Daily Archives: January 5, 2017

January 5, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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Jan. 5, 2017 |

BLOOMBERG

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will consider joint naval exercises with Russia, his spokesman said, months after he decided to reduce military drills with the U.S.

Chinese state media warned U.S. President-elect Donald Trump that he’ll be met with “big sticks” if he tries to ignite a trade war or further strain ties.

The Pentagon’s top weapons buyer has approved advanced development for a fleet of 12 new nuclear-armed submarines, a potential $126 billion project that the Navy calls its top priority.

The super-rich often slim their tax bills by swelling the coffers of their alma maters through donations for pet projects. Now, under a tax overhaul in Washington, the tax benefits of such gifts could be curtailed. That prospect is alarming the ranks of the .01 percent and their favorite charities. The Republican-controlled Congress will soon be considering a plan that would require a quarter of gifts to the wealthiest colleges be used for middle-class financial aid. Otherwise, the donations wouldn’t be fully deductible, and the schools risk their charitable status.

Macy’s Inc., the largest department-store company in the U.S., plunged in late trading after cutting its earnings outlook and vowing to eliminate 6,200 jobs, or about 4 percent of its workforce.

Sears Holdings agreed to sell its Craftsman tool brand to Stanley Black & Decker for about $900 million, marking Chief Executive Officer Edward Lampert’s third move in the last two weeks to prop up the beleaguered retailer with fresh sources of funding.

Deutsche Bank is supposed to give relief to subprime mortgage borrowers as part of a $7.2 billion settlement with the U.S. government. It is considering an unusual approach to meeting that requirement: lending money to private equity firms and hedge funds.

A Japanese sushi chain boss has bid a winning $632,000 for a 466 pound bluefin tuna in what may be the last auction at the current site of Tokyo’s Tsukiji market.

AP Top Stories

A reported pause in global warming between 1998 and 2014 was false, according to US-British research published Wednesday that confirmed the findings of a controversial US study on ocean warming.

Republican U.S. Senator Mike Enzi introduced on Tuesday a resolution allowing for the repeal of President Barack Obama’s signature health insurance program, which provides coverage to millions of Americans, Enzi’s office said in a statement.

A 6.9-magnitude earthquake struck 176 miles south of Fiji early Wednesday, 6.2 miles below the Earth’s surface in the South Pacific, triggering a tsunami warning, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. A 5.7-magnitude aftershock also was reported.

A handful of senior Israeli officials have expressed support for “shoot-to-kill” military defense tactics against Palestinians, the Human Rights Watch said in a report published Monday.

Leisure travel colossus Carnival Corporation is putting a spin on technology used at Disney World to turn cruise ships into what it bills as smart cities at sea.

A report from the nonpartisan group said that 91 percent of lawmakers in the Republican-dominated 115th Congress described themselves as Christians, down slightly from 95 percent in the 87th Congress in 1961 and 1962, the earliest years for comparable data.

The US-led coalition said Wednesday it has doubled to about 450 the number of military advisors assisting Iraqi troops engaged in the fight to retake Mosul from Islamic State fighters.

Turkey risks encountering a new level of threat on its own territory from the Islamic State (IS) group after the Istanbul nightclub attack, with the group openly targeting the country as Ankara battles the jihadists inside Syria.

The United States will transfer four detainees to Saudi Arabia from the Guantanamo Bay military prison in the next 24 hours, U.S. officials said on Wednesday, in President Barack Obama’s final push to shrink the inmate population there despite pressure from the president-elect to halt such releases.

This year the U.S. Navy will add nine ships to the battle force as it slowly grows towards a 300-ship fleet. Most likely, these new ships are a sign of things to come as President-elect Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to boost the Navy to 350 ships.

BBC

Top US intelligence officials are giving testimony to a Senate panel investigating claims of Russian interference in the US election.

The UK Ministry of Defense has officially awarded a £30m contract to produce a prototype laser weapon.

The Iraqi military said it has launched a new offensive aimed at re-capturing western towns near the Syrian border from the jihadist group Islamic State.

A bomb has killed at least nine people in the government-held coastal town of Jableh, Syrian state TV is reporting.

WND

On Wednesday, President Obama added another prestigious medal to his Nobel Prize collection when he had Defense Secretary Ash Carter award him with the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service.

A Massachusetts sheriff on Wednesday unveiled an outside-the-box proposal to help make President-Elect Donald Trump’s proposed border wall a reality – inmate labor.

The gravy train that taxpayers for years have been handing Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion industry player, could be in danger now that a congressional panel investigating the baby body-parts trade is recommending a cutoff of public funds to the organization.

New figures put North America’s legal marijuana “green rush” above the dot-com boom of the early 2000s in terms of industry growth, according to Forbes.


Top News – 1/5/2017

Germany demands MIGRANT CAP: Final nail in the coffin for Angela Merkel’s refugee policy
ANGELA Merkel’s doomed refugee policy may soon see its final nail in the coffin as ministers demand a cap on migration.As the country is rocked by terror attacks and sex assaults stoking social divisions not seen since war time Germany, Horst Seehofer, the leader of the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU) is calling on Merkel to implement a refugee cap.

HERE IT COMES: Republican Senators Launch Bill To Move US Embassy To Jerusalem As Trump Promised
“Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish state of Israel, and that’s where America’s embassy belongs,” Rubio said in a joint statement announcing the bill. “It’s time for Congress and the President-elect to eliminate the loophole that has allowed presidents in both parties to ignore US law and delay our embassy’s rightful relocation to Jerusalem for over two decades.”

At Joshua’s Tomb: 10 Jews Come to Pray, Arabs Stone Them, Jews Get Arrested
Ten Jews who came to pray Wednesday night at the tomb of Biblical Joshua in the village of Kifl Haris, near Ariel, were attacked by stone throwing local Arabs – but when they called security forces for help they were promptly arrested, the Honenu legal aid society reported.

Anti-surveillance clothing aims to hide wearers from facial recognition
Berlin-based artist and technologist Adam Harvey aims to overwhelm and confuse these systems by presenting them with thousands of false hits so they can’t tell which faces are real. The Hyperface project involves printing patterns on to clothing or textiles, which then appear to have eyes, mouths and other features that a computer can interpret as a face.

Urgent warning: ‘Army of demons’ on loose
As 2016 ends, priests are calling for more exorcists to fight what they are calling “an army of demons.” It’s part of a general trend that has Christians worried…the danger is real. “Spiritism is clearly on the rise in North America; typically associated with contacting spirits to communicate with the dead. “Demons ultimately have one job, and that is to destroy,”

Two Volcanoes Tremble
This morning at 7:09, an earthquake of magnitude 3.5 hit the western part of Katla volcano, located under Mýrdalsjökull glacier, according to the Icelandic Met Office. Last night at 18:39, another quake of magnitude 3.7 hit the south part of Bárðarbunga volcano.

Al-Qaeda-linked group in Syria says truce ‘humiliating’
An al-Qaeda-linked group in Syria has said the nearly week-old cease-fire brokered by Russia and Turkey is “humiliating” and those who agreed to it made a “big mistake.” The cease-fire, which excludes the al-Qaeda-linked Fatah al-Sham Front as well as the Islamic State group, has largely held, except for intense fighting in the Barada Valley outside Damascus,

‘All those terror attacks’: Sweden’s nuclear sites to get armed guards
Sweden has decided to tighten up security around nuclear plants by requiring guards to be armed. The measures will be introduced following recent terrorists attacks across the globe.

