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Suicide.

Suicide.
Then said Saul unto his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it. And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him.
What makes a man fall on his sword, what makes a man choose suicide? 1Sa 31:4, 5;
What I want to arrive at is some understanding of what underlies this act that runs so contrary to human nature’s will to live. Suicide is a dark seductive tunnel. I want to go into this unapproachable dark hole and hopefully emerge changed.
Saul chooses to fall on his sword rather than the alternative. Samson pulls the house down round his head.

Having just emerged from a prolonged period of wanting to commit suicide I can tell you that it is like falling into a mill race. A dense, stream, concentrated, channelled tight to fast force feed water to the mill wheel. A narrowing of the way, a pinching that forces great volume through a narrow gap.
We get a number of parallels in scripture. Balaam’s donkey forced through an opening between two walls crushing Balaam’s foot… Johnathan and his armour bearer passing through the two sharp rocks on the way to the Philistine garrison. Then in Greek the word synechó gives us further insight into the forces that assail one when suicide is contemplated. It speaks of a lump of clay being pressed in the hand, a besieged city, a ship being forced through a narrow channel coursing with tide, a crush pen for cattle, a prisoner held; unable to move. It also speaks of someone who is surrounded by business as well as being afflicted with sickness and suffering.
Paul talks about being pressed… by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. The image of the olive press; the weight of stones, oppression till the oil emerges drip by drip. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. The pips squeak! This is a point of decision, this is being on the horns. This is having a stake up the bum, fearsome pain, wriggling and knowing that it is getting deeper and deeper but it is so sore you cannot stop. What we are looking at here is man dangling over the fire pit. But this figurative language means little. Phl 1:20-23;
Sampson, Saul, Ahithophel real men; allegories of where tribulants find themselves.
Sampson… one can speculate; he must have felt hopeless, his one chance of being active in vengeance upon those who had taken his sight, freedom and strength lay in destroying enemies in an act of self-destruction. The tribulation he suffered made him prefer death rather than life. One can also speculate that he felt a sense of frustration at himself, blind, bound, he had mucked up his life’s calling, humiliated at being duped, reduced to being a baited bear, he wanted out. The future is bleak and holds only disgrace, pain, suffering and humiliation; he chooses suicide.
Terminally ill patients face similar tribulation: death a certainty; pain, trouble, incontinence and the humiliation of loss of independence awaiting them, choose to end their lives. In this press the question is asked. Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul; Job trapped like Sampson and Saul: The past was glorious but has been swallowed up by darkness. The present, humiliating and unbearable; vexation, frustration, encircled by pain, we are forced to ask, why? In this state we look at the present and the future and compare one against the other. We would not do this in the rose garden with chocolate croissants and coffee..

Job 3:20;
The realisation that the present is transitory. The ‘present future’ is hopeless. Trapped in a body less than perfect they see the only way to ‘eternity future’ is through death.
Job gives us a portal to this world: the ‘present future’ is hedged off; hope replaced with darkness. He hath fenced up my way that I cannot pass, and he hath set darkness in my paths. Job is a tree uprooted; life desiccating… no hope, the future is black. To carry on in the light of the circumstances makes no sense: I loathe it; I would not live alway: let me alone; for my days are vanity. my soul chooseth strangling, and death rather than my life. Crying out for death along with Moses: kill me, I pray thee, out of hand… Until one has been in this narrow strait it is madness to hear a man call out to God: Oh that I might have my request; and that God would grant me the thing that I long for! Even that it would please God to destroy me; that he would let loose his hand, and cut me off!
Death is preferable to life and to have died in the womb far better than this life of misery.

Job 3:23;

Job 7:16;

Job 7:15;

Num 11:15;

Job 6:8, 9;
Once proud men choose death when humiliated by having their wisdom rejected; Old, sick and those who have had a change of status find themselves on the outside. But it is more than this: men get their sense of purpose, self-worth, identity, their self-image from their work. When this work is removed their purpose for living disappears. To find that your best offering is scorned, the best work torn down and cast to the swine, or even worse not even looked at is humiliating and demeaning. Frustration and vexation of spirit results in wanting to tear the whole house down.
Suicide is not just in the physical, it has parallels in the soul and spirit. The ‘erets’ of the spirit destroyed as surely as cutting your throat.
O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; Holy Land destroyed by sin and degrading of the body, realisation that Holy Spirit has left, a sell out to the world; suicide. Hos 13:9;

Isa 14:20;
Suicide and requests for death are surely only for the rebellious sinner? The good guys never suffer the warfare of wanting death; right?
Wrong: the tribulations of life become too much for even the heavies of scripture: Moses, Elijah, Job, Jeremiah Jonah, Simeon, Paul, (this is a quick incomplete list. I suspect that Isaiah would be added to this list if I did the digging but it gives you an idea) all wanted death rather than their present with the contemplation of what was still to come.
Let’s bring this home, to your world, out of the storybook bible of then; let’s talk you, now.
Contemplate a slow painful death, a death that humiliates and grinds dignity like a mill: Adult nappies, bum wiped by strangers, loss of independence, privacy and dignity, being fed like a baby, trapped in a wasting and wilted body, incontinence, bed sores, projectile vomiting, racked with pain, without any way to escape. No way to turn in bed without more pain. Lie still and the ache increases. To be turned, touched is agony.
Add to this the pressure of family that are cash strapped, financially and emotionally bleeding, paying for care; pressure from without and within, unable to cope with the mind games, running from reality… finding a way out becomes urgent.
To this add family that resent the extended life of the terminally ill; the interminable sitting on the edge of the cliff looking down into the abyss, wanting a result one way or the other to end the tense wait. I wonder if I should give him a push?
Families tired of waiting for death, want to get on with their lives resent the ball and chain that bed ridden relatives represent; a drain on precious finance, limiting freedom, often an embarrassment. The inheritance dribbled away on a hopeless cause. Enough, just die!
It is no wonder euthanasia is becoming popular with the terminally ill and their families. There being no prohibition on suicide in so many words in scripture. Thou shalt not kill. We find that the bible understands suicide and accommodates it better than the church does. God has compassion rather than judgment for the suicidal. There is no judgment for suicides, it is regarded as death not self-murder. No judgment and definitely not for one who is under grace and not law. The church has a hard-arsed attitude to suicides; separate burial grounds and no church service… but we don’t find this in scripture and I would welcome anybody who holds a different view to help me by pointing out the references to me as I might have been blinded by my need to justify suicide within myself. Thou shalt not kill. this seductress lures me in In the twilight, in the evening of the day, In the middle of the night and in the darkness.
… a woman With the attire of a harlot, she caught him, and kissed him, …I have spread my couch with carpets of tapestry, With striped cloths of the yarn of Egypt. I have perfumed my bed With myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning;
Logic tells us that our bodies are not ours to dispose of when we choose; they are the temple of the Lord no matter what state they are in.
Friends have pointed out that no matter what the state of the body and the mind we glorify God by our mere existence.
In conclusion: suicide is a reaction to failure and regret in the past.
It is about present pain and failure.
Lastly, the expectation of pain, humiliation and degradation of a hopeless future.

Mat 5:21;

Pro 7:9-18;

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Relevance?

Relevance.
My wife of 40 years moved out to a flat of her own. I in turn moved to a flat above the kitchen.
My move seems a long way from Ahithophel.
Not many people know of Ahithophel. He was a chosen advisor to David and Absalom. He was a leading Israeli thinker in David’s time. His name has disappeared down the drain hole of history.
One minute he was the trusted advisor to King David, the next he was not worth hearing and had become superfluous, his advice rejected and his opinions spurned. Ahithophel became irrelevant.
God gives us Ahithophel to show us in stark terms what happens to men when their name becomes irrelevant.
This might seem like a leap into the dark but stay with me as I explore this topic as I am battling with my irrelevance. You might in the future have to deal with it in your life. What we discover together may help you in the future.
Name, names.
Each of us has a name. We have a name that fixes us in place in time and space. This is a name we have when we are born.
We also have a name that is created by effort, wisdom, learning and foolishness. This name alters and changes with achievements and failures; sculpted by life, mans’ name alters as triumph and suffering do God’s work. God also gives us a name and status.
There is also a name that we take on when we enter Christ. We take on the name of Christ when we are baptised into Christ.
It is this name that ultimately counts.
Ahithophel had a name in Israel: Now in those days the advice Ahithophel gave was like that of one who inquires of God. That was how both David and Absalom regarded all of Ahithophel’s advice. Ahithophel’s name was firmly established and attached to the position he had as king’s advisor.
His status was due to be changed.
Ahithophel joined Absalom’s rebellion which put him against David.

2Sa 16:23;
David uses Hushai to help him frustrate Ahithophel’s council… but at the same time, David prayed, “LORD, turn Ahithophel’s counsel into foolishness.” God determined to bring disaster on Absalom and turned Ahithophel’s good council to nonsense. Absalom disregarded Ahithophel’s advice.

