Daily Archives: May 14, 2017

May 13-14, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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Top Weekly Stories from ChristianNews.net for 05/13/2017

Elderly Ex-Vicar ‘Marries’ Male Model 54 Years Younger, Wants Church of England to ‘Move On’ With the Times   May 06, 2017 01:14 pm

EASTRY, Kent — A retired vicar with the Church of England has “wed” a young Romanian model 54 years his junior, and now wants the Church to get with the times in regard to same-sex relationships. Philip Clements, 78, tied the knot to Florin Marin, 24, last month at the registry office in Ramsgate after meeting on a dating website two years ago. “I’ve been a…

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Smithsonian Channel Spotlights Stone Tablet Believed to Confirm Biblical Tower of Babel   May 07, 2017 09:48 am

The first episode of the new season of the Smithsonian Channel’s “Secrets” series spotlights a stone tablet discovered in Babylon more than 100 years ago that is believed to confirm the existence of the biblical Tower of Babel as outlined in the Book of Genesis. “Ancient texts have allowed experts to imagine what the building might have looked like,” a promotional…

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United Methodist Minister Facing Possible Discipline for Officiating Same-Sex Ceremony   May 11, 2017 05:00 pm

Iowa City, Iowa — A campus minister at the University of Iowa is facing possible censure from United Methodist leadership for officiating a same-sex ceremony for another female clergy member. Anna Blaedel, the executive director of the university’s Wesley Student Center, presided over the ceremony in Oklahoma on April 4, despite knowledge that doing so is…

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Minnesota City to Allow ‘Non-Theistic’ Satanic Temple to Place Monument in Veterans Park   May 08, 2017 11:57 am

BELLE PLAINE, Minn. — Officials in a Minnesota city have agreed to allow the Satanic Temple, which does not believe in a literal Satan, to erect a monument in its Veterans Park after the group applied for inclusion now that a “limited public forum” has been created in the park to allow the presence of a cross grave marker that upset atheists. “It was discussed…

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School Administrator Who Cursed at Teens Sharing Abortion Abolition Message on Sidewalk Resigns   May 12, 2017 06:00 am

DOWNINGTOWN, Pa. — The Pennsylvania school administrator who was recorded on camera cursing out two teenage abortion abolitionists last month as they held signs on the public sidewalk has resigned. Zach Ruff had been on leave from Downingtown STEM Academy since the incident went public, as the Downingtown Area School District decried his behavior as being…

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Atheist Activist Group Sues Trump Over Order Allowing Electioneering From Pulpit   May 06, 2017 11:05 am

MADISON, Wisc. — A prominent professing atheist organization has filed suit against President Donald Trump over his religious freedom executive order, which directs the IRS not to enforce the federal Johnson Amendment, a law passed in 1954 that prohibits electioneering (favoring or disfavoring any political candidate) from the pulpit. The Wisconsin-based Freedom…

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Homosexual Organist Admits to Staging Hate Slur Vandalism   May 09, 2017 01:40 pm

BEAN BLOSSOM, Ind. — An Indiana Episcopal organist who identifies as a homosexual has been charged with criminal mischief after he initially claimed to have found a hate slur and a swastika spray-painted on St. David’s Episcopal Church, but has now admitted to staging the graffiti himself. George Stang, 26, of Bloomington has outlined in a written statement…

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Nicaraguan Minister Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison Over Woman’s Death From Fiery Exorcism   May 10, 2017 06:01 am

MANAGUA — A young Nicaraguan minister and four of his members have been sentenced to 30 years in prison after a woman died following an exorcism attempt that resulted in burns on more than 80 percent of her body. “The suffering that Trujillo was subjected to is something no human being should go through,” said Judge Alfredo Silva Chamorro on Tuesday. As…

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Oklahoma House Passes Resolution to Stop Murder of Unborn Children   May 09, 2017 10:01 am

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — The Oklahoma House of Representatives has passed a resolution “directing every public official in Oklahoma to exercise their authority to stop murder of unborn children by abortion.” House Resolution 1004 was approved by a voice vote on Monday without any debate or discussion. Resolutions differ from legislation in that they hold no…

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‘Then There Were 10’: Georgia Family Adopts Seven Siblings in Foster Care   May 11, 2017 11:45 am

RINCON, Ga. — A Georgia family of three has now grown to ten after adopting seven siblings who have been in the foster care system for several years. Before they even met, Josh and Jessaka Clark knew that they wanted to adopt children. Jessaka’s parents took in foster children, and she and Josh both had a heart for youth needing families. However, even while…

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WEEKEND SNAPSHOT

MAY 13, 2017
TOP STORIES THIS WEEK
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“Trump is no intelligence mastermind, and conspiring with Putin and Wikileaks behind the scenes to arrange the hacking of DNC emails isn’t Trump’s style; Trump’s style would be to have something like that drop into his lap and go out in public and cheer for it happening, which is what he actually did.” —Dan McLaughlin

Top News – 5/13-14/2017

Convicted murderer of six Israelis elected as Palestinian mayor of Hebron
Tayseer Abu Sneineh, the convicted murderer of six Israelis, was reportedly elected mayor of the West Bank city of Hebron on Saturday as head of the Fatah Party list. Abu Sneineh was one of four Palestinians behind the murder of six Israeli yeshiva students in 1980. The students, included two American citizens and a Canadian national, were part of a group that had danced from the Cave of the Patriarchs to Beit Hadassah in Hebron when Abu Sneineh and his terror cell opened fire.

PM Netanyahu pans Jordan for siding with terrorist
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed Jordan for not condemning Saturday’s terror attack in Jerusalem’s Old City, in which one of its citizens stabbed an Israeli police officer. “It is time that Jordan ceases its double sided game. Just as Israel condemns terror attacks in Jordan, Jordan must condemn terrorist attacks in Israel. Terror is terror,” Netanyahu’s Office said.

China pledges $124 billion for new Silk Road as champion of globalization
Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged $124 billion on Sunday for his ambitious new Silk Road plan to forge a path of peace, inclusiveness and free trade, and called for the abandonment of old models based on rivalry and diplomatic power games. Xi used a summit on the initiative, attended by leaders and top officials from around the world, to bolster China’s global leadership ambitions as U.S. President Donald Trump promotes “America First” and questions existing global free trade deals.

Macron’s win adds to Poland’s worries about its place in EU
While the election of Emmanuel Macron as French president…was a relief to much of Europe, for Poland and Hungary it fanned fears of losing influence. Poland has been the most vocal among eastern EU members fearing that their wealthier western neighbors, keen to deepen cooperation among themselves, will erode the single market that has been the biggest benefit of membership in the east and, in shifting power westward, reduce financial support for less wealthy countries.

Syrian army retakes most of rebel-held district on edge of Damascus
The Syrian army and its allies are on the verge of completely seizing the rebel-held district of Qaboun on the edge of the capital Damascus following over two months of aerial strikes and artillery shelling… But rebels said they still held a small pocket within the neighborhood that lies in the northeastern edge of the capital that has been mostly reduced to rubble after around 80 days in which it was struck by hundreds of aerial strikes and missiles.

Scotland needs choice on independence at end of Brexit: Sturgeon
Scotland must have a choice on independence at the end of Britain’s divorce with the European Union when the exit terms are clear, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Sunday…Sturgeon called on voters to back her Scottish National Party at an election on June 8 to strengthen her hand and make sure that Scotland’s voice is heard in the Brexit negotiations.

G7 financial leaders reiterate FX pledges, vow more cyber cooperation
Financial leaders of seven leading world economies pledged stronger cooperation against cyber crime…and not to use foreign exchange to gain competitive advantage, but stuck to their cautious wording on trade… Finance ministers and central bank governors from the United States, Canada, Japan, France, Germany, Italy and Britain met in the Italian city of Bari to discuss the world economy, combating terrorist funding, cyber security and taxes.

Germany Confiscating Homes to Use for Migrants
In an unprecedented move, Hamburg authorities confiscated six residential units in the Hamm district near the city center. A trustee appointed by the city is now renovating the properties and will rent them — against the will of the owner — to tenants chosen by the city. District spokeswoman Sorina Weiland said that all renovation costs will be billed to the owner of the properties.

2 dead, hundreds injured in northeastern Iran quake
The earthquake hit 3 cities and 97 villages of the province at 22:31 local time. According to Morteza Salimi, the head of the Red Crescent Society’s rescue and relief organization, 14 villages suffered up to 70 percent damage, ISNA reported.

Russian jet said to ‘buzz’ US reconnaissance plane
A Russian fighter jet reportedly “buzzed” a US reconnaissance plane flying over the Black Sea in the second such incident in a week. According to a Fox News report on Saturday, the Russian Su-27 jet flew only 40 feet from a US Navy P-8 Poseidon plane in international airspace over the Black Sea on Friday, some 100 miles from the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula.

Pope Francis acknowledges 2,000-case backlog in sex abuse cases
Pope Francis acknowledged Saturday that the Vatican has a 2,000-case backlog in processing clerical sex abuse cases and says criticism of the slow pace was justified. But he says more staff are being added and insists the Vatican is “on the right path.”

Next cyber-attack could be imminent, warn experts
Another major cyber-attack could be imminent after Friday’s global hit that infected more than 125,000 computer systems, security experts have warned. UK security researcher “MalwareTech”, who helped to limit the ransomware attack, predicted “another one coming… quite likely on Monday”.

North Korea Test-Fires 7th Ballistic Missile Of 2017, Projectile Flew 700Km, Landed In Sea Of Japan
On the eve of a summit in Beijing, and just hours after Pyongyang’s chief nuclear negotiator said North Korea is ready to hold talks with the United States “if the conditions are mature”, South Korea’s Yonhap reports that North Korea has fired a projectile believed to be a ballistic missile, from a region northwest of Pyongyang.

NSA Director Uses “Russian Hacker Threat” To Gain Access To Voting Systems
In a statement to the committee on May 9, Rogers positioned NSA to oversee a wider role in conducting surveillance over elections, not only in the United States, but in other countries, including France and Britain.

UofA Hires “Social Justice Advocates” To Police Fellow Students For “Bias Incidents”
Administrators at the University of Arizona are now accepting applications for “social justice advocates”, whose job it is to snitch on other students accused of bias.

Our Leader’s Crimes Are On Display- The Whole World’s Watching
…Some people simply call it Karma, or, just good ole’ fashion revenge, but I take great comfort and delight that evil does not get a pass from the Lord. And the older I get, the more I see the Lord’s scale of justice beign carried out in His time. Steve Quayle once told me that Donald Trump is God’s special prosecutor and that in the end days, all the sins of the leaders will be revealed.

Senior Trump aide: President to back Palestinian ‘self-determination’ on Mideast trip
President Donald Trump will express support for Palestinian “self-determination” during a Middle East trip this month, a senior aide said on Friday, suggesting Trump is open to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict despite not having publicly embraced the idea so far. The comment…came just nine days after a White House visit by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in which Trump vowed to seek a historic peace deal but stopped short of explicitly recommitting to the eventual goal of Palestinian statehood…

Hamas boycotts local Palestinian elections held in West Bank
Palestinians held municipal elections on Saturday in the occupied West Bank, a first democratic exercise in years, but one that has also raised tensions between the rival Fatah and Hamas movements. With no legislative or presidential elections in sight, the municipal ballot is seen as a popularity test for Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party, caught in a deep rift with Islamist Hamas.

Ebola: WHO declares outbreak in DR Congo
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo. At least one person has died after contracting the virus in the country’s north-east, the WHO says. The Congolese health ministry had notified the WHO of a “lab-confirmed case” of Ebola, it added on Twitter.

North Korea ‘would hold talks’ with Trump administration
North Korea has said it will hold talks with the US “if the conditions were right”, South Korean media reports. A senior North Korean diplomat said dialogue with the Trump administration was possible following a meeting with ex-US government officials in Norway. Earlier this month US President Donald Trump said he would be “honoured” to meet Kim Jong-un.

Pope Francis canonises two children at Portugal’s Fatima shrine
Pope Francis was greeted by crowds of hundreds of thousands as he made saints of two shepherd children at the Fatima shrine complex in Portugal. “We declare the blissful Francisco Marto and Jacinta Marto saints,” the pontiff said to loud applause. It is 100 years since the two – and a third child – reported seeing the Virgin Mary while tending sheep. The third is also on the way to sainthood.

Intel Report: Iran Refining Nuke Delivery System in Flagrant Violation of Ban
Iran continues to make critical technological strides in its efforts to perfect an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering nuclear weapons over great distances, efforts that violate international prohibitions, according to the director of national intelligence, who informed Congress this week that the Islamic Republic “would choose ballistic missiles as its preferred method of delivering nuclear weapons.”

Court Rules Kentucky Print Shop Has Right to Avoid Making Gay Pride T-shirts
A Kentucky appellate court on Friday ruled that the Christian owner of a printing shop in Lexington had the right to refuse to make T-shirts promoting a local gay pride festival. The dispute represents the latest court fight testing the limits of antidiscrimination protections for gays and lesbians following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 landmark ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide.

U.S., China agree to first trade steps under 100-day plan
The United States and China have agreed to take action by mid-July to increase access for U.S. financial firms and expand trade in beef and chicken among other steps as part of Washington’s drive to cut its trade deficit with Beijing. The deals are the first results of 100 days of trade talks that began last month, when a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping proved far more friendly than had been expected after last year’s U.S. presidential campaign, but the immediate impact was unclear.

U.S. retail sales rise broadly; consumer prices rebound
U.S. retail sales increased broadly in April while consumer prices rebounded, pointing to a pickup in economic growth and a gradual rise in inflation that could keep the Federal Reserve on track to raise interest rates next month. The reports on Friday added to labor market data in suggesting the near stall in economic activity in the first quarter was an anomaly.

A Russian jet flew within 20 feet of a Navy surveillance plane. The Pentagon says it was
A Russian jet flew within 20 feet of an U.S. Navy surveillance plane this week, but U.S. military officials said Friday that they consider the event to have been conducted safely and professionally.

Hezbollah: Next Confrontation With Israel Could Be Invasion
The leader of the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah said Thursday that the next conflict with Israel could occur inside its territory, suggesting the militia could invade its southern neighbor.

“Worst-Ever Recorded” Ransomware Attack Strikes Over 57,000 Users Worldwide, Using NSA-Leaked Tools
“Today shows exactly what’s at stake when government hackers can’t keep their virtual weapons locked up… this could be one of the worst-ever recorded attacks of its kind…I’ve never seen anything like this with ransomware.”

