And today is the birthday of coming home,
and the rebirth of green.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

When Children Raved

When children raved in warrior’s paint
and danced like David sans restraint
 – when poets sailed from distant shores
 – when lambs lay down to lions’ roars
 – when old wounds healed and were no more
 – when sinners turned at once to saints,
and hearts grew strong by growing faint  –

In some miracle hour when the moon was mad,
hence insane men were growing sane,
I saw a sight sublime, a dream had:
A fairy queen danced forth ‘cross a stormy plain
upon a single drop of summer rain,
and stood before me with a curtsy and a smile.
Her form was beauty flawless: beauty, without guile.

She stood there like a gift, defying explanation.
Her skin was lily like, and dyed with pink carnations.
Her eyes were colored oceans 
with depths for miles, and miles:
eyes soft kissed by gentle winds:
misty, and mysteriously mild.

With delight I gazed on she, like some astonished child.
With curiosity she answered, at first and for awhile:
as if I were a creature, new, and strange, and wild;
as if I were a riddle, sent forth to beguile.
At last, her face flushed red with recognition:
'midst curious conjecture, she made her decision 
and tossed her hair in a manner kind and coy:
“If I am a girl,” she said with startled joy,
and held me like a vision,
“then you must be a boy.”

Of men, I saw her first, at last, and glad;
by being seen her beauty only gained.
And gladly to be seen she was, she is, remains.
I recall she sang for joy in green and blue refrains
a song of love like love like chains.
She sang old words while new worlds waned;
her song her secret kept, unkept; I keep it still.
Her song is mine is hers is ours to sing until 
until; for forever; unto ever, upon the everlasting hills.

I saw her then in an hour fast.
I saw her n’er again, and n’er will. Alas!
But that one hour sinks forever
like sands in an eternal hour glass.
The time shall come at last
when even time shall be no more --
but never shall that hour pass.

It was an hour only, yes –
not an hour too little, too late,
but much too much, too soon
-- of all hours best.
It was an hour of minutes great;
an hour thirsty that ever sates:
not an hour empty, but full to fill.
It was like – it was like –
like angel’s moonshine thrice distilled:
aye, a draft not made for mortal men
(lesser men it might have killed).
I drank it then in fear, and now and then,
I remember the place where dreams begin,
and fairies dance wild at will...
and I drink. Unto this day, I drink it still.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Why Joe Biden?

Joe Biden laughed hysterically at Paul Ryan during their debate. The funny thing is: the joke's on him. Joe Biden is the most lampooned politician in America at present. Why? Because he has a target on his chest  the size of a barn door. How? By carrying himself with haughtiness. We laugh hardest at the man who can't laugh at himself; we laugh most at the men who don't get the joke. We laugh at those we laugh at -- but, we laugh with those we laugh with. Biden is the source of humor because he repeatedly makes jokes that he himself doesn't get. Had he more self-awareness, and more real world humility, he would, at his worst, be a source of pity. We all need a little pity now and then; we all choose words that we'd rather, upon reflection, recall. Sometimes we don't say what we really mean. In his debate with Paul Ryan, Biden claimed, "I always mean what I say." Did he mean to imply that Barack Obama was an exceptional minority candidate because:
"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy," Biden said. "I mean, that's a storybook, man."
Did he mean to frighten the dickens out of voters with the prospect that his OWN relatively inexperienced running mate would face doomsday if he won the election:
"And here's the point I want to make. Mark my words. Mark my words. It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We're about to elect a brilliant 47-year old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don't remember anything else I said. Watch, we're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy. And he's gonna have to make some really tough - I don't know what the decision's gonna be, but I promise you it will occur. As a student of history and having served with seven presidents, I guarantee you it's gonna happen. I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate... And he's gonna need help. And the kind of help he's gonna need is, he's gonna need you, not financially to help him, we're gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it's not gonna be apparent initially, it's not gonna be apparent that we're right. Because all these decisions, all these decisions, once they're made if they work, then they weren't viewed as a crisis. If they don't work, it's viewed as you didn't make the right decision, a little bit like how we hesitated so long dealing with Bosnia and dealing with Kosovo, and consequently 200,000 people lost their lives that maybe didn't have to lose lives. It's how we made a mistake in Iraq. We made a mistake in Somalia. So there's gonna be some tough decisions. They may emanate from the Middle East. They may emanate from the sub-continent. They may emanate from Russia's newly-emboldened position because they're floating in a sea of oil... Only thing I'm asking you is, you know, gird your loins. We're gonna win with your help, God willing, we're gonna win, but this is not gonna be an easy ride. This president, the next president, is gonna be left with the most significant task. It's like cleaning the Aegean stables, man. This is more than just, this is more than - think about it, literally, think about it - this is more than just a capital crisis, this is more than just markets, this is a systemic problem we have with this economy."
Did he mean to say that?

Also, did he mean to evoke outrage by telling African Americans that Republicans want to, "Put you all back in chains"?

Did he mean to say all these things? According to him, apparently he did.

He won't laugh at himself; so, we laugh at him. Men who sometimes don't mean what they say are pitied; men who always mean what they say are lampooned.

For your consideration, here's a slideshow of Biden parodies at Huffington Post.

