Daily Archives: March 20, 2017

March 20, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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Mar. 20, 2017 |

BLOOMBERG

FBI Director James Comey is about to testify on the continuing U.S. investigation into Russia’s meddling in last year’s presidential election, but President Donald Trump on Monday accused Democrats of making up claims and pushed the agency and Congress to focus instead on media leaks.

Prime Minister Theresa May will file divorce papers to leave the European Union on March 29, launching two years of complex negotiations that will pit the U.K.’s need for a trade deal against the bloc’s view that Britain shouldn’t benefit from Brexit.

The high-heeled boot surrounded by five seas is ranked the healthiest country on Earth in the Bloomberg Global Health Index of 163 countries. A baby born in Italy can expect to live to be an octogenarian. But 2,800 miles south in Sierra Leone, the average newborn will die by 52.

Fierce clashes broke out in the Syrian capital on Sunday after insurgents infiltrated government-held parts of the city through tunnels overnight, a rare if brief advance after months of steady losses at the hands of government forces elsewhere in the country.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for a concerted effort to defend free trade, saying global markets can be both open and fair.

AP Top Stories

President Trump’s approval rating has fallen to 37 percent — the lowest of his fledgling presidency, according to Gallup. His disapproval rating rose correspondingly, hitting 58 percent.

As the number of Syrian refugees fleeing the civil war climbs well into the millions, there are new warnings from top U.S. counterterrorism experts that the exodus is posing a national security threat far more serious than any the United States and Europe have seen in decades. The failure of the West to address the conditions of refugees flooding into neighboring countries creates a situation like the one that gave rise to the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan 25 years ago — with consequences that could potentially be more disastrous.

A man shot dead by French soldiers at Paris Orly airport on Saturday shouted he was there to “die for Allah” and tried to seize a soldier’s assault rifle, apparently intending to open fire on passengers, a prosecutor said.

Peruvians struggled on Sunday to cope with avalanches, mudslides and extensive flash flooding caused by torrential downpours, and forecasters predicted still more rain ahead, prolonging the country’s woes.

President Donald Trump said Saturday that Germany owes “vast sums of money” to NATO and the U.S. “must be paid more” for providing defense, reiterating his stance that European allies need to meet their end of the bargain if they are to continue benefiting from the military alliance.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has described European lawmakers as “crazies” in a salty-tongued rebuttal of criticism of his deadly drug war, while vowing again that all traffickers will be killed.

Patients who received Abbott Laboratories’ novel dissolving vascular stent had a significantly higher rate of serious adverse heart events than those treated with the company’s widely used Xience drug-coated metal stent two years after implantation, according to data presented on Saturday.

China welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday just days after hosting Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and the signing of deals worth as much as $65 billion with Riyadh, as China steps up its tentative engagement with the Middle East.

Now, a group of scientists says Pluto should definitely be added back to the planet list — oh, and that there are over 100 other objects in our solar system that should also be called planets.

A Texas high school’s on-site prayer room — which serves as a spot where Muslim students can pray — is stirring controversy. Liberty High School in Frisco established the room in 2009, but Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is concerned that the room may be off-limits to students of other religious denominations. He said in a letter Friday to the school district that any exclusion would be inconsistent with the First Amendment’s protection of religious liberty. A school district spokesman responded that the classroom is available to “students of all walks of life” in the afternoon when it is vacant.

If you’re looking for a new job right now, think “health care” and “transportation,” and stay away from mining, real estate and media.

BBC

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has ordered the country’s two main border crossings with Afghanistan to reopen immediately.

Now the children’s TV show Sesame Street is introducing a new Muppet character with a simpler name, and a tougher brief. Julia, a little girl, has orange hair, a toy rabbit – and autism.

Dozens of skulls have been found at a site in the eastern Mexican state of Veracruz. The find comes just days after Veracruz state Attorney General Jorge Winckler announced that more than 250 skulls had been discovered at another mass grave.

South Korea has appealed to the World Trade Organization to determine if the Chinese government is treating South Korean companies unfairly.

More than 180,000 civilians have fled the west of the Iraqi city of Mosul in the past month, as government forces battle Islamic State (IS) militants.

WND

“The media and Democrats are so close in association and so close in their philosophical views that we might as well use one word to describe both, and that’s ‘Mediacrats,’” said Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, founder of the House Media Fairness Caucus.

A group of female clergy from Iowa wrote a letter this week to publicly state their support of the abortion chain Planned Parenthood.

Yale University may soon formally replace the term “freshman” with “first-year student” in an effort to “reflect the values” of the institution.


Top News – 3/20/2017

Anti-Trump media: 91% coverage negative, 96% of donations to Hillary
“The media and Democrats are so close in association and so close in their philosophical views that we might as well use one word to describe both, and that’s ‘Mediacrats,’” said Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, founder of the House Media Fairness Caucus.

“Blasphemous,” “Disgusting,” & “Demonic”: Archbishop Paglia’s Homoerotic Mural
Critics are saying the work commissioned by Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia is “blasphemous,” “disgusting,” and even “demonic.” “There is a need for reparation for this blasphemous work. And it is blasphemy because of the effeminate depiction of Christ in a context that the artist himself said was meant to be ‘erotic,’” said Dr. Thomas Ward, president of the National Association of Catholic Families and former corresponding member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Trump could ‘do an Andrew Jackson’ to save travel ban
…the Constitution and federal law give the president the authority to restrict entry to the country, said Trump could “always do a true Andrew Jackson,” the last president to challenge a court “usurping authority they did not have.”

6.0-magnitude earthquake hits off Solomon Islands
The quake struck at 02:43 am local time (1543 GMT Sunday) at a depth of 4.0 kilometres (2.5 miles), some 170 kilometres north-northeast of the capital city Honiara, the USGS said. No tsunami warning was issued.

Trump Admin To Boycott U.N. Council Over Anti-Israel Agenda
The UNHRC, which includes member countries cited for mass human rights abuses, is poised on Monday to adopt at least five anti-Israel resolutions, prompting outrage in the Trump administration over what officials described as the council’s unjust bias against the Jewish state. The boycott comes on the heels of the resignation of a Jordanian U.N. official who had sought to advance an anti-Israel agenda opposed by the U.S. and other nations.

Dome of the Rock Deliberately Placed Over Ancient Temple Site to Enforce Islamic ‘Replacement Theology’
The conflict over the Temple Mount is a clear manifestation of Islamic replacement theology, a noted archaeologist told the Knesset on Wednesday. It is the site’s holy status in Judaism that is the basis of Islam’s interest, and this phenomenon has been seen throughout history, with Islam appropriating major Christian sites as well.


SUNSPOT COUNTS REACH 7-YEAR LOW
The face of the sun has been blank (no sunspots) for 14 consecutive days. The last time this happened was April of 2010, near the end of a deep Solar Minimum. The current stretch of blank suns heralds a new Solar Minimum expected to arrive in 2019-2020.

‘Don’t f*** with us!’ Philippine President RAGES at European Union in FURIOUS tirade
The extraordinary rant came as EU bigwigs passed a resolution criticising the leader’s tough stance on drug convicts last week. European lawmakers said they were “deeply alarmed” by the reintroduction of the death penalty – adding capital punishment is considered “cruel and inhuman”. Responding to the remarks, Mr Duterte, who previously referred to Barack Obama as a “son of a whore”, once again used colourful language to berate the European Parliament

Unproven stem cell ‘therapy’ blinds three patients at Florida clinic
Three people with macular degeneration were blinded after undergoing an unproven stem cell treatment that was touted as a clinical trial in 2015 at a clinic in Florida. Within a week following the treatment, the patients experienced a variety of complications, including vision loss, detached retinas and hemorrhage. They are now blind.

