March 18, 2016 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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Mar. 18, 2016

BLOOMBERG

President Obama’s bid to crack open Cuba to U.S. businesses will take a big step forward next week when he becomes the first sitting president to step on Cuban soil in more than eight decades. Just don’t expect U.S. companies to follow en masse any time soon.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., owner of brands such as Westin, Sheraton and W, said it received a binding $13.2 billion takeover bid from a group led by China’s Anbang Insurance Group Co., a superior offer to one by Marriott International Inc.

Three months since the U.S. lifted a 40-year ban on oil exports, American crude is flowing to virtually every corner of the market and reshaping the world’s energy map.

Bank of America said its board approved the repurchase of as much as $800 million in shares, joining JPMorgan Chase and Capital One this year in returning more capital to shareholders.

North Korea fired at least one ballistic missile Friday into waters off its east coast, demonstrating its resolve to keep developing nuclear-tipped missiles in defiance of tightening international sanctions.

The European Central Bank still has room to cut interest rates should the euro area’s economic recovery falter, Executive Board member Peter Praet said.

New York City has seen a 20 percent increase in stabbings this year compared with last, and police say they don’t understand why it’s happening or what to do about it. While most of the attacks are part of domestic disputes in homes, random assaults without apparent motives are on the rise.

Investors at home and abroad can’t get enough 10-year Japanese government bonds, driving the yield to an unprecedented minus 0.135 percent.

AP Top Stories

The European Union called on Friday for more countries to impose sanctions on Russia over its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula two years ago, but the Kremlin said Crimea was Russian land and its status non-negotiable.

The group “Anonymous” claimed it had hacked Donald Trump, releasing what it claimed was Trump’s Social Security number and cell phone number.

Nigeria’s former chief of defense staff bought property including a $5.5 million mansion with air force money, passing off his fraudulent withdrawals as staff salaries, a court heard Wednesday.

The United States has seen Chinese activity around a reef China seized from the Philippines nearly four years ago that could be a precursor to more land reclamation in the disputed South China Sea, the U.S. Navy chief said on Thursday.

A German executive vying for a lucrative Australian submarine contract on Thursday said that awarding the contract to Japan could damage Australia’s relationship with China.

The Department of Homeland Security is stepping up efforts to find and deport immigrants who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally as unaccompanied children or as families and have been ordered out of the U.S. by a judge.

Two girls and their mother were dead before their father set their house on fire, causing a massive explosion that killed him and shook homes through the neighborhood, authorities said Thursday.

The state can try again to put to death a condemned killer whose 2009 execution was called off after two hours during which he cried in pain while receiving 18 needle sticks, the Ohio Supreme Court said Wednesday.

A religious freedom bill described by opponents as being discriminatory against same-sex couples passed the Georgia state legislature on Wednesday night in an 11th-hour vote ahead of the session’s close.

Russian President Vladimir Putin told visiting Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday he had agreed to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu soon to discuss the security situation in the Middle East.

Two people from the same family have died from Ebola in Guinea, the government said Thursday, as the WHO declared a flare-up of the virus in neighbouring Sierra Leone over.

A New York pizza shop owner who admitted he tried to recruit people for the Islamic State group was sentenced Thursday to 22 1/2 years in prison.

BBC

The FBI and the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have added their voices to growing concerns about the risk of cars being hacked.

The US military has disciplined more than a dozen service members after an air strike on a Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) hospital in Afghanistan killed 42 people last year. Some received formal reprimands while others were suspended from duty. Both officers and enlisted personnel were disciplined, but no generals were punished.

The UN human rights chief has accused the Saudi-led coalition of causing twice as many civilian casualties as all the other forces fighting in Yemen.

A gas facility in the Algerian desert has been attacked by militants, though no one was hurt. The plant is also part-owned by BP and Algerian state company Sonatrach.

WND

President Obama sought to increase the amount of money available for the federal government to spend on former presidents in advance of his White House exit.