Saturday Night Live spent most of their debate sketch making fun of Paul Ryan, but they did have a few funny lines about Joe Biden.
Biden was predictably portrayed as a lovable buffoon. When asked about his Catholic faith’s teachings on abortion, Biden explained he was a “real world Catholic.”
“I accept the teachings of the Catholic Church, but then, like most Catholics I ignore them and do what ever I want,” he explains. “I feel kind of guilty about that, but yeah, whatever.”
Biden also tells the audience that “things may be bad where you live, but I guarantee you its a paradise next to the burning coal heap that is Scranton, Pennsylvania.”
Biden also calls Paul Ryan “shark-eyes,” reminding him that he is “old man strong.”
“When the Amtrak breaks down during my morning commute, I strip down to my tighty whiteys and push that b**ch all the way to Washington,” he boasts.
The skit mocked Paul Ryan for talking about marathons, for calling his unborn daughter a bean, for drinking a lot of water, and for his facial gestures and his sweating brow.
- The Washington Examiner
If you looked at The Onion the day after last week’s vice presidential debate, you’d see a homepage dominated by one thing: Joe Biden.
The comedic website has put its satiric spin on the 2012 campaign throughout its entirety, but no one has been featured and spoofed with more enthusiasm than the vice president.
“He’s meant a lot to us,” Onion editor Will Tracy told POLITICO. “I thought it was very funny looking at and seeing biden everywhere. That to me was great.”
Part of the blanket coverage on big political nights is a result of the Onion’s desire to provide more frequent, up-to-date content in order to attract more visitors to their website. But, while the Onion has spoofed President Barack Obama, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, the character that they’ve developed for Biden resonates better with both Onion writers and website visitors.
“He’s like the breakout character if we were writing a sitcom,” said Tracy. “He’s the guy who’s clearly the fan favorite, and, in a way, he’s the easiest and the most fun for us to write.”
It’s a blessing of riches that the Onion staff has to be aware of, lest they abuse the gift.
“You want to use that character sparingly so that people don’t get tired of it. There was a time — and we might still be in that time — in which we were generating Biden ideas faster than we actually wanted to print them, so we actually had to tell people to ease up a little bit because you don’t want to go to that well too many times. So we’ve tried to space out our Biden coverage as much as possible so that we’re not just oversaturating the market.”
Their character of Biden — a lovable, out-out-touch frat guy — is admittedly unlike the real Biden, but Tracy hopes that perhaps you’ll forget that.
“I think of Joe Biden being much testifer and less laid back than our character who’s just sort of a good time guy and laid back,” said Tracy. “My sense is that we’ve done so much on him that our vision for our version of Joe Biden has, in some way, seeped into the nation’s consciousness that people think our character of Joe Biden is somehow him.”

Read more:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Review of Wayne Grudem, Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism?

Review of Wayne Grudem, Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism?
 by CWK

