There’s a supplicant from the Navaho Nation. A few from the now-defunct faith of Judaism. There are Roman Catholics. There’s at least one Hindu. Mormons are represented, as are Baha’is of the United States. Islam and Sikh’s will be there. Episcopalians, Greek Orthodox, Presbyterians, independent charismatics, and Buddhism have a place in the line-up too. And, because no event of ecumenism could possibly be complete without them, so too will Southern Baptists be involved.
2:16 My beloved is mine, and I am his. This clearly expresses the sanctity of a monogamous relationship that is built on mutual love (cf. 6:3; 7:10).
MacArthur Study Bible
2:16 The possession of the loved one prefigures the possession of Christ and the church.
ESV Study Bible
2:16 My beloved belongs to me and I belong to him This statement—repeated in 6:3—reveals the intimate relationship between the man and woman. They belong to each other in a mutual giving of their love.
Faithlife Study Bible
2:16 he grazes among the lilies. In view of the context, this is most likely a metaphor for lovemaking.
Reformation Study Bible
God is my witness, whom I serve with my Spirit.
Nowadays, we use the word spirit in the same way the apostle Paul used it in today’s verse. We may watch an athlete go all out in his performance and then comment that he exhibited “spirited” play, which means that his whole being was involved in his effort. When I was in college, the “Esprit de Corps” award was given to the football player who gave the most effort on the field. That is the way in which Paul served the Lord.
Paul never served the Lord without a wholehearted commitment. In so doing, he distinguished himself from the hirelings whose labor was external and insincere (John 10:11–13). So be like Paul—give a wholehearted effort in your service to Christ.
|January 21||Biblical Patience|
“Walk … with patience.”
Patient Christians endure negative circumstances, cope with difficult people, and accept God’s plan for everything.
In our instant, microwave, drive–through, “I want it now” culture, patience is hard to come by. We get upset if we have to wait too long in the supermarket line or get stuck behind the guy driving ten miles per hour under the speed limit.
But today’s Scripture tells us that our lives need to be marked by patience. The Greek word translated “patience” literally means “long–tempered.” A patient person doesn’t have a short fuse or lose his temper.
There are three aspects to biblical patience. First, patience never gives in to negative circumstances, no matter how difficult. God told Abraham He would make him into a great nation and give Canaan to his descendants (Gen. 12:2, 7). When God made this promise, Abraham and Sarah had no children. They had to wait far past their childbearing years before God gave them a son. But Hebrews 6:15 says, “Having patiently waited, [Abraham] obtained the promise.” “He did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God” (Rom. 4:20). He trusted God and patiently waited for Him to fulfill His promise.
A second aspect of patience is coping with difficult people. Paul tells us to “be patient with all men” (1 Thess. 5:14). This is applied gentleness—a spirit that refuses to retaliate. Our normal reaction is to be defensive when provoked. But a patient person bears insult, persecution, unfair treatment, slander, and hatred. You can’t start a fight with a patient person. He defends God, not himself, knowing that He will repay all wrongs at the right time.
Third, patience accepts God’s plan for everything. It doesn’t question God. A patient person says, “Lord, if this is what You have planned for me, that’s all right.” Romans 8:28 says, “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Since God is in control, we can be patient, waiting for Him to work out His will.
Suggestions for Prayer: Ask God to help you recognize when you’re apt to be impatient. When those times come, pray for strength to endure them.
For Further Study: James 5:10 says the prophets were examples of suffering and patience. Read what two prophets had to endure in Isaiah 6:9–12 and Jeremiah 1:5–19. ✧ How might they be examples to you as you seek to be faithful in the face of life’s tests?
WE ARE JUST BEGINNING
But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.
Oh, my friend, we are just beginning. God’s personality is so infinitely rich and manifold that it will take 1,000 years of close search and intimate communion to know even the outer edges His glorious nature. When we talk about communion with God and fellowship with the Holy Spirit, we are talking about that which begins now but will grow and increase and mature while life lasts….
The Holy Spirit is a living Person, and we can know Him and fellowship with Him! We can whisper to Him, and out of a favorite verse of the Bible or a loved hymn, we hear His voice whispering back. Walking with the Spirit can become a habit. It is a gracious thing to strive to know the things of God through the Spirit of God in a friendship that passes the place where it has to be kept up by chatter. COU123-124
Lord, bring me into a communion with You that only grows richer and more splendid the longer it lasts. Enable me to hear the Holy Spirit, and through Him to know You more deeply. Amen. 
Satan’s Promises—Corrupt Strings Attached
The devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.—Matt. 4:8
Satan offered the world’s kingdoms to Jesus on his own corrupt terms. God allowed this test to prove that Christ was and is a worthy Son, fit to one day inherit the world and rule from His throne. The devil, on the other hand, wanted to prove the Son’s unworthiness by getting Him to prematurely grab the kingdoms God had already promised Him.
The enemy approaches Christians also with corrupt bargaining chips. Whatever they might want in the realm of business, politics, fame, or anything else, he claims it can be theirs for a “reasonable” price or trade-off. He says we can be or have whatever we want, just so long as we pursue it according to the world’s way—which is also Satan’s way. In effect, it’s like saying to ourselves, “Why wait for a heavenly reward when you can cut corners, shade the truth, run ahead of God’s schedule, and have what you want now?”
But when we grab hold of Satan’s corrupt strings, we put self first and God last. Instead of seeking God’s kingdom first (Matt. 6:33), we act more like Abraham, who sought God’s promise of an heir through his own impatient, selfish act with Hagar (Gen. 16:1–6). The result of that sin was tragic and heart-breaking, and has been to this day.
|“The world” doesn’t really know what “glory” is. And if we had a keener, more realistic sense of God’s awesome splendor, we’d see the world’s flimsy reflections for what they really are. What seems glorious and glamorous about the world to you? Ask God to help you see it truthfully.|
CHRIST AS HE REALLY IS
One like unto the Son of man…out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword.
Revelation 1:13, 16
The Christian message has ceased to be a pronouncement and has become instead a proposition. Scarcely anyone catches the imperious note in the words spoken by Jesus Christ.
The invitational element of the Christian message has been pressed far out of proportion in the total scriptural scene. Christ with His lantern, His apologetic stance and His weak pleading face has taken the place of the true Son of Man whom John saw—His eyes as a flame of fire, His feet like burnished brass and His voice as the sound of many waters.
Only the Holy Spirit can reveal our Lord as He really is, and He does not paint in oils. He manifests Christ to the human spirit, not to our physical eyes.
These are strenuous times, and men and women are being recruited to devote themselves to one or another master. But anything short of complete devotion to Christ is inadequate and must end in futility and loss.
Lord, help me to see You as You truly are—mighty, righteous, just, and holy.
|January 21||Reflecting God’s Ownership|
You were sealed with the Holy Spirit “with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:14).
Someday God will take full possession of all that is rightfully His.
Yesterday we saw that God seals us with the Holy Spirit as a pledge of our eternal inheritance. Here Paul says He does so “with a view to the redemption of [His] own possession.” That refers to the day when God will take full possession of all that is rightfully His.
Satan, to a certain degree, usurped God’s rulership to become the “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4), and the whole world currently lies under his power (1 John 5:19). Consequently, all creation is in bondage to decay and “groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Rom. 8:22, NIV). It eagerly awaits the time when the curse of Genesis 3 will be reversed, all Christians will be fully glorified, and sin will be eternally vanquished. What a glorious time that will be!
You are God’s special possession because you are His by redemption as well as by creation. In Revelation 5:9 the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders sing to the Lord, “Worthy art Thou … for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” In Acts 20:28 Paul charged the Ephesian elders to guard carefully “the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”
That makes you a priceless commodity to God—part of “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God” (1 Peter 2:9–10).
As God’s special possession, you should reflect His ownership and sovereign rule in everything you do. Remember, “you are not your own … for you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:19–20).
Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God that you are His treasured possession. ✧ Seek His Spirit’s leading in proclaiming His excellencies to others through your words and deeds. ✧ Ask Him to teach you to esteem other believers as highly as He does.
For Further Study: Read Ephesians 2:1–13, noting the spiritual privileges and responsibilities that are yours in Christ.
UNSUNG BUT SINGING: THE UNAPPRECIATED CHRISTIAN
Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the LORD.
