The baccalaureate sermon and service are, of course, quite distinct from the proceedings that will happen as graduates head down the aisle to receive their degrees. There is also quite a lot of difference between a baccalaureate sermon and a graduation speech. This service is a tradition in higher education that goes back to the Christian foundations of our nation. The college degree was seen as the preparation for a life of public service, whether that service was in ministry, education, medicine, law, or one of the professions. The service developed because the communities recognized the extraordinary milestone of young people moving through this critical time and being launched out into a very needy world, then and most certainly now. So, for just a few moments, we can turn our attention to giving thanks to God and asking his blessing upon you and your families as you transition from the stage of preparation to what we pray will be many years of growth and giving.

It is always a challenge for the preacher in such an auspicious occasion to select the text. So, I did what I ordinarily do in cases like this, I consult the lectionary of the church. I looked at the readings and my attention was arrested by Psalm 33:12-22. As I read the text I begin to sense that this truly was the college and seminary graduates guide to getting ahead in life. As you might imagine, “getting ahead in life” is treated with a biblical wisdom that contrasts with what we ordinarily think of when we hear that phrase.

Give attention then for the reading of the inerrant and the infallible word of the living God as it is found in Psalm 33:12 – 22:

Psalm 33:12-22

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!

The Lord looks down from heaven;
he sees all the children of man;
from where he sits enthroned he looks out
on all the inhabitants of the earth,
he who fashions the hearts of them all
and observes all their deeds.
The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue.

Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
that he may deliver their soul from death
and keep them alive in famine.

Our soul waits for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
even as we hope in you

Sutter’s Mill

What happens when the treasure you seek becomes the trap that is set? Let me explain.

John Augustus Setter, Sr.  was a young Swiss man, newly married, with the dream that was bigger than his little Swiss village. [1] In the early 1800s John Sutter’s wide-eyed ambition was to great for the paper business that his father had been an. At the time he left his wife and four children and made the journey to America to seek his fortune. He made his way across the Great Plains by the time he got to the Sacramento River in the Mexican owned area called California he presented himself as “Capt. Sutter” of the Swiss Army. Capt. Sutter had in mind to build a mercantile village on the Sacramento River. And he did a very good job of establishing just that. He brought his family over. Things were going well. His businesses were being established and they were expanding to meet the need of settlers.  In the year 1847 Capt. John Sutter contracted with a builder by the name of James Marshall. Marshall was to build John Sutter’s Mill, another division within Capt. Sutter’s growing little empire.  In January 1848 Mr. Marshall met with John Sutter with a couple of rocks in his hand. Sure enough those rocks were gold. The beautiful pastureland, the fields of crops that were thriving in the California sun and moderate Mediterranean temperatures were suddenly overcome. They call them the 49ers. Dan Fogelberg, the singer-songwriter, recorded in his song, “They came from New York City and they came from Alabam’.”[2]

Like “herds of locusts” they descended upon Captain John Sutter’s land.[3] They plundered his crops. They destroyed his buildings. Some of them appealed to squatters’ laws and stole the land. His own workers left their jobs and took to the river to find their own fortunes. His livestock became breakfast, dinner, and supper for the hungry and gold-lusting masses. The treaty ending the Mexican-American war brought California into the United States in 1850. And by that time, Capt. John Sutter was broke. He sold what little he had moved his family to Pennsylvania. He died and was buried in the Moravian Cemetery in Lititz, Pennsylvania. The town that he was going to call Sutterville, marking the site of that ambitious young man’s empire, ended up just being call Sacramento after the name of the river on which it was founded.

But by 1865 the last remnant of Sutter’s Mill was burned to the ground. The words of the “John Sutter’s Mill” song is true:

“Some would fail, and some would prosper | Some would die, and some would kill | Some would thank the Lord for their deliverance | And some would curse John Sutter’s mill | And some would curse John Sutter’s Mill | Some men’s thirsts are never filled.”[4]

They call it “Fool’s Gold.”[5]  It is a mineral call pyrite. It looks like gold, but it is absolutely worthless. In fact, it is even dangerous as it produces sulfuric acid. And yet many lost their lives over pyrite, “fool’s gold.” Others found the real thing and lost their souls. Still again, “fool’s gold.” John Sutter sought an empire and discovered that giving your life for the dream of building a monument to yourself is also “fool’s gold.”