            Grudem has done helpful work in showing how the evangelical feminist controversies in our day, like all controversies, ultimately relate to one’s doctrine of scripture. He might have even gone a step further and showed that one’s doctrine of scripture relates to one’s heart condition. Jesus’ sheep must and will heed his word because they are his sheep (John 10.3-5). If people will not hear and believe, it is proof that they are not of Christ’s flock (John 10.26-27). If you refuse to listen to Jesus' word then you have -- not just an interpretive dilemma -- but a heart dilemma. You must be born again; then, you'll hear just fine.
This to say, there's a problem with Grudem's break down of the impact of liberalism. In chapter 2, Grudem shows how women’s ordination is intertwined with the ‘conservative versus liberal battle’ of the last century. Yet, his argument shows that liberalism precedes women’s ordination. Women’s ordination is not so much the path to liberalism, but the fruit of liberalism. Thus, maybe the title should be modified, Evangelical Feminism: Proof of Liberalism.
            I, like Grudem, fear any path to liberalism (or, conservatism, for that matter). Yet, his discussion of liberalism is perplexing. Grudem equates liberalism with a rejection of the Word. Thus,  liberalism is, “a system of thinking that denies the complete truthfulness of the Bible as the Word of God and denies the unique and absolute authority of the Bible in our lives (15).” Why is this problematic? First, the term liberal is used in a way variety of contexts: political, social, cultural, theological. So, which realm is Grudem referring too? The problem is that this term is so plastic as to be almost useless as a label. Not to mention, most evangelical feminists would reject being labelled with this term. All this means that Grudem has a narrow arrow and a gigantic moving target. 
            Another note on the terminology of the title "... A New Path to Liberalism?" The word ‘liberalism’ carries a lot of historical baggage. In the Christian’s mind, it is a word connected with the theological battles of the last century. It is, thus, rife with emotional je ne sais pas. Such a title elicits an immediate response. Those who substantially agree with Grudem (as I do), will have a sensation of fear based on the conservative ‘battle for the Bible’ in the 20th century. Those who disagree will have a sensation of repulsion at being named a liberal. Either way, such a title introduces us to the topic with an emotive appeal that right away draws up battle lines. It would be better to draw the lines, and then make the emotive appeal. When the emotive appeal comes first the reader is likely to either discredit (if they disagree with us) – or give too much credit (if they agree with us) – to our logic.
            I agree with the substance of Grudem’s argument: role distinction in the Church, with men in leadership, is an issue of Biblical authority (Part II). Evangelical feminists implicitly undermine the authority of scripture. Grudem gives compelling examples of how evangelical feminists twist scripture to validate the ordination of women (Part II and III). Then, he helpfully answers the arguments point for point. This book is, thus, a helpful exegetical resource on disputed passages.
            I also appreciate his reasoned defense of particular scripture passages. The scholarship and honest research in this book are a great aid to the Church when countering strange scholarly tactics like changing the meaning of words (see Chapter 26, Strange Meanings For “Authority.”). His defense of ‘head’ as ‘authority’ is, for me, his great contribution to this whole debate (Chapter 25). This contribution alone makes him one of the ‘mighty men’ in this battle.
            Grudem rightly surmises that compromise on gender roles will have tragic consequences. He is especially concerned about that evangelical feminism is the road to ‘liberalism (Introduction, pg. 15-16, and Chapter 2),’ denominational decay (Chapter 2), and great sin – especially homosexuality (Chapter 32). I agree that evangelical feminism leads to disaster. I also agree that liberalism, denominational decay, and homosexuality are in the offing whenever we see feminism of any kind on the rise. But I’d add that these 3 things are, to some degree, already present in the position. They are not so much different and separate stops along the same road; they are the same road. In addition, the roots of ‘liberalism’ are much deeper than evangelical feminism, or even the issue of the inerrancy of scripture – which Grudem lists first in the causal chain (28). Evangelical feminism is not only the beginning of decay, but a sign of decay. It is one of the first fruits of a corrupt tree.
            Furthermore, it would be a mistake to interpret Grudem’s scketch of ‘the road to liberalism as a historical necessity based on a strict causal chain of events. This excludes the possibility of a sanctifying (for Christians) or regenerating (for unbelievers) work of God. This would also imply that we can ‘see’ the future. We can’t (James 4.13-17).
            I also have a concern about interpreting this sketch as strictly causal (A causes B, and then B causes C, and then C causes D) without reference to the sovereignty of God. Grudem states the argument in strictly causal terms (pg. 15-16 and 28). This will lead us into the fallacy of false cause unless we tread carefully, “The fallacy of a false cause occurs whenever the link between premise and conclusion depends on some imagined causal connection that probably does not exist (Hurley, A Concise Introduction to Logic, 135)." Grudem refers to the “predictable sequence” that leads to liberalism (28). Again, unless we are careful, this becomes the ‘slippery slope’ argument, which is, “a variety of the false cause fallacy (Hurley, 138).” The problem here is that the path to liberalism is presented in ‘snapshot’ form. I have no problem saying that one sin causes another, or leads to another as long as we have the wider view of God’s sovereign judgments. The ‘first’ sin in any causal chain is the failure to acknowledge God (Romans 1.21). This is what leads to sin. The judgment for the sin of idolatry is more sin (Romans 1.24, 26, 28). And the reality of the human condition is that we are slaves to sin. Thus, I do not believe that any of the proponents of ‘evangelical feminism’ can, out of themselves, repent. Repentance is a gift of God.
            I also fear that Grudem undercuts his own arguments by taking an ‘everything but’ position on women in the Church (page 11, 19, 22, and 133). That is, women can/should do ‘everything but’ be pastors and elders: including missionaries. Women are indeed distinct from men in their created-ness, and this should have more practical implications than, ‘everything but’ the pastorate. What we do, as men or women, is based on who we are. We give up the only ground that matters when we move away from this basic assertion: men and women are created distinctly, for different temporal ends (the ultimate end being the glory of God). I fear that Grudem’s position, while basically faithful to the Bible, still accommodates too much (19, “I agree...). In this way, he makes a similar mistake as Neville Chamberlain: ‘give ‘em Austria so we can have peace in our time.’ Then, and now, giving ground invites larger conquest. It is, at some times with some people, impossible to have peace (2 Kings 9.18-22).
            Grudem’s book would have been even more helpful if it had devoted more time to positive assertions about who men and women actually are, and how this is to play out in life. This book is basically negative; its purpose is to dismantle false arguments. He spends the whole book dismissing false claims. Yet, too often these false claims are not addressed with positive biblical counsel. It is not enough to show people where they are wrong. We also need to show them the more excellent way.
            I have another concern about a ‘negative book’ like this. Grudem has spent a lot, a whole lot, of time on this one issue (see Preface). As a friend, I would counsel Grudem to ‘get some fresh air’ on something more positive for the next phase of his ministry. It’s not healthy to be constantly in battle over one issue. There is a danger in arguing with a madman; it makes you mad (in both senses of the word).
            Grudem condemns ‘experience’ as a mark of a call to the pastorate (119ff). Yet, he himself uses the argument from experience, “...there is a connection between women being ordained and exercising leadership as pastors and tragic results in their personal lives (124).” He warns against the loss of the protection of God, and points to Aimee Simple McPherson and Judy Brown as examples. The problem with this kind of reasoning is that evangelical feminists could produce dozens of women as contrary examples. Then, we end up going back and forth with arguments from experience. Experience is, then, irrelevant. There is only one question: what does the Word of God say? Grudem himself acknowledges this in conclusion of this section (129).
            In addition, Grudem’s argument from experience sounds like a scare tactic – an emotional argument to strong arm people who will not be moved. We are ‘sinking to the level’ of the opposition when we do this kind of thing. The Lord’s work must be done in the Lord’s way. The goal is not to simply force people to do the right thing, whatever the tactic. There may be times when we preach the truth boldly, and still, people will not listen. In such circumstances, we are not to stay around and try everything possible to convince them against their will. We are to wipe the dust off our feet as we leave (Mk. 6.11). We are not to waste our time on hard-hearted people.
            My last concern is: I am not sure what good this book with do. The book begins with this plea, “ all of my egalitarian friends, I ask you to consider carefully the arguments and the pattern of arguments that I discuss in this book... Please consider what I say in these pages. I hope you will be persuaded, and will perhaps even change your mind on some of the arguments you have used, or even on the conclusions you have drawn (20-21).” If Grudem’s audience is ‘egalitarian friends,’ I fear he is wasting his time with the arguments he advances. My guess is that not one of these people will be convinced by his arguments. Why? Because they are arguments. Arguments cannot prevail because they do not go deep enough. They cannot change the heart. This is like picking fruit off a tree and hoping, thereby, to change the fruit. You can pick a thousand apples off an apple tree; it will still be an apple tree. If the audience is ‘egalitarian friends,’ it would be more profitable to write a book that addresses presuppositions about scripture (authority, clarity, sufficiency), or the heart condition before God. If you make the tree good, the fruit will be good.
            It would also be profitable to write a book for defenders of the truth to give them evidence and confidence (Luke 1.1-3).
            In any case, based on our audience, we need to use different strategies. To the stubbornly resistant, we should have one message, “You must be born again.”

Pun Intended

Ever read the book of Micah? Ok. Every noticed that the book of Micah is filled with creative puns? Credit to Al Maxey's Intro to Micah for pointing out these quotes:

The latter part of the 1st chapter (1:10-16) reveals the prophet's skill as a communicator. He uses a play on words, showing that he is as clever a punster as he is a strikingly gifted poet."