‘The internet will shut down for 24 hours in 2017 causing financial markets to crash’
Millions of computer users across the world could be blocked from the internet this year as the global network will shut down for 24 hours, US technology security vendor LogRhythm predicted in December. “In 2017, we’re going to see it hit big sometime, somewhere. If the internet goes down, financial markets will tank,” he said. “I think hackers, in the name of protecting our freedom of speech, will retaliate by knocking down a major media outlet or two.”

Four people in Chicago are in police custody after a disturbing Facebook Live stream depicting the torture of a tied-up man was reported to authoritie
Throughout the video, people can be heard saying “F*** Donald Trump” and “F*** white people,” among other things. At one point, the woman taking the video laughs at how her sister had commented telling her to stop beating the man.

‘Severe’ 5.3 earthquake near Seddon wakes sleepy Wellington residents
A severe 5.3 earthquake at quarter past midnight has given disgruntled Wellingtonians a midnight wake-up call. GeoNet reported that the epicentre of the quake was 20km east of Wellington, at a depth of 40km.

Rand Paul reintroduces his ‘audit the fed’ bill with Trump’s support
Kentucky senator Rand Paul has been attempting to push an audit of the Federal Reserve…Paul called the Reserve’s meddling in the free market an “unchecked,” and “arguably unconstitutional” venture. His 2016 Federal Reserve Transparency Act received bipartisan support, having been overwhelmingly supported by Republicans, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. However, senate Democrats ultimately shot down the bill.

Turks questioning U.S.-led coalition presence at air base: deputy PM
Turks are questioning the presence of U.S.-led coalition forces at the Incirlik air base in southern Turkey, a deputy prime minister said on Thursday, reflecting frustration at what Ankara sees as a lack of support for its operations in Syria. Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak told broadcaster A Haber that the issue of the Incirlik air base, used by NATO and the U.S.-led coalition, was on the government’s agenda.

China’s choices narrowing as it burns through FX reserves to support yuan
As China’s foreign exchange reserves threaten to tumble below the critical $3 trillion mark, the biggest fear for investors is not whether Beijing can continue to defend the yuan but whether it will set off a vicious cycle of more outflows and currency depreciation. Data this week is expected to show China’s forex reserves precariously perched just above $3 trillion at end-December, the lowest level since February 2011…

NASA says mysterious object hurtling towards Earth could be an asteroid or a comet
NASA recently spotted two massive space objects hurtling towards Earth. While the American space agency has pinpointed one as a comet, the other has left it slightly more baffled. The comet is set to fly close to Earth this week, but the mystery object isn’t expected to make an appearance until February.

German Baltic coast hit by storm surge flooding
A storm surge has caused the worst flooding on Germany’s north-east coast since 2006, leaving streets and cars submerged and causing major damage. Towns and cities along the Baltic coast were flooded, from Kiel in the far north to the resort island of Usedom near the Polish border. Sea levels were recorded in the port of Wismar at 1.83m (6ft) above normal overnight.

Mosquito-borne virus prompts warning in Australia
Australian health authorities have issued a warning after a sharp rise in cases of a mosquito-borne virus. Ross River virus infected 314 people in Victoria in 2016, nearly a 50% increase on the year before, said the state’s chief health officer Charles Guest. Prof Guest suggested stagnant water from recent heavy rain created conditions ripe for mosquito breeding.

Israeli diplomats campaigning to deflate Paris summit
Israel’s ambassadors around the world are engaged in a two-prong approach to combating the upcoming Paris Mideast conference, on one hand trying to convince countries not to attend, and on the other hoping to persuade those countries that will participate not to pass a resolution that might then be taken to the UN Security Council.

California gun owners brace for ammo shortages and price hikes
California lawmakers and voters passed a slew of gun control laws in 2016 that impose significant new restrictions on the state’s more than 6 million firearms owners. The new regulations, which take effect in stages over the next two years, affect a broad range of practices, from where you buy your ammunition to how you store your guns and who can borrow them.

Praise The Lord: Moving truck spotted outside White House
A moving truck was seen on Wednesday parked outside the White House, where President Obama will live and work for just two more weeks.

Dan Rather teaching ‘Truth in the News’ course
Raising eyebrows among some critics, former CBS anchor Dan Rather is now teaching an online course focused on ethics in journalism.

4 Chicago Teens In Custody After Broadcasting Kidnap Of Trump-Supporter Live On Social Media
The victim is repeatedly kicked and hit while forced to denounce white people and Donald Trump. Additional footage has been revealed…

Trump Is Working On A Plan To Restructure, Pare Back The CIA And America’s Top Spy Agency
Just in case the accusations that president-elect Donald Trump is a puppet of the Kremlin, intent on destabilizing and weakening the US weren’t loud enough, moments ago the WSJ assured these would hit an unprecedented level with a report that Trump, a harsh critic of U.S. intelligence agencies, is working with top advisers on a plan that would restructure and pare back the nation’s top spy agency, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, prompted by a belief that it has “become bloated and politicized.”

Marijuana-Related Illness Increases in Legalized States
As various states move towards the legalization of marijuana, doctors are noticing the increase of a particular illness that is associated with regular use of the drug. Emergency rooms have been seeing an influx of patients with the same symptoms – severe abdominal pain and intense vomiting – and this increase is particularly high in certain states that have already legalized the use of marijuana.

Republicans Push for Constitutional Amendment on Term Limits
Sen. Ted Cruz and House Rep. Ron DeSantis are joining forces to push for a constitutional amendment that would impose term limits on members of Congress. In a statement, Cruz said such an amendment would eliminate the current incentive system in Washington that encourages politicians to fly under the radar.

Global Debt Hits 325% Of World GDP, Rises To Record $217 Trillion
While we eagerly await the next installment of the McKinsey study on global releveraging, we noticed that in the latest report from the Institute for International Finance released on Wednesday, total debt as of Q3 2016 once again rose sharply, increasing by $11 trillion in the first 9 months of the year, hitting a new all time high of $217 trillion. As a result, late in 2016, global debt levels are now roughly 325% of the world’s gross domestic product.


Top Headlines – 1/5/2017

More Americans support UN resolution on Israel than oppose it – poll

Huckabee on US action on UN vote and Kerry speech: ‘Cowardly betrayal of Israel’

Sweden urges UN Security Council to produce results in 2017

Bipartisan group of senators call for repealing UN resolution on Israel

GOP Bill Would Slash Diplomatic Security Funds Unless Trump Moves U.S. Embassy To Jerusalem

Ex-defense minister: Politicians ‘cynically exploiting’ Hebron shooter verdict

Israeli PM Netanyahu backs pardon for manslaughter soldier

Israeli president presently not ready to consider pardon

Israeli soldier’s manslaughter conviction divides country

67% of Israelis want pardon for IDF soldier convicted of manslaughter

Haifa shootings were likely terror attack, police assess

Lebanon approves key gas, oil drilling decrees off shores

Erdogan says nightclub attack being exploited to divide Turks

Turkey detains 5 ISIS suspects linked to nightclub attack

Turkey says truce violations put Syria talks in jeopardy

US-led coalition doubles number of advisers in Iraq to 450

Car Bomb Strikes Baghdad Market, Killing at Least 8

Number of displaced in Mosul op passes 125,000: UN

Arab separatists claim 2 pipeline bombings in southern Iran

3 girl suicide bombers gunned down in northeastern Nigeria

Pope says upset by Brazil jail riot, calls for humane prisons

Attacker sneaks into school, stabs 11 children in China

South Korea hastens plans for special unit tasked with eliminating Kim Jong-un in event of war

2.5 billion people, nukes and missiles. What could go wrong?