Shin Bet chief warns of Hamas attack attempts ahead of Passover
The head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) Nadav Argaman warned on Monday morning that despite the current relative calm, Hamas and other terrorists entities may attempt to carry out attacks ahead of the upcoming Passover holiday. “The relative calm that we are experiencing at this time is quite deceiving, it’s misleading and deluding because Hamas and global jihadi infrastructure are working every day in attempt to conduct terror attacks in Israeli territory,” he stated at a meeting of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Syria war: Damascus sees fierce clashes after rebel attack
Syrian security forces have engaged in fierce clashes with rebels on the eastern outskirts of Damascus. Artillery shells and rockets landed in the heart of the capital as part of a surprise rebel attack launched in the Jobar district. The assault began early on Sunday with car bombs and suicide attacks, activists said. State media said secret tunnels were also used.

NSA Documents Prove Surveillance of Donald Trump & His Family
Infowars.com have obtained credible information from law enforcement sources regarding individual records of U.S. citizens under National Security Agency (NSA) electronic surveillance in the years 2004 through 2010 – a database that suggests…Donald J. Trump…were under illegal, unauthorized government monitoring during those years.

North Korea issues SHOCK war warning: ‘If a single bullet is fired, we WILL nuke the US’
Kim Jong-un’s rogue state issued the stunning warning as Washington and South Korea carry out war games in the region…North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said: “The Korean People’s Army will reduce the bases of aggression and provocation to ashes with its invincible Hwasong rockets tipped with nuclear warheads and reliably defend the security of the country and its people’s happiness in case the US and the South Korean puppet forces fire even a single bullet at the territory of the DPRK.”

30 Countries Are Refusing To Take Back Illegal Immigrants Convicted Of Serious Crimes
Approximately 30 countries are refusing to accept the deportations of illegal immigrants who have committed serious crimes in the U.S., according to Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar. While these countries are refusing to accept the deportations of these criminals, the U.S. government is still issuing visas…to citizens of those countries…There is already a law on the books which allows the U.S. to hold visas from a country that is not taking back its criminals, but…the U.S. is not enforcing it.

Israel threatens to ‘destroy’ Syrian air defence systems
Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Sunday threatened to destroy Syrian air defence systems after they fired ground-to-air missiles at Israeli warplanes carrying out strikes.

Top GOP senator spills beans on real goal of EPA
President Trump is right to use his first federal budget to gut the Environmental Protection Agency and eradicate the cornerstones of Obama’s climate change strategy, says U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., because the EPA is being used as a tool by the left to kill free enterprise and destroy capitalism.

In First 2 Months in Office: Trump Reduced Debt by $100 Billion – Obama Increased Dept By $400 Billion
On January 20th, the day of President Trump’s Inauguration, the US Debt stood at $19,947 billion. As of March 16th, the most recent date for US debt reporting, the US Debt stands at $19,846 billion. President Trump has cut the US Debt burden by over $100 billion and 0.5% in the first two months since his inauguration!

Trump Looks Repeal Major Obama Fracking Rule
Lawyers with the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed to change the federal government’s position on environmental regulations, which the Obama administration had legally defended against challenges from the oil and natural gas industry and several state governments.

China Plans To Trample Obama’s Red Line In The South China Sea
Beijing has plans to start construction on the disputed Scarborough Shoal this year. China has reclaimed land in both the Spratly and Paracel Islands and constructed military outposts, but it has been hesitant to start construction on the Scarborough Shoal. Xiao Jie, the mayor of Sansha — an administrative base for China’s South China Sea activities masquerading as a city — said this week that China intends to construct environmental monitoring stations on a number of territories in the South China Sea, including the Scarborough Shoal.

Russian Anti-Smoking Campaign: “Smoking Kills More People Than Obama, Although He Kills A lot
Russian authorities included Barack Obama in their latest an anti-smoking campaign. The former US president is pictured smoking in the Russian ads seen in bus stops.


The Briefing 03-20-17

An “ideological food fight”? Confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch begin today

When feminism and abortion collide, feminism loses: British doctor pushes for sex-selective abortion

The post The Briefing 03-20-17 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.


Op-Ed: The Fed’s stealthy QE — $267 billion of fresh liquidity injected since mid-January

The Fed has been expanding its balance sheet – big time – by buying a huge amount of assets in exchange for cash to reassure equity and bond traders.

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The Global Famine Begins: UN Announces That The Worst Food Crisis Since World War II Is Happening Right Now

Horse Famine - Public DomainWe always knew that this would start happening.  Earlier this month, I wrote about the severe economic problems that are plaguing South America, but up to this point I have neglected to discuss the horrific famines that are breaking out all over Africa.  Right now there is a desperate need for food in South Sudan, Somalia, northeast Nigeria, Eritrea and Kenya.  And Yemen, even though it is not technically part of Africa, is being affected by many of the same factors that are crippling nations all over eastern Africa.  The United Nations says that more than 20 million people could die from starvation and disease if nothing is done.  When I write about economic collapse, this is the kind of thing that I am talking about, and we are starting to see alarming conditions spread across the globe.  Many believe that we could never possibly face this kind of food crisis in the western world, but unfortunately wishful thinking will only get you so far. (Read More…)


Top Headlines – 3/20/2017

  • Stock futures lower after G20 drops free-trade pledge (Read More)
  • U.K. to Trigger Brexit on March 29, May’s Spokesman Says (Read More)
  • Comey to Testify on Hill About Russia, Wiretap Allegation (Read More)
  • Germany, Japan Push Trade Deal as Merkel Seeks Anti-Trump Allies (Read More)
  • North Korea engine test may be prelude to partial ICBM flight (Read More)
  • Regulators Said to Weigh Appraisal Change That May Spur Lending (Read More)
  • Gorsuch to restore conservative tilt to US court (Read More)
  • White House installs political aides at Cabinet agencies to be Trump’s eyes and ears (Read More)
  • Canada Committed to Lower Debt Ratio, Morneau Says Before Budget (Read More)
  • Deputy to Uber CEO Abruptly Exits, Adding to Management Turmoil (Read More)
  • Almost half of Canadians want illegal border crossers deported (Read More)
  • Deutsche Bank Says Revenue to Stay ‘Broadly Flat’ This Year (Read More)
  • What’s Attacking the Web? A Security Camera in a Colorado Laundroma (Read More)
  • French financial prosecutor’s office evacuateda (Read More)
  • A Six-Figure Income May Not Shield You From a Shock (Read More)
  • It’s Good to Be a CEO, Again: Stocks Rise, and So Does Pay (Read More)
  • Norway unseats Denmark as world’s happiest country (Read More)
  • Rent or Buy in New York? Compare the Costs (Read More)
  • No plans for early election, says UK PM May’s spokesman (Read More)
  • Visco Says ECB Could Shorten Break Between QE Exit And Rate Hike (Read More)
  • China says preparatory work for Xi-Trump meeting has begun (Read More)
  • Polls in Austria show erosion of far-right Freedom Party’s lead (Read More)

Palestinians give award to UN official who condemned Israel

Netanyahu chief of staff heads to US to sort out settlements

Netanyahu’s rift with finance minister fuels talk of early Israeli election

Argentina, Israelis mark 25 years since attack on Buenos Aires embassy

Arabs agree to escalate terror war ‘in all ways possible’

IDF calls up reservists for surprise exercise in south

IDF chief says Lebanon responsible for next conflict with Hezbollah

How Russia Is Turning Syria into a Major Naval Base for Nuclear Warships (and Israel Is Worried)

Israel-Syria Clash: With Missile Fire, Assad Is Trying to Change the Rules of the Game

Israel said to strike Syria for second time in 24 hours, amid threats from Damascus