- Stuart Briscoe

In Micah, we have, "the longest series of sustained puns in the OT..."

- Jack P. Lewis

Imagine an American preacher saying, 'Living in Pittsburgh is the pits,' or 'Los Angeles is not a city of angels,' or 'Wisconsin should only be pronounced Wiscon-sin.' That would get the people's attention. Micah was having a problem getting his message across to the people so he chose this dramatic vehicle to reach them

- Briscoe


Gath (1:10) sounds like the Hebrew word for tell, so it's as if he were saying, "Tell it not in Tell City." Also, in 1:10 Micah writes, "In Beth-le-aphrah (house of dust) roll yourself in the dust." Zaanan (1:11) means "going out," so he is saying, "Those of you in 'Go Out City' will not go out." 

- Al Maxey

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Notes on Ephesians 3:14-21: The Fatherhood of God

God the Father: Ephesians 3:14-21

Intro: Fathers day = a national holiday. It is a day in which we honor fathers. Let us spend this day meditating on and honoring God the Father. Our passage ends with the words: “To Him be the glory in Christ Jesus and in the Church.” It is appropriate – indeed it would be sin to do otherwise – to praise God the Father.

We will consider 1) Approaching God the Father, and 2) The Fatherhood of God, 3) The Family of God.  

I. Approaching God the Father
1. This is done in Christ: 

For through (him) Jesus we both have access in one Spirit to the Father (Ephesians 2:18): Jesus is the only mediator between God and Man (1 Timothy 2:5)

Access = unhindered access; warm welcome before the throne of God

2. This is done with bowed knees:

Our posture is important in prayer. Why bow? The heart sometimes follows the knees! I have heard of men who read the whole Bible on their knees as a sign of reverence to God. But, even if our knees are not bowed, our heart should be. We pray to our Father – remember though, our Father is GOD!

What does bowing indicate?

1. submission: this is a beautiful word!
Edward Payson: “O what a blessed thing it is to lose one’s will. Since I have lost my will I have found happiness. There can be no such thing as disappointment to me, for I have no desires but that God’s will might be accomplished.”
2. reverence
3. earnestness: desperation and longings after God in prayer

II. The Fatherhood of God

1. He is The Father of the Lord Jesus

First of all: Jesus: Ephesians 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Before the Foundation of the World:

John 17: 24: Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

Ephesians 1:5: Jesus referred to simply as the Beloved

During his earthly ministry:

Matthew 3:17: “A voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Application: Love, affection, delight in his only Son is basic to God the Father – that means it is basic to all Fatherhood. We ought to rethink our views of Fatherhood in light of this. There is a myth that the manly Father is cold and distant – that he would never tell his children he loves them – never share his affection. Evidently, those who invented this myth know nothing of God the Father. We err because we start our ideas of Fatherhood with man, and not with God.
Illustration: Floyd Mayweather Sr. and Jr. famous father son boxing combo – have had a somewhat rocky relationship. I recently read an interview in which Mayweath Sr. laments his poor relationship with his son. "I wonder," he says before pausing, "even when Little Floyd was younger & did I ever tell him I loved him?" He looks down at the pavement and shakes his head. "You can show people a million different ways," Big Floyd says. "But sometimes that one word, 'love,' makes all the difference in the world. This time, I'm going to tell him."
2. He is Our Father
Ephesians 1:3-6 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
-He blesses: he lavishes good gifts
-He chooses us – before the foundation of the world
-In love he predestines us for adoption: with loving intentions he picked us out and determined our destiny – that we would be his children.
Illus: Friend Tim: Wife worked at a school and they came across and abused girl. Even before this girl (Veronica) knew it, Tim had set his heart on her, chosen her and planned on adopting her.

III. The Family of God of God The Father

We are taught to pray OUR father... all of us, our father; Lord’s Prayer: Our Father...reminds us we are in a family.

 “every family is named (v. 15)” = you are all the children of one Father; remember the one of the main problems of Ephesians is the Jew-Gentile issue. Jews felt that they were especially the children of God, while Gentile were second class citizens. Or, maybe the Gentiles themselves felt that they were second class citizens and tended feel impoverished in that they did not have the spiritual lineage of the Jews. They could not say Abraham was their father; they could not say that they had equal access in the temple in Jerusalem. However, Paul is saying: if you are a Christian, no matter your background – you are a child of God.

This point is made more explicit later in Ephesians:
Ephesians 4:4-5: There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

This has two important implications:

1) If you are a child of God, then God is indeed your Father – but as much as he is your Father he is also the Father of every other believer.

Illustration: I remember in younger years having a strong disagreement with my little brother. We carried on for sometime seemingly unable to come to a peaceful resolution. Then, we both turned to look at our Father and we saw how grieved he was by our actions. All of a sudden our eyes were taken off our quarrel and fixed on our Father. The thought of doing anything to grieve our common Father was beyond us.

Application: Next time you who are thinking of speaking a slanderous word: that is your brother/that is your sister you are speaking of. You ought rather to defend your brother, think the best of them, and come to their aid.

Application: Do we not tend to degrade our brothers and sisters in Christ? We say: that one does not have as much learning as me! That one does not have as many spiritual gifts as me! What use are they in the family of God? We dishonor our Father with such comments; when someone speaks ill of your child you take it very personally. When one of your children mocks another one of your children you are apt to get upset because they are both your children – they are both beloved. So, let us view one another as children of God.

2) If you are a Christian, then God is just as much your Father as he is of the greatest saint in the world.

This is comfort for the person who is not from a good Christian family, or the person who came to Christ later in life, or the person who feels they do not have much to offer to God even though they try with all their might to live as an imitator of God, as his beloved Child. This person may begin to feel that they are not so much the child of God as the one from a long line of Christian ancestors, or the one who has known Christ from an early age, or the one who is called to minister publically as a pastor, or elder in the Church, or leader of some Christian society. You are just as much blessed, just as much chosen, just as much predestined in love, just as much a child of God.