Has Venezuela’s Crisis Reached A Tipping Point?
“The path forward is Maduro will be pushed out of power, or there will be a repressive, horrible crackdown where the death tolls keep mounting…”

Aetna to lose almost $1 Billion from 2014-2017 – Will abandon ALL ObamaCare exchanges
Last year, you may recall that one of the nation’s largest insurers, Aetna, announced it had suffered major losses under the failing Affordable Care Act.  As a result, it was pulling out of many ACA exchanges.  The company said it intended to soldier on in just four states –  Delaware, Iowa, Nebraska, and Virginia.

Pruitt Says Obama’s Enviro Record Was Terrible 
…Pruitt, who sued the EPA more than a dozen times as Oklahoma’s attorney general, told reporters Wednesday that the Obama administration “deserved” to be sued for exceeding “their statutory authority.” He also said activists consistently gave the agency’s poor record on local environmental disasters a pass. “What’s so great about that record?” he said, referring to the Obama administration’s handling of the Gold King Mine disaster and Flint water crisis. The EPA was roundly criticized during the latter half of former President Barack Obama’s final term for not reacting quicker on Flint.

Obama’s Non-Profit On Same Dubious Path First Blazed By Clinton Foundation
Barack Obama’s presidential foundation is barely two years old, but he is taking it down the same controversial — and by some accounts illegal — post-presidency path of his predecessor Bill Clinton, according to documents reviewed by The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group


Iran Furiously Building Nuclear Program Because Obama Treaty Protects Them From Scrutiny

Iran continues to make critical technological strides in its efforts to perfect an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering nuclear weapons over great distances, efforts that violate international prohibitions, according to the director of national intelligence, who informed Congress this week that the Islamic Republic “would choose ballistic missiles as its preferred method of delivering nuclear weapons.”

The disclosure comes just days after Iranian leaders announced the upcoming launch of two new domestically produced satellites. Iran has long used its space program as cover for illicit missile work, as the know-how needed to launch such equipment can be applied to long-range ballistic missile technology.

Daniel Coats, America’s top spymaster, informed Congress this week in an intelligence briefing that Iran’s ballistic missile work continues unimpeded and could be used by the Islamic Republic to launch a nuclear weapon, according to unclassified testimony.

Turns out Obama’s “historic deal” was actually a cover for Iran to build nuclear weapons faster:

Iran’s ballistic missile work, particularly its focus on ICBMs, runs counter to United Nations resolutions barring such activity, though it remains unclear if the Trump administration plans to pursue new sanctions on Iran.
Iran continues to perform key research and development on nuclear missile capabilities despite the landmark nuclear agreement with Western powers, according to the last U.S. intelligence assessments.

“Iran is pursuing capabilities to meet its nuclear energy and technology goals and to give it the capability to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons, if it chooses to do so” Coats wrote in his written testimony to the Senate intelligence committee.

U.S. officials are unsure if Iran will build nuclear weapons, but it is likely this intention would dictate Tehran’s future adherence to the nuclear deal, which the administration of former President Barack Obama framed in such a way as to leave out the issue of ballistic missiles.

The reality of Obama’s Iranian Nuclear Deal:

The United States assesses that Iran remains about a year away from a functional nuclear missile if it decides to build one in violation of the nuclear deal.

Iranian military leaders claim their missile work is unrelated to the nuclear agreement and permissible under it. The country’s refusal to abandon this work has caused concern on Capitol Hill, as well as among U.S. national security insiders who view the work as related to Iran’s aspirations for regional dominance.

The U.S. intelligence community maintains that Iran—which has the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle East—likely would use this technology to launch a nuclear weapon.

“We judge that Tehran would choose ballistic missiles as its preferred method of delivering nuclear weapons, if it builds them,” according to Coats. “Iran’s ballistic missiles are inherently capable of delivering WMD, and Tehran already has the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle East.”

“Tehran’s desire to deter the United States might drive it to field an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM),” Coats wrote, referring to Iran’s covert missile work. “Progress on Iran’s space program could shorten a pathway to an ICBM because space launch vehicles use similar technologies.”

Iran “continues to leverage cyber espionage, propaganda, and attacks to support its security priorities, influence events and foreign perceptions, and counter threats—including against U.S. allies in the region,” Coats testified.

This includes cyber attacks “directly against the United States,” such as in 2013, when an Iranian hacker penetrated the computer systems of a U.S. dam.

Iran also is pursuing a massive buildup of its military, which observers have described as unprecedented.

The U.S. intelligence community has confirmed that Iran is developing “a range of new military capabilities to monitor and target U.S. and allied military assets in the region, including armed UAVs [drones], ballistic missiles, advanced naval mines, unmanned explosive boats, submarines and advanced torpedoes, and anti-ship and land-attack cruise missiles,” according to Coats. source


Court Rules Kentucky Print Shop Has Right to Avoid Making Gay Pride T-shirts

The Wall Street Journal reports:

A Kentucky appellate court on Friday ruled that the Christian owner of a printing shop in Lexington had the right to refuse to make T-shirts promoting a local gay pride festival.

The dispute represents the latest court fight testing the limits of antidiscrimination protections for gays and lesbians following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 landmark ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide.

View article →


Loathing Sin & Grabbing for God’s Glory

According to Eric Davis, the Lord Jesus came to deal with sin. He came to “make us see, loathe, and eradicate our inward sin, and see, love, and follow him.” He was not interested in “social justice, external humanitarian inspiration, or politico-social revolution,” says Davis.  So why is it that a large (and growing) number of professing Christians avoid the concept of sin?  And why do those who claim they’re followers of Jesus Christ choose to close their ears to what He taught on sin?

In this piece over at The Cripplegate, Eric Davis reveals what the One who spoke the universe into existence wants those He created to know about…sin:

It’s an alarming trend, especially in some of our younger generations. Many of us professing Christians cannot stand to hear the word. When we do, we cry foul. “It’s unloving,” “It’s toxic,” “It’s legalistic,” “It’s graceless.” We leave churches who speak of it. We ignore older saints who bring it up. We avoid authors who write about it. We harden our hearts when identified in our lives. I suppose we could call it something like “hamartiphobia”: a fearful repulsion of things like hearing teaching about sin, experiencing the exposure of our sin, and being confronted on our sin.

View article →


Furtick joins Rod Parsley’s 2017 NAR ‘Dominion Camp’

According to Amy Spreeman of Berean Research, prophet-pastor Steven Furtick of the highly influential Elevation Church has been “full-on N.A.R. (New Apostolic Reformation) for years, and now he’ll be delivering this summer’s fresh anointing of apostolic covering at the annual [Dominion Camp Meeting] event.”  Furtick is featured with several other NAR wolves in DCM’s promo picture below:

Now to Amy’s report:

Elevation’s pastor Steven Furtick is aligning with Jesse DuPlantis, Perry Stone and others for Apostle Rod Parsley’s annual Dominion Camp Meeting. Parsley says he is ready to release a seven-times greater anointing into your life.

Check out the promo video…

View article →


On Heresy

They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us (1 John 2:19a).

Notice that the mark of an antichrist is finally breaking away from New Testament Christianity. All such invariably do. And when they do, they will insist that they are the true mainstream of Christian truth and that we are living in the backwaters of Christian doctrine. John puts this very plainly. The mark of genuineness is continuity in the truth, continuance in true faith. What does he mean by us? Surely not Christendom in general. He means, as he makes clear in the context of this whole letter, those who love the Word of God and who possess the Spirit of God, those who seek to obey the Word in the power of the Spirit. The emphasis he has been making all along is on those who share the life of Christ by the Word of God in the power of the Spirit of God. Heretics will invariably cut themselves off from these people.   View article →


This ‘n’ That

  • Revival is not a special event to win the lost.”
  • 144,000 means 144,000. Yeah, I know it seems complicated, but it’s not.
  • “We made up the weekend the same way we made up the week.” Um…”we”?…”made up”? (HT to Peter for this one!)
  • I can honestly say that I’ve never been late for work due to llamas.
  • Both of these men need the gospel.
  • Passing down the truth of God.
  • Here is your weekly dose of adorable.
  • Keep yourself in the love of God.
  • I’ve never been afraid of flying, but this might do it.
  • For those ladies who were unable to attend the Answers for Women conference last month, audio downloads are now available as a package, or for each individual session.
  • I love the organ, so let’s find some new church homes for these!
  • Good thoughts for Christian writers.

Top Headlines – 5/13-14/2017

Bennett urges PM to renege on two-state solution

Bennett: Israel must ditch ‘bunker’ diplomacy, or have its fate decided by others

Trump social media chief touts trip to ‘Palestine’

Gazans walk the ‘Red Carpet’ for film festival, and trample on Balfour Declaration

Clip purports to show troops standing by as settlers attack Palestinians

Ultra-Orthodox in Jerusalem burn effigy of Israeli soldier

Israel Ranked 15th Most Militarily Powerful Nation in World, Ahead of Iran, Behind Turkey and Egypt

Osama bin Laden’s son calls for attacks on Jews, Americans

Jordan ‘holds Israel responsible’ for killing their citizen who was stabbing a policeman

Rouhani says Friday’s Iran election ‘historical decision’

Russian jet ‘buzzes’ another US plane in Black Sea, second incident this week

Russia, China ‘worried’ about rising N. Korea tensions

North Korea Test-Fires 7th Ballistic Missile Of 2017, Projectile Flew 700Km, Landed In Sea Of Japan

North Korea Launches a Missile, Its First Test After an Election in the South

North Korea may have fired ‘new type of missile’ with longer range

China calls for restraint after North Korea missile launch

White House: North Korea has been ‘flagrant menace for far too long’

Global ‘WannaCry’ ransomware cyberattack seeks cash for data

‘Perfect storm’ of conditions helped cyberattack succeed

Cyberattack thwarted by flipping ‘kill switch’ but experts fear new blitz

‘Accidental hero’ halts ransomware attack and warns: this is not over

Next cyber-attack could be imminent, warn experts

UK’s Johnson says EU may have to pay Brexit divorce bill

Pope plans to avoid politics, seek common ground in Trump meet

5.8 magnitude earthquake hits near Bojnurd, Iran

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Valparaiso, Chile

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 28,000ft

Sheveluch volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 25,000ft

Ruiz volcano in Colombia erupts to 21,000ft

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 16,000ft

Manam volcano in Papua New Guinea erupts to 15,000ft

Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica erupts to 12,500ft

Sakurajima volcano on Japan erupts to 11,000ft

Parents demand paternity tests after sperm bank boss ‘used own samples’ on women seeking IVF

Albania gay rights organizations hold annual pride ride

Court Rules Kentucky Print Shop Has Right to Avoid Making Gay Pride T-shirts

Complaint Filed To Close Sex Club Posing As Church

Pope Francis acknowledges 2,000-case backlog in sex abuse cases

Fatima mystery blends visions, miracles and supernatural

White House: Trump to push Palestinian ‘self-determination’ on Mideast trip

U.S. Ambassador Advises Israeli Officials: Trump’s Serious About Peace, Work With Him

Israel plans 15,000 Jerusalem apartments beyond Green Line

Local elections in the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, Hamas boycotts the process

Danon calls on UNSC to take action against PA’s payments to terrorists

Cabinet source: IDF fears defunding PA will increase terrorism

Christians, in an Epochal Shift, Are Leaving the Middle East

Vice President Mike Pence speaks at World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians

Erdogan sees ‘new beginning’ in Turkish-US ties despite Kurdish arms move

U.S. nears $100 billion arms deal for Saudi Arabia: White House official

Intel Report: Iran Refining Nuke Delivery System in Flagrant Violation of Ban

Russian fighter jet flies close to US Navy aircraft, official says

Kremlin says may retaliate against USA over expulsion of Russian diplomats

Afghan official: 3 civilians killed in bomb blast in Kabul

2 killed as India, Pakistan troops trade fire in Kashmir

Purported Boko Haram fighter says group plans to bomb Nigerian capital

Venezuela Tries Protesters in Military Court ‘Like We Are in a War’

Has Venezuela’s Crisis Reached A Tipping Point?

N.Korea says will have dialogue with US under right conditions

Globalization 2.0: How China’s two-day summit aims to shape a new world order

Electromagnetic pulse attack on Hawaii would devastate the state

“Worst-Ever Recorded” Ransomware Attack Strikes Over 57,000 Users Worldwide, Using NSA-Leaked Tools

Over 70 countries hit in global extortion cyberattack

Major Cyberattack Sweeps Globe, Hitting FedEx, U.K. Hospitals, Spanish Companies

Edward Snowden points blame at NSA for not preventing NHS cyber attack

FBI Gives Hollywood Hacking Victims Surprising Advice: “Pay the Ransom”

Trump’s Comey firing sets off new round of leaks

Trump Escalates War With FBI, and the Bureau Fights Back

Trump warns Comey: Better hope there are no ‘tapes’ of talks

With a threat of ‘tapes,’ Trump tells ousted FBI chief not to talk to media

Comey declines to testify before Senate Intelligence Committee

Another Record in Reach of Tech Stocks as Big 5 Add $500 Billion

Bloodbath for Retail Stocks Rolls On

Smartphones that charge in five minutes ‘could arrive next year’

6.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Acajutla, El Salvador

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits near Acajutla, El Salvador

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 23,000ft

Sheveluch volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 20,000ft

Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica erupts to 15,000ft

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 14,000ft

An unusual Mother’s Day nor’easter is set to hit this weekend

Eastern Canada is drying out after the worst flooding in a half-century

US drought levels fall to lowest point in years

Ebola: Three people killed in Democratic Republic of Congo as new epidemic declared by WHO

Brazil Declares End to Zika Emergency After Fall in Cases

Trump: ‘In America we don’t worship government, we worship God’

Posted: 14 May 2017 05:01 AM PDT

Speaking to a friendly crowd at the country’s largest Christian university on Saturday, President Trump told the graduating class that “in America, we don’t worship…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Dolly Parton Reveals ‘God’ Moment That Stopped Her From Possibly Committing Suicide

Posted: 14 May 2017 04:56 AM PDT

Legendary singer Dolly Parton recalls a time in her life when she was profoundly depressed — so despondent, in fact, that she once picked up…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

UPDATE: Hacking Attack Has Security Experts Scrambling to Contain Fallout

Posted: 14 May 2017 04:50 AM PDT

Governments, companies and security experts from China to Britain raced on Saturday to contain the fallout from an audacious global cyberattack amid fears that if…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