The FBI confirmed Thursday that a Nov. 4, 2015, attack at the University of California, Merced was inspired by the Islamic State group.

Government debt in 20 industrialized countries stands at $44 trillion. But it’s actually a lot more than that, according to a new report. After factoring in public pension and other retirement liabilities, the debt levels nearly triple to a staggering $122 trillion.


Top News – 3/18/2016

Conservative Leaders Back Senate Republicans’ Stand on Supreme Court Seat
Over 100 conservatives from 29 states and Washington, D.C., voiced their support for Senate Republicans in a memo commending them for their resistance to any Supreme Court nominee put forward by President Barack Obama.

Farage: EU countries set to kick back amid massive resentment at Merkel’s dominance
NIGEL FARAGE today claimed other EU countries are ready to bring Angela Merkel “down a peg or two” amid growing resentment at the German Chancellor’s dominance of European decision-making.

Two Jews Arrested in Tehran for Anti-Haman Graffiti
While there’s no problem in Iran to yell out “Death to America” or “Death to Israel”, don’t you dare paint graffiti on a wall saying, “Death to Haman”.

Kurdish Federalism in Syria: Self-Determination or Kerry’s Plan B?
Many were caught by surprise when the Syrian Kurds, who have not been invited to shape the country’s post-conflict future in Geneva, announced that they had established a federal region days after peace talks resumed. The move, according to experts, could reflect a drive for greater rights or the meddling of outside forces.

U.S. sees new Chinese activity around South China Sea shoal
The United States has seen Chinese activity around a reef China seized from the Philippines nearly four years ago that could be a precursor to more land reclamation in the disputed South China Sea, the U.S. Navy chief said on Thursday.

North Korea conducts yet another missile test
North Korea on Friday morning (local time) fired a ballistic missile into the sea off its eastern coast Friday, just days after its leader Kim Jong-Un ordered further nuclear warhead and missile tests,

GREEN COMET APPROACHES EARTH
On March 21st, Comet 252P/LINEAR will make a close approach to Earth–only 0.036 AU (5.4 million km) away. This is the fifth closest cometary approach on record and, as a result, the normally dim comet has become an easy target for backyard telescopes. Indeed, it is brightening much faster than expected.

Moderate earthquake 5.1 mag, 75 km SSE of Atka, Alaska
A moderate earthquake magnitude 5.1 (ml/mb) has struck on Thursday, 75 km SSE of Atka, Alaska (47 miles). The epicenter was at a depth of 55.44 km (34 miles). The temblor was detected at 21:38:12 / 9:38 pm (local time epicenter).

Earthquake Alert: Taron, Papua New Guinea Hit By M5.3 Earthquake
An earthquake with preliminary magnitude of 5.3 has been recorded near Taron, Papua New Guinea on 18 March 2016 00:31:27. The earthquake epicenter was located at precisely 10km S of Taron, Papua New Guinea and at a depth of approximately 51.53 km. A provisional tsunami alert have been issued for the region following this earthquake.

‘This Has Always Been Genocide’: Video Surfaces of Islamic State’s Bible Bonfire
The Islamic State recently released a video depicting the burning of a huge pile of Bibles and other Christian literature at a bonfire in Mosul, Iraq. After driving the last Christians out of the city, the Islamic State released a video titled “Diwan of education destroys Christian instruction books in Mosul,” which was filmed by the Islamic State’s Diwan Al-Hisbah, also referred to as the “morality police,” according to Fox News.

FBI: Student Who Went on Stabbing Spree at Univ. of California Campus Was Inspired by Islamic State
The University of California student who went on a stabbing spree on the school’s Merced campus was inspired by the Islamic State, the FBI on Thursday said its investigation had concluded. Faisal Mohammad, 18, who was shot and killed after stabbing four individuals last November had self-radicalized, the FBI said in a statement.