Some might say: I can’t see what use I am in God’s kingdom. I cannot preach like the minister; I cannot go and serve Christ in a foreign country; I stay at home all day with my children; or another, I have to devote myself to hard labor to provide for my family and I do not feel that I am able to do as much for God as some.

Illustration: One Pastor told me he really had a hard time because he was comparing himself to other Pastors – feeling he was not as successful because his Church was not as big, or he was not as seemingly important.

I was at a loss for words, but now I think I would read him this quote from Spurgeon:

    ”Now I want to say one or two things to Little-Faiths this morning. The little children of God who are here mentioned as being bruised reeds or smoking flax are just as safe as the great saints of God. I wish for a moment to expand this thought, and then I will finish with the other head. These saints of God who are called bruised reeds and smoking flax are just as safe as those who are mighty for their Master, and great in strength, for several reasons. First of all, the little saint is just as much God's elect as the great saint. When God chose his people, he chose them all at once, and altogether; and he elected one just as much as the other. If I choose a certain number of things, one may be less than the rest, but one is as much chosen as the other; and so Mrs. Fearing and Miss Despondency are just as much elected as Great-Heart, or Old Father Honest. Again: the little ones are redeemed equally with the great ones! the feeble saints cost Christ as much suffering as the strong ones; the tiniest child of God could not have been purchased with less than Jesus' precious blood; and the greatest child of God did not cost him more.”


The God and Father of our Lord Jesus is our Father! We have this standing because of the work of Jesus Christ. We are all equally children of God through faith in Jesus Christ.

To be a Father is to delight in and love one’s children. Since we are children of God we are delighted in, we are blessed -- from the least of us to the greatest.

Elizabeth Prentiss: wrote about a character named Emily that is probably about her own Father.

Emily came home from her dear friend Anna’a house and scribbled her best friend’s name all over one of the walls and in her brand new Bible. When her father saw it he called her into his study and gave her a whole stack of paper. He told her gently that he could write her name to her hearts content on that paper, but that she should not write in her bible.

Prentiss Comments: “Emily felt very grateful. This little kindness on her father’s part did her more good than a month’s lecture could have done, and made her resolve never to do anything that could possibly grieve him again. She went away to her own play room and wrote on one of the bits of paper, some verses, in which she said she had the best father in the world.”

There hardly anything which transform us like the love of a Father: Paul says so in Ephesians 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.

What should be the result of knowing your Father’s loving heart? As Prentiss said: Resolve never to do anything that could possibly grieve him.

A final word to Father’s: be imitators of God as beloved Children. What does this mean? It means delight in, cherish, and love you children based on the pattern you see in God toward you. It means, to quote Malachi: turn your hearts toward your children – even as God has turned his heart toward you. 


by CWK

I. Hypocritical Hypocrites

The popular definition of "hypocrite" is: "doing one thing and saying another.” Hypocrisy is, then, a crossroads of words and deeds. This definition has worked its way into the unconscious American dictionary. "Saying one thing, doing another." This is a cliché, something you hear in the streets, again and again. 

This definition is both incorrect and dangerous.


1) It focuses our attention only on externals. 

It never deals with the heart. Actually, hypocrisy goes deeper than our deeds and our words. It is a condition of our hearts. A person could conceivably say one thing, and do the same thing: especially if that person is careful with what they say. Many people say and do all the right things, and yet remain hypocrites.

2) This definition leaves sincere people feeling guilty. 

Striving for the good, even telling others to strive for the good, is in itself good. Indeed, it would be better for some men to "say one thing, and do another." Most men live somewhat better than their worst principles, or their most outrageous boasts. Thank God. At the same time, all men live somewhat worse than their best principles. Any person who endeavors after a high and noble life will fall short, "We all fall short in many ways (James 3:2)." We have all come woefully short of who we should be, who we might have been, "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)." None of us can claim perfection, but we should still, "strive, seek, find, and not yield." We may not have perfection, but we should have a God-ward direction: a life bent toward goodness and God.

Samuel Johnson: Nothing is more unjust, however common, than to charge with hypocrisy him that expresses zeal for those virtues which he neglects to practice; since he may be sincerely convinced of the advantages of conquering his passions, without having yet obtained the victory…

Defining hypocrisy as, "Saying one thing and doing another,” is bound to leave people feeling guilty, whilst encouraging them make their words and deeds consistent. It drives them to spiff up their external behavior.  Defining hypocrisy thus drives people to hypocrisy.

3) This definition leaves self-righteous people gloating.

There's a reason this is the popular, we might say worldly, definition. This definition makes the worldly man feel comfortable in a state of superiority. This definition is flung from the rafters by righteous people onto the heads of bumblers below. It is used as a leveler, "You are no better than me." However, the moment I say that, I am claiming to be better than you. I am your judge. Thus, he who defines hypocrisy as saying one thing, doing another, is at the moment being a hypocrite.

Further, how, and from where this definition is hoisted onto the masses. It is often said by the irreligious, from rooftops, while they look down on poor, struggling Christians. There is an heir of self-righteousness, judgmentalism – aye, hypocrisy – in such a definition.

4) The definition is man-centered. 

This definition of hypocrisy does not mention God. It makes hypocrisy something that can be judged by men, with myself – a man – the judge. We are not even qualified to judge ourselves – don't we often feel confused by our own actions? Unsure of our motives? How, then, can we ascend up to heaven and pronounce justice on other men?

The other problem with the pop definition of hypocrisy: It makes the opinions of man the final standard. This instinct to prize the opinion of man is in reality the root of true hypocrisy. So,once again, this false definition of hypocrisy lead us into true hypocrisy.

II. True Hypocrites

Our word "hypocrite" comes from the Greek, hypokrites = originally, a theatrical actor.

