Daily Archives: December 12, 2016

December 12, 2016 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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Dec. 12, 2016 |

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The U.S. Supreme Court let stand a Colorado law that imposes reporting requirements on internet retailers in an effort to get customers to pay the sales taxes they owe.

Lockheed Martin slumped after President-elect Donald Trump tweeted that costs for the F-35 fighter-jet program, the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons system, are “out of control.”

A cache of documents from Deutsche Bank AG include what a group of silver investors claim is a “smoking gun”: private electronic chats showing traders from numerous banks conspiring to rig prices from 2007 to 2013, according to a court filing in New York last week.

China is embracing Southeast Asia with a renewed trade and investment push, a trend that’s set to accelerate as the region grapples with the prospect of a more protectionist U.S. under Donald Trump.

Bill Gates and more than a dozen of the world’s wealthiest individuals revealed a new $1 billion investment fund late Sunday to foster major advances in clean energy production.

Shopping has overtaken gambling as the biggest earner in Singapore’s tourism industry for the first time since 2012, surging 44 percent in the six months through June from a year ago.

AP Top Stories

More than 20 people were killed Sunday in a suicide truck bombing in the Somali capital Mogadishu, police said, in a fresh strike claimed by the Al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab group.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter arrived in Baghdad on Sunday for talks with Iraqi leaders on the U.S.-backed military campaign against Islamic State militants in Mosul, the Pentagon said.

Egypt’s Copts, targeted in a church bombing that killed 23 people in Cairo on Sunday, are the Middle East’s largest Christian minority community, and also one of the oldest. Making up about 10 percent of Egypt’s population of 90 million, the Coptic Orthodox are the largest Christian denomination in the Muslim-majority country.

Donald Trump’s election has led to unease over threats to peace in the region, Iran’s defense minister said on Sunday, warning that a war would destroy Israel and the small Gulf Arab states.

Eleven countries agreed on Saturday to cut their oil output, teaming up with the OPEC cartel in an exceptional bid to end the world’s glut of crude and reverse a dramatic fall in income.

More than 30 people died when a tanker carrying flammable materials crashed into other vehicles and burst into flames outside the town of Naivasha in Kenya late on Saturday, officials said.

Venezuela’s socialist government has seized nearly 4 million toys from a private company and says it intends to hand them out as Christmas gifts to poor children this holiday season.

Drawing the U.S. deeper into the Syria conflict, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Saturday he is sending 200 more troops to accelerate the push on the Islamic State’s self-declared capital of Raqqa.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday rejected a demand by Maoist-led rebels to free more prisoners as part of a ceasefire deal, saying he had made enough concessions and was willing to let peace talks collapse if necessary.

Spend your flight flirting with the brunette in 32B. That’s where the Tinder-esque dating app AirDates comes in. It’s like other mobile dating options, except this one is for air travelers looking for a connection, or even love, before, during or after a trip.

Top executives from Alphabet Inc, Apple Inc and Facebook Inc are among a small group of tech leaders invited to a summit to be held on Wednesday by President-elect Donald Trump. Executives from Microsoft Corp, Intel Corp and Oracle Corp will also be among “a very heady group of less than a dozen, comprising most of the key players in the sector” to attend the summit, Recode said. Billionaire entrepreneur and Tesla Motors Inc CEO Elon Musk will also be in attendance.

The US-led military coalition has killed a leader of the Islamic State jihadist group in Syria, the Pentagon said on Saturday.

South Korea’s agriculture ministry said it will issue a temporary nationwide ban on the transportation of poultry to contain the spread of bird flu, with 43 outbreaks recorded in Asia’s fourth-largest economy.

A Philadelphia Democrat who spent two decades in Congress could spend that long in prison if federal prosecutors get their way at his sentencing Monday.

BBC

Syrian government forces have made major gains in southern Aleppo, state media and activists say, leaving rebels with only a small pocket in the city.

Two girls said to be aged seven or eight have been used to bomb a market in north-east Nigeria, killing at least one other person and wounding 18.

Turkish police have detained 235 people for acting on behalf of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the interior ministry said.

The Venezuelan government has announced it will remove the country’s highest-denomination banknote from circulation within 72 hours to combat contraband. There are more than six billion 100-bolivar notes in circulation, making up almost half of all currency. Venezuelans will have 10 days from Wednesday to exchange the notes for coins and new, higher-value bills.

IMF chief Christine Lagarde has gone on trial in France for negligence over a compensation payment made by a state-owned bank to a businessman in 2008.

WND

A bill meant to help those with developmental disabilities would allow government agencies to locate people with tracking devices, which has some concerned the measure gives the federal government too much authority and power.

Refugees are being planted in cities and towns all across America. But the fact that it’s being done in secret should set off alarm bells.


Top News – 12/12/2016

Mount St. Helens shakes 120 times within a week
In less than a week, four swarms of more than 120 earthquakes shook Mount St. Helens in late November. Although they were too small to be felt even by someone standing directly over their epicenters, scientists say they reveal the volcano is likely recharging. “Each of these little earthquakes is a clue and a reminder we are marching toward an eruption someday,” said Weston Thelen, a U.S. Geological Survey seismologist….

Trump Labels CNN “Fake News”
President-elect Donald Trump labeled cable network CNN “fake news” Saturday for its continued inaccurate coverage of his future role with NBC’s The Apprentice. Trump savaged corporate media giants face-to-face at a meeting in Trump Tower last month, where several network CEOs and prominent talking heads were told they were a pack of liars.

Hillary pleads to dismiss Benghazi lawsuit
The plaintiffs are arguing the case should to go trial because she doesn’t deserve special treatment as a member of the “political elite.” Clinton narrowly averted a default judgment in the case earlier when a judge adopted claims that she wasn’t properly served.

Trump won’t be bound by One China policy without concessions on trade
Trump also said he won’t be bound by “One China” policy unless Beijing makes concessions on trade.

Attack on Cairo’s Coptic Orthodox cathedral kills 25
Cairo, Egypt, Dec 11, 2016 / 02:47 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- At least 25 persons were killed Sunday when a bomb exploded at a chapel attached to St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo, and dozens more were injured.

FBI Disagrees With CIA On Russian Influence In The Presidential Election
A senior FBI counterintelligence official met with Republican and Democrat members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in order to give the bureau’s view of a recent CIA report. The official did not concur with the CIA, frustrating Democrats.

Claims of Russia’s Involvement in Cyberattacks Groundless – Kremlin
Last week, media reports emerged citing the US Central Intelligence Agency accusing Russia of interfering in the US elections in November to help Donald Trump, who won the vote, secure victory.

