Remembering to Keep God’s Promises before You

What precious promises we have in God’s word as His people!

ESV 2 Peter 1:3-4: His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature,

Let us at KCPC:


Mine the riches of God’s Word.

ESV Psalm 119:72 The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.


Focus your mind and thoughts on God and His truth; live out His truth in reliance upon His grace.

ESV Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.


Put to memorization God’s promises to you so that you can “stand” in the evil day with the Sword of the Spirit.

ESV Numbers 23:19 God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? ….ESV John 14:13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.


Chew on God’s truths until you have a “taste” of sweetness and experience joy, peace, thankfulness.

ESV Psalm 119:103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Jesus asks KCPC: “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”

Want to see the glory of God revealed more deeply in Christ this year in our lives?!





Here’s a great promise to keep before us this week:

ESV Ephesians 3:20-21: Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.


In Christ’s love,

Pastor Biggs

Reading the Bible in 2017

Dear Beloved in Jesus,

God has many promises awaiting for us in His Word! Many promises to remind us of his innumerable benefits to us in Christ!

Let us not forget the great benefit we have of God’s Word in English, and the (so!) many resources to help us to grow. Given what we possess as Christians, we should (could?!) be the most sanctified generation–but I’m afraid we are not!

Let poet Michael Card remind us of what we have:

There is a hunger, a longing for bread
And so comes the call for the poor to be fed
More hungry by far are a billion and more
Who wait for the Bread of the Word of the Lord
So many books, so little time, so many hunger, so many blind
Starving for words, they must wait in the night
To open a Bible and move towards the Light

There’ll come a time, the prophets would say
When the joy of mankind will be withered away
A want not for water, but a hunger for more
A famine for hearing the Word of the Lord.

The Word won’t go out, except it return
Full, over flowing and so we must learn…
…To open a Bible and move towards the Light.”

For help in reading the Bible through this year for yourself and/or with family, you may go to and

Both sites are excellent resources to help you to stay inundated, immersed, and saturated in God’s promises. One help is our forefather Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s bible reading plan to help you to read the entire Bible in a year, and ‘Read Scripture‘ is an app and/or Youtube videos to give your family brief, Christ-centered overviews of sections in the Bible (we are truly enjoying this help as a family).

Blessings in Jesus,

Pastor Biggs


P.S. More Michael Card:

P.P.S. (From the Deacons)

Ligonier Ministries also has a free app that has a yearly bible reading program using the ESV.



KCPC Vision Statement / Mission of Our Congregation

Dear Beloved in Christ at KCPC,

“…That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith- that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” – Ephesians 3:17-19

Please note the newest edits below on our vision and mission statements as a congregation.

  • Vision
    • KCPC is a confessional congregation of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church dedicated to biblical, reformed, expository preaching, along with the sacraments, as the heart of Christ-centered worship, a strong emphasis on the means of grace, and a membership called to be mutually accountable under the oversight of shepherd-elders. By God’s grace, KCPC is a welcoming, warm, and loving church to both our congregation and the community as we learn the unfathomable love of Christ together with all the saints.
  • Mission
    • To enter into corporate God-centered worship, to bring Gospel hope of Jesus to our community and beyond, and to disciple the congregation to maturity in Christ.

Please continue to pray that we will increasingly live these out before the face of God through upreach (worship), outreach (evangelism), and inreach (discipleship).

IN Christ’s love,

Pastor Biggs

From Your Pastor: Justification by Faith Alone (A Study of the Westminster Shorter Catechism)

Question 33: What is justification?

Answer: Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, (1) and accepteth us as righteous in his sight, (2) only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, (3) and received by faith alone. (4) (1)Rom. 3:24,25; Rom. 4:6-8 (2)2 Cor. 5:19,21 (3)Rom. 5:17-19 (4)Gal. 2:16; Phil. 3:9


Scripture Memory: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (ESV 2 Corinthians 5:21).


An Explanation: God is holy. Man is sinful. God’s perfect righteousness demands of mankind perpetual, personal, and perfect righteousness in order to be saved and dwell in His most glorious presence. How can there be any hope then? All sinners know how to say: “Nobody’s perfect!” How then can a sinful man or woman, who has continually offended God in word, thought and deed (Rom. 3:9-22), ever hope to dwell in God’s presence with joy?! (cf. Psa. 16:9-11). How can a sinful man or woman be made right before a holy and perfectly righteous God?!

The wonderful news of God’s justifying the sinner is that the holy and just God that requires and demands perpetual, personal, and perfect righteousness in order to be saved and to dwell in His presence is also the one who provides this perpetual, personal, and perfect righteousness for all who believe in the active and passive obedience of Christ Jesus. Christ has graciously obeyed perpetually, personally, and perfectly on our behalf (His active obedience that is imputed to us as our own righteousness, Matt. 5:17; Rom. 8:2-4; John 17:4) and Christ has laid down His life as a propitiation for our sins becoming a curse for us under the wrath of God (His passive obedience that satisfies the justice of God for our sins, Rom. 3:25-26; Gal. 3:13). God is perfectly just in upholding His perfect righteousness revealed in the holy and good requirements of His Law, but He is also the justifier of all who believe in Christ Jesus (Rom. 3:24-25).

It should be understood that justification is the opposite of condemnation (cf. Rom. 8:1, 33-34). It is God “for us” in the most glorious way! (Rom. 8:31). To be justified by God through the perfect righteousness found in Christ is to no longer be condemned, but freed from the guilt of breaking God’s Law as sinners (Acts 13:38-39; cf. Gal. 2:4; 5:1, 13; 2 Cor. 3:17). In the act of justification, God legally declares believers as righteous in Christ, imputing our sins to Christ, and imputing Christ’s righteousness to believers by faith alone apart from works (Rom. 4:5, 8, 11-12, 16). Our faith that receives this gift of grace is also a gift from God (Eph. 2:6-9). Faith is never a work, only an instrument given by God that receives all the righteousness and perfection one needs in Christ.

Now there is no condemnation for us in Christ Jesus! (Rom. 8:1). We are declared righteous by Christ’s blood (Rom. 3:24-26). Our consciences no longer condemn us (1 Jo. 3:20). We are reconciled to God, and we have peace in our union with Jesus (Rom. 5:1). We have confidence for the day of judgement because of God’s love for us in Christ (1 Jo. 4:17-18).

What a benefit to know that God has legally declared you righteous in Christ—there is no condemnation, no judgment awaiting you! We will face the Judgment Seat of Christ clothed in the perfect righteousness of Christ, and though our every word, thought and action has been tainted with sin, the Lamb without blemish has loved us and given Himself for us! (Gal. 2:20; 2 Cor. 5:14-15). We are spotless in Him! We can rejoice with the Psalmist: “…Blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin” (Psalm 32:2).

Further, our justification by faith alone in Christ alone because of grace alone also begins God’s work of sanctification in believers whereby He renews us in His image (Eph. 4:19-24; Col. 3:10; also see Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q&A 35). Though our sanctification can never precede our once-and-for-all justification, our sanctification must follow if we are truly justified. Justification and sanctification, though they must be distinguished from one another (one is an act of God, one is a work of God, cf. WSC, Q&A 33, 35; WCF, chaps. 11, 13), they must never be separated from one another (see Romans 8:29-30). In Christ, we have all of our righteousness, sanctification and redemption (1 Cor. 1:30).


A Prayer: Holy and Just and Gracious Father full of steadfast love and mercy for sinners in Christ, thank you for declaring me righteous because of the beautiful and glorious righteousness of Jesus Christ! Thank you that in Him I find all the righteousness that I need to live before you, to dwell in your presence, and to thrive in joy in this life and in the life to come. How eager I am to dwell with you in glory because of the grace that I have received in Christ here and now in my union with Christ! Amen and amen.


In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Biggs


From Your Pastor: Sons of Encouragement

Dear Beloved of Jesus at KCPC,

The Apostle Paul teaches the church: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1), and “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us” (Phil. 3:17; cf. Heb. 12:2).

Our gracious God gives us those in the church to imitate; to aspire by the work of the Spirit to their level of Christ -likeness. Barnabas was one of these examples as we learned through the ministry of the word last Lord’s Day. Some sermons spiritually “stay” with me more than others. Last Lord’s Day’s sermon was one that the Spirit continues to apply in my life and has “staying power” with me. God is good!

Barnabas was a sinner being conformed by Christ’s Spirit who had made some progress in holiness. He was an encourager, a good man, full of faith, Spirit-filled preacher and teacher, and a devoted servant of Jesus in His church.

The church knew him as a great encouragement  (“son of encouragement”, Acts 4:36). How do folks in congregation recognize you? What is your reputation in larger church and community? This has been my meditation before God’s face the last two days.

In Barnabas, the people of God recognized his wise mediation, his deep desire to see sinners and brethren reconciled to God and each other, and his faithful commitment to being a peacemaker. The church recognized his generosity, his trustworthiness, his skill at diplomacy, his bold courage in the face of dangers, and he was beloved by many (Acts 4:36-37; 9:26-30; 12:24-13:5; 14:22-23; 15:2-3, 25-26).

In Acts, Barnabas is described by his actions not his words, inviting us to look to Him as one to imitate. Luke focuses on Barnabas’ character shaped by grace more than on his gifts (1 Cor. 13:1-3; Matt. 7:21-22; cf. Acts 10:38ff).

Jesus, our dear Savior, is our “son of encouragement” who promises us, too, that as we abide in Him, doing His commandments, loving one another, we can also bear much fruit and be like Barnabas–like Christ! (John 15:1-14).

Let us pray for one another this week that we all would be described like Barnabas as a “good man full of the Holy Spirit and faith” (Acts 11:22-24). Let us repent of our sluggishness and slothfulness at times in seeking sanctification (cf. Heb. 12:14; 6:11-12; Rom. 12:11-12; Phil. 3:12-15), and turn to Christ, to reflect more of His grace, truth and love (2 Cor. 3:18). He is FULL of grace! (John 1:14-18).