2Sa 15:31;
The result was that Ahithophel was crushed; caught between the two he simply became irrelevant. To be rejected is bad but to be ignored is worse. To be disrespected is terrible but worse still is to be insignificant: dust on the scales, not mattering one way or the other.
Ahithophel realised that he no longer had influence at court. He was disregarded.
In the time we live in it is easy to ignore people. We do this when we read an email and don’t reply or when we look at our phone and on seeing a person’s name press, ‘cancel’. We are too busy, we make a judgment call; there are more important things… we don’t need to be disturbed, we rank the person as an outsider.
This is a form of murder, blotting out the name.
Insiders and outsiders.
Acidophil moved from being the ultimate insider to being totally on the outside.
Ahithophel’s advice was logical, rational, well ordered and well-argued. In fact, his advice was better than Hushai’s but it was rejected. Ahithophel’s advice had not suddenly got poorer. Hushai’s advice had not suddenly got better what happened is that men’s opinions had changed. In the eyes of men and God Ahithophel had lost relevance.
In that instant Ahithophel died: When Ahithophel saw that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and set out for his house in his hometown. He put his house in order and then hanged himself. So he died and was buried in his father’s tomb. 2Sa 17:23;
What I have experienced in moving to my cosy, convenient flat is that I am out of sight, out of mind, I disturb no one and nobody disturbs me. My wife comes to pay the obligatory visit once a week, supplies me with fresh food for the coming week. She sits, listens, nods and occupies the time till it is time to go. My son who has taken over the house, comes too. He stands outside and enquires ‘do you need anything’ and then leaves. What I ask myself is wrong with that? I am lucky to be in a position of having a solid roof over my head, food in my belly and a warm dry bed to sleep in.
The problem is that I have lost a name and respect.
It no longer matters. It no longer matters when I get up, if I get up, when I go to sleep, when I eat, when I fall or when I die.
My life has reached a point where many elderly people find themselves: I remember my mother’s doctor prescribing Premarin at the age of 88. Premarin is a hormone replacement. At the age of 80 you no longer need hormone replacements. When asked why? He replied that it made her happy and it would not make any difference to her at this stage. He was patronising her. He patted her hand, smiled and told her what she wanted to hear.

Life’s a breeze!

In advance I warn you that I will be trying to impress on you that life is short, fragile and soon gone through repeated returns to the same melody. Like a song that has a number of variations on a single theme. I don’t do it because I think you are thick or because I don’t have the sense to realise that I am basically repeating myself. If you are like I am; your head will comprehend first time round. Your heart will however revolt and push back, rejecting the truth of scripture. You ask, how do you know this? I know because when I see scripture repeated on the same subject it is telling me that God is talking to obstinacy and blindness. I know this because it is human nature. None of us wants to know.
Thou dost sweep men away; they are like a dream, like grass which is renewed in the morning: in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers. For all our days pass away under thy wrath, our years come to an end like a sigh. The years of our life are threescore and ten, or even by reason of strength fourscore; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.
Having just proclaimed the brevity of life the psalmist asks God on behalf of all humanity: So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. What is he asking for since he obviously knows the answer? Psa 90:5, 6, 9, 10;

Psa 90:12;
Dr Samuel Johnson said: “Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” This is what the psalmist is asking for: LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am.
When we break through the young man’s delusion of invincibility and immortality realizing that we are frail, it comes as a shock but the wake-up is invaluable to us going on.
Fragility, frailty, the temporary nature of life gives us perspective. It seems as though we have the answer to the question we asked but somehow it is all too obvious. It does not satisfy me.
Any fool can tell you that he will die. Any idiot realises that nothing lives forever; everything that breathes has a lifespan; nothing is permanent.
We don’t need a psalmist to tell us that we are frail and fragile so what is being asked for?

Psa 39:4;
Life is transitory.
The ephemeral nature of life became very obvious: they [were but] flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again. Scripture refers to the life of man as being effervescent, frail, transitory… mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes, a passing shadow, a passing wind. Something as transitory as a dream. You may well be asking ‘why is this guy quoting more scripture on the same subject’. Truth is you have not got it. You like me equate head knowledge with heart knowledge. The two are not the same and that is what the psalmist is asking God to teach us.
Life is separated from death by a single breath; a sigh and it is gone.
The transient and frail nature of man is both a blessing and a curse. Job 11:16;
Jas 4:14;

Psa 144:4;
Psa 78: 3, 39;

David, Solomon and Job look and see men occupied with work, worry, eating, drinking, comedy and laughter, social climbing and achievement, love, marriage, mourning, death and conclude; they are vanity, a breath, vapour, without substance, a vexation of spirit.
They look at life and come to the conclusion that it is a chasing after the wind. A vapid void devoid of meaning. A black hole drained of purpose that defies description when seen in the light of The Almighty. Realising that what you pour life and soul into for 70 or 80 years is pointless, an exercise in futility, is tribulation. It really upsets us to know the purposelessness this life. Is this all there is? Job 16:22;
Job 14:2;

For what do they care for their houses after them, when the number of their months is cut off? Men are allocated a certain time on earth and when that time is up they are cut off. Job 21:21;
You don’t have to be very bright to realise that nobody can live and not
see death; who can escape the power of the grave? So what are you working so hard for? What is so desperately important that you are pouring your life into? Psa 89:47, 48;
The consensus is that trees resprout when chopped down; men do not; finite, they rot, decay and are found no more. Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass;
In the same way the universe as we know it will eventually cease to exist, be folded up and put away like a garment in a drawer. There is a limit to man and his universe. There is no limit to God either in time or in creativity. Something inside of you must be saying, ‘yes, I see life is short and eternity is long’. Perspective gives insight.
Job 14:5;

Job 13:28;

Psa 39 asks the same question.
David asks: “LORD, let me know my end, and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is! Behold, thou hast made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing in thy sight. Surely every man stands as a mere breath! Surely man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nought are they in turmoil;
Either David was a manic depressive obsessed with darkness or he was onto something far deeper. I think that the latter is true.

Psa 39;4-6;
A constant thread runs through David’s psalms: Remember how fleeting is my life. For what futility you have created all humanity! Who can live and not see death, who can escape the power of the grave? Psa 89: 47, 48;
It comes as a surprise to some that there are only so many summers in a life and then… their days vanish like a breath, and their years in terror… they were but flesh, a wind that passes and comes not again.
Caught up in the froth of life it is easy to forget that we are nothing but a breath from eternity, a fart in the night, a burp in the meal of eternity. Psa 78:33, 39;
A breath, a breeze.
Life is described as breath, a gentle breeze, a breath from the mouth, effervescent, frail, transitory and thus vain and empty.
Men then, were so much more familiar with death; they realised that life and death are separated by an exhalation.
David was a brave man, prepared to confront himself , his frailty, his death and the darkness; that is uncommon in our day. As if by confronting the darkness within us we might wake the slumbering giant, we tiptoe with our hands pressed tight round our mouths. There is a saying in Afrikaans ‘moet nie spoke opjaag nie’ which is basically, don’t go looking for problems but carries an added dimension of the supernatural. Many of us today are too frightened to look at the darkness that surrounds us,the darkness within in case by looking, we stir to life and make manifest some force that otherwise would have slept.
I find this particularly among those who have been touched by darkness in the past. Instead of asking, teach us to number our days aright that we may gain a heart of wisdom, we prefer to skip with the unicorns under rainbows singing la-la-la.
If you are not long for this world a mist, a vapour that is soon to pass away why are you pursuing empty things?
I am a bit heavy for polite society: my voice, walk and stature advertise my frailty. People sense, ‘here is a man who is not long with us’.
I was sitting with a young man and when he realised that I was not drunk or retarded, able to listen; he told me of his fear of death. On the day of the winter solstice he rejoiced in the birth of a new spring, the changing of the seasons, his vitality, his strength and virility with testosterone and good looks. He perceptively did a little sum in his head as he sat bathed in the sunlight of a new year. He calculated that he might live till the age of 80, if lucky. He subtracted his age and came up with a number of 56 which shocked him. 56 more summers, You know how many months we will live, and we are not given a minute longer. For soon I must go down that road from which I will never return.