Exclusive: U.S. sees new Chinese activity around South China Sea shoal
The United States has seen Chinese activity around a reef China seized from the Philippines nearly four years ago that could be a precursor to more land reclamation in the disputed South China Sea… …Admiral John Richardson, expressed concern that…a case brought by the Philippines against China over its South China Sea claims could be a trigger for Beijing to declare an exclusion zone in the busy trade route.

Syria conflict: Kurds declare federal system
Kurdish parties have declared the establishment of a federal system in areas they control in northern Syria. The Kurds already operate “autonomous administrations” in three enclaves bordering Turkey: Afrin and Kobane in Aleppo province and Jazira in Hassakeh. The new federal region will also include mainly Arab and Turkmen areas captured from so-called Islamic State.

Islamic State committed genocide, says US
The US says the Islamic State (IS) group has committed genocide against Yazidis, Christians and Shia Muslims. US Secretary of State John Kerry said IS was “genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology and by actions”. He did not say whether his declaration would lead to a change of US policy in the Middle East.

Ebola outbreak: Guinea confirms two new cases
Two new Ebola cases have been confirmed in Guinea, almost three months after it celebrated the end of the outbreak. Three other members of the family are suspected to have recently died from the virus. The cases were reported in the southern region of Nzerekore, where the outbreak began in December 2013.

A New York man has been sentenced to 22 years for supporting ISIS
A New York state resident was sentenced on Thursday to 22-1/2 years in prison for trying to recruit fighters to join Islamic State in Syria – the longest prison term handed out yet to an American convicted of supporting the militant group.

Russia can make powerful Syria military comeback in hours: Putin
President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Russia could scale up its military presence in Syria again within hours and would still bomb terrorist groups there despite a partial draw-down of forces ordered after military successes.

Defiant North Korea fires ballistic missile into sea, Japan protests
North Korea fired at least one ballistic missile on Friday, which flew about 800 km (500 miles) before hitting the sea off its east coast, South Korea’s military said, as the isolated state stepped up its defiance of tough new U.N. and U.S. sanctions.

Protests continue against Hillary Clinton’s role in Haiti after earthquake
The New York Times reports that the Clintons have been a target of protesters in Port-au-Prince, who claim earthquake aid money was mismanaged and lucrative deals went to Clinton cronies…. a vocal segment of Haitians and Haitian-Americans is speaking of the Clintons with the same contempt they reserve for some of their past leaders.

Prosecutor in Pollard Spy Case Predicts Espionage Act Charges in Clinton Email Probe
…..make no mistake, they are going to recommend that she and others be charged with crimes.”

Global Government Debt Is Actually Triple What We Thought, Thanks to Pensions
Government debt in 20 industrialized countries stands at $44 trillion. But it’s actually a lot more than that, according to a new report. After factoring in public pension and other retirement liabilities, the debt levels nearly triple to a staggering $122 trillion.


Top Headlines – 3/18/2016

Obama administration accused of stalling investigation Into US ‘ransom payment’ to Iran

Commander of elite Iranian Quds Force meets secretly with Hamas delegation

Israel presents red lines to Russia on Golan, Iran

Israel scotches permits for Gazans to visit Temple Mount

Latin American MPs sign resolution supporting Israel and opposing boycotts

UK Labour Party re-suspends member over anti-Semitic tweets

Jewish groups plan to protest Trump’s AIPAC speech

Trump presidency rated among top 10 global risks: EIU

Russia can make powerful Syria military comeback in hours: Putin

Kurds are planning a breakaway region in Syria, and it won’t go down well

Kerry declares ISIS committing genocide against Christians, others

US says it will cooperate with investigations into genocide by ISIS

‘Genocide’ declaration doesn’t ensure U.S. will take action against Islamic State

Russian Nanny Who Beheaded 4-Y-O Girl: ISIS Videos Inspired Me; ‘I Feel a Bit Sorry for Her’

Captured American ISIS fighter says, ‘I was not thinking straight’

NY Pizzeria Owner Who Recruited to ISIS Gets More Than 22 Years

FBI: ISIS inspired California student in campus stabbings

Lawmaker warns DHS not to punish whistleblowers for San Bernardino disclosure

Refugee migrants at high risk of developing psychotic illnesses like schizophrenia, study says