Those who seek personal fulfillment in passing pleasures and empty ambition forfeit the joy that first fueled their search.

To be honest with you, I know something about John Augustus Sutter, Sr. To be honest, I think I know something about many of those 49ers who lost all they had in pursuit of all they wanted. I can remember as a young man, about the age of many of you graduates, awakening from a dream — no, a nightmare — and cold sweat and startled spirit. I had dreamed that I was an old man and I had not achieved anything. During those years of my life, mercifully suspended by the age of twenty-six, I was in search of fame and fortune. Having been an orphan and coming from a poverty-stricken community I was trying to feel the deep recesses of my soul caused by the woundedness of my circumstances.

I suspect there are some of you battling the same urges and desires the John Sutter knew and that I have known. In fact, that would be normal.

God shows us in Psalm 33:13-19 that he looks down over the condition of men (verse 33) and he sees two groups of people: those who trust in earthly power and riches to get ahead: “The king is not saved his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue.” God also sees another group that He calls “those who fear Him.” Their hope, that is their trust for that power to get them ahead, to move them through life, to guide them to be the people God has called them to be, is in something else. The “fool” and the “faithful” live side by side. Often, they reside in the same person.

Israel was often guilty of trusting in the power of kings and the strength of stallions, and the empire-building potential of mighty armies, and the charismatic power of a mighty warrior to deliver a besieged nation.[6] There were a lot of John Sutter’s there. There were always “49ers” moving away from God to find a new way to secure the happiness they craved.

“Fool’s gold” is scattered all over the landscape of these verses. But there is a jewel, a gem, a mineral so precious, that those who are wise would sell all they had to possess this.

This is the precious jewel that I present to you tonight. This is the precious jewel that your God offers you. It is called, in another place, “the Pearl of great price.”[7]

Because we all face the ability to fall into the race for “fool’s gold,” God has revealed his timeless word of wisdom that will not only get us ahead in this life but see us through to the next life. For,

True sustainable success is a matter of knowing where to look.

If you want a treasure that will meet the inner desire for joy, contentment, identity, purpose, and meaning, then you are going to have to trade in your ticket for Sutter’s Mill. Find the three keys in this passage and you will find a pathway to abundant life and eternal life. What are these keys?

The Key to Sustainable Success is the Word of the Lord

The Psalmist instructs his fellow believers in Psalm 33:4 that “the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.”

The psalmist puts a spotlight on the word of God. It is interesting that he does not present an apologetic for the word of God, that the word of God is inerrant and infallible. Rather, he states it forthrightly as a fact. And he points to creation as evidence. He says that “God spoke the word” and creation came into being. This very essential truth is echoed throughout the pages of Holy Scripture. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians:

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:15 – 20 ESV).

The Apostle John wrote that Jesus Christ is, in fact, the “Logos” of God.[8] He is the Word of God incarnate.[9]

Sustainable success in life always begins with trusting God’s word.

Perhaps you have heard the story of what became the single greatest turning point in the ministry of the late Billy Graham.[10] He was in California preparing for the Los Angeles Crusade. It was the summer of 1949. The liberal higher criticism of the German schools had started to make its impact upon the theological seminaries of North America.[11] Many were beginning to question the reliability of the Holy Bible. One of those ministers who had made was a friend to Billy Graham by the name of Charles Templeton.[12] He was a fellow evangelist. But according to milligram in his autobiography, just as I am, Templeton told him “you are 50 years behind.” He taunted him for trusting in the Bible when, as he assured Billy Graham, “modern science” was disproving it daily.