New Evidence Reveals Tower of Babel Authenticity

Posted: 14 May 2017 04:47 AM PDT

An ancient tablet provides the first ever image of the tower of Babel and offers a “very strong piece of evidence” that it was a…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Whoopi Goldberg Says Trump Firing Comey: ‘Feels Like a Coup’

Posted: 14 May 2017 04:42 AM PDT

On “The View” on Thursday, co-host Whoopi Goldberg said President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey “feels like a coup.” “Does this feel…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

24 Hours Later: “Unprecedented” Fallout From “Biggest Ransomware Attack In History”

Posted: 14 May 2017 04:37 AM PDT

24 hours after it first emerged, it has been called the first global, coordinated ransomware attack using hacking tools developed by the NSA, crippling over…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

US Christians Risking Their Lives to Teach in North Korea

Posted: 13 May 2017 04:54 PM PDT

The recent arrest of two American citizens working in North Korea has brought attention to the curious case of Pyongyang University of Science and Technology…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

3000 Earthquakes Have Shaken Alaska in last 13 Days, Mega-Quake on Horizon?

Posted: 13 May 2017 04:47 PM PDT

A series of significant May earthquakes and their aftershocks are being examined by seismologists, who say Alaska is markedly above its usual rate of earthquakes for…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

NATO and Russia Carry Out War Games in Show of Strength Across the Globe

Posted: 13 May 2017 04:39 PM PDT

NATO commanders put on a show of strength during a tank competing exercise in Germany, as Russia flexed its muscles by parachuting tanks onto a…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

‘Mega Swarm’ of Thousands of Giant Jellyfish Invade UK Coastline

Posted: 13 May 2017 04:33 PM PDT

A swarm of giant jellyfish has washed ashore on beaches stopping visitors and locals alike in their tracks. The swarm of barrel jellyfish washed in…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Bin Laden’s Son looking to avenge father as Al-Qaeda ‘Stronger than Ever’…

Posted: 13 May 2017 04:28 PM PDT

Personal letters seized in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden reveal the al Qaeda leader’s son to be a young man who adores his…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

U.S. Military Preparing Flight Intercept Test of Ballistic Missile…

Posted: 13 May 2017 04:21 PM PDT

The distinctive missile telemetry ship MV Pacific Collector is in port at Aloha Tower, possibly for a key upcoming ballistic missile defense test. The 393-foot…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

VP Pence Says Trump Prays for Persecuted Christians, Says ISIS Will Be Destroyed

Posted: 13 May 2017 04:16 PM PDT

Vice President Mike Pence reiterated the support of President Donald Trump for persecuted Christians around the world, noting that both he and the president pray…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Americans More Accepting of Immorality Than Ever Before

Posted: 13 May 2017 02:50 PM PDT

Americans today are supportive of divorce and pornography in record high numbers, according to new Gallup findings. Gallup released the findings of their annual “Values…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Discovery Of ‘Sleeping Dragon’ Fossil Best Preserved Armored Dinosaur Ever Found

Posted: 13 May 2017 02:44 PM PDT

A newly unveiled 110 million-year-old fossil, described as “the best preserved armored dinosaur ever found,” is providing researchers with invaluable information about the recently discovered…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Target launches Gay Pride Products

Posted: 13 May 2017 02:32 PM PDT

Target stores are promoting a gay pride line of products dubbed “Take Pride” despite facing huge losses from a boycott against the company’s transgender bathroom…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

BREAKING NEWS: North Korea Launches New Unidentified Missile

Posted: 13 May 2017 02:28 PM PDT

DEVELOPING: North Korea fired on Sunday an unidentified projectile from a region near its west coast, South Korea’s military said. The nature of the projectile…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Undercover Agents Reveal Registered Church to Be “Sex Club”

Posted: 13 May 2017 02:26 PM PDT

Undercover inspectors have determined that a building registered as a church was being operated as a sex club. WTVF-TV reports that the city of Nashville has…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Hundreds of Evangelicals to Share Word of God With Catholics at Massive Fátima Event

Posted: 13 May 2017 11:40 AM PDT

Hundreds of Portuguese evangelicals are reportedly planning to engage with Roman Catholics at the massive Fátima two-day event, where Pope Francis is set to canonize…

Read more at End Time Headlines.


Islamic Ideology Flourishes Because Christians Deny Biblical Orthodoxy, Pastor Warns

Posted: 13 May 2017 07:07 AM PDT

One of the most important keys to Islamic ideology’s success in spreading all over the world is a vacuum of Christianity created by Christians who…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

‘God, I’m Not Ready to Go’: Jim Gaffigan’s Wife Says Brain Tumor Drew Her to God

Posted: 13 May 2017 06:59 AM PDT

Comedian Jim Gaffigan’s wife, Jeannie, has revealed that she was diagnosed with a brain tumor and successfully underwent surgery last month to remove the mass. Now, just weeks…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Jesus Delivers Hindu Woman From Demon Who Killed Her Sister

Posted: 13 May 2017 06:54 AM PDT

Pushpa and her husband Vijay [name changed] both came from a Hindu background. They worshipped numerous gods and entertained many spirits, which compounded a series…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Jim Caviezel snubbed by Hollywood after playing Jesus in ‘The Passion of the Christ’

Posted: 13 May 2017 06:50 AM PDT

Actor Jim Caviezel opens up about the rejection he faced from Hollywood after his role as Jesus Christ, in Mel Gibson’s biblical epic “The Passion…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: The Great American Solar Eclipse is 100 Days Away

Posted: 13 May 2017 06:45 AM PDT

This summer, darkness will fall across the face of America. Birds will stop singing. Temperatures will drop. Stars will become visible in the daytime sky….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

China moves cutting-edge AWACS planes near disputed S. China Sea islands

Posted: 13 May 2017 06:38 AM PDT

The Chinese military has deployed its latest airborne early warning and control aircraft to an air base in the vicinity of the contested South China…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Kentucky Christian Business Owner Scores a Big Win for Religious Liberty

Posted: 13 May 2017 06:34 AM PDT

People of faith not only have a right to freely express their beliefs, but the government can’t force them to express ideas that are contrary…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

‘Accidental Hero’ finds kill switch to stop spread of ransomware cyber-attack

Posted: 13 May 2017 06:32 AM PDT

An “accidental hero” has halted the global spread of the WannaCry ransomware, reportedly by spending a few dollars on registering a domain name hidden in…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Electromagnetic pulse attack on Hawaii would devastate the state

Posted: 12 May 2017 06:36 PM PDT

On July 9, 1962, Hawaii was hit by a massive electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack, which within minutes took down the state’s communications systems and traffic…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

North Korea sends chilling coded radio messages to South Korea

Posted: 12 May 2017 06:22 PM PDT

North Korea has sent a chilling coded message across South Korea’s airwaves in a defiant act designed to ramp up tensions that are already at…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Leaked NSA Exploit Blamed for Global Ransomware Cyberattack

Posted: 12 May 2017 06:10 PM PDT

A zero-day vulnerability tool, covertly exploited by US intelligence agencies and exposed by the Shadow Brokers hacking group has been blamed for the massive spread…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: Nearly 100 Countries Struck By Largest Cyber Attack Ever Recorded

Posted: 12 May 2017 06:02 PM PDT

Dozens of countries were hit with a huge cyberextortion attack Friday that locked up computers and held users’ files for ransom at a multitude of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: Russia’s interior ministry says computers Struck by ‘Virus Attack’

Posted: 12 May 2017 05:56 PM PDT

Russia’s interior ministry said Friday that some of its computers had been hit by a “virus attack” amid reports of major cyber strikes across the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Did ABC Cancel Tim Allen’s Hit Show ‘Last Man Standing’ Because of Its Conservative, Christian Themes?

Posted: 12 May 2017 01:13 PM PDT

Tim Allen’s popular ABC show Last Man Standing was, by all reasonable measures, a big success. Now in its sixth season, the ratings were still going…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

His Presence Will Make you or Break you!

Posted: 12 May 2017 01:11 PM PDT

(By Ricky Scaparo) In this segment, we discuss how the presence and Glory of God can bring great blessing but it can also bring down…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Mass Exodus Of Christians Fleeing the Middle East

Posted: 12 May 2017 11:14 AM PDT

Like the Jews before them, Christians are fleeing the Middle East, emptying what was once one of the world’s most-diverse regions of its ancient religions….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Ebola Returns! World Health Organization Warns of New Epidemic – 3 Dead

Posted: 12 May 2017 11:09 AM PDT

A new Ebola epidemic has been declared in the Democratic Republic of Congo after the deaths of three people thought to be linked to the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Retail Apocalypse Continues At Full Speed!

Posted: 12 May 2017 11:05 AM PDT

U.S. retail stocks slumped once again on Friday morning amid a cascade of corporate earnings reports in the sector. The drop in names like Nordstrom, J.C….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

FBI Tells Hollywood Hacking Victims “Pay the Ransom”

Posted: 12 May 2017 10:54 AM PDT

Netflix isn’t alone: Agencies and others are balancing demands for money against the fears of stolen data ending up online. Phones are the lifeblood of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

BREAKING NEWS: Ransomware Cyber Attack Reported Worldwide

Posted: 12 May 2017 10:45 AM PDT

A massive ransomware campaign appears to have infected a number of organizations around the world. Screenshots of a well-known program that locks computers and demands…

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?


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/articles/A335
COPYRIGHT ©2017 Grace to YouYou may reproduce this Grace to You content for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Grace to You’s Copyright Policy (http://www.gty.org/connect/copyright).


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CultureWatch: The Collapsing Christian Worldview

On a regular basis, sadly, I find myself in debates with fellow believers who seem woefully clueless as to the biblical worldview. They seem to just regurgitate pagan thinking, beliefs and practice, yet still somehow think they are being good Christians.

worldview 1Too many Christians simply think and act like those in the surrounding culture, and they seem blissfully unaware that they really should not be doing this. But I am not alone in seeing such worldly Christianity out there – unfortunately researchers keep finding the same thing. Let me discuss one of the latest bits of research on this.

Summit Ministries started in America in 1962 and was led for nearly fifty years by David Noble, a champion in worldview studies. It has been the premier worldview course in the US with tens of thousands of young people profoundly impacted by it over the years.

And George Barna has been engaged in Christian research for almost as long, gauging the state of play of American Christianity. Now Summit and Barna have teamed up to measure just how much of a biblical worldview American Christians actually have. Sadly, the findings are not very encouraging.

A quick overview of the findings has shown that among practicing Christians:

-61% agree with ideas rooted in New Spirituality.
-54% resonate with postmodernist views.
-36% accept ideas associated with Marxism.
-29% believe ideas based on secularism.

Wow, that does not sound very good. But first a word about how the research was gathered. The researchers say this:

Research with practicing Christians (who go to church at least monthly and consider their faith very important in their life) included 1,456 web-based surveys conducted among a representative sample of adults over the age of 18 in each of the 50 United States. The survey was conducted in March 2017. The sampling error for this study is plus or minus 2.4%, at the 95% confidence level. Minimal statistical weighting was used to calibrate the sample to known population percentages in relation to demographic variables.
1Barna has tracked beliefs that make up a “biblical worldview” since 1995, with the data included in this article (17% of practicing Christians have a biblical worldview) coming from an OmniPoll conducted in an online study of 1,066 U.S. adults in July of 2015. Barna defines “biblical worldview” as believing that absolute moral truth exists; the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches; Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not merely symbolic; a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or do good works; Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today.

So let’s look at the findings a bit more closely. Consider the issue of the “New Spirituality”. This would include things like the New Age Movement, alternative religions, such as Eastern religions, as well as various aberrant Christian teachings. Here is what the researchers said about their findings:

Practicing Christians find the claims of New Spirituality among the most enticing, perhaps because it holds a positive view of religion, emphasizes the supernatural and simultaneously feeds into a growing dissatisfaction with institutions. For instance, almost three in 10 (28%) practicing Christians strongly agree that “all people pray to the same god or spirit, no matter what name they use for that spiritual being.” Further, the belief that “meaning and purpose come from becoming one with all that is” has captured the minds of more than one-quarter of practicing Christians (27%).
The New Spirituality worldview has also inched its way into Christian ethics; one-third of practicing Christians (32%) strongly agree that “if you do good, you will receive good, and if you do bad, you will receive bad.” This karmic statement, though not explicitly from scripture, appeals to many Christians’ sense of ultimate justice. For example, another Barna study found that 52 percent of practicing Christians strongly agree that the Bible teaches “God helps those who help themselves.”

While practicing Christians have long tended to hold a range of views regarding politics, economics and the like, the research results were also quite worrying in terms of all those flirting with or adhering to the tenets of Marxism. The authors found this:

Marxism as a worldview stands in opposition to the economics of capitalism and falls more in line with socialist or communist political ideologies. Marxism, though, is also founded on an irreligious—or even religiously hostile—foundation. Though not a single practicing Christian says they would actually vote for a communist party candidate (0%) and only 3 percent for the socialist party, some of the key economic and political tenets of a Marxist worldview are supported by practicing Christians, though less so than other worldviews.
For instance, only one in nine (11%) strongly agree that “private property encourages greed and envy.” This is more pronounced among practicing Christian Millennials (20%) and Gen-Xers (22%), who are four to six times as likely to believe this when compared to Boomers (4%) or Elders (5%). For socialists, reigning in greed is the purview of the state, and 14 percent of practicing Christians strongly agree that “the government, rather than individuals, should control as much of the resources as necessary to ensure that everyone gets their fair share.”
In total, Barna found that 36 percent of practicing Christians embraced at least one of the Marxist statements assessed in the research.

The idea that there is no real objective truth is a key tenet of postmodernism, not biblical Christianity. Yet incredibly it seems that many practicing Christians have abandoned biblical absolutes for the relativism of postmodernism:

Almost one-fifth of practicing Christians (19%) strongly agree that “no one can know for certain what meaning and purpose there is to life.” A similar perspective also resonates with many Christians when it comes to views of morality: Almost one-quarter of practicing Christians (23%) strongly agree that “what is morally right or wrong depends on what an individual believes.” Less educated Americans (high school or less) are more likely to affirm this view than their college-educated counterparts (31% compared to 21%).
As a whole, more than half (54%) of practicing Christians embrace at least one of the postmodern statements assessed in the research.