If India makes more long-range ICBMs, Beijing may help Pakistan do the same, says Chinese state media

Indonesia suspends military cooperation with Australia

US Special Forces deployed at Russian border to defend Baltic states ‘scared to death’ by Vladimir Putin

Paul Ryan calls Julian Assange a ‘sycophant for Russia’

‘Guccifer’ casts doubt on Obama administration’s Russia hacking claims

Trump, citing Assange, again mocks U.S. intelligence officials’ case for Russian hacking

WikiLeaks’ Assange: ‘A 14-year-old kid could have hacked Podesta’ emails

WikiLeaks threatens to sue CNN over commentator calling Assange ‘pedophile’

Assange Tells Hannity: “Big Powerful Actors Want Revenge” – Full Interview

WikiLeaks offers reward for info on Obama admin misdeeds

Sarah Palin apologizes to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who she says ‘finally opened people’s eyes’

Trump reportedly plans to revamp top intelligence agencies

California girds to protect undocumented foreigners from Trump

California Hires Eric Holder as Legal Bulwark Against Donald Trump

Boom: Record 27 million guns bought in 2016

Schumer promises to block Trump’s Supreme Court pick

Women’s March on Washington is poised to be the biggest anti-Trump demonstration

Free marijuana to be handed out Inauguration Day

The Parliamentary Tactic That Could Obliterate Obamacare

Obama, Pence at Capitol on health care overhaul, as Trump warns GOP lawmakers to ‘be careful’

Barack Obama slams ‘Trumpcare’ as Republicans vow to ditch Obamacare ‘on day one’

Obama tells Democrats to ‘stay strong’ in protecting his signature health-care law

House passes bill to overturn ‘midnight’ regulations en masse

Over 2,400 Progressive Faith Leaders Want Trump Meeting to Counter ‘So-Called White Evangelicals’

HSBC raises world economic growth, inflation forecasts, dubs moves ‘rare treat’

Federal Debt Climbs $1,054,647,941,626.91 in 2016

Global Debt Hits 325% Of World GDP, Rises To Record $217 Trillion

Unrest over Mexico gasoline price hike erupts into looting

Anti-surveillance clothing aims to hide wearers from facial recognition

Coming to Carnival Cruises: A Wearable Medallion That Records Your Every Whim

Drones in homes: ‘Flying cameras’ map security threats, warn homeowners

Chrysler Unveils Selfie-Taking Concept Car

NASA Unveils 2 New Missions to Study Truly Strange Asteroids

5.6 magnitude earthquake hits near Iwaki, Japan

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Iwaki, Japan

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Nadi, Fiji

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits the Southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Nadi, Fiji

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Kirakira, Solomon Islands

Bogoslof volcano in the Aleutian Islands erupts to 33,000ft

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 27,000ft

Ruiz volcano in Colombia erupts to 25,000ft

Colima volcano in Mexico eruptst to 20,000ft

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 16,000ft

Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica erupts to 15,000ft

New study estimates frequency of flight-disrupting volcanic eruptions

10-15 feet of snow to bury California; wintry weather also targets South

Malaysia floods force 23,000 to leave homes

Zimbabwe water crisis gives rise to backdoor sellers

NOAA challenged the global warming ‘pause.’ Now new research says the agency was right.

Flu ‘epidemic’ in Washington putting strain on area hospitals

Baltimore, D.C. Top Orkin’s ‘Bed Bugs Cities’ List

Marijuana-Related Illness Increases in Legalized States

GOP House Panel: Halt Federal Money for Planned Parenthood

Alabama Supreme Court Rules Unborn Baby is a Person

All prisoners should be allowed to wear their own clothes because transgender inmates can, inspectors say

One in three children send naked selfies online because parents let them ‘roam free’ on the internet

Texas woman, boyfriend arrested in ‘brutal’ sexual assault of her 1-year-old relative

4 in custody after mentally disabled man tied up, tortured on Facebook Live

Chicago Police Hesitant To Call Videotaped Torture Of White Man A Hate Crime

A New Years Thank You Note from The Evangelical Industrial Complex

Review: Louie Giglio’s Simple Pursuit: A Heart After Jesus (A Daily PASSION Devotional)

Bible students are warned…you may find the crucifixion too upsetting!

Jim Jones Cult Member Has Diaries Posted Online

Church of Scientology Forces Women to Have Abortions, Leah Remini Says

Re-print of Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ takes Germany by storm

President Obama Awards Himself the Distinguished Public Service Medal

URGENT WARNING: ‘Army of demons’ on loose

Posted: 05 Jan 2017 07:50 AM PST

As 2016 ends, priests are calling for more exorcists to fight what they are calling “an army of demons.” Satanic groups openly organize against Christianity,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Radical Revival Falls on China’s State-Controlled Churches

Posted: 05 Jan 2017 07:35 AM PST

You’re about to hear first-hand testimony and see video of an unprecedented Christian revival happening in parts of China. What is unique about this story…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

This Little Girl’s Bold Proclamation Will Leave You With Chills

Posted: 05 Jan 2017 07:31 AM PST

Whether or not you believe in the rapture, the end times, or the final tribulation, a YouTube video is gaining popularity for its recording of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Franklin Graham Says “God Allowed Donald Trump to Win”

Posted: 05 Jan 2017 07:21 AM PST

The Rev. Franklin Graham isn’t sure which Scripture he’ll read at the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump. The evangelist and head of both…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Macy’s Closing 63 Stores, Cutting 10,100 Jobs

Posted: 04 Jan 2017 06:53 PM PST

Macy’s Inc. (M) outlined restructuring plans Wednesday that will eliminate more than 10,000 jobs at the struggling department store giant as it closes about 63…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Israeli minister outlines plan to annex West Bank settlement after Trump takes office

Posted: 04 Jan 2017 06:46 PM PST

Plans to annex a large settlement on the West Bank are to be proposed after President-elect Donald Trump takes office, an Israeli minister said. The…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: 15 Feet Of Snow To Bury California!