Israeli air force kills Syrian citizen near Damascus

Israeli airstrike in Syrian Golan said to kill pro-Assad fighter

Syria’s ambassador to the UN: Syria’s response to Israel’s attack changes the rules of the game

Israel threatens to destroy Syria’s air defence systems ‘without the slightest hesitation’

Lieberman: If Syria targets our aircraft again, we’ll destroy its air defense

Syria war: Damascus sees fierce clashes after rebel attack

Syria conflict: Rebels begin evacuating Homs enclave of al-Wair

Three US soldiers wounded in Afghan ‘insider attack’

Germany Turkey: 30,000 Kurds in Frankfurt anti-Erdogan protest

Orly airport: Attacker phoned father to say ‘I screwed up’

Tests find drugs, alcohol in blood of Paris airport attacker

North Korea ‘conducts high-thrust engine test’

Trump says North Korea dictator ‘is acting very, very badly’

White House Releases Border Wall Requirements

Judge denies request to limit order halting Trump’s travel ban

Comey set to testify on Capitol Hill on Russia, hacking, wiretapping

House intel committee chairman: ‘There never was’ Trump tower wiretap

German cybersecurity watchdog raises attack alert level

European rocket scientists pledge to make first private Moon landing in 2018

6.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Auki, Solomon Islands

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near L’Esperance Rock, New Zealand

Sheveluch volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 15,000ft

Floods and mudslides kill dozens in Peru

Trump may move GOP health care bill to the right, dooming it in the Senate

Trump budget threatens nutrition services for poor women and children

U.S. Supreme Court’s ideological balance at stake in confirmation fight

Jerusalem to host Israel’s main gay pride parade

First Amendment controversy brews over Texas high school’s Muslim prayer room

C.H. Fisher – They Love Error More than Truth

Bob DeWaay – Two-Domain Theology: How We Escape Satan’s Dominion

Visual Proof That Modern Churches are (Much) Better

Jane Whaley/WOFF – Social worker accused of hiding religious sect abuse resigns

Pastor that rejects doctors and drugs charged in the death of his own granddaughter

President of Christian Ecclesia College Indicted for Mail, Wire Fraud

Female Clergy Members From Iowa Publicly Support Planned Parenthood

Principal Recruits Students for Secret ‘Gay’ Club

ABC’s ’20/20′ Contacted Me for ‘Gay Conversion Therapy’ Story, But Ignored What I Told Them

The Rise and Struggle of South Korean Missionaries

Is Ezekiel 36:8 Prophecy Coming True In The Galilee?

Posted: 20 Mar 2017 07:38 AM PDT

(Reported By PNW) One of the benefits of living in modern Israel is physically experiencing Biblical prophecy coming to life.  Two families who moved to…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: Over 250 Quakes strike Iceland Volcano, Major Eruption May Be Imminent

Posted: 20 Mar 2017 07:26 AM PDT

Iceland may very well be about to see a major eruption soon as reports indicate the last 24 hours has seen a large seismic swarm of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Have You Been Bitten?

Posted: 20 Mar 2017 06:19 AM PDT

(By Ricky Scaparo) In this segment, we will discuss how many believers have been bitten by a venomous enemy known as “Offense” and how once…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

City of David Sees Fulfillment of Isaiah 52:2 Prophecy in Our Day

Posted: 20 Mar 2017 06:11 AM PDT

(Reported By Charisma News) When people visit Jerusalem’s Old City, they may believe it’s the same place King David set up as his capital more…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Pastor Discovers 706-Carat Diamond

Posted: 20 Mar 2017 06:04 AM PDT

A Christian pastor has reportedly discovered one of the world’s largest uncut diamonds — weighing 706 carats — in Sierra Leone’s eastern Kono region.  This…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Yale Pushing to Replace ‘Freshman’ with More ‘Inclusive’ Term

Posted: 20 Mar 2017 05:55 AM PDT

Here we go again with the changing of history and terms to accommodate the culture and prevent anyone and everyone from being “offended”!Now Yale University…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

1961 Prophecy From Evangelist Tommy Hicks Described The Army Of The Last Days That Is Rising Now

Posted: 20 Mar 2017 05:44 AM PDT

(Reported By Michael Snyder) More than 50 years ago, God showed evangelist Tommy Hicks what the mighty army of the last days would look like….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Google Director Aims to Implant Computers Inside Human Brain

Posted: 19 Mar 2017 10:34 PM PDT

(By Kelly McDonald, Jr) Recently, the director of engineering for Google announced that he was in favor of implanting computers inside the human brain. By…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Solar Eclipse Will Cross the US for the First Time in 99 Years

Posted: 19 Mar 2017 10:30 PM PDT

(By Kelly McDonald, Jr) An extremely rare solar event will appear in the sky this summer. On August 21st, a total solar eclipse will cross…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Strange Weather: 30-Year Snowfall Hits Remote Chinese Region

Posted: 19 Mar 2017 10:27 PM PDT

(By Kelly McDonald, Jr) In the northwest section of the Xinjang Uygur Autonomous region, a rare snowfall recently fell that has not been seen in…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

BREAKING NEWS: Israel Strikes Hezbollah Convoy In Syria

Posted: 19 Mar 2017 06:43 PM PDT

Breaking News reports coming out of the Mideast are reporting that early Monday morning Israel struck what appears to be, Hezbollah targets on the Syrian-Lebanese…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Ohio Town Sees 82 Overdoses in 2 weeks

Posted: 19 Mar 2017 06:19 PM PDT

One Ohio town is reeling from what is being reported of record drug overdoses leaving nearly a dozen dead. The report from a local affiliate…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Controversial Trump Billboard In Arizona Drawing Outrage!

Posted: 19 Mar 2017 06:04 PM PDT

A large billboard in Phoneix, Arizona depicting the US President Donald Trump between nuclear mushroom clouds and dollar sign Nazi swastikas has sparked outrage among…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

UN Announces That The Worst Food Crisis Since World War II Is Happening Right Now

Posted: 19 Mar 2017 05:50 PM PDT

(Reported By Michael Snyder) We always knew that this would start happening. Earlier this month, I wrote about the severe economic problems that are plaguing…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Days of Lot: Homosexuality Sharply Increasing Among Youth

Posted: 19 Mar 2017 11:16 AM PDT

(By Kelly McDonald, Jr) A recent study was released concerning the acceptance of homosexuality among youth in the United States. Their research show an 85%…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Christian College Says Bible Is Not Inclusive Enough

Posted: 19 Mar 2017 11:14 AM PDT

(By Kelly McDonald, Jr) Bethel University, a Christian university in Minnesota, has instructed its teachers to stop using terms such as “man” and “mankind” because…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

New Military Laser Shoots Down Drones

Posted: 19 Mar 2017 11:11 AM PDT

(By Kelly McDonald, Jr) The US Military has recently received a new laser system to shoot down drones. The laser, developed by Lockheed Martin, combines…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

BREAKING NEWS: North Korea Warns It Will Nuke US ‘If a Single Bullet is Fired

Posted: 19 Mar 2017 10:40 AM PDT

The persistent “War Rhetoric” continues from North Korea as the latest threat comes as the communists Nation has vowed to launch a nuclear strike on…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

The Power Of Agreement

Posted: 19 Mar 2017 10:27 AM PDT

(By Ricky Scaparo) In this segment, we will be discussing how the power of agreement brings breakthrough, deliverances, and miracles! Watch the video below for…

Read more at End Time Headlines.


What is The Gospel?


Who Do You Think That I Am?

Selected Scriptures

Code: A335

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:

JESUS IS GOD

While Jesus was on earth there was much confusion about who He was. Some thought He was a wise man or a great prophet. Others thought He was a madman. Still others couldn’t decide or didn’t care. But Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). That means He claimed to be nothing less than God in human flesh.