Psa 90:12;

Job 16:22;

“How frail is humanity! How short is life, how full of trouble! We blossom like a flower and then wither. Like a passing shadow, we quickly disappear. You have decided the length of our lives. Job 14:1, 2, 5; NLT

Their worm does not die.
Rereading Commando by Deneys Reitz it occurred to me: Synthetic materials that we take for granted nowadays were not available then. Men had their clothing and shoes literally rot away while they wore them, naked within months as worms and bugs ate clothing on them. If the weather was damp for weeks, their clothing, shoes and saddles would turn to slime and flow away.
The death of men and animals in war underlined their frailty. And he, as a rotten thing, consumeth, as a garment that is moth eaten.
A maggot, a worm bred on rotting flesh and dead bodies has real life. Maggots, death and rotting within the heart of man, a worm that will never die eating from inside to out. The rapid breeding of maggots and their persistence in following dead flesh is inescapable.
There is no denying corruption of flesh when maggots are swarming and the stench is pervasive. We along with Job declare our fleshly nature corrupt: My flesh is clothed with worms … The worm of conscience and condemnation keeps eating till collapse follows, the soul hollowed out.
We on the other hand have the idea that we are eternal. We surround ourselves with things that last. Stainless steel and glass, synthetics and plastics.
Ancient men realised that all that surrounded them was temporary and the wiser ones realised that even the sun, moon and stars were a tableau: They will perish, … they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded… the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants die like flies.
We regard the ancients as dim folk that knew less than we do and yet they had a better grasp on death and destruction than us. They knew that man is temporary, fragile and transient. This is another lesson taught to the psalmist. In the light of God, man and the earth he lives on is dust on the scales; soon wiped off. The heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up.

Job 13:28;

Job 7:5;

Psa 102:26;

Isa 51:6;

2Pe 3:10;
I know that you are by now saying enough already: we got the message, we are fragile and frail and we are all going to pass away. Trouble is I know you. You, like me want a head lesson. It takes a while for the heart to catch up with the head. The word is speaking to your heart. Meditate on the word…

Weakness and strength.
Christ Jesus associates himself so closely with our sufferings and weakness that the weak, sick, poor, prisoner and lame are in fact him. I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. These outside of the light, those found in the darkness that God uses to bring frailty to our senses are Christ in the flesh.

Mat 25:43, 44;
Part of the good news of Christ is the healing of the sick and ministering to the weak.
Christ died to set us free, to heal us body, soul and mind. Jesus healed many as did the apostles. Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses. Weakness and frailty of body and mind a vehicle that delivers Christ to man.

Mat 8:17;
I don’t believe everything I write or think; I use the scriptures deceitfully twisting them to my will, fitting them to my circumstances, my fears and desires; so I sit and ask: is what I am saying logical, acceptable and truth. Am I just cherry-picking scripture to make a point or is there a rhythm and continuance to what is said. You see, I am like you, I use scripture to cope; the flesh is weak. I prop up my idols, my little creations using God’s word.
Once I came to the conclusion that what I had said was right I then sat and thought… this chimes with my life and sickness. What came next was the surprise.
I sat and said: so if that is the end of man; what a waste. Is this all there is? Is this the fate of every living creature? Everything destroyed, eaten by something else, returned to the dust. What a waste, surely there must be some purpose beyond living to die?
Perspective arrives.
Eternal life.
Man is frail and is subject to sickness of the body, morals and mind… because of the infirmity of your flesh: It is not just the frailty of the flesh material. It is the frailty of the soul, the rational, the logical, the decision making; the walls of thought that we put around us. There is purpose to the destruction of the protective fortifications we surround ourselves with.
Rom 6:19;
Our Lord felt for the sick and empathized with the weakness of sickness. Out of this empathy he healed the sick and commanded the apostles to do the same. We find the apostles healing the sick and comforting them.
The apostles and early believers had the same compassion for the weak that Jesus demonstrated. They cared for the weak in body and in faith.
There were plenty of weak and sick apostles and few were healed miraculously. Where does this leave us who are frail? Where does it leave the faithful Christian who believes in divine healing and prays for it? Where does it leave the faith based churches who Sunday after Sunday slap their hands and command healing in Jesus name?
It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
Paul realizes that there is more than meets the eye, my strength is made perfect in weakness. Rather than God gaining glory in our victories and strength, he manifests in our weakness and frailty. Therefor Paul can honestly say, I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
There is a precept that repeats itself right through scripture: weakness, frailty and submission, humbling before God results in him acting for man. Independence pride and self-sufficiency results in God having to put man in his place. It is the strength of Christ that resulted in him submitting to death on the cross and that in turn resulted in our salvation. His submission to weakness resulted in strength. 1Co 15:43;

2Co 12:9;
Sickness, weakness and infirmity has purpose: Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. The apostles realize that there is a strange paradox that occurs when we are weak… Christ is strong. Our weakness allows space for Christ to demonstrate his power. God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, It is almost as though our strength gets in the way of the Lord. So Paul can make the statement, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
Paul starts the verse of with ‘Therefore’, making an argument, saying I know that this does not make sense in our world, I know that this is wonky thinking. In terms of the mind of this world, you must project strength, success and happiness. The argument goes like this: You are ‘Christ’s child’, Christ’s children are not losers, otherwise why would we follow him? It follows that your life is full of health, wealth and happiness. It is logical that you are rich and increased and have need of nothing. It is logical that you are blessed.
Paul had gained a heart of wisdom. So he says therefore. It is as if he sees himself in Christ’s mould, crucified in weakness, he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live.
For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong… strength out of weakness… blessing in suffering. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: but they that wait for Jehovah shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint.

2Co 12:10;

2Co 12:10;

1Co 1:27;

2Co 13:4;

2Co 13:9;

2Co 11:30;

2Co 13:4;

Isa 40;30, 31;
I am repeating scripture, trying to rub it into the cracks of my life because like you I feel the rise of counter argument. Surely Christ was powerful on earth? …he walked in the miraculous, healing, speaking truth to authority bla-bla-bla. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Christ was subject to the same weakness while on earth, he himself also is compassed with infirmity. This God/man was just like you and me. yes I hear the whisperer say but this was just physical weakness in that he went to the cross and was physically weak; his will character and faith was left untouched… “Eli, Eli, lemasabachthani?” Heb 4:15;

Heb 5:2;

Mat 27:46;
Realizing that we are weak and frail and fragile we can have compassion and empathy with the weak… comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. (all men includes you and me.) I can comfort that frustrated fragile individual living caged in my body. I can speak to him and tell him, not long now, be patient, wait. 1Th 5:14;

Legacy, what legacy?
The frailty of men; it is as if life itself forgets to cling to the body and goes wandering. Jesus was a hero one day, ‘the Savior’; next thing the people had forgotten him. This is frightening and upsetting as we all recognize this amnesia in ourselves. Life is a mist, a vapour and the memory of man, even the most famous, transitory; leaving a husk; twisted, misshapen, a dried out form of what was, the life having rejected the substance.
When my mother died I was given the task of clearing the family home. I threw out boxes full of family photos that nobody wanted. Now this may not sound a big deal until you realise that they documented 150 years of family life. With the photos went memories and lives. With the photos disappeared the only record of men’s lives. My point is, the younger generation did not even want to look at the curled up, dried out remains of the generation before them. They are too busy making their own husks to be blown away in turn.
What is frightening is that in our hands the eternal word of God is left dried out and distorted a malformed relic of our twisted minds. We in protection of our fragile idols; our lives, make God’s word subject to our will.
The eternal Son rejected of men… the realization that this is the fate of man stirs tribulation to life. The word, a tender sucker growing out of an eternal plant that will wither; a root out of dry ground.
Both the old and NT describe life and riches as being ephemeral as grass growing on a rooftop or as flowers of the field. Men understood, like grass, life pops up for a season and then dries up and is blown away… a vision of the night… a dream… not found

Isa 53:2;

Job 20:7, 9;
Keeping with the theme of the husk; it seems that the best and brightest fare no better than the grandpa who pops his clogs in the rural village. The greats of history are reduced to single lines in history. ‘E=mc2’, ‘Mona Lisa’, ‘Fur Elise’, ‘I think therefore I am’.
The notorious criminals are reduced to a shell too. Think of Hitler and the holocaust. Stalin and the gulags. Atalla the Hun or Genghis Kahn. I heard J.S. Bach referred to as ‘boring’.
If the likes of Chaucer and Shakespeare are reduced to relics of history that no one understands; where does this leave you and me?
Place your life’s legacy alongside those greats and imagine what will be quoted from your life’s work. If the great luminaries of the world disappear in the vastness of time’s darkness where does it leave us? Little ‘grey men’ our lives hidden in the darkness of forgetfulness… that never stood out in our age.
At this point I can hear you saying; so what is your point? If I am so much dust on the scales what is the purpose?
The futility of life must strike you.
You are not the first man to have this knowledge: Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.
The wise … fool in darkness; … the same fate overtakes them both.
“The fate of the fool will overtake me also. … meaningless.”
wise, like the fool, … both … forgotten… fool, wise must die!
So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. … meaningless, chasing after the wind. What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. Meaningless.