By way of summary the researchers say this about their findings:

“This research really crystalizes what Barna has been tracking in our country as an ongoing shift away from Christianity as the basis for a shared worldview. We have observed and reported on increasing pluralism, relativism and moral decline among Americans and even in the Church. Nevertheless, it is striking how pervasive some of these beliefs are among people who are actively engaged in the Christian faith,” Brooke Hempell, senior vice president of research for Barna, says.
“What stood out most to us was how stark the shift was between the Boomer and Gen-Xer generations,” Hempell remarks. “We expected Millennials to be most influenced by other worldviews, but the most dramatic increase in support for these ideals occurs with the generation before them. It’s no surprise, then, that the impact we see today in our social fabric is so pervasive, given that these ideas have been taking root for two generations.
“The challenge with competing worldviews is that there are fragments of similarities to some Christian teachings, and some may recognize and latch on to these ideas, not realizing they are distortions of biblical truths. The call for the Church, and its teachers and thinkers, is to help Christians dissect popular beliefs before allowing them to settle in their own ideology,” Hempell says. “Informed thinking is essential to developing and maintaining a healthy biblical worldview and faith as well as being able to have productive dialogue with those who espouse other beliefs.”

Orthodoxy – right thinking about God – is essential for the Christian. Yes as this research shows, plenty of Christians are not really thinking at all, let alone thinking rightly. Throughout Scripture we are told about the importance of right belief and right teaching.

And believers are also told not to let the world shape our thinking. As Paul put it in Romans 12:2: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Yet sadly far too many Christians are doing just what Paul warned against. They are thinking just like pagans, and wondering why they have so little impact and influence on the surrounding culture. But if we think and act just like the world does, how can we expect to change it?

Let me conclude with a few brief quotes from some important Christian thinkers who certainly saw the vital importance of the Christian worldview. First, two quotes from Charles Colson:

“The world is divided not so much by geographic boundaries as by religious and cultural traditions, by people’s most deeply held beliefs – by worldviews.”

“The church’s singular failure in recent decades has been the failure to see Christianity as a life system, or worldview, that governs every area of existence.”

And as Francis Schaeffer reminds us, we need both orthopraxis as well as orthodoxy:

“As Christians we are not only to know the right worldview, the worldview that tells us the truth of what is, but consciously to act upon that worldview so as to influence society in all its parts and facets across the whole spectrum of life, as much as we can.”

http://www.barna.com/research/competing-worldviews-influence-todays-christians/

[1592 words]

The post The Collapsing Christian Worldview appeared first on CultureWatch.

May 14, 2017: Verse of the day

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Love’s Abundance

and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, (3:17b–19a)

Being made strong inwardly by God’s Spirit leads to Christ’s being at home in our hearts, which leads to love that is incomprehensible. The result of our yielding to the Spirit’s power and submitting to Christ’s lordship in our hearts is love. When Christ settles down in our lives He begins to display His own love in us and through us. When He freely indwell-s our hearts, we become rooted and grounded in love, that is, settled on a strong foundation of love.

“A new commandment I give to you,”Jesus said, “that you love one another, even as I have loved you” (John 13:34). Peter wrote, “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart” (1 Pet. 1:22). It is God’s supreme desire that His children sincerely and fully love each other, just as He loves us. Love is the first fruit of the Spirit, of which joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self–control are essentially subcategories (Gal. 5:22–23).

Love is an attitude of selflessness. Biblical agapē love is a matter of the will and not a matter of feeling or emotion, though deep feelings and emotions almost always accompany love. God’s loving the world was not a matter simply of feeling; it resulted in His sending His only Son to redeem the world (John 3:16). Love is self-less giving, always self-less and always giving. It is the very nature and substance of love to deny self and to give to others. Jesus did not say, “Greater love has no one than to have warm feelings for his friends,” but rather, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

In obeying the Father’s loving will to redeem the world,Jesus willingly and lovingly gave Himself to accomplish that redemption. “Although He existed in the form of God, [He] did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond–servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:6–8). That is love in its most perfect form, and it is this divine attitude of self–sacrificing love that every believer should have in himself (v. 5).

We can only have such love when Christ is free to work His own love through us. We cannot fulfill any of Christ’s commands without Christ Himself, least of all His command to love. We can only love as Christ loves when He has free reign in our hearts. “By this,”John says, “the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has beheld God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. … We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:9–12, 19).

When the Spirit empowers our lives and Christ is obeyed as the Lord of our hearts, our sins and weaknesses are dealt with and we find ourselves wanting to serve others, wanting to sacrifice for them and serve them—because Christ’s loving nature has truly become our own. Loving is the supernatural attitude of the Christian, because love is the nature of Christ. When a Christian does not love he has to do so intentionally and with effort—just as he must do to hold his breath. To become habitually unloving he must habitually resist Christ as the Lord of his heart. To continue the analogy to breathing, when Christ has his proper place in our hearts, we do not have to be told to love—just as we do not have to be told to breathe. Eventually it must happen, because loving is as natural to the spiritual person as breathing is to the natural person.

Though it is unnatural for the Christian to be unloving, it is still possible to be disobedient in regard to love. Just as loving is determined by the will and not by circumstances or other people, so is not loving. If a husband fails in his love for his wife, or she for him, it is never because of the other person, regardless of what the other person may have done. You do not fall either into or out of agapē love, because it is controlled by the will. Romantic love can be beautiful and meaningful, and we find many favorable accounts of it in Scripture. But it is agapē love that God commands husbands and wives to have for each other (Eph. 5:25, 28, 33; Titus 2:4)—the love that each person controls by his own act of will. Strained relations between husbands and wives, between fellow workers, between brothers and sisters, or between any others is never a matter of incompatibility or personality conflict but is always a matter of sin.

The principle applies to everyone with whom the Christian has contact, especially his fellow Christians. Loving others is an act of obedience, and not loving them is an act of disobedience. “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also” (1 John 4:20–21). In the deepest sense, love is the only commandment of God. ‘The greatest commandment, Jesus said, is to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind; and the second greatest is to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matt. 22:37–39). And “he who loves his neighbor,” Paul said, “has fulfilled the law. For this, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,’ and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; love therefore is the fulfillment of the law” (Rom. 13:8–10).

The absence of love is the presence of sin. The absence of love has nothing at all to do with what is happening to us, but everything to do with what is happening in us. Sin and love are enemies, because sin and God are enemies. They cannot coexist. Where one is, the other is not. The loveless life is the ungodly life; and the godly life is the serving, caring, tenderhearted, affectionate, self–giving, self–sacrificing life of Christ’s love working through the believer.

When we are rooted and grounded in love, we then become able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth of love. We cannot comprehend the fulness of love unless we are totally immersed in love, unless it is the very root and ground of our being. When someone asked the famed jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong to explain jazz, he replied, “Man, if I’ve got to explain it, you ain’t got it.” In some ways that simplistic idea applies to love. It cannot truly be understood and comprehended until it is experienced. Yet the experience and working of love that Paul is talking about in this passage is not emotional or subjective. It is not nice feelings or warm sentiments that bring such comprehension, but the actual working of God’s Spirit and God’s Son in our lives to produce a love that is pure and sincere, self-less and serving. To be rooted and grounded in love requires being rooted and grounded in God. When we are saved, God’s love is “poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:5). It is the Lord Himself who directs our “hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ” (2 Thess. 3:5).

Love is available to every Christian because Christ is available to every Christian. Paul prays that we will become able to comprehend with all the saints. Love is not simply for the even–tempered Christian or the naturally pleasant and agreeable Christian. Nor is it for some supposed special class of Christians who have an inside spiritual track. It is for, and commanded of, every Christian—all the saints.

Comprehension of love comes from being continually immersed in the things of God, especially His Word. “Thy words were found and I ate them,” Jeremiah declared, “and Thy words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I have been called by Thy name, O Lord God of hosts” (Jer. 15:16). Job testified, “I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12), and the psalmist tells us that the delight of the righteous person “is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Ps. 1:2; cf. 19:9b–10; 119:167; etc.).

To comprehend … what is the breadth and length and height and depth of love is to understand it in its fullness. Love goes in every direction and to the greatest distance. It goes wherever it is needed for as long as it is needed. The early church Father Jerome said that the love of Christ reaches up to the holy angels and down to those in hell. Its length covers the men on the upward way and its breadth reaches those drifting away on evil paths.

I do not think that breadth and length and height and depth represent four specific types or categories of love but simply suggest its vastness and completeness. In whatever spiritual direction we look we can see God’s love. We can see love’s breadth reflected in God’s acceptance of Gentile and Jew equally in Christ (Eph. 2:11–18). We can see love’s length in God’s choosing us before the foundation of the world (1:4–5) for a salvation that will last through all eternity. We can see love’s height in God’s having “blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (1:3) and in His raising us up and seating us “with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus” (2:6). We can see love’s depth in God’s reaching down to the lowest levels of depravity to redeem those who are dead in trespasses and sins (2:1–3). God’s love can reach any person in any sin, and it stretches from eternity past to eternity future. It takes us into the very presence of God and sits us on His throne.

In what may at first seems a self–contradiction, Paul says that to know the love of Christ … surpasses knowledge. Knowing Christ’s love takes us beyond human knowledge, because it is from an infinitely higher source. Paul is not speaking here of our knowing the love we are to have for Christ but the love of Christ, His very own love that He must place in our hearts before we can love Him or anyone else. We are commanded to love because we are given love. God always gives before He commands anything in return, and love is one of Christ’s greatest gifts to His church. Throughout John 14–16 Jesus promises to give love, joy, peace, power, and comfort without measure to those who belong to Him.

The world cannot comprehend the great love that Christ gives because it cannot understand Christ. Worldly love is based on attraction and therefore lasts only as long as the attraction. Christ’s love is based on His own nature and therefore lasts forever. Worldly love lasts until it is offended or rebuffed. Christ’s love lasts despite every offense and every rebuff. Worldly love loves for what it can get. Christ’s love loves for what it can give. What is incomprehensible to the world is to be normal living for the child of God.

God’s Fullness

that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God. (3:19b)

The inner strengthening of the Holy Spirit leads to the indwelling of Christ, which leads to abundant love, which leads to God’s fullness in us. To be filled up to all the fulness of God is indeed incomprehensible, even to God’s own children. It is incredible and indescribable. There is no way, this side of heaven, we can fathom that truth. We can only believe it and praise God for it.

J. Wilbur Chapman often told of the testimony given by a certain man in one of his meetings:

I got off at the Pennsylvania depot as a tramp, and for a year I begged on the streets for a living. One day I touched a man on the shoulder and said, “Hey, mister, can you give me a dime?” As soon as I saw his face I was shocked to see that it was my own father. I said, “Father, Father, do you know me?” Throwing his arms around me and with tears in his eyes, he said, “Oh my son, at last I’ve found you! I’ve found you. You want a dime? Everything I have is yours.” Think of it. I was a tramp. I stood begging my own father for ten cents, when for 18 years he had been looking for me to give me all that he had.

That is a small picture of what God wants to do for His children. His supreme goal in bringing us to Himself is to make us like Himself by filling us with Himself, with all that He is and has.

Even to begin to grasp the magnitude of that truth, we must think of every attribute and every characteristic of God. We must think of His power, majesty, wisdom, love, mercy, patience, kindness, longsuffering, and every other thing that God is and does. That Paul is not exaggerating is clear from the fact that in this letter he repeatedly mentions the fullness of God’s blessings to those who belong to Him through Christ. He tells us that the church is Christ’s “body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:23). He tells us that “He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things” (4:10). And he tells us that God wants every believer to “be filled with the Spirit” (5:18).

Plēroō means to make full, or fill to the full, and is used many times in the New Testament. It speaks of total dominance. A person filled with rage is totally dominated by hatred. A person filled with happiness is totally dominated by joy. To be filled up to all the fulness of God therefore means to be totally dominated by Him, with nothing left of self or any part of the old man. By definition, then, to be filled with God is to be emptied of self. It is not to have much of God and little of self, but all of God and none of self. This is a recurring theme in Ephesians. Here Paul talks about the fulness of God; in 4:13 it is “the fulness of Christ”; and in 5:18 it is the fulness of the Spirit.

What a God, who loves us so much that He will not rest until we are completely like Him! We can only sing with David, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my Savior” (2 Sam. 22:2–3). Throughout the rest of that magnificent hymn, David stacks praise upon praise in declaring God’s greatness and goodness.

In the same way Job seems to be almost at a loss for words to properly extol the wonders of God. “What a help you are to the weak! How you have saved the arm without strength! What counsel you have given to one without wisdom! What helpful insight you have abundantly provided! … He stretches out the north over empty space, and hangs the earth on nothing. He wraps up the waters in His clouds; and the cloud does not burst under them. … The pillars of heaven tremble, and are amazed at His rebuke. … By His breath the heavens are cleared; His hand has pierced the fleeing serpent. Behold, these are the fringes of His ways” (Job 26:2–3, 7–8, 11, 13–14).

From our human, earthly perspective we can never see more than “the fringes of His ways.” No wonder David said that he would not be satisfied until he awoke in the likeness of God (Ps. 17:15). Only then will we know fully as we have been fully known (1 Cor. 13:12).[1]


17b–19a. in order that you. being rooted and founded in love, may be strong, together with all the saints, to grasp what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. Since faith works through love, and amounts to nothing without it (1 Cor. 13:2), it is easy to see that if by faith Christ has established his abiding presence in the heart, believers will be firmly rooted and founded in love, a love for God in Christ, for the brothers and sisters in the Lord, for the neighbors, even for enemies. Moreover, this love, in turn, is necessary in order to comprehend Christ’s love for those who love him. And in the measure in which the believers’ vision of that love which proceeds from Christ expands, their love for him and their ability to grasp his love for them will also increase, etc. Thus the most powerful and blessed chain-reaction in the whole universe is established. It all began with God’s love in Christ for the Ephesians (1:4, 5; 1 John 4:19). Like a continuing circle it will never end.

The words “rooted and founded” suggest a twofold metaphor: that of a tree and that of a building. To insure the stability of the tree roots are required, roots that will be in proportion to the spread of the branches. Similarly, as a guarantee for the solidity of a building a foundation is necessary, one that will adequately support the superstructure. Thus firmly rooted the tree, which represents all those who love the Lord, will flourish and bear the indicated fruit. Thus solidly founded the building will continue to grow into a holy sanctuary in the Lord, and will achieve its purpose.