Pray for your pastor that I would be the best example I can be to Christ’s flock, especially as I learn this week at seminary in Grand Rapids. Pray that my life would be worthy of imitation as husband, father, preacher, pastor, son, and friend. I want this very much. Also, pray for your elders who are called to be living examples of Christ to the flock (1 Peter 5:3). Forgive me when I fail. Christ is enough for all of us! 🙂

Let’s pray for one another in this way! (1 Thess. 5:11).

“And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Heb. 6:11-12).

In Christ’s love,

Pastor Biggs  (in training to be a Barnabas)

From Your Pastor: Thomas Watson on How to Profitably Hear the Word Preached

  1. Prayer- Come with your soul prepared to hear God’s Word by praying for God’s blessing.
  1. Appetite- Come with holy appetite.
  1. Tender Teachable Heart- What will you have me to do? Speak to me.
  1. Be Attentive- Discipline your mind to be attentive with your mind; keep yourself from distractions as much as possible. To be as involved in hearing as the preacher is in preaching (Calvin taught this).
  1. Receive with meekness- Receive with meekness the ingrafted word; this is a submissive frame of heart (Psalm 131). Through meekness the Word gets deeper into our souls and we are more able to receive it.
  1. Faith- Mingle the preached word with faith. The chief ingredient of listening to a sermon must be faith in order to apply the word.
  1. Retain- Retain and pray over what you have heard. Don’t let the sermon go through your mind like water through a sieve. Our memory should be like the chest of the ark where the Law was placed. Go from your knees to the sermon and go from the sermon to your knees.
  1. Practice- Practice what you have heard; live out what God has taught you.
  1. Beg- For the effectual blessing of the Holy Spirit; this is the “swallowing of the medicine to heal you”.
  1. Familiarize- Go home and speak about it to family, friends, others, so that you will become very familiar with the truths.


***Remember each sermon as if it was the last you will ever hear, because that just may be the case.***

Jonathan Edwards: “The Excellency of Christ”

Jonathan Edwards- ‘The Excellency of Christ’ (edited and updated for 21st century Christians by Rev. Charles R. Biggs) 
“And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. (ESV Revelation 5:5-6). 
Edwards begins by stating: “There is an admirable conjunction or meeting of diverse and paradoxical elements in the Person of Jesus Christ.” 
Jesus is called a “Lion”. “Behold the Lion of the Tribe of Judah”. Jesus is also called “Lamb”. “…I saw a Lamb”. John saw a Lamb who had prevailed to open the book. The book was John’s vision, or visual portrait of God’s decrees where the events in time and space were foreordained from the foundation of the world. The Lamb was “as if it had been slain”.  
A lion is a devourer, one that is able and desires to make a terrible slaughters of others. No creature falls more easily prey to a lion than a lamb…The lion excels in strength, and in the majesty of his appearance and voice. The lamb excels in meekness and patience, besides the excellent nature of the creature as good for food, and yielding that which is fit for our clothing, and being suitable to be offered in sacrifice to God. But in Jesus Christ, we see both: 
Because the diverse excellencies of both the lion and lamb wonderfully meet in him! 
Such are the various divine perfections and excellencies that Christ is possessed of. Christ is a divine person and therefore has all the attributes of God. There do meet in Jesus Christ infinite highness and infinite condescension. Christ, as he is God, is infinitely great and high above all. He is higher than the kings of the earth for He is King of kings, and Lord of lords. He is higher than the heavens, and higher than all the highest angels of heaven. 
So great is Christ, that all men, kings and princes, are as worms of the dust before him…He is so high, that he is infinitely above any need of us. He is above our reach, that we cannot profitable to him, and above our conceptions that we cannot fully comprehend him. Christ is the Creator and great Possessor (owner) of heaven and earth. He is sovereign Lord of all. His knowledge and wisdom is without bounds. His power is infinite, and none can resist him. His riches are immense and inexhaustible. His majesty is infinitely terrible (awesome or awful). 
And yet Jesus is one of infinite condescension. 
None are so low or inferior, but Christ’s condescension is sufficient to take a careful notice of them. He condescends graciously not only to the angels, humbling himself to behold the things that are done in heaven, but he also condescends to such poor creatures as sinful men- -even to those who are of the lowest rank and degree, such as those commonly despised by their fellow creatures- – yet Christ does not despise them (1 Cor. 1:28). 
Christ condescends to take notice of beggars (Luke 16:22) and people of the most despised nations of men (Col. 3:11). He that is thus high, condescends to take a gracious notice of little children (Matt. 14:14). What is even more significant, is that Christ takes a gracious notice of the most unworthy, sinful creatures, those that have no right to ask anything of God, and those that have infinitely offended God’s holiness and character by living sinfully and selfishly, a law unto themselves. 
And yet so great is Jesus’ condescension. 
What a meeting of infinite highness and low condescension do we see in the Person of Jesus Christ! We see in many of our experiences what a tendency that a high position or station with men will make them quite the contrary in their disposition.  
If one worm be a little exalted above another, by having more dust, or a bigger dunghill, how much does he make of himself! What a distance does he keep from those that are below him! And a little condescension is what he expects of other men below him and for his position to be acknowledged as important and powerful! 
Yet Christ condescends to wash our feet, even the feet of sinners who think so highly of themselves! 
In Christ we also see infinite justice and infinite grace come together paradoxically and meet in his person. 
As Christ is a divine person, he is infinitely holy and just, hating sin, and disposed to execute deserved punishment for it upon sinners. He is the Judge of the world, and the infinitely just Judge of it, and will not at all acquit the wicked, or by any means clear the guilty.  
And yet Christ is infinitely gracious and merciful. 
Though his justice by so strict with respect to sin, and every breach of God’s Law, yet he has grace sufficient for every sinner, and even the chief of sinners. There is no benefit or blessing that sinners can receive that is greater than the sufficient grace of Christ, that can be received by even the greatest of sinners! 
Christ not only bestowed grace for those sinners who will receive it by faith, but he suffered in this world of sin and misery in order to mercy to sinners. He suffered the most extreme evil unto death, receiving in himself the curse and punishment of God for sinners, although he was blameless and without sin. Christ had sufferings in his soul, that were the most immediate fruits of the wrath of God against the sins of those whom he loves and stands in for as the merciful Savior. 
In the Person of Christ we see infinite glory and lowest humility come together paradoxically and meet in his person. 
Infinite glory, and the virtue of humility meet in no other person but Christ. Infinite glory and lowest humility meet in no created person, for no created person has infinite glory, and they meet in no other divine person but Christ….In Jesus Christ, who is both God and man, those two diverse excellencies are sweetly united. Christ is a person infinitely exalted in glory and dignity (Phil. 2:6ff).  
But however he is thus above all in glory, yet he is lowest of all in humility. 
There never was so great an instance of this virtue among either men or angels. None were ever so sensible and aware of the distance between God and him, or had a heart so lowly before God, as the man Christ Jesus (Matt. 11:29). What a wonderful spirit of humility appeared in him, when he was here upon earth, in all his life! In his contentment in his humble outward condition, contentedly living in the family of Joseph the carpenter, and Mary his mother, for thirty years together, and afterwards choosing outward poverty, contempt, rather than earthly greatness. He was content to wash dirty disciples’ feet, in all of his speeches being a humble yet content man, and his cheerfully sustaining the form of a slave through his whole life, and submitting to such immense humiliation in death. 
In the Person of Christ we see infinite majesty and transcendent meekness come together paradoxically and meet in his person. 
These again are two qualifications and qualities that meet together in no other person but Christ. Meekness is a virtue proper only to the creature. We scarcely ever find meekness mentioned as a divine attribute in Scripture, at least not in the New Testament. But Christ being both God and man, has both infinite majesty and superlative meekness. 
Christ was a person of infinite majesty. It is he that is mighty, that rides on the heavens, and his excellency on the sky. It is he that is terrible out of his holy places, who is mightier than the noise of many waters, even the great waters of the sea. Before him a fire goes, and burns up his enemies around him, at whose presence the earth quakes, and the hills melt. He is the One who sits on the circle of the earth, and all the inhabitants of the earth are as grasshoppers…He is the One who inhabits eternity, whose Kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and of whose dominion shall never end! (Psalm 45). 
And yet Christ was the most marvelous instance of meekness, and humble quietness of spirit who ever lived! 
He says about himself that he is meek and lowly in heart (Matt. 11:29). There was never such an exemplary life of meekness and humility than Jesus. Under injuries, persecutions, jeers, and sinful slander, Jesus did not revile! Jesus had a wonderful spirit of forgiveness, ready to forgive his worst enemies, and prayed for them with fervent and effectual prayers! With what meekness did he appear in the ring of soldiers that were condemning and mocking him- – yet he was silent, and opened not his mouth, but went as a lamb to the slaughter. 
Jesus Christ is a lion in majesty and a lamb in meekness. 
In the Person of Christ we see the deepest reverence towards God and yet equality with God. 
Christ, when on earth, appeared full of holy reverence towards the Father. He paid the most reverential worship to him, praying to him with postures of reverence such as kneeling before him and others. God the Father has no attribute or perfection that the Son has not, in equal degree, and equal glory, yet Christ was reverent before His Father. 
In the Person of Christ we see an exceeding spirit of obedience with supreme dominion over heaven and earth. 
Christ is the Lord of all things in two respects: (1) As God-man and Mediator between God and man, and thus his dominion is appointed, or given to him by His Father. He has his dominion in one respect as by delegation of God; He is His Father’s vicegerent. (2) In another respect, he is Lord of all things because he is God, and so he is by natural right the Lord of all, and supreme over all as much as the Father. Thus, he has dominion over the world, not by delegation, but in his own right. 
And yet is found in the same Jesus Christ, both God and man, the greatest spirit of obedience to the commands and laws of God that ever was in the universe which was manifest in his obedience here in this world (John 14:31). The greatness of his obedience appears in its perfection, and in his obeying commands of such exceeding difficulty. 
Never has any one received commands from God of such difficulty! One of God’s commands to Jesus was that he should yield himself to those dreadful sufferings on the cross which he underwent with full knowledge and willingness for us (John 10:18). As Philippians 2:8 says: “He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” As Hebrews 5:8 says: “Though he was a Son, yet he learned obedience by the things he suffered.” 
In the Person of Christ we see absolute sovereignty and perfect resignation. 
Christ, as he is God, is the absolute sovereign of the world, the sovereign disposer of every single event. The decrees of God are all his sovereign decrees, and the work of creation, and all of God’s works of providence are his sovereign works.  
Yet Christ was the greatest example of resignation that has ever appeared in this world. He was absolutely and perfectly resigned when he had a near and immediate prospect of his terrible sufferings, and the dreadful cup that he was to drink. The idea and expectation of this made his soul exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death, and put him into such agony, that his sweat was as it were great drops or clots of blood, falling down to the ground. Yet in these circumstances, he was fully resigned to the sovereign purposes of God and his will (Matt. 26:39): “O my Father, if this cup may not pass from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.” 
What an amazing act of grace was it when Christ took upon our human nature. In this act of great condescension, he who was God became man. The Word should be made flesh, and should take on him a nature infinitely below his original nature. We should appreciate the remarkably low circumstances of his incarnation: He was conceived in the womb of a poor young woman, whose poverty appeared in this, when she came to offer sacrifices for her purification, she brought what was allowed of in the Law only in the case of poverty, a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons. 
Christ’s infinite condescension marvelously appeared in the manner of his birth. He was brought forth in a stable, because there was no room for them in the inn. The inn was taken up by others, that were looked upon as persons of greater account. The blessed Virgin, being poor and despised, was turned or shut out. Though she was in such need, yet those that counted themselves her better would not give place to them. Therefore, in her time of giving birth, she was forced to give birth to her son in a stable, and laid him in a feed trough. 
There Christ lay a little infant, and there he eminently appeared as a lamb. But yet this feeble infant, born this way in a stable, and laid in a feed trough, was born to conquer and triumph over Satan, that roaring lion (cf. 1 Peter 5:8). Jesus came to subdue the mighty powers of darkness, and make a show of them openly, and so to restore peace on earth, and to manifest God’s good-will towards men, and to bring glory to God in the highest!  
In Jesus Christ’s life, and especially in his suffering and death, he appears as paradoxically both lion and lamb. 
He appeared as a lamb in the hands of his cruel enemies, as a lamb in the paws and between the devouring jaws of a roaring lion. He was a lamb actually slain by this lion, and yet at the same time, as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, he conquers and triumphs over Satan, destroying his own devourer! In Christ’s death on the cross, we see the glorious strength of the lion destroying his enemies, as he was brought as a lamb to the slaughter. 
In Christ’s greatest weakness he was the strongest!  
Even in Christ’s present state of exaltation in heaven, we see the attributes of both the lion and the lamb! In his exalted state, he most eminently appears in manifestation of those excellencies and strength of a great lion, but he still appears as a lamb. Though Christ be now at the right hand of God, exalted as King of Heaven, and Lord of the universe, yet as he is still in the human nature, he still excels in humility! 
Though the man Christ Jesus be now at the right hand of God, and is the highest of all creatures in heaven as a glorified man, yet he still excels all in humility because he still knows the infinite distance between the Creator and the creature. Though he now appears in such glorious majesty and dominion in heaven, yet he appears as a lamb in his condescending, mild, and sweet treatment of His saints here on earth. For he is a lamb still, even amidst the throne of his exaltation, and he that is Shepherd of the whole flock is himself a Lamb, and goes before them in heaven as such! 
Though in heaven every knee bows to him, and though the angels fall down before him adoring him, yet he treats his saints with infinite condescension, love, mildness, patience, and endearment. And in his acts towards the saints on earth, Jesus still appears as a lamb, manifesting exceeding love and tenderness in his intercession for them, as one that has had experience of affliction and temptation like them. 
Behold the Lamb who instructs, supplies grace, and comfort, coming to His own, and manifesting himself to them by His Spirit, supping with them at His table, and enabling them to do that which pleases God. Behold the Lamb admitting His people to sweet communion with Him, enabling them with boldness and confidence to come to him, and quieting their hearts with his peace. 
Jesus Christ will come again and will appear as the Lion of the tribe of Judah. He will appear in infinite greatness and majesty, when he shall come again in glory, with all his holy angels, and the earth shall tremble before him, and the hills shall melt (Rev. 19:11-17; 20:11). The devils tremble at the thought of his appearance, and when the time comes, the kings, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, shall hide themselves in the dens, and in the rocks of mountains, and shall cry to the mountains and rocks to fall on them, to hide them from the face and wrath of the Lamb! 
Jesus Christ will at the same time appear as a Lamb to his saints. He will receive them as friends and brethren, treating those who believe and have awaited his return with infinite mildness and love. The church shall be then admitted to him as his bride and that shall be their wedding day. The saints shall all be sweetly invited to come with him to inherit the kingdom, and reign with him in it for all eternity. 
Jesus Christ the Lamb of God invites his people to come unto him and trust in him. With what sweet grace and kindness does he invite us to sup and fellowship with him by His Spirit. Jesus Christ the Lion of Judah invites his people to come to him in his glorious power and dominion for defense and shelter amidst the storms and struggles of this life. 
Would you choose for a friend a person like Christ with such dignity? It is a thing common to our experience in this world to have those for our friends who are much above us because we look upon ourselves honored by the friendship of such. Thus, how a young inferior maid would be pleased to have a great and excellent prince to give his dear love to her?! This is the stuff of fairy tales! But Christ is infinitely above you, and above all the princes o of the earth for he is King of kings. So honorable a person as this offers himself to you, in the nearest and dearest friendship! 
Christ will himself give himself to you by faith, with all those various excellencies that paradoxically meet together in him, to your full and everlasting enjoyment. He will forever after treat you as his dear friend, and you shall always be where he is, and shall behold his glory, and dwell with him, in most free and intimate communion and enjoyment (1 John 3:1-3; Rev. 21:1-7). 