Ecc 2:11-23;
What was Solomon so upset about, surely the wisest man in the entire world knew this? We are brought to the realisation along with David: a dead dog! a flea! – Why does the knowledge of our frailty and vulnerability disturb us?
We are offended because like Nebuchadnezzar our idol is disturbed. The idol is not bowed down to. This life that we worship is precious to us, more precious than the God what we claim is supreme in our lives.
We have supplanted God. We entertain the thought of immortality apart from Christ. We place ourselves on the throne along with Christ. We have life in Christ, if we are one in Christ. In Christ we have eternal life and not in ourselves severally or as a group.
The knowledge of your frailty and mortality is not to scare you but to give you opportunity. With knowledge comes opportunity and choice.
Fortunately if you are in Christ; your work in Christ has reward. If you are not ‘In Christ’ it is ash already.

1Sa 24:14; 1Sa 26:20;

Lo! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable nature must put on the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” … thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1Co 15:51-57;
Men in biblical times seemed to be aware of the transitory nature of life. Perhaps it is something that comes with age, suffering, sickness or infirmity but it is not something we have inherently in us today… my life [is] wind: in an age where death was in your face, people died in the home and bodies had to be buried by family and friends. No hospitals, no undertakers and no way to avoid the inevitable.
We on the other hand have buffers that insulate us.
Washing my Father’s body with the dew of death fresh on his skin was a profound moment.
Nothing prepared me for that.
Life gone, what remained, wasted, flesh already returning to the earth. In that darkness I saw myself. thou hast made me as the clay; and wilt thou bring me into dust again? No wonder that libations came to mean so much: waters [that] pass away.

Job 7:7;

Job 10:9;

Psa 78:39;
Men spent a lot of time speaking to God about the brevity of life.

Inactive, Inoperative..
There is a curious phenomenon in scripture called ‘shades’: Gesenius refers to them as ‘manes’ or ‘shades’. They are languid, weak spirits devoid of blood and animal vitality but still retaining soul, volition and memory. I see shades as a symbolic type of men who have wandered from the way of understanding and ended up weak and insipid, chasing things, they have a form of life but lack spark.
Shades are not confined to the afterlife of Sheol because when we look at our present age we see their presence in men that surround us. The desperation of emptiness. following meaningless things: dancing in fancy-dress to the tune of the world… sport, success, hedonism. This empty top spins for a while; then meets with the wall of death and eternity, wobbles and spins out of control, dribbles to a stop revealing its true nature to all. The world acknowledges this form of life; the living dead, the zombie, the android, not recognising themselves.
We live in a temporary world filled with meaningless nonsense like 20/20 cricket. The result does not matter and will not be remembered beyond now. Foam on the ocean, blown across the surface with the undercurrent and great depth below never plumbed for fear of what lurks beneath in darkness. Terror of darkness unexplored grows. I experience this in my life.

Pro 21:16;

My disease that I wrestle with feels beyond me, too big to comprehend or face head on, almost as though before starting I have been defeated.
“In his neck lodges strength, And dismay dances before him. One gets the impression leviathan is so terrible that it is almost as though dismay, disheartenment and melting of the mental capacity to resist goes dancing before him; an aura, into the heart of man. Wrestling with the physical is the easy part in dealing with weakness but when this fight moves into the soulical that the urge to flee dismay becomes overpowering. The urge to flee to the froth of life, all the time realising that the flood of reality churning beneath leaves one to wander among the shades.

Job 41:22 NASB;

Searching Your Darkness.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/jkqkcc3o9i8ub08/Job%2028.docx?dl=0

Loneliness.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/tly1be1p16gm5df/Loneliness.doc?dl=0

Blindness.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/lyfe7j35tgqwmn8/Blind.docx?dl=0

Psa. 142

https://www.dropbox.com/s/jpuzp0weccqwlq0/Psalms%20142.docx?dl=0

Psalm 143 A journey into darkness.

A journey into the darkness of the soul:

A journey into the darkness of the soul:

 

Using Psalm 88 as our guide.

 

LORD, my God, I call for help by day; I cry out in the night before thee. This is not just boo-hoo with tears; this is screaming for help, this is a cry of desperation, a cry for deliverance, a shriek from a cornered beast. This is desperation that is heard by others in the night and in the day. It is someone that cries out continually. Psa 88:1;
Let my prayer come before thee, incline thy ear to my cry! This is the cry of one that knows that he cannot be rescued by man. He screams out to Jehovah. At the same time he feels that he is being ignored, turn your ear to me… hullo, is there anybody out there? Psa 88:2;
Why is this tribulant so desperate?

For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to Sheol.  His soul is full of troubles. What are troubles? ‘Ra’ most often translated as evil but also meaning pain, suffering, affliction and more. So we see a creature that feels that his soul is full of misery, woe, affliction, pain and suffering. He feels he is near death and that his soul is descending to a place of torment, hell if you like.

 

 

Psa 88:3

At this point we see a tribulant that feels desperate crying out to God at the point of death but it is not clear if this ‘sheol’ is physical or soulical.  

 

I am reckoned among those who go down to the Pit; I am a man who has no strength, He reckons that he is without strength, without the endurance to resist the coming fight.

On his way to the pit.

What is this pit? This ‘bowr’ pit was commonly a cistern for water but used as a prison when partially dry. So we find Jeremiah being thrown into a slimy pit. It also refers to a sepulchre. So this tribulant has the feeling that he is on the way down, he is on the way to hell in this dark slimy pit. If it is physical it’s bad but if it is soulical it is terrifying, a man too weak is being led to depression. If he were speaking today he would say, ‘I am so depressed I feel like death; I’m on my way to a dark place. God help me!’

Psa 88:4
like one forsaken among the dead, feeling alone abandoned like the slain that lie in the grave, like those whom thou dost remember no more, for they are cut off from thy hand. Here we see it is as if he has already died, but he is alive. He is experiencing an abandonment, death, because he is separated from God. Isolation from God brings feelings of death and dejection. Morbid he feels that he is not even remembered anymore. Psa 88:5
Thou hast put me in the depths of the Pit, in the regions dark and deep. This is the same ‘bowr’ pit but here he introduces another fresh element to his affliction, he says that God has put him there; in the ‘deep’. If God put him in this pit who is there to call out to?

What is this deep. This is the same deep that Jonah found himself in; this is a slimy watery deep that drowns, suffocates and smothers. Wet slimy clay, preventing breathing, waterboarding if you like. This tribulant is in a deep dark hole that he cannot get out of. Isn’t this a picture of the desperation of depression?

Psa 88:6;
Thy wrath lies heavy upon me, and thou dost overwhelm me with all thy waves. He feels God’s wrath, fury, anger resting on him; he is feeling pressure, God is leaning on him. Feeling overwhelmed by waves: flooded, the waves keep coming, too quickly for him to cope or come to terms with; floods of tribulation on tribulation. Many tribulants experience this flood of overwhelming circumstances. Too many things coming at the same time, a deluge of trouble. Tribulation seldom comes on one front, the dam wall has burst the interpersonal relationships become strained, small things are suddenly mountainous waves flooding any ability to cope. In these circumstances friends and companions leave. Psa 88:7;
Thou hast caused my companions to shun me; thou hast made me a thing of horror to them. I am shut in so that I cannot escape; We have seen the allusion to prison before in the meaning of the ‘bowr’ pit, he feels trapped. He does not know the way out, no way out. Not only has God rejected and condemned him, his friends steer clear of him. Isn’t this what men do? When someone is disheartened, morbidly dejected we shun them and they become things of horror. We naturally avoid depressing people.  Psa 88:8;
my eye grows dim through sorrow. Every day I call upon thee, O LORD; I spread out my hands to thee. He can’t see because he is blinded by mourning and grief. All he can think of is appealing to God for relief by spreading his hands before him begging for mercy. As in the first verse he realises that the Lord who put him in a dark place and is the one that will pull him out. At the same time you can see the questions and confusion: if God put me here what am I doing asking him to rescue me? An exercise in futility… perhaps I can reason with God. Psa 88:9;
In the next three verses the Psalmist ponders, arguing: Dost thou work wonders for the dead? Do the spirits rise up to praise thee?

Is thy steadfast love declared in the grave, or thy faithfulness in Abaddon?

Are thy wonders known in the darkness, or thy saving help in the land of forgetfulness. Basically he is saying; God this is where I am heading, is this really what you want for me? Do you want me dead, because that’s what is happening, I am dying. Do the spirits of the dead give you praise? He raises the spectre of Abaddon and this is interesting: Abaddon is not just a place it is a place with personality. This is the place of lost dreams; of lost sheep of wild animals that disappear in the wilderness. Also used of rivers that disappear into the sand; hence to perish or be destroyed. Hence, lands and houses that are destroyed. Metaphorically of hopes, wishes and desires that are frustrated. Here we see a man that is having his hopes dreams and plans for the future disappear before his eyes. His future is disappearing into the sand and he doesn’t understand. He doesn’t understand. Logic is no help. Job had the same difficulty trying to reason with Almighty God.