That fruit and purpose is “to grasp what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ.” Since such grasping or appropriating and knowing can be practised only by those who are rooted and founded in love, it is clear that the reference is not to an activity that is purely mental. It is experiential knowledge, heart-knowledge, which Paul has in mind. And since the heart is the very core and center of life and influences all of life’s inner activities and outward expressions, what is indicated is a grasping and a knowing with one’s entire being, that is, with all the “faculties” of heart and mind. Mental appropriation is certainly included.

It should not be necessary to point out that when the apostle speaks of being strong (exercising great inherent strength; see on 1:19) to grasp … and to know, he does not have two objects in mind but one, namely, the love of Christ. So great is that love that no one will ever be able to appropriate and to know it all by himself alone; hence, “together with all the saints.” The saints will tell each other about their discoveries and experiences with respect to it, in the spirit of Ps. 66:16, “Come and hear, all you that fear God, and I will declare what he has done for my soul.” This activity of getting to know more and more about the love of Christ begins here on earth and will, of course, continue in the life hereafter. The fact that Paul in this very prayer is not forgetting about the church in heaven is clear from verse 14. The Lofty Ideal is to get to know thoroughly Christ’s deep affection, self-sacrificing tenderness, passionate sympathy, and marvelous outgoingness. All of these are included in love but do not exhaust it. Paul prays that the addressed may appropriate and know this love in all its breadth and length and height and depth! Here, as I see it, the expositor should be on his guard. He should not pluck this expression apart, so that a separate meaning is ascribed to each of these dimensions. What is meant is simply this: Paul prays that the Ephesians (and all believers down through the centuries) may be so earnest and zealous in the pursuit of their objective that they will never get to the point where they will say, “We have arrived. Now we know all there is to know about the love of Christ.” Just as Abraham was told to look toward heaven and number the stars, so that he might see that numbering them was impossible; and just as we today are being urged by means of a hymn to count our many blessings, and to name them one by one, so that their uncountable multitude may increase our gratitude and astonishment, so also the apostle prays that the addressed may concentrate so intensely and exhaustively on the immensity and glory of Christ’s love that they will come to understand that this love ever surpasses knowledge. The finite heart and mind can never fully grasp or know infinite love. Even in the life hereafter God will never say to his redeemed, “Now I have told you all there is to be told about this love. I close the book, for the last page has been read.” There will always be more and more and still more to tell. And that will be the blessedness of the heavenly life.

This introduces us to the climax. We now reach the top of the ladder: 19b. in order that you may be filled to all the fulness of God. See also on 4:13. In other words, the knowledge just described is transforming in character: “But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18). To contemplate the glory of Christ’s love means to be increasingly transformed into that image. In one sense that process of transformation will cease at the moment of death. At the very moment when the soul of the believer enters heaven, a great change will take place, and he, who a moment before was still a sinner, a saved sinner, will be a sinner no more, but will behold God’s face in righteousness. He will then be absolutely perfect, completely sinless, in every respect obedient to the Father’s will (Matt. 6:10; Rev. 21:27). For “all the saints” it will cease, in the sense indicated, at Christ’s return. In another sense, however, the transformation-process will not cease: growth in such things as knowledge, love, joy, etc., will continue throughout eternity. Such growth is not inconsistent with perfection. Even in the hereafter believers will still be creatures; hence, finite. Man never becomes God. God, however, ever remains infinite. Now when in glory, in a condition of total absence of sin and death, finite individuals are in continuous contact with the Infinite, is it even possible that the finite would not make progress in the matters that have been mentioned? When “the fulness of God”—all of those divine communicable attributes of which God is full: love, wisdom, knowledge, blessedness, etc.—is, as it were, poured into vessels of limited capacity, will not their capacity be increased? To be sure, believers will never be filled with the fulness of God in the sense that they would become God. Even the communicable attributes, in the measure in which they exist in God, are incommunicable. But what Paul prays is that those addressed may be filled to all the fulness of God. Perfection, in other words, also in such matters as knowledge, love, blessedness must ever remain the goal; to become more and more like God, the ultimate ideal. What Paul is asking, therefore, with special reference, of course, to the church still on earth, though the answer to the prayer will never cease, is nothing strange, nothing new. It is a request similar to the exhortation of 5:1, “Be therefore imitators of God, as beloved children, and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God, for a fragrant odor.” And again, “It was he who gave some (to be) apostles … in order to fully equip the saints for the work of ministry … until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the clear knowledge of the Son of God, to a full-grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (4:11–13). Cf. Col. 2:9, 10.[2]


18 Now Paul identifies the hoped-for consequence of his request for the indwelling Christ: literally, “so that you may be strong enough to grasp …” Only the indwelling Christ gives believers the strength or capacity to grasp what Paul wants them to know. “Be strong enough” (NIV, “have power”) translates exischysēte (GK 2015), which (used only here in the NT—though common enough in other Greek writings) means “to be fully capable of doing or experiencing something” (BDAG, 350). Paul desires his readers to be completely able to “grasp” (katalabesthai, GK 2898), a word Paul also uses for mental or spiritual comprehension or perception (Ac 4:13; 10:34; 25:25). By using the middle voice, Paul highlights his desire that they “fully understand for themselves,” or grasp the implications in their own interest or for their own benefit.

Next, Paul appends a prepositional phrase: he prays they will have the strength to grasp “with all the saints.” Two interpretive options present themselves: (1) this comprehension is available to all believers (i.e., Paul prays for them what he desires for all Christians), or (2) this comprehension only comes in the context of the community. In view of the pervasive theme of the body, community metaphors, and Paul’s upcoming appeals for unity, the second is more likely. Best, 344, agrees, calling this “a communal knowledge.… The true understanding of Christ’s love is not then an individual experience but takes place in the community.” Plus, the object that Paul wishes them to comprehend is the “love of Christ” (v. 19 in the Greek text; the NIV has brought this forward to v. 18 for ease of translation). Not only must love work itself out only in the context of the body; it can only be understood there. Love cannot be grasped in isolation from other members of the body of Christ.

As to the object he wants them to have the power to grasp, Paul uses four terms to delimit the dimensions of something, though in fact he specifies no object. These nouns typically describe physical dimensions. “Width” (platos) is used for the “breadth” of the earth (Rev 20:9) or the “width” of the new Jerusalem (Rev 21:16). “Length” (mēkos) likewise measures the new Jerusalem (Rev 21:16). “Height” (hypsos) measures that city too (Rev 21:16), but also stands in place of “heaven” (“on high”; Lk 24:49; Eph 4:8). “Depth” (bathos) is used literally (Lk 5:4) and metaphorically (Ro 8:39; 11:33). Simply taking them without an object might imply that Paul intends them to encompass all reality (cf. Yoder Neufeld, 161). From the context, however, it seems evident that he wishes the readers to grasp what is the width, length, height, and depth of Christ’s love (see NIV and most versions and commentators). He wants to convey a feeling of the vastness of Christ’s love and the impossibility of comprehending its extent—though, of course, he prays for precisely this very thing! He wants them to pursue within the church avenues for the extending of Christ’s love in every dimension of their common life.

19 Paul identifies explicitly the object they need strength to grasp: the love of Christ (see end of v. 18 in the NIV). Literally, Paul says, “indeed [emphatic use of te], to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,” another clause that strains logic. We sense that Paul is laboring with his lexicon here, trying to express what he finds almost beyond expression. Snodgrass, 182, remarks appropriately, “This is language from someone who has been surprised and overwhelmed with Christ’s love.” Paul prays for more than a mere awareness of Christ’s love; he wants them to really know (ginōskō, GK 1182) it. This is personal and experiential knowledge, not merely intellectual speculation. The object for them to know is the love “of Christ.” I take “of Christ” as a subjective genitive, specifying Christ’s love for them. Rereading v. 18, we see how vast and immeasurable Christ’s love really is. That is what Paul wants them to know.

Paradoxically, however, such love “surpasses knowledge”! It cannot be understood completely. How can one possibly fathom the extent of Christ’s love (we are reminded of v. 8 and the “unsearchable riches of Christ”)? Paul petitions God to grant them increased understanding and experience of Christ’s love, though its full attainment will always elude them. And though believers will never exhaust its vastness, Christ’s love forms the substance in which they are rooted and established. The implication for the readers, then, is that they are to grow in and build on Christ’s love in their relationships with one another. In this practical and tangible way, Christians come to know experientially more and more what Christ’s love for them really means and entails.

A final purpose clause concludes the verse, introduced by the conjunction “that” (hina). This clause, still part of the sentence that began in v. 14, attaches to the main verb “bow” or “kneel”; therefore, many see this as the third major request of Paul’s prayer. Alternatively, Paul sums up the ultimate goal of his prayer for his readers (so Arnold, 86, 96–97; O’Brien, 253, 365). He desires that they “be filled to … all the fullness of God.” Yet it seems to be an impossible goal (the preposition eis pointing to a goal); has Paul strained the language beyond all boundaries? Has he lost control of his argument? Are his readers to be perfect as God is, or as much as humans can attain to divine perfection; does Paul’s desire perhaps parallel Peter’s statement, “so that … you may participate in the divine nature” (2 Pe 1:4)? Or are they to be filled with God—hence Phillips’ translation: “So you will be filled through all your being with God himself”?

Again, we must take it bit by bit. The verb plēroō (“filled”) here takes the meaning “to make full” (as in 1:23; 4:10, and many other places; cf. BDAG, 828). One can be full of joy or knowledge or other qualities. Here the preposition eis points to the goal, direction, or extent to which they are to be filled: eis pan to plērōma tou theou (to all the fullness of God; NIV, “to the measure of all the fullness of God”). I noted an active and passive sense for the noun “fullness” (plērōma, GK 4445) in the commentary on 1:23. But as Best, 348, notes, “The distinction between the active and passive meanings of plērōma may be unimportant in this respect, for God will fill with that with which he is full.” Paul appends the particle pan, which means “all,” thus resulting in “all that which is filled.” Paul prays that they be filled to (eis) all the fullness “of God.” Paul envisions their movement toward the goal of God’s fullness. Its final realization will not arrive until the eschaton.

How, then, do we understand the genitival phrase “the fullness of God” (tou theou)? What uses of the genitive might fit here? (1) If the genitive is epexegetic, then fullness equals God, and they are to be filled with the fullness, namely, God. But what might it mean to be filled with God, as this image has no parallel in other places in the NT? (2) If possessive, then the fullness belongs to God. (3) If subjective, then the fullness is effected by God; God fills them. This might be very similar to a genitive of origin—the fullness that comes from God.

It seems the options boil down to two main choices. To be filled with the fullness could mean (1) to be filled with God, or (2) to be filled toward some quality (or qualities) that comes from God, which he possesses and which he supplies. The second makes more sense in this context in which Paul prays for the readers’ apprehension of the unsurpassable love of Christ. Can we specify what Paul intends “fullness” to include here? Either it comprises certain unspecified divine qualities and attributes, or Paul has in mind some specific entity. A popular option simply leaves “fullness” here: it refers to divine perfections, divine fullness—insofar as Christians indwelt by the Spirit can attain it.

However, taking with some hesitation the sense of “fullness” as “that which is full of something” (BDAG, 829 [2]), I tender an alternative. I propose on contextual grounds that this “fullness” of God zeroes in on one divine attribute, namely, the love of God that he exercises himself and grants to his people in Christ. Paul wants his readers to grow more and more in their experience of God’s love in their relationships with each other to the extent that they have experienced God’s love for them. Jesus urged his disciples to be perfect as God is perfect (Mt 5:48). No sinless perfection this, but the goal of kingdom living that only the Spirit can enable. Likewise here, Paul could not expect his readers to love as God does—or to be filled with all those qualities that fill up God, for that matter. But the goal (the preposition eis) is to live and love as God does. Paul says as much later in this letter: “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (5:1–2). Here are all the components: the sacrificial love of God, the love that God has for his children, and the appeal to imitate this divine love by living a life of love.[3]


3:18 The preceding requests have outlined a program of spiritual growth and development which prepares the child of God to be fully able to grasp with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height.

Before we consider the dimensions themselves, let us notice the expression, with all the saints. The subject is so great that no one believer can possibly grasp more than a small fraction of it. So there is need to study, discuss, and share with others. The Holy Spirit can use the combined meditations of a group of exercised believers to throw a flood of additional light on the Scriptures.

The dimensions are generally taken to refer to the love of Christ, although the text does not say this. In fact, the love of Christ is mentioned separately in the following clause. If the love of Christ is intended, then the connection might be shown as follows:

Width

 

 

The world (John 3:16)

 

Length

 

 

Forever (1 Cor. 13:8)

 

Depth

 

 

Even the death of the cross (Phil. 2:8)

 

Height

 

 

Heaven (1 John 3:1–2)

 

  1. B. Meyer expresses it well:

There will always be as much horizon before us as behind us. And when we have been gazing on the face of Jesus for millenniums, its beauty will be as fresh and fascinating and fathomless as when we first saw it from the gate of Paradise.

But these dimensions may also refer to the mystery which holds such an important place in Ephesians. In fact, it is easy to find these dimensions in the text itself:

  1. The width is described in 2:11–18. It refers to the wideness of God’s grace in saving Jews and Gentiles, and then incorporating them into the church. The mystery embraces both these segments of humanity.
  2. The length extends from eternity to eternity. As to the past, believers were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world (1:4). As to the future, eternity will be a perpetual unfolding of the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus (2:7).
  3. The depth is vividly portrayed in 2:1–3. We were sunk in a pit of unspeakable sin and degradation. Christ came to this jungle of filth and corruption in order to die in our behalf.
  4. The height is seen in 2:6, where we have not only been raised up with Christ, but enthroned in Him in the heavenlies to share His glory.

These are the dimensions, then, of immensity and, indeed, infinity. As we think of them, “all we can do,” Scroggie says, “is to mark the order in this tumult of holy words.”

3:19 The apostle’s next request is that the saints might know by experience the knowledge-surpassing love of Christ. They could never explore it fully, because it is an ocean without shores, but they could learn more and more about it from day to day. And so he prays for a deep, experimental knowledge and enjoyment of the wonderful love of our wonderful Lord.

The climax in this magnificent prayer is reached when Paul prays that you may be filled with (lit. unto, Gk. eis) all the fullness of God. All the fullness of the Godhead dwells in the Lord Jesus (Col. 2:9). The more He dwells in our hearts by faith, the more we are filled unto all the fullness of God. We could never be filled with all the fullness of God. But it is a goal toward which we move.

