Christian Living

Example Is More Effectual Than Precept: The Reformed Catholic Family, J. Merle D’Aubigne (free ebook) by Shane Anderson


This is a powerful excerpt from a short book, “Family Worship” by the Swiss minister and historian, J. Merle D’Aubigne (1794–1872). This book is available at the link below for free from our friends at Chapel Library. The book explores the proper motives for family worship and provides sound guidance for the venerable practice:

Parents! If your children do not meet with a spirit of piety in your houses; if, on the contrary, your pride consists in surrounding them with external gifts, introducing them into worldly society, indulging all their whims, letting them follow their own course, you will see them grow vain, proud, idle, disobedient, impudent, and extravagant!

They will treat you with contempt; and the more your hearts are wrapped up in them, the less they will think of you. This is seen but too often to be the case. But ask yourselves if you are not responsible for their bad habits and practices; and your conscience will reply that you are; that you are now eating the bread of bitterness that you have prepared for yourself. May you learn thereby how great has been your sin against God in neglecting the means which were in your power for influencing their hearts. And may others take warning from your misfortune, and bring up their children in the Lord!

Nothing is more effectual in doing this than an example of domestic piety. Public worship is often too vague and general for children, and does not sufficiently interest them. As to the worship of the closet, they do not yet understand it. A lesson learned by rote, if unaccompanied by anything else, may lead them to look upon religion as a study like those of foreign languages or history. Here, as everywhere, and more than elsewhere, example is more effectual than precept.

They are not merely to be taught out of some elementary book that they must love God, but you must show them God is loved. If they observe that no worship is paid to that God of Whom they hear, the very best instruction will prove useless. But by means of family worship, these young plants will grow “like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither” (Psa 1:3). Your children may leave the parental roof, but they will remember in foreign lands the prayers of the parental roof, and those prayers will protect them.


Free ebook “Family Worship” from Chapel Library:

Free ebook link

The Reformed Catholic Family: Timeless Wisdom From A Westminster Divine by Blake Blount


An Introduction To The Series on Building a Godly Home by William Gouge

By now I ought not to be surprised that an old Reformed churchman is a fountain of godly piety, encouragement, and conviction, but here I am again. William Gouge’s practical handbook on family life is a refreshing stream of water flowing from such a wellspring. Modernized in three volumes under the title Building a Godly Home, the book was originally released in a single volume as Domestical Duties, and it excellently presents the blessings we have in Christ, along with the duties we owe to Him and to one another in our homes. It’s just what you’d like to see from an honored member of the Westminster Assembly: warm, firm, attentive, fatherly, compassionate, biblical, and catholic. It’s a work worthy of rediscovery in all the churches of God.

To that end, I’ll be posting a series of excerpts from Building a Godly Home.

The first is the very opening lines of the book:

It has pleased God to call every one to two vocations. One vocation is general, in which certain common duties are to be performed by all men (as knowledge, faith, obedience, repentance, love, mercy, justice, truth, etc.). The other is particular, in which certain specific duties are required of individual people, according to those distinct places where divine providence has set them in the nation, church, and family.

Therefore God’s ministers ought to be careful in instructing God’s people in both kinds of duties; both those which concern their general calling and those which concern their particular calling. Accordingly Paul, who, like Moses, was faithful in all the house of God (Num. 12:7), after he had sufficiently instructed God’s church in the general duties that belong to all Christians, regardless of sex, state, degree, or condition (Eph. 4:1-5:21), proceeds to lay down certain particular duties, which apply to particular callings and conditions (Eph. 5:22-6:9). Among these particular duties, he notes those which God has established in a family.

With excellent skill he passes from those general duties to the particular ones, laying down a transition between the with these words, “ Submitting your selves one to another in the fear of God” (Eph. 5:21). The form and manner of setting down this verse, with the participle “submitting,” shows that it depends on that which was said before. Again, the fact that the word itself is the very same which is used in the following verse, shows that this verse contains the sum of that which follows, and connects the general to the particulars. This manner of passing from one point to another, by a perfect transition which looks both to that which is past and to that which is coming, is very elegant and frequently employed by our apostle.