An Uncomfortable Christmas Card for Unbelievers Comfortable at Christmas

“…For Unbelievers “TOO” Comfortable at Christmas”

Dear Passionate Believers Resting in His Grace at KCPC,

Below is a “Christmas card” I wrote awhile back that I hope will bless you all this Christmas.

I don’t expect all of you will forward this to “Auntie May” or give this to unbelieving “Uncle Charlie”, or even post it online, but I invite you to if you think this would be good and helpful. I would hope that this “card” might give you some thoughts of how to interact wisely, lovingly, yet somewhat offensively (yes, I said “offensively”) with your unbelieving friends and neighbors this Christmas. Pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to come with conviction and power in your interactions (1 Thess. 1:5). Remember that the LORD’s Spirit loves to make folks uncomfortable so that He can make them truly comfortable in Christ by faith alone (John 16:8-14).

This Christmastime, this is my prayer for you with your friends and relatives:

That Jesus’ glorious gospel that you represent as Christians will be offensive enough to your unbelieving family and friends that it will be powerful in the Spirit, compassionate enough that it will be tenderly from your heart, holy enough that it will be believable, winsome enough that it will be attractive, and personal enough that folks will ask for more (see Acts 17:31-33). Remind yourself, as I am seeking to do (going to visit unbelieving relatives and friends soon), what our Lord warned us about when living for Him in this world:

Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets. But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” – ESV Luke 6:26-28

IN Christ’s love,
Pastor Biggs


Dear Friend or Loved One Who Loves Me, but Does Not Love Jesus Christ:

This Christmas, I eagerly and affectionately desire to write to you a different kind of Christmas message. I long to send you good tidings of great joy, and high hopes that your Christmas and New Year will be cheerful and full of good things, but I also want to write to make you as uncomfortable with the Christmas message as possible.

“Why would I do that?” you may ask. “Why would you want someone you love to be uncomfortable by the Christmas message?” Well, Christmas is about more than eating together, mustering up good feelings, enjoying a restful winter holiday, giving and getting presents, and singing songs around the Christmas tree. Christmas is much more than that! Now understand me, you can have a holiday anytime of the year if you want, and if you want to take a holiday at Christmas time, then that is your prerogative, but please don’t feel comfortable with Christmas and Christmas things.

The gospel message of Christmas should greatly frighten all who do not believe and love Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

God, the Creator of heaven and earth, the Great and Powerful God and Maker of the universe became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:1, 14); this is the essential message of Christmas. This great God who made us all, and to whom we will all be accountable, became one of us in order to make Himself fully known. He is called “Immanuel,” which means “God with us” (Matt. 1:23). If you want to know God, you will find him and understand him in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ; Jesus is the one who reveals God or makes Him known in all of His attributes and righteousness (John 1:14-18).

This Christmas, I want you to consider three very special Christmas Bible verses, and I want you to feel very uncomfortable each time you read and hear them until by God’s grace you know the Lord Jesus Christ himself as your Lord and Savior.

These three verses will be found this season in great number on church signs, songs you hear sung (especially in Handel’s ‘The Messiah’), and in Christmas cards sent by others to you. In hoping to make you feel uncomfortable, I am not doing this to be mean, or to be angry, or to cause you to be unnecessarily upset with me. I am doing this because I believe your eternal destiny is at stake for not believing upon the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, and I take it very seriously because I love you very much! The Bible says in John 3:18 and 3:36:

John 3:18: Whoever believes in [Jesus] is not condemned, but whoever does not believe [in Jesus] is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God….John 3:36: Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

There are only two kinds of people at Christmas: those who believe in the Christmas message, and those who do not believe the Christmas message.

Those who do not believe in Christ the Son, who was sent by God to save sinners, are already condemned. This means that if you are an unbeliever, or one who rejects Christ outright, or merely accepts Christ on your own terms as a good religious teacher, you abide under God’s wrath for your sins at this very moment (John 3:18, 36), and this is not something to take lightly- -but fearfully and uncomfortably until you find your sins forgiven and your rest in Jesus Christ alone.