Posted: 04 Jan 2017 06:39 PM PST

A series of winter storms is forecast to continue hammering California with several feet of heavy snow and driving rain over the next few days…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Record 27 million guns bought in 2016…

Posted: 04 Jan 2017 02:01 PM PST

Driven by terror threats and a potential Hillary Clinton administration, sales of guns in America soared to record levels in 2016, according to the FBI….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

‘Bloodshed will follow if Trump moves US embassy to Jerusalem’

Posted: 04 Jan 2017 01:43 PM PST

The Palestinians will start a new violent uprising if Donald Trump’s incoming White House administration relocates the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Germany warns Facebook over hateful posts, igniting free speech debate

Posted: 04 Jan 2017 01:30 PM PST

Germany is taking on Facebook, threatening criminal action against the world’s biggest social media company if it doesn’t stem the swelling tide of racist postings….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Man Who Prophesied Trump Victory Casts End-Times Vision of Hope

Posted: 04 Jan 2017 01:23 PM PST

(Reported By Taylor Berglund) Mark Taylor went from lying on his deathbed, praying, “Take me home,” to appearing on The Jim Bakker Show and gaining…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Pediatricians condemn National Geographic over 9-year-old transgender on Cover

Posted: 04 Jan 2017 01:18 PM PST

An association of pediatricians is condemning National Geographic over its decision to put a 9-year-old child who identifies as transgender on the cover of its…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Lance Wallnau Says 2017 Will Bring a “Clashing of Heaven and Hell”

Posted: 04 Jan 2017 01:14 PM PST

(By DR. Lance Wallnau) The Hebrew year 5777 began Oct. 2, 2016. It is called “Rosh Hashanah.” I remember because I flew into Jerusalem to…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

APPLE Removes NYT Apps At China’s Request…

Posted: 04 Jan 2017 01:10 PM PST

Apple, complying with what it said was a request from Chinese authorities, removed news apps created by The New York Times from its app store…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Outrage as Fears of Trump Taking Jobs from Mexico Increase

Posted: 04 Jan 2017 01:06 PM PST

Ford Motor Company’s cancellation of plans to build a $1.6 billion auto manufacturing plant in San Luis Potosi has sounded alarms throughout Mexico. Even as…

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?


A Gospel Presentation

God is Holy

The Bible teaches that the entire universe was created by God. And that God who has created everything has spoken to humanity in the Bible. And the Bible tells us that a fundamental characteristic of God is that He is holy. 1 John 1:5 says, “God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” That’s a way of saying that He’s entirely pure. God’s character is one of perfect moral uprightness. He is the essence of all that is good—so much so that, as the verse says, He can have absolutely no fellowship with “darkness”—no fellowship with that which is not perfectly holy, righteous, and pure.

God’s righteous character was expressed in the law He gave to Moses and the Israelites. You’ve heard of the Ten Commandments. They summarized the perfection of God’s character. These laws were directives for how people who were in a proper relationship with God must act.

We are Sinful

The problem is: all of us are sinful. We have all broken God’s law. All humanity has “gone astray like sheep, and each one of us has turned to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6). We’ve tried to live our lives without God, according to our own standards, in our own ways. Whether we’re drug addicts and murderers, or white collar, well-to-do, upstanding citizens, we do what we do because we want to do it, with no consideration for God and what He would have us to do. The Bible calls that sin. It is the missing of the mark, the falling short of God’s standard of righteousness.

And in your heart of hearts you know you’re a sinner. I don’t know anyone who would say that they are perfect, even by their own standards. Ecclesiastes 7:20 says, “There is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.” And if God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all, then in order to have fellowship with Him, we’d need to be perfectly holy like Him. But we’re not. Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We are stained by the “darkness” of our sin. And this is a problem, because if darkness can’t dwell with light, and we’re darkness and God is light, we’re cut off from a relationship with Him. We become absolutely incapable of doing the very thing we were created and designed to do: to enjoy a relationship with our Creator.

There is a Penalty for Sin

But it’s not just that we and God can’t be friends. There’s a penalty to be paid for sin. The Bible tells us that that penalty is death, Romans 6:23: “The wages of sin is death.” But the death that Paul talks about there isn’t just physical death. It’s not like we pay for our sins by going out of existence. The death talked about in that verse is a spiritual death. This is hell: eternal conscious torment. Jesus Himself calls it “a furnace of fire,” where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:50).

The idea of hell grates against the sensibilities of modern people, because nobody thinks they’re really bad enough to deserve something like eternal torment. They might admit that they’re not the greatest of people, but surely they don’t deserve that. But their reasoning is skewed. The punishment for sin isn’t merely measured by the sin itself. In other words, while there are qualitative differences in the experience of divine punishment, murder, lust, and lying all receive the sentence of an eternity in hell. That’s because punishment for sin is measured by the One sinned against. All sin is fundamentally a sin against God, and He is infinitely holy. Therefore, sin against an infinitely holy God demands an infinite punishment. That’s why the punishment is so serious: because God is actually that righteous.

And so the bad news is that we’re sinful, separated from God, and doomed to spend eternity in hell. There’s nothing we can do about it. We can’t simply tell God we’re sorry and we won’t do it again. What would you say about a judge who let a guilty, convicted criminal go free because he was sorry and said he wouldn’t do it again? You’d call him an unjust judge. But God is a perfectly just, perfectly righteous Judge. God’s justice demands that sin be punished, and the only payment is eternal spiritual death.

God Became Man

But the Good News is: God saw the miserable condition of humanity, and took pity on us. He knew that there was no way we could ever earn our way back to Him. We could never pay for our sins. But just when man was absolutely hopeless, when we were all doomed to spend eternity in hell with no way to pay our penalty, God the Father sent His Son to the earth on a mission. He was miraculously born to a virgin. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit miraculously conceived Jesus in Mary’s womb. And so being conceived by the Holy Spirit, Jesus was God. And being born to a human being, He was human. This is the greatest mystery in the universe. As finite human beings, we can’t entirely wrap our minds around this, but it’s true: Jesus was fully God and fully man.

He lived for 33 years on the earth. He grew up just like every other child. He became a carpenter like Joseph, His earthly father. The great difference, though, between Jesus and every other human being, was that He never sinned. Never once did He ever break God’s law. He always loved God with all His heart, soul, mind, and strength in everything He did. He never sought satisfaction outside of the Father Himself. He never disobeyed His parents, He was never selfish, He never spoke sinful words. In a word, He lived the life that you and I should have lived, but failed to live. He lived a life totally worthy of God, a life that was purely “Light,” like we said before, with no darkness at all.

Jesus Paid the Penalty

And because He was perfectly righteous, He was fit to be the substitute for sinners. The Bible records for us that the Jews plotted to kill Jesus because He preached a message that was very different to the religious establishment of His day. It was against the Jewish law to put people to death, so they sought help from the Romans, who were the governing body in Israel. Because the governor, Pontius Pilate, feared that the people would riot if he didn’t give them what they wanted, he agreed to crucify Jesus.

At the same time, Scripture also tells us that God sent His Son to die this way. It was all part of God’s plan. God used the sinful desires of the Jews and the Romans to accomplish something for His own good purpose. On the cross, Jesus suffered for sins. But He didn’t suffer for His own sins. He had no sins. He lived an entirely perfect life. No, on the cross, God “caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.”