Thereby he teaches us to pay attention to that which follows, while we do not forget that which is past. While we must give diligent attention to that which remains to be said, we must also retain that we have heard, and not let it slip. Otherwise, if (as one nail drives out another) one precept makes another be forgotten, it will be altogether in vain to add line to line, or precept to precept.

Let us not upon pretext of one duty, though it may seem to be the weightier, think to discard another, lest that fearful “woe” which Christ denounced against the scribes and Pharisees (Matt. 23:23) fall upon our heads. As God is careful to instruct us how to act both towards His own majesty and also towards one another, so in both let us seek His approval. Remember what Christ said to the Pharisees, “These ought ye to have done, and not leave the other undone” (Luke 11:42). The same Lord that requires praise to His own majesty instructs us in mutual service one to another. “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matt. 19:6).

As was the case throughout, I was struck by how pointedly this speaks to our modern moment, which is to say: pitting duties one against another to avoid the ones we don’t like is a timeless temptation. One of the two broad classes of duties Gouge identifies here often cannibalizes the other. In teachings on the sexes, for instance, it’s not hard to find folks denying that there are manly duties distinct from womanly duties; all are simply to “be like Christ.”

But while all are to be like Christ with regard to our general duties, we must also render our due according to the particular callings to which we are called. Likewise, I see in young men (myself included) a tendency to use particular calls to defend the Faith as a cover to their lack of general, personal holiness. It is a deadly poison. Let us all endeavor to avoid the leaven of the Pharisees and not think to discard one duty on the pretext of another.

The PCA And Liberalism: A Warning From Our History by Shane Anderson


(The following is a post, reproduced here in its entirety, by Lacy Andrews, Regional Home Missionary for the Presbytery of the Southeast of the Orthodox Presbyterian church.)

I rarely get involved in theological discussions online, but I believe it’s important that I express a concern over developments in the PCA and especially the latest GA. Sorry for the length of this post. For those who don’t know me, I’m a minister in the OPC. This concern has grown as I’ve read different responses to what was unfolding at the GA. Some expressed alarm, but then settled down after seeing many positive signs at the assembly. I’ve even read posts of repentance for statements made rashly.

One thing I’ve not seen anywhere in the posts that I’ve read is any real reflection of church history regarding watershed General Assemblies in Presbyterian denominations. I took note of some of the strategies employed by conservatives in the PCA, and though I sympathized greatly with what they did and rejoiced in things said, I wondered if they were repeating a conservative error that has plagued the church in the face of rising progressivism in the past.

The 1923 and 1924 General Assemblies of the PCUSA were watershed GAs in the battle between conservatives and progressives (then often called fundamentalists and modernists). The thing we need to note is that conservatives left both of those assemblies greatly encouraged, believing that their show of power had reclaimed the church. After an initial loss (the election of the moderate, Charles Wishart as moderator over the fundamentalist William Jennings Bryan) in 1923, the conservatives believed they’d won the day on virtually every issue to come before the assembly. First, the assembly sided with the conservatives regarding the preaching of Harry Emerson Fosdick, and second, the assembly voted to require all officers to affirm the Five Fundamentals. Though conservatives rejoiced, they failed to realize that neither action had any teeth. Subsequent to the assembly, the Presbytery of New York essentially ignored the directive of the GA regarding Dr. Fosdick. Also, the modernists convened a meeting to strategize how to respond to the conservative “wins” at the GA that concluded with the writing and signing of the Auburn Affirmation. Sadly, those who signed the Auburn Affirmation understood the constitution of the PCUSA better than the conservatives who were trying to defend it. By adopting the Five Fundamentals the conservatives added extra-confessional requirements for ordination. Though the Five Fundamentals spoke directly to the issue at hand, they provided an open door for the progressives to cry “foul.”