This word is used frequently in Matthew: Mt. 6.2, 6, 16; 7.5; 15.7; 22.18; 23.4, etc.; 24.51). In the LXX, it is a term for the godless

To understand hypocrisy, we need to meditate on what a theater actor does. Fundamentally, an actor is ‘acting,’ i.e. not his/her true self; they are acting like someone they are not, playing a role. Thus, there is always an element of unreality. Also, an actor is there to entertain; an actor is focused on pleasing the human audience. Thus, actors are known for ostentation, showmanship.

The hypocrite is a person who lives without God, as if there were no God, for the praise of man. All the marks of hypocrisy flow from the God-less life: ostentation; dissonance between deed/heart; focus on external to the neglect of internal; focus on silly 'little things,' to the neglect of genuinely important things.
A hypocrite is, “a person whose conduct is not determined by God and is thus ‘godless' (Giesen, upokrisis)."
A hypocrite is one, “whose concerns with legal observance were not rooted in the love of God or in a commitment to justice (Lk. 11.42; cf. 10.25-37) (Joel Green, NICNT, Luke, 480).”

The correct definition of hypocrisy: living without God.
Thomas Fuller: A hypocrite is in himself both the archer and the mark, in all actions shooting at his own praise or profit.
By "without God," I mean 1) In independence from God, 2) outside His Grace, 3) as if God did not exist, 4) As if God was blind, and incapable of judging, 5) As if there were no God.
These religious show-offs are “actors” in that they aim to impress others, but at the same time their behavior demonstrates how far they are out of touch with God’s understanding of “righteousness” (France, NICNT, Matthew, 237).
(Yeast is a metaphor for that which has) penetrating power... corrupting influence... The Pharisaic mind-set is represented as a contaminant with potential to invade even the company of Jesus’ followers. Pushing the metaphor further, Jesus also builds on the secretive nature of yeast, the work of which is concealed at first, apparent later (Lk. 12.2-3)... Such yeast must be avoided, Jesus warns, because nothing will remain hidden... (‘will be manifest’ could mean)... First... the inner dispositions of people are evident in their outward behavior (cf. Lk. 8.17; 11.33-36; 6.43-45)....Second, and more at home in this co-text, the true constitution of a disciple will come to light in the experience of persecution – and, as is becoming more and more clear, persecution is the lot of those who are faithful to God in the midst of an evil generation (6.22-23, 27-28). Third, Jesus’ caution that all will be made manifest may be read as an eschatological warning: Conversation presumed to be secret now will become public then (Joel Green, NICNT, Luke, 480-481).
(Scribes and Pharisees) are accused of having missed the point of true religion especially by focusing on minutiae and externals instead of on the essentials of the sort of life God really desires. This tragically distorted perspective has become so entrenched that it has made them enemies of God’s true messengers (Mt. 23.29-36) (R.T. France, NICNT, Matthew, 869).”

So, the contradiction of hypocrisy is NOT between word and deed, but between external and internal. Actually, the  practice of hypocrites appears perfect, beautiful, spotless – it is their heart which is ugly (Mt. 23.27-28).

Thus, the biggest hypocrites probably look most righteous to us.

The antidote to hypocrisy? God-Centered-ness: LIVING BEFORE GOD.
Luke 12:1-3: In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees,which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.
Jesus is saying: you can't really live a life in secret. You can't, no matter how hard you try, escape the vision of God. God will bring every deed into judgment, including whatever is hidden. God is there; God sees. You can't hide from him. Jesus is saying LIVE BEFORE GOD because, whether you like it or not, you are living before God.
Charles Spurgeon, Hypocrisy:

Let us remember that we cannot do anything in secret even if we try. The all-seeing God, apprehended in the conscience, will be the death of hypocrisy. I cannot try to deceive when I know that God is looking at me. It is impossible for me to try to deceive others when I know that I am in the presence of the Most High, and that he is reading my thoughts and the secret purposes of my heart. The only way in which the hypocrite can play the hypocrite at all is by forgetting the existence of God.

 III. Hypocrisy Versus Christianity

A hypocrite is not someone who, “says one thing and does another.” This is defining hypocrisy by a contrast between word and deed, profession and practice. By this rule, the apostle Paul was a hypocrite of the first order, “For the good that I want to do, I don’t do, but the evil which I don’t want to do – this I do (Romans 7.19).” If we say something is evil, and then we do it, that does not prove we are hypocrites. It may prove we are Christians.

The Christian is one who is in the fight against sin. They are, as Hal Farnsworth put it, “free to struggle.” The Christian is one who is battling to conform their lives to goodness. They profess and cling to what is good. Alas, they still do what is evil from time to time. In their inmost being they delight in the law of God, but their external practice often falls short, “For I delight in the law of God in terms of the inner man, but I see another law at work in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members (Romans 7.22-23).” So, it is not hypocrisy to confess something as good with our mouths and hearts, and then do the very opposite.

If Christianity consists of loving good in our hearts, but often failing in external practice, then hypocrisy is loving evil in our hearts, and putting on a show of external practice. Hypocrisy means, literally, “play acting.” It is putting on an external show when our heart is ‘far from God.’ It is pretending. It is pretension. It is cleaning the outside of the cup spic and span, and then leaving the inside filthy and corrupt. Hypocrisy is an inconsistency between heart and deed; it is focusing on the externals to the neglect of the internal. It is a life of smoke and mirrors. It is a life of putting on more and more make up.

Charles Spurgeon: (Some say) "Oh, I am afraid that I am a hypocrite!” If you are, you are an odd sort of hypocrite, for I never knew of a hypocrite who was afraid that he was one.
The Ultimate ANTIDOTE to Hypocrisy is God-Centered-True-Christianity: 
Salvation by Grace Alone.

Hypocrites focus on PERFORMANCE. Christianity calls our attention to God's grace.

Eph. 2.4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…

The ground of God’s love is God’s love and nothing in us. No matter how hypocritical a man may be – how full of dead men’s bones – God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy.