The verse right before that, Isaiah 53:5, says, “He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.” What was happening on the cross was: God was carrying out the punishment against my sins—i.e., the pouring out of His wrath—on His innocent Son. Jesus voluntarily laid down His life in order to pay the penalty for sins. On the cross, God treated Jesus if He lived my life. And because I believe in Him, He treats me as if I lived Jesus’ life. See, because God is perfectly righteous, the only way to get to heaven is to be perfectly righteous. But because Jesus was perfectly righteous, and traded places with me on the cross, the perfect righteousness I need to go to heaven is His righteousness applied to my account.

After Jesus died, God miraculously raised Him from the dead three days later in order to show that He was satisfied with His sacrifice. Jesus was dead, but then He came back to life! It was a miracle. The Bible says God did this to “furnish proof to all men” that this message is true (Acts 17:30-31).


Law or Gospel — Which comes first?

Sometimes in life, the question is posed to us, “Which do you want first — the bad news or the good news?”

In response to this question, some choose to hear the good news first. It appears they desire to be thoroughly overwhelmed with the positive before getting their dose of the negative.

Others choose differently. They would rather hear the bad news first, get it out of the way, and put behind them their wonder and worry. Then, after processing the ramifications of the bad news, they hope to soothe the pain an end the conversation on a good note with positive vibes.

Well, Scripture does not offer us options. The Bible makes the choice for us, and it chooses to present the negative before the positive. The Bible declares bad news before declaring good news. It first presents the holy, wise, beneficial and condemning Law, then it publishes the “good tidings of great joy” or the Gospel. (Is. 60:1-2)

Understanding God’s Law

God’s Law was first presented in the opening chapters of Genesis. Some of it was stated; all of it was written upon man’s heart. Adam and Eve were to be entirely holy and obedient. They were to worship God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, all the time. Whether they ate, or drank, or whatsoever they did, they were do to it all for the glory of God. As image-bearers, they were to keep up God’s image. As men and women created in his likeness, they were to be like God. Vocationally, they were to enjoy and steward the garden and all God’s creatures. Relationally, they were to love one another and populate the planet. Ceremonially, they were to enjoy and glorify the Lord by walking with him in the cool of the day and never eating from the forbidden tree. These were some of their obligations, and as long as they performed perfectly they were guaranteed life in the family and kingdom of God.

However, things soon went from glorious to ghastly. Outside of them, they experienced the testing of God and the temptation of Satan. Within them they chose to question God’s truth, wisdom, and affection. Then, drawn away by their own lusts and enticed, they followed their internal sinful inclinations and externally ate of the forbidden fruit. Therefore, the holy, wise, and beneficial Law became a harsh taskmaster. It showed them the standard, showed them their guilt, and plagued their consciences. It encouraged them to hide, fear, and religiously self-medicate. It declared them wicked, separated from God, at enmity with God, and deserving of death, and it promised this for both them and their children. Yes, the Law of God promised to give them that which they deserved. It promised to pay them based upon performance, and this proved to be very, very bad news.

Understanding God’s Gospel

God, through the Law declared to Adam and Eve who they were, what they had done, and what they had justly earned — condemnation. Then God mercifully, graciously, and lovingly went to work. He performed on their behalf and promised them an eternity of undeserved blessings:

He predetermined to love his enemies.
He sought out his enemies while they hid from him in fear.
He called to the man and woman who vainly had self-medicated themselves.
He promised to rescue them and their children; they would be removed from Satan’s family.
He promised to do so by means of a special Son – one to come who would be fiercely bitten yet ultimately victorious.
He promised to damn the Evil One.
He then covered or clothed Adam and Eve by means of his ceremonial sacrifice.
He perfectly performed for and made promises to them who had performed so wickedly for him.
Friends, are we seeing the difference? The Law presents our duty to perfectly perform, and it only results in bad news. For there is none who keep all the Law, all the time, both internally and externally. However, the Gospel is not like the Law. The Gospel presents not our duty to perform for God, but it presents God’s performance and promise for us. Through the Law we lose our credentials to be a part of God’s family and enjoy his kingdom. Through the Gospel we gain credentials that cannot be earned or lost.

A Great Illustration

Perhaps nowhere is the distinction better seen between Law and Gospel than on Calvary’s cross. On that day, the Law had placed a criminal beside Jesus. There he was guilty, vile, dying, hopeless, and still hurling insults at the Son of God. He was getting that which he earned and deserved. He was being treated justly and fairly. His payment was based upon his performance, and he had hell to pay. The Law had nothing good to say to the thief on the cross. But then God went to work; Jesus granted the Law-breaking criminal complete pardon, intimate communion, and never-ending paradise. These blessings were not based upon any labors of his own, but only based upon the performance and promise of God. These blessings were not earned; they were a gift. A divine swap occurred. Jesus (The Law Keeping Man) received that which he did not deserve so that the thief (The Law Breaking Man) might also receive that which he did not deserve. And this is a fantastic picture of the Gospel. Communion with God that was lost by man seeking to keep the Law, was granted to man as a gift of God.

Responding to the Gospel

Therefore, how should we respond to the Gospel? While believing in divine sovereignty, what is our human responsibility?

Let us make the Gospel our Gospel. Along with the Apostle Paul let us call it “mine.” The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit offer this gift to you. They command you to receive it and enjoy it. If you find yourself with faith, willing to repent and receive, call out to Jesus in prayer right now. Call Jesus, “My Jesus.” Call Jesus’ righteousness, “My Righteousness.” Call Jesus’ Gospel, “My Gospel.” (Rom. 2:16; 2 Tim. 2:8) Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. As a matter of fact, if you draw near to God, it is only because he has already been drawing nearer to you.

Let us not water down the Gospel. This is always our tendency, to add human works to the sufficient work of Jesus Christ. Friends, re-read the letter to the Galatians. If we must perform, it is not Gospel. If we must labor, it is not Gospel. If it involves our works, it is not Gospel. If it is conditioned upon us in anyway, it is not Gospel. If it is a contract, it is not Gospel. If it can be lost, it is not Gospel. The Gospel represents the unilateral work of God on behalf of men. The Law ought never be divorced from the Gospel, but it must never be confused either.

Let us celebrate the Gospel. William Tyndall wrote of the Gospel, “It makes a man’s heart glad, and makes him sing, dance, and leap for joy.” It is the best of news. It means we can sabbath. It means we can boldly approach the throne of grace with confidence. It means we are seen as Christlike image-bearers. Give God the celebratory praise he deserves. He has labored perfectly on your behalf, give him reverent and radical praise and worship.

Let us not be ashamed of the Gospel. (Rom.1:16) Paul wrote, “Woe if I do not preach the Gospel. (1 Cor. 9:16) He wrote, “How beautiful are the feet of those who spread the Good News.” Friends, just as Adam and Eve were to physically reproduce, we are to spiritually reproduce around the world. This is our mission. This is our great mission. This is our Great Commission. Let us be humble, for we cannot make someone believe. Let us be zealous, for God has a tendency to honor those who labor hard. And let us become flexibly relevant in order to better spread the Gospel. (1 Cor. 9:22-23) As Gospel-lovers and Gospel-beneficiants, let us do that which is Lawful and bring in the Gospel-harvest.