Templeton, just completing his first year at Princeton Theological Seminary, marshaled the insights of European critics to seek to dislodge Billy Graham’s faith from God’s word.[13] And what would become the turning point in the ministry of the man who touched millions of people around the world, Billy Graham went up into the mountains to spend time with God. He felt that he could not go on being president of the Bible college and about to speak at the Los Angeles Crusade unless he settled the matter of the word of God in his heart. In an extraordinarily evocative story that he related in his autobiography and told in sermons and interviews afterward, the great evangelist placed his Bible on a tree stump. He knelt down before Almighty God. He confessed that he did not understand everything in the Bible, but that he trusted the word of God. He trusted the Bible because Billy Graham trusted in the Person of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Jesus taught that the Bible was all about him. He treated it as true, without error, and did so as a matter of fact, without apology.

My beloved in Christ, as you graduate and seek to get ahead in life, take time right now in your heart; place the Bible in front of you; and ask not for understanding, but for trust. If Jesus Christ is risen from the dead and he believed and taught that all of the Scriptures are about him, then there can be no other response but to say that the word of God is true.

Seek God’s word for your success in whatever endeavor and you will find the precious, priceless pearl that all of humankind is searching for, but which so many miss.

Sustainable success in life always begins with trusting God’s ways.

Following his accentuation of the word of God, David, the assumed author of the Psalm, highlights the ways of God.[14] He contrasts the counsel of the nations with the counsel of the Lord in verses 10 and 11. We might say that the ways or even the wisdom of the world God brings to nothing. Yet, ways of the Lord, the wisdom of the Lord stands forever, “to all generations” (verse 11 B).

The apostle Paul also wrote about the ways and wisdom of God in the ways and wisdom of mankind. In 1 Corinthians St. Paul Road:

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God” (1:18).

I can testify to this in my own life.[15] My prodigal journey that lasted from my early teens until I was in my 20s, I was in a rebellion against the wisdom and ways of God; the divine plan of God that had been taught to me by my aunt Eva from the time I was born. Whenever I left home, at a very early age, my aunt Eva stood on the porch, weeping. She told me, “My son, you will return. But you will return broken. And that will be the only way that you can turn to the Lord and find what you’re looking for.” And she was right.

My prodigal journey did not include drugs and promiscuity. Rather, it was marked by a philosophical and intellectual rejection of all things that were pure in preference of the AvantGarde, the novel, the new, the obscure. When my life hit bottom, I was still in my teens. It would take several more years of wandering in the desolate and dreary desert until I would come home. Along the way, I did find religion that instructed me in the ways of works. “Do this” and you will please God. “Follow these rules” and you will be happy. And I must admit that there is some satisfaction and even security in the harsh religious discipline the does your thinking for you. But I heard the gospel in Ephesians:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (2:8,9).

And at that moment as Dr. D James Kennedy preached God’s grace I realized that this wisdom, these ways were unlike anything I had ever known before. And I ask God to forgive me and to receive me by faith. And he did. And there was a Mike Milton before that moment and there was a light Milton afterward. Life has never been the same. And I can say that it has been a glorious adventure of diving deeper into the waters of God and his counsel. They are deep waters. But like the Pacific island divers who plunge for pearls, the journey is more than worth finding the pearl of great price.

I’m going to ask you this very moment to turn from anyone and anything that gives you counsel or bid you to follow their way. I’m asking you to consider the beautiful person of Jesus Christ who lived the life we could never live and who died the death that should’ve been ours; who transformed the cross from an instrument of torture and death to an instrument of healing and life; from the sign of defeat to the glorious symbol of salvation. Receive him by faith and you will begin to know the ways of God. You will be covered by the ruling motif of the gospel, namely, that the very things, like the cross, that would seek to destroy you become the very things that guide you and ultimately save you.[16]

There is a third priceless truth that I find and must share.

Sustainable success in life always begins with trusting God’s wealth.

The very “tenderloin” of this passage begins in verse 18 where David writes about those who have their hope — that is, a certain hope, a “trust” — in what the English standard version calls, “his steadfast love.” Again, in the last verse in the 33rd Psalm, verse 22, David calls down a blessing upon the people, “let your steadfast love, oh Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.”