To value the esteem of mankind and for Christ’s sake to renounce it is a form of crucifixion suffered by true Christians since the days of the apostles. It cannot be denied that the way of the cross is unpopular and that it brings a measure of reproach upon those who take it. The learned historians tell of councils and persecutions and religious wars, but in the midst of all the mummery were a few who saw the Eternal City in full view and managed almost to walk on earth as if they had already gone to heaven. These were the joyous ones who got little recognition from the world of institutionalized religion, and might have gone altogether unnoticed except for their singing.
Unsung but singing: this is the short and simple story of many today whose names are not known beyond the small circle of their own company. Their gifts are not many nor great, but their song is sweet and clear!
John Milton lost his sight and mourned that loss in the third book of his Paradise Lost. But in spite of his affliction he refused to be desolate. If he could not see, he could still think and he could still pray. Like the nightingale he could sing in the darkness “…as the wakeful bird Sings darkling, and, in shadiest covert hid, Tunes her nocturnal note.”
We are never sure where a true Christian may be found—and the busy world may actually not even know he is there—except that they hear him singing!
 MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 32). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.
 MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.
 MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 29). Chicago: Moody Publishers.
 Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 33). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.
Jan. 20, 2017 |
Donald J. Trump’s ascent to political power will culminate on Jan. 20 when he is sworn in as the 45th U.S. president. The 70-year-old businessman and former TV host is expected to focus the beginning of his term on the domestic economy, including changes to the tax code and health-care system.
Other presidents have been sworn in on the Capitol steps facing war, economic calamity or domestic social strife. Trump, the only president elected with no prior experience in public or military service, confronts a more fundamental challenge to his leadership. He’s the first president since the dawn of national polling in the late 1930s to enter office with the approval of fewer than half of Americans — in his case only 40 percent.
Mexico extradited alleged drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to the U.S. on Thursday, fulfilling a longstanding request of the American government as President Enrique Pena Nieto’s administration prepares for the inauguration of Donald Trump.
Smallpox, syphilis, plague, cholera – some of the planet’s most notorious scourges dramatically expanded their reach thanks to unsuspecting travelers. With a record 3.77 billion air passengers worldwide last year, new disease-causing microbes have never traversed the planet faster. The fatal cases fits a pattern doctors in North America, Europe and Australia have observed for more than a decade: travelers who have spent time in India have an especially high risk.
China’s economy accelerated for the first time in two years in the final quarter of 2016, cementing an economic stabilization that’s giving leaders a buffer as they transition to neutral policy and prepare for potential trade tensions with Donald Trump.
Robot cars will be put through their paces by researchers and federal regulators at 10 test tracks designated by the U.S. as official sites for validating the technology. In one of its last acts under the Obama administration, the Transportation Department picked two sites in California and one each in Michigan and seven other states as locations for proving self-driving cars before they hit U.S. roadways.
AP Top Stories
Liberal activists protesting U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration scuffled with police in Washington on Friday after attempting to block the Republican real estate developer’s supporters streaming in for the ceremony.
Islamic State militants put at least 12 people to death in execution-style killings in the ancient city of Palmyra, which they re-captured from the government for a second time in December, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Thursday.
Scientists who study patterns of natural shifts in the Earth’s climate said Thursday they have uncovered a “worrisome” signal that major sea level rise could be on the way. The findings in the journal Science show that ocean surface temperatures during the Earth’s last warm period, some 125,000 years ago, were remarkably similar to today. But what concerns scientists is that sea level back then was 20-30 feet above what it is today.
President-elect Donald Trump will keep 50 top aides to President Obama on critical issues like the war on the so-called Islamic State, international sanctions and global counterterrorism efforts.
Global payments company Western Union will pay $586 million to settle a US criminal investigation that found it had a weak anti-money laundering program and looked the other way when employees collaborated in fraud.
More than 80 Islamic State militants, some of whom were believed to be plotting attacks in Europe, died in U.S. air strikes on camps outside the group’s former North African stronghold of Sirte in Libya, the United States said on Thursday.
The Kremlin may have spent years reviling America, but Russians hoping Donald Trump will usher in a new era of detente marked his inauguration on Friday with parties and trinkets from commemorative coins to “matryoshka” nesting dolls in his image.
Eight people have been found alive in Italy’s Rigopiano hotel, two days after it was buried in an avalanche. Rescuers said the survivors had been discovered buried under snow. Two are children. At least four people have been confirmed dead, and about 20 are still missing.
China’s economy grew by 6.7% in 2016, compared with 6.9% a year earlier, according to official data, marking its slowest growth since 1990.
A prominent Brazilian Supreme Court judge has died in a plane crash. Teori Zavascki, 68, was overseeing a massive corruption investigation at the state oil company, Petrobras.
Paramount Pictures secured a $1bn cash injection from two Chinese firms. Shanghai Film Group and Huahua Media will finance a quarter of all Paramount’s films over the next three years.
Theresa May has told leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos that the UK will be a “world leader” on trade. But the prime minister also warned that inequality blamed on globalization was aiding the “politics of division”.
At least 40 jihadists have been killed in air strikes on a training camp in western Aleppo.
Trump supporting motorcyclists say they are streaming into Washington to “protect” the public and first responders from anti-Trump protestors.
A number of Arab columnists are warning that among those in America who have refused to acknowledge Donald Trump’s presidency – those working to disrupt his inauguration and those trying to thwart his agenda – there may be a potential assassin, according to a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
The University of Kansas has created a women’s-only lunchroom especially for Muslim students who wear the hijab, or the more extreme face-covering garb such as the burqa and the nijab.
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is currently listed on Zillow, the online real estate marketplace database. According to its Zillow listing, the White House has a ‘Zestimate’ value of $397,857,981. They also show the 55,000 square foot home has 16 bedrooms and 35 bathrooms.
Top News – 1/20/2017
Merkel ‘plans to visit Turkey’ next month
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is planning to visit Turkey early next month, state-run Anadolu Agency quoted officials as saying on Jan. 20. Merkel’s planned one-day visit to Ankara will focus on joint efforts to address the refugee crisis, cooperation in the fight against terrorism, as well as economic ties, a senior diplomat said.
Journalists Apologize For Spreading Bogus New York Times Story About Rick Perry
Reporters apologized for spreading a bogus New York Times hit piece on Rick Perry Thursday, after new facts came to light that completely undermined the central assertion of the story. “I’m about to delete this tweet, which spread the rumor about Perry not knowing what energy sec does,” New York Magazine writer Jesse Singal tweeted, referring to an earlier tweet sharing the story. “I think it’s false.”
Trump Doubles Down on Jerusalem Embassy Promise; City’s Mayor Welcomes Him With Open Arms
President-elect Donald Trump reassured supporters on Tuesday that he does not intend to go back on his campaign promise to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, saying, “You know that I am not a person who breaks promises.”
‘Outsider’ Trump will be ‘unique American president
One of Donald Trump’s earliest supporters says the man who will be the nation’s 45th president is tailor-made for this moment in American history, but Trump will approach the job differently than his predecessors. “Donald Trump will likely never find himself in that Davos global elite, moving toward one-world government, moving toward all the environmental nonsense and moving toward a statist regulatory apparatus….
Syria urges world to ‘punish terrorist Israel. It planned for war’
Following accusations that Israel launched rockets near a military airport in Damascus overnight Thursday, Syria tells UN secretary-general to take immediate steps to punish Israel, which launched an attack planned by, among others, ‘France, Britain and the US.’
CIA files: Uri Geller has real powers
The documents include,..research documents, intelligence briefs, UFO sightings, psychic experiments, and others. Among the documents there are records of Henry Kissinger, secretary of state under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, hundreds of thousands of pages of intelligence analysis, and other scientific studies. There are also documents from the “Star Gate” program, which dealt with mental powers and extrasensory perception.
In rebuke against Obama, Jerusalem mayor urges Israelis to support Trump
Obama has surrendered to the Iranians and radical Islam, and abandoned Israel to a hostile UN.”
US bombers wipe out ISIS training center
Defense officials told Fox News they estimate 85 ISIS terrorists were killed in the strikes, which hit camps 30 miles southwest of Sirte, Libya. Two B-2 ‘Spirit’ stealth bombers operating out of Missouri dropped a total of 108 guided bombs on the two camps, which were struck again by drone aircraft in a clean-up sweep, firing Hellfire missiles.
Executive actions ready to go as Trump prepares to take office
Donald Trump is preparing to sign executive actions on his first day in the White House on Friday to take the opening steps to crack down on immigration, build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border and roll back outgoing President Barack Obama’s policies.
‘Obama leaves behind a weakened United States
National security expert says outgoing president’s naivete, indecision, and focus on reaching a deal with Iran have left the US weaker.