My hope as you read further is that you would feel greatly uncomfortable and convicted by your sins against God and man, and that the powerful Holy Spirit of God would reveal your need, hope, and ultimate and eternal comfort to be found in Christ alone!

With that said, may you never think the same comfortable, mere sentimental “Christmas” thoughts about the following Biblical passages! I am taking three familiar passages, two from Isaiah the Prophet (Isaiah 9:6-7 and Isaiah 40:1-5) and one from the Gospel of Luke. Let’s read together Isaiah 9:6-7:

“For Unto Us a Child Is Born…”

Isaiah 9:6-7: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

This prophecy of Isaiah that is quite familiar and quoted very comfortably during the Christmas season is about the manger and birth of Jesus Christ ultimately. This prophecy is about a child being born and a son being given for sinners. Notice how this child, this son is described:

1) He shall be a great ruler over all governments (“the government shall be upon his shoulder”).

2) He shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

3) And His great rule will increase so that peace will cover the face of the earth and his Kingdom will extend throughout the earth and throughout eternity. He will rule with justice and righteousness forever.

This should only comfort you if you believe upon Jesus Christ, the child, the son who is given for us. Otherwise, this prophecy should greatly threaten your comfortable existence. The first way he is described is a great ruler over all governments. Do you bow before him in service and worship as your king? Do you treat this Jesus Christ as a King, a great and mighty ruler? Do you understand that even though you might not recognize his sovereign rule, he does indeed rule? In fact, the risen ascended Christ has authority over heaven and earth, over all things visible and invisible (Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:19-21)?! If you do not obey and serve Christ as King, you are guilty of cosmic treason against the King, and he will judge you for your unrighteous trespassing on property that has been claimed by him as his own, and over which he rules and reigns even now.

Secondly, Jesus is described as “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”. Do you long for someone to guide you through this dark world of sin and misery, giving you a sense of purpose and understanding of who you are and who God is?

HE is the Wonderful Counselor to guide and teach you. Do you listen to his counsel; or do you reject it; or are you disinterested in his counsel to you through the Bible?

Jesus came to make known the true God and he said that salvation was knowledge of the True and Living God found in himself (John 17:1-3). Is he your wise and great Counselor, or do you live life on your terms, your way, according to your puny knowledge?

Jesus is called Mighty God. Do you recognize Jesus Christ, born in a manger of a virgin, from the little town of Nazareth, born in Bethlehem to be God himself for us? Jesus Christ was born as man to reveal God in all his greatness and power to us! Jesus called himself the Great “I AM” making himself equal with Jehovah God. Jesus claimed to be very God of very God, that is, equal with God.

The Apostle John opens his gospel with these words (speaking of Christ as ‘The WORD’): “In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Do you acknowledge him as God and Creator of all things? Think of how a Word describes and communicates something. John is saying that Jesus Christ was God’s communication of himself “The Word made flesh” to make his love and grace known (John 1:14).

I beg of you who think of Jesus as a merely another sentimental Christmas icon (along with Frosty and Santa and Rudolph), don’t come to the manger to peer in and fondle God’s Son unless you are coming humbly as a sinner to bow to him as Lord, to serve and worship him (Luke 2:34-35)! Do not come to Jesus merely thinking of him as “baby Christmas Jesus”, or merely a good teacher, or a nice man who lived and made a bit of a difference in the world.

Jesus witnessed of himself, and other Scripture writers witnessed of him that he was the Mighty God; he is nothing less and will accept nothing less than your obedience and worship as God.

Jesus is called Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. As Everlasting Father he shows to us eternal love and care. No matter how much hardship we have endured, no matter how far we have wandered from the love of God, and how much we have sinned again him, he receives the humble and repentant back as his children (1 John 1:8-2:2). He has come to save his own, not to condemn those who believe! Do you believe you have sinned against him as a naughty and sinful child of the Creator? Do you believe he is a forgiving Father (despite what kind of earthly father you had, or did not have)? Jesus says he came specifically for the sinners, not the righteous; he came to seek and save the lost! Are you lost? This “Everlasting Father” full of grace and truth has come to heal your wounds and forgive you your sins.

As Prince of Peace, Jesus has come to bring peace with God so that guilty consciences can be silenced by God’s grace and love. Do you long to know the peace with God that only Jesus can bring in reconciling you to the Father through his bloody death? Romans 5:1 says of believers that we receive reconciliation with the Father through Jesus Christ alone. Why? Because Jesus died as a sin offering, taking the wrath of God that sinners deserve upon himself, so that we could have peace with God.

Do you want this peace of God that passes all of your understanding? Not some fragile, temporal and idyllic peace of the world where everyone just “tries to get along” (the impossible!), but an eternal peace with God the Father and with those who are called by his name.

Do you understand that accepting this peace causes you to be at enmity with those who do not believe? Jesus brings peace with God for those who believe, but he also divides families in the process. Jesus said that father and son, mother and daughter, and other members of one family will be divided because of the peace he offers. Some will give their all to him, and some will despise him in the same family- -but he comes to bring the eternal peace with God that truly matters and makes us members of his own family.

Jesus’ Kingdom is spoken of as extending throughout the world and throughout eternity. Are you a member of that Kingdom through belief in Jesus Christ? If you do not believe, as part of the display of his righteousness and justice, he will punish eternally in hell those who deny him. The only way and hope for salvation is found in Jesus Christ. Since he is the Great God and King, he calls the shots! If he says that there is only one way to receive eternal life and it is found in him, then he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no man comes to the Father except through him (John 14:6).

If this great God and King says that those who oppose and deny him will be eternally punished and cut off from the grace and mercy of God, then this will occur because the mouth of the Lord has spoken. The Book of Revelation says when he returns it will be as a Mighty Warrior and as God Almighty to save and redeem his own of this world of sin and misery and to punish with fire those who do not believe (Revelation 19:11-16). This is not a picture of a baby in a manger, but of a warrior on a white horse full of the righteous and just wrath of Almighty God!

Repent now before it is too late. But please, stop merely thinking of Jesus as just another nice religious teacher, and baby Jesus as another American Christmas icon, and accept him as Lord and Savior. We shall now look at another popular text of Scripture from Isaiah 40:

“Comfort, Comfort My People…”

Isaiah 40:1-5: Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins. A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

This is another famous portion of Scripture that has been made famous by Handel’s wonderful oratorio, ‘The Messiah’, but I beg you not to get too comfortable with it. Rather, heed and hear its message! It is good to be uncomfortable in God’s presence in order that perhaps through the work of the Holy Spirit and humility, you might seek after God in the face of Jesus Christ and find true and lasting comfort in his saving and loving arms- -but do not reject him!

Notice how this prophecy of Isaiah begins with words of comfort. This seems to be the opposite of what I am trying to do in my Christmas letter you might think. But notice something important: the comfort that God wants Isaiah to speak is address to his people. God says to comfort “my people” and to speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and from this Old Testament perspective, to speak to Jerusalem, meant to speak to those who were confessing to be God’s people.

The sad news is that Jesus came to his own in Jerusalem, but many did not receive him. Those who received him in Jerusalem and in other parts of the world were saved, and were called sons of the living God, and were those to whom words of comfort could be spoken (John 1:9-12).

God, the living God, Creator of Heaven and Earth speaks through his Scripture. There are no more prophets like Isaiah, but Isaiah’s words are still in the Bible for us, and when we speak or declare these words, it is God speaking to us (Heb. 4:1-11). Is God speaking tenderly to you through these words? Do you find comfort in these words?

The words of comfort here were for those eagerly awaiting and anticipating the arrival of God in the flesh, who were those who believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who believe in God’s Christ can truly take comfort as his people.

Do you believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ who has come (“Joy to the world the Lord is come?!”)? Do you await the Lord Jesus’ coming? If you do, rejoice and be comforted in Jesus with His peace! If you do not, then you should be uncomfortable in the presence of God and His Christ. This passage in Isaiah goes on to say that the glory of God shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it. The Apostle John writes in John 1:18 that we have “beheld his glory” that is, the glory of God was revealed in the face of Jesus Christ (John 1:14-18).

Do you see God’s glory in the testimony of Jesus Christ found in the Scriptures? Jesus says that blessed are those who saw him and believed, but even greater blessings await those who do not see yet believe (John 20). In the Bible, we see the glory of God (that is all of who and what God is) in Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is your only hope of comfort and source of joy in this present evil age, as well as in the world to come. Do not make this prophecy a prophecy that is just part of the makeup and background music of Christmastime. Let this prophecy make you feel greatly uncomfortable, and seek comfort in God alone. God speaks comfort to HIS PEOPLE- -those who receive the Lord Jesus Christ—not those who reject him selfishly.

And for those who are part of the Christian Church, who confess Christianity as their religion. Do you hope in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation? Are you comforted by Christ and something you have done for him as the basis or source of your salvation? Only in Christ alone will you find the righteousness of God that God requires in order to be saved and redeemed from death, hell, and the devil (Gal. 1:8-9; Eph. 1:3-14; Heb. 2:14-18).

Remember also for those who are merely outwardly Christian in name. This comfort was written for those in Jerusalem who confessed their belief in God. When Christ came however, many of them rejected him because he was not the Savior they desired. Do you long for Christ’s return as the Christ that is revealed in Scripture?

Do you believe in Christ alone not trusting merely in the fact that “Jesus is just alright with you” and that perhaps the Christian religion seems the best option or choice for you among many good religious out there? Or, is belief upon Jesus Christ your only hope of eternal life, the very revelation of God’s glory and righteousness, and the one you hope in daily in order to be saved from hell?

“Would Someone Tell Me What Christmas is All About?!” Luke 2:8-16

Luke 2:8-16: And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.

Finally, we shall turn to Luke 2. Growing up as an unbeliever, I was thankful for the opportunity every year to hear Linus Van Pelt in Charles M. Schultz’s ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ broadcast on CBS television, to hear the gospel good tidings of Jesus born in a manger. If you remember the cartoon, Charlie Brown the main character, while unsuccessfully trying to direct a Christmas play, yells out in great frustration: “Would someone please tell me what Christmas is all about!”