The steadfast love of the Lord is the Hebrew word חֶ֫סֶד‑“hesed.”[17][18] It is vera y interesting word that my old Hebrew Prof., Dr. Laird Harris, said might be related to the word for “stork.” Indeed, the black stork flies from Israel to Europe and then returns. It is interesting that we use the image of the stork to explain how babies come into the world. The stork is a very loyal and faithful mother. And it may be that some years ago two Hebrew fellows were sitting around saying what we call God’s love? I’m one of them looked up and saw the stork caring for her little ones through the rain and sleet, the snow, the freezing cold and the heat. So, he said, “how about stork – love?” [19] The point is not whether the etymology of חֶ֫סֶד is definitely related to the Hebrew word for a stork, but rather that the demonstration of God’s covenant faithfulness, his loyalty to us, his everlasting love, or is the King James puts it “his loving kindness,” is available to you and me today. It is a love that is based on a prior relationship. In this case it is, based on the love of God for his people. And steadfast love is fulfilled in our Lord Jesus Christ who said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”[20]

Departing from college entering a new chapter of your life is a milestone. There will be other milestones, joyful and, yes, sorrowful. But the truth of the gospel is that God will never leave you. In the psalmist reminds us that his steadfast love extends to death. For that love will “deliver their soul from death…” (Verse 19)

You may seek and find the gold that Sutter’s Mill. But if you do not possess the priceless treasure of God in Jesus Christ the new will die in poverty. For there can be no greater success in life than finding eternity in the life to come.

So, let us restate the thesis that we find in this passage: Success in life is found only in seeking the priceless truths that will bring you the inner-contentment that you crave.

We have taken note of three truths related to finding that success: God’s Word, God’s Ways, and God’s Wealth.

All of this came rushing to me recently as I learned of the passing of a friend. He called me his mentor. He died suddenly of a heart attack and then his car crashed. But he was dead before impact. Suddenly, unexpectedly, tragically, Kevin was taken from us.[21]

I met him many years ago when he was a young salesman seeking success and finding no answers for the great existential questions that were plaguing him. We sat down and talked at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. He said he was on a sales call and decided to take a four-hour detour to come and talk with me.

I was the interim president of Knox theological seminary at that time. I would say that Kevin had been one of those “open 49ers.” He had been digging for gold. He had found some in his profession. But he had realized that it was “fool’s gold.” His earthly powers and achievements gave him no happiness. More than that there was a deep spiritual bond that had metastasized and was affecting his entire person. He had heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. He began studying God’s word, following God’s ways, and building a treasure of God’s wealth.

As we talked it became apparent that God was calling him into the ministry. I became his professor. Later when I was a pastor once again, I called him to be my associate minister and I sent them out to plant a new church. When he was called to the church in Virginia I went there and was part of his installation. Later when I became Chancellor of another seminary, I invited him to come on board.

After I fell ill he remained in the place where I had called him. In every way, Kevin continued to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. So, barely 50 years old he meets with tragedy. And here soon I will stand to officiate at Kevin’s funeral in Knoxville, Tennessee. What do we say about such a tragedy? How do we account for such a loss? I wrote a remembrance of Kevin and it was picked up by several online ministries.[22] One of those sites contacted me recently and said that in a matter of hours there were more than 8000 visits to that article. Since then the number has grown, as have the comments about how one man — not an evangelical superstar, not a celebrity, merely a shepherd, a lost young man who had been found by the grace of God in Christ — could move the world.

Whatever God is calling you to do reject the natural impulse to rely on earthly power and might. Trust in God. Receive Jesus Christ today, even right now. And you will know the priceless Pearl who will give you success beyond your wildest imagination. For the steadfast love of God is the golden gift of heaven to any and all who call upon the name of his son our Savior Jesus Christ by faith. And that’s no fool’s gold, my friend. That is a gold that will never perish.

Bibliography

Akin, Daniel L. 1, 2, 3 John: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture. Vol. 38. B&H Publishing Group, 2001.

Barth, Karl. Witness to the Word: A Commentary on John 1. Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2003.

Billington, Ray Allen, and Martin Ridge. Westward Expansion: A History of the American Frontier. UNM Press, 2001.

Fogelberg, Dan. “Dan Fogelberg Sutter’s Mill.” YouTube. Last modified 1985. Accessed May 21, 2018. https://www.google.com/search?q=dan+fogelberg+sutter%27s+mill&safe=active&hl=en&source=lnms&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiwk5783pXbAhWNvVMKHbOpDroQ_AUICSgA&biw=1271&bih=636&dpr=2.