All of this came to a head at the 1924 GA. The conservatives struck first and elected Clarence E Macartney as moderator, who appointed Maitland Alexander as chairman of the Bills and Overtures Committee. William Jennings Bryan also served on the committee creating a false-sense of security for the conservatives at the GA. An overture came to the GA from the Presbytery of Cincinnati putting the matter of the Auburn Affirmation before the GA. Though the dynamics on the Bills and Overture Committee were complex (with a liberal majority of 13 to 9), in the end, no action was taken on the overture as it was placed on the table. There were no dissenting votes recorded to placing it on the table, and it’s been noted by OPC historian, Danny Olinger, that J. Gresham Machen was a commissioner and even he didn’t record a negative vote. The result was that nothing of consequence happened to those who signed the Auburn Affirmation. The conservatives had given them a foot-hold by essentially adding extra-confessional requirements for ordination, which enabled the signers of the affirmation to get away with the egregious aspects of the affirmation which affirmed the Five Fundamentals as truths, but as truths open to various broad interpretations. In the end there was no discipline. The conservatives, by focusing upon the Five Fundamentals instead of the Standards of the Church, made it almost impossible to bring charges against those whose doctrine was contradicted by the Standards. This error of exposing modernism in the church, but not bringing charges against those espousing false-doctrine would continue over the next few years. Interestingly, while conservatives celebrated saving their church after the 1923 and 1924 assemblies, it was only 12 years later that the leading conservative in the PCUSA, J. Gresham Machen was deposed as a minister by that same church. The fall happened rapidly, a conservative majority was caught off guard, the church was lost. I’m not making any predictions about the PCA, only reminding you of history. I understand the sentiment of bringing the Nashville Statement before the Assembly. It is a Biblical Statement, but I’m concerned the battle wasn’t fought by bringing the Westminster Standards to bear, instead of using an extra-confessional statement established by a para-church organization.

In the early 2000s, conservatives (moderates to most of us) in the PC(USA) repeated the same error as the conservatives did in the 1923/1924 General Assemblies. Of course, the confessionalism of the PC(USA) was already eviscerated by the adopting of a contradictory Book of Confessions and watered-down ordination vows, yet still, the same method was used with the establishment of the Confessing Movement. This time, the conservatives selected three Fundamentals instead of five: (1). Salvation only in Jesus Christ, (2) The authority of the Bible for Faith and Life, and (3) sexual fidelity in monogamous hetero-sexual marriage. I had a conversation with a PC(USA) conservative at that time who was excited about the Confessing Movement and reminded him of what had happened in 1923/1924. I also pointed out that the PC(USA) had already abandoned any semblance to confessionalism and pled with him to leave the church. He was sure that the conservatives had turned the tide and were going to win the day. Alas, see what’s happened to the PC(USA). Interestingly, those who opposed the Confessing Movement in the PC(USA) developed their own Auburn Affirmation. Again the progressives understood their history better than the conservatives.

This is a plea for my conservative brothers in the PCA to remember our history and to take note of previous mistakes.

Training Your Children in the Covenant by Jacob Morse


Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

If you are a parent, you know that kids are observant. Kids know the schedules and the daily routines, even if they don’t always want to follow them. They notice when other kids have new shoes or the newest phone. They probably even know where you hide your secret stash of chocolate chip cookies!

Observation plays a big part in the development of children. Often what they regularly observe translates into actions and behaviors down the road; child sees, child does. Consequently, who do children watch more than anyone else? Their parents.

Teachers, coaches, friends, and classmates can all have a major impact on a child and their development, but it is the parents who most influence their young ones. A parent’s words and actions have a significant effect on their kids, and it is their example that most resonates in the mind of the child.

Proverbs 22:6 teaches that we are to train our children to follow the way of the Lord so that they will not depart from the Way later in life.  However, this task is not taken seriously in many Christian homes today. For many, their training is nothing more than giving their children a picture Bible and praying before eating dinner. These parents have no problem spending hours teaching the proper baseball pitching mechanics or helping their child memorize their speaking lines for the school play, but when it comes to teaching their children the things of the Lord, there is a sense of apathy.

Parents, please understand this: if you are apathic in the manner in which you serve God, do not be surprised when your children reciprocate.  

We must teach our children how to live according to the will of God. We must teach them the laws and statutes that are given in His Word. We must teach them what it means to profess that Jesus is Lord and how every facet of our lives must reflect that allegiance to the King. Teach them when they are young, and teach them these things often.

We must teach them these things and then, just as importantly, we must demonstrate what they look like. The way in which we live is just as important as the words that we teach them. The expression, “practice what you preach” is especially true in parenthood. Reading Scripture to your children every night will hold no real value if your own actions do not match what you are reading.