His friend Linus asks the lights to be dimmed, and steps forward into the spotlight, to declare the gospel of hope for all those who would believe. I remember believing sentimentally in what Linus was saying when I was a child, but it was not until later that I truly believed the truth of what Linus (and Luke) were saying in Luke 2! May you also come to understand this as more than a quotation from ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ and a sentimental Christmas wish- -and come to know the Lord Jesus Christ, the babe in the manger!

Notice in this passage that when the angels appeared with this great and glorious news it caused sinful shepherds to quake in their boots at this vision in the dark night sky. The angel of the Lord tells them (and the entire world) not to fear because they bring glad tidings, or gospel good news from God himself!

Notice the angels said: “Fear not!” to the shepherds because they were being shown grace and favor in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You have every reason to fear God if you reject this Gospel message of good news.

In order to find peace and hope they were to go to a manger, and in that manger they would find eternal hope in a baby. The baby was a Savior, who was Christ the Lord.

What does this mean? It means that the little baby in Bethlehem’s stable was a Savior of sinners and an Anointed One full of God’s Spirit to save and renew those enslaved by sin and misery. A Savior is one who can redeem, or purchase back from slavery, and Jesus said that he came to give his life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). Jesus as Savior came to save his people from their sins (thus the name “Jesus” which means, “God is Savior”: Matthew 1:21).

As an Anointed One (which is the translation of ‘Christ’ from a Greek word; Christ is not his last name!), Jesus is one full of the Spirit of God, able to save the lost, able to renew them by His Spirit, able to lay down his life in order to take it up again for them in resurrection, and able to take away all the guilt and pollution in them because of their sins and unrighteousness.

This was great news but it was not for everyone, and so once again please stop merely sentimentalizing this passage, and remember to whom it is addressed specifically. Don’t get me wrong, this message should be proclaimed to the whole world; this message of this baby in the manger is God’s only hope for peace, hope, and love for mankind, and this is to be declared to as many as possible.

But the actual point of this message, that is, the message as a message that makes a difference for a weary world as far as the curse is found, is the message addressed to those with whom God is pleased (Luke 2:14). There have been other translations of this passage, but this is the best one.

God is saying that there is peace on earth and goodwill toward men in Christ alone! Please do not lie to yourself (or God), and pretend to think that this message of good tidings and cheer, and peace on earth is for those who would deny and reject the Lord Jesus Christ!

God is saying through the angel here that there is true peace found among those whom he is pleased (cf. Matthew 11:25-30). God is pleased when men and women no matter how wicked their sins, or how hopeless their lives, believe upon the Son he sent to be Savior and Christ, who came to dwell with man, being born in a manger.

Jesus is the one who came to save us and deliver us from our sins. Do you know of the hope that only Christ can give? Do you long to know how to be right with God and the world? Are you tired of each Christmas getting a glimpse of what it is all about only to find yourself rejecting him once again?

This Christmas receive the Lord Jesus Christ. As Savior of sinners he does not require you to be righteous first (he will make you righteous later)! All that he requires is that you believe and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your only Savior and hope.

This is the message of good tidings of great joy that shall be to all people throughout the earth who believe! Jesus came to be born for you, to live the law of God perfectly for you; Jesus came to die a terrible death on a heinous cross for your sins, and he came to be raised for your justification (or your being declared righteous and no longer condemned before God!).

Do you believe? The angel says: “Unto you is born this day…” Can you say that Christ was born “unto you” or more specifically “for you” to save you from your sins?!

If you do not believe, you have every right to be uncomfortable this Christmas! The wrath of God abides on you; you are in serious danger. You should not be comfortable at Christmas or any other time of the year! Repent of your sins! And believe the good news of Jesus!

Hear the words of Jesus (and I pray with every fiber of my being that you can hear):

“Come to me, all of you who are burdened by the commands of God, and of the uncomfortable feeling found in sermons about Jesus and sin, and who feel like a world of trouble and sin is on your shoulders and that it is killing you…

Come to me, and I will give you rest! Come to me, and I will give you rest! Come to me, and I will give you rest!

My burden is easy, and my yoke is light!” – Jesus says.

This means that belief upon the Lord Jesus Christ will give you the peace for which you so desperately long, and the good news and glad tidings of Christmas will be truly yours. You will know what it means to have peace with God, and you will truly rejoice that you have found the purpose for which you were created which is to glorify God and enjoy His fellowship in your life!

But don’t seek comfort until you believe and bow before the babe in the manger in worship and obedience because you have recognized that he is God with us.

And if God is with us, he is for us who believe! And if God be for us who can be against us?! (Romans 8:31).

Merry Christmas, and with great and affectionate love,
Charles Randall Biggs


The Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Literature

“This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that the same event happens to all. Also, the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead… For the living know that they will die…

The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” – Ecclesiastes 9: 3, 5a; 12:11-1

Revelation from God

As God’s people we are privileged to have special revelation from God that is found in the Bible. God has condescended from the beginning of creation to reveal Himself and to teach mankind. As theologian Herman Bavinck wrote: “The creation is the first revelation of God, the beginning and foundation of all subsequent revelation. The Biblical concept of revelation is rooted in that of creation. God first appeared outwardly before His creatures in the creation and revealed Himself to them.”1Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. I: Prolegomena (Grand Rapids: Baker Books), 307

Although mankind sinned against God in rebellion, and desired to know for himself autonomously apart from God, God has nevertheless written large His power and attributes in creation and even within man’s conscience (Gen. 3:1-5; Rom. 1:19ff; 2:14-16).

The Apostle Paul teaches that all of mankind knows God to a certain extent, and the truths that He has revealed about Himself and us still remain to a certain degree in our hearts and consciences:

For [God’s] invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse…For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them.” (Romans 1:19-20; 2:14-15).

Theologian Herman Bavinck wrote: “Holy Scripture proceeds from the existence and revelation of God. God does not leave Himself without a witness, and for that there is reason there is from the side of humans a searching to see if they could perhaps grope for Him and find Him (Acts 17:27). Revelation, according to Scripture, existed both before and after the fall. Revelation is religion’s external principle of knowing.”2Herman Bavinck, ibid., 277.

We must assert from the beginning of our studies that revelation is an act of God’s condescending grace and kindness to His humanity. God was not obligated to reveal Himself to His creatures and to invite them to know Him (and thus know themselves). But God has revealed Himself clearly, and we want to know Him from the Bible, using it as eyeglasses to see clearly all other things.

The confident foundation and starting point we must have when comparing the Bible with other ancient Near Eastern literature is knowing confidently that the Bible is God’s Word of special revelation to mankind and it is trustworthy. God has spoken (2 Tim. 3:16ff). The True and Living God has spoken…to us! This should absolutely amaze you! Not only do we know His revelation is true because God has spoken, but when we live submitted to it, it makes sense of our experiences, and answers all of our deepest questions with great satisfaction.3“No mythology can ultimately satisfy our desire for truth [as image-bearers]. Only God can do that. As Augustine once remarked, ‘You [God] have made us for yourself, and our heart is … Continue reading

In contrast to other ancient Near Eastern literature, the Bible gives us a transcendent, objective perspective to know ourselves and the world in which we live. As Old Testament Professor John Oswalt writes: “Revelation assumes that this world is not self-explanatory and that some communication from beyond is necessary to explain it.”4John Oswalt, The Bible Among the Myths: Unique Revelation of Just Ancient Literature? (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Books, 2009), Kindle Location: 104. If the world is not explained by God, as He gives it through the Bible, we will still ask questions about ourselves and the world, but we will more often than not get these answers wrong, and add a bit of perversion to the little truth we do comprehend and get right.5In other classes, you may recall that I have spoken about the great questions that all mankind have asked (and still ask!), and these questions are formulated in great literature: “Who are … Continue reading

When studying ancient Near Eastern literature, and comparing it with the Bible, there have been essentially two paths that students have followed:6These types of studies are called “Comparative Religion” or “Comparative Literature” studies and are barely two hundred years old.

  1. Some have claimed that the Bible is just another piece of ancient Near Eastern literature; it is no different than any other ancient writing. These would say that there is nothing special about the Bible; it is in fact merely another literary artifact of an ancient culture.
  2. The Bible is unique, and it revelation from God, and is to be our starting point for considering all other literature.

We will choose and walk carefully on the latter path using the Bible as our eyeglasses to help us to see well, and to follow God in His thoughts as we think these things through. As Christians, we should begin with the premise that the Bible is the very revelation of God, and the Word of God to all mankind.

The Original and the Copies: Similarities and Differences

We should expect there to be similarities between the Bible and other ancient Near Eastern literature, and we should in no way be intimidated by this. We should expect to find mankind who is made in God’s image, seeking to tell the story of creation, the flood, or other great events in history. God’s revelation is given to man in real history, in time and space.

If you think of the Bible as the original copy of all revelation (even if some of the revelation was written down more formally later), then you would expect that there would be copies of that original revelation. In Genesis chapters 4-11 we learn that mankind was sent “east of eden” away from the special presence of God because of sin. We should expect mankind to take the little revelation that is known and to continue to make it known with a certain degree of truth. We should also expect to find that the further one wanders from the special presence of God, the further one is from the truth.

Because the original copy of the story is from God, then the further one is away from the only True and Living God, the further from the truth the story will be, but there would still exist many copies, or similar stories because the Bible says we are significant beings made in God’s image, and we are made to know truth. Even when we don’t know the whole truth, and refuse to submit to the revelation we do have, we desire to know something rather than nothing, thus why history is full of stories, particularly stories about origins and major events.

What we find is that there are similarities between the Bible and other ancient Near Eastern literature (from here on “ANE literature”), but there are important differences as well. Scholars and students who tend to think the Bible is just another piece of ANE literature tend to focus on only the similarities; but there are very important differences that reveal that the Bible is God’s Word, and that it is unique among all the ANE. Before we consider the specific similarities and differences between the Bible and ANE literature, let us sketch a brief overview of the last two hundred years.7This is an outline from John Currid’s book, Against the Gods (Wheaton, Il: Crossway, 2013). Kindle HDX version.