Then, let us live Lawfully in accordance with the Gospel. Now that we have been saved from having to perform, let us perform. Yes, with Gospel-eyes, let us look at the Law and enjoy practicing that which is holy, wise, beneficial, and worshipful. Living in the power of the Gospel, let us enjoy becoming more and more like Jesus — the Author and Finisher of our Faith. And when we look at the Law, let us not get frustrated and despondent. Instead, let us glory in the Law, for there is the description of who we are in Christ today, and it also shows us all we will be in glory tomorrow when our old flesh is finally exterminated.

Bottom line, the Law shows us how to perform for God, but the Gospel shows us how God performs for us. This is radical. This is crazy. This is beautiful. This is truth.


Our Response

And now, God promises that…

  • if you acknowledge that you are a sinner—that you have broken His law,
  • and if you admit that there is no way that you could earn His favor and His forgiveness,
  • and if you purpose to turn away from your life of sin and commit your life to Him,
  • and if you trust in Jesus’ righteousness alone for your acceptance before this holy God,

…then He will have treated Jesus as if He lived your life, and will treat you as if you lived Jesus’ life. You will be saved from the penalty of your sin, and will be able to enjoy fellowship with God forever in heaven, and even fellowship with Him starting now.

In other words, if you believe that you’re a sinner and deserve God’s punishment because of your sin, but you also believe that God sent Jesus to endure that punishment in your place, and that His sacrifice is the only way you can be forgiven, then God promises that He will forgive you and you will be saved. You’ll know the God who created you.

Don’t Waste Your Life

God designed your soul. And He designed you so that, just as a car engine is designed to run on gasoline, you’re designed to run on Him. He is what life is about. All of the disappointments, discouragements, and uncertainties of your life find their resolution in Him. And all of the satisfactions, fun experiences, and joys of life find their consummation in Him. Everything good in our lives is like a trail of breadcrumbs that leads us to the feast of God Himself. And everything bad in our lives is a reminder that life lived apart from knowing God in Christ is not the way it was meant to be.

And I also don’t want to see you waste your life. God created us for the purpose of rightly knowing and worshiping Him. That’s the meaning of life. That’s where true happiness and satisfaction are found. When you don’t live your life for that purpose, you waste it. So many people go through life seeking that happiness, but never find it because they don’t know what life is really about. I don’t want that for you. I don’t want you to suffer God’s wrath eternally for your sin. I want to spend eternity in heaven worshiping God with you, praising Him for how gracious He was to forgive our sins because of Christ’s sacrifice.

Receive Forgiveness

So would you receive Christ? Would you acknowledge your sinfulness before God and admit you can’t do a thing about it? Would you turn from your sin, and seek to live your life in submission to Jesus Christ? Would you trust in Jesus alone for your righteousness before God? Would you join me in worshiping the God we were created to know?

Source


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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Congress is Nearly 98% Religious, Even More Than the U.S. At Large

Congress

The 115th Congress was sworn in on January 3, 2017. This Congress shares one interesting trait in common with its predecessors: it is overwhelmingly composed of religious individuals, especially Christians. And perhaps most surprisingly, our nation’s highest legislative body is even more religious than America as a whole.

Indeed, only 11 out of 535 current congressmen and congresswomen identify as religiously “unaffiliated” or refused to specify, according to analysis released by Pew Research Center on the swearing-in day. In other words, Congress is at least 97.9 percent religious.

Most congressmen and congresswomen (90.7 percent) identify specifically as Christians. Nearly fifty-six percent called themselves Protestants and 31.4 percent said they were Catholics. Pew reported that Mormons (2.4 percent) and Orthodox (0.9 percent) rounded out this demographic.

Within Protestantism, Baptists rank highest (72 members/13 percent) followed by four Mainline traditions: Methodism (44 members/8.2 percent), Anglicanism (35 members/6.5 percent), Presbyterianism (35 members/6.5 percent), and Lutheranism (26 Members/4.9 percent). Additional Protestant traditions only counted fewer than ten members among their ranks. Sixty-four members identified as Protestant, but failed to specify a denominational or theological affiliation.

Other religions represented included – in descending order of adherents – Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Unitarian Universalism. A combined total of 39 members of Congress (7.3 percent) said they were affiliated with these religions.

Astonishingly the religiosity of Congress is considerably higher than America at large. Seventy-one percent of Americans describe themselves as Christian, according to Pew statistics. While significant, the proportion of Americans who identify as Christian remains nearly 20 percentage points lower than members of Congress. In particular, Catholicism and the four major Mainline traditions were overrepresented relative to the American population.

Twenty-four percent of Americans told Pew they were religiously “unaffiliated,” and another 1.9 percent refused to say what religion they aligned with. Considering only 2.1 percent of congressmen and congresswomen had no affiliation or failed to identify their religion, this means Americans in general were nearly 13 times more likely to be religiously unaffiliated or unsure about their faith than members of Congress.

Levels of religiosity in Congress have remained remarkably consistent for more than half a century. Statistics stretch back to 1961-1962 (the 87th Congress). While there are fewer Protestants in Congress now compared to previous sessions, they have been almost entirely replaced by Catholics and Jews. Five members identify as Orthodox Christians, compared to none in 1961. Thus members coming from a Judeo-Christian religious background continue to dominate Congress.

The number of congressmen and congresswomen who ascribe to other religions or refused to say has barely budged. Indeed, exactly ten members ascribed to another religion in both 1961 and 2017, while those who refuse to say have nudged up only slightly.

No doubt Pew’s data reveals that America remains populated by religious – particularly Christian – citizens. Surprisingly this is especially true in Congress. May God continue to grant America leaders who ascribe to His name.

Source: Congress is Nearly 98% Religious, Even More Than the U.S. At Large

CultureWatch: How Is That ‘Best Life Now’ Working Out For You? Joel or Jesus?

If you really love someone and want to help them, you tell them the truth. If you don’t really care about others and just want to help yourself, then you tell them a lie. Regrettably this can happen even in the pulpit. We have plenty of preachers and teachers who tell people only what they want to hear, not what they need to hear.

This indicates not only a lack of love, but a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The true Christian leader always proclaims the whole counsel of God, and does not cherry pick Scripture in order to please his listeners and tickle their ears. He tells it like it is, regardless of how hard the word and how unpalatable the truth.

There would be plenty of examples of those who exist simply to please men and make them feel good. Let me mention just one. Joel Osteen has the largest church in America. And that should come as no surprise, since he has made a career out of telling people exactly what they want to hear.

He of course is the author of numerous bestsellers which all have the exact same message. Here are some of them:

Your Best Life Now
Your Best Life Begins Each Morning
Become a Better You
It’s Your Time: Activate Your Faith, Achieve Your Dreams, and Increase in God’s Favor
You Can, You Will
Every Day a Friday: How to Be Happier 7 Days a Week
The Power of I Am
Think Better, Live Better

Just think happy and successful and wealthy thoughts and you will be happy and successful and wealthy. All this is Norman Vincent Peale and positive thinking on steroids. All this is identical to New Age thought which says we can script our own destiny and create our own reality. All this is Christian Science mind-over-matter mumbo jumbo.

osteen-1Osteen has spent decades telling his faithful followers that they can be happy, wealthy, heathy, successful, and have anything they want. They can have a great career, a great life, a great family, a great self-image, a great bottom line, and even a great waistline.