Many people today don’t understand that Jesus claimed to be God. They’re content to think of Him as little more than a great moral teacher. But even His enemies understood His claims to deity. That’s why they tried to stone Him to death (John 5:18; 10:33) and eventually had Him crucified (John 19:7).

C.S. Lewis observed, “You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to” (Mere Christianity [Macmillan, 1952], pp. 40-41).

If the biblical claims of Jesus are true, He is God!

JESUS IS HOLY

God is absolutely and perfectly holy (Isaiah 6:3), therefore He cannot commit or approve of evil (James 1:13).

As God, Jesus embodied every element of God’s character. Colossians 2:9 says, “In Him all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form.” He was perfectly holy (Hebrews 4:15). Even His enemies couldn’t prove any accusation against Him (John 8:46)

God requires holiness of us as well. First Peter 1:16 says, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

JESUS IS THE SAVIOR

Our failure to obey God—to be holy—places us in danger of eternal punishment (2 Thessalonians 1:9). The truth is, we cannot obey Him because we have neither the desire nor the ability to do so. We are by nature rebellious toward God (Ephesians 2:1-3). The Bible calls our rebellion “sin.” According to Scripture, everyone is guilty of sin: “There is no man who does not sin” (1 Kings 8:46). “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And we are incapable of changing our sinful condition. Jeremiah 13:23 says, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.”

That doesn’t mean we’re incapable of performing acts of human kindness. We might even be involved in various religious or humanitarian activities. But we’re utterly incapable of understanding, loving, or pleasing God on our own. The Bible says, “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one” (Romans 3:10-12).

God’s holiness and justice demand that all sin be punished by death: “The soul who sins will die” (Ezekiel 18:4). That’s hard for us to understand because we tend to evaluate sin on a relative scale, assuming some sins are less serious than others. However, the Bible teaches that all acts of sin are the result of sinful thinking and evil desires. That’s why simply changing our patterns of behavior can’t solve our sin problem or eliminate its consequences. We need to be changed inwardly so our thinking and desires are holy

Jesus is the only one who can forgive and transform us, thereby delivering us from the power and penalty of sin: “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Even though God’s justice demands death for sin, His love has provided a Savior, who paid the penalty and died for sinners: “Christ … died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Christ’s death satisfied the demands of God’s justice, thereby enabling Him to forgive and save those who place their faith in Him (Romans 3:26). John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” He alone is “our great God and Savior” (Titus 2:13).

JESUS IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH

Some people think it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere. But without a valid object your faith is useless

If you take poison—thinking it’s medicine—all the faith in the world won’t restore your life. Similarly, if Jesus is the only source of salvation, and you’re trusting in anyone or anything else for your salvation, your faith is useless.

Many people assume there are many paths to God and that each religion represents an aspect of truth. But Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6). He didn’t claim to be one of many equally legitimate paths to God, or the way to God for His day only. He claimed to be the only way to God—then and forever.

JESUS IS LORD

Contemporary thinking says man is the product of evolution. But the Bible says we were created by a personal God to love, serve, and enjoy endless fellowship with Him

The New Testament reveals it was Jesus Himself who created everything (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16). Therefore He also owns and rules everything (Psalm 103:19). That means He has authority over our lives and we owe Him absolute allegiance, obedience, and worship.

Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.” Confessing Jesus as Lord means humbly submitting to His authority (Philippians 2:10-11). Believing that God has raised Him from the dead involves trusting in the historical fact of His resurrection—the pinnacle of Christian faith and the way the Father affirmed the deity and authority of the Son (Romans 1:4; Acts 17:30-31).

True faith is always accompanied by repentance from sin. Repentance is more than simply being sorry for sin. It is agreeing with God that you are sinful, confessing your sins to Him, and making a conscious choice to turn from sin and pursue holiness (Isaiah 55:7). Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15); and “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine” (John 8:31).

It isn’t enough to believe certain facts about Christ. Even Satan and his demons believe in the true God (James 2:19), but they don’t love and obey Him. Their faith is not genuine. True saving faith always responds in obedience (Ephesians 2:10).

Jesus is the sovereign Lord. When you obey Him you are acknowledging His lordship and submitting to His authority. That doesn’t mean your obedience will always be perfect, but that is your goal. There is no area of your life that you withhold from Him.

JESUS IS THE JUDGE

All who reject Jesus as their Lord and Savior will one day face Him as their Judge: “God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).

Second Thessalonians 1:7-9 says, “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.”

HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?

Who does the Bible say Jesus is? The living God, the Holy One, the Savior, the only valid object of saving faith, the sovereign Lord, and the righteous Judge.

Who do you say Jesus is? That is the inescapable question. He alone can redeem you—free you from the power and penalty of sin. He alone can transform you, restore you to fellowship with God, and give your life eternal purpose. Will you repent and believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?


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Legalism and Salvation

Luke 10:25-28

Code: B170320

Have you ever been called a legalist? Or perhaps you’ve slapped that label on someone else? It’s a word that gets tossed around with alarming frequency in religious circles—always as a pejorative. But how well do we really understand legalism? Such a stinging indictment shouldn’t be used recklessly, or ignorantly.

In the days ahead we’ll examine three major strains of legalism and what Scripture has to say about them. They range from dangerous to damnable, but not all of them are obvious. You may be more prone to fall into one of them than you think.

Likewise, you could be throwing around the term inaccurately, accusing and impugning people who have done nothing wrong. Either way, legalism—true legalism—is a subject that demands our attention.

Today, we’ll consider the most familiar and heretical strain of legalism: works righteousness.

Scripture is explicitly clear regarding the relationship between our good works and our salvation—there isn’t one.  We have a right, legal standing with God by grace, through faith in Christ, apart from any meritorious human works (Ephesians 2:8–9). But works-righteous legalism directly assaults that core gospel doctrine.

Self-Righteousness

The self-righteous, or works-righteous, legalist thinks that salvation hinges entirely on his ability to meet God’s legal requirements for right standing with Him. He insists that good works are either the sole cause of, or contribute to, justification before God.

That theology was central to the defective religious system devised by the Pharisees. They actually believed they could fulfill all the requirements of the Mosaic Law if they worked hard enough. Many of them took great pride in their dedicated efforts at self-righteousness.

Jesus accurately described their delusional beliefs in one of His parables, reciting a typical pharisaical prayer: “God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get” (Luke 18:11–12). That kind of self-righteousness was implicit in many of Christ’s encounters with the Pharisees. It’s why they couldn’t fathom the fact that Jesus hung out with sinners (Matthew 9:11).

Their fixation with earning salvation was exposed when one of their lawyers questioned Jesus: “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25, emphasis added). And Christ responded by telling him exactly what he needed to do if he wanted to earn eternal life through his own efforts: “Do this [keep all of God’s Law] and you will live” (Luke 10:28). John MacArthur explains the point Christ was actually making:

Jesus, of course, was not saying that there were some people somewhere who could be saved by keeping the law. On the contrary, He was pointing out the absolute impossibility of doing so, since the law demands the impossible—perfect and complete obedience (James 2:10), and promises physical, spiritual, and eternal death to those who disobey it (Ezekiel 18:4, 20; Romans 6:23). Those realities put sinners in a hopeless situation. They are required to keep the law perfectly, but are not able to do so, and as a consequence face death. The only way out of that frightening dilemma is to acknowledge one’s sin (Psalm 32:5; Proverbs 28:13; 1 John 1:9), cry for mercy (Luke 18:13), and through faith alone (John 3:16, 36; 5:24; Acts 15:9; Romans 3:20–30; 4:5; 5:1; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8–9; Philippians 3:9; 1 Peter 1:9) embrace the Lord Jesus Christ as the Savior and only sacrifice for sin (Ephesians 5:2; Hebrews 9:24–28; 10:12). [1]

Tragically, the pharisaical lawyer failed to realize that he was actually talking with the One whose mission was to fulfill God’s law on behalf of sinners (Matthew 5:17; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

Grace Plus Works

Christ’s resurrection and ascension didn’t put an end to Jewish legalism. Rather, it was re-packaged to infiltrate the early church. Instead of offering another gospel based solely on works righteousness, a new wave of legalists argued that the Christian gospel needed to be supplemented with added works.