Psa 88:10-12;
It is as if the lid has been taken off the box and he has been exposed to the destroying nature of a brute intent on destroying body, soul and spirit. Depression is equally destructive and depressives are often accused of paranoia because they give personality to the destructive forces consuming their lives.  
Are thy wonders known in the darkness, or thy saving help in the land of forgetfulness. We see the darkness closing in and the land of forgetfulness approaching… this is oblivion, the scrubbing of the slate so that his little fire is extinguished, leaving no record of his being there. That is how he sees his life, a transitory thing, a blade of chaff dispersed on the wind. Part of depression is the contemplation of the brevity of life, the impermanence of the body and soul. v12
There are breaks in the dark clouds that surround the tribulant: But I, O LORD, cry to thee; In the morning my prayer comes before thee. The morning brings a breakthrough he realises that his prayer is before God. in the brief morning he brings his prayer before God and then plunges back into the dark waters. You can hear him saying to himself ‘if you do hear me then why don’t you answer? Psa 88:13;
And he asks: O LORD, why dost thou cast me off? Why dost thou hide thy face from me? Feelings of abandonment, of being cast off like a dirty garment; the feeling that God has hidden from him in his most desperate time. Depression is not fun and the depressive feels utterly alone in a world that others can never enter, a land where they are forgotten, and where monsters are attacking them. I call it fighting tigers. Giant ‘Hobbs’ like tigers of the mind, intent on annihilating me, the wrestling goes on all night and when the morning comes it leaves you exhausted and empty. No relief and no respite. The night will return soon. Psa 88:14;
Afflicted and close to death from my youth up, I suffer thy terrors; I am helpless. He feels that he has been suffering for such a long time ‘from youth up’. He feels helpless abandoned and utterly alone and the worst is that he feels that God is afflicting him with terrors. How do you describe a terror that is unseen, faceless, nameless that lives inside of you, infesting you head, like a giant beetle grub eating from the inside? How do you describe a terror?  Scripture describes this terror as a dread and great darkness. Fear of the dark surrounds the tribulant terrifies him. This is common in depressives. In rare times when they surface and experience the dawn they fear the approaching night. will throw into confusionturn their backs confusion and flight are responses to terror of this sort a confusion that causes them to flee like chaff before an hurricane… anguish within me, the terrors of death have fallen upon me.like the growling of a lion; as if pursued by a lion, hunted and harried… Your mind will muse on the terror: not a nice place. Psa 88:15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gen 15:12;

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exo 23:27;

 

Psa 55:4;

 

Pro 20:2;

 

Isa 33:18;

I suffer thy terrors; I am helpless. The word suffer is a root word ‘nas’a’ which means to bear as one who carries the weight. Our tribulant is feeling the weight of terrors. In the face of this onslaught it is unsurprising that the tribulant feels helpless. The utter dejection of one without help and hope under a heavy load. v15
Thy wrath has swept over me; thy dread assaults destroy me.  Part of his problem is that he feels assaulted by the very one he is crying out to in anguish. How do you ask for help and deliverance from God when it is he that is attacking you? The wrath he is speaking of here is a word ‘charown’ which he repeats twice, once directly after the other, emphasizing the heat of God’s anger. It is a burning anger, a hot wrath like lava that has swept over this tribulant. He feels the waves of assault that sweep over him, inundating him, destroying. Psa 88:16;
They surround me like a flood all day long; they close in upon me together. This is a besieged man surrounded by darkness, terrors and dread, isolated and alone, helpless and hopeless. Depressives feel frightened, lonely with darkness closing in like an army from all sides. Another translation puts it this way… All day long they surround me like a flood; they have completely engulfed me. Submerged and inundated the depressive feels walled in and cut off. Locked in, the prison is flooding and there is no way out and nobody to call to for help even the jailer has gone. In other places in scripture the images are intensely expressed: The sorrows of hell compassed me about… For dogs have compassed… Many bulls strong [bulls] of Bashan have beset me round… His archers compass me round about. This is not an individual having a bad day this is spiritual type, a metaphor used again and again showing the all-encompassing, surrounding nature of tribulation Psa 88:17;

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

v17 NIV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Psa 22:6, 12, 16;

 

Job 16:13

You have taken from me friend and neighbour- darkness is my closest friend. No more needs said: Depression in a nutshell. Darkness my closest friend. Psa 88:18; NIV
I have always read this as the end, the conclusion of the psalm but the more I think about it is the beginning of something new. You see this man is at the end of himself, he has no friends round him, he is at the end of what is humanly possible yet in the midst of the darkness he has a companion. Darkness itself has become his familiar. God dwells in the darkness, God has not left him, God has not forsaken. This darkness that horrified him is friend. He has moved through isolation and loneliness to solitude and solace in the deepest darkness. You see, God uses darkness to find us, he rides on the dark storms of life; he created darkness and evil for his own purposes. In the deep darkness he dwells.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isa 45:7;

 

 

Weakness.

We choose our heroes in the monochrome light of the moon and when they emerge into the bright light of the sun we find that they are men like us. We then go and look for a new Nixon or Mohammed Ali and find that we have found a Clinton or a Mike Tyson. Gods of our own making they are bound to crumble and fall. Scripture is far more honest when dealing with the heroes of the faith. Abraham, Noah, and Job are painted in full colour warts and all. The heroes and wise men are brave and fickle, wise and at the same time dumb. They fall into the same traps that we do and in the end we get a picture of fallen man who needs a perfect God. None of our heroes is more clearly painted in the colours of weakness than Paul the apostle. Left to ourselves we end up with idols, statues on a pedestals when we are looking for a living, breathing, perfect God. We are fortunate that scripture lets us learn from the real men and light to walk by.

God makes it clear in scripture that where are no perfect men only a perfect God; no way to reach perfection by being a man. The weak and the strong are all imperfect, they all need salvation and even when they are saved their weaknesses and strengths are obvious to all round them. The man who is strong in faith, morals, ethics, and will is in need of the same God as the man that is weak in Christ.

We find weakness and strength shown clearly in scripture: Adam and Eve perfection in the making, created by God, turn out to be made of the earth, sinful, corrupt and deceitful spawning a line after their own kind. Gold and clay mixed is projected down through the ages. Noah the man of great faith hops off the ark, drunk and incestuous. Abraham father of faith, too scared to admit that his wife is Sarah. Sampson of great physical strength, so meek and weak that he loses the fight to a woman. David and Solomon, brave and wise turn out mere mortals lusting after women. We are not meant to worship and revere men no matter how strong or weak; they are to be viewed in the full daylight of perfection, the perfection of Almighty God.

God has a heart for the weak: those who need care, protection who are vulnerable, who have no recourse to justice, who need an intercessor a helper, a friend, a provider.                                                   Who are the weak in God’s eyes? Those physically weak; sick, diseased, blind and lame, who can simply not cope with the pressures of the physical world. Then there are the weak who are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, those sidelined in the economic world, the powerless, the folk who are without power or advocacy; widows, [1] have a particular place in God’ s heart. He recognises that they are lonely [2] their status has changed, they are cut off from the land, food, provision and as we can see in Ruth they were open to molestation and abuse. Without the protection of their husbands they were likely to starve. Orphans and the fatherless [3] too were vulnerable, deprived of protection and guidance they were likely to be abused and even sold into slavery for the family’s debt. Another class of the weak was the poor. [4] There was no safety net for the poor. The poor had their strong backs and when these gave out they starved. Aliens and strangers [5] had even a worse time. As in Africa today they had no recourse to the law; abused, exploited and sold into slavery [6] they were at the bottom of the heap barely above the slave. They didn’t belong and were a burden to the land unless they could work long hours for little. Ownership of land at least gave the opportunity to grow something to be able to eat; the Levite [7] who didn’t own land and was dependant on the gifts of others. Those who are mentally not coping who are depressed, afflicted,[8] and downtrodden; God makes provision for them all. Even the animals are on God’s heart, no SPCA but God. God has a compassionate heart for them all and asks us to have the same attitude. He spends time encouraging the weak and expects us to do as he does.[9]

Paul takes time repeatedly to show us that he is weak. He puts the shipwreck [10] of his life on display for all to see. He does not hide the weakness, sickness and frailty of his body.[11] [12] What he says is that physically ‘I can not cope, I am not in charge, sick, frail, fragile and unable to deal with the great demands my body and soul can not deliver’. Paul tells us that his flesh has been pierced continually by a thorn sent by Satan.[13] This was not something he could just shake off with a ‘be gone in the name of Jesus’, this was a real, intractable, physical reminder of his mortality. [14] He shows us this form of weakness and in the humiliation [15]  [16] of the false accusations of imposters trying to make an easy buck living off the church.[17] [18] Betrayed by his fellow countrymen, fearful of robbers,[19]  he illustrates what it means to be without, deprived of the necessities; sleep, [20] [21] food, clothing and shelter.[22]  [23] Squeezed [24] [25] to the point where life itself is being pressed out like oil in a press, [26] [27] [28] circumstances like walls pressing him into a narrow channel from which there is no escape. Persecuted [29] harried and chased,  [30] [31] thrown down, [32] [33]  by forces both physical and spiritual, blind terror, [34] running like an abused animal, confused, [35] [36] ill-treated, beaten, stoned, [37] trembling in fear; Paul experienced all of this.[38] [39]  This distress was not just physical: Paul is popularly depicted as a cool man full of faith who though persecuted on the outside in the physical, was a man of steel who with the ramrod of faith up his backside marched on in perfect logic and heroism into difficult situations. This is not true; Paul was a man like us who didn’t understand, [40] felt the pain on the outside and was depressed and distracted,[41][42] he was in the same narrow place you and I find ourselves; every alternative a bad choice with no way out. The more you wriggle the worse it gets, forcing despair in life itself. [43]