Freedman, David Noel, Gary A. Herion, David F. Graf, and John David Pleins. The Anchor Bible Dictionary. Vol. 6. Doubleday New York, 1992.

Gibson, J. C. L. “The Word Hesed in the Hebrew Bible.” The Journal of Theological Studies 45, no. 2 (1994): 815–817.

Glueck, Nelson. Hesed in the Bible. Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2011.

Good, E. M. “Love in the Old Testament.” The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. New York: Abingdon (1962): 164–168.

Graham, B. Just As I Am. HarperCollins, 1999. https://books.google.com/books?id=lVZReAgOhC8C.

Harris, R. L., G. L. Archer, and B. K. Waltke. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Moody Press, 1980. https://books.google.com/books?id=2LTYAAAAMAAJ.

Hultgren, Stephen J. “The Word of God in Human Words.” Lutheran Quarterly 30, no. 2 (2016): 125–151. Accessed May 21, 2018. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lsdar&AN=ATLAiGEV170630003578&site=ehost-live.

Hurtado, A. L. John Sutter: A Life on the North American Frontier. University of Oklahoma Press, 2006. https://books.google.com/books?id=r_HarhTxs7MC.

Jones, Paul Dafydd. “The Heart of the Matter: Karl Barth’s Christological Exegesis.” In Thy Word Is Truth: Barth on Scripture, 173–195, 2012.

———. “The Heart of the Matter: Karl Barth’s Christological Exegesis.” Thy word is truth: Barth on Scripture (2012). http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lsdar&AN=ATLA0001944259&site=ehost-live.

Kynes, Will. “God’s Grace in the Old Testament: Considering the Hesed of the Lord” (n.d.): 3.

Milton, Michael A. “Remembering Dr. Kevin Collins The Protégé and the Mentor in Sorrow and in Hope.” Online magazine. Servants of Grace. Last modified May 15, 2018. Accessed May 21, 2018. http://servantsofgrace.org/remembering-dr-kevin-collins-the-protege-and-the-mentor-in-sorrow-and-in-hope/.

———. What God Starts, God Completes: Gospel Hope for Hurting People. Fearn: Christian Focus, 2012.

Montgomery, James A. “Hebrew Hesed and Greek Charis.Harvard Theological Review 32, no. 2 (1939): 97–102.

Neal, Randy. “Theology of Hesed in the Old Testament” (n.d.). Accessed May 18, 2018. http://www.academia.edu/8491293/Theology_of_Hesed_in_the_Old_Testament.

Reed, David A. “How Semitic Was John? Rethinking the Hellenistic Background to John 1: 1.” Anglican theological review 85, no. 4 (2003): 709.

Rickard, D. Pyrite: A Natural History of Fool’s Gold. Oxford University Press, 2015. https://books.google.com/books?id=L370BgAAQBAJ.

Says, Tommy Franklin Jones. “The Case for the Old Testament.” Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Accessed May 18, 2018. https://billygraham.org/decision-magazine/september-2017/the-case-for-the-old-testament/.

St. Augustine. NPNF1-07. St. Augustine: Homilies on the Gospel of John; Homilies on the First Epistle of John; Soliloquies – Christian Classics Ethereal Library. New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886. Accessed May 21, 2018. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf107.i.html.

Steinhagen, Chet, Taylor B. Harvey, C. Jackson Stolle, Justin Harris, and Brian A. Korgel. “Pyrite Nanocrystal Solar Cells: Promising, or Fool’s Gold?” The journal of physical chemistry letters 3, no. 17 (2012): 2352–2356.

Templeton, C. Farewell to God: My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian Faith. McClelland & Stewart, 2011. https://books.google.com/books?id=NvTR05fodqYC.

Webster, J B. (John Bainbridge). “Barth’s Lectures on the Gospel of John.” In Thy Word Is Truth: Barth on Scripture, 125–147, 2012. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lsdar&AN=ATLA0001944251&site=ehost-live.