And yet having explained this, we must say there are depths of meaning here we have not reached. As we handle the Scriptures, we are aware that we are dealing with truths that are greater than our ability to understand or explain. We can use illustrations to throw light on this verse, for example, the thimble dipped in the ocean is filled with water, but how little of the ocean is in the thimble! Yet when we have said all this, the mystery remains, and we can only stand in awe at God’s word and marvel at its infinity.[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians (pp. 107–112). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Ephesians (Vol. 7, pp. 172–174). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[3] Klein, W. W. (2006). Ephesians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 99–101). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 1930–1931). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

May 14 – Tempering Zeal with Sensitivity (James, son of Zebedee)

The twelve apostles included “James the son of Zebedee” (Matt. 10:2).

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Zeal without sensitivity can destroy your life and ministry.

There’s the story of a Norwegian pastor whose motto was “All or nothing!” His life and preaching were stern, strong, powerful, uncompromising, and utterly insensitive. Reportedly the people in his church didn’t care much for him because he didn’t care much for them. In his zeal and ambition to advance the Kingdom and uphold God’s standard, he neglected everything else—including his own family.

One day his little daughter became so ill, the doctor warned him that if he didn’t move her out of the cold Norwegian air to a warmer climate she would die. He refused, telling the doctor, “All or nothing!” Soon his little girl died. His wife was so grief-stricken she would sit for hours holding her daughter’s garments close to her heart, trying somehow to ease her pain.

When the pastor saw what his wife was doing, he gave the clothes to a poor woman in the street. All that remained was a little bonnet, which his wife had hidden so she would have some reminder of her precious daughter. When the pastor found it, he gave that away too, lecturing his wife on giving “all or nothing.” Within a few months she too died—of grief.

Now that’s an extreme example of insensitive zeal, and yet there are many pastors, evangelists, and other Christian workers who are so zealous for the Lord and so task-oriented, they don’t see the pain their own families and congregations are suffering.

James could have been like that if he hadn’t yielded his life to Christ. He began as a zealous and insensitive disciple, but God refined his character and used him in a marvelous way.

Examine your own ministries and motives. Are you sensitive to your family and the people with whom you serve? Zeal can be a wonderful quality, but it must be tempered with love and sensitivity.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  If you have been insensitive to those around you, confess that to them, and ask the Lord to give you a greater sensitivity from now on.

For Further Study: Eli the priest was negligent and insensitive to his family. Read 1 Samuel 3:1–4:18. ✧ What did the Lord tell Samuel concerning Eli? ✧ What was the outcome of Israel’s battles with the Philistines? ✧ How did Eli and his sons die?[1]


10:2 the names of the twelve apostles. The 12 are always listed in a similar order (cf. Mk 3:16–19; Lk 6:13–16; Ac 1:13). Peter is always named first. The list contains 3 groups of 4. The 3 subgroups are always listed in the same order, and the first name in each subgroup is always the same, though there is some variation in the order within the subgroups—but Judas Iscariot is always named last. Peter … Andrew … James … John. The first subgroup of 4 are the most familiar to us. These two sets of brothers, all fishermen, represent an inner circle of disciples often seen closest to Jesus (see note on 17:1).[2]


10:2 Apostles (plural of Gk. apostolos; used only here in Matthew; see note on Rom. 1:1) describes those commissioned to be Jesus’ special representatives, while “disciples” (Matt. 10:1) was also used more broadly to refer to anyone who believed in Jesus. Peter heads all the lists of the Twelve (cf. Mark 3:16–19; Luke 6:13–16; Acts 1:13) and serves as their spokesman. Peter, along with James and John, made up Jesus’ inner circle.[3]


10:2 apostles. The Gk. word apostolos designates an authorized representative or emissary whose word has the authority of the sender (cf. 2 Cor. 8:23, where it is translated “messengers,” and 2 Cor. 1:1 note). Here the Twelve receive authority to do exactly what Jesus has been doing (vv. 7, 8).[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 147). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Mt 10:2). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1839). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 1687). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

MAY 14 – OUR THOUGHTS REVEAL WHAT WE ARE BECOMING

…If there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

PHILIPPIANS 4:8

The Bible has a great deal to say about our thoughts; current evangelicalism has practically nothing to say about them. The reason the Bible says so much is that our thoughts are so vitally important to us. The reason evangelicalism says so little is that we are overreacting from the “thought” cults, which would make our thoughts to be very nearly everything and we counter by making them nothing. Both positions are wrong.

Our voluntary thoughts not only reveal what we are—they predict what we will become. The will can become the servant of the thoughts, and to a large degree even our emotions follow our thinking. Thinking stirs feeling and feeling triggers action. That is the way we are made and we may as well accept it.

Thinking about God and holy things creates a moral climate favorable to the growth of faith and love and humility and reverence. We cannot by our thinking regenerate our hearts, nor take our sins away nor change the leopard’s spots. But we can by Spirit-inspired thinking help to make our minds pure sanctuaries in which God will be pleased to dwell.

The best way to control our thoughts is to offer the mind to God in complete surrender. The Holy Spirit will accept it and take control of it immediately. Then it will be relatively easy to think on spiritual things, especially if we train our thought by long periods of daily prayer, even talking to God inwardly as we work or travel.[1]


Thinking on Godly Virtues

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (4:8)

The word finally indicates that Paul has arrived at the climax of his teaching on spiritual stability. The principle that he is about to relate is both the summation of all the others and the key to implementing them. The phrase dwell on these things introduces an important truth: spiritual stability is a result of how a person thinks. The imperative form of logizomai (dwell on) makes it a command; proper thinking is not optional in the Christian life. Logizomai means more than just entertaining thoughts; it means “to evaluate,” “to consider,” or “to calculate.” Believers are to consider the qualities Paul lists in this verse and meditate on their implications. The verb form calls for habitual discipline of the mind to set all thoughts on these spiritual virtues.

The Bible leaves no doubt that people’s lives are the product of their thoughts. Proverbs 23:7 declares, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” The modern counterpart to that proverb is the computer acronym GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out). Just as a computer’s output is dependent on the information that is input, so people’s actions are the result of their thinking. Jesus expressed that truth in Mark 7:20–23: “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”

Paul’s call for biblical thinking is especially relevant in our culture. The focus today is on emotion and pragmatism, and the importance of serious thinking about biblical truth is downplayed. People no longer ask “Is it true?” but “Does it work?” and “How will it make me feel?” Those latter two questions serve as a working definition of truth in our society that rejects the concept of absolute divine truth. Truth is whatever works and produces positive emotions. Sadly, such pragmatism and emotionalism has crept even into theology. The church is often more concerned about whether something will be divisive or offensive than whether it is biblically true.

Such a perspective is far different from the noble Bereans, who searched the Scriptures to see if what Paul said was true, not whether it was divisive or practical (Acts 17:11). Too many people go to church not to think or reason about the truths of Scripture, but to get their weekly spiritual high; to feel that God is still with them. Such people are spiritually unstable because they base their lives on feeling rather than on thinking. Bill Hull writes,

What scares me is the anti-intellectual, anti-critical-thinking philosophy that has spilled over into the Church. This philosophy tends to romanticize the faith, making the local church into an experience center.… Their concept of “church” is that they are spiritual consumers and that the church’s job is to meet their felt needs. (Right Thinking [Colorado Springs, Colo: NavPress, 1985], 66)

John Stott also warned of the danger of Christians living by their feelings: “Indeed, sin has more dangerous effects on our faculty of feeling than on our faculty of thinking, because our opinions are more easily checked and regulated by revealed truth than our experiences” (Your Mind Matters [Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity, 1972], 16).

God commands people to think. He said to rebellious Israel, “Come now, and let us reason together” (Isa. 1:18). Jesus chided the unbelieving Pharisees and Sadducees for demanding a miraculous sign from Him. Instead, He challenged them to think and draw inferences from the evidence they had, just as they did to predict the weather (Matt. 16:1–3). In Luke 12:57 He said to the crowds, “And why do you not even on your own initiative judge what is right?” God gave His revelation in a book, the Bible, and expects people to use their minds to understand its truths.

Careful thinking is the distinctive mark of the Christian faith. James Orr expressed that reality clearly:

If there is a religion in the world which exalts the office of teaching, it is safe to say that it is the religion of Jesus Christ. It has been frequently remarked that in pagan religions the doctrinal element is at a minimum—the chief thing there is the performance of a ritual. But this is precisely where Christianity distinguishes itself from other religions—it does contain doctrine. It comes to men with definite, positive teaching; it claims to be the truth; it bases religion on knowledge, though a knowledge which is only attainable under moral conditions. I do not see how any one can deal fairly with the facts as they lie before us in the Gospels and Epistles, without coming to the conclusion that the New Testament is full of doctrine.… A religion divorced from earnest and lofty thought has always, down the whole history of the Church, tended to become weak, jejune, and unwholesome; while the intellect, deprived of its rights within religion, has sought its satisfaction without, and developed into godless rationalism. (The Christian View of God and the World [New York: Scribner, 1897], 20–21)

Scripture describes the unsaved mind as depraved (Rom. 1:28; 1 Tim. 6:5; 2 Tim. 3:8), focused on the flesh (Rom. 8:5), which leads to spiritual death (Rom. 8:6), hostile to God (Rom. 8:7; Col. 1:21), foolish (1 Cor. 2:14), hardened to spiritual truth (2 Cor. 3:14), blinded by Satan (2 Cor. 4:4), futile (Eph. 4:17), ignorant (Eph. 4:18), and defiled (Titus 1:15).

Because of that, the first element in salvation is a proper mental understanding of the truth of the gospel. Jesus said in Matthew 13:19, “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart.” Romans 10:17 could be translated, “Faith comes from hearing a speech about Christ,” emphasizing again that faith involves thinking (cf. Isa. 1:18). That is why Peter commands believers to always be “ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). J. Gresham Machen observed, “What the Holy Spirit does in the new birth is not to make a man a Christian regardless of the evidence, but on the contrary to clear away the mists from his eyes and enable him to attend to the evidence” (The Christian Faith in the Modern World [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965], 63).

God saves people to be worshipers, and “those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). It is therefore impossible to worship God apart from truth. When Paul visited Athens, the cultural capital of the ancient world, “his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols” (Acts 17:16). But what disturbed him as much as the blatant idolatry was that he “found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD’ ” (Acts 17:23). Natural minds can see the world and conclude that there is a God. But by human reason it can only be known that He exists, not who He is. To the natural reason He is the “unknown” and the unknowable God. He can only be truly known by supernatural theology, the revelation of Scripture. God will not accept worship based on ignorance. Paul therefore proceeded to explain to the Athenian philosophers who God has revealed Himself to be (Acts 17:24–31).

In sharp contrast to the contemporary definition of faith, biblical faith is not an irrational “leap in the dark.” It is not a mystical encounter with the “wholly other” or the “ground of being.” Nor is it optimism, psychological self-hypnosis, or wishful thinking. True faith is a reasoned response to revealed truth in the Bible, and salvation results from an intelligent response, prompted by the Holy Spirit, to that truth.

In Matthew 6:25–34, Jesus rebuked the disciples for the sin of worry. In a remarkable section of his classic work Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out that the disciples’ problem was that they failed to think. Instead, they allowed themselves to be controlled by their circumstances.

Faith, according to our Lord’s teaching in this paragraph, is primarily thinking; and the whole trouble with a man of little faith is that he does not think. He allows circumstances to bludgeon him. That is the real difficulty in life. Life comes to us with a club in its hand and strikes us upon the head, and we become incapable of thought, helpless and defeated. The way to avoid that, according to our Lord, is to think. We must spend more time in studying our Lord’s lessons in observation and deduction. The Bible is full of logic, and we must never think of faith as something purely mystical. We do not just sit down in an armchair and expect marvelous things to happen to us. That is not Christian faith. Christian faith is essentially thinking. Look at the birds, think about them, and draw your deductions. Look at the grass, look at the lilies of the field, consider them.

The trouble with most people, however, is that they will not think. Instead of doing this, they sit down and ask, What is going to happen to me? What can I do? That is the absence of thought; it is surrender, it is defeat. Our Lord, here, is urging us to think, and to think in a Christian manner. That is the very essence of faith. Faith, if you like, can be defined like this: It is a man insisting upon thinking when everything seems determined to bludgeon and knock him down in an intellectual sense. The trouble with the person of little faith is that, instead of controlling his own thought, his thought is being controlled by something else, and, as we put it, he goes round and round in circles. That is the essence of worry.… That is not thought; that is the absence of thought, a failure to think. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971, 2:129–30)

Thinking is essential to saving faith, as well as to sanctifying faith.

Salvation involves the transformation of the mind. In Romans 8:5 Paul writes, “Those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh.” Unsaved, fleshly people have an unsaved, fleshly mind-set. They think as fallen, unredeemed people. On the other hand, “those who are according to the Spirit [set their minds on] the things of the Spirit.” Their renewed minds are focused on spiritual truth. Consequently, “the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Rom. 8:6). The Holy Spirit now controls the mind that before salvation was depraved, ignorant, and blinded by Satan (2 Cor. 4:4). The redeemed mind no longer thinks on the fleshly level, but on the spiritual level.

In 1 Corinthians 1:30 Paul described one of the most amazing realities of salvation: “Christ Jesus … became to us wisdom from God.” Believers’ renewed minds can plunge into the deep thoughts of the eternal God (cf. Ps. 92:5) and never reach the bottom. In 1 Corinthians 2:11–16 Paul expanded on that thought:

For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.

In contrast to the “natural man [who] does not accept the things of the Spirit of God,” the Holy Spirit grants to believers the ability to “know the things freely given to us by God.” In fact, “we have the mind of Christ”; through the Spirit, believers have knowledge of God that they would otherwise never have had.

Just as the believers’ initial act of saving faith leads to a life of faith, so also the transforming of the mind at salvation initiates a lifelong process of renewing the mind. In Romans 12:2 Paul wrote, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” To the Ephesians he wrote, “Be renewed in the spirit of your mind” (Eph. 4:23). Jesus, answering the question as to which was the greatest commandment of the Law, said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37). Peter also spoke of renewing the mind when he commanded, “Prepare your minds for action” (1 Peter 1:13). Paul called for believers to “set [their] mind[s] on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Col. 3:2). More than a dozen times in his epistles Paul asked his readers, “Do you not know?” The apostle expected believers to think and evaluate. Nor is that an exclusively New Testament perspective. In Proverbs 2:1–6 Solomon counseled,

My son, if you will receive my words and treasure my commandments within you, make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding; for if you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will discern the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

The psalmist cried out, “Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law and keep it with all my heart” (Ps. 119:34).