Pope Francis Asks Nations to ‘Open Their Hearts and Their Doors’ to Migrants

A Journey Across Greece, a Bankrupt Land at Risk of Becoming a Refugee Prison

How Google Maps May Be Helping Illegal Immigrants Skirt Border Controls

Migrant crisis: EU leaders cautious on Turkey deal

US ‘troubled’ by Turkish authorities’ shutting down of free press

Turkey on edge after car laden with explosives found near government building

Armored police vehicle hit by bomb attack in southeast Turkey

Western Sahara: Morocco threat over UN peacekeepers

Defiant North Korea fires ballistic missile into sea, Japan protests

S.Korea says suspects second projectile launched by N.Korea

Contested convention is looking more likely, says Speaker Ryan

Hillary Faces National Security Establishment ‘Uprising’ Over Emails

Global Government Debt Is Actually Triple What We Thought, Thanks to Pensions

U.S. Stocks Are Now Positive for the Year

US oil closes above $40 for first time since Dec. 3

An update on a possible new particle from CERN’s Large Hadron Collider

‘Green flash’ meteor sighting reports across Britain

Protests continue against Hillary Clinton’s role in Haiti after earthquake

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Taron, Papua New Guinea

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Visokoi Island, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Ile Hunter, New Caledonia

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Atka, Alaska

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Kotaagung, Indonesia

Ruiz volcano in Colombia erupts to 24,000ft

Colima volcano in Mexico erupts to 18,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 14,000ft

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 12,000ft

Golf-ball or larger sized hail kills flamingos, other birds at Fort Worth Zoo

Beyond record hot, February was ‘astronomical’ and ‘strange’

Calfornia reservoirs get respite but drought still on

City of Portland to sue Monsanto for contaminating waterways

Ted Cruz: Don’t let ‘anti-science zealotry’ shutdown GMOs

Angola’s yellow fever death toll rises to 158

Scientists Grow Full-Sized, Beating Human Hearts From Stem Cells

Supreme Court Nominee Merrick Garland Would Likely Back Abortion, Pro-Lifers Say

LGBT Groups Join In As NYC’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade Marches Up Fifth Avenue

Vatican Fires Ambassador Who Arranged Roman Catholic Pontiff’s Meeting With Kim Davis

Seattle man ordered to repay $7m for running online prayer scam

Fort Worth minister sentenced to 10 years for sexual abuse of teens

Tullian Tchividjian Out at Willow Creek Presbyterian as New Allegations Emerge


The Daily Discovery (March 18, 2016)

ARTICLES I LIKE FROM AROUND THE WEB:
(Click title to go to full article)

Shut Up About That Pastor Sexing Up That Girl – “Initially this post was going to be titled: “The Pastoral Art Of Committing Adultery And Getting Restored Within The Year” but that proved to be a bit too specific and I wanted to go a bit broader. But tell me if this scenario sounds familiar to you: You have pastors and speakers who have been promoted across a broad spectrum of Christendom. They do the circuit of all the big conferences, talking to hundreds of thousands of people a year and live streaming the last-day panels to everyone who couldn’t make it. These men are quoted in sermons alongside Charles Spurgeon or Billy Graham, delivering brilliant snippets from their top-charting, best selling books.”

If late-term abortion isn’t torture, it’s hard to imagine what is – “Torture has been in the news lately. Last month, GOP front runner Donald Trump pledged to inflict ‘a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding’ on suspected terrorists. While Trump didn’t specify what tactics he would use, a report in 2014 detailed ones the CIA has employed in the past. They included mock executions, long term sleep deprivation, exposure to cold temperatures, and ‘rectal feeding,’ with at least one person dying during an interrogation.”