If you tell your children that they are not allowed to watch certain movies, then you must not be watching vulgar television shows every week. Send your children to Sunday school, but then go to the adult Sunday school class yourself, instead of drinking coffee in the foyer. Make prayer and devotion an intricate part of the day and not just an activity that is easily dropped.

Deuteronomy 6 and 11 exhort that we are to lay God’s words on our hearts and souls, that we are to bind them as a sign on our hands and before our eyes. But it also tells us to teach them to our children when we are at home and while we are on the road, from the moment we rise to the time when we lie down.

Your children are watching. Are they seeing what it looks like to be a follower of Christ?

About the author: Jacob is the youth director at Knox Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Harrison Twp., MI. He graduated from Kuyper College with a degree in Bible and Theology and is currently enrolled in Reformed Theological Seminary’s Distance M.Div. program. He and his wife are expecting twins in September.

A Cheerful & Constant Use Of The Means & Helps Appointed By God: Richard Baxter by Shane Anderson

I’ve recently begun reading Baxter’s monumental  “A Christian Directory, Or A Sum Of Practical Theology And Cases Of Consience.”  In this post I provide a quotation of a brief section in which he next lays out the road map of spiritual growth. He describes the means God gives and we must use to progress spiritually. I hope it will be a help to you, and may the Lord provide you with each of these means and the grace of His Spirit to use them cheerfully and constantly!

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If You Aren’t The Victim by Shane Anderson


  “...Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16

If you aren't the victim, you are the perpetrator. Or so they say.

What is it with kids (men, women, actual kids, and uniquely-self-identified individuals) these days? Well, sociologists Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning say that we are in the midst of a transition of moral cultures, from a society that used to be honor based, then was dignity based, to one which is victim based.

In an honor-based society, people were obligated to maintain their reputation through direct, forceful responses to insults or slights. Think duels and such. In a dignity based culture, people maintain their dignity by ignoring insults and slights, “rising above them” and then using the force of government or other authorities to step in if things get crazy. But in a victimhood culture, the first one to cross the victimhood finish line wins! Slights and insults are to be uncovered, their naked wickedness publicly exposed and then assaulted through “empowered victims” who “are given a voice” and “a seat at the table” where they can use power to eradicate “systemic injustices.”

The implications for educational environments are already being seen. During my first undergraduate and graduate studies (1993-2001), I did not experience this approach. I reentered the education environment in 2008 for graduate studies in nursing, and I’m working on my second nursing degree now (update: finished in 2016! Now I’m a nurse practitioner in family medicine—Whoop!). At both a major private university and two public universities, I have personally witnessed the massive inroads this way of thinking has made. “Safe spaces” are being created for the student who is “triggered” by an “uncomfortable discussion.” Special educational plans are being developed for students individually, so that their special specialness is never slighted and always celebrated. Aggrievement processes and sensitivity discussions occupy a large percentage of lecture content. And “I don’t feel safe” isn’t about being mugged or raped, it’s about being “attacked” verbally, which sometimes means simply overhearing something you don’t like.

As others have noted, a victimhood culture creates perpetual conflict: drama, inefficiency, perpetual discussion and litigation.

Where does this leave us as Christians? Here are a few modest proposals for navigating this new cultural morass.

  1. Be wise.
    As people around us (and we ourselves) are influenced by this way of thinking, notice it, discern when it is happening, and watch your step. Perpetual fighting, visits to HR, social media shaming, and lawsuits are in your future. So pay attention, think, be careful: “The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way, but the folly of fools is deceiving.” Proverbs 14:8

  2. Don’t let this nonsense infiltrate the church.
    I have already begun to witness both within the churches and its governments the sad drift toward this approach. Is the aggrieved to be listened to more because he or she (or ze?) is more “hurt” than the one they accuse? Are we to parse the words of others to find hidden oppressive meanings and subtle “attacks” against us or whomever we are choosing to “give a voice?” Do we foster a “brokenness” culture in our churches where being a “beautiful mess” is lauded? Unless we see that this victimhood culture approach is a substitute for biblical living, we will begin to co-opt this foolish way in our lives and congregations.

Follow the Ten Commandments.
“The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul” Psalm 19:7 The way of wisdom is expressed perfectly in God’s law, and it is a light to our feet so we will sufficiently know how to live in this world. The days are evil, but the way of the righteous will prosper.

