Daily Archives: June 26, 2017

June 26, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)


Jun. 26, 2017 |


Senate leaders are expected to release a revised version of their health-care bill as early as Monday, according a person familiar with the matter, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tries to win over at least six Republican holdouts.

Technology for ballistic and cruise missiles is advancing in countries from North Korea and Iran to Russia and China, increasing potential threats to the U.S. even if they don’t carry nuclear warheads, according to a new Pentagon report.

The websites of Ohio Governor John Kasich and other state government agencies were hacked on Sunday with a posting professing love for the jihadist group Islamic State. Ten state websites and two servers were affected, and they’ve been taken off line for an investigation.

Donald Trump will tout surging U.S. exports of oil and natural gas during a week of events aimed at highlighting the country’s growing energy dominance. The president also plans to emphasize that after decades of relying on foreign energy supplies, the U.S. is on the brink of becoming a net exporter of oil, gas, coal and other energy resources.

Health insurers criticized the steep cuts to Medicaid proposed in the Senate bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act as “too much, too fast.”

Gold sank like a stone at 9 a.m. in London after a huge spike in volume in New York futures that traders said was probably the result of a “fat finger,” or erroneous order. Trade shot up to 1.8 million ounces of gold in just a minute, a level not reached even with the surprise election of U.S. President Donald Trump or Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. “No-one has a clue, apart from the unfortunate individual that pressed the wrong button.”

Another luxury condo at Manhattan’s One57 is scheduled for a foreclosure auction — the second time in a month that a property seizure is being sought at the Billionaires’ Row tower following a mortgage default. And it might be the biggest in New York City residential history. Apartment 79, a full-floor penthouse that was the eighth-priciest sold in the building, is scheduled for auction on July 19, according to real estate data firm PropertyShark. The owner of the condo, a shell company listed in public records as One57 79 Inc., bought the 6,240-square-foot residence in December 2014 for $50.9 million.

Italy orchestrated its biggest bank rescue on record, committing as much as $19 billion to clean up two failed banks in one of its wealthiest regions, a deal that raises questions about the consistency of Europe’s bank regulations.

AP Top Stories

At least 123 people were killed and scores injured in a fire that broke out after an oil tanker overturned in central Pakistan early Sunday and crowds rushed to collect fuel.

The pilot twice asked passengers to pray on Air Asia flight D7237 from Australia to Malaysia as the plane shook like a “washing machine” for two hours, according to passengers.

Nationwide, hot car deaths are up and there’s a push for new legislation in Congress that would require all passenger motor vehicles to be equipped with a child safety alert system.

Fears grew for 141 people missing