Magnitude 5.4 Quake Shakes Western Argentina
A 5.4-magnitude earthquake hit not far from Argentina’s western city of San Juan, the European Mediterranean Seismological Center said Monday.

4.7 earthquake near Seddon felt by thousands across both islands
Nearly 4000 people from Christchurch to the Bay of Plenty have reported feeling a ‘strong’ 4.7 magnitude earthquake centred south-east of the South Island town of Seddon.

Japan protests over China’s complaint about fighter jets
Japan said on Monday it had protested to China over a Chinese complaint that Japanese fighter jets had engaged in “dangerous and unprofessional” behavior when they scrambled at the weekend as Chinese aircraft flew near Japanese islands. Chinese military aircraft on Saturday flew between Japan’s Okinawa and Miyako islands, and over waterways near self-ruled Taiwan…as part of long-range exercises, Taiwan said.

China warns Trump against ignoring its Taiwan interests
China expressed “serious concern”… after U.S. President-elect Donald Trump said the United States did not necessarily have to stick to its long-held stance that Taiwan is part of “one China”… Trump’s comments…questioning nearly four decades of U.S. policy, came after he prompted a diplomatic protest from China over his decision to accept a telephone call from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Dec. 2.

1,600 Flights Across Midwest Canceled as Winter Blast Rolls East
More than 1,600 flights were canceled at Chicago and Detroit airports Sunday as a winter storm swept through the Midwest on its way east, threatening to bring more snow to parts of Ohio that have seen nearly three feet. More than 1,390 flights were canceled in Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports — about half arrivals and half departures, flight-tracking website FlightAware reported.

Venezuela pulls highest-value banknote ‘to strike against mafia’
The Venezuelan government has announced it will remove the country’s highest-denomination banknote from circulation within 72 hours to combat contraband. Central bank data suggests there are more than six billion 100-bolivar notes in circulation, making up almost half of all currency. Venezuelans will have 10 days from Wednesday to exchange the notes for coins and new, higher-value bills.

Cyclone Vardah: Two dead as storm lashes south India coast
At least two people have been killed and thousands evacuated from coastal areas in two southern Indian states, as Cyclone Vardah lashed Chennai (Madras). Schools and businesses were shut and airport services suspended, as the cyclone made landfall with heavy rain and winds of up to 120km/h (75mph). Teams from the army and National Disaster Relief Force, along with two naval ships, are on standby.

Nigeria Maiduguri: Two ‘young girls’ used as human bombs
Two girls said to be aged seven or eight have been used to bomb a market in north-east Nigeria, killing at least one other person and wounding 18. Police in the town of Maiduguri, Borno state, say the attack happened when the market was crowded with shoppers. The girls detonated their explosives minutes apart, witnesses said. Both were killed.

Hamas offers missiles for armies willing to fight Israel
Palestinian terror group Hamas has offered to share its rocket arsenal with any Arab army willing to use them against Israel, Gaza-based Hamas official Fathi Hammad said Sunday to Al-Aqsa TV. Hamas has been manufacturing rockets on an industrial scale since it took control of the Gaza Strip, and has fired tens of thousands of projectiles during the past decade.

Analysis: Israel’s northern front – Hezbollah’s supply lines
Twice in the past week, Syria has reported an Israeli attack on military targets in the Damascus region, around 25 kilometers from the Lebanese border and approximately 50 kilometers from the border with Israel. …This is not the first time reports have been received regarding Israeli attacks on Hezbollah weapons convoy and arms caches in Syria, aiming to thwart the transfer of Syrian weaponry to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Thousands of people have backed a Brexit legal challenge to find out if Article 50 is reversible
Thousands of people have backed a new legal challenge to Brexit that will examine whether Article 50 — the process by which Britain will begin to leave the European Union — is reversible.

Foxconn Fires 25% Of India Workers As Demonetization Destroys Sales
While piecemeal anecdotes and surveys have already exposed the devastation that PM Modi’s demonetization plan has had on the Indian economy, tonight we see the first hard evidence as Foxconn has asked 25% of its workforce to leave after the cash ban caused sales to collapse by 50% forcing the company to slash production by half.

Former UK Ambassador Blasts “CIA’s Blatant Lies”, Shows “A Little Simple Logic Destroys Their Claims”
I have watched incredulous as the CIA’s blatant lie has grown and grown as a media story – blatant because the CIA has made no attempt whatsoever to substantiate it. There is no Russian involvement in the leaks of emails showing Clinton’s corruption. Yes this rubbish has been the lead today in the Washington Post in the US and the Guardian here, and was the lead item on the BBC main news. I suspect it is leading the American broadcasts also.

Dutch populist leader Wilders rises in polls after conviction
The party of populist anti-Islam Dutch MP Geert Wilders has risen strongly in the polls since the lawmaker was tried and convicted of discrimination, according to a survey published Sunday.

Trump: Claims of Russian interference in 2016 race ‘ridiculous,’ Dems making excuses
President-elect Donald Trump, in an exclusive interview with “Fox News Sunday,” decried as “ridiculous” the CIA’s reported assessment that Russia intervened in the election to boost his candidacy – describing the claim as another “excuse” pushed by Democrats to explain his upset victory.

Ethiopian Judaism ‘Nearly Identical’ to Second Temple Practice
While the differences between Ethiopian Judaism and the Judaism practiced by religious Jews today have led some to disparage the Ethiopian connection to the Jewish people, Dr. Ziv said that many Ethiopian customs align perfectly with descriptions of Jewish life and laws found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, which date from the Second Temple.

Congresswoman Introduces ‘Stop Arming Terrorists Act’
Hawaii Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard last week introduced the “Stop Arming Terrorists Act” after visiting New York’s Trump Tower and meeting President-elect Donald Trump. Gabbard, an Army veteran and a member of the House Committees on Foreign Affairs and Armed Services, wrote: “If you or I gave money, weapons or support to al-Qaeda or ISIS, we would be thrown in jail. Why does our government get a free pass on this?”

Did Rabbi’s Vision Cause Russian Missile To Explode on Launchpad?
In a lecture that he gave in September, Rabbi Nir Ben Artzi reassured his followers that the S-300 anti-aircraft weapons system Russia was sending to Iran would not be a threat to Israel, despite what military experts claimed. He cited Psalms as the source of his prescient knowledge.