Believers must discipline their spiritually sensitive minds to think about right spiritual realities. In this brief list, Paul catalogues eight godly virtues to concentrate on.

The Word of God is the repository of what is true. In His High Priestly Prayer Jesus said to the Father, “Your word is truth” (John 17:17). In Psalm 19:9 David wrote, “The judgments of the Lord are true,” while Psalm 119:151 adds, “All Your commandments are truth.” The Bible is true because the “God of truth” (Ps. 31:5; Isa. 65:16; cf. Eph. 4:21) inspired it. Thinking on whatever is true means reading, analyzing, and meditating on the Word of God. The remaining seven virtuous categories of thought are all based on the truth of God’s Word. All of them are ways to view the truths of Scripture.

Second, believers are to think on whatever is honorable, whatever is noble, dignified, and worthy of respect. Semnos (honorable) comes from a word meaning “to revere,” or “to worship.” In its other New Testament uses, it describes the dignified lifestyle required of deacons (1 Tim. 3:8), deaconesses (1 Tim. 3:11), and older men (Titus 2:2). Believers must not think on what is trivial, temporal, mundane, common, and earthly, but rather on what is heavenly, and so worthy of awe, adoration, and praise. All that is true in God’s Word is honorable.

Third, believers are to think on whatever is right. Dikaios (right) is an adjective, and should be translated “righteous.” It describes whatever is in perfect harmony with God’s eternal, unchanging standards, again as revealed in Scripture. Believers are to think on matters that are consistent with the law of God.

Fourth, believers are to think on whatever is pure. Hagnos (pure) describes what God in Scripture defines as holy, morally clean, and undefiled. In 1 Timothy 5:22 it is translated “free from sin.” Believers are to purify themselves because Jesus Christ is pure (1 John 3:3).

Fifth, believers are to think on whatever is lovely. Prosphilēs (lovely) appears only here in the New Testament. It could be translated “sweet,” “gracious,” “generous,” or “patient.” Believers must focus their thoughts on what the Bible says is pleasing, attractive, and amiable before God.

Sixth, believers are to think on whatever is of good repute. Euphēmos also appears only here in the New Testament. It describes what is highly regarded or well thought of. Believers’ thoughts are elevated by Scripture to fix on the loftiest themes.

In summary, Paul exhorts, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The key to godly living is godly thinking, as Solomon wisely observed: “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (Prov. 4:23).[2]


Proper Meditation

  1. For the rest—see on 3:1—brothers—see on 1:12—whatever things are true. Many are of the opinion that the apostle is here copying a paragraph from a pagan book on morality or from this or that Manual of Discipline circulated by an Essenic sect. Objections:

(1) The definitely Christian character of this exhortation is clear from the reference to the peace of God which precedes it and the God of peace which follows it.

(2) It is also clear from the fact that the apostle states that these things have been heard and seen in himself. Surely, the Philippians had seen Christian virtues displayed in Paul!

(3) Wherever possible, words used by Paul in any passage should be interpreted in the light of their true parallels in Scripture, especially in Paul’s own letters.

Note the six occurrences of whatever, followed by two instances of any. Believers should exhibit not just this or that trait of Christian character but “all the graces in choral order and festal array” (Johnstone).

The apostle tells the Philippians to meditate on whatever things are true. Truth stands over against falsehood (Eph. 4:25). It has its norm in God (Rom. 3:4), goes hand in hand with goodness, righteousness, and holiness (Eph. 4:24; 5:9) and is climaxed in gospel-truth (Eph. 1:13; 4:21; Col. 1:5, 6). Truth belongs to the armor of the Christian soldier (Eph. 6:14).

Paul adds, whatever things (are) honorable. In his speech and in his entire behavior believers should be dignified, serious. Proper motives, manners, and morals are very important. In an environment then as now characterized by frivolity whatever things are honorable surely merit earnest consideration. See also 1 Tim. 2:2; 3:4; Titus 2:2, 7; 3:8.

So also whatever things (are) just. Having received from God righteousness both of imputation and impartation, believers should think righteous thoughts. They should, in their mind, gratefully meditate on God’s righteous acts (Rev. 15:3), appreciate righteousness in others, and should plan righteous words and deeds. Masters, for example, should take account of what is fair and square in dealing with their servants. They should realize that they, too, have an Employer in heaven (Col. 4:1). In all his planning, let the Christian ask himself, “Is this in harmony with God’s will and law?”

Next, whatever things (are) pure. The Philippians, because of their background and surroundings (both pagan, cf. Eph. 5:8, and antinomian, cf. Phil. 3:18, 19) were being constantly tempted by that which was unchaste. Let them therefore fill their minds with whatever is pure and holy. See also 2 Cor. 11:2; 1 Tim. 5:22; Titus 2:5. Cf. James 3:17; 1 John 3:3. Let them overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:21). A wonderful direction also for the present day!

Whatever things (are) lovely follows immediately. The word lovely, though occurring only in this one instance in the New Testament, is rather common in epitaphs. That which is lovely, amiable, pleasing, breathes love and evokes love. Let believers meditate and take into account all such things.

Whatever things (are) of good report (only occurrence of this adjective in New Testament, but see cognate noun in 2 Cor. 6:8) closes this list of six whatever’s. These things are well-sounding, appealing. Even upon non-Christians they may make a good impression. The main consideration is, however, that in their inner essence they are actually worthy of creating that impression.

Paul summarizes: If (there be) any virtue and if (there be) any praise, be thinking about these things. Nothing that is really worthwhile for believers to ponder and take into consideration is omitted from this summarizing phrase. Anything at all that is a matter of moral and spiritual excellence, so that it is the proper object of praise, is the right pasture for the Christian mind to graze in. Nothing that is of a contrary nature is the right food for his thought. It is hardly necessary to repeat that the virtue of which the apostle speaks is the fruit which grows on the tree of salvation. The trunk of this tree is faith, and its roots are imbedded in the soil of God’s sovereign, saving grace (Eph. 2:8–10; 2 Peter 1:5). To be sure, the believer is not at all blind to the fact that “there remain in man, since the fall, the glimmerings of natural light, whereby he retains some knowledge of God, of natural things, and of the difference between good and evil, and shows some regard for virtue and for good outward behavior” (Canons of Dort III and IV, article 4). In a sense even sinners do good (Luke 6:33), and even publicans love (Matt. 5:46). To deny this, in the interest of this or that theological presupposition, would be to fly in the face of the clear teaching of Scripture and the facts of everyday observation and experience. But surely when Paul told the Philippians to be constantly thinking about anything that is virtuous and worthy of praise, he, great idealist that he was, could not have been satisfied with anything that was less than goodness in the highest, spiritual sense (that which proceeds from faith, is done according to God’s law, and to his glory).[3]


8 Paul moves to a new set of admonitions with to loipon (GK 3370), which, as in 3:1, means “as for the rest” rather than “finally.” One way to fight anxiety is for Christians to focus their minds on virtues—“the real goods of virtue” as opposed to “the false goods of pleasure” (Paul A. Holloway, “Notes and Observations Bona Cogitare: An Epicurean Consolation in Phil 4:8–9,” HTR 91 [1998]: 95). This exhortation for them to consider whatever is true, honorable, and just is without analogy in Paul’s other letters and arises from his desire to restore harmony to the community.

The “whatsoever things” (hosa; NIV, “whatever”) refers to those things learned from the example of Christ and from those who clearly follow Christ’s example (3:17; 4:9). “Whatever is true” is not whatever one’s culture might claim to be true. Truth is measured only by God and requires spiritual discernment. Paul expects his readers to have the moral discernment to make their own right judgments about what exactly constitutes the virtues he lists. “Whatever is noble” (semnos, GK 4948) means what is dignified and above reproach—that which inspires respect from others. “Whatever is right” (dikaios, GK 1465) is something that conforms to custom or law. For Christians, what is “right” is defined by God’s justice, but Paul may also have in view its association with the Greek virtue of establishing order and harmony (see Plato, Republic 4.443 c–e). “Whatever is pure” (hagnos, GK 54) is defined by God’s holiness and is connected to what is chaste. “Whatever is lovely” (prosphilēs, GK 4713) is not simply anything that brings delight and pleasure. The word “pleasing” (or “agreeable,” “amiable”) would fit the context better, and it would apply to the effect of one’s relations on others (cf. Sir 4:7; 20:13). “Whatever is admirable,” or “of good repute” (euphēmia, GK 2367), denotes what is well sounding as opposed to grumbling. It is the right choice of words that reveals deference and respect for others.

Paul shifts the sentence structure abruptly to conditional clauses—“if anything is …” “If anything is excellent” (aretē, GK 746) refers to a virtuous character; the word was used to describe those whose moral uprightness contributed to the common welfare. The Shepherd of Hermas (Sim. 8.10.3), for example, links the word to righteousness, and those who exhibit this virtue are contrasted with those who are double-minded and foment division (Sim. 8.10.2). “If anything is … praiseworthy” (epainos, GK 2047) in a Christian context refers to those things that will bring commendation from God (1 Co 4:5; 1 Pe 1:7). To “think about such things” (tauta logizesthe, GK 3357) requires more than sublime contemplation; it means taking such things into account so that one does them. The verb’s usage in Romans 6:11 (“count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus”) and its alternate expression in the next verse, “do these things” (tauta prassete [GK 4556], Php 4:9; NIV, “put it into practice”), make clear that action is to be involved.[4]


4:8 Now the apostle gives a closing bit of advice concerning the thought life. The Bible everywhere teaches that we can control what we think. It is useless to adopt a defeatist attitude, saying that we simply cannot help it when our minds are filled with unwelcome thoughts. The fact of the matter is that we can help it. The secret lies in positive thinking. It is what is now a well-known principle—the expulsive power of a new affection. A person cannot entertain evil thoughts and thoughts about the Lord Jesus at the same time. If, then, an evil thought should come to him, he should immediately get rid of it by meditating on the Person and work of Christ. The more enlightened psychologists and psychiatrists of the day have come to agree with the Apostle Paul on this matter. They stress the dangers of negative thinking.

You do not have to look very closely to find the Lord Jesus Christ in verse 8. Everything that is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy is found in Him. Let us look at these virtues one by one: True means not false or unreliable, but genuine and real. Noble means honorable or morally attractive. Just means righteous, both toward God and man. Pure would refer to the high moral character of a person’s life. Lovely has the idea of that which is admirable or agreeable to behold or consider. Of good report has also been translated “of good repute” or “fair sounding.” Virtue, of course, speaks of moral excellence; and praiseworthy, something that deserves to be commended.

In verse 7, Paul had assured the saints that God would garrison their hearts and thoughts in Christ Jesus. But he is not neglectful to remind them that they, too, have a responsibility in the matter. God does not garrison the thought-life of a man who does not want it to be kept pure.[5]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2001). Philippians (pp. 284–290). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Philippians (Vol. 5, pp. 198–199). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] Garland, D. E. (2006). Philippians. In T. Longman III (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 253–254). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1979). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

MAY 14 – GOD KNOWS THE HYPOCRITES

Let us not therefore judge one another any more.

Romans 14:13

I do not consider that it is my place as a Christian to stand around making judgments and calling other people “hypocrites.”

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the only man I know who was holy and perfect enough to call the religious leaders of the day hypocrites.

I am just a man with faults and shortcomings of my own, and I must always consider myself lest I be tempted!

I preach to my own congregation about our faults and our failings, with the warning that some of our professions of blessing and victory may get into the area of “unintentional hypocrisy.” Through the grace of God and the kindness of our spiritual ancestors, we may have spiritual light that some others do not have—but in all honesty, we are wretchedly far below what we should be in living up to it, day by day.

It helps us to be honest and frank and humble to know that the great God Almighty knows the secrets of every person’s heart!

Lord, You know the secrets of my heart, yet You love me unconditionally. I confess my sins to You, Lord. Forgive me when I fall.[1]


Don’t Cause Your Brother to Stumble

Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. (14:13)

Therefore refers back to verses 10–12, in which Paul reminds his readers that God alone is qualified and has the authority to judge the minds and hearts of His people, who will all stand before His judgment seat (v. 10) and give account of themselves to Him (v. 12; cf. 2 Cor. 5:10). Judgment is God’s exclusive prerogative.

Consequently, we must not judge one another (cf. Matt. 7:1–5). It is the unloving attitude of contemptuous superiority by strong believers and the equally unloving attitude of self-righteousness by weak believers (v. 3) by which they judge one another. From Paul’s day to ours, those wrongful judgments have been major causes of disrespect, disharmony, and disunity in the church.

As reflected in the text of the New American Standard Bible (used here), Paul uses the same Greek verb (krinō) with two different connotations in verse 13. In the first phrase, let us not judge one another, the verb carries the idea of condemnation, as it does in verses 3, 4, and 10. But in the following phrase, the same verb is translated determine, which refers to making a decision. Those two connotations are also found in the English word judge. “Being judgmental” carries the negative idea of denunciation, whereas “using your best judgment” refers to making a careful decision, with no negative connotation.

Paul’s play on words demands that we should never be judgmental of fellow believers but instead should use our best judgment to help them. In relation to the second meaning, we should determine… not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. He gives the same warning in his first letter to Corinth, saying, “Take care lest this liberty of yours [the strong] somehow become a stumbling block to the weak” (1 Cor. 8:9). This carries the idea of stumbling into sin.

For example, although the New Testament does not forbid the drinking of alcoholic beverages, there are many good reasons for Christians to abstain. One of the most important is the detrimental effect it can have on a former alcoholic. Our drinking, even in moderation, could easily place a stumbling block in that brother’s way and cause him to fall back into his former addiction.

The same principle applies to any activity or practice that is not inherently sinful. Problem areas vary from society to society and from person to person, but the principle never changes. The loving, caring, strong Christian will determine in his mind and heart to be sensitive to any weakness in a fellow believer and avoid doing anything, including what is innocent in itself and otherwise permissible, that might cause him to morally or spiritually stumble.[2]


  1. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another; but rather, let this be your judgment, namely, that you should not put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.

Note the word-play: passing judgment … your judgment or decision.

Paul urges the weak to stop criticizing the strong, and the strong to cease finding fault with the weak. Both parties should decide not to place any hindrance in the way of their brothers. On the contrary—for the negative implies the positive—each group should help the other to become a more effective witness for Christ.