"There is no reason for God's love in any man, if there is none in you, you are not worse off than the best of men, for there is none in them (Spurgeon)."

IV. The Characteristics of Hypocrisy

“They make their phylacteries[2] broad, and enlarge the borders of their garments[3]... All their works they do to be seen by men (Mt. 23.4-5).”

“They appear outward beautiful, but are within full of dead bones, and of all uncleanness... (they) appear righteous to men, but within are full of hypocrisy and iniquity (Mt. 23.27-28).”
The Characteristics of Hypocrisy

1. Focusing on externals to neglect of internal.
2. Putting on a show.
3. Cleaning the outside of cup, and neglecting inside; putting a band-aid on a bullet wound.
4. Doing works as a public show ‘to be seen by men,’ i.e. practical atheism, as if humans were the only audience.
5. Living like image is everything; putting on costumes to impress.
6. Hunger for honorific titles.
7. Obsession with external items (in our day = clothing, tattoos, necklaces, bracelets, etc.) to show and identify piety.
8. Focus on minutiae of law-keeping, while neglecting true godly priorities.

Questions, For Self-Examination, to Diagnose Hypocrisy

1) Is our focus on external or internal?
2) Do we find ourselves ‘putting on a show’ around men, hoping they see us and take note of what good people we are?
3) Do we long for praise of God, or praise of men? Who is the real ‘audience’ of our lives? Are we more concerned what man thinks, or what God thinks?
4) Is there an inconsistency between who people think we are and who we actually are?
5) Are we more concerned with our image than with heart holiness?
6) Are we honest with people about our failings, faults, frailty?
7) Are we obsessed with external trappings of religiosity: looking good at Church, having the ‘right’ Bible, being a well-known teacher, looking like the perfect Christian family, wearing Christian apparel, trinkets (see Mt. 23.5-6)?
8) Are we more concerned with style, or substance?
9) When we pray, fast, give, sing, preach... who are we doing these things for? Who are we most concerned about? God? Man?
10) Would our lives bear out the reality, "God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

V. The Characteristics of Sincerity

Looking Out Versus Looking UP, and WITHIN.

The hypocrite is always looking OUT, at other men; the godly man is looking UP, at God, and WITHIN, at HIMSELF. The godly man is aware of his failing because he is aware of God, and himself. Further, the godly man is more concerned about the sin in me than the sin in you.

We're quick to call other's hypocrites; we betray ourselves, and our self-righteousness, when we do so. We need to be aware just how powerful examples of hypocrisy are, and just how easily we ourselves fall into a lifestyle of hypocrisy. Jesus gives the warning about hypocrisy in Luke 12:1 to his disciples,

"...he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees,which is hypocrisy (Luke 12.1-3; cf. Mt. 23.1, "to his disciples")."

Jesus is concerned about hypocrites, but he is also concerned about his disciples. He warns us. Why?  Because we need it, and if we don’t heed it, we are in danger of hypocrisy. Consider your own danger of being hypocrites, the Lord Jesus is saying. It is amazing of hypocrisy can creep into the places we least expect it.

Thomas Shephard, the American puritan, wrote in his journal:
After my Wednesday sermon I saw the towering pride of my heart in all I did. As soon as I had done any public work my wicked heart would immediately look (to see) whether men praised me or no. Hereupon I saw my incurable vileness to make the opinions of passing men my rule and my reward in doing the work of the everlasting God. 

The Characteristics of Sincerity

1. Contra hiding sin, and pretending to be perfect, confessing sin honestly in high-definition (1 John 1.9). The most holy men often seem least holy because they are honest about their sin. 
2. More concerned about God’s opinion than man’s – doing acts of righteousness toward God, to be seen by Him (Mt. 23.5).
3. Loving God’s law in the heart, even if failing in practice (Romans 7.22-25).
4. Contra "keeping up appearances," focus on the inner, hidden person (Mt. 23.26).
5. Living before God, knowing that He sees and knows all – down to heart motives, and that on the judgment day he will bring every last deed into judgment, including ‘every hidden thing – whether good or evil (Eccl. 12.13-14).” In short, doing everything before the Lord, to the Lord, for His glory (1 Cor. 11.33).

VI. What About Religious Hypocrites?

Sincere followers of Christ need to be ready: Unbelievers are prone to point out the faults of Christians with such slanders as, "All these Christians are sinners just like me. Just a bunch of hypocrites." Several responses can/should be made.

1) The sins of the church prove one of the main teachings found within the Church, "We all fall short in many ways (James 3:2)." "The sins of the Church are one of the doctrines of the Church (Chesterton)." Consider: some of our greatest saints have been great sinners (David; Peter).
Carlyle said that men were mostly fools. Christianity, with a surer and more reverent realism, says that they are all fools. This doctrine is sometimes called the doctrine of original sin. It may also be described as the doctrine of the equality of men. But the essential point of it is merely this, that whatever primary and far-reaching moral dangers affect any man, affect all men. All men can be criminals, if tempted; all men can be heroes, if inspired (G.K. Chesteron, HereticsChapter XII, "Paganism and Mr. Lowes Dickinson").
So, you are pointing out that even the supposedly best men sin? We agree. In fact, Christians of all people have constantly reminded the world how wretchedly they fail. This sense of unworthiness is what qualifies them: Jesus came to seek and save the lost, the sinners, the bad people: "I came to seek and save that which was lost (Luke 19.10);" "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the chief (1 Tim. 1.15)."

2) Related to response 1, Christians believe, not in themselves, but the grace of God in Christ, not in salvation by works, but salvation by God's grace.
There is no reason for God's love in any man, if there is none in you, you are not worse off than the best of men, for there is none in them; the grace and love of God can come as freely to you as they can to those that have long been seeking them, for "I am found of them that sought me not."- Charles Spurgeon, Grace Abounding.
3) Read Matthew 23. Jesus hated hypocrisy more than you: Jesus is the great hero attacking the fortress of hypocrisy across human history. No one said as many severe things to hypocrites as he did; indeed, no one was qualified as he was to say such things. He was sinless; he could see the human heart. He hated hypocrisy, on earth, and breathed fire against it; he will hate it hereafter, with hell-fire.