Anguish is not a word we use much nowadays; Paul experienced true anguish and emotional torment [44] and angst. Weak, incapable and unable to cope[45] [46]  he found it normal and put his weakness out for all to see.[47]

Loneliness, abandonment, failures, destitution and wretched poverty, [48] [49] [50]

suffering [51] [52] [53] [54]and persecution; the hammer blows of abandonment and betrayal; [55] he experienced them all. He put his weakness and powerlessness on display; not hiding the conflict that he had inside of him; the fight inside himself, the assaying, the fiery trial of the metal [56] [57] [58]  within. [59] [60] He glories in his frailty, weakness, sickness feebleness and infirmities. He takes pride in his powerlessness: [61] [62]

Firstly why would someone glory in their weakness and why would they tell us to emulate them? [63] Surely the great apostle would tell us that his life is ‘A OK as a Christian, rich and increased I have need of nothing’ and tell us to ‘just trust in the Lord’. He tells us his sorrowful, pitiful story for a good reason. Firstly to show us that he Paul the grand apostle with amazing revelation and insight, was and is just a man like us. Secondly he is showing us that he like us is weak and in need of strength. He demonstrates that only when we are weak and acknowledge our weakness and inability to do anything can we rest in the strength that is in Christ: for when I am weak, then am I strong. [64] When we are capable and coping and managing on our own we are just that; on our own and very weak. When we are weak and in tribulation we are comforted, kept and able to comfort others with the comfort that we have received. [65]

Paul also demonstrates that although the weakness of suffering is debilitating it does not separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.[66]

Furthermore suffering and weakness is temporary but the fruit produced is permanent. [67] You are not in this situation of trial for fun it is your faith that is being exposed to the fire. There is purpose to the assaying process. The fire burns off the dross and leaves the gold of faith tried in the fire for eternity. We tend to making the trial the big deal whereas this is a transitory blip that will fade into nothingness in eternity. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in the weakness of ‘enosh’ . [68] [69] [70] [71]

Bear with me as this study takes a curious turn; I was surprised to find a passage that I still don’t know how to wrap my logical mind around. Having read and reread it many times, understanding the words, I still find myself puzzled. It cuts across my nature and contradicts much of what I believe.

In Romans 14 (please read it as it helps my inadequate explanation) Paul introduces us to a class of the weak that is not described in the O.T. the weak in the faith.

 (Note that this is the weak in the faith and not the weak in faith, there is a vast difference.[72]  [73]) They are described as weak because they have not appreciated the liberty that we have in Christ.  [74] [75]

Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. [76] —Literally, “not to judgments of reasonings,” or, as the margin reads, “not for divisions of doubts.” The brother who is weak, is not to be received with the purpose of judging his reasonings; the reception is to be unreserved. There is to be no setting up of oneself as a judge of the weak brother’s scruples.[77] Who are the weak in faith? Presumably a visiting group of believers or new converts to faith in Christ. When you read Romans 14 look for the solicitous regard and consideration that the writer expresses regarding the feelings of believers. These believers are not being welcomed for a meal which is prepared for the ‘visiting vegan’ this is a welcome of permanence, receiving someone into the body, taking them in as your own. [78] This accommodation of the believer is done in the light of your knowing better, of your knowing that he is a victim of superstition and religious bondage. It means giving up while you associate with your brothers in Christ, not just the meat offered to idols, all meats, giving up wine, the blood of Christ, at your feasts, giving up the special Sunday worship and worshipping on the day that they are used to. This is the extent of the consideration shown for the new additions to the faith. It involves your hiding the liberty that you have in Christ, knowing all the while that Paul says and is persuaded in the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean in itself but at the same time not putting a stumbling block in the way of your weak brother. I am still trying to get my judgmental mind round this …

Romans 14 is particularly significant because it gives us an insight into not only the weak but also into the nature of sin and grace in Christ our salvation.

Paul is not so much concerned about who is right or wrong; eating or drinking, holy days or grasp of scriptural truths.[79] [80] What he finds vital is the attitude of believers. Paul looks at the subject from a side that I have had difficulty with because of my narrow minded view of the love and grace of God. Paul’s approach is that:

  1. 1.    Mutual love has been stressed, [81] in prior chapters; the weak and the strong are to view each other in this light. Love covers a multitude of sins and so viewing the other in the light of love produces a different character.
  2. 2.    The imminence of the day of Christ is emphasized. Accordingly the strong and the weak are to remember that all have to appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ.[82] Realizing that we too will appear before the judgment seat of Christ gives us a far more accommodating attitude to our brother. We realize that we are not perfect and not the judge of what is right to wrong. We are as reliant on the grace and mercy of Christ as the most mixed up newbie.
  3. 3.    The apostle expresses no disapproval of either the position of the strong or the weak. It is the heart attitude that is important not the theology. Faith and obedience to conscience is what matters, the ‘right or wrong of the matter is left an open question. He is concerned with the feelings involved. Since what he does is a matter of faith What Paul opposes here, then, is not scrupulousness itself, but scrupulousness which produces Pharisaism’.  [83] The strong are not to adopt a superior and judgmental attitude toward the weak, attributing superstition and narrow-mindedness to them.[84]
  4. 4.    It is only in putting on the Lord Jesus Christ  [85] that we escape the judgmental influence of self righteousness and hand over to the coming judgment of Christ [86] and are then able to present Christ as the pattern for believers. [87]
  5. 5.    It is a matter of faith (v. 2). The strong and the weak will stand according to their integrity through the power of their Lord.
  6. 6.    The weak in turn are not to judge the strong for the liberty they enjoy in Christ.[88] [89] What is in view here is, not that the strong man will fall and be restored, but that Christ is able to maintain him in spite of what his liberty may involve  Let every man be persuaded in his own mind. [90] [91] The weak man is not maintained in his standing in Christ in his restraint, it is Christ alone that saves both the strong and the weak brother.
  7. 7.    In either case it is to the Lord that they stand or fall. [92] The enjoyment of liberty is morally successful only through the grace and power of Christ. [93]
  8. But thou, why dost thou judge thy brother? Such judgment is both a usurpation of the prerogative of Christ and inconsistent with the relationship of believers to one another.[94] In pulling one another apart we stand the chance of division and destruction.[95]We are not to be divisive. [96]It is because we love one another that there are no divisions. [97]

Vine seems to think that there are exceptions to correcting a brother on moral grounds but Paul says: I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemed any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.  [98] This raises a couple of questions in my mind. Firstly how far does this principal extend? Does it cover moral questions?                                     

Is the Animist justified through ignorance?

Is everything done in Christ according to the dictates of conscience justified and covered by grace? We know that conscience alone is not a foolproof guarantee of correctness but Paul seems to suggest that in the albescence of teaching this is acceptable.

We are to welcome and receive one another without disputing just as Christ received us in sin and confusion.

As you see I have many questions but for now I see the error of my ways and hopefully will be more accepting and less argumentative.

This study has taught me a lot about grace, sin, compassion and relationships between the weak and the strong but it has been useful in another way too; it has shown me up to myself as a bigoted, self satisfied, proud, ill informed, intolerant person who is more interested in mechanical religion than in love. Keen to be right I lose sight of the big picture that righteousness, justice and love are more important than theological correctness. In the monochrome of right and wrong, theologically correct or incorrect I have lost sight of the wonder of grace the full colour of mercy. One does not just lose out on the revelation but the rich stream of people and relationships that stem from the revelation and that is the real loss. I have missed out on the warmth of human contact through fear. Through this study I have had my eyes opened; I knew before but was never able to accept or acknowledge; that I am poor with people, inarticulate, fearful and this fearfulness has made me unable to receive correction. This in turn has resulted in defensive attitudes that have isolated and alienated me, leading me to try to justify indefensible positions; talking over, interrupting and shouting down the truth to prop up a convenient lie. I am guilty, I see it very clearly now… Lack of grace firstly with myself and so with others has led to condemnation of myself and others. The lack of grace in my faith has severely limited me, I have wanted to be right, black or white, not accepting my own limited understanding and the imperfections of others I have become stilted, small and isolated.

The number of people that have been put off Christ because of my self righteous correctness, the number of souls who I have turned from the way because of my belligerence; embarrassing and shameful.