Top Headlines – 12/12/2016

  • Crude Soars as Output Deal Weighs on Bonds; China Shares Tumble (Read More)
  • 10-Year Treasury Yield Above 2.5% for First Time in Two Years (Read More)
  • The New Reality of TV: All Trump, All the Time (Read More)
  • Fed May Struggle to Signal What Comes After December (Read More)
  • China warns Trump against ignoring its Taiwan interests (Read More)
  • China’s Stocks, Bonds, Yuan Slump in Unison on Liquidity Concern (Read More)
  • Sovereign funds pulled cash from world markets for third year running (Read More)
  • Trump Adds To Criticism Of Companies (Read More)
  • Oil surges to 1 1/2-year high, Fed rate increase looms (Read More)
  • Iraq to abide by OPEC cut, expects output growth in future (Read More)
  • It All Went Wrong for Chinese Investors Today (Read More)
  • Senators Balk at Tillerson Before He’s Nominated (Read More)
  • Syrian army in ‘final stages’ of Aleppo offensive (Read More)
  • London House Prices Are Having Their Worst December in Years (Read More)
  • Small Investors Join China’s Tycoons in Sending Money Abroad (Read More)
  • The Complexity of Inequality (Read More)
  • ‘3, 2, 1, Boom’ — Silver-Fixing Allegations Detailed in Private Chats (Read More)
  • China Finds New Fans in Southeast Asia as U.S. Turns Inward (Read More)
  • JPMorgan Traders Back Risky Property Deals as Bank Shows Caution (Read More)

Iran finalizes $16.8bn deal with Boeing after nuclear agreement, state news says

Boeing Speaks in Trump Terms on Iran Deal: It’s About Jobs

Iran: If war imposed on us, Israel, Gulf states will be destroyed

Netanyahu says he hopes to work with Trump to undo Iran deal

Netanyahu: I want Trump to help us reach a two-state solution

PA ministers secretly hope there won’t be Palestinian state, deputy minister claims

Israel foiled chemical weapons’ delivery to Hezbollah, defector says

Fatah TV aired ‘terror-promoting’ song 72 times in November, report says

Britain adopts broader anti-Semitism definition to fight hate crimes against Jews

Hamas condemns bombing of Egypt’s main Coptic Christian cathedral

Israel condemns ‘reprehensible’ Cairo bombing that killed 25

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter arrives in Iraq to assess Mosul fight

US commander: Over 2,000 jihadists killed, gravely wounded in Mosul fight

Syrian rebels get proposal to quit Aleppo, jihadists retake Palmyra

Girl suicide bombers killed in Nigeria terror attack, witnesses say

ISIS claims killing of counterterrorism officer in Pakistan

Somalia suicide truck bombing kills more than 20

France Extends Emergency Law as Terrorist Threat Remains High

Dutch populist leader Wilders rises in polls after conviction

Italy hurries to form new government as banking crisis looms

Venezuela Orders Largest Bills Turned in Ahead of New Bank Notes

Foxconn Fires 25% Of India Workers As Demonetization Destroys Sales

Fed to raise rates as Trump economy looms

As Trump Dismisses CIA, Congress Looks To Confront Russian Cyberattacks

Trump: Claims of Russian interference in 2016 race ‘ridiculous,’ Dems making excuses

Former ambassador to Russia: Putin wanted ‘revenge’ against Clinton

Former UK Ambassador Blasts “CIA’s Blatant Lies”, Shows “A Little Simple Logic Destroys Their Claims”

Conspiracy Theorists: ‘Pizzagate’ Shooting Just a False Flag

Bill Would Allow Government to Locate People With Tracking Devices

Promising no censorship, social network Gab draws ‘alt-right’

5.7 magnitude earthquake hits near Central East Pacific Rise

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits near San Martin, Argentina

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Kirakira, Solomon Islands

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Ovalle, Chile

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Iwaki, Japan

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 35,000ft

Colima volcano in Mexico erupts to 16,000ft

Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica erupts to 15,000ft

Copahue volcano in Argentina erupts to 11,000ft

Dukono volcano in Indonesia erupts to 10,000ft

1,600 Flights Across Midwest Canceled as Winter Blast Rolls East

Macy’s No Longer Gives Funds to Planned Parenthood

New Blogger: Why I Left the Pentecostal/Charismatic Movement

Steven Furtick: I Am the Sword Formed Against Death and Hell

End-time apostle and prophet, Lou Engle–The new Billy Graham?

Eddie Long’s Church Refutes Hospice Rumor, Officials Say He’s Resting

Yonggi Cho calls a demon the Holy Spirit

The New Apostolic Reformation’s Demonic Construction of the Brownsville Revival

Catholic Church Still Practices Plenary Indulgence for Souls in Purgatory

More Catholic Idolatry: 10 things to know about the Virgin of Guadalupe

Mother of an 11-year-old boy finds naked pictures of his youth pastor, 30, on his phone

Pastor heckles kids at TX mall: ‘There is no Santa!’

At least 160 killed as crowded church collapses in Nigeria

Egypt Terror Attack at Cairo’s Coptic Cathedral Kills 25; Funeral Procession Held Monday

Officials in New Mexico Won’t Remove Ten Commandments Monument Despite Court Order

Posted: 12 Dec 2016 06:35 AM PST

Officials of a city in the United States are standing up for their Christian faith and are poised to defy a local court ruling declaring…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Back-to-Back earthquakes in two minutes, one of them strong, shake central NZ

Posted: 12 Dec 2016 06:06 AM PST

Two earthquakes in two minutes, one of them a “strong” 4.7, have shaken central New Zealand on Monday evening. GeoNet reported a preliminary magnitude 4.1…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Weekend brings wave of terror to three major cities in Africa and Middle East

Posted: 11 Dec 2016 09:14 PM PST

Throughout 2016, terror attacks have ripped apart small towns and big cities in the Middle East, Africa and Europe. This weekend brought no respite. Three…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Tropical cyclone Vardah takes aim at India

Posted: 11 Dec 2016 09:08 PM PST

Heavy rain and winds have begun to pound the Indian city of Chennai, with a severe tropical cyclone expected to make landfall Monday. Tropical cyclone…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

John Bolton questions if Russian hacks were ‘false flag’

Posted: 11 Dec 2016 08:49 PM PST

John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who has been floated for a possible role in Donald Trump’s State Department, questioned reports…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Mysterious object washes up on NZ beach, baffling locals

Posted: 11 Dec 2016 03:24 PM PST

A “washed up whale,” a “sea monster with dreadlocks” and a “beach Christmas tree” are just some of the guesses about a strange seaweed-covered object…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

What Should Christian Parents Tell Their Kids About Santa Claus?