4) If the Church is so bad, why don't you join it, and show everyone how to live.

5) Are you really different than those you attack as hypocrites? Isn't you own life in discord? Don't you also fail to be who you would like to be? Are you, really, any better? Are you fit to judge people? Can you see down into the human heart? Isn't God the final judge? Also, Remember, "The same standard by which you judge others, that standard will be applied to you (Mt. 7:2)."

6) Hypocrisy is the opposite of true Christianity. It is indeed ugly: ugly, because it is false. Thus, we should not discard true religion, we should discard false religion.

It must be acknowledged that hypocritical professors of religion, they do abundance of mischief to souls in this respect: they make a fair and pompous show, a more than ordinary profession; they will always be aping of religion. And no wonder it appears unlovely, as ‘tis in them: it is because they have it not. Hypocritical professors of godliness do more hurt to religion than the most profligate, openly profane man. Men have their eyes upon them, to see what is in them, and they see that it is unlovely; and so they judge all religion to be. The most amiable things, when they are counterfeit, appear the most unlovely... Thus the shape of an ape and their actions are most deformed and ridiculous because they imitate man’s. Religion and knowledge in hypocrites is dead, and appears as deformed, dreadful and melancholy as the countenance of a dead man, whereas, perhaps when alive [was] very amiable. Those who are pretenders to religion, and nothing else, they spoil it and deform it; they make it look dreadful. They don’t know what it is, and can’t imitate it exactly. The only make a bugbear of it, to fright men from religion; make men think that religion consists very much in a melancholy disposition and sour temper; whereas would have a commanding loveliness if it were real and true. And even some that are godly, by their unwariness and imprudence, may do hurt in this regard, mistaking that to be religion in some things which is not so, and not practicing in all things according to pure and lovely Christianity. Whatever we see truly unlovely in any respect in persons, is not religion. (Jonathon Edwards, A Spiritual Understanding Of Divine Things, vol. 14 of works, pg. 92).

Appendix A: Mt. 23.1-39: Notes

1a. What Hypocrisy IS
It is…

v. 27-28 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

greek, hypokrites = taken from ACTOR: plays part i.e. not his/her true self; they are acting like someone they are not, playing a role.

Common definition of hypocrite: one who says one thing, but does another. However, the practice (THE DOING) of hypocrites appears beautiful: v. 27.

Hypocrisy = not so much: word v. deed BUT word v. heart. 

There's a DISHARMONY between: Outward v. Inward; External v. Internal; Appearance v. Reality

Mt. 15.7-9: You hypocrites… This people honors me with their lips; But their heart is far from me.

1b. Hypocrisy: What It’s Not

Not simply saying one thing, doing another. Recognizing something is good/right – then falling short.

Romans 7.19, 22: For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing… For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being.

2. How -- How do hypocrites act?

v. 5: They do all their deeds to be seen by men…calculated: religious showboater/showmanship.

Spurgeon: "When you see a man with a great deal of religion displayed in his shop window, you may depend upon it, he keeps a very small stock of it within."

3. Where -- Where is focus of hypocrite?

v. 6: they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues…

The hypocrite is NOT concerned about the Glory of God or Love of Neighbor. We say, "All roads lead to Rome. For the hypocrite, "All roads lead to SELF."

4. Who -- Who is the audience of hypocrite?

Hypocrite: audience = man. For godly man, audience = God.

v. 5ff: They do all their deeds to be seen by men

Appendix B: More Self-Examination Questions

1) APPEARANCES 1: Do we care more about appearances – or reality? Substance – or, style?

Are our interactions with others calculated to falsely impress? to get others to think highly of us? A godly man would rather others think too lowly of him than too highly.

2) APPEARANCES 2: Are we more concerned about doing right, or being right?

Missionary questionnaire: “Are you quick to admit you are wrong and ask forgiveness? Would those who know you best agree with your answer?”

Fathers, your job is not just to LOOK GOOD. Christian Leaders, what does it mean to be a Christian leader? Lead in repentance?

How do we respond when someone confronts us with sin in our lives? Anger? Thankfulness?

Spurgeon received sermon corrections year after year from an anonymous source. When he heard the man was moving to another town, he said, "I only wish had chance to thank him."

3) APPEARANCES 3: Am I genuine with others? About my sins? My weaknesses? My struggles? What kind of prayer requests am I offering?

4) APEARANCES 4: Do we deal with sin in relationships? Real change, and forgiveness. Or (because we don't want to offend anyone) just gloss it over in sinful peace?

4) Why? Why do we give ...Time? Money? So others THINK we're great? Or, for the Love for God?
Mt. 23.5 They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, 6 and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues 7 and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others.
Augustine: Moral character is assessed not by what a man knows but by what he loves.

Edwards: God does not accept the hand without the heart.

5) Do I focus on the heart? Or, the show?

From Tedd Tripp, on parenting, Shepherding a Child’s Heart: 
There are many bribes and punishments that are attempts to manipulate behavior without touching the heart. "First clean the inside of the cup" Jesus said. Outward behavior is not the problem; it is the heart… The world has nowhere else to go except to (violent) constraint and (superficial) change. We can go to the God who changes the heart.


[1] Phylacteries were small leather boxes which housed important scriptures from the law. They were worn on the forehead and arm in a literal application of Dt. 6.8, 11.18. The boxes or straps that kept them in place could be made more ‘showy’ by making them larger (see France, Matthew, 862).
[2] The ‘borders’ of garments were tassels worn on Jewish clothing in obedience to Num. 15.38-39; Dt. 22.12). They were a visual aid to prayer.