“The Damnable Heresy of Ray Comfort” By Ray Comfort – “‘I was curious as to whether or not repentance is required for salvation along with faith in Jesus Christ? Must we both repent and trust in the Savior, or is only faith required to be saved by Jesus?’ Tomas Bilson.  The above question is often asked of me because I preach both repentance and faith in Jesus. The contention is that in doing so I adhere to what some call ‘Lordship salvation.’  One particularly gentleman named David J. Stewart calls me a wolf, a false prophet, and titled his teaching ‘The Damnable Heresy of Ray Comfort.’  In his presentation Mr. Stewart says ‘John MacArthur is an unsaved heretic’ and even misquotes Charles Spurgeon to try and justify his error.  I normally ignore things like this, but I will address it at this time because the issue of repentance is a hill upon which to die.”

The Character of the Christian: Mature and Humble – “Today we continue our series on the character of the Christian. We are exploring how the various character qualifications of elders are actually God’s calling on all Christians. While elders are meant to exemplify these traits, all Christians are to exhibit them. I want us to consider whether we are displaying these traits and to learn together how we can pray to have them in greater measure. Today we will consider why elders—and all Christians—must strive to live mature and humble lives.

The Title of “Brother” Means Something – “I grew up in the church and I’ve always heard the title ‘brother’ as a prefix to almost every man in the church. As I became a teenager, I remember thinking that the prefix was merely an old fashioned way of addressing one another in the church. When I moved to seminary, I would hear the same title used for fellow church members in the churches that I visited. As I became a pastor of a church in Kentucky, I recall hearing the title of brother used to address one another. The first time I walked into the doors of the first church I served as pastor, the first man who greeted me said, ‘You must be Brother Josh.’ I came to understand that the title was not merely an antiquarian word thrown around in the community of the local church.”


SERMON:

challies

Tim Challies – Why It’s Hard to Be a Father


VIDEOS:

Testimony of Cameron Buettel

The tension between Calvinism and the Gospel


“All death can do to the believer is deliver him to Jesus.  It brings us into the eternal presence of our Savior.” – John MacArthur


4 Things Every Christian Should Know about the Rapture

By David Jeremiah

The study of the End Times can cause questions, apprehension, and fear. “Why do I need to study prophecy?” “It is too complicated, and I don’t understand what it means.” “It makes me anxious and nervous.” I will not argue with the fact that studying prophecy can be complex and overwhelming. It is difficult to see how these obscure passages can have any significance for us today. They appear to lack relevance to what we are going through right now.

View Article


This ‘n’ That

  • Audio from this year’s Shepherd’s Conference is now available.
  • I’ve said it before: I love when Don Green joins Mike Abendroth on No Compromise Radio. Why? Because this happens. It’s like eavesdropping on a great conversation.
  • There has been a lot going on with Tullian Tchvidjian this week. Part of me is hesitant to even post links, because this is a man who should have retreated from the public eye upon disclosure of his disqualifying sins. Sadly, this and this confirm that.
  • Good thoughts from Jessica Pickowicz on this ridiculous adult coloring craze and the real danger behind it, i.e., the lure to Eastern mysticism and meditation.
  • This is hilarious. Unfortunately, part of the reason it’s so funny is because it is sadly close to reality.
  • When does error become heresy?
  • Christ fulfills the Law:

Check Out

Blogs

In Praise of Administration | Jared Olivetti, Gentle Reformation
“…good structure and organization is a way to help each church member feel loved and valued. ”

4 Reasons It’s Easier Than Ever to Be an Author | Michael Hyatt
“As an aspiring author, you no longer have to wait on someone else to pick you. ( Reread that sentence again. Let it settle into your heart.)”

Openness Unhindered | Blair Smith, Reformation21
A detailed review of Rosaria Butterfield’s new book, Openness Unhindered.

A Marathon Mentality for Ministry | Nick Batzig, The Christward Collective
“Many years ago, a friend and mentor, told me, ‘Ministry is not a sprint; it’s a marathon.’ How right he was! I’ve now been in ministry for almost a decade and have seen many walk off the track after sprinting for a while.”