Posted: 11 Dec 2016 03:02 PM PST

Santa Claus has remained a huge part of Christmas, with children all over the world looking forward to Christmas eve when the legendary jolly bearded…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Iran says Gulf worried about war risks with Trump

Posted: 11 Dec 2016 02:58 PM PST

Donald Trump’s election has led to unease over threats to peace in the region, Iran’s defense minister said on Sunday, warning that a war would…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

RISE OF FALSE PROPHETS: Christian Scientist Predicts Jesus Will Return in Three Weeks

Posted: 11 Dec 2016 02:52 PM PST

Another day, Another “False Prophet” coming out with their “Date-Setting” predictions! This latest one comes from a Christian computer scientist who has reportedly predicted that,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Arkansas Supreme Court Overturns Ruling Allowing Lesbians to Be Listed on Birth Certificates

Posted: 11 Dec 2016 02:45 PM PST

The Supreme Court of Arkansas has overturned a lower court ruling that allowed lesbian partners to be recognized on birth certificates even though they are…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Customer Leaves Restaurant Owner Shocking Note About Christmas Music

Posted: 11 Dec 2016 02:41 PM PST

A Florida restaurateur was shocked to find a note left by a disgruntled customer who was upset about the eatery’s decision to play Christmas music…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

ACLU sues over Christmas tree cross

Posted: 11 Dec 2016 02:39 PM PST

For as far back as anyone can remember, there’s always been a cross atop the Christmas tree on the square in Knightstown, Indiana. But that…

Read more at End Time Headlines.


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.


Do You Know Him?


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


What Is the Gospel?

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:

  1. Who made us, and to whom are we accountable?
  2. What is our problem?
  3. What is God’s solution to our problem?
  4. 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.

  1. We are accountable to God.
  2. Our problem is our sin against him.
  3. God’s solution is salvation through Jesus Christ.
  4. 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.

God

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!

Mankind

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 . . .

Jesus Christ

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!”

Our Response

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 Gospel on 5 Fingers

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?


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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Fools and Wise Men: Aggressive Antagonism

Matthew 2:1-12

Code: B161212
by Jeremiah Johnson

As we enter the Christmas season again, we’re sure to hear the usual platitudes about Jesus in His infancy. Much of the secular world can tolerate and even celebrate Christ as a helpless newborn. They can embrace the humility of His makeshift maternity ward and other familiar imagery from the incarnation—so long as the baby stays in the manger and they’re never forced to deal with the man He became.

But the details of Christ’s life and work cannot be subdivided or sanitized. How you respond to Christ—even in His infancy—sets the course for your eternity. Nothing is more important.

In essence, there are only three ways to respond to Jesus. And all three of them are depicted in the aftermath of His birth, as recorded in Matthew 2:1-12.

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet, ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; for out of you shall come forth a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel.’”

Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.” After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.

In his commentary on that passage, John MacArthur writes:

In this brief text we see examples of the three basic responses that men made to Jesus when He was on earth, and the same three responses that men throughout history have made to the Lord. Some, like Herod, are hostile to Him; some, like the chief priests and scribes, are indifferent to Him; and some, like the magi, worship Him. [1] John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 1–7 (Chicago: Moody Press, 1985), 24.

This week we’re going to consider all three responses, and how they’re mirrored in the way modern men and women react to Jesus. Today we’ll focus on Herod’s response.

The Paranoid Ruler

In his commentary, John paints a vivid portrait of the man whom Rome had appointed as the king of the Jews:

He was a clever and capable warrior, orator, and diplomat. . . . But Herod was also cruel and merciless. He was incredibly jealous, suspicious, and afraid for his position and power. Fearing his potential threat, he had the high priest Aristobulus, who was his wife Mariamne’s brother, drowned-after which he provided a magnificent funeral where he pretended to weep. He then had Mariamne herself killed, and then her mother and two of his own sons. Five days before his death (about a year after Jesus was born) he had a third son executed. [2] The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 1–7, 26.

Herod held the title of king, but like any occupying force, he knew his power was always under threat. Clearly, such desperation to maintain authority breeds a maniacal paranoia. Who knows how many people lost their lives because they represented—even tangentially—a supposed threat to Herod’s reign?

It’s little wonder then that the magi’s inquiry concerning the birth of the “King of the Jews” produced such hostility from Israel’s bloodthirsty ruler.

The Deceptive Scheme

John Macarthur describes Herod’s cunning reaction to the news of a potential usurper to his throne:

Herod’s first response to the news of the magi was to gather “together all the chief priests and scribes of the people” and “to inquire of them where the Christ was to be born” (Matthew 2:4). Obviously Herod connected the King of the Jews with the Messiah, the Christ. Though Herod was not himself a Jew he knew Jewish beliefs and customs rather well. The current messianic expectations of most Jews at that time was more for a political and military deliverer than a spiritual savior. [3] The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 1–7, 32.

The magi’s news and the information he gleaned from the Jewish religious leaders set the wheels of his self-defense into motion.

After Herod received the information he wanted from the Jewish leaders, “he secretly called the magi, and ascertained the time the star appeared” (Matthew 2:7). His concern was for the time of the star’s appearance, not its meaning or significance. It was enough for him to know only that the sign pointed to the birth of someone who could be a threat to his own power and position. The time of the star’s appearance would indicate the age of the child who had been born.

Herod then instructed the magi to proceed with their mission and then report their findings to him as they returned home. He hypocritically gave them a good-sounding reason for wanting to know the exact location and identity of the Child-in order that “I too may come and worship Him” (Matthew 2:8). [4] The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 1–7, 34.

The Violent Campaign

But the ultimate purpose of Herod’s diplomatic maneuvering was nothing less than outright hostility. His murderous streak came once again to the fore:

When the magi, again obedient to the Lord’s leading (Matthew 2:12), did not report to Herod, he ordered his soldiers to slaughter every male child in and around Bethlehem that was under two years of age (Matthew 2:16), in order to guarantee, he thought, the destruction of his rival newborn “King.” [5] The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 1–7, 34.

But God’s divine purposes are never thwarted. Herod’s deadly devices couldn’t put a dent in Christ’s reign as the King of kings. Instead, Herod went to the grave with a heightened sense of frantic paranoia. In fact, John Macarthur explains that even in death Herod’s wicked self-interest was on vivid display.

One of the greatest evidences of his bloodthirstiness and insane cruelty was having the most distinguished citizens of Jerusalem arrested and imprisoned shortly before his death. Because he knew no one would mourn his own death, he gave orders for those prisoners to be executed the moment he died-in order to guarantee that there would be mourning in Jerusalem. [6] The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 1–7, 26.

Reading that, you’re likely thankful to live in more civilized times. But let’s not forget the fierce violence perpetrated against Christians across much of the rest of the world. Publicly believing in Christ is enough to cost you your job, your home, and even your life in parts of the globe today. In fact, it seems the hostility against God and His people is increasing worldwide, rapidly advancing into countries that ostensibly prize religious freedom.

And even in the relative calm of our Western society, the biblical account of Christ’s birth is still met with aggressive hostility by people who prefer their own self-rule. Like Herod, many today are insecure about the threat Jesus poses to their self-importance and self-determination. They want nothing to do with Christ, and work to stamp out His influence in the world.