A Brief Overview of the Studies of Ancient Near Eastern Studies and the Bible

Before 1798, the knowledge of the history of the ANE was principally derived from the Bible. With the growth and expansion of archaeological research in the 1800s and early 1900s, there was much new information and new questions being asked, and conclusions being posited about the relationship between the ANE literature and the Bible.

Between 1873 and 1905, a period of suspicion began after the finding of an Assyrian flood story. The archaeologist who found this flood story was named George Smith and he wrote: “…This account of the deluge opens to us a new field of inquiry in the early part of Bible history. The question has often been asked, “What is the origin of the accounts of the antediluvians, with their long lives so many times greater than the longest span of human life? Where was Paradise… From whence comes the story of the flood… [this supplies us with] material which future scholars will have to work out.”8Currid, Against the Gods’, Kindle Location: 188-196. Also, George Smith, “The Chaldean Account of the Deluge,” Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archaeology 2 (1873): 213-234.

The future scholars have been working this out up to this day, and not necessarily ways that honor God. During the first half of the twentieth century there has been the archaeological discovery of thousands of tablets of ANE literature (discovery of language and cultures of Egypt, Hittite, Mesopotamian, Babylonian, et al). Many scholars between the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries began to be suspicious about the Bible and asserted that the flood story found in the Bible must be dependent upon early Mesopotamian texts. Much of the working out of these findings have tempted and turned many students toward a liberal view of the Bible. Some began to teach that the biblical stories has been stripped of polytheism, but were all derived from Babylonia. This is very unfortunate and has caused Christians to be intimidated about studying ANE literature.

Comparing Worldviews of Ancient Near Eastern Literature and the Bible

The Old Testament in our Bibles is essentially different from its ANE neighbors, but there are significant similarities we want to note. In the ANE, there are creation stories and there are flood stories. Should these similarities make us think that the Bible is guilty of “crass plagiarism” from other ANE works?!9This was the position of Frederich Delitzsch (son of conservative Old Testament scholar Franz Delitzsch whose excellent Old Testament commentaries are still in print). Currid in Against the Gods … Continue reading Have the Biblical authors cleansed the pagan elements of the stories and “Yahwized” them to fit the purpose within Israel’s storyline or worldview as liberal scholars have asserted?10Friedrich Delitzsch, Babel and Bible (New York: Putnam, 1903), 50. “Yahwized” refers to what some liberal scholars have thought about Genesis begin “sanitized” from an … Continue reading

Wouldn’t it make more sense to understand that the Bible is God’s true revelation in history, in real time and space, and that there are similar stories, motifs, metaphors, and images that we might find in other ANE literature because the Bible was written in real history to real historically and culturally rooted people? Isn’t it more honest to acknowledge the Bible’s own teaching of man’s fallenness, and see that while these ANE stories have been repeated, they also have been “bastardized” and “perverted” the further they were told away from the revelation of the Bible and its influence?11“Bastardized” and “perverted” were the words of Old Testament professor John Currid.

In ANE literature, we discover, as we would expect, kernels of historical truth. The pagan authors are subject to clear general revelation in creation and are God’s image bearers who have God’s law written in their consciences as we have learned (Rom. 1:19ff; 2:14-16), nevertheless, they also distort the truths and “dress them up with polytheism, magic, violence, and paganism.” As Old Testament scholar John Oswalt writes helpfully: “Fact became myth.”12Oswalt, ibid., pg. 32. Professor Oswalt means that much of the facts of God’s Word were perverted into myth, and the stories became contaminated with error, while retaining some elements of the truth.

We should remember as Christians with reading any stories, or studying any literature well, there will be always be affirmation (or “Yes!”) of the truths that we find, because we know that there is common grace and we should expect to find elements of truth in the works of image bearers of God. Remember that “all truth is God’s truth!”13“If we regard the Spirit of God as the sole fountain of truth, we shall neither reject the truth itself, nor despise it wherever it shall appear, unless we wish to dishonor the Spirit of … Continue reading But as good students, we should also expect antithesis (or “No!”) where sin has perverted the truth, or darkness has kept the light of truth from shining, which is the common curse on mankind because of sin. When we focus on similarities, we will tend to find affirmations between ANE and the Bible, but when we focus on the differences we will see more clearly that there are many places where we must deny in antithesis to the claims made by the ANE author(s).

When we read the Bible with this understanding, we will see clearly that the Biblical authors are not borrowing, nor are they “Yahwizing” from the pagan elements to present the same story, but when they are using metaphor, images, and cultural references they are often doing so in a polemical manner to purposely rebuke the pagan, polytheistic versions of the story.

For instance, the plagues of Egypt are a revelation of God’s power against all the so-called polytheistic gods of Egypt (Exodus 7-12). Moses’ Word from God defeats the magicians of Pharaoh’s court (Exodus 7). Psalm 29 teaches us that YHWH is the “Rider on the Storm/Clouds”, not Baal as was thought in Ugaritic ANE literature. The use of God’s “strong hand” and “Thus says” in His revelation is to demonstrate God’s Almighty power over the other gods of paganism. There is a polemical element in the Bible, but no perversion of the truth or plagiarizing in Scripture. God’s revelation in the Bible is a polemical, inspired antithesis against lies, half-truths, and errors. Here is an example of the polemical nature of Scripture (against Egypt and against Baal):

“Behold, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud and comes to Egypt; and the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence, and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them.” (ESV Isaiah 19:1)
“He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters; he makes the clouds his chariot; he rides on the wings of the wind…” (ESV Psalm 104:3)

Old Testament professor John Currid writes that polemical theology is one of the most important ways of examining and studying the relationship between the Bible and other ANE literature. “It helps to highlight the distinctiveness and uniqueness of the Hebrew worldview over against the dominant setting of the rest of the ancient Near East.”14Currid, Against the Gods, Kindle Location: 501-509.

Major differences in ANE literature and Bible

In the worldview of all ANE literature other than the Bible, there is an “immanent frame” or focus on what is in this world strictly from man’s perspective; the worldview of ANE literature is based on a “closed” world, even though there are deities and heavenly creatures. There is continuity in this frame rather than transcendence from without as with the Bible.15Language of “Continuity” and “Transcendence” from Oswalt, 2009.

With the ANE worldview of continuity there is always a close relationship between deity, humanity, and nature, but there are no boundaries, neither is there revelation received from outside this frame (as in the transcendent worldview of the Bible). “[The] gods are humans and natural forces; nature is divine and divinity has human-like characteristics; humanity is divine and is one with nature. There is no distinction in nature among deity, humanity and nature, only in roles. All things that exist are part of each other.16Oswalt, Kindle Location: 647-654.

In this closed, immanent frame of perspective found in continuity, the gods have attributes of what man sees and observes in nature; nature can be controlled through the gods; man must seek the favor of the gods, although the character of the gods are like sinful humanity written large (the gods are sneaky, cranky, deceptive, manipulative, etc). Professor Oswalt writes: “…Since the idol is like Baal, it is Baal. What is done to the idol is done to Baal. But Baal is also like the storm: he is potent; he is life-giving; he is impetuous; he is destructive. Therefore, he is the storm. Thus, what is done to Baal is done to the storm, and what is done to the storm is done to Baal.17Oswalt, Kindle Location: 656-668.

This continuity between deity, humanity and nature is the logic of idolatry: Man from this closed perspective buries a seed, a tree grows, and he forms an idol out of the tree in order to access the gods who may make him prosper. The tree is not just symbolic of the god, but the god is within nature, the tree, and thus in the idol as well.18This explains the reason why after years in Egypt, the Israelites could so easily, with a little help from leadership, make a golden calf, not to worship another god, but to worship the right and … Continue reading This kind of thinking or way of “seeing things” is known formally in philosophy and theology as “Pan-en-theism”: Deity is within all things. There is continuity in that all is in a sense divine, or the gods are within all things: man, nature, etc. The Prophet Isaiah revealed God’s perspective on the folly of idolatry and this helps to better understand the idolatrous mindset:

“He shapes it into the figure of a man, with the beauty of a man, to dwell in a house. 14 He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. 15 Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. 16 Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!” 17 And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, ‘Deliver me, for you are my god!’” (ESV Isaiah 44:13b-17).

This is why in this way of looking at reality, there are no boundaries, and this is clearly seen in blatant and pathetically sickening immorality found in paganism. From this closed perspective if one is childless, one does not pray, but goes to the temple of the goddess of fertility, undergoes rituals that emphasize seed, then they may seed the ground on which they live, and there may be interactions between man and land, man and beast, and man and other women. There may be an eating of seeded fruit of the land, like pomegranates, in order to manipulate or use a kind of magical technique to bring about the desired results.

All of this is “logical” to this kind of ANE pagan thinking because all is connected. There is no sacredness of marriage, no marriage covenant; no God outside the world one can pray to; only technique or magic, or ritual that one can perform in order to find help or wholeness in this world. There are no boundaries therefore between parent and child, around marriage, members of the same sex, and between man and animals, or man and the divine or angelic.

Contrastly, the Biblical worldview begins with a self-existent, transcendent God who is distinct from, but never separate from His creation. Transcendence is the underlying principle of Biblical revelation; there is a Creator-creature distinction, because God has been kind to reveal Himself clearly to His creatures.

“In the beginning God…
…I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me…” (Gen. 1:1a; Isaiah 46:9)

In the Bible, there is a condescending kindness on God’s part to reveal Himself and to make Himself known; there is revelation from outside, and the focus is on God and His revelation, not first or primarily on man.

Before we get into specific differences between the Bible and other ANE literature, let us list some of the common features of ANE literature, particularly in epics and mythical literature:

Common Features of ANE Literature19See Currid, Oswalt, Matthews and Benjamin.