20 Leadership Tips in Tweet Length | Ron Edmondson
“A friend emailed me and asked for my “top 20 leadership tips”. They were doing a presentation on leadership and were asked to share 20 aspects of great leadership. The added catch – they wanted something short they could expand upon, so they suggested I share them in ‘Twitter length.’”

A Theology of Creation in 12 Points | D. A. Carson, Desiring God
“Today when Christians talk about the doctrine of creation, a lot of the discussion immediately turns to when creation took place, how it relates to claims of evolutionists, old earth, young earth, and things of that order. And certainly such questions are important, but it is not the place where the Bible itself lays the primary emphasis. Let me explain what I mean by that.”

7 Questions to Ask Before You Argue. | Scribblepreach.com
Good food for thought in a contentious political season.

What Is A Biblical Response To Stress? | Elizabeth Moyer, Institute for Faith, Work and Economics
“Apparently, I’m not alone. According to these statistics, over 70 percent of Americans regularly experience physical or psychological symptoms caused by stress. Forty-eight percent say stress negatively affects their professional and personal lives. The top physical symptom reported was fatigue, and the top psychological symptom was irritability or anger. The number one cause of stress in the US? Work. So, the vast majority of us are stressed out, tired, irritable, and overworked.”

New Book


Counseling One Another by Paul Tautges

Kindle Deals


Mormonism 101: Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints by Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson ($2.99)


World Religions and Cults: Counterfeits of Christianity ($2.99) by Bodie Hodge and Roger Patterson


The Nuremberg Trial by Ann Tusa and John Tusa ($1.99)


Devil at My Heels: Autobiography of Louis Zamperini by Louis Zamperini with David Rensin ($1.99)

Video

Dr. Russell Moore at RTS: “Pro-Life Ministry in the Local Church” and “Adoption Ministry in the Local Church”


W4YW: After Pornography, Marks of Immaturity, & Lies about Church

Wisdom For Your Weekend: your weekly installment of things we’ve been reading (and watching) around the web.

Video of the Week

The History of Saint Patrick, Jeremiah Warren. A day late, perhaps, but none the worse for all that. If you were wondering yesterday who St. Patrick actually was, this little video will help you out. For example, Patrick wasn’t his original name! Would “St. Maewyn’s Day” have caught on, I wonder? Also, don’t miss this slightly less historical (but amusing) account of Patrick’s theology.

Articles of the Week

Should Conservative Evangelicals Consider a Third-Party Candidate? Bruce Ashford. If you’re weary of politics, we understand. But this is actually a breath of fresh air in the midst of what has become an increasingly spiteful and childish public discourse on politics. You may disagree with Ashford (one of our Summit elders) and his conclusions, but he makes some solid points about the way that Christians should challenge the current political climate. You can probably expect a lot more of this question in the weeks and months to come, too. (And be sure to check out our recent panel on how our faith informs politics: Gospel and Politics.)

7 Lies You’ve Been Telling Yourself About Church, Kristen Wetherell. Channeling author Josh Moody (and his book How Church Can Change Your Life), Wetherell goes after some of the most common ways that we dismiss the local gathering of believers. She might step on your toes with a few of these, but that’s a good thing. Learn these lies, and look for them in your own heart.

10 Marks of an Immature Believer, Mike Leake. Channeling his inner Jeff Foxworthy (and summarizing Christopher Love’s Grace: The Truth, Growth, and Different Degrees), Leake gives us a, “You Might Be an Immature Believer…” top ten. Try to read this list without being defensive. And if the arrows hit home, Leake has some encouragement for you, too.

7 Things to Do After You Look at Pornography, Paul Maxwell. Most of us are aware that the act of looking at pornography is sinful. But the battle against sin continues well after the lustful looks. In fact, the immediate moments after indulging in sexual sin might be the most important of all. They can be an opportunity for the Enemy to sure up his victory, or an opportunity to let grace begin to heal you. These are 7 tangible ways to choose grace.