I now see in part and realize the obvious, nobody has the right to all the truth and that is why grace and forgiveness is available. We all see in part not just in our view of scripture but in life itself.

Fortunately with the teaching from this study there is the opportunity to confess and ask for forgiveness. There is the chance to accept the grace and forgiveness of God and move on in the light of knowledge. Trying to break a lifetime of negative habit is going to be difficult at my age but I commit to you Lord, you are able to do the impossible. I am able in Christ Jesus.

Thank you Lord.

This study goes a little further than this because when we look at the weak in the OT we found the widow, orphan and fatherless, the stranger and alien, the prisoner and leper, the sick, decrepit, afflicted and incapable, those who were unable to cope and had gone off the rails. If we are honest, truly honest we like to institutionalize weakness. We want the church to feed the widows, we want the social welfare to take care of the orphans and we fob off the fatherless with platitudes and handouts. The stranger and the alien are xenophobically dealt with pack them up put them on their boats and forget that they exist. The sick are packed off to a hospital and the aged, incapable and mentally afflicted are packed off to a ‘home’. We don’t want to deal with the weak and are prepared to pay tithes and tax to have others make the problem go away.

Truth is the widow, orphan, fatherless, sick, decrepit, lame, afflicted, the landless, homeless stranger and alien are within you. The weak and the strong are within and god does not want the strong or the weak to live as though the other does not exist. Him that is weak in the faith receives ye… [99] The next passage has a world with… My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. [100] Rather than running from weakness in fear embrace the weakness within and accept the grace; no weakness; no grace. Glory in your weakness and have the power of Christ manifest in your heart.

 


[1] Ex 22:22-24;

Deuteronomy 10:18, 19;

Deuteronomy 14:29;

Deuteronomy 16:11;

Deuteronomy 27:19;

Jeremiah 49:11;

Job 31:16;

Psalm 68:5;

Psalm 94:6;

Psalm 146:9;

Proverbs 15:25;

Jeremiah 7:6;

Jeremiah 49:11;

Malachi 3:5;

James 1:27;

[2] Lamentations 1:1

[3] Ex 22:22-24.;

Deuteronomy 10:18, 19;

Deuteronomy 10:18;

Deuteronomy 14:29;

Deuteronomy 16:11;

Deuteronomy 27:19;

Job 31:16-21;

Psalm 10:14;

Psalm 68:5;

Psalm 82:3;

Psalm 94:6;

Psalm 146:9;

Jeremiah 7:6;

Hosea 14:3;

Malachi 3:5;

James 1:27;

[4] Job 31:19;

Psalm 10:14;

Psalm 82:3;

Psalm 146:7;

Malachi 3:5;

[5] Genesis 23:4;

Exodus 12:48;

Deuteronomy 10:18, 19;

Deuteronomy 27:19;

Psalm 39:12;

Psalm 94:6

Psalm 119:19;

Psalm 146:9;

Jeremiah 7:6;

[6] Deuteronomy 16:11;

[7] Deuteronomy 16:11;

[8] Psalm 82:3;

[9] James 1:2;

[10] 2 Corinthians 11:25;

[11] 2 Corinthians 10:10;

[12] 769 astheneia { as-then’-i-ah}

from 772; TDNT – 1:490, 83; n f

AV – infirmity 17, weakness 5, disease 1, sickness 1, 24

GK – 819 { ajsqevneia }

1)  want of strength, weakness, infirmity

1a)  of the body

1a1) its native weakness and frailty

1a2) feebleness of health or sickness

1b)  of the soul

1b1) want of strength and capacity requisite

1b1a)  to understand a thing

1b1b)  to do things great and glorious

1b1c)  to restrain corrupt desires

1b1d)  to bear trials and troubles.

[13] 2 Corinthians 12:7;

[14] 2 Corinthians 12:8;

[15] 1 Thessalonians 2:2;

[16] 818 atimazo { at-im-ad’-zo}

from 820;; v

AV – dishonour 3, entreat shamefully 1, suffer shame 1, despise 1; 6

GK – 869 { ajtimavzw } & 870 { ajtimavw }

1)  to dishonour, insult, treat with contempt

1a)     whether in word, deed or thought.

[17] 2 Corinthians 12:10;

[18] 5196 hubris { hoo’-bris}

from 5228; TDNT – 8:295, 1200; n f

AV – hurt 1, harm 1, reproach 1; 3

GK – 5615 { u{bri” }

1)  insolence

1a)  impudence, pride, haughtiness

2)  a wrong springing from insolence, an injury, affront, insult

3)  mental injury and wantonness of its infliction being prominent

4)       injury inflicted by the violence of a tempest

[19] 2 Corinthians 11:26;

[20] 2 Corinthians 11:27;

[21] 70 agrupnia { ag-roop-nee’-ah}

from 69;; n f

AV – watching 2; 2

GK – 71 { ajgrupniva }

1)       sleeplessness, watching.

[22] 2 Corinthians 11:27;

[23] 318 anagke { an-ang-kay’}

from 303 and the base of 43; TDNT – 1:344, 55; n f

AV – necessity 7, must needs 3, distress 3, must of necessity 2, need + 2192 1, necessary 1, needful 1; 18

GK – 340 { ajnavgkh }

1)  necessity, imposed either by the circumstances, or by law of duty regarding to one’s advantage, custom, argument

2)       calamity, distress, straits.

[24] 2 Corinthians 4:8;

[25] 2346 thlibo { thlee’-bo}

akin to the base of 5147; TDNT – 3:139, 334; v

AV – trouble 4, afflict 3, narrow 1, throng 1, suffer tribulation 1; 10

GK – 2567 { qlivbw }

1)  to press (as grapes), press hard upon

2)  a compressed way

2a)  narrow straitened, contracted

3)       metaph. to trouble, afflict, distress[25]

[26] Romans 5:3

[27] 2347 thlipsis { thlip’-sis}

from 2346; TDNT – 3:139, 334; n f

AV – tribulation 21, affliction 17, trouble 3, anguish 1, persecution 1, burdened 1, to be afflicted + 1519 1; 45

GK – 2568 { qli`yi” }*

1)  a pressing, pressing together, pressure

2)       metaph. oppression, affliction, tribulation, distress, straits.

[28] 2 Corinthians 1:4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

[29] 1375 diogmos { dee-ogue-mos’}

from 1377;; n m

AV – persecution 10; 10

GK – 1501 { diwgmov” }

1)     persecution.

[30] 1 Thessalonians 2:15;

[31] 1559 ekdioko { ek-dee-o’-ko}

from 1537 and 1377;; v

AV – persecute 2; 2

GK – 1691 { ejkdiwvkw }

1)  to drive out, banish

2)  to pursue

2a)     to persecute, oppress with calamities.

[32] 2 Corinthians 4:8;

[33] 2598 kataballo { kat-ab-al’-lo}

from 2596 and 906;; v

AV – cast down 2, lay 1; 3

GK – 2850 { katabavllw }

1)  to cast down

1a)  to throw to the ground, prostate

2)  to put in a lower place

2a)     to lay (down) a foundation.

[34] 2794 kindunos { kin’-doo-nos}

of uncertain derivation;; n m

AV – peril 9; 9

GK – 3074 { kivnduno” }

1)     a danger, a peril.

[35] 639 aporeo { ap-or-eh’-o}

from a compound of 1 (as a negative particle) and the base of 4198;; v

AV – doubt 2, be perplexed 1, stand in doubt 1; 4

GK – 679 { ajporevw }

1)  to be without resources, to be in straits, to be left wanting, to be embarrassed, to be in doubt, not to know which way to turn

2)  to be at a loss with one’s self, be in doubt

3)       not to know how to decide or what to do, to be perplexed.

[36] 2 Corinthians 4:8;

[37] 2 Corinthians 11:25;

[38] 5401 phobos { fob’-os}

from a primary phebomai (to be put in fear); TDNT – 9:189, 1272; n m

AV – fear 41, terror 3, misc 3; 47

GK – 5832 { fovbo” }

1)  fear, dread, terror

1a)  that which strikes terror

2)       reverence for one’s husband.

[39] 1 Corinthians 2:3;

[40]  2 Corinthians 4:8;

[41] Acts 18:5;

[42] 4912 sunecho { soon-ekh’-o}

from 4862 and 2192; TDNT – 7:877, 1117; v

AV – be taken with 3, throng 1, straiten 1, keep in 1, hold 1, stop 1, press 1, lie sick of 1, constrain 1, be in a strait 1; 12

GK – 5309 { sunevcw }

1)  to hold together

1a)  any whole, lest it fall to pieces or something  fall away from it

2)  to hold together with constraint, to compress

2a)  to press together with the hand

2a)  to hold one’s ears, to shut the heavens that it may not rain

2b)  to press on every side

2b1) of a besieged city

2b2) of a strait, that forces a ship into a narrow channel

2b3) of a cattle squeeze, that pushing in on each side, forcing the beast into a position where it cannot move so the farmer can administer medication

3)  to hold completely

3a)  to hold fast

3a1) of a prisoner

3b)  metaph.