(1) Polytheism (a pantheon of gods); (2) Images (gods are represented by images); (3) Existence of eternal chaotic matter (ANE literature assumes that matter is the fundamental element that has always existed; matter is animate, but not necessarily personal); (4) Low view of the gods (they are untrustworthy, selfish, contemptuous, tricky, conniving, etc. They are not respected by mankind); (5) Conflict is the source of life (there was conflict between gods and chaos as the dawn of time); (6) Low view of humanity; (7) Magic is ultimate source of power; (8) History is not important.

The Revelation in the Bible

(1) Monotheism (one God, and one God alone); (2) Iconoclasm (No images of God; God is to be worshipped as the Spirit He is!); (3) First Principle of all things is God, not matter; (4) God is all-powerful, there is no conflict at creation; (5) High view of humanity (man is made in God’s image as a servant-son); (6) God is reliable, trustworthy, faithful, full of loving-kindness and mercy (“Hesed” or “Chesed”); (7) Prohibition of all magic and technique of controlling creation and/or others; (8) Importance of history (time and space as we know it).


Bible: Monotheism – One God. There is a strict monotheism revealed in the Bible. God alone is God; there are no other gods. God creates by divine fiat (power of His Word alone), and into nothing. There is no self-existence chaotic matter that must be organized. God speaks and creates ex nihilo, out of nothing, and then orders the world in beauty and for His glory. God does this to glorify Himself and to make a home for humans to enjoy Him. Always remember that ex nihilo creation is unique in the Bible; there is no other literature like the Bible, because it is the Holy and Infallible revelation of Almighty God. God alone is Sovereign King who is Self-Existent, Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent. As God says in Isaiah (against the gods):

“I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, 6 that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the LORD, and there is no other…. Declare and present your case; let them take counsel together! Who told this long ago? Who declared it of old? Was it not I, the LORD? And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me. 22 “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.” (ESV Isaiah 45:5-6, 21-22).

ANE Literature: Polytheism – Many gods. The gods are like sinful man writ large. They are the kinds of beings you would expect if man was inventing gods, or making stories of what they think a god is like. The gods are just aspects of nature and stuff of this life (such as love, war, beauty, thunder, weather, fertility, etc), and they possess characteristics of sinful man writ large: they are tricky, deceptive, cranky, and sexual promiscuous. They do possess some great powers, but they are limited by a greater “force” which is magic. In the polytheistic worldview, the gods are not holy, they are not perfect, they are all self-created, or created by another god, and they do not possess ultimate, unlimited power, only magic does. In ANE literature, Magic is supreme power.20See Currid, Ancient Egypt and the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1997), 40. The God of the Bible alone is Self-Existent, Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent. I dare you to find any other God like Him. As God says, “Who will you compare with me?” The greatest of the ANE gods was essentially the greatest magician.

“To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One….To whom will you liken me and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be alike?” (ESV Isaiah 40:25 ; ESV Isaiah 46:5)


Biblical Morality: The Bible teaches what is right and wrong as being an expression of God’s attributes and character. God alone determines what is right and wrong, and mankind is to follow these rules. The rules are given in the context of covenant and love so that mankind will not live as slaves, but freely and joyfully follow the will of the Creator, as man was created to live joyfully in God’s presence and with purpose. There is an objective morality revealed by God, and not merely what is good for a family or a group of people.

ANE Literature: Morality is what is good for groups of people to live together peacefully and helpfully. It is subjective, and is not a revelation from outside, from beyond as revelation from the gods necessarily. Morality and laws that have been found in ANE are wise and often reveal how much God has revealed Himself in the consciences of man (Rom. 2:14-16). Man often lives deceptively and sinfully with a selfish, self-focused bent, only seeking not to get caught, or to have enough technique in magic to oppose the inevitable circumstances that must follow because of folly and immorality in God’s world.


Bible and History: The Bible is revealed in real space and time history. God reveals and redeems in history. There is a particular grammar in the Hebrew language that clearly reveals that what is being taught in Genesis in particular, and in the Bible generally is meant to be historical narrative; events that really happened (called from Hebrew vav-consecutive-plus-imperfect, often translated “And it was…” in our English Bibles—this is extremely important). God is the Creator and Lord of history, of all time and space and has created man to live within history (thus the focus on a Sabbath rest every week, to remind man of his created-ness and historied-ness). History is moving to an end, a climatic, Sabbath-Rest-Consummation ruled over by Jesus Christ:

“…[God’s] revelation of His will] as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth….to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord…There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.” (ESV Ephesians 1:10, 3:10-11; Hebrews 4:9).

ANE Literature and History: Particularly epics and myths are not intended to be history, but to teach lessons to humanity and to answer questions that mankind has. History does not matter, because all of life is connected and will just repeat itself in cycles, and what matters most is now. Professor Oswalt writes: “‘Now’ is all there is, all we have by which to explain reality. Time has always rolled and it always will, but it is going nowhere. The task is to find ways of ensuring that it does not stop rolling or that it does not roll in some completely unforeseen way.”21Oswalt, Kindle Location: 692-699. ANE epics and mythical literature have no interest in being historical. The use of the grammar in the language is often poetic, and perhaps can be called “mythico-historical” but it is not necessary that it be truly history.


Biblical Account: Man is made in God’s image as a prophet, priest and king over God’s creation to bring glory to God, to depend upon God’s power, goodness and revelation to Him, and to extend the peace found with God in the garden to the ends of the earth (Gen. 1-3).

“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” – Genesis 1:26-28

Man is sinful because he rebelled against God and became interested in gaining knowledge and wisdom apart from God and His revelation; he believed the lie of the serpent. Sin has made man idolatrous, and now he exchanges the truth of God for lies (the Bible only makes sense of the consistent idolatry and paganism we find everywhere in the world, particularly in the ANE):

“Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” – Romans 1:22-25

ANE Literature: Man is insignificant, a mere slave of the gods. In the ANE you will find no history of unique individuals for the sake of that particular person. You will find stories of individuals but only insofar as the story is intended to communicate a larger lesson to an audience. There was no reason to understand or speak of the uniqueness of human beings, they were insignificant in ANE literature.

Creation Accounts (Biblical versus Enuma Elish, or Babylonian Creation Story)

Biblical Creation Account: In the creation account, the one God who is Spirit and eternally self-existent creates all things out of nothing, by divine fiat (by powerful word). Only God exists in Himself, with no need of nothing outside of Him. God creates man in His image to have dignity as a servant-son. Everything that is created is dependent upon God and He exists independently of all creation. Reason for being written: The gracious condescension of God to covenant with his creatures to reveal Himself as a gracious, powerful, and all-knowing King and father.

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light…”

Enuma Elish, Babylonian Creation Story: Creation is the result of the cosmic struggle between order and chaos at the dawn of time. Cosmic matter is eternal and must be ordered. The god Ea defeats Apsu and from his body comes the cosmos. Marduk defeats Tiamat (the chaos monster) and Marduk sets up his temple-palace. Marduk becomes supreme deity through magic. Humans are created for slavery to the gods and for the enjoyment of the gods. Reason for being written: Why should the people serve the Babylonian king? Because the Babylonian king is Marduk’s representative, and this will bring flourishing and peace to the people.

“When a sky above had not (yet even) been mentioned,
(And) the name of firm ground below had not (yet even) been thought of;
(When) only primeval Apsu, their begetter, And Mummu and Tiamat—
she who gave birth to them all—
Were mingling their waters in one;
When no bog had formed (and) no island could be found;
When no god whosoever had appeared,
Had been named by name, had been determined as to (his) lot,
Then gods were formed within them.”22Thorkild Jacobsen, “Mesopotamia: The Cosmos as a State,” in Henri Frankfort et al., Before Philosophy (Baltimore: Penguin, 1973 reprint), 184. Quoted in Currid, Against the Gods, Kindle … Continue reading

Flood Accounts (Biblical versus Gilgamesh, or Utnapishtim’s Story)

Biblical Flood: God sees mankind’s great sin and wickedness on the earth (Gen. 6). He warns Noah, who is a righteous and believing man, to build and ark to save his family and two of every creature. It rains for forty days and forty nights, the flood subsides, then eventually Noah and his family represent a new creation, a new beginning for the human race. There is a sacrifice of worship to YHWH that is pleasing, and a rainbow is revealed to show God’s good and gracious (common grace) intentions toward mankind. The rainbow as a covenant sign (Gen. 9) is unique in ANE literature.

Utnapishtim (or Sometimes “Atrahasis”)/Gilgamesh Flood Story: Utnapishtim survives flood and is granted eternal life. The gods are frustrated with humans and brought a flood. The gods engage in disputing and infighting among themselves, they cannot agree on the sending of the flood (Ea, the god of the waters and seas, actually has to go against the counsel of the other gods to “save” Utnapishtim; there is no mention of justice, or punishment of sin, it is more because the gods are like sinful men in that they are cranky and moody, never holy, holy, holy as only YHWH is!). Utnapishtim builds great ark and on the ark there is a micro-cosmic preservation of life. After flood of six days and seven nights, there is a sacrificial meal that is instigated by fear (not love or gratitude!) and the gods like filthy flies gobble up the meal. No rainbow as a covenant sign; this is unique to the Bible and reveals YHWH’s graciousness and mercy.

While there are similarities between the Bible and other ancient Near Eastern literature, we see that there are tremendous, significant differences. These significant differences point to the fact that the Bible is Holy Scripture, the very trustworthy and reliable Word of God.

The Bible is in no way the mere word of man. Although men were inspired and carried along by the Holy Spirit: “…Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (ESV 2 Peter 1:20-21).

As we learn in the Bible, it is the very Breathed-Out Word of Almighty God, sufficient for all the special revelation we need from God, and needful for correction of our ideas about the world in which we live, and the literature we read: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (ESV 2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Let us thank God that while we can enjoy the beautiful and excellent literature from the ancient Near East, and we can thank God for the truths that we find in it. But we should also thank God that He has not left Himself without a witness, and we can come and truly know Him through the Lord Jesus Christ. As the Apostle Paul teaches at Mars Hill in Acts 17, there is great truth to be found in pagan literature, particularly ancient Near Eastern literature, but it is to be carefully examined by the truth of God’s own revelation of Himself in creation and Holy Scripture:

“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘ For we are indeed his offspring.’ 29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” (ESV Acts 17:24-31).