That was the heresy Paul fought in his epistle to the Galatians. People who were zealous for the Mosaic law had infiltrated the church there. Rather than denying the gospel of grace apart from the works of the law, these Judaizers wanted to blend certain Mosaic legal requirements—especially circumcision—with the call to saving faith in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:3; 4:9).

It’s worth noting that Paul’s war was not against circumcision per se, but rather its use as a supplemental means of justification.

In fact, Paul was emphatic that adding anything to Christ’s finished work ultimately negates His finished work:

If you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. . . . every man who receives circumcision . . . is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law. (Galatians 5:2–4)

In short, human works do not blend together with Christ’s finished work to achieve salvation. It is not a collaborative effort. Short of perfectly fulfilling the entire Mosaic law, you and I cannot make a contribution to our right standing with God.

Roman Catholicism and the Galatian Heresy

Modern parallels abound to the situation in Galatia. Roman Catholicism bears a strong resemblance to the heresy of the Judaizers. The works they insist on may be different (as is their definition of grace) but the damnable equation is exactly the same—grace plus works equals salvation:

If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification, and that it is not in any way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will, let him be anathema. [2]

They object to justification by faith alone, anathematizing anyone who says “nothing else is required” except faith. Their religious system demands additional works of righteousness, performed by the believer, that contribute to his justification:

If anyone says that the justice received is not preserved and also not increased before God through good works, but that those works are merely the fruits and signs of justification obtained, but not the cause of its increase, let him be anathema. [3]

Roman Catholicism is hostile to any soteriology (doctrine of salvation) where good works aren’t required. And their legalism continues unabated into the present day. The Council of Trent may be almost 500 years old but it is still binding on all Catholics. Its doctrine highlights the sheer absurdity of any and every ecumenical overture towards them. The battle lines that the Reformers drew with Rome over the gospel haven’t moved in half a millennium.

In fact, Rome’s error was dealt with two thousand years ago when Paul returned to the church in Jerusalem after his first missionary journey. He brought news of many Gentile converts to Christ. That announcement triggered heated debate among the first disciples—who were Jewish—concerning which, if any, Mosaic laws should be enforced upon the new Gentile believers. Acts 15:1–29 is exclusively devoted to this matter. Peter’s counsel at that meeting should be heeded by anyone who believes in adding any works to the gospel:

Why do you put God to the test by placing on the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way that they also are. (Acts 15:10–11)

The yoke Peter referred to was the righteous demands of God’s law and Israel’s continual failure to keep it throughout its history.

What Is the Purpose of God’s Law?

All of the legalists discussed above share two critical pieces of common ground: They missed the point of God’s law and they were oblivious to the seriousness of sin.

Choosing any path of works righteousness is to subject oneself to the full scope and demands of God’s legal requirements (Galatians 5:2–4). Everyone who fails to fulfill the law in every point is under its curse (Galatians 3:10–12). Christ’s judgment on the Pharisees holds true for everyone who subscribes to any form of works-righteous legalism: “You will . . . die in your sin; where I am going, you cannot come” (John 8:21).

What then should we make of God’s commands? Was the law given in the hope that it might be a viable option through which men could possibly meet its requirements and attain eternal life? Was the law a bad thing because no one could keep it? Paul answered both of these questions with an emphatic “no.”

What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.” (Romans 7:7)

God’s law plays the vital role of exposing our guilt. That, in turn, points us to our desperate need for a Savior (Galatians 3:19). Paul calls it “our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24).

Works-righteous legalism is antithetical to that. Rather than exposing their guilt, legalists believe that the law affirms their self-righteousness. That is a path to eternal destruction that we must avoid at all cost.

Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B170320
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Three Ways to Experience More of God’s Love

Is it possible to fully understand the immensity of God’s love?

The Bible tells us repeatedly that God loves us and has given us plenty of evidence to back up his words. He created us. He created a marvelous world in which we are called to create. He provides for us.  And he forgives us, even though we are rebellious. He even went so far as to send his Son, Jesus, to die on a cross for us while we were still sinners. God did it all because he loves us.

The Apostle Paul prayed that believers would comprehend the incomprehensible dimensions of the love of Christ, and that we would know Christ’s love which surpasses knowledge.

It is a remarkably bold prayer:

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named…that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledgethat you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19, emphasis mine)

We Need Strength

Paul prayed for us to have strength to comprehend the love of Christ. That strikes me as unusual.

If I were to pray for someone to better know my love, I would ask for their eyes to be opened, or for a hidden depth of feeling to become realized, or for wisdom to be gained—but it wouldn’t occur to me to pray for strength to understand love.

The love of God must be in a different category from human love if we need strength to begin to understand it.

We Need Perspective

My daughter just had a baby. He is adorable, just like his two older brothers. She needs strength to heal, to get up at all hours of the night, to handle the older two, and to manage the household. The baby doesn’t need much strength to know that his mom, dad, and brothers love him. My daughter and her husband, on the other hand, need emotional and physical strength. Their love is far stronger than the baby’s.


Knowing the love of Christ is more than an intellectual exercise; it’s experiential.
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Maybe when it comes to love, we’re a bit like babies. God has always loved us, and we simply do not understand what it has cost him. We read how much he loves us in the Bible, we experience his blessings, his provision, and even his discipline, and we do love him. But in comparison to his love for us, our love for God seems like a baby’s love for his mother.

A baby is simply not equipped to love the way his parents love him. Only as he grows in knowledge and strength will he begin to comprehend the love of his parents Jesus himself is the best teacher, and Paul was very well taught, so I have begun to pray Paul’s prayer and ask for strength to begin to comprehend God’s incomprehensible love. I can’t develop that kind of strength by myself.

We Need Other Believers

It’s easy to skip over the phrase “with all the saints” in that passage, but it is critical. No one person can fully understand the love of Christ through their limited experience. However, if we join with all believers, we will have a bigger and better picture of God’s love.

We need inner-strength for this. If we invest ourselves in the lives of others, we will rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. The rejoicing is easy; mourning is not. When you’re celebrating with a family member over good fortune, rejoice in the love of God. Conversely, when you are sitting with a friend who is mourning, look for expressions of the love of God. It may be more difficult to find, but it is always present. As we become familiar with other believer’s stories, we will see the faithful love of God in all circumstances.

From my little bubble in the northwest suburbs of Chicago I can’t imagine how God shows his love to a homeless person in San Francisco or to the very wealthy in New York City, but I’m sure he does. It is beyond my experience to know what the love of Christ looks like to people in other parts of the world, but I know his love is enough for everyone. Knowing the love of Christ is more than an intellectual exercise; it’s experiential. And our strength to comprehend it increases as we walk with other believers.

We Need Christ

Paul’s use of four dimensions to describe the love of Christ—breadth, length, height, and depth—suggests that his love is beyond description, that it’s multidimensional in expression. Commentator Matthew Henry describes these dimensions as signifying “the exceeding greatness of the love of Christ, the unsearchable riches of his love, which is higher than heaven, deeper than hell, longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.”*

Comprehending the incomprehensible love of Christ comes from growing in knowledge and strength in him, and walking with others as they grow. Then we will be better able to fathom the breadth, length, height and depth of the love of Christ.