But one simply has to go back to the Bible to see just how far off the rails all this is. Anyone reading the New Testament without rose-coloured – or Osteen-coloured – glasses on will know that a pain-free, easy-going life is nowhere promised to the disciple of Christ.

To illustrate this, let me simply offer some quotes from three sources; Osteen, Jesus and Paul. You decide who to run with here, and who to give a wide berth.

Here are some promises and claims of Osteen (all taken from his 2013 book, I Declare: Proclaiming the Promises of God Over Your Life):

He promised He will not only bring your dreams to pass but He will give you even the secret desires of your heart.

I will give birth to every promise God put in my heart.

I DECLARE God’s dream for my life is coming to pass. It will not be stopped by people, disappointments, or adversities. God has solutions to every problem I will ever face already lined up. The right people and the right breaks are in my future. I will fulfill my destiny.

I will be in the right place at the right time. People will go out of their way to be good to me. I am surrounded by God’s favor.

I am full of power, strength, and determination. Nothing I face will be too much for me. I will overcome every obstacle, outlast every challenge, and come through every difficulty better off than I was before.

I am a breakthrough person and I choose to live breakthrough minded. I am expecting God to overwhelm me with His goodness and amaze me with His favor.

I am blessed. I’m strong. I’m healthy.

I choose to live my life happy, bloom where I am planted, and let God fight my battles.

Just act like you’re blessed, talk like you’re blessed, walk like you’re blessed, think like you’re blessed, smile like you’re blessed, dress like you’re blessed.

You need to prepare for an exceeding, abundant, above-and-beyond life; a life where people go out of their way for no reason to be good to you; a life where you get promoted even though you weren’t the most qualified; a life where you find yourself in the right place at the right time.

I’m not speaking defeat into my future. I’m not speaking failure over my life. I will turn it around and speak favor into my future. I will declare, “I’m blessed. I’m strong. I’m healthy. This will be a great year.” When you do that, you are blessing your future.

Here are some promises and claims of Jesus:

Matthew 5:3-4, 10 Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 10:16-18, 21-23 I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles…. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another.

Mark 13:9-13 You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Luke 6:20-23 Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who hunger now,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil,
because of the Son of Man.
Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.

Luke 21:16-17 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. Everyone will hate you because of me.

John 15:18-21 If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.

John 16:2-4 They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you.

John 17:14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.

Revelation 2:10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.

Here are some promises and claims of Paul:

Acts 9:15-16 But the Lord said to Ananias [concerning Saul], “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

Romans 5:3-4 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

1 Corinthians 1:27-29 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.

1 Corinthians 2:2-3 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling.

1 Corinthians 15:30-32 And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained?

2 Corinthians 4:8-12 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Galatians 6:14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which[a] the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Philippians 1:12-14 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.

Phil 1:20-21 I eagerly expectand hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body,whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Phil 3:7-8 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ

Colossians 1:24 Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.

1 Thessalonians 3:4 In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know.

2 Timothy 3:12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

So who do we run with here?

As should be quite evident, the New Testament nowhere guarantees a life free of hardship, difficulty, trials, opposition and persecution. It promises them over and over again. And it nowhere talks about believers seeking to be happy – it does talk a lot about believers seeking to be holy.

Sure, the NT does speak of being filled with the joy of the Lord. But such joy is the result of being in Christ, doing his will, and being obedient to him. And doing his will and being obedient usually results in great suffering, hardship, persecution and tribulation.

Let me conclude with a sobering headline making the rounds the past few days. As one write-up on this puts it: “During the year 2016, some 90,000 Christians were killed for their faith around the world, according to a new study from the Turin-based Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR).”

Try telling these believers, or their families and friends who are still alive, about having your best life now. Try telling them if they just think happy and positive thoughts they can be winners and grinners every day. Try telling them if they just had more faith and put aside all negative thinking, they too could be wealthy and successful and obtain all their dreams.

I have said it before and I will say it again: the health and wealth gospel in general, and the bubble gum theology being pushed by folks like Osteen, are leading millions of people astray. Indeed, they are leading millions of people to a lost eternity.

We can either run with Jesus and Paul, or we can run with folks like Osteen. I know which ones I will be sticking with.

http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2017/01/01/report-90000-christians-killed-faith-2016/

Source: How Is That ‘Best Life Now’ Working Out For You? Joel or Jesus?

January 5, 2017: Verse of the day

img_0583

2:9 I have vowed. Jonah found himself in the same position as the mariners: offering sacrifices and making vows (cf. 1:16). In light of 3:1–4, Jonah’s vow could well have been to carry out God’s ministry will for him by preaching in Nineveh (Pss 50:14; 66:13, 14).

MacArthur Study Bible

Sacrifice … vowed recalls the actions of the sailors (1:16), whom Jonah is now like. Salvation belongs to the Lord is Jonah’s confession that God is the sovereign source of salvation, though the rest of the story will show that Jonah believes God is free to save any, as long as they are “us” and not “them” (see 4:1–4).

ESV Study Bible

2:9 Salvation belongs to the Lord. Like Joshua before him (Josh. 24:14, 15), Jonah declares his loyalty to the Lord and extols Him as the only source of salvation and deliverance. In imparting salvation to Jonah, the Lord moved the prophet from disobedience to repentance; in imparting salvation to the Ninevites, He will move them from idolatry to faith (3:5–10); in imparting salvation to the Gentiles now He sovereignly moves them to faith and repentance (Acts 11:17, 18).

Reformation Study Bible

January 5, 2017: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

January 5

Mankind’s Box

For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

Colossians 2:9

If we were to think of this world as a time–space dimension, then a closed box could represent it, with God outside of the box. It is impossible for mankind to escape the box because, by definition, the natural cannot enter into the supernatural. That which is confined to time and space cannot escape into eternity and infinity.

Because there is something within man that longs to know what is outside the box, he invents deities into existence, which is how religions proliferate. Different religions become an extension of man’s desire to escape his box, but man’s longing to transcend the box cannot be overcome because he is confined to the box by his very nature.

Is there a way to escape this box?  Yes, the good news is there is a way, and it’s through Christ. Christianity acknowledges that you can’t get out of your box but proclaims that God has invaded the box from the outside. Jesus Christ has entered into your world to show you how you can dwell with God forever. Won’t you accept His invitation?[1]


January 5 Approaching Life from a Divine Perspective

“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.”

Ephesians 4:1

✧✧✧

To mature in our faith, we must learn to see things from God’s perspective.

Paul was a prisoner of Rome. Why then did he call himself “the prisoner of the Lord”? Because he had the ability to see everything in terms of how it affected Christ. No matter what happened in his life, he saw it in relation to God. His questions were, “What does this mean, God?” and “How does this affect You?”

When a problem comes in life, we are prone to say, “Oh, woe is me!” and wonder how it will affect us: Will it cause me pain? Will it cost me money? Too often we think only on the earthly level. But like Paul, we should think on a heavenly level: What is God trying to teach me? How can I glorify Him in this? In fact, a good definition of Christian maturity is: automatically seeing things in light of the divine perspective.

This perspective, this God–consciousness, is the only right way for Christians to live. David said, “I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will dwell securely” (Ps. 16:8–9). Because David was always aware of God’s presence, he found joy and security, and no trouble could disturb him for long.