How do the Ten Commandments provide an alternative to the victimhood culture? Primarily they do this by rightly orienting all of our relationships under the saving kingship of the Triune God. Because He is our Savior in Christ, we now have the true and living God over us as our only “end game.” Our finish line is not dominance over others, by the means honor cultures, dignity cultures, or victimhood cultures offer. Our finish line is the full maturity of the complete man in Jesus Christ. The Ten Commandments lived out in faith, hope, and love point the way forward. If we believe this and are buoyed up in hope by God’s promises given to that way of life, we will navigate this cultural change just fine.



(originally posted at Torrey Gazette November 2015)

Just Passing Through? When People Leave The Reformed Churches by Peter Jones

Over the past 15 years, I have seen various men and women leave Reformed churches. Sometimes they move to Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy. Other times they head for a more vanilla, antinomian, evangelical church.  And sometimes they have left the faith altogether. Of course, this is anecdotal, but several things have stuck out about these conversions

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Memorials by Matthew Kingsbury

It’s not enough for the peoples of the earth to simply know the hand of the Lord is mighty. Each generation of the Church should ask “What do you mean by this service?” (Ex 12:26), and each member of the Church should live so that unbelievers will ask it as well. Through the memorials of our worship services, we pray all peoples will come to know that the hand of the Lord is mighty to save.

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“Twelve Men Went To Spy On Canaan” Part Two by Shane Anderson

  Numbers 13-14 contains the history of God’s people being given over to His fatherly judgement after turning away in unbelief from a difficult obedience. In my first post I pointed out that they had sadly failed the test before they started: the recon team failed to obey in faith Moses’ command to “be of good courage.” Their timidity and doubts spread rapidly among the congregation, and only Caleb had the faith to stand up and silence the revolt against God’s Word and His established church government.

In this post I’m hoping to dig deeper and press some applications to our consciences before we move on farther in the story.

We all know the temptation Israel fell under, and if honest, we know the experience of such a failure (known in the Bible as sin, wickedness, unbelief, and other non-PC things that offend the tenderhearted.) Like Israel, we cannot legitimately plead ignorance, instead we should admit to lacking courage and hope since we've not believed God's promises. We know what God’s word says: “Honor your father and mother.” “Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together.” “In everything give thanks.” “Obey your rulers.” “Forgive as you have been forgiven.” “Do not lose heart.” He's even promised to bless these things. And yet, looking the obedience in the face it often appears: too difficult (the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large), nice but not rewarding enough (it flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. However…), and not what we would have chosen (we came to the land to which you sent us.)

There is a lot more in the passage for us, but maybe this is a good place to camp out and let it soak in: when I know what is right to do, the following lies are the enemies of my soul that I need to identify and fight:

  1. This difficulty isn’t best for me. I know how my life should feel.
  2. The blessings of obedience are good, but not good enough to justify the sacrifice.
  3. I can’t do this. It is too hard.

Against these lies, the Word of God gives us many remedies. Here are some I have found:

Against: “This difficulty isn’t best for me. I know how my life should be.”

“You sent us here” the spies opine against Moses, and by extension, God. Isn’t this doubt in God’s goodness and sovereignty, which later in the passage comes to full display, behind so many of our “reasons” (otherwise known as excuses) for not doing what we know is right. We often dress this unbelief up in nicer words, but its essence is the same. God is either not good, we believe, or he is not in charge of what I am facing. But even when we do not believe God is good, he still is. Even when we think he has made a mistake in our life, he has not. When everything around us looks and feels differently, the promise of God’s sovereignty & goodness to his children is a rock underneath our lives that holds firm, sustains hope, and motivates obedience. It’s only a cliche when you do not believe it: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good…” Romans 8:28

Against: “The blessings of obedience are good, but not good enough to justify the sacrifice.”