A La Carte (March 18)

Today I’ll give you one Kindle deal, one print book deal, and one Logos deal. For Kindle, consider Going Beyond the Five Points edited by Rob Ventura which is down to $2.99. For that printed book, consider A Peculiar Glory, John Piper’s first major release in 5 years. Westminster Books has deeply discounted it for a few days. For Logos, consider John MacArthur’s Sermon Archive which includes 3,127 sermons and is currently 30% off.

The Modesty Debate

This is a very good article on the never-ending modesty debate. “We men do not need modesty laws to have a pure heart. What we need is Christ. We need to stop blaming the girls, the advertisers, the catalogs, the TV shows, and point the finger right where it belongs. At our filthy, corrupted, sinful hearts.”

Are Millennials Selfish and Entitled?

I’m glad Russell Moore said this. “Most of the Millennial-age gospel Christians I know are far more theologically rooted than their parents’ generation. Most of them are far more committed to reaching outside of Christian subcultures to share the gospel with people not like them. Would some of them rather discuss theology than evangelize? Yes, just as many in the last generation would rather discuss evangelism than evangelize.”

The Title of “Brother” Means Something

Though it may seem like an antiquated word, “brother” is full of meaning.

Every Tribe

I’m really excited to see the next video in the excellent Dispatches from the Front series. It will be out next month. You can watch the trailer here.

A Theology of Creation in 12 Points

D.A. Carson subs for John Piper on Ask Pastor John and offers a brief theology of creation.

This Day in 1861. 155 years ago today, the Metropolitan Tabernacle first opened in London. It was the church at which English Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon pastored. *

A Helpful List of Short Apologetic Videos

Here, from Stand to Reason, is a list of short apologetic videos.

It’s Not the Years, Honey. It’s the Mileage

I’ve really been enjoying Samuel James’ writing recently. Here he writes about Harrison Ford and yet another Indiana Jones film.

6 Distinguishing Marks of a Call to Gospel Ministry

Steven Lawson: “Lloyd-Jones identified six distinguishing marks of this divine summons to the pulpit. He himself had felt the gravity of each of these realities weighing heavily upon his own soul. He believed the same spiritual forces should come to bear on all preachers.”

Alexander

A humble Christian studies his own infirmities, and another’s excellencies. —Thomas Watson



Top Headlines

 Creator of Fake Website Selling Prayers is Forced to Pay Back over $7 Million to Customers
 ‘Miracles from Heaven’ Authentic and Inspirational
 Catholic Priest Nominated to Receive Special Award for Sheltering 1,500 Muslims
 Franklin Graham Urges Christians to Vote for ‘Candidates Who Uphold Biblical Principles’
 Election Campaign Makes Some Evangelicals Reject Name
 Christian Groups Fight against Scottish Proposal to Assign Government Guardian to Every Child
 Focus on the Family Warns That L.A.’s New Transgender Council May Threaten Religious Freedom
 Tim Tebow Says Loving and Serving Others is ‘Bigger Than Football’
 Fear and Faith Collide in ‘Midnight Special’
 Tullian Tchividjian Fired from Position with Willow Creek after Resigning as Pastor of Coral Ridge

Opinion

 Will God save us from Donald Trump?
 What Naming ISIS’ Actions ‘Genocide’ Would Mean to Christians
 Should Same-Sex Attracted People Serve In Ministry?
 Congress Finally Acknowledges Genocide in Middle East
 Obama Nominates Garland for Court: Why the Uproar?

Our Time is Short

Read: Recommitting Your Life To God and Jesus Christ – Restoration and Forgiveness With God and Jesus Christ (Updated Version)


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.


What Is the Gospel?

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


The Gospel on 5 Fingers

Can you explain the gospel in 30 seconds? In one minute? In five minutes?Here’s one way I have found helpful. 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.


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


Resource Links

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 Booklet
Jesus is the Savior of the world. Discover who Jesus is today in this series.

About Christianity
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).

Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: Holy Spirit, Church, and New Creation, volume 4 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2008), 270.


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