Paul was the same way: he knew there was a reason for his imprisonment and that Christ would be glorified by it (cf. Phil. 1:12–14). Paul wasn’t preoccupied with how it affected him, and thus he was able to rejoice, even in prison.

“God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). Nothing happens outside of God’s control. Let’s trust that He knows what is best for us.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: If you tend to get discouraged or complain when troubles come, ask God to forgive you and help you see troubles from His perspective. Acknowledge before Him that He is in control of everything.

For Further Study: Paul’s attitude toward difficulties was cultivated by the experience he describes in 2 Corinthians 12:2–10. What did Christ teach him about troubles in verse 9, and how did that change Paul’s outlook?[2]


JANUARY 5

DETERMINE TO FIND HIM

My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.

—Psalm 5:3

I want deliberately to encourage this mighty longing after God. The lack of it has brought us to our present low estate. The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire. Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people. He waits to be wanted. Too bad that with many of us He waits so long, so very long, in vain.

Every age has its own characteristics. Right now we are in an age of religious complexity. The simplicity which is in Christ is rarely found among us. In its stead are programs, methods, organizations and a world of nervous activities which occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing of the heart. The shallowness of our inner experience, the hollowness of our worship, and that servile imitation of the world which marks our promotional methods all testify that we, in this day, know God only imperfectly, and the peace of God scarcely at all.

If we would find God amid all the religious externals, we must first determine to find Him, and then proceed in the way of simplicity. POG017-018

Quiet my heart, Lord, that I might be still enough to find You in the midst of this complex world. Simplify my life that I may never lose sight of You. Amen. [3]


January 5

True Baptism—Christ Immersed

After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water.—Matt. 3:16a

Christians, especially new believers, sometimes wonder what mode of baptism Jesus underwent, and therefore wonder which is correct for them to experience. Since genuine baptism represents cleansing from sin and symbolizes the believer’s identification with Christ’s death and resurrection, the ordinance must involve immersion, not merely sprinkling or pouring.

The Greek word (baptizo) literally means to dip or submerge an object into water or another liquid. Confusion regarding the word’s meaning resulted largely because Latin and more modern-language translations of Scripture simply transliterated many occurrences of the Greek word.

Until the Middle Ages, the Christian church knew and officially practiced no form of baptism but immersion. Then the Roman Catholic Church formally introduced and sanctioned baptism by sprinkling or pouring. Prior to that, even the great Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas wrote, “In immersion the setting forth of the burial of Christ is more plainly expressed, in which this manner of baptizing is more commendable.”

That Jesus “came up immediately from the water” indicates He had been completely in the water—in other words, almost surely immersed. John baptized people in the Jordan River (Matt. 3:6) and at other places where “there was much water” (John 3:23). That would not make sense if he had baptized only by pouring or sprinkling (cf. Acts 8:38–39). Unlike immersion, those other modes just do not fully symbolize dying to sin and being raised to new life.

ASK YOURSELF
Baptism is a one-time exercise in obedience, but the reality of being crucified with Christ and raised to “walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4) is an ongoing experience. How do you remind yourself of this on your average day? Pray that the gift of God’s grace never loses its wonder.[4]

JANUARY 5

OUR CHARTER IS FROM GOD

Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Matthew 16:18

While we are right to thank God in appreciation for all of the great and good men in the history of the Christian church, we actually “follow” none of them. Our charter goes farther back and is from a higher source. They were rightly looked upon as leaders, but they were all servants of God, even as you and I are.

Luther sowed. Wesley watered. Finney reaped—but they were only servants of the living God.

In our local assemblies, we are part of the church founded by the Lord Jesus Christ and perpetuated by the mystery of the new birth. Therefore, our assembly is that of Christian believers gathered unto a Name to worship and adore the Presence. So, in that sense, the strain is gone. The strain and pressure to abide by traditional religious forms all begin to pale in importance as we function in faith as the people of God who glorify His Name and honor His Presence!

If all of this is true—and everything within me witnesses that it is—we may insist that God is able to do for us all that He did in the days of the apostles. There has been no revocation of our charter!

Dear Lord, thank You for the people in my life who have helped to shape me spiritually. And thank You that You alone are still the Source of new life.[5]


January 5 Cultivating a Heavenly Perspective

“God … has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:3, emphasis added).

✧✧✧

Christians hold a dual citizenship. We are citizens of earth, but, more importantly, we are also citizens of Heaven.

It’s been said that some Christians are so heavenly-minded, they’re no earthly good. But usually the opposite is true. Many Christians are so enamored with this present world that they no longer look forward to Heaven. They have everything they want right here. The health, wealth, and prosperity doctrine has convinced them that Christians can have it all, so they pursue “the good life” with a vengeance.

Despite the prevalence of such thinking, the old Negro spiritual says well, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through.”

Paul reminds us of that truth in Philippians 3:20: “Our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” That’s why we must set our minds on heavenly, not on earthly, things (Col. 3:1–2). Our deepest affections and highest aspirations should center there. Our actions and decisions should reflect heavenly priorities, not earthly indulgences.

Even though we live in a sin-stained world and must constantly fight against its corrupting influences, God hasn’t left us stranded. He extends to us all the rights and privileges of our heavenly citizenship. Let that assurance encourage you today to live to His glory and to rely on His heavenly provisions. Take care not to let impure aspirations or trivial pursuits distract you from your heavenly priorities.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Tell Jesus how thankful and full of praise you are because of the place He is preparing for you in Heaven (John 14:1–3). ✧ Pray for a greater awareness of the fleeting value of this world and the surpassing value of the world to come (1 John 2:17).

For Further Study: Read Revelation 4, 5, 21. ✧ What primary activity are the inhabitants of Heaven engaged in? ✧ List some of Heaven’s blessings.[6]


JANUARY 5

DO NOT MISTAKE THE TRUE MEANING OF THE CROSS

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our LORD Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

GALATIANS 6:14

All unannounced and mostly undetected there has come in modern times a new cross into popular evangelical circles.

It is like the old cross, but different: the likenesses are superficial, the differences fundamental!

From this new cross has sprung a new philosophy of the Christian life with encouragement for a new and entirely different evangelistic approach. The evangelist tries to show that Christianity makes no unpleasant demands; rather, it offers the same thing the world does, only on a higher level. The modern view is that the new cross does not slay the sinner, it redirects him!

The philosophy back of this kind of thing may be sincere, but it is as false as it is blind. It misses completely the whole meaning of the cross.

The old cross is a symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human being. In Roman times, the man who took up his cross and started down the road was not coming back. He was not going out to have his life redirected: he was going out to have it ended! The cross did not try to keep on good terms with its victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more!

The race of Adam is under death sentence. God cannot approve any of the fruits of sin. In coming to Christ we do not bring our old life up onto a higher plane; we leave it at the cross. Thus God salvages the individual by liquidating him and then raising him again to newness of life![7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 16). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

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

[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. 13). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

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

[6] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 17). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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

The deceit of human reason leads to hypocrisy

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

1 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 6 For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. 2 Timothy 3:1-8 (NASB)

Genuine Christianity is not a world religion. Instead, it…

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