Some Maxims of Wisdom

  1. Character is Carved by Choices
  2. Faith Flourishes by Favor
  3. Love Looks Beyond Lacks
  4. Truth is Tested on Temperance
  5. Silence Succors Sometimes
  6. Fear Fills up Folly
  7. Reverence Reflects Royalty
  8. Reliance Reassures Rest
  9. Intent Inspires Imagination
  10. Godliness Goes Before Glory
  11. Pride Precedes Perdition
  12. Discipleship Demands Denials
  13. Honor comes by Honoring
  14. Suretyship is a Sure Snare
  15. Frame no Thought on Fragmentary Talk
  16. Snobbery Secures Segregation
  17. The Devil’s Patience Doesn’t Postpone his Perdition
  18. Doubt Confuses, Faith Convicts
  19. Battles are won by Bravery and Belief
  20. Seduction can Steal the Stand
  21. The Sagacious Save in Summer
  22. Companionship Constructs or Corrupts
  23. Excellence comes through Endeavor
  24. Faith is Foundational; Doubt, Demolitional
  25. Prejudice Prevents Perception
  26. Bitterness Breeds Bitterness
  27. Thanksgiving is the Language of Trust
  28. To Love means To Listen
  29. Humility is the Health of one’s Heart
  30. To Love a Neighbor Means To Be a Neighbor
  31. The Wicked are not Won by Words
  32. Self-Examination Heals Several Hurts
  33. Volume doesn’t Validate
  34. Chattering can be Shattering

© Domenic Marbaniang, 2008


Leonard Ravenhill On John Wesley

Leonard Ravenhill (1907-1994)

John died in 1791, converted at 35. Turn that round, it makes 53. Add them together, it makes 88. Because he was saved at 35, preached for 53 years, and you know what he left when he died?

He left a handful of books, a faded Geneva gown that he preached in all over England, six silver spoons somebody gave him, six pound notes – “Give one to each of the poor men that carry me to my grave.” And that’s all he left: six pound notes, six silver spoons, and a handful of books, a Geneva gown.

And …, there was something else. What was it, the other thing? Oh, I know something else he left – the Methodist church.

He could have died as rich as …famous TV preacher someday. Sure, he made money, and he built orphanages. Sure, he made money, he printed Bibles. Sure, he made money, he compiled with Charles the Methodist hymn book, and they built orphanages. And he died worth about 30 dollars.

He printed Bibles. He printed hymn books. He financed missionaries to go across the earth. That’s the way to use your money.

You think of the reward. Why in God’s name do you think it says, “Don’t lay up treasure on earth, lay up treasure in heaven.”

"In the Likeness of Sinful Flesh", "In the Likeness of Men" (Rom.8:3, Phil.2:7) – Barnes and Zodhiates

ἐν ὁμοιώματι σαρκὸς ἁμαρτίας (Rom 8:3 BYZ)
in the likeness of sinful flesh (Rom 8:3 NAS)

Albert Barnes:
“That is, he so far resembled sinful flesh that he partook of flesh, or the nature of man, but without any of its sinful propensities or desires. It was not human nature; not, as the Docetae taught, human nature in appearance only; but it was human nature without any of its corruptions.”

Zodhiates, Word Study:
homoíōma; gen. homoiṓmatos, neut. noun from homoióō (G3666), to make like. Likeness, shape, similitude, resemblance. It is important to realize that the resemblance signified by homoíōma in no way implies that one of the objects in question has been derived from the other. In the same way two men may resemble one another even though they are in no way related to one another….
In Rom 8:3, “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness [homoiṓmati] of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.” Paul indicates not that the body of Christ was merely human, but that in spite of His having a real body and a truly human nature, yet these were only similar to ours, without sin or the propensity to sin.

ἀλλ᾽ ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν, μορφὴν δούλου λαβών, ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γενόμενος (Phi 2:7 BYZ)
but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. (Phi 2:7 NAS)

Zodhiates, Word Study:
In Phil. 2:6-8, three synonymous words occur:
(A) The first word is morphḗ, form or inward identifiable existence. Christ’s identification as God in heaven is clear, “Who being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God [He was not made equal to God but that He always was of the same essence as God and of the same rank {cf. Joh 1:18}]” (Phil. 2:6). No person could be in the form of God and not be God. In Phil. 2:7, the Gr. text simply says, “But He emptied Himself.” …

In His incarnation, however, He voluntarily took on the form of a man and His humanity was fully recognized by men on earth. While He lived on earth as the God-Man, He was simultaneously the Son of God in heaven. In other words, He did not empty Himself of His divine perfections nor of the essence of His being, but He emptied Himself into a life of humiliation that was itself emptied into death.