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Polemics Term: Cultural Marxism

WHAT IS CULTURAL MARXISM

The term Cultural Marxism, which is also known as multiculturalism (although the latter term has various meanings and implications), is a philosophy that is perhaps as old as 1919. According to William S. Lind, Cultural Marxism came into thought when the classical Marxist scheme did not work in Western Civilization in the post WWI era, as predicted by classical Marxists. Two Marxist philosophers, Antonio Gramsci in Italy and Georg Lukacs in Hungary, theorized that Marxism didn’t take root in the West because “Western culture and Christianity” had buffeted the philosophy, along with the mortal enemy of Marxism – upward economic mobility. In economically free nations in which fortunes could be earned and economic classes changed in a single generation, the workers were not nearly as interested in rising up against the wealthy because they, themselves, had hope of becoming wealthy (link).

Instead of traditional economic Marxism, what was proposed and advanced in Western Civilization far more successfully was Cultural Marxism.

But, it’s impossible to understand Cultural Marxism without first understanding Economic Marxism.

ECONOMIC (OR CLASSICAL) MARXISM

Marxism is a method of sociological analyzation that seeks to understand differences in class relations. Originating with Karl Marx, the system desires to view society in different socio-economic classes, and lists conflict between the classes as the cause of all social ills. While there are divergent schools of Marxist thoughts, it’s plainest definition is:

a theory in which class struggle is a central element in the analysis of social change in Western societies, which stands in contrast to capitalism, an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and distribution of goods, characterized by a free competitive market and motivation by profit (link, multiple sources)

Put plainly, Marxism recognizes “class struggle” (economically so, chiefly) as the source of problems and the socialization of all property and resources as the solution to those societal problems.

Critics of Marxism argue that not only does socialization of property and resources decrease the overall wealth of a population and is unfair to those who produce wealth, but it artificially reduces people to members of a particular “class,” and seeks to cause conflict between the classes to bring about social change (IE, the “haves versus the have-nots”). The Judeo-Christian understanding of the 8th Commandment, which undergirds the notion of private property rights, is historically the reason for great resistance to socialism in the West.

THE ADVANCEMENT OF CULTURAL MARXISM IN THE WEST

To turn classical Marxism into Cultural Marxism, members of what is called “the Frankfurt School” (which included Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Wilhelm Reich, Eric Fromm and Herbert Marcuse) argued that culture was not a part of Marx’s original idea regarding society’s “superstructure,” and was an important variable in the over-all Marxist experiment. They argued that the working class would not revolt against the “bourgeoisie” in places where the poor could become rich. So then, the Frankfurt School intellectual leader, Herbert Marcuse, argued that Marxist ideology should enlist a cultural contingent; chiefly a coalition of blacks, students, feminists and homosexuals (link).

As Lind explains…

Fatefully for America, when Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933, the Frankfurt School fled – – and reestablished itself in New York City. There, it shifted its focus from destroying traditional Western culture in Germany to destroying it in the United States. To do so, it invented “Critical Theory.” What is the theory? To criticize every traditional institution, starting with the family, brutally and unremittingly, in order to bring them down. It wrote a series of “studies in prejudice,” which said that anyone who believes in traditional Western culture is prejudiced, a “racist” or “sexist” of “fascist” – – and is also mentally ill (link)

IMPLICATIONS OF CULTURAL MARXISM ON AMERICAN CHRISTIANITY

The goal and design of Cultural Marxism was very intentionally thought-out by its intellectual progenitors in order to undermine both Western Civilization and Christianity. While Cultural Marxism may seem like a purely political ideology, like Classical Marxism, it has deep consequences for the realm of Christendom.

By viewing everything through the lens of ethnicity, Cultural Marxism is actually the enemy of true and authentic, Gospel-centered racial reconciliation, which is based upon the premise of Galatians 3:28. Cultural Marxism seeks to dis-unify, rather than unify the Church (although it is practiced under the veiled disguise of racial harmony).

It is not uncommon to hear evangelical leaders today use the term “racial justice,” a term that is steeped in (and directly derives from) Cultural Marxism. Certain evangelical leaders seeking to bring ethnic harmony to the church are actually and inadvertently falling into the century-old game plan of Cultural Marxists when they insist on seeing culture through the lens of race (and more liberal denominations may do this with gender as well, which is equally as dis-unifying).

The Evangelical Intelligentsia is especially prone to espouse Cultural Marxism, and examples of them falling for the scheme are multitudinous, as best seen in recent years in writings by both The Gospel Coalition and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

Source: Polemics Term: Cultural Marxism

The Progressively Frightening Totalitarian and Judgmental Left

The left has done a 180 since its free speech heyday of the 1960s. What used to be anything goes, and protecting the First Amendment right to say controversial things, has morphed into a treacherous map of what you can and cannot say. Universities, which were once a bastion of free speech, have now become the most hostile areas of all. If you do not agree with the left — even if you are on the left — expect to be savagely targeted.

March 20, 2017: Verse of the day

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The Virgin Birth

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. (1:18)

Though it does not by itself prove divine authorship, the very fact that the account of Jesus’ divine conception is given in but one verse strongly suggests that the story was not man-made. It is simply not characteristic of human nature to try to describe something so absolutely momentous and marvelous in such a brief space. Our inclination would be to expand, elaborate, and try to give every detail possible. Matthew continues to give additional information related to the virgin birth, but the fact of it is given in one sentence-the first sentence of verse 18 being merely introduction. Seventeen verses are given to listing Jesus’ human genealogy, but only part of one verse to His divine genealogy In His divinity He “descended” from God by a miraculous and never-repeated act of the Holy Spirit; yet the Holy Spirit does nothing more than authoritatively state the fact. A human fabrication would call for much more convincing material.

Birth is from the same Greek root as “genealogy” in verse 1, indicating that Matthew is here giving a parallel account of Jesus’ ancestry-this time from His Father’s side.

We have little information about Mary. It is likely that she was a native of Nazareth and that she came from a relatively poor family. From Matthew 27:56, Mark 15:40, and John 19:25 we learn she had a sister named Salome, the mother of James and John (who therefore were Jesus’ cousins). From Luke 3 we receive her Davidic lineage. If, as many believe, the Eli (or Heli) of Luke 3:23 was Joseph’s father-in-law (Matthew gives Joseph’s father as Jacob, 1:16), then Eli was Mary’s father. We know that Elizabeth, the wife of Zacharias, was Mary’s “relative” (Luke 1:36), probably her cousin. Those are the only relatives, besides her husband and children, of whom the New Testament speaks.

Mary was a godly woman who was sensitive and submissive to the Lord’s will. After the angel Gabriel’s announcement that she would be the mother of “the Son of God,” Mary said, ‘Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:26–38). Mary was also believing. She wondered how she could conceive: “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34). But she never questioned the angel was sent from God or that what he said was true. Elizabeth, “filled with the Holy Spirit,” testified of Mary, “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord” (v. 45). Mary’s humble reverence, thankfulness, and love for God is seen in her magnificent Magnificat, as Luke 1:46–55 is often called. It begins, “My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. … For the Mighty One has done great things for me; and holy is His name” (vv. 47, 49).

We know even less of Joseph than of Mary. His father’s name was Jacob (Matt. 1:16) and he was a craftsman, a construction worker (tektōn), probably a carpenter (Matt. 13:55). Most importantly, he was a “righteous man” (1:19), an Old Testament saint.
It is possible that both Joseph and Mary were quite young when they were betrothed. Girls were often betrothed as young as twelve or thirteen, and boys when they were several years older than that.