3b1) to be held by, closely occupied with any business

3b2) in teaching the word

3b3) to constrain, oppress, of ills laying hold of one and distressing him

3b4) to be held with, afflicted with, suffering from

3b5) to urge, impel

3b51)  of the soul.

[43] 4730 stenochoria { sten-okh-o-ree’-ah}

from a compound of 4728 and 5561; TDNT – 7:604, 1077; n f

AV – distress 3, anguish 1; 4

GK – 5103 { stenocwriva }

1)  narrowness of place, a narrow place

2)       metaph. dire calamity, extreme affliction.

[44] 3449 mochthos { mokh’-thos}

from the base of 3425;; n m

AV – travail 2, painfulness 1; 3

GK – 3677 { movcqo” }

1)  a hard and difficult labour, toil, travail, hardship, distress

For synonyms see entries 2873, kopos; and 4192, ponos.

See entry 5860 for comparison of synonyms.

[45] 1 Thessalonians 3:1:

[46] 4722 stego { steg’-o}

from 4721; TDNT – 7:585, 1073; v

AV – can forbear 2, bear 1, suffer 1; 4

GK – 5095 { stevgw }

1)  deck, thatch, to cover

1a)  to protect or keep by covering, to preserve

2)  to cover over with silence

2a)  to keep secret

2b)  to hide, conceal

2b1) of the errors and faults of others

3)       by covering to keep off something which threatens, to bear up against, hold out against, and so endure, bear, forbear.

[47] 1 Corinthians 2:3;

[48] Romans 8:35;

[49] 1132 gumnotes { goom-not’-ace}

from 1131; TDNT – 1:775, 133; n f

AV – nakedness 3; 3

GK – 1219 { gumnovth” }

1)     nakedness of the body.

[50] 3042 limos { lee-mos’}

probably from 3007 (through the idea of destitution);TDNT – 6:12, 820; n m

AV – famine 7, hunger 3, dearth 2; 12

GK – 3350 { limov” }

scarcity of harvest, famine.

[51] Philippians 1:29, 30;

[52] 3804 pathema { path’-ay-mah}

from a presumed derivative of 3806; TDNT – 5:930, 798; n n

AV – suffering 11, affliction 3, affection 1, motion 1; 16

GK – 4077 { pavqhma }

1)  that which one suffers or has suffered

1a)  externally, a suffering, misfortune, calamity, evil, affliction

1a1) of the sufferings of Christ

1a2) also the afflictions which Christians must undergo in behalf of the same cause which Christ patiently endured

1b)  of an inward state, an affliction, passion

2)       an enduring, undergoing, suffering.

[53] Colossians 1:24;

[54] 3958 pascho { pas’-kho}  (including the forms) patho { path’-o}  and pentho { pen’-tho} , (used only in certain tenses for it)

apparently a root word; TDNT – 5:904, 798; v

AV – suffer 39, be vexed 1, passion + 3588 1, feel 1; 42

GK – 4248 { pavscw }

1)  to be affected or have been affected, to feel, have a sensible experience, to undergo

1a)  in a good sense, to be well off, in good case

1b)  in a bad sense, to suffer sadly, be in a bad plight

1b1)    of a sick person.

[55] 2 Corinthians 11:26;

[56] 1 Peter 4:12, 13;

[57] 4451 purosis { poo’-ro-sis}

from 4448; TDNT – 6:950, 975; n f

AV – burning 2, fiery trial 1; 3

GK – 4796 { puvrwsi” }

1)  a burning

1a)  the burning by which metals are roasted and reduced

1b)  by a figure drawn from a refiners fire

1b1)    calamities or trials that test the character.

[58] 3986 peirasmos { pi-ras-mos’}

from 3985; TDNT – 6:23, 822; n m

AV – temptation 19, temptations 1, try 1; 21

GK – 4280 { peirasmov” }

1)  an experiment, attempt, trial, proving

1a)  trial, proving: the trial made of you by my bodily condition, since condition served as to test the love of the Galatians toward Paul (Gal. 4:14)

1b)  the trial of man’s fidelity, integrity, virtue, constancy

1b1) an enticement to sin, temptation, whether arising from the desires or from the outward circumstances

1b2)    an internal temptation to sin.

[59] Philippians 1:29, 30;

[60] 73 agon { ag-one’}

from 71; TDNT – 1:135, 20; n m

AV – conflict 2, fight 2, contention 1, race 1; 6

GK – 74 { ajgwvn }

1)  an assembly,

1a)  a place of assembly: especially an assembly met to see games

1b)  the place of contest, the arena or stadium

2)  the assembly of the Greeks at their national games

2a)  hence the contest for a prize at their games

2b)  generally, any struggle or contest

2c)  a battle

2d)     an action at law, trial.

[61] Colossians 1:24;

[62] 2 Corinthians 12:10;

[63] 1 Peter 4:12, 13;

[64] Romans 5:3-5;

[65] 2 Corinthians 1:4;

[66] Romans 8:35-39Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

[67] 1 Peter 1:6-71;

[68] 605 Õanash { aw-nash’}

a primitive root; TWOT – 135; v

AV – incurable 5, desperate 1, desperately wicked 1, woeful 1, sick; 9

GK – 631 { vWna;

}* & 653 { vn”a;

1)  to be weak, sick, frail

1a)  (Qal)

1a1) to be incurable

1a2) to be sick

1a3) desperate, incurable, desperately wicked, woeful, very sick (pass participle) (metaph.)

1b)     (Niphal) to be sick

[69] Isaiah 56:2;

[70] Enosh may connote “men” as weak but not necessarily morally weak: “Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold of it” (Isa. 56:2).

[71]W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[72] Weak in faith not weak in the faith as the AV translates it as can be seen from Romans 14:23; The form of the word rendered “weak” (the present continuous tense of the verb) suggests that the trouble is not an inherent characteristic, but a condition into which a brother has been brought by outward influence. W.E. Vine, Collected writings of W.E. Vine [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996 by W.E. Vine Copyright Ltd. of Bath, England.

[73] Romans 14:1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.

[74] 1 Corinthians 8:9

[75] ‘Trusting in Christ alone, the strong are delivered from all bondage and finds freedom in serving the will of Christ as Lord of the life. The weakness is the effect of scruples about details that lie outside the scope of those things which the Christian faith demands. His danger lies in judging the brother who is strong, and in a liability to take offense. The “strong” is one who, while acting conscientiously toward God, is not fettered by scruples of that sort. His danger is twofold, namely, of despising the weak brother, and of setting a stumbling block before him. [75]

[76] Romans 14:1

[77]W.E. Vine, Collected writings of W.E. Vine [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996 by W.E. Vine Copyright Ltd. of Bath, England.

[78] 4355 proslambano { pros-lam-ban’-o}

from 4314 and 2983; TDNT – 4:15, 495; v

AV – receive 7, take 5, take unto 2; 14

GK – 4647 { prosanalambavnw }* & 4689 { proslambavnw }

1)  to take to, take in addition, to take to one’s self

1a)  to take as one’s companion

1b)  to take by the hand in order to lead aside

1c)  to take or receive into one’s home, with the collateral idea of kindness

1d)  to receive, i.e. grant one access to one’s heart

1d1) to take into friendship and intercourse

1e)     to take to one’s self, to take: i.e. food.

[79] Galatians 4:9,10;

[80] Romans 14:1;

[81] Romans 12:9, 10; 13:8–10;

[82] Romans 14:10-13;

[83]W.E. Vine, Collected writings of W.E. Vine [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996 by W.E. Vine Copyright Ltd. of Bath, England.

[84]W.E. Vine, Collected writings of W.E. Vine [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996 by W.E. Vine Copyright Ltd. of Bath, England.

[85] Romans 13:14;

[86] Romans 14:6-9;

[87] Romans 15:14;

[88] Romans 14:3;

[89] Romans 14:10-13;

[90] Romans 15:1

[91] W.E. Vine, Collected writings of W.E. Vine [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996 by W.E. Vine Copyright Ltd. of Bath, England.

[92] Romans 14:4;

[93] W.E. Vine, Collected writings of W.E. Vine [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996 by W.E. Vine Copyright Ltd. of Bath, England.

[94]W.E. Vine, Collected writings of W.E. Vine [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996 by W.E. Vine Copyright Ltd. of Bath, England.

[95] Romans 12:9, 10; 13:8–10;

[96] Romans 16:17;

1 Corinthians 1:11-13;

1 Corinthians 3:3;

1 Corinthians 12:24-27;

Jude18,19;

[97] John 3:14;

[98] Romans 14:14;

[99] Romans 14:1;

[100] 2 Corinthians 12:9;