….Jesus Christ did not have His life taken from Him. He died because He chose to die (Joh 10:17-18).

This is the reason why in Phil. 2:7 for the statement that Jesus “was made in the likeness of men [en homoiṓmati anthrṓpōn]”; and in verse eight that He was “found in fashion as a man [hōs ánthrōpos].” In shape (schḗma), He was exactly as man. In this instance the words homoíōma, likeness, and schḗma, shape, are parallel. In His essence (morphḗ) He was God, but took upon Himself, in addition to His deity, the likeness of men (with a true human nature in a real body), yet without sin (Heb 4:15). For this reason we are told that he was made en homoiṓmati anthrṓpōn, “in the likeness of men,” not merely that He became man.

(B) The second word that is used in Phil. 2:7 is homoíōma, “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness [homoíōma] of men.” Paul declares here that Jesus Christ, whose essential preincarnate form was spirit (pneúma), emptied Himself and took upon Himself the form of man. But His was, as Rom 8:3 says, not the flesh of sin, but sinless flesh….

(C) The third word that occurs in the Philippian passage (Phil. 2:8) is schḗma, form, fashion. It refers here to the physical form that Jesus took. Schḗma is more closely related to homoíōma, likeness, than to morphḗ, form or substance, essence. “And being found in fashion [schḗmati, sing. dat. of schḗma] as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” The Lord Jesus did not deliver His divine nature to man to kill; His spirit could not be killed. His enemies, failing to recognize His deity, found “a man.” This one they killed, not knowing that He was indeed the God-Man. Even so, the Apostle Paul tells us that the only reason they could kill Him was that “He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto [until] death, even the death of the cross.”

The death of Christ was an act of obedience. The death of Adam was the result of disobedience. In His death, Christ was essentially sinless. He was the sinless Lamb of God who took away all the sins of the world. He was made sin (2Cor.5:21); but, not sinner; for He is the Righteous One, the Holy God manifest in flesh. He offered Himself for our sins. Therefore, death could not hold Him (Acts 2:24). And, He is able even to subdue all things to Himself (Phil.3:21).

Faith as Absolute and Unconditional

“Faith is the foundation…” (Hb.11:1, SLT)

The empirical philosopher, whose method is chiefly inductive in nature, fails to understand faith. For he sees the faith of God as impossible and the explanations of a theologian appear to suffer faith to die the death of a thousand qualifications. Such is the case illustrated in the Parable of the Invisible Gardener by John Wisdom. Antony Flew, in his agnostic period, analysed the parable in the following empirical terms:

Let us begin with a parable. It is a parable developed from a tale told by John Wisdom in his haunting and revolutionary article “Gods.” Once upon a time two explorers came upon a clearing in the jungle. In the clearing were growing many flowers and many weeds. One explorer says, “Some gardener must tend this plot.” The other disagrees, “There is no gardener.” So they pitch their tents and set a watch. No gardener is ever seen. “But perhaps he is an invisible gardener.” So they set up a barbed-wire fence. They electrify it. They patrol with bloodhounds. (For they remember how H. G. Well’s The Invisible Man could be both smelt and touched though he could not be seen.) But no shrieks ever suggest that some intruder has received a shock. No movements of the wire ever betray an invisible climber. The bloodhounds never give cry. Yet still the Believer is not convinced. “But there is a gardener, invisible, intangible, insensible, to electric shocks, a gardener who has no scent and makes no sound, a gardener who comes secretly to look after the garden which he loves.” At last the Sceptic despairs, “But what remains of your original assertion? Just how does what you call an invisible, intangible, eternally elusive gardener differ from an imaginary gardener or even from no gardener at all?”

In this parable we can see how what starts as an assertion, that something exist or that there is some analogy between certain complexes of phenomena, may be reduced step by step to an altogether different status, to an expression perhaps of a “picture preference.” The Sceptic says there is no gardener. The Believer says there is a gardener (but invisible, etc.). One man talks about sexual behavior. Another man prefers to talk of Aphrodite (but knows that there is not really a superhuman person additional to, and somehow responsible for, all sexual phenomena). The process of qualification may be checked at any point before the original assertion is completely withdrawn and something of that first assertion will remain (Tautology). Mr. Wells’ invisible man could not, admittedly, be seen, but in all other respects he was a man like the rest of us. But though the process of qualification may be and of course usually is, checked in time, it is not always judicially so halted. Someone may dissipate his assertion completely without noticing that he has done so. A fine brash hypothesis may thus be killed by inches, the death by a thousand qualifications.