Yoon, Seokil. “The Meaning of the LOGOS in John 1:1-18.” Master of Theology, Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, 2008. Accessed May 20, 2018. http://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1076&context=masters.

“01-Jeremiah.Pdf,” n.d. Accessed May 18, 2018. http://jim.reuteler.org/books/01-jeremiah.pdf.

“Billy Graham and Charles Templeton: The Sad Tale of Two Evangelists.” CredoHouse – Making Theology Accessible, July 30, 2011. Accessed May 18, 2018. https://credohouse.org/blog/billy-graham-and-charles-templeton-the-sad-tale-of-two-evangelists.

“Calvin’s Commentaries, Vol. 8: Psalms, Part I: Psalm 33.” Accessed May 21, 2018. http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/calvin/cc08/cc08038.htm.

“Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible – Christian Classics Ethereal Library.” Accessed May 18, 2018. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/jamieson/jfb.i.html.

“Psalm – Chapter 33 – Coffman’s Commentary of the New Testament on StudyLight.Org.” Accessed May 21, 2018. http://classic.studylight.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?book=ps&chapter=033.

“Psalm 33:1 Commentary – The Treasury of David.” Bible Study Tools. Accessed May 21, 2018. http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/treasury-of-david/psalms-33-1.html.

“Snapshot,” n.d. Accessed May 21, 2018. http://servantsofgrace.org/remembering-dr-kevin-collins-the-protege-and-the-mentor-in-sorrow-and-in-hope/.

“Strong’s Hebrew: 2618. חֶ֫סֶד (Chesed) — Hesed.” Accessed May 21, 2018. http://biblehub.com/hebrew/2618.htm.

“The Authority of the Bible.” Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Accessed May 18, 2018. https://billygraham.org/decision-magazine/september-2017/the-authority-of-the-bible/.

“The Bible On a Tree Stump: Billy Graham’s Moment of Decision.” Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Accessed May 18, 2018. https://billygraham.org/decision-magazine/september-2017/the-bible-on-a-tree-stump-billy-grahams-moment-of-decision/.

“The Biblical Meaning of Justice – ProQuest.” Accessed May 18, 2018. https://search.proquest.com/openview/fe8efe56f9cbc307f743e3c2dfbdbc6b/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=1817128.

“What Is Hesed?” Accessed May 21, 2018. https://www.ligonier.org/blog/what-hesed/

[1]

[2] Dan Fogelberg, “Dan Fogelberg Sutter’s Mill,” YouTube, last modified 1985, accessed May 21, 2018, https://www.google.com/search?q=dan+fogelberg+sutter%27s+mill&safe=active&hl=en&source=lnms&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiwk5783pXbAhWNvVMKHbOpDroQ_AUICSgA&biw=1271&bih=636&dpr=2.

[3] See, e.g., Ray Allen Billington and Martin Ridge, Westward Expansion: A History of the American Frontier (UNM Press, 2001).

[4] Ibid.

[5] For further study on pyrite consider, e.g., D. Rickard, Pyrite: A Natural History of Fool’s Gold (Oxford University Press, 2015), https://books.google.com/books?id=L370BgAAQBAJ; Chet Steinhagen et al., “Pyrite Nanocrystal Solar Cells: Promising, or Fool’s Gold?,” The journal of physical chemistry letters 3, no. 17 (2012): 2352–2356.

[6] For an example of the influence of foreign gods and pagan nations see, e.g., “Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible – Christian Classics Ethereal Library,” 79, accessed May 18, 2018, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/jamieson/jfb.i.html.

[7] “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:45-46 ESV).

[8] I appreciate the clear and defensible assertion of Seok Il-Yoon: “When the concept of λόγος in John 1:1-18 is misunderstood, a pillar of Christianity is shaken. Orthodox Christianity rests upon this Christological pillar; indeed, it is arguably the cornerstone of the entire edifice. Therefore, a correct understanding of λόγος is vital for the faith.” See Seok Il-Yoon, “The Meaning of the LOGOS in John 1:1-18” (Master of Theology, Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, 2008), 2, accessed May 20, 2018, http://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1076&context=masters.