You have probably encountered people who attempt to discredit the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Others aggressively work to banish any discussion of Him, His life and death, and any other hint of gospel truth from public discourse. In fact, while it lacks the bloody violence of Herod’s genocide, much of the world today continues in the spirit of his campaign to extinguish Christ’s influence and authority.

This year, be aware that while the unrepentant world may pay begrudging lip service to Christ’s birth, they’re only echoing Herod’s deception. In the end, they want nothing to do with worshipping Christ or acknowledging the truth of His life.


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Pulpit & Pen Blog: Discernment Rules from Doctrine Matters

Recently, Pulpit & Pen came across a list of insightful “discernment rules” authored by Chad Bailey at doctrinematters.org.  These rules are republished below with permission:

1. Know the Truth. 

The only way discernment can be a sustainable practice is to first know what what the Bible teaches.The very meaning of the word discernment (to judge/decide accurately)requires that the standard, against which everything is to be compared, be clearly understood. Knowing the truth only comes by way of a continuous commitment to prayerful study of Scripture. And knowing what God’s Word says is critical, so that one might simply compare what purports to be biblical to the Bible. DL Moody once said, “The best way to show that a stick is crooked is not to argue about it or to spend time denouncing it, but to lay a straight stick alongside it.” There is no shortage of messages, within evangelicalism,that profess to be both Christian and biblical, and are neither. Christians must be Bereans, committed to God’s revelation in Scripture. We must also be ferocious defenders of the truth of God, as it is under attack by our spiritual enemy. The truest spiritual warfare has always existed in the mind. It is no coincidence, then, that the one offensive weapon issued to us in the armor of God is the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.


2. Admit That False Teachers Exist. 

The first step to discerning the problem of false teaching is to admit there are false teachers. While this might seem as though it goes without saying, most Christians simply aren’t comfortable saying that someone with a pattern of false teaching is a false teacher. Most are uncomfortable because they think it is judgmental and hateful to call anyone a false teacher or a heretic. Hip-hop artist Shai Linne said, “Today the only heresy is saying that there’s heresy.” Others are reluctant to call someone a false teacher, because they lack the ability due to biblical illiteracy, thereby feeling unworthy of calling anyone out on something they themselves cant say for sure is in error. Either way, the first step is to recognize that there are both deceived and very deceptive Bible-twisters who regularly teach unbiblical and historically anti-Christian doctrines.  As you read this, there are men and women actively misleading, and deceiving people who think they have the truth. Christians must take a biblical tone of aggressive concern for God’s people in the Church and selfless defense of God’s Word in the pulpit. There are false teachers and heretics that must be warned of,  silenced, exposed, confronted, and avoided.


3. If It Is New, It Is false. 

The Bible we have today contains the very books and revelation God intended for His Church; Christians have a closed cannon of Scripture. This is to say, God has finished telling the Church everything we need to know regarding Himself, salvation, and everything else to which the Bible refers in what we call the Old and New Testaments. This finally occurred when the mystery of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was revealed to the Apostles. There are no more new and hidden mysteries to be discovered by the uber-spiritual or the intellectual elite. Though the truth in Scripture is spiritually discerned, it can be plainly understood. And while the help of a gifted teacher is sometimes necessary, this teaching is not to be confused with some mystical ability to reveal new meanings that the Church has historically overlooked or was not able to understand. (similar to #6)


4. You’re Not Old-Covenant Israel. 

It can be tempting to over-allegorize and to mis-apply the Old Testament in particular. It is critical to keep in mind that this portion of our Bible contains behaviors, promises, and even commands that were uniquely for the Hebrews under the Old Covenant and, thereforem are to be read and applied to our lives today differently than one might a New Testament epistle (letter to a church). The primary danger here is that we insist on claiming for ourselves today the many circumstantial and material promises God made to the Hebrew people at various periods of their history: coming out of slavery, warring against idolatrous peoples, or being rescued out of exile. Many have, with the best of intentions, taken excerpts of God’s great kindness, mercy, and faithfulness out of its historical, geographical, and national context.  Many in the professing Church are not content with the all of the spiritual blessings we have in Christ and would rather attempt to claim material promises from God. The stories of God and Old-Testament Israel powerfully display God’s holiness, trustworthiness, righteousness, faithfulness, mercy, power, and His judgment.


5. Personal Life Matters. 

Doctrine is critical, but it is not the only thing that matters. Christians must consider the personal lives of all who profess to be in Christ, and most strictly, those who teach. While on one hand, bad doctrine leads to bad living, it is possible for a teacher (at least for a season) to have solid doctrine, yet lack in the corresponding fruit of holiness or love. A teacher’s life and teaching must work in tandem, the one constantly commending the other. And while perfection cannot be expected, one must require spiritual leaders to be, by God’s grace, exemplary of a life lived for Christ. Sin is a danger, and our enemy, a threat,for spiritual leaders and they are not beyond temporarily falling into even gross sin. In other cases, a false teacher with largely solid theology may subtly show their falsehood by a pattern of moderate sin, the abuse of Christian liberty, or the occasional sinful slip of the tongue. Christ Himself, speaking of false teachers, warns not only of their false teaching, but also of their bad fruit. Their lives ought to preach as sound a doctrine as do their words. An important aspect of a teacher’s personal life to watch closely is their partnerships. Faithful teachers understand that to share a stage or a television network with dangerous or false teachers is to compromise the reputation of the otherwise clear and complete gospel they preach. The people with which a teacher is willing to fellowship and partnerships, is no small thing, and bears implications on their commitment to biblical doctrine.


6. False Teachers Say True Things. 

Not everything a false teacher says is biblically false. But that much is obvious. No one would listen to them if they didn’t teach at least a minimum amount of widely accepted biblical truth. In fact, it is possible for a teacher to be largely in line with historical Christianity, and stray in only a few primary areas of biblical doctrine, and still be guilty of gross error. While many Christians will not notice the variance , many more, unaware of the theological implications, too quickly dismiss what is wrong with their teaching in the interest of what that is right with their teaching. Most false teachers may well be sincerely misled and therefore mislead others. However, ignorance to the influence of our evil spiritual enemy is not a virtue and is not helpful. We are wise to understand there are deceivers who intentionally teach just enough spiritual and biblical truth in order to mask their dangerous and blasphemous lies. This kind of deception has historically been for the purposes of money, power, or worse, to damn souls to hell in unbelief. As Paul teaches us, we should not be surprised ifdeceitful workmensometimes sound so sincere, positive, even godly, because even Satan disguises himself as an angel (messenger) of light.