Contrary to such a situation, the Bible doesn’t portray the faith of God as a conclusion reached through inductive reasoning or on the basis of mere empirical reasoning. On the other hand, faith precedes understanding and is the first premise from which all other conclusions are derived. Therefore, the writer of Hebrews says, “Faith is the foundation…” (Heb.11:1, SLT).

The faith of God cannot be contingent like the faith of this empirical universe. God is absolute; therefore, the faith of God is also absolute. It is not based on something else but is the foundation of everything else. It is not based on evidence. It is the evidence. It is unconditional and doesn’t fluctuate or waver no matter what the circumstances are. It trusts in God like Job even when surrounded by adversity. It, like Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego, declares that God is able to deliver, but even if He didn’t, they would not bow to fear or anything false. It is not utilitarian, the means, but is the substance. Faith is willing to let go off Isaac, because it is not based on Isaac, but is unconditional acknowledgement and trust in the goodness and power of God. Inductive reasoning can never be final; therefore, those who look for signs in order to believe can never really believe. Their hearts are divided, mixed, and faithless. However, those who come to God believe that He is and is the rewarder of those who seek Him. Faith sees evil, but is not destroyed by evil. Rather it overcomes it. For, trials cannot extinguish faith; trials strengthen and reinforce faith. Faith doesn’t become weak and doubtful and stops praying because it has seen that the billows don’t quell down despite all their cries; faith remains soundly restful on the pillow of peace that proceeds from the acknowledgement of the goodness and faithfulness of God. Faith is not irritated, frustrated, or exasperated with situations. Faith changes situations; for one who believes can move any mountain.

Viktor E Frankl, a Holocaust survivor and founder of Logotherapy, when faced with the question of faith in the midst of suffering and the problem of evil, observed:

Either you have your doubts. Then you have to start your skepticism, to quote a figure in a novel by Dostoevsky, you have to start it with one single innocent child that had to suffer. Or else, you will maintain your faith in God irrespective of any number of victims. Because either you have a belief in God which is unconditional, which you maintain under each and every conditions or the faith is too weak and will sooner or later break down. So, religious belief, as I see is to be an unconditional one. And the most and honest and appropriate approach is that.. of Job. After trying to bargain as it were with God, he then says that “I shut my mouth. I see I don’t know enough to argue with You. You know better. I believe in You that You are not only omnipotent, but also omniscient and omnibenevolent.” So, he confesses and this is… a thread that goes through out the history of the human spirit… So this skepticism has to turn itself against itself. This is the only approach we have.. approach by a believer. To say that “Up to Auschwitz I was a believer, from Auschwitz on I am no longer”– this is impossible. Now, the strange thing that most of American theologians seem to forget or overlook, to my knowledge or, better to say, to my experience: those who were religious, among those who were, had been, religious personalities, the absolute majority, in view of the holocaust they had to go through themselves, and in spite of the holocaust and what they had to live through themselves, they not only maintained their faith, but… even their belief was fostered or strengthened because it had been an absolute one and an unconditional one. While the weak faith was crumbling, the genuine faith was strengthened. This is my personal experience with only a few exceptions.

Plato’s Political Theory of Music

Ref: The Republic

Gymnastic is for the body, and music is for the soul.

Gymnastic as well as music should begin in early years; the training in it should be careful and should continue through life.

Music includes literature and literature can be true or false. Therefore, censorship is necessary.

When modes of music change, the laws of the State always change with them.

The music style must be more narrative than imitative; the artist, willing to imitate only the good and virtuous.

A song or ode has three parts–the words, the melody, and the rhythm. The melody and rhythm must depend upon the words

The State must not allow mixed styles that create confusion.

The State must banish melodies that express lament and sorrow, and also banish instruments such as flute for promoting such melodies. Thus, only the lyre and harp are allowed.

When a man allows music to play upon him and to pour into his soul through the funnel of his ears sweet and soft and melancholy airs, and his whole life is passed in warbling and the delights of song; in the first stage of the process the passion or spirit which is in him is tempered like iron, and made useful, instead of brittle and useless. But, if he carries on the softening and soothing process, in the next stage he begins to melt and waste, until he has wasted away his spirit and cut out the sinews of his soul; and he becomes a feeble warrior.

And so in gymnastics, if a man takes violent exercise and is a great feeder, and the reverse of a great student of music and philosophy, at first the high condition of his body fills him with pride and spirit, and he becomes twice the man that he was.

The end of music is the love of beauty.

Simplicity in music is the parent of temperance in the soul; simplicity in gymnastic, of health in the body.