[9] Barth’s lectures on John are taken from Augustine’s extemporaneous sermons on John which were taken down by scribes and gathered in an enormous opus. See the editorial edition of Phillip Schaff: St. Augustine, NPNF1-07. St. Augustine: Homilies on the Gospel of John; Homilies on the First Epistle of John; Soliloquies – Christian Classics Ethereal Library (New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886), accessed May 21, 2018, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf107.i.html.

[10] The original account is in both Graham’s and Templeton’s books (see note 11). See, also, “Billy Graham and Charles Templeton: The Sad Tale of Two Evangelists,” CredoHouse – Making Theology Accessible, July 30, 2011, accessed May 18, 2018, https://credohouse.org/blog/billy-graham-and-charles-templeton-the-sad-tale-of-two-evangelists; “The Bible On a Tree Stump: Billy Graham’s Moment of Decision,” Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, accessed May 18, 2018, https://billygraham.org/decision-magazine/september-2017/the-bible-on-a-tree-stump-billy-grahams-moment-of-decision/.

[11] On this matter, see J. G. Machen and C. Trueman, Christianity and Liberalism, New Ed. (Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2009), https://books.google.com/books?id=WmdUj9l8sKIC.

[12] It is interesting to read both accounts. See B. Graham, Just As I Am (HarperCollins, 1999), 138, https://books.google.com/books?id=lVZReAgOhC8C; C. Templeton, Farewell to God: My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian Faith (McClelland & Stewart, 2011), https://books.google.com/books?id=NvTR05fodqYC.

[13] Just as I Am, 136-139.

[14] Spurgeon’s comment on the authorship of Psalm 33 is good guidance: This song of praise bears no title or indication of authorship; to teach us, says Dickson, “to look upon Holy Scripture as altogether inspired of God, and not put price upon it for the writers thereof.” See “Psalm 33:1 Commentary – The Treasury of David,” Bible Study Tools, accessed May 21, 2018, http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/treasury-of-david/psalms-33-1.html. Calvin begins with commentary on Psalm 33, “David, or whoever was the author of this psalm . . .” For an apologia for Davidic authorship see, e.g., “Psalm – Chapter 33 – Coffman’s Commentary of the New Testament on StudyLight.Org,” accessed May 21, 2018, http://classic.studylight.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?book=ps&chapter=033.

[15] See Michael A. Milton, What God Starts, God Completes : Gospel Hope for Hurting People (Fearn: Christian Focus, 2012).

[16] For more on the ruling motif of the cross in the Christian life begin with J. Stott, The Cross of Christ (InterVarsity Press, 2012), https://books.google.com/books?id=uSHC3qDjFS4C.

[17] חֶסֶד (ḥě·sěḏ): n.masc.; ≡ Str 2617; TWOT 698a—1. LN 25.33–25.58 loyal love, unfailing kindness, devotion, i.e., a love or affection that is steadfast based on a prior relationship (Ex 34:6, 7);

[18] See, also, e.g.,

[19] R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer, and B. K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Moody Press, 1980), “loyal love,” 598, https://books.google.com/books?id=2LTYAAAAMAAJ; James A. Montgomery, “Hebrew Hesed and Greek Charis,” Harvard Theological Review 32, no. 2 (1939): 97–102; E. M. Good, “Love in the Old Testament,” The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. New York: Abingdon (1962): 164–168; Nelson Glueck, Hesed in the Bible (Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2011); J. C. L. Gibson, “The Word Hesed in the Hebrew Bible,” The Journal of Theological Studies 45, no. 2 (1994): 815–817; Montgomery, “Hebrew Hesed and Greek Charis”; “What Is Hesed?,” accessed May 21, 2018, https://www.ligonier.org/blog/what-hesed/.

[20] “. . . for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5b).

[21] Michael A. Milton, “Remembering Dr. Kevin Collins The Protégé and the Mentor in Sorrow and in Hope,” , Servants of Grace, last modified May 15, 2018, accessed May 21, 2018, http://servantsofgrace.org/remembering-dr-kevin-collins-the-protege-and-the-mentor-in-sorrow-and-in-hope/.

[22] Ibid.