7. God Has Already Spoken. 

Christians are under no obligation to believe that anyone’s subjective impression is from God. This especially applies when teachers claim to have heard from God, personally and directly. While God, by His Spirit, sovereignly guides and directs Christians, He need no longer speak. The word “speak” is important and is typically used to refer to an experience where someone either claims to have heard an audible voice or felt even an undeniable “impression” or “whisper” that you just know is from God. This is very dangerous speech. Even those who admit they did not hear His voice with their ears, have to admit, as well, they can’t be completely sure that what they felt, sensed, etc. was unquestionably from God. And since, it may not be authoritative, it must necessarily not be authoritative at all. This is the danger of subjective impressions.  Biblical discernment means to compare what people say or write in the name of God, to the sufficient Word of God. Many false teachers claim to offer exciting, fresh insights and vision directly from God. However, faithful teachers are content with, even humbled by, the embarrassment of riches we find in God’s Word, in particular, how it illuminates Christ.


8. The Bible is Not About You.

It can be tempting to believe that God intended for us to be the hero of the Bible stories. This occurs when a teacher reads themselves or us as believers “into the text.” This blasphemous practice is called “Eisegesis.” By exchanging the preposition Ex at the front of the word Exegesis (to take OUT) with Eis, we get the word Eisegesis (to put IN). Eisegesis, then, is the process of “putting into” the text one’s own presuppositions, desires, agendas, etc. While this approach to the Bible may appeal more to our interests, particularly those of lost people, the job of the pastor is to preach the Word and explain its meaning. A faithful teacher will exegete, or pull out of text what God is saying in His Word. A fundamental truth about the Bible is it is not about us. It is about God. This is far more than semantics and word play. The Bible is to be read correctly, with God as the subject and His Church as the direct object. Likewise, the Bible is to be apply appropriately as we consider to whom it was originally written, then what it meant to them, and lastly what it means for us today. Scripture is often twisted in this way, by over-playing our role in the story. This is typically done to generate appeal or support a teacher’s agenda. And other times it is done simply out of sincere ignorance and a lack of biblical training. We will frequently mis-teach and mis-apply God’s Holy Word if we insist on finding ourselves, instead of God, in every text. While God’s Word is written tous, It must be enough that God’s Word is written about God and was graciously given to us in order that we may know Him and how to be saved.


9. Popularity Is Not Proof.

Despite how the world thinks, popularity is not an automatic sign of success. A packed out super-dome, multiple services and multiple locations, a certified Twitter account, and books on the NY Times bestseller list are far from automatic proof of a blessed teaching ministry. There are a lot of ways even Christian teachers can draw a crowd and create a loyal following without being overtly biblical. And there are certain teachers who the Lord causes to be quite influential while maintaining a commitment to God-honoring and biblical teaching. So, while having influence or a ministry that impacts many people is certainly not a bad thing, Christians ought to be extremely careful to validate a teacher on the criteria of popularity alone. Far too often, teachers are surrounded by people who simply want there emotional and spiritual itches scratched, and there is no shortage of teachers happy to oblige. Charles Spurgeon is quoted to have said, “That very church which the world likes best is sure to be that which God abhors.” Many false teachers are popular because they are appealing to man’s desires and felt needs in order to gain their people’s attendance, money, and worship. Unfortunately, the more popular such teachers get, the more insulated to biblical criticism they become.  Solid teachers take no joy in rejection except to know Christ too was rejected by most, due to the offense of the Gospel. Biblical discernment would have us value the faithfulness of a given teacher far more than we would his following.


10. Jesus Must Be The Focus.

Regardless of the text, Jesus Christ is the ultimate focal point for all of Scripture. One should expect at least a reference, if not an emphasis, on Jesus Christ and our Christ-likeness from every teaching. Sadly, many teachers give themselves and many other things far more attention than they give Christ, when He is the entire point of Scripture. The Old Testament points forward to Him and the spiritual reality of being in Christ. The New Testament points backward to Him and His finished work on earth, His work in heaven as our high priest, and His future return and reign. A faithful teacher gives proper honor to Christ by beginning with a biblical text and customarily following the biblical pattern of teaching,consecutive exposition (verse-by-verse). An unfaithful teacher will make either himself, his creative delivery, or his pragmaticapplication the focus of the message. Since the influence of Pentecostalism, even the Holy Spirit has been given false-honor by way of an over-emphasis on ecstatic speech (tongues) as well as demonic and artificial manifestations of miracles. More recently, the Spirit of God is blasphemed by an emphasis on personal divine revelation knowledge and extra-biblical vision-casting that is supposedly from God the Holy Spirit. It is important for believers to understand the Father‘s ultimate will to honor the Son and the Holy Spirit‘s role, likewise, is to represent and honor the Son. It follows, then, that an appropriate teaching of Scripture will necessarily point to Jesus. This is what it means that Jesus as The Word made flesh. To focus on anything that doesn’t refer back to or directly emphasize Him is to not preach the Word. Every faithful teacher will join every text and rest of the Godhead, and point to Christ. 

*The rules above have been edited by the Pulpit & Pen for length, content, and clarity.  Their original wording can be found at doctrinematters.org.  The Pulpit & Pen would like to thank Chad Bailey for his permission to share these helpful rules.

**Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

Source: Discernment Rules from Doctrine Matters

You Need Not Fear the Future If You Know This

God compares his people to sheep. In ancient Palestine sheep “were totally dependent on shepherds for protection, grazing, watering, shelter and tending to injuries. In fact, sheep would not survive long without a shepherd. Sheep are not only dependent creatures; they are also singularly unintelligent, prone to wandering and unable to find their way to a sheepfold even when it is within sight”(Dictionary of Biblical Imagery). How we need a shepherd!

Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want (PS 23.1).

A great spiritual principle is that it’s not what you know but WHO you know.

Years ago my daughter moved to Philadelphia for an internship, and a friend of mine and his wife graciously offered for her to live with them. I couldn’t foresee all my daughter would encounter there, but I knew my friend and his wife. I know their wise, kind and generous character. When my daughter was there, they did everything from helping her with her car to getting her a mattress, and running her to the emergency room. I didn’t need to know all the “whats” – only the “who” – my friend and his wife.

Similarly, we don’t need to know all the “whats” we’ll face in life – only one “Who” – Jesus, our Shepherd.

God compares his people to sheep. In ancient Palestine sheep “were totally dependent on shepherds for protection, grazing, watering, shelter and tending to injuries. In fact, sheep would not survive long without a shepherd. Sheep are not only dependent creatures; they are also singularly unintelligent, prone to wandering and unable to find their way to a sheepfold even when it is within sight”(Dictionary of Biblical Imagery). How we need a shepherd!