The spies saw the good stuff in Canaan, it just wasn’t good enough. I hate to say it, but I have seen this a hundred times in church life: “Look, what you’re teaching is good and I can see how it’s biblical and would work well, but for me it’s just too [hard, confusing, boring, painful, scary, unnecessary, inconvenient, harsh, heady, simple, etc., etc. etc.]” In this situation the failure consists in not appreciating the reward of obedience, not valuing the pleasures of God above our temporal or personal concerns. In Matthew 6:18-23 Christ teaches a piety that is concerned about the secret sight of the Father and his delight in graciously rewarding what he sees us doing to please Him. This reward has temporal dimensions but in Matthew 6 is primarily a heavenly treasure that is stored up like an account and will certainly have its payday. There are temporary rewards to serving the here and now, to serving what we see and feel to be circumstantially beneficial, but Jesus calls this laying up treasure on earth. He assures us that all such benefits will soon be destroyed, our joy lost with it. If we don’t see clearly the immeasurable difference between the pleasures of God and the temporal pleasures of unbelief and its disobedience, how great is our darkness!  

...that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! Matthew 6:18-23

Against: “I can’t do this. It is too hard.”

Colossians 1:10-12 contains the apostle’s prayer for us to know God’s will, to live in a way that pleases God, growing in our good works and good doctrine. Part of his prayer is that we would have strength that comes directly from God: “all power, according to his glorious might.” as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. Colossians 1:10-12

So pray, believing God is both able and willing to give us all the power we need for patience and endurance in doing his will more and more until the day of our inheritance in glory. That day is coming. Let’s not shrink back.

Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, "Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him." But we are not of those who shrink back but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. Hebrews 10:35-39

“Twelve Men Went To Spy On Canaan” Part One by Shane Anderson

Over the next several posts, I hope to look at a scene from the life of Israel recorded in Numbers 13-14. If you can, open your Bible and read through these two chapters, reacquainting yourself with this well known story. The Lord has used this passage in my own life through the years to bring me repentance, to show me the way forward as a Christian, and to encourage other believers. It is the story of the people of Israel at the entrance to the promised land: spies were sent, grumbling ensues, few have faith, and many die in the wilderness under God’s judgement. It is, I believe, one of the saddest episodes in Israel’s life and demonstrates an important truth that must be firm in our hearts if we are to pass the test: “without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6)

In an act of strategic planning on God’s part, he commanded Moses, to send twelve spies to survey the future plunder of His people. Moses obeyed and commanded them to look carefully at the whole region for who lived there and how strong they were, what the land was like and what was its bounty. But alongside these instructions he gave an important command, one that would be disobeyed by ten of the spies and the mass of the people:

“Be of good courage” (vs. 20) 

None could know from the reappearance of the spies back in the camp, loaded down with grapes, pomegranates, and figs that they had disobeyed this most important command, yet the fruits of that heart-disobedience among the spies and congregation ripened instantly. They and the whole congregation begin to grumble. Against this unified dismay, a righteous division emerges. A hopeful and powerful man, Caleb, silences the grumbling, submits to God’s government in Moses, and demonstrates that unlike the mass of the spies, he was of good courage:

“But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said,’Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.’” (vs. 30) Let me stop here to note that such behavior is completely unacceptable in American Christianity: he made the aggrieved, the anxious, the reasonable, the deeply-convinced, the very-concerned, and all other forms of unbelieving congregants basically shut up. What a jerk! He quieted them under the command and commander given by God. What a patriarchal oppressor! He then turned them away from their doubts to the obedience of faith. What a legalist! As icing to the jerk-cake he could have added, “Turn in your Trinity Hymnals to selection 672, ‘Trust And Obey.’”

Imagine all the weak-hearted, unbelieving congregation! “He first tells us to be quiet; then he says ‘obey! God is with us!’ Then he has the nerve to choose that hymn? He doesn’t care how we feeeel! (BTW: I love Bible heroes who make me look winsome!)

Against the mob of worry and unbelief, this one voice of faith is the hero of this part of the story. He was the lone obedient, believing one. He had taken good courage in God’s promise and it gave him an entirely different perspective on the massive challenges ahead. Like the others, he knew this meant war. Unlike the others he knew that the roots of fear and unbelief would mean utter failure. Against the misery-wallowers of his time, through faith in God’s promise and power, he exclaimed, “We are well able to overcome it!”

Dear Christian, have you failed the test that you are facing from the outset? Did you forget that in order to survey the difficult obedience in front of you the right way you need to “be of good courage?” There is only one way forward in the Christian life: trust and obey! And without such trust it is impossible to please God.