In view of the fact that both parties love the Lord, repose their trust in him, and wish to walk in his way, it would be wrong to hurt one another’s feelings by insisting that there be absolute unanimity with respect to every aspect of the practice of religion.

If, on a Sunday evening, perhaps after the church service, you invite six people to your home, but you happen to know that three of them have objections to the singing of a certain hymn, then, even though the other three plus yourself consider that hymn unobjectionable, you are not going to include that particular number in your evening social program. Instead, you are going to see to it that everybody receives a blessing and is happy. The same principle should be applied to ever so many similar situations. If an important religious principle is at stake, you are not going to be silent about your convictions, but in all circumstances you will observe the rule: “In things essential unity; in doubtful (or indifferent) liberty; in all things charity” (identity of the author of this motto not entirely certain). See also what has been said about Paul’s flexibility (pp. 12, 13).

The substance of this exhortation is certainly entirely in line with, and may even have been induced by, the teaching of Christ (Matt. 18:1–9; Mark 9:42–48; Luke 17:1, 2).[3]


13 The opening statement gives the gist of what has already been said in vv. 1–12. Both parties have been guilty of “passing judgment” on one another. Then by a clever use of language, Paul employs the same verb (krinō, GK 3212) in a somewhat different sense (“make up your mind”). He is calling for a determination to adopt a course of action that will not hurt others, a decision once for all to avoid whatever might impede others in the faith or cause them to fall. Though Paul does not single out the strong, it appears that he must have them in mind in this admonition against putting a “stumbling block” in the way of others. A stumbling block (proskomma, GK 4682) is literally something against which one may strike one’s foot, causing a stumble or even a fall. The second term (skandalon, GK 4998; here rendered “obstacle”) presents a different picture—that of a trap designed to ensnare a victim. It is used of something that constitutes a temptation to sin. Jesus applied this word to Peter when that disciple sought to deter him from going to the cross (Mt 16:23, “stumbling block”). In v. 13 it could be taken as a stern warning against deliberately enticing fellow Christians to do what for them would be sinful (cf. v. 23). Even if such an act were motivated by the desire to get such persons out of the “weak” category, it would still be wrong.[4]


14:13 Instead of sitting in judgment on our fellow Christians in these matters of moral indifference, we should resolve that we will never do anything to hinder a brother in his spiritual progress. None of these nonessential matters is important enough for us to cause a brother to stumble or to fall.[5]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans (Ro 14:13). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (Vol. 12–13, pp. 461–462). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] Harrison, E. F., & Hagner, D. A. (2008). Romans. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, pp. 208–209). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1736). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

MAY 14 – GOD DOES NOT NEED OUR HELP

In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.

—Ephesians 1:11

Almighty God, just because He is almighty, needs no support. The picture of a nervous, ingratiating God fawning over men to win their favor is not a pleasant one; yet if we look at the popular conception of God that is precisely what we see. Twentieth-century Christianity has put God on charity….

Probably the hardest thought of all for our natural egotism to entertain is that God does not need our help. We commonly represent Him as a busy, eager, somewhat frustrated Father hurrying about seeking help to carry out His benevolent plan to bring peace and salvation to the world….

Too many missionary appeals are based upon this fancied frustration of Almighty God. An effective speaker can easily excite pity in his hearers, not only for the heathen but for the God who has tried so hard and so long to save them and has failed for want of support. I fear that thousands of younger persons enter Christian service from no higher motive than to help deliver God from the embarrassing situation His love has gotten Him into and His limited abilities seem unable to get Him out of. KOH054-055

Lord, may I always remember it is a privilege to be a servant of the Most High God in accomplishing Your divine purposes, for You don’t need me to accomplish Your will. You are mighty God. Amen. [1]


  1. in whom we—I, Paul, and you, the addressed—also have been made heirs. Note the word “also,” meaning: not only did we, in vital union with Christ, receive such blessings as redemption, forgiveness of sin, and spiritual illumination (wisdom, insight), favors which have already been mentioned (verses 7–10 above) but, in addition to these initial favors, which, though they have abiding significance, focus the attention upon the past (deliverance from that terrible power by which we were bound, pardon of past sins, banishment of former darkness), the right to future glory was bestowed upon us. “We were made heirs,” says Paul. Heirs are those who, apart from any merit of theirs, were given the right to all the blessings of salvation in Jesus Christ, nevermore to lose them. The inheritance is given to them in two stages: certain blessings are bestowed upon them in the here and now, others in the hereafter (see on verses 13 and 14 below).

The objection might occur, “But will all the blessings of salvation—future as well as present—really be ours? Does God’s plan for our lives also secure the future?” The apostle answers this by continuing: having been foreordained according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will. Neither fate nor human merit determines our destiny. The benevolent purpose—that we should be holy and faultless (verse 4), Sons of God (verse 5), destined to glorify him forever (verse 6, cf. verses 12 and 14)—is fixed, being part of a larger, universe-embracing plan. Not only did God make this plan that includes absolutely all things that ever take place in heaven, on earth, and in hell; past, present, and even the future, pertaining to both believers and unbelievers, to angels and devils, to physical as well as spiritual energies and units of existence both large and small; he also wholly carries it out. His providence in time is as comprehensive as is his decree from eternity. Literally Paul states that God works (operates with his divine energy in) all things. The same word occurs also in verses 19 and 20, which refer to the working (energetic operation) of the infinite might of the Father of glory, which he wrought (energetically exerted) in Christ when he raised him from the dead. Hence, nothing can upset the elect’s future glory.

Moreover, although everything is included in God’s universe-embracing plan and in its effectuation in the course of history, there is nothing in this thought that should scare any of the children of God. Quite the contrary, for the words clearly imply that the only true God, who in Christ loves his own with a love that passes all understanding, acts with divine deliberation and wisdom. All his designs are holy, and he delights to reward those who trust in him. Human responsibility and the self-activity of faith are never violated in any way. There is plenty of room for them in the decree and in its effectuation. Scripture is very clear on this (Luke 22:22; Acts 2:23; Phil. 2:12, 13; 2 Thess. 2:13).

Besides, God is not like the heathen deities who are moved by changing circumstances, by whim and caprice, so that one never knows how long their favor is going to last. He who in his love has foreordained his people to adoption as sons will never forsake them, but will finish that which he began in them (Phil. 1:6). He will carry out his plan to the very finish. Nothing will ever be able to frustrate his design. “Nor sin, nor death, nor hell can move his firm predestinating love.”[2]


11 The NIV starts a new paragraph here, though, of course, the sentence that started with 1:3 continues through 1:14. It starts with the now familiar “in him” (lit., “in whom”), detailing yet another divine action for those who are incorporated in Christ. Paul employs the verb klēroō (GK 3103), which means “to appoint or obtain by lot” (cf. BDAG, 548). If Paul intends the idea of “appoint,” then he means that in Christ we were appointed to be his possession or to become his inheritance. Thus O’Brien, 115, defends the translation “we were claimed by God as his portion.” The NIV interprets this as “we were also chosen” (cf. v. 4). If the sense centers more on “obtain,” then Paul might mean that in Christ the church obtained its inheritance (cf. NASB). Muddiman, 76–77, translates this phrase as “in whom we have gained our allotted portion.” This would parallel the idea of predestination that follows: what God has determined for his people. It is difficult to make a choice here, for both make good sense in the context and fit the uses of the verb elsewhere, though this is its only occurrence in the NT. Perhaps the former has a slight edge, given the common OT sense of the people of Israel as God’s inheritance (e.g., Dt 4:20; 9:29; 32:8–9; 1 Ki 8:51; Pss 33:12; 106:40; cf. Col 1:12). In either case, we note the corporate emphasis again: we are God’s inheritance as members of the corporate Christ, or we obtain our inheritance in Christ.

As in v. 5, Paul appends the verb “predestine,” but we do not find what God has predetermined for his people until v. 12—that “we … be for the praise of his glory.” Before saying that, however, Paul provides insight into the way God predestines such things. Compounding synonyms, Paul affirms that God predestines in a very purposeful way. The outcomes do not occur randomly, nor are they in any doubt, for they follow from the prothesis (“plan, purpose, resolve,” GK 4606) of God, who accomplishes what he does (“all things”) according to the boulē (“resolution, decision,” GK 1087) of his thelēma (“will, desire,” GK 2525; cf. v. 1). The structure proves somewhat opaque; again the language is florid and expansive, and the meanings of the terms overlap. Paul’s point is not in doubt. In Christ God is accomplishing a very carefully worked-out plan for his people.[3]


1:11 One vital feature of the mystery is that believing Jews and believing Gentiles have their share in this grand program of God. The apostle speaks of the mystery in relation to Jewish believers in verses 11 and 12; in relation to Gentile believers in verse 13; then he combines them both in verse 14.

As for the Christians of Jewish ancestry, Paul writes, In Him also we have obtained an inheritance. Their right to a share is not based on their former national privileges, but solely on their union with Christ. The inheritance here looks forward to the time when they and all true believers will be manifested to an amazed world as the Body of Christ, the Bride of the Lamb.

From all eternity these Jewish Christians were marked out for this place of privilege by the sovereign will of God, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.[4]


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

[2] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Ephesians (Vol. 7, pp. 87–89). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[3] Klein, W. W. (2006). Ephesians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 52–53). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1910). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

May 14 – Being Prepared for the Worst of Trials

“And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock.”

Matthew 7:25

✧✧✧

Faithfulness in discipleship will mean we are prepared for the worst possible adversity and trial.

People are often unprepared for life’s unexpected upheavals. This was vividly illustrated by the once–in–500–year floods that struck the Northern Plains of the United States in the spring of 1997. One community on the Red River in North Dakota was especially devastated by the surprising events.

After working diligently for days to fortify levees against the swelling river, people in Grand Forks were hopeful. But one early morning in mid–April 1997, the relentless Red River broke through the earthen and sandbag flood barriers and inundated the entire town of 50,000. Few deaths or serious injuries occurred, but practically the entire population had to abandon homes and property to the muddy waters. It was one of the largest mass evacuations in the history of American disasters, and it will take many months, even years, before Grand Forks and surrounding towns can repair all the flood damage.

For believers, facing such an utterly unexpected trial can help them learn to grow closer to the Lord. And they can prepare themselves by resting in the truth of the prophet’s words: “The steadfast of mind Thou wilt keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in Thee. Trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock” (Isa. 26:3–4).

Jesus emphasized the need for total self–denial by His followers and complete preparedness to face any challenge, even death (Matt. 10:38–39). If we are living daily as His disciples, no trial will catch us totally unprepared. We might be temporarily surprised and feel inadequate initially, but we won’t remain that way. We already know from our studies this month that a sovereign God has the right to bring certain trials and tribulations into our lives, and He is also more than able to give us every resource we need to endure (Phil. 4:11–13; 1 Peter 5:6–7).

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for the strength and wisdom He gives through His Word so that you may be prepared for whatever trial He sends.

For Further Study: Read 1 Peter 5:6–11, and spend some extra time meditating on or memorizing one or two of the verses. ✧ Write down one key thought that relates to being spiritually prepared for trials.[1]


7:25 the rain fell. Storms in Palestine are infrequent but can be violent. Although the houses of the foolish and the wise may for a long time appear equally secure, when the storm comes the destruction of the foolish one’s house is total (Is. 28:14–18). So it is with the life of those who hear the words of Jesus but do not take appropriate action in response (cf. James 1:22–25).[2]


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

[2] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 1683). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

May 14 – Be Consistent

Let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.

Philippians 3:16, nasb

You can’t win a race without a consistent effort because Christlikeness is an ongoing pursuit. The Greek verb for “keep living” speaks of walking in line. Paul was saying that we need to stay in line spiritually, to keep moving forward by the same principles that got us this far.

Are you moving forward? Or are you standing in one place looking backward and defending yourself? Perhaps you need to refresh your commitment. If you don’t know Jesus Christ, then you start growing by receiving Him as Lord and Savior. If you do know Him but have not been growing spiritually, ask God to forgive you and help you move toward perfection. May we all be committed to the goal of becoming as much like Christ as we can until we see Him.[1]


Pursuing the Prize Requires a Proper Conformity

however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained. (3:16)

Plēn (however) could also be translated “one more thing.” It is often used to express one final thought. This last prerequisite for pursuing the prize might also be described as consistency. Having developed a proper awareness, effort, focus, motivation, and recognition, believers must consistently keep living by that same standard to which they have attained. Stoicheō (keep living) means “to line up,” or “to follow in line.” Believers must keep to the spiritual path that they have been following. To use the metaphor of a race, they must keep running in their lane.

Four divinely provided resources help believers to consistently pursue the prize of Christlikeness. First is the Word of God. Peter wrote, “Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). Second is prayer. Paul prayed that the Corinthians would “be made complete” (2 Cor. 13:9). Third is following a godly example. Paul exhorted the Corinthians, “Be imitators of me” (1 Cor. 4:16; cf. 11:1; Phil. 3:17; 1 Thess. 1:6; 2 Thess. 3:7, 9; 1 Tim. 4:12; Heb. 13:7; 1 Peter 5:3). Finally, God uses trials to mold believers into the image of Jesus Christ: “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10; cf. James 1:2–4).

At the foot of one of the Swiss Alps is a marker honoring a man who fell to his death attempting the ascent. The marker gives his name and this brief epitaph: “He died climbing.” The epitaph of every Christian should be that they died climbing the upward path toward the prize of Christlikeness.[2]


16 Paul introduces his point with plēn (NASB, “however”; NIV, “only”). The verb stoicheō (GK 5123) means “to get in line with, to be guided by” (Gal 5:25; 6:16). What is it that we have attained? Paul’s conclusions in Romans 9:30–31, where similar vocabulary occurs, offer the answer: “What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained [katelaben] it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained [ephthasen] it.” What Christians have attained is what Christ has attained for them, which excludes all boasting, vanity, and haughtiness toward others (see my “Composition and Unity of Philippians,” 171).[3]


3:16 Then the apostle adds that, in the meantime, we should live up to whatever light the Lord has given us. It would not do to mark time until we came to a fuller knowledge of what is required of us as Christians. While we wait for the Lord to reveal the full implications of the cross to us, we should obey whatever degree of truth we have received.[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 151). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2001). Philippians (p. 250). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Garland, D. E. (2006). Philippians. In T. Longman III (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 246). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1976). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.