“In the word shepherd, David uses the most…intimate metaphor yet encountered in the Psalms, more intimate than ‘king’ or ‘deliverer’…’rock’ or ‘shield’…the shepherd lives with his flock and is everything to it: guide, physician and protector.” — Derek Kidner

See the intimate care Jesus exercises over his flock:

He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young. (Isaiah 40.11)

What a picture of God’s intimate care for us! Tending us, gathering us up in his arms and carrying us close to himself, gently leading us.

Isn’t it incredible that the Sovereign God of the universe would take upon himself the role of being the Shepherd of us singularly unintelligent, prone to wander, weak and helpless sheep?

Don’t worry about the “whats” of your life. It’s not what you know but who you know. Rejoice if you know Jesus, the good shepherd, who tenderly cares for you.

Mark Altrogge has been the senior pastor of Saving Grace Church of Indiana, PA for over 25 years, and is the author of many well-known worship songs such as “I Stand In Awe”, and “In The Presence”. This article first appeared on his blog and is used with permission.

The post You Need Not Fear the Future If You Know This appeared first on The Aquila Report.

Just War (A Summary)

The Reformed Reader

 There are various Christian views on war.  The majority view throughout history dates back to Augustine, who taught there is such a thing as just war.  Much more could be – and has been! – said on this topic, but I like how the just war concept is summarized in An Introduction to Biblical EthicsThe authors list seven points, noting that the first three points take priority.

1) Just Cause.  All unprovoked aggression is condemned.  A war for self-defense and protection (including defense of other vulnerable nations) is morally legitimate.  Following this first criterion alone would eliminate all war and aggression.

2) Just Intent.  The only legitimate intention is to secure a just or fair peace for friend and foe alike, ruling out revenge, conquest, economic gain, or ideological supremacy.

3) Lawful Declaration.  Since the use of military force is the prerogative of governments – not…

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Microsoft Holiday Ad Celebrates Left-Wing Causes

LifeZette reports:

To celebrate the “spirit of the holidays,” Microsoft released an ad this week best described as a collage of Left-wing pet causes. The commercial features sympathetic images and anecdotes for Black Lives Matter, Syrian refugees, transgender activism and more general LGBT issues.

In a likely allusion to the 2016 election, Microsoft says the year “has been challenging for many” because “much of what we hear in the news can be negative.”

“We wanted to lift people up and remind them that ordinary people can make a difference,” Microsoft’s description of the ad reads on YouTube. “”Our message focuses on the spirit of the holidays, people coming together and celebrating what is good and right with the world—what unites us, instead of what divides us,” claims the ad’s description.

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MIT study illustrates the insular nature of #OLDMEDIA journalists

media-trump-ss

As this data appears to show, much of the #oldmedia operates within an echo chamber. This of course is probably not news for most ACC readers. For many of us the echo chamber effect in the #oldmedia seems patently obvious. There have been dozens of stories we’ve touched on here over the years, of significant consequence, which were/are largely ignored by the #oldmedia. These stories are typically ones that are critical of the establishment, of which the #oldmedia,

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‘The Shack,’ with film pending, called ‘greatest deception’ to church ‘in the last 200 years’

'The Shack,' with film pending, called 'greatest deception' to church 'in the last 200 years'

New movie out March 2017

An evangelical seminary professor is calling The Shack the “greatest deception foisted on the church in the last 200 years” and urging Christian leaders to speak out against it ahead of its release as a movie.

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Concerns are being raised as the popular and blasphemous novel “The Shack” will be released as a film in 2017—a book that portrays God the Father as a woman, and that some say unbiblically teaches universalism. William P. Young’s 2007 novel is stated to have sold approximately 20 million copies and has been translated into 39 languages. In 2013, Lionsgate…

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December 12, 2016: Verse of the day

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Paul closes this passage with a beautiful benediction of intercession for all the people of God, not mentioning Jew or Gentile, but addressing the entire, unified Body of Jesus Christ. He petitions the God of hope to graciously fill His people with His divine joy and peace and hope. It expresses the apostle’s deep desire for all believers to have total spiritual satisfaction in their beloved Savior and Lord.

It is essentially the same benediction with which Paul blessed the church at Philippi: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7; cf. 1 Pet. 1:3, 8). It is a prayer for satisfied souls in Christ to know and experience the peace, the hope, the love, the victory, the joy, and the power of the indwelling Spirit of God, who makes them one in Jesus Christ their Lord.

MacArthur New Testament Commentary

December 12, 2016: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

December 12 Exaltation Follows Humility

“Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Philippians 2:9–11

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God will exalt the humble.

Having plumbed the depths of Christ’s humiliation (Phil. 2:5–8), Paul now soars to the heights of His exaltation (vv. 9–11). Like Paul, the apostle Peter affirmed that the great theme of Old Testament prophecy was the sufferings of Christ and the glory to follow (1 Peter 1:11). Regarding Christ, the writer of Hebrews says that “for the joy set before Him [He] endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). Christ understood His sufferings in light of His exaltation.

Paul’s purpose in Philippians 2 was not simply to detail the humiliation and exaltation of Christ but to use those truths as a practical illustration. He was calling for unity produced by humility (vv. 2–4), with Christ as the preeminent example of humility (vv. 5–11). But beyond the humiliation of Christ, Paul also affirms that He was exalted. The implication is that when we willingly humble ourselves as Christ did, God will lift us up. As James 4:10 says, “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.”

It is true that the man who humbles himself is the one whom God exalts, and the man who exalts himself is the one whom God will humiliate. In the divine economy, it is by giving that one receives, by serving that one is served, by losing one’s life that one finds life, and by dying to self that one lives. These principles follow one another as surely as night follows day.

Like Christ, you will be exalted in Heaven one day. Meditate on that truth, and be encouraged by it as you go through your earthly trials.

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Suggestions for Prayer: Thank the Lord for the exaltation that awaits you in Heaven.

For Further Study: Read the following verses: Matthew 23:12; Luke 14:11; 18:14; 1 Peter 5:6. What principle do they all teach?[1]


December 12

Effective Prayers

I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strivetogether with me in prayers to God for me.

Romans 15:30

Paul was confident he would be delivered through the prayers of the saints, no matter what trial he was enduring. He believed in the sovereign will and purpose of God, and knew that He would bring His purposes to pass in concert with the prayers of His children. He also knew that “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16). Just as the love and prayers of the saints in the first century encouraged Paul greatly, your prayers on behalf of your spiritual leaders will encourage them.[2]


DECEMBER 12

WHERE ARE THE ADMIRERS?

Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

—Psalm 100:3

The dictionary says that to admire is “to regard with wondering esteem accompanied by pleasure and delight; to look at or upon with an elevated feeling of pleasure.” According to this definition, God has few admirers among Christians today.