By Jewish custom, a betrothal signified more than an engagement in the modern sense. A Hebrew marriage involved two stages, the kiddushin (betrothal) and the huppah (marriage ceremony). The marriage was almost always arranged by the families of the bride and groom, often without consulting them. A contract was made and was sealed by payment of the mohar, the dowry or bride price, which was paid by the groom or his family to the bride’s father. The mohar served to compensate the father for wedding expenses and to provide a type of insurance for the bride in the event the groom became dissatisfied and divorced her. The contract was considered binding as soon as it was made, and the man and woman were considered legally married, even though the marriage ceremony (huppah) and consummation often did not occur until as much as a year later. The betrothal period served as a time of probation and testing of fidelity. During that period the bride and groom usually had little, if any, social contact with each other.

Joseph and Mary had experienced no sexual contact with each other, as the phrase before they came together indicates. Sexual purity is highly regarded in Scripture, in both testaments. God places great value on sexual abstinence outside of marriage and sexual fidelity within marriage. Mary’s virginity was an important evidence of her godliness. Her reason for questioning Gabriel’s announcement of her conception was the fact that she knew she was a virgin (Luke 1:34). This testimony protects from accusation that Jesus was born of some other man.

But Mary’s virginity protected a great deal more than her own moral character, reputation, and the legitimacy of Jesus’ birth. It protected the nature of the divine Son of God. The child is never called the son of Joseph;Joseph is never called Jesus’ father, and Joseph is not mentioned in Mary’s song of praise (Luke 1:46–55). Had Jesus been conceived by the act of a man, whether Joseph or anyone else, He could not have been divine and could not have been the Savior. His own claims about Himself would have been lies, and His resurrection and ascension would have been hoaxes. And mankind would forever remain lost and damned.

Obviously Jesus’ conception by the Holy Spirit is a great mystery. Even had He wanted to do so, how could God have explained to us, in terms we could comprehend, how such a blending of the divine and human could have been accomplished? We could no more fathom such a thing than we can fathom God’s creating the universe from nothing, His being one God in three Persons, or His giving an entirely new spiritual nature to those who trust in His Son. Understanding of such things will have to await heaven, when we see our Lord “face to face” and “know fully just as [we] have been fully known” (1 Cor. 13:12). We accept it by faith.

The virgin birth should not have surprised those Jews who knew and believed the Old Testament. Because of a misinterpretation of the phrase “A woman shall encompass a man” in Jeremiah 31:22, many rabbis believed the Messiah would have an unusual birth. They said, “Messiah is to have no earthly father,” and “the birth of Messiah shall be like the dew of the Lord, as drops upon the grass without the action of man.” But even that poor interpretation of an obscure text (an interpretation also held by some of the church Fathers) assumed a unique birth for the Messiah.

Not only had Isaiah indicated such a birth (7:14), but even in Genesis we get a glimpse of it. God spoke to the serpent of the enmity that would henceforth exist between “your seed and her [Eve’s] seed” (Gen. 3:15). In a technical sense the seed belongs to the man, and Mary’s impregnation by the Holy Spirit is the only instance in human history that a woman had a seed within her that did not come from a man. The promise to Abraham concerned “his seed,” a common way of referring to offspring. This unique reference to “her seed” looks beyond Adam and Eve to Mary and to Jesus Christ. The two seeds of Genesis 3:15 can be seen in a simple sense as collective; that is, they may refer to all those who are part of Satan’s progeny and to all those who a part of Eve’s. That view sees the war between the two as raging for all time, with the people of righteousness eventually gaining victory over the people of evil. But “seed” also can be singular, in that it refers to one great, final, glorious product of a woman, who will be the Lord Himself-born without male seed. In that sense the prediction is messianic. It may be that the prophecy looks to both the collective and the individual meanings.

Paul is very clear when he tells us that “When the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman” (Gal. 4:4). There is no human father in that verse. Jesus had to have one human parent or He could not have been human, and thereby a partaker of our flesh. But He also had to have divine parentage or He could not have made a sinless and perfect sacrifice on our behalf.

MacArthur New Testament Commentary

March 20, 2017: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

March 20

Examples of Passion

He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.

Ephesians 4:11

 

It was said that John Wesley did more for England than her armies and navies. He lived meagerly, having given away thousands of dollars in his lifetime. Abused and maligned, he left his reputation and soul in the hands of God. It has been estimated he traveled 225 thousand miles on foot and horseback and preached twenty–four hundred sermons. Much of the established church despised him, but he brought fire into her cold heart. He had the reputation of being out of breath pursuing souls.

Ordained at twenty–two, George Whitefield began preaching with tremendous eloquence and effect. His power came from his passion for souls, and he used every one of his God–given abilities to lead men to Christ. He crossed the Atlantic thirteen times and preached thousands of sermons. His gravestone reads that he was a soldier of the cross, humble, devout, and ardent, preferring the honor of Christ to his own interest, reputation, or life.

Though these men are wonderful examples, the perfect example of One with passion for the lost is Christ.[1]


March 20 No Pride of Position

“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.”

Philippians 2:5–6

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Christ’s coming to earth is the supreme example to us of humility.

We can usually identify with what someone else has experienced when we have gone through the same thing. Even if we haven’t been through what the other person has, we can perhaps relate because we might someday have a similar experience.

However, it is much harder to comprehend what Christ experienced when He stooped from His lofty position at the right hand of God to come to earth as a man. We’ll never understand the magnitude of that descent because we never were and never will be God. Nevertheless, today’s passage presents, as a pattern for us, Jesus’ attitude in coming to this world.

As a Spirit–filled believer (Eph. 1:3–5, 13), the Lord has lifted you out of your sin and given you the privilege of being His adopted child. He thereby allows you to recognize and appreciate a little more what humility is all about. Like Jesus, you will have to descend from an exalted level when you reach out in humility to those who don’t know Him.

Jesus further set the standard for us when He did not view His high position “a thing to be grasped.” Loftiness of calling should never be something we clench as a prized personal possession to exploit for our own benefit. That is the attitude we would expect to see in worldly people of influence. But it should not characterize those who claim to follow Jesus’ standard.

In contrast, if you are Christ’s disciple you will see more and more of His humility in your life. That will occur as you continually exercise a selfless attitude toward the privileges and possessions He has given you. By not clinging to these benefits, you will truly exemplify Jesus’ attitude and more effectively serve others: “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor” (Rom. 12:10).

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Pray that, starting today, God would grant you more and more of a Philippians 2:5–6 attitude.

For Further Study: As Ephesians 1 spells out, you have much to be thankful for as a child of God. Read the entire chapter, and list the many spiritual benefits Paul describes. Try memorizing several verses that are particularly striking to you.[2]


MARCH 20

TRUTH FOR THE HEART

 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

—John 14:23

The doctrine of the Trinity is truth for the heart. The spirit of man alone can enter through the veil and penetrate into that Holy of Holies. “Let me seek Thee in longing,” pleaded Anselm, “let me long for Thee in seeking; let me find Thee in love, and love Thee in finding.”

Christ did not hesitate to use the plural form when speaking of Himself along with the Father and the Spirit. “We will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” Yet again He said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). It is most important that we think of God as Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the Persons nor dividing the Substance. Only so may we think rightly of God and in a manner worthy of Him and of our own souls….

The authors of the Athanasian Creed spelled out with great care the relation of the three Persons to each other, filling in the gaps in human thought as far as they were able while staying within the bounds of the inspirited Word. “In this Trinity,” runs the Creed, “nothing is before or after, nothing is greater or less: but all three Persons coeternal, together and equal.” KOH032, 034

With my mind I struggle, Lord, but with my heart I rest. I am awed by Your Trinity in unity, and I long to know You not through reason but through love and faith. Amen. [3]


March 20

Foreseeing False Accusations

Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.—Matt. 5:11

Faithfulness to Christ will bring enemies of the gospel who will “falsely say all kinds of evil against” us. Whereas “insults” are abusive words said to our faces, these “evil” things are primarily abusive words said behind our backs.