Let us wisely use the revelation that God has given to us in Acts 17 to learn as students of ANE literature and culture that epic poetry (such as Epic of Gilgamesh) can be a good starting point in engaging culture. Notice how the Apostle Paul begins with affirming where there is truth (common grace: “Yes….yes….yes…”): “As even your own poets have said…” (Acts 17:28).

Notice the Apostle Paul in Acts 17:28 uses no quotations from the Old Testament because he is addressing those who are far from special revelation in the Bible, and are pagan idolaters, but he does use their own cultural writings: “In him we live, move and have our being…” quoting Epimenides of Crete,23“They fashioned a tomb for thee, O holy and high…/the Cretans, always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies!/But thou art not dead; thou art risen and alive forever,/for in thee we live and … Continue reading as well as Aratus of Cilicia: “We are his offspring” (Acts 17:28).24“…In reading pagan/profane [unbelieving] authors, the admirable light of truth displayed in them should remind us, that the human mind, however much fallen and perverted from its original … Continue reading

But also notice the antithesis, or the “No!” The Apostle Paul boldly exposes ignorance that is rooted not so much in lack of knowledge, as in moral unwillingness to see and confess what is true (Acts 17:29b-31; cf. Romans 1:19-32). God will hold all mankind accountable by the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, because God has clearly revealed Himself in Scripture and history, particularly through the Lord Jesus Christ, all men must repent of the ignorance that is caused by sin. Man speaks truth (affirmation/common grace), but man also speaks lies (antithesis/common curse).


A Brief Introductory History of “The Gilgamesh Epic”

The Epic of Gilgamesh is the most significant work to come out of ancient Mesopotamia (from two Greek words “Meso” middle or between and “Potamos” River = Civilization between the two rivers, Euphrates and Tigris). This is the most widely copied piece of literature in the ancient world. The epic is essentially a search for knowledge and wisdom. Gilgamesh was a hero of the Third Millennium BC (ca. 2700-2500 BC). There are about 72 poems in epic that are arranged in translation in a 12-tablet format. The epic was originally written in Cunieform (concepts through wedge-like shapes). Most of the epic we have today is from a redactor-editor, priest-exorcist by the name of “Sin-lique-unninni” who lived between ca. 1500-1000 BC.

Most material to our translation of Gilgamesh came from the library of Ashurbanipal in ancient Nineveh during his reign as king (ca. 668-627 BC- his reign overlaps with King Josiah and the prophecy of Jeremiah). The story itself is of Gilgamesh the Shepherd-King of the city-state of Uruk. This epic has been very popular and appeals to many because of the nature of Gilgamesh’s search for meaning and understanding. It has been translated in Sumerian, Akkadian, and Hittite languages (long before English translations). Tablets were found circa 1880 by archaeologist George Smith.

“The heart of man is not compound of lies,/ but draws some wisdom from the only Wise,/ and still recalls him. Though now long estranged,/ man is not wholly lost or wholly changed./ Disgraced he may be, yet is not dethroned,/ and keeps the rags of lordship once he owned…./Whence came the wish, and whence the power to dream,/ or some things fair and others ugly deem?/ All wishes are not idle, nor in vain….”
– J. R. R. Tolkien

Rev. Charles R. Biggs


Currid, John D. Against the Gods: The Polemical Theology of the Old Testament, Wheaton, Il: Crossway, 2013.
______________. Ancient Egypt and the Old Testament, Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1997.

Matthews, Victor H. and Benjamin, Don C. Old Testament Parallels: Laws and Stories from the Ancient Near East, New York: Paulist Press, 2006 (third edition).

Niehaus, Jeffrey J. Ancient Near Eastern Themes in Biblical Theology, Grand Rapids: Kregel Academic, 2008.

Oswalt, John. The Bible Among the Myths: Unique Revelation of Just Ancient Literature? Grand Rapids: Zondervan Books, 2009.

Pritchard, James B, ed. The Ancient Near East: An Anthology of Texts and Pictures, Volumes 1-2, Princeton Univ. Press, 1958.

Walton, John H. Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament: Introducing the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible, Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006.


1 Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. I: Prolegomena (Grand Rapids: Baker Books), 307
2 Herman Bavinck, ibid., 277.
3 “No mythology can ultimately satisfy our desire for truth [as image-bearers]. Only God can do that. As Augustine once remarked, ‘You [God] have made us for yourself, and our heart is unquiet until it rests in you’.” Jeffrey J. Niehaus, Ancient Near Eastern Themes in Biblical Theology (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2008).
4 John Oswalt, The Bible Among the Myths: Unique Revelation of Just Ancient Literature? (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Books, 2009), Kindle Location: 104.
5 In other classes, you may recall that I have spoken about the great questions that all mankind have asked (and still ask!), and these questions are formulated in great literature: “Who are you?” (speaking of God); “Who am I?” (learning about who we are as beings); “Where am I?” (what is the world, etc); “Where am I going/what is my purpose?”; “What went wrong?”
6 These types of studies are called “Comparative Religion” or “Comparative Literature” studies and are barely two hundred years old.
7 This is an outline from John Currid’s book, Against the Gods (Wheaton, Il: Crossway, 2013). Kindle HDX version.
8 Currid, Against the Gods’, Kindle Location: 188-196. Also, George Smith, “The Chaldean Account of the Deluge,” Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archaeology 2 (1873): 213-234.
9 This was the position of Frederich Delitzsch (son of conservative Old Testament scholar Franz Delitzsch whose excellent Old Testament commentaries are still in print). Currid in Against the Gods notes that liberal commentators think that Genesis is the Hebrew version of a Babylonian legend (S. R. Driver) and that many biblical texts show the path along which the Marduk myth was transformed into Genesis 1 (Hermann Gunkel).
10 Friedrich Delitzsch, Babel and Bible (New York: Putnam, 1903), 50. “Yahwized” refers to what some liberal scholars have thought about Genesis begin “sanitized” from an originally mythic text and reconfigured into a historical narrative.
11 “Bastardized” and “perverted” were the words of Old Testament professor John Currid.
12 Oswalt, ibid., pg. 32.
13 “If we regard the Spirit of God as the sole fountain of truth, we shall neither reject the truth itself, nor despise it wherever it shall appear, unless we wish to dishonor the Spirit of God” (J. Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, 2.2.xv).
14 Currid, Against the Gods, Kindle Location: 501-509.
15 Language of “Continuity” and “Transcendence” from Oswalt, 2009.
16 Oswalt, Kindle Location: 647-654.
17 Oswalt, Kindle Location: 656-668.
18 This explains the reason why after years in Egypt, the Israelites could so easily, with a little help from leadership, make a golden calf, not to worship another god, but to worship the right and only God who redeemed them– wrongly! It was not the God they had wrong, but the method of worshipping him which was taught in Egyptian Polytheism and Idolatry 101 and had obviously influenced them. God’s reaction against this is another example of the polemical nature of the Old Testament.
19 See Currid, Oswalt, Matthews and Benjamin.
20 See Currid, Ancient Egypt and the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1997), 40.
21 Oswalt, Kindle Location: 692-699.
22 Thorkild Jacobsen, “Mesopotamia: The Cosmos as a State,” in Henri Frankfort et al., Before Philosophy (Baltimore: Penguin, 1973 reprint), 184. Quoted in Currid, Against the Gods, Kindle Loc. 604-12.
23 “They fashioned a tomb for thee, O holy and high…/the Cretans, always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies!/But thou art not dead; thou art risen and alive forever,/for in thee we live and move and have our being”.
24 “…In reading pagan/profane [unbelieving] authors, the admirable light of truth displayed in them should remind us, that the human mind, however much fallen and perverted from its original integrity, is still adorned and invested with gifts from its Creator” (J. Calvin, Institutes, 2.2.xv).

Living by Faith in the Wilderness


The author of Hebrews teaches God’s people in Christ that although we have been redeemed from sin, death and the devil, we live between promise and fulfillment in the wilderness of this present age. As God’s people we have yet to arrive and receive the full consummation of God’s promises. We are already made a kingdom of priests in Christ and so we are to live by faith as a counter-cultural kingdom people before the world (Rev. 1:5-6). God calls us to live by faith in this present age primarily by keeping our eyes on Jesus, our Great High Priest, who has faithfully gone ahead of us, and has sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high.


We learn in Hebrews 11 that saving faith that God gives to his people is characterized in several important ways. Faith’s focus is on Christ as He is draped in all His magnificent glory and perfect righteousness (Heb. 1:1-4; 12:2). We are to travel this arduous road as pilgrims knowing that we have all we need in the Perfect person, completed work, and ongoing intercession of Jesus for us. Faith’s endurance is that God has granted this to us, that all of God’s people will endure to the end (Heb. 10:36, 39, 11:49-12:3). Faith’s sight is that as pilgrims we behold the Triune, Sovereign, Eternal God who is invisible and who lives in unapproachable light, who is self-existent, and who has clearly spoken in creation and in His Word (Heb. 1:1-3; 11:6; 1 Tim. 1:17). Faith’s commendation is that when we walk by faith with right hearts, right worship, right relationship, and right response to His salvation and judgment in Christ, we please God—which brings deep and unimaginable joy (“Joy inexpressible and full of glory”-1 Pet. 1:8!).


Faith’s inheritance teaches us that this present age is not our home and we await a Heavenly Home (Heb. 11:13-16). Faith’s confidence is that although we don’t see the promises of God being fulfilled, we know that God is able to do what He has promised to do! Faith’s courage is that we are often persecuted and scoffed at by the world, yet we know that we’re more than overcomers through Jesus who loved us. Faith’s power is that we live by faith humble lives, carrying our cross and displaying the power of God in weakness. Let us live counter-culturally by faith as congregation of priests at KCPC, living joyfully and gratefully as God’s redeemed children!


In  Christ,

Pastor Charles