Many are they who are grateful for His goodness in providing salvation. At Thanksgiving time the churches ring with songs of gratitude that “all is safely gathered in.” Testimony meetings are mostly devoted to recitations of incidents where someone got into trouble and got out again in answer to prayer. To decry this would be uncharitable and unscriptural, for there is much of the same thing in the book of Psalms. It is good and right to render unto God thanksgiving for all His mercies to us. But God’s admirers, where are they?

The simple truth is that worship is elementary until it begins to take on the quality of admiration. Just as long as the worshiper is engrossed with himself and his good fortune, he is a babe. We begin to grow up when our worship passes from thanksgiving to admiration. As our hearts rise to God in lofty esteem for that which He is (“I AM THAT I AM”), we begin to share a little of the selfless pleasure which is the portion of the blessed in heaven. TIC127

Lord, I praise You for the wonderful things You have done for me and for the awesome God that You are. Amen. [3]


December 12

Parable of the Sower: Worldly Hearers

And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.—Matt. 13:22

Few things obstruct the gospel’s reception in someone’s heart more than the general love of the world and wealth. Note these warnings:

For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Tim. 6:10)

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. (1 John 2:15–16)

The worldly hearer in this parable is oblivious to the deception of money and its inability to give lasting satisfaction. He or she doesn’t notice how worldliness—the worshipful priority of money, possessions, career, and other temporary affairs—can smother the Word. Such a reality shows that the individual has a heart full of sinful weeds that cannot coexist for long with the Word of God. If faith is genuine, it will forsake the world; otherwise, sin will choke out the Word.

Christ’s cleansing is thorough in true conversion. Salvation removes sin’s weeds from the heart and prepares it to receive the seed of the Word. Genuine believers will continually confess sin and allow the Lord to be “faithful and righteous to forgive” (1 John 1:9), freeing them from sin’s domination.

ASK YOURSELF
Does this mean money is a bad thing? Should it be avoided by people who bear the name of Christ? How would you define a proper, biblical perspective on wealth and possessions?[4]


December 12 A More Excellent Name

“He has inherited a more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels did [God] ever say, ‘Thou art My Son, today I have begotten Thee’? And again, ‘I will be a Father to Him, and He shall be a Son to Me’?” (Heb. 1:4–5).

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Jesus is better than the angels because Christ was more than a messenger—He was a Son.

In our culture, the names we pick for our children don’t have much connection with the child’s character. But in the Bible, God chose specific names that related to some character quality of the individuals who bore them.

The writer of Hebrews was well aware of that when He asked this rhetorical question: “To which of the angels did [God] ever say, ‘Thou art My Son, today I have begotten Thee’? And again, ‘I will be a Father to Him, and He shall be a Son to Me’?”—quoting Psalm 2:7 and 2 Samuel 7:14. Of course, the answer is, no angel.

The title Son refers to Jesus Christ in His incarnation. Though His sonship was anticipated in the Old Testament (Prov. 30:4), He did not become a Son until He was begotten into time. Prior to that, He was eternal God with God. Presenting Jesus as the Son is God’s analogy to help us understand the relationship between the First and Second Persons of the Trinity.

Christ became a Son in two different ways. First, He was not a Son until He came into the world through the virgin birth (Luke 1:35; 3:22). But second, His Sonship came to full bloom in His resurrection (Rom. 1:3–4).

The Old Testament prophesied that Christ would come as a Son. In the New Testament He came as a Son in His virgin birth and was declared to be the Son by His resurrection from the dead. Don’t ever get trapped into the heresy of those who claim that Jesus Christ is eternally subservient to God. For a temporary period of time, He set aside what was rightfully His and humbled Himself to become a Son for our sakes.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for His amazing plan to redeem man through the incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity. Praise Him that He became man to redeem you.

For Further Study: Read Acts 13:33 and Romans 1:3–4, noting the reason Christ can be considered God’s Son.[5]


DECEMBER 12

MORE THAN A NAME

Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

2 Timothy 2:19

There have always been professing Christians who argue and insist: “I am all right—I worship in the name of Jesus.” They seem to believe that worship of God is based on a formula. They seem to think there is a kind of magic in saying the name of Jesus!

Study the Bible carefully with the help of the Holy Spirit and you will find that the name and the nature of Jesus are one. It is not enough to know how to spell Jesus’ name!

If we have come to be like Him in nature, if we have come to the place of being able to ask in accordance with His will, He will give us the good things we desire and need.

We worship God as the result of a new birth from above in which God has been pleased to give us more than a name.

He has given us a nature transformed, and Peter expresses that truth in this way: “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4).

Lord, I pray that the Body of Christ will see itself as the Apostle Peter has described believers: “partakers of the divine nature.” Perhaps if we see ourselves with that perspective, we will arise to the expectations Jesus has for us as His disciples.[6]


DECEMBER 12

LOSING GOD AMID THE WONDERS OF HIS WORD

…To be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

ROMANS 8:29

The doctrine of justification by faith—a biblical truth, and a blessed relief from sterile legalism and unavailing self-effort—has in our time fallen into evil company and been interpreted by many in such a manner as actually to bar men and women from the knowledge of God.

The whole transaction of religious conversion has been made mechanical and spiritless. Faith may now be exercised without a jar to the moral life and without embarrassment to the Adamic ego. Christ may be “received” without creating any special love for Him in the soul of the receiver. The man is “saved” but he is not hungry or thirsty after God!

The modern scientist has lost God amid the wonders of this world; we Christians are in real danger of losing God amid the wonders of His Word! We have almost forgotten that God is a Person and, as such, can be cultivated as any person can.

God is a Person and in the deep of His mighty nature He thinks, wills, enjoys, feels, loves, desires and suffers as any other person may. In making Himself known to us He stays by the familiar pattern of personality.

Religion, so far as it is genuine, is in essence the response of created personalities to the Creating Personality, God, so “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”[7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 373). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[3] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[4] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 355). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[5] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 359). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[6] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[7] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

The relationship between being poor in spirit and attaining personal holiness

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

3 “ Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3 (NASB) 

One the most disturbing aspects of the churches who practice Christianity “lite” is the nearly total abandonment of a call for personal holiness. Even more discouraging is the fact that they preach a version of the gospel that has had any mention of repentance severed from it. The reasoning behind this, of course, is that they are building bridges to the unchurched. If they preach the whole gospel they will drive them away not draw them to join their churches. The problem with that sort of reasoning is that it is all pragmatism. It is based on fleshly reasoning and the ways of the world. It is actually unbelief in the form of ministry. The architects of Christianity “lite” do not believe that God is still building His Church, therefore…

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