Jesus’ critics said of Him, “Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” (Matt. 11:19). If the world said that of the sinless Christ, what things can His followers expect to be called and accused of?

Slander behind our backs is harder to take, partly because it is harder to defend against than direct accusations. It has opportunity to spread and be believed before we have a chance to correct it. Those who slander us can do much harm to our reputations before we’re even aware that we’ve been slandered.

We can’t help regret being slandered, but we shouldn’t grieve about it. Instead, we should count ourselves blessed, as our Lord assures us we will be, when the slander is “because of Me.” We have no surer evidence of the Lord’s blessing than to be cursed for His sake. It should not seriously bother us when men’s curses fall on the head that Christ has eternally blessed.

Are you prepared to accept the slander you might receive because you are a Christian?

ASK YOURSELF
We can sometimes invite persecution by being unduly abrasive and difficult, so that others do not persecute us as much for our faith as for the tacky way we express it. How can we tell the difference? Are people being offended by Christ or just by us? There is certainly no blessing in being obnoxious.[4]

MARCH 20

TELL THE WHOLE TRUTH

In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.

Titus 1:2

 

It is sad indeed to know that there are Christian leaders among us who are too timid to tell the people all the truth. They are now asking men and women to give to God only that which costs them nothing!

The contemporary moral climate does not favor a faith as tough and fibrous as that taught by our Lord and His apostles.

Christ calls men to carry His cross; we call them to have fun in His name!

He calls them to suffer; we call them to enjoy all the bourgeois comforts modern civilization affords!

He calls them to holiness; we call them to a cheap and tawdry happiness that would have been rejected with scorn by the least of the Stoic philosophers!

When will believers learn that to love righteousness it is necessary to hate sin? That to accept Christ it is necessary to reject self? That a friend of the world is an enemy of God? Let us not be shocked by the suggestion that there are disadvantages to the life in Christ!

 

O Lord, it is so hard for the human spirit to deny or reject itself. I pray that Your Spirit will take hold of the steering wheel of my will today.[5]


March 20 Building God’s Kingdom

“Thy kingdom come” (Matt. 6:10).

✧✧✧

Conversion to Christ involves three elements: invitation, repentance, and commitment.

Someday Christ will return to earth to reign in His Kingdom. In the meantime He rules in the hearts of those who love Him.

Before He ascended into Heaven, Jesus gave us a mandate to evangelize the lost and to teach them His Word (Matt. 28:19–20). When we do this, sinners are converted and are transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of Christ (Col. 1:13). That’s how His Kingdom grows.

Conversion is a work of the Spirit in the heart of unbelievers. He uses a myriad of people and circumstances to accomplish that work, but common to every true conversion are three key elements: invitation, repentance, and commitment.

In Matthew 22:1–14 Jesus, by way of a parable, invites people to come into His Kingdom. As an evangelist, you too should not only present the gospel but are to invite others to respond to what they’ve heard.

In Mark 1:14–15 we read, “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” Repentance means to feel sorrow over your sin and to turn from it (2 Cor. 7:9–11).

True repentance results in a commitment to respond to the righteous demands of the gospel. In Mark 12:34 Jesus says to a wise scribe, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” The scribe had all the information necessary for entering the Kingdom. What he lacked was a commitment to act on what he knew. Luke 9:62 says, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” You might know everything about the Kingdom, but Christ’s rule is not established in your heart until you’ve made a complete commitment to it.

When you pray for Christ’s Kingdom to come, you are praying an evangelistic prayer that you take part in answering. Be faithful to proclaim the gospel, and make intercession for unbelievers a regular part of your prayers.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Pray for unbelieving family and friends. ✧ Ask the Lord for the opportunity to share Christ with an unbeliever today.

For Further Study: Read John 4. ✧ How did Jesus broach the subject of salvation with the Samaritan woman? ✧ Did He extend an invitation to her? Explain. ✧ How did the townspeople react to her report about Jesus?[6]


MARCH 20

JESUS CHRIST: OUR CHIEF JOY AND DELIGHT

Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous; and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.

PSALM 32:11

I must agree with the psalmist, even in our modern day, that the joy of the Lord is still the strength of His people. I do believe that the sad world around us is attracted to spiritual sunshine—the genuine thing, that is!

Some churches train their greeters and ushers to smile, showing as many teeth as possible. But I can sense that kind of display—and when I am greeted by a man who is smiling because he has been trained to smile, I know I am shaking the flipper of a trained seal!

But when the warmth and delight and joy of the Holy Spirit are in a congregation and the folks are just spontaneously joyful and unable to hide the happy grin, the result is a wonderful influence upon others. Conversely, the reason we have to search for so many things to cheer us up is the fact that we are not really joyful and contentedly happy within!

I admit that we live in a gloomy world and that international affairs, nuclear rumors and threats, earthquakes and riots cause people to shake their heads in despair and say, “What’s the use?”

But we are Christians and Christians have every right to be the happiest people in the world! We do not have to look to other sources—for we look to the Word of God and discover how we can know the faithful God above and draw from His resources.

Why should the children of the King hang their heads and tote their own burdens, missing the mark about Christian victory? All this time the Holy Spirit has been wanting to make Jesus Christ our chief joy and delight![7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 92). 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. 88). 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. 92). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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

40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers (Week Three: Monday)

Monday

Confession: Psalm 38:6–9

I am bowed down; I am bent over greatly.

All the day I go about mourning.

For my loins are full of burning,

and there is no soundness in my flesh.

I am faint and crushed greatly;

I groan because of the roaring of my heart.

O Lord, all my longing is before you,

and my sighing is not hidden from you.

Reading: Mark 12:1–12

And he began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard, and put a fence around it, and dug a trough for the winepress, and built a watchtower, and leased it to tenant farmers, and went on a journey. And he sent a slave to the tenant farmers at the proper time, so that he could collect some of the fruit of the vineyard from the tenant farmers. And they seized him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. And again he sent to them another slave, and that one they struck on the head and dishonored. And he sent another, and that one they killed. And he sent many others, some of whom they beat and some of whom they killed. He had one more, a beloved son. Last of all he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those tenant farmers said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and the inheritance will be ours!’ And they seized and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenant farmers and give the vineyard to others. Have you not read this scripture:

‘The stone which the builders rejected,

this has become the cornerstone.

This came about from the Lord,

and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”

And they were seeking to arrest him, and they were afraid of the crowd, because they knew that he had told the parable with reference to them. And they left him and went away.

Reflection

The very medicine that we don’t like is the medicine that we ought to have, and the very truths that men object to, and that make them angry, are the truths that bring them to the cross of Christ. What we want is to preach Christ in season and out of season—

“Tell the old, old story

Of unseen things above,

Of Jesus and His glory,

Of Jesus and His love.”

Why, the stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. The very stone that they would not have was the very stone that God chose, and upon this stone He is building His Church now—upon the Rock of Ages. It is Christ, yes, Christ that men want, and then they will get sure food for eternity.

—Dwight L. Moody

Medicine for the Soul

Response

Is there a time in your life when you found it convenient to reject Jesus? Perhaps you thought you could repent later. What brought you back to the gospel?[1]

 

[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

1 “These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling. John 16:1 (NASB) 

In John 15 our Lord spoke of  “things” in order that believers “not be caused to stumble,” He was referring to John 15:18-25, which is the fact that those who are truly in Christ will be hated by the world just as our Lord was. Our Lord made it an imperative that we understand that this is true, but also that we do not have to contend with this alone. In John 15:26-27, the promise of the Helper, the Holy Spirit, is given again. Those who have the Holy Spirit are genuine believers and they bear witness about Christ because that is what the Holy Spirit does. 

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