Donald Trump replies to Theresa May’s Churchill letter ahead of his inauguration
Mr Churchill’s address was made following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941, and in it the war-time prime minister expressed his hope that the British and American people would “walk together in majesty, in justice and in peace”.
Washington braces for massive protests as Trump becomes U.S. president
Tens of thousands of law enforcement officers and miles of barriers were in place in Washington on Friday, as officials braced for hundreds of thousands of people planning to celebrate or protest Donald Trump’s inauguration as president of the United States. About 900,000 people were expected to pack central Washington…where the New York businessman…will be sworn in, and the parade route…
IMF warns wave of U.S. protectionism would offset any stimulus gains
Protectionist policies from the new U.S. administration of President Donald Trump will probably have a negative impact on the economy, overshadowing any positive gains from economic stimulus measures, the head of the IMF said on Friday. “Overall, it probably won’t be net positive,” managing director Christine Lagarde told a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Triumphant Donald Trump promises a beautiful day as he tells his supporters: ‘I’m going to be cheering YOU’
President-elect Donald Trump told supporters at the Lincoln Memorial Thursday night he would be cheering them on during his historic inauguration – and even predicted a ‘beautiful day’ despite a rainy forecast. ‘I’m going to be cheering you on. You’re going to cheer me on, but I’m going to cheer you on,’ Trump told supporters who gathered for a pre-inaugural concert.
Syria: IS destroys part of Palmyra amphitheatre
Militants from the Islamic State group have destroyed part of the Roman amphitheatre in the ancient city of Palmyra. Syria’s antiquities chief said the tetrapylon – a group of four pillared structures which were mainly modern replicas – have also been ruined. The jihadists recaptured the Unesco-listed archaeological site in December from government troops.
Germany spends more on defence but misses Nato target
Germany plans to boost defence spending by nearly €2bn (£1.7bn; $2.1bn) this year – but it will remain far short of the Nato target. Nato estimates for 2016 show that only five alliance members – the US, UK, Greece, Poland and Estonia – will spend a minimum of 2% of national output (GDP) on defence, which is the target. Germany’s defence spending of €37bn in 2017 will be 1.2% of GDP.
China’s economy grows 6.7% in 2016
China’s economy grew by 6.7% in 2016, compared with 6.9% a year earlier, according to official data, marking its slowest growth since 1990. The figure is in line with Beijing’s growth target of between 6.5% and 7%. But the data comes days after the leader of one Chinese province admitted GDP data was faked for several years.
Gambia crisis: Jammeh given last chance to resign as troops close in
West African leaders have given Yahya Jammeh a final opportunity to relinquish power after Senegalese troops entered The Gambia. Mr Jammeh has been given until noon on Friday to leave office or be forced out by UN-backed regional forces. Troops have been told to halt their advance until the deadline passes.
W.Bank mayor attempts to push annexation bill ahead of Trump inauguration
Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel will be seeking congressional support for the Israeli annexation of the West Bank city during his visit to Washington DC for the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump. “The policy of…Obama of not even a brick, has gone from the world,” Kashriel said as he spoke with The Jerusalem Post…upon his arrival in America.
“He Wants To Be Emperor” – How Mark Zuckerberg Is Scheming To Become President
At this point, I’ve seen enough. It’s becoming quite clear that Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg wants to be President of these United States. The topic first piqued my interest about a week ago when I read an article published at Vanity Fair titled, Will Mark Zuckerberg be Our Next President?
Senegal sends troops into Gambia to force longtime leader to step down
Senegal announced that its troops entered neighboring Gambia on Thursday to force its longtime ruler, Yahya Jammeh, to step down, part of a bold West African regional effort to defend a democratic election won by the opposition.
The colossal price to fly a pair of B-2 bombers to hit two ISIS camps in Libya
he pair of B-2s flew for 34 hours at an operating cost of approximately $130,000 per flight hour. That comes out to roughly $4.4 million a piece or $8.8 million for the duo. Additionally, there were roughly 15 aerial refueling aircraft involved in the mission, not to mention the cost of 100 JDAMs.
In video praising Trump, Jerusalem mayor says Obama ‘surrendered’ to radical Islam
The mayor of the city holy to three world religions delivered a message Thursday to outgoing President Obama: good riddance.
Anti-Trump protesters are pepper-sprayed by cops amid violent clashes in Washington DC before the Donald’s inauguration
Anti-Trump protesters have been seen clashing with police and being pepper-sprayed in Washington DC. A massive crowd of those who are against the president-elect gathered outside the National Press Club, which was holding the ‘DeploraBall’ – a celebratory event organized by Trump supporters from the ‘alt-right’.
North Korea may be readying missile test, timing unclear: U.S. officials
The United States has seen indications that North Korea may be preparing for a new missile test-launch in the coming days or weeks, U.S. officials said on Thursday, in what could be an early test of President-elect Donald Trump’s administration.
Infrastructure concerns in Solomons after latest quake
Another powerful quake struck near Kirakira this morning – a 6.7 magnitude quake at a depth of 33km. The undersea quake hit 71km west of the city of Kirakira, which is on the country’s biggest island, Makira.
The Briefing 01-20-17
The history of Inauguration Day, the pageant of democracy, and the peaceful transfer of power
In final news conference, Obama reflects on his legacy, doesn’t promise political silence
- New York Times (Michael D. Shear and Peter Baker) — In Farewell, Obama Sets Red Lines That Would Pull Him Back Into Fray
- USA Today (Gregory Korte) — ‘I believe in the American people:’ Obama upbeat in last news conference
WES VERNON — In the middle of the 20th century, the world made an almost seamless transition from the residue of World War II straight into a highly troubling aftermath. Reports and hearings, in and out of Congress, showed that a demonstrably hostile force on both a worldwide scale and here at home had attained influence in many of the areas of society – – education, entertainment, news media, powerful foundations, family relations; also government, especially our own State Department, whose propaganda and “diplomatic” efforts had the effect of foisting upon us a Communist China…. (more)
BRYAN FISCHER — The chances are good that William Pryor is at the top of Donald Trump’s list of nominees to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. William Pryor, however, would be a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” choice to take Scalia’s seat on the bench. (For a profile of Judge Pryor’s judicial career, go here.)… (more)
NEWSMAX — President-elect Donald Trump will “come out smoking” as soon as he takes over the Oval Office, bestselling author David Horowitz told Lou Dobbs on Fox Business News Wednesday night…. (more)
NEWSMAX — Nearly seven in 10 Americans say President-elect Donald Trump’s use of Twitter is a bad idea, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll reveals…. (more)
DAILY WIRE — On Tuesday, President Obama used what was left of his executive authority to commute the sentence of Bradley Manning, the notorious transgender army traitor who provided purloined and classified U.S. military documents to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. He is accused of leaking roughly 150,000 diplomatic cables, 750,000 documents total, many of which are of vital national security interest to the United States…. (more)
CLIFF KINCAID — Echoing New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer’s warning that the intelligence community is out to “get” President-elect Trump, a Brookings Institution expert who served in the Clinton administration says that Trump’s treatment of his spies will “come back to bite him” in the form of “devastating” leaks to the media that will make him look foolish or incompetent…. (more)
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — President-elect Trump promised his replacement health care plan would have the goal of providing “insurance for everybody” and that drug companies would have to negotiate with the government on prices…. (more)
LIFE NEWS — On Friday afternoon, the House of Representatives approved a Senate-passed budget resolution that is the first step in defunding the Planned Parenthood abortion business. This repeal resolution is the first step in the process to re-direct Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding to legitimate health care entities and repeal Obamacare using the budget reconciliation procedure. President-Elect Donald Trump has promised to sign the bill into law…. (more)
Did God Choose Trump? What it Means to Believe in Divine Intervention
Popular evangelical speaker Ken Ham, founder of the Creation Museum, blogged about Trump during the campaign: “I doubt he truly understands what real Christianity is.”
Yet Ham does not doubt that God gave Trump the presidency.
How Long Until Obama Admits He Isn’t Really a Christian?
He told Democrats, who four years later would boo God at the Democratic convention, that the GOP did not have a monopoly on faith. He hired a faith coordinator to do outreach. Then he and his administration systematically set out to persecute Christians in the United States and ignore them around the world.
Blue State Blues: Barack Obama, the God That Failed
The decision by over 60 House Democrats — and counting — to boycott Donald Trump’s inauguration is more than a sign of the divisions that are Barack Obama’s legacy. It is also a sign Democrats are not just a defeated political party, but also a failed religion.
Before and After Obama: 10 Signs of a Diminished America
The new administration has its work cut out for it to repair the damage caused by eight years of Obama’s policies in the following ten key areas.
For the first time in decades, it feels like morning in America again. I was quite young when Ronald Reagan was president, and I only have vague memories from those days. But I do remember the extraordinary optimism that his leadership inspired, and my hope is that Donald Trump’s leadership will be just as inspirational. For such a very long time, it has seemed as though a giant dark cloud has been hanging over America, but now a new day is starting. If Donald Trump can be president of the United States, it seems like just about anything can be possible. And even though our nation is facing incredibly serious challenges, could it be possible that we can find a way to turn things around if we all work together? (Read More…)
For the past eight years, Barack Obama has been using the power of the U.S. presidency to impose his vision of a progressive world order on the entire globe. As a result, much of the planet will greatly celebrate once the Obama era officially ends on Friday. The Obama years brought us the Arab Spring, Benghazi, ISIS, civil war in Syria, civil war in Ukraine and the Iran nuclear deal. On the home front, we have had to deal with Obamacare, “Fast and Furious”, IRS targeting of conservative groups, Solyndra, the VA scandal, NSA spying and the worst “economic recovery” since the end of World War II. And right at the end of his presidency, Barack Obama has committed the greatest betrayal of Israel in U.S. history and has brought us dangerously close to war with Russia. (Read More…)
Top Headlines – 1/20/2017
- How Trump Aims to Broadly Reshape Policy (Read More)
- Trump Calls for Unity at Opening Concert as Inaugural Festivities Begin (Read More)
- Trump Takes the Reins of a Deeply Divided Nation (Read More)
- Washington braces for anti-Trump protests, New Yorkers march (Read More)
- After the Parties, a Protest for the Ages (Read More)
- Voter Anxiety That Fueled Trump’s Victory Turns to Hope (Read More)
- Pageantry, protests to mark the start of Trump’s presidency (Read More)
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Our Time is Short
What is The Gospel?
God made everything out of nothing, including you and me. His main purpose in creation was to bring him pleasure.
The chief way in which we as humanity do this is through loving, obeying, and enjoying him perfectly.
Instead of this, we have sinned against our loving Creator and acted in high-handed rebellion.
God has vowed that he will righteously and lovingly judge sinners with eternal death.
But God, being merciful, loving, gracious, and just, sent his own son, Jesus Christ, in the likeness of man to live as a man; fulfilling his perfect requirements in the place of sinners; loving, obeying, and enjoying him perfectly.
And further, his son bore the eternal judgment of God upon the cross of Calvary, as he satisfied the eternal anger of God, standing in the place of sinners. God treated Jesus as a sinner, though he was perfectly sinless, that he might declare sinners as perfect.
This glorious transaction occurs as the sinner puts their faith (dependence, trust) in the Lord Jesus Christ as their substitute. God then charges Christ’s perfection to the sinner, and no longer views him as an enemy but instead an adopted son covered in the perfect righteousness of his son.
God furnished proof that this sacrifice was accepted by raising Jesus from the dead.
God will judge the world in righteousness and all of those who are not covered in the righteousness of Christ, depending on him for forgiveness, will be forced to stand on their own to bear the eternal anger of God.
Therefore, all must turn from sin and receive Christ Jesus as Lord.
There is no greater message to be heard than that which we call the gospel. But as important as that is, it is often given to massive distortions or over simplifications. People think they’re preaching the gospel to you when they tell you, ‘you can have a purpose to your life’, or that ‘you can have meaning to your life’, or that ‘you can have a personal relationship with Jesus.’ All of those things are true, and they’re all important, but they don’t get to the heart of the gospel.
The gospel is called the ‘good news’ because it addresses the most serious problem that you and I have as human beings, and that problem is simply this: God is holy and He is just, and I’m not. And at the end of my life, I’m going to stand before a just and holy God, and I’ll be judged. And I’ll be judged either on the basis of my own righteousness–or lack of it –or the righteousness of another. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus lived a life of perfect righteousness, of perfect obedience to God, not for His own well being but for His people. He has done for me what I couldn’t possibly do for myself. But not only has He lived that life of perfect obedience, He offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice to satisfy the justice and the righteousness of God.
The great misconception in our day is this: that God isn’t concerned to protect His own integrity. He’s a kind of wishy-washy deity, who just waves a wand of forgiveness over everybody. No. For God to forgive you is a very costly matter. It cost the sacrifice of His own Son. So valuable was that sacrifice that God pronounced it valuable by raising Him from the dead – so that Christ died for us, He was raised for our justification. So the gospel is something objective. It is the message of who Jesus is and what He did. And it also has a subjective dimension. How are the benefits of Jesus subjectively appropriated to us? How do I get it? The Bible makes it clear that we are justified not by our works, not by our efforts, not by our deeds, but by faith–and by faith alone. The only way you can receive the benefit of Christ’s life and death is by putting your trust in Him–and in Him alone. You do that, you’re declared just by God, you’re adopted into His family, you’re forgiven of all of your sins, and you have begun your pilgrimage for eternity.
The Gospel In A Nutshell
Now, with regard to this rule of faith—that we may from this point acknowledge what it is which we defend—it is, you must know, that which prescribes the belief that there is one only God, and that He is none other than the Creator of the world, who produced all things out of nothing through His own Word, first of all sent forth; that this Word is called His Son, and, under the name of God, was seen “in diverse manners” by the patriarchs, heard at all times in the prophets, at last brought down by the Spirit and Power of the Father into the Virgin Mary, was made flesh in her womb, and, being born of her, went forth as Jesus Christ; thenceforth He preached the new law and the new promise of the kingdom of heaven, worked miracles; having been crucified, He rose again the third day; (then) having ascended into the heavens, He sat at the right hand of the Father; sent instead of Himself the Power of the Holy Ghost to lead such as believe; will come with glory to take the saints to the enjoyment of everlasting life and of the heavenly promises, and to condemn the wicked to everlasting fire, after the resurrection of both these classes shall have happened, together with the restoration of their flesh. This rule, as it will be proved, was taught by Christ, and raises amongst ourselves no other questions than those which heresies introduce, and which make men heretics.
Tertullian, “On Prescription Against Heretics,” Chapter XIIl
This post is adapted from the tract “What Is the Gospel?” by Greg Gilbert.
A Message from God
What exactly do Christians mean when they talk about the “gospel of Jesus Christ”? Since the word “gospel” means “good news,” when Christians talk about the gospel, they’re simply telling the good news about Jesus! It’s a message from God saying, “Good news! Here is how you can be saved from my judgment!” That’s an announcement you can’t afford to ignore.
Why Is the Gospel Good News?
So, what is the good news about Jesus Christ?
Since the earliest Christians announced the good news about Jesus, it has been organized around these questions:
- Who made us, and to whom are we accountable?
- What is our problem?
- What is God’s solution to our problem?
- How can I be included in his solution?
Christians through the centuries since Christ have answered those questions with the same truth from the Bible.
- We are accountable to God.
- Our problem is our sin against him.
- God’s solution is salvation through Jesus Christ.
- We come to be included in that salvation by faith and repentance.
Let’s summarize those points like this: God, Mankind, Jesus Christ, and Our Response.
The first thing to know about the good news of Jesus is that “in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). Everything starts from that point, so if you get that point wrong then everything else that follows will be wrong. Because God created everything—including us—he has the right to tell us how to live. You have to understand that in order to understand the good news about Jesus. To understand just how glorious and life-giving the gospel of Jesus Christ is, we have to understand that God is also holy and righteous. He is determined never to ignore or tolerate sin. Including ours!
When God created the first human beings, Adam and Eve, he intended for them to live under his righteous rule in perfect joy—obeying him and living in fellowship with him. When Adam disobeyed God, though, and ate the one fruit that God had told him not to eat, that fellowship with God was broken. Moreover, Adam and Eve had declared rebellion against God. They were denying his authority over their lives.
It’s not just Adam and Eve who are guilty of sin. The Bible says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Sin is the rejection of God himself and his authority over those to whom he gives life.
Once you understand sin in that light, you begin to understand why “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). That’s not just physical death, but spiritual death, a forceful separating of our sinful, rebellious selves from the presence of God forever. The Bible teaches that the final destiny for unbelieving sinners is eternal, active judgment in a place called “hell.”
But . . .
The word “Christ” means “anointed one,” referring to anointing a king with oil when he is crowned. So, when we say “Jesus Christ,” we’re saying that Jesus is a King!
When Jesus began his public ministry, he told the people, “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the good news!” As Jesus died on a cross, the awful weight of all our sins fell on his shoulders. The sentence of death God had pronounced against rebellious sinners struck. And Jesus died. For you and me!
But the story doesn’t end there. Jesus the Crucified is no longer dead. The Bible tells us that he rose from the grave. Jesus’s rising from the grave was God’s way of saying, “What Jesus claimed about who he is and what he came to do is true!”
What does God expect us to do with the information that Jesus died in our place so we can be saved from God’s righteous wrath against our sins? He expects us to respond with repentance and faith.
To repent of our sins means to turn away from our rebellion against God. Repentance doesn’t mean we’ll bring an immediate end to our sinning. It does mean, though, that we’ll never again live at peace with our sins.
Not only that, but we also turn to God in faith. Faith is reliance. It’s a promise-founded trust in the risen Jesus to save you from your sins. If God is ever to count us righteous, he’ll have to do it on the basis of someone else’s record, someone who’s qualified to stand in as our substitute. And that’s what happens when a person is saved by Jesus: All our sins are credited to Jesus who took the punishment for them, and the perfect righteousness of Jesus is then credited to us when we place our trust in what he has done for us! That’s what faith means—to rely on Jesus, to trust in him alone to stand in our place and win a righteous verdict from God!
Ravi Zacharias explains the gospel in two minutes:
The five main components of the gospel can be remembered on 5 fingers of one hand. Here they are:
1) Jesus’ birth
2) Jesus’ life
3) Jesus’ death
4) Jesus’ resurrection
5) Jesus’ ascension
Obviously each point can be elaborated on depending on how much time you have. Here’s the short version:
1) Jesus’ birth – Jesus, God himself, the creator of the universe, the Messiah, became a human being – took on flesh, and was born of a virgin.
2) Jesus’ life – Jesus lived a life of perfect obedience to his Father. Though he was tempted in every way as we are, he never once sinned.
3) Jesus’ death – on the cross, Jesus himself took all our sins and paid for them. God the father counted all our sins to Jesus as if he himself had personally committed them. Then Jesus bore God’s wrath towards sin – the punishment we deserved – as a substitute for us.
4) Jesus’ resurrection – within 3 days, Jesus rose physically from the dead, proving that his sacrifice for sins have been accepted by God, since the punishment for sin was death. Jesus was seen by numerous people after he rose including 500 at one time (1 Corinthians 15).
5) Jesus’ ascension – Jesus ascended physically into heaven where he reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords. And someday he will return to the earth.
That’s the gospel, the good news, and if we believe in Jesus Christ and this good news and call upon him he will save us from our sins and give us eternal life.
That’s a simple way to remember the gospel – five fingers. Even a child can do it. So ask God to give you opportunities to share his good news today.
Please take the time to watch this clip, so that you might understand the authentic Gospel
This is the Gospel:
Friend, God is holy. There is a God in heaven who has created you and me, and He is the authority over both of us. He is perfectly holy. “In Him is Light, and there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). And the problem with that is that if we want to have fellowship with God, we have to be light and no darkness at all. And yet here’s the problem: we are darkness. We are sinful. We’ve all broken His law. We’ve all lied, stolen, we’ve all looked with lust, we’ve all been angry with our brothers in our hearts. We’ve all fallen short of the glorious standard of perfection that God requires (Rom 3:23). And there’s nothing we can do about it. No amount of works, no amount of contrition, no amount of bad feelings, no amount of church attendance, no amount of Bible reading, no amount of evangelism can earn forgiveness of our sins and the righteousness which God requires (Titus 3:5; cf. Isa 64:6).
And yet God is gracious, and He loves us, and as His creatures He wants to display His glory in us by rescuing us from that. And so He sent His Son—God in the flesh, the Lord Jesus Christ—to be born as a helpless little baby (John 1:14; 3:16; Col 2:9). God of the universe, Sustainer of the universe, Himself being sustained in the womb of a teenage Hebrew girl, and upholding the world by the word of His power (Heb 1:3) while He is upheld by the nutrients from her own body! Unspeakable! And in great humility, He grows up with the growing pains of life in a fallen world, though He Himself never being with any sin—without sin entirely (2 Cor 5:21; Heb 4:15; 7:26). And He lives a perfectly righteous life. The way that you and I have failed to live before God—the way that we have failed in thought, word, and deed, and fallen short of God’s glory—Christ never did. Not even a thought. He loved God, His Father, perfectly. He always walked in perfect righteousness. He lived the life that you were commanded to live, that I was commanded to live, that we failed to live. He lived that perfect life that God is worthy of.
And not only did He live for us, He died for us. He went to the cross. Our sin demanded death. Our sin demanded eternal punishment. Our sin demanded wrath—just wrath exercised on us for eternity (Rom 6:23). But because of the infinite worth of Christ’s person, He was on that cross. And on that cross, God exercised upon Him the full fury of His own anger (Rom 3:24–26; 2 Cor 5:21; Gal 3:10–14), that was rightly due to me and rightly due to you, and that you will experience if you don’t turn from your sin and trust in this Messiah. Christ was born, lived, died, and was raised (1 Cor 15:3–4). And He rose from the grave after being dead, demonstrating His victory over sin and death.
And now God promises that if you turn from your sin, if you repudiate all that you are and all that you were and all that you love, and you turn away from a life of pursuing sin—and if you repudiate not only your bad works but your good works, if you turn from trying to earn your salvation by all the good deeds that you might want to do as a moral person—if you turn away from all of that (Acts 17:30–31), and you trust in Christ alone for righteousness (Phil 3:7–8; cf. Rom 3:28; 10:4), God promises that He will forgive you. He will have treated Christ on the cross as if Christ lived your life. And He will then treat you, justly and legally and righteously, as if you lived Christ’s perfect life of righteousness (2 Cor 5:21). And you can be saved to know the God you were created to love and enjoy. You can have the fullness of joy, the eternal pleasures that are at the Father’s right hand in heaven (Ps 16:11), and begin even now, because eternal life is to know God (John 17:3).
Friend, would you repent? Would you turn from your sin and trust in this perfect Savior to avail for you before God, to pay for your sin and to provide your righteousness?
A Gospel Presentation
God is Holy
The Bible teaches that the entire universe was created by God. And that God who has created everything has spoken to humanity in the Bible. And the Bible tells us that a fundamental characteristic of God is that He is holy. 1 John 1:5 says, “God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” That’s a way of saying that He’s entirely pure. God’s character is one of perfect moral uprightness. He is the essence of all that is good—so much so that, as the verse says, He can have absolutely no fellowship with “darkness”—no fellowship with that which is not perfectly holy, righteous, and pure.
God’s righteous character was expressed in the law He gave to Moses and the Israelites. You’ve heard of the Ten Commandments. They summarized the perfection of God’s character. These laws were directives for how people who were in a proper relationship with God must act.
We are Sinful
The problem is: all of us are sinful. We have all broken God’s law. All humanity has “gone astray like sheep, and each one of us has turned to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6). We’ve tried to live our lives without God, according to our own standards, in our own ways. Whether we’re drug addicts and murderers, or white collar, well-to-do, upstanding citizens, we do what we do because we want to do it, with no consideration for God and what He would have us to do. The Bible calls that sin. It is the missing of the mark, the falling short of God’s standard of righteousness.
And in your heart of hearts you know you’re a sinner. I don’t know anyone who would say that they are perfect, even by their own standards. Ecclesiastes 7:20 says, “There is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.” And if God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all, then in order to have fellowship with Him, we’d need to be perfectly holy like Him. But we’re not. Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We are stained by the “darkness” of our sin. And this is a problem, because if darkness can’t dwell with light, and we’re darkness and God is light, we’re cut off from a relationship with Him. We become absolutely incapable of doing the very thing we were created and designed to do: to enjoy a relationship with our Creator.
There is a Penalty for Sin
But it’s not just that we and God can’t be friends. There’s a penalty to be paid for sin. The Bible tells us that that penalty is death, Romans 6:23: “The wages of sin is death.” But the death that Paul talks about there isn’t just physical death. It’s not like we pay for our sins by going out of existence. The death talked about in that verse is a spiritual death. This is hell: eternal conscious torment. Jesus Himself calls it “a furnace of fire,” where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:50).
The idea of hell grates against the sensibilities of modern people, because nobody thinks they’re really bad enough to deserve something like eternal torment. They might admit that they’re not the greatest of people, but surely they don’t deserve that. But their reasoning is skewed. The punishment for sin isn’t merely measured by the sin itself. In other words, while there are qualitative differences in the experience of divine punishment, murder, lust, and lying all receive the sentence of an eternity in hell. That’s because punishment for sin is measured by the One sinned against. All sin is fundamentally a sin against God, and He is infinitely holy. Therefore, sin against an infinitely holy God demands an infinite punishment. That’s why the punishment is so serious: because God is actually that righteous.
And so the bad news is that we’re sinful, separated from God, and doomed to spend eternity in hell. There’s nothing we can do about it. We can’t simply tell God we’re sorry and we won’t do it again. What would you say about a judge who let a guilty, convicted criminal go free because he was sorry and said he wouldn’t do it again? You’d call him an unjust judge. But God is a perfectly just, perfectly righteous Judge. God’s justice demands that sin be punished, and the only payment is eternal spiritual death.
God Became Man
But the Good News is: God saw the miserable condition of humanity, and took pity on us. He knew that there was no way we could ever earn our way back to Him. We could never pay for our sins. But just when man was absolutely hopeless, when we were all doomed to spend eternity in hell with no way to pay our penalty, God the Father sent His Son to the earth on a mission. He was miraculously born to a virgin. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit miraculously conceived Jesus in Mary’s womb. And so being conceived by the Holy Spirit, Jesus was God. And being born to a human being, He was human. This is the greatest mystery in the universe. As finite human beings, we can’t entirely wrap our minds around this, but it’s true: Jesus was fully God and fully man.
He lived for 33 years on the earth. He grew up just like every other child. He became a carpenter like Joseph, His earthly father. The great difference, though, between Jesus and every other human being, was that He never sinned. Never once did He ever break God’s law. He always loved God with all His heart, soul, mind, and strength in everything He did. He never sought satisfaction outside of the Father Himself. He never disobeyed His parents, He was never selfish, He never spoke sinful words. In a word, He lived the life that you and I should have lived, but failed to live. He lived a life totally worthy of God, a life that was purely “Light,” like we said before, with no darkness at all.
Jesus Paid the Penalty
And because He was perfectly righteous, He was fit to be the substitute for sinners. The Bible records for us that the Jews plotted to kill Jesus because He preached a message that was very different to the religious establishment of His day. It was against the Jewish law to put people to death, so they sought help from the Romans, who were the governing body in Israel. Because the governor, Pontius Pilate, feared that the people would riot if he didn’t give them what they wanted, he agreed to crucify Jesus.
At the same time, Scripture also tells us that God sent His Son to die this way. It was all part of God’s plan. God used the sinful desires of the Jews and the Romans to accomplish something for His own good purpose. On the cross, Jesus suffered for sins. But He didn’t suffer for His own sins. He had no sins. He lived an entirely perfect life. No, on the cross, God “caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.”
The verse right before that, Isaiah 53:5, says, “He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.” What was happening on the cross was: God was carrying out the punishment against my sins—i.e., the pouring out of His wrath—on His innocent Son. Jesus voluntarily laid down His life in order to pay the penalty for sins. On the cross, God treated Jesus if He lived my life. And because I believe in Him, He treats me as if I lived Jesus’ life. See, because God is perfectly righteous, the only way to get to heaven is to be perfectly righteous. But because Jesus was perfectly righteous, and traded places with me on the cross, the perfect righteousness I need to go to heaven is His righteousness applied to my account.
After Jesus died, God miraculously raised Him from the dead three days later in order to show that He was satisfied with His sacrifice. Jesus was dead, but then He came back to life! It was a miracle. The Bible says God did this to “furnish proof to all men” that this message is true (Acts 17:30-31).
Law or Gospel — Which comes first?
Sometimes in life, the question is posed to us, “Which do you want first — the bad news or the good news?”
In response to this question, some choose to hear the good news first. It appears they desire to be thoroughly overwhelmed with the positive before getting their dose of the negative.
Others choose differently. They would rather hear the bad news first, get it out of the way, and put behind them their wonder and worry. Then, after processing the ramifications of the bad news, they hope to soothe the pain an end the conversation on a good note with positive vibes.
Well, Scripture does not offer us options. The Bible makes the choice for us, and it chooses to present the negative before the positive. The Bible declares bad news before declaring good news. It first presents the holy, wise, beneficial and condemning Law, then it publishes the “good tidings of great joy” or the Gospel. (Is. 60:1-2)
Understanding God’s Law
God’s Law was first presented in the opening chapters of Genesis. Some of it was stated; all of it was written upon man’s heart. Adam and Eve were to be entirely holy and obedient. They were to worship God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, all the time. Whether they ate, or drank, or whatsoever they did, they were do to it all for the glory of God. As image-bearers, they were to keep up God’s image. As men and women created in his likeness, they were to be like God. Vocationally, they were to enjoy and steward the garden and all God’s creatures. Relationally, they were to love one another and populate the planet. Ceremonially, they were to enjoy and glorify the Lord by walking with him in the cool of the day and never eating from the forbidden tree. These were some of their obligations, and as long as they performed perfectly they were guaranteed life in the family and kingdom of God.
However, things soon went from glorious to ghastly. Outside of them, they experienced the testing of God and the temptation of Satan. Within them they chose to question God’s truth, wisdom, and affection. Then, drawn away by their own lusts and enticed, they followed their internal sinful inclinations and externally ate of the forbidden fruit. Therefore, the holy, wise, and beneficial Law became a harsh taskmaster. It showed them the standard, showed them their guilt, and plagued their consciences. It encouraged them to hide, fear, and religiously self-medicate. It declared them wicked, separated from God, at enmity with God, and deserving of death, and it promised this for both them and their children. Yes, the Law of God promised to give them that which they deserved. It promised to pay them based upon performance, and this proved to be very, very bad news.
Understanding God’s Gospel
God, through the Law declared to Adam and Eve who they were, what they had done, and what they had justly earned — condemnation. Then God mercifully, graciously, and lovingly went to work. He performed on their behalf and promised them an eternity of undeserved blessings:
He predetermined to love his enemies.
He sought out his enemies while they hid from him in fear.
He called to the man and woman who vainly had self-medicated themselves.
He promised to rescue them and their children; they would be removed from Satan’s family.
He promised to do so by means of a special Son – one to come who would be fiercely bitten yet ultimately victorious.
He promised to damn the Evil One.
He then covered or clothed Adam and Eve by means of his ceremonial sacrifice.
He perfectly performed for and made promises to them who had performed so wickedly for him.
Friends, are we seeing the difference? The Law presents our duty to perfectly perform, and it only results in bad news. For there is none who keep all the Law, all the time, both internally and externally. However, the Gospel is not like the Law. The Gospel presents not our duty to perform for God, but it presents God’s performance and promise for us. Through the Law we lose our credentials to be a part of God’s family and enjoy his kingdom. Through the Gospel we gain credentials that cannot be earned or lost.
A Great Illustration
Perhaps nowhere is the distinction better seen between Law and Gospel than on Calvary’s cross. On that day, the Law had placed a criminal beside Jesus. There he was guilty, vile, dying, hopeless, and still hurling insults at the Son of God. He was getting that which he earned and deserved. He was being treated justly and fairly. His payment was based upon his performance, and he had hell to pay. The Law had nothing good to say to the thief on the cross. But then God went to work; Jesus granted the Law-breaking criminal complete pardon, intimate communion, and never-ending paradise. These blessings were not based upon any labors of his own, but only based upon the performance and promise of God. These blessings were not earned; they were a gift. A divine swap occurred. Jesus (The Law Keeping Man) received that which he did not deserve so that the thief (The Law Breaking Man) might also receive that which he did not deserve. And this is a fantastic picture of the Gospel. Communion with God that was lost by man seeking to keep the Law, was granted to man as a gift of God.
Responding to the Gospel
Therefore, how should we respond to the Gospel? While believing in divine sovereignty, what is our human responsibility?
Let us make the Gospel our Gospel. Along with the Apostle Paul let us call it “mine.” The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit offer this gift to you. They command you to receive it and enjoy it. If you find yourself with faith, willing to repent and receive, call out to Jesus in prayer right now. Call Jesus, “My Jesus.” Call Jesus’ righteousness, “My Righteousness.” Call Jesus’ Gospel, “My Gospel.” (Rom. 2:16; 2 Tim. 2:8) Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. As a matter of fact, if you draw near to God, it is only because he has already been drawing nearer to you.
Let us not water down the Gospel. This is always our tendency, to add human works to the sufficient work of Jesus Christ. Friends, re-read the letter to the Galatians. If we must perform, it is not Gospel. If we must labor, it is not Gospel. If it involves our works, it is not Gospel. If it is conditioned upon us in anyway, it is not Gospel. If it is a contract, it is not Gospel. If it can be lost, it is not Gospel. The Gospel represents the unilateral work of God on behalf of men. The Law ought never be divorced from the Gospel, but it must never be confused either.
Let us celebrate the Gospel. William Tyndall wrote of the Gospel, “It makes a man’s heart glad, and makes him sing, dance, and leap for joy.” It is the best of news. It means we can sabbath. It means we can boldly approach the throne of grace with confidence. It means we are seen as Christlike image-bearers. Give God the celebratory praise he deserves. He has labored perfectly on your behalf, give him reverent and radical praise and worship.
Let us not be ashamed of the Gospel. (Rom.1:16) Paul wrote, “Woe if I do not preach the Gospel. (1 Cor. 9:16) He wrote, “How beautiful are the feet of those who spread the Good News.” Friends, just as Adam and Eve were to physically reproduce, we are to spiritually reproduce around the world. This is our mission. This is our great mission. This is our Great Commission. Let us be humble, for we cannot make someone believe. Let us be zealous, for God has a tendency to honor those who labor hard. And let us become flexibly relevant in order to better spread the Gospel. (1 Cor. 9:22-23) As Gospel-lovers and Gospel-beneficiants, let us do that which is Lawful and bring in the Gospel-harvest.
Then, let us live Lawfully in accordance with the Gospel. Now that we have been saved from having to perform, let us perform. Yes, with Gospel-eyes, let us look at the Law and enjoy practicing that which is holy, wise, beneficial, and worshipful. Living in the power of the Gospel, let us enjoy becoming more and more like Jesus — the Author and Finisher of our Faith. And when we look at the Law, let us not get frustrated and despondent. Instead, let us glory in the Law, for there is the description of who we are in Christ today, and it also shows us all we will be in glory tomorrow when our old flesh is finally exterminated.
Bottom line, the Law shows us how to perform for God, but the Gospel shows us how God performs for us. This is radical. This is crazy. This is beautiful. This is truth.
And now, God promises that…
- if you acknowledge that you are a sinner—that you have broken His law,
- and if you admit that there is no way that you could earn His favor and His forgiveness,
- and if you purpose to turn away from your life of sin and commit your life to Him,
- and if you trust in Jesus’ righteousness alone for your acceptance before this holy God,
…then He will have treated Jesus as if He lived your life, and will treat you as if you lived Jesus’ life. You will be saved from the penalty of your sin, and will be able to enjoy fellowship with God forever in heaven, and even fellowship with Him starting now.
In other words, if you believe that you’re a sinner and deserve God’s punishment because of your sin, but you also believe that God sent Jesus to endure that punishment in your place, and that His sacrifice is the only way you can be forgiven, then God promises that He will forgive you and you will be saved. You’ll know the God who created you.
Don’t Waste Your Life
God designed your soul. And He designed you so that, just as a car engine is designed to run on gasoline, you’re designed to run on Him. He is what life is about. All of the disappointments, discouragements, and uncertainties of your life find their resolution in Him. And all of the satisfactions, fun experiences, and joys of life find their consummation in Him. Everything good in our lives is like a trail of breadcrumbs that leads us to the feast of God Himself. And everything bad in our lives is a reminder that life lived apart from knowing God in Christ is not the way it was meant to be.
And I also don’t want to see you waste your life. God created us for the purpose of rightly knowing and worshiping Him. That’s the meaning of life. That’s where true happiness and satisfaction are found. When you don’t live your life for that purpose, you waste it. So many people go through life seeking that happiness, but never find it because they don’t know what life is really about. I don’t want that for you. I don’t want you to suffer God’s wrath eternally for your sin. I want to spend eternity in heaven worshiping God with you, praising Him for how gracious He was to forgive our sins because of Christ’s sacrifice.
So would you receive Christ? Would you acknowledge your sinfulness before God and admit you can’t do a thing about it? Would you turn from your sin, and seek to live your life in submission to Jesus Christ? Would you trust in Jesus alone for your righteousness before God? Would you join me in worshiping the God we were created to know?
Ready to start your new life with God?
Who do you think that I am?
With that brief question Jesus Christ confronted His followers with the most important issue they would ever face. He had spent much time with them and made some bold claims about His identity and authority. Now the time had come for them either to believe or deny His teachings.
Who do you say Jesus is? Your response to Him will determine not only your values and lifestyle, but your eternal destiny as well.
Consider what the Bible says about Him: Read more
CanIKnowGod.com is a website inspired by LifesGreatestQuestion.com, with new content, images, audio and video that will help you understand more about who God is and how to know Him. The site is mobile responsive and has an infinite scroll which makes for a very user-friendly experience. After you indicate a decision on CanIKnowGod.com, you are directed to a page that details what it means to have a new and transformed life through Jesus Christ. There’s even a Facebook page for daily updates, encouragement and scripture sharing.
Look to Jesus
Have you ever felt a little lost and wished there was a quick-start guide to your relationship with God? This is it!
30 Day Next Steps
John Beckett, a leading Christian businessman, has written a series to read over 30 days for new believers.
New Believers Guide
The New Believer’s Guide is a series of articles designed to show you how to walk in the new life Christ has given you— a life of faith and freedom.
Jesus is the Savior of the world. Discover who Jesus is today in this series.
Know Jesus Christ and your life will be transformed
The Perseverance (Security) of the Saints
Notice all the Scripture references!
It is not just a handful of texts that teach the perseverance of the saints: the entire gospel sustains and confirms it. The Father has chosen them before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4), ordained them to eternal life (Acts 13:48), to be conformed to the image of his Son (Rom. 8:29). This election stands (Rom. 9:11; Heb. 6:17) and in due time carries with it the calling and justification and glorification (Rom. 8:30). Christ, in whom all the promises of God are Yes and Amen (2 Cor. 1:20), died for those who were given him by the Father (John 17:6, 12) in order that he might give them eternal life and not lose a single one of them (6:40; 17:2); he therefore gives them eternal life and they will never be lost in all eternity; no one will snatch them out of his hand (6:39; 10:28).
The Holy Spirit who regenerates them remains eternally with them (14:16) and seals them for the day of redemption (Eph. 1:13; 4:30). The covenant of grace is firm and confirmed with an oath (Heb. 6:16–18; 13:20), unbreakable like a marriage (Eph. 5:31–32), like a testament (Heb. 9:17), and by virtue of that covenant, God calls his elect. He inscribes the law upon their inmost being, puts his fear in their heart (Heb. 8:10; 10:14ff.), will not let them be tempted beyond their strength (1 Cor. 10:13), confirms and completes the good work he has begun in them (1 Cor. 1:9; Phil. 1:6), and keeps them for the return of Christ to receive the heavenly inheritance (1 Thess. 5:23; 2 Thess. 3:3; 1 Pet. 1:4–5).
In his intercession before the Father, Christ acts in such a way that their faith may not fail (Luke 22:32), that in the world they may be kept from the evil one (John 17:11, 20), that they may be saved for all times (Heb. 7:20), that their sins will be forgiven them (1 John 2:1), and that they may all be where he is to behold his glory (John 17:24). The benefits of Christ, which the Holy Spirit imparts to them, are all irrevocable (Rom. 11:29). Those who are called are also glorified (8:30). Those who are adopted as children are heirs of eternal life (8:17; Gal. 4:7). Those who believe have eternal life already here and now (John 3:16). That life itself, being eternal, cannot be lost. It cannot die since it cannot sin (1 John 3:9). Faith is a firm ground (Heb. 11:1), hope is an anchor (6:19) and does not disappoint us (Rom. 5:5), and love never ends (1 Cor. 13:8).
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Anyone who has read the many dozens of posts on the US presidential elections I have penned over the past year should know full well my thoughts on Trump and the future of America. So there is not much to be said here. Indeed, this could be my shortest article ever if I simply started and concluded with these words:
Because I am a conservative:
-I am grateful that Obama is now history
-I am grateful that Hillary is not taking his place
-I am grateful that a new face is in the White House
Because I am a Christian:
-I know that no one (not even Trump) will make America great again
-I know that only Jesus Christ can solve the problems that plague America and the world
-I know that until America repents and turns to God, it is living on borrowed time
I think those 85 words not only fully sum up my thoughts on all this, but they should be a good assessment which hopefully many other conservatives and Christians could run with. But now that the inauguration is underway, a few more things can be said.
One obvious point is that instead of uniting America, eight years of Obama may have done more to divide the nation than perhaps anything else. Americans today are really at each other’s throats, and we are witnessing a new civil war erupting. The protests and demos during the weekend is simply one indication of this, as is the no-show of seventy House Democrats for the inauguration.
BTW, we often speak about the rent-a-crowds that show up for these kinds of things. Well, that certainly has been the case here, with heaps of money flooding in so that we can have paid protestors roll up and cause maximum havoc. See there two helpful links for all the shameful details:
As Ann Coulter tweeted: “Left offering ppl $2500 to protest Trump’s inaugural. So liberals are resorting to capitalism to protest capitalism.” Yep, that’s about it.
Another point is that Americans in general and far too many Christians in particular put far too much faith and hope in a new political regime, be it Democrat or Republican. After many decades now of watching American elections and changes of office, I have come to see that often there is not much of substance that can be or is changed.
Related to this is the rather sad fact that we witnessed as much brainless gushing over the new Prez as we did with Obama. Countless crazed fans were swooning over Trump’s every word, fully expecting him to actually be able to do everything he promised. I thought wild-eyed fanaticism was mainly the domain of the loony left.
Indeed, while this sycophantic idol worship is expected of secular lefties with someone like Obama, it is all rather off-putting to behold when done by conservative Christians with someone like Trump. Watching Fox News on Trump recently seems identical to watching CNN on Obama eight and four years ago. The same hero worship and ballooned belief that this new POTUS will somehow come in like the messiah and make everything great again is a mark of delusion, not rationality.
Even in the last 24 hours I heard so many of his fans say that Trump is Trump and he will not change – as if that were a good thing. But unless he does change – primarily by humbling himself and repenting and getting right with God – this is a bad thing, not a good thing. A person who will not change when change is desperately needed is not someone we should celebrate, adore and promote.
A last point – a point I have made repeatedly now – is that character counts. The foolishness about “we are not electing a pastor” is the stuff a pagan or an unbiblical Christian would regurgitate. There is nothing more vital for any leader than the content of his character
Note that I did not say a leader has to be a Christian. As I have said time and time again, I would rather have a principled non-believer as a leader than an unprincipled believer. Questions about Trump’s questionable character remain, despite what all his over-zealous fans say. Christians of all people should not minimise or downplay the importance of character.
But plenty of Trump’s supporters will have none of this. This was nowhere more apparent than on Fox News on inauguration eve. For example, one of Trump’s biggest groupies was gushing about how great the man is, and she actually said this: “He is a great family man; I’ve known two of his wives”! I let out a loud laugh at this. But she said all this with a completely straight face, the irony obviously being completely lost on her.
Thankfully plenty of other Christian leaders have also been rightly concerned about such matters. One of them is John Piper who wrote about this just hours ago. Let me share some of the thoughts from his article, “How to Live Under an Unqualified President”.
He repeats the many obvious problems and shortcomings with Trump and his character, and then goes on to speak about some biblical guidelines for leadership. The five he lists (and goes on to elaborate about) are these:
1. A leader should lead. That is, he should set the pace, define the path, embody the vision, and inspire emulation.
2. A leader should be dependable, trustworthy, reliable.
3. A leader should be a good example for our young people in matters of character and moral uprightness and civility. 4. A leader should not model the success of immoral behavior, and thus further destigmatize and normalize evil.
5. A leader should be known for the virtues that make a republican form of government possible.
One the last point he says this: “Virtually all the founding fathers agreed that without a virtuous people, the rule of law and of representative self-government will not survive. Donald Trump’s character is not what they had in mind by ‘virtue.’ It is, in significant ways, the opposite, and therefore his example contributes to the undermining of the republic.”
But all this and more I and others have warned about for many months now. At this point we have a new president and a chance for new beginnings. We will have to wait and see how it all pans out. We need to pray for the new POTUS and his team. We need to pray for America.
And we need to pray for American Christians that they rise up during these dark days and become all that they are meant to be for Christ and the Kingdom. While politics is important, politics cannot save anyone. Only Jesus Christ can do that, and we are called to make that good news known far and wide.
“With no reason to suppress his more radical instincts any longer, the president embraced them on his way out the door,” wrote syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer in a piece published over at National Review. What did the former president do on his way out that was so radical? Krauthammer reveals the details:
Barack Obama did not go out quietly. His unquiet final acts were overshadowed, in part by a successor who refused to come in quietly, and in part by Obama’s own endless, sentimental farewell tour. But there was nothing nostalgic or sentimental about Obama’s last acts. Two of them were simply shocking. Perhaps we should have known. At the 2015 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, he joked about whether he had a bucket list: “Well, I have something that rhymes with bucket list.”
Turns out, he wasn’t kidding. Commuting the sentence of Chelsea Manning, one of the great traitors of our time, is finger-in-the-eye willfulness. Obama took 28 years off the sentence of a soldier who stole and then released through WikiLeaks almost half a million military reports plus another quarter-million State Department documents.
The cables were embarrassing; the military secrets were almost certainly deadly. They jeopardized the lives not just of American soldiers on two active fronts — Iraq and Afghanistan — but of locals who were, at great peril, secretly aiding and abetting us. After Manning’s documents release, the Taliban “went on a killing spree” (according to intelligence sources quoted by Fox News) of those who fit the description of individuals working with the United States.
Biblical Counseling Coalition has a piece by Paul Tautges where he discusses why praying for political leaders is so important. First and foremost, God commands us to pray for them. Tautges writes:
When we commit to praying for our leaders (whether or not we agree with them), God is pleased with us and is pleased to work in their hearts according to His will. In relation to this divinely given duty, one passage in particular contains fundamental principles every believer needs to understand. Paul says in 1 Tim. 2:1–4:
First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
In these verses we hear the apostle’s plea to us to be obedient to God by praying for our leaders.
In a piece over at Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, David Millard Haskell, professor of religion and culture at Wilfrid Laurier University, discusses a new study he conducted and some of his findings. What will surely surprise many professing Christians is this:
[C]onservative Protestant theology, with its more literal view of the Bible, is a significant predictor of church growth, while liberal theology leads to decline.
According to Haskell:
Mainline Protestant churches are in trouble: A 2015 report by the Pew Research Center found that these congregations, once a mainstay of American religion, are now shrinking by about 1 million members annually. Fewer members not only means fewer souls saved, a frightening thought for some clergy members, but also less income for churches, ensuring their further decline.
Faced with this troubling development, clergy members have made various efforts to revive church attendance. It was almost 20 years ago that John Shelby Spong, a U.S. bishop in the Episcopalian Church, published his book “Why Christianity Must Change or Die.” It was presented as an antidote to the crisis of decline in mainline churches. Bishop Spong, a theological liberal, said congregations would grow if they abandoned their literal interpretation of the Bible and transformed along with changing times.
Today is Inauguration Day in Washington. As the nations watch the world’s oldest democracy in action, let us pray for the safe and peaceful transition of power.
Let us pray the Lord shows great mercy to the American people by granting wisdom and discernment to the new President and Vice President and their families and team. America is in trouble. She is on the wrong track. She is at risk of implosion. A great turnaround is needed spiritually, politically, economically, and militarily. Americans, and the world, need this new administration to get the country back on track, to steer in the right direction, to stand tall with our allies and confront our enemies.
An encouraging note: I understand that Mike Pence will be taking the oath of office on President Ronald Reagan’s Bible, and that the Bible will be open to 2 Chronicles 7:14. Good for him. This is one of my favorite verses, and one…
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Our good friend and fellow polemicist Amy Spreeman, contributor to Pirate Christian Radio, presents the 2nd in her series of those who found themselves in this dreadful bondage, and what happened when their eyes were opened:
“I saw myself as a far superior Christian! I belonged to a church that was restoring prophets and apostles, and was right on the cutting edge of what God was doing on the Earth.”
Leaving the NAR Church: Jessie’s story……
Jessie was fully steeped in the NAR (New Apostolic Reformation) movement without realizing it.
Today she tells her story to expose for what it is: An anti-biblical counterfeit that sounds almost like biblical Christianity.
In this series, I want to take readers beyond the textbook What is the New Apostolic Reformation Movementexplanation, into the personal experiences from those who have been there, and what happened when God opened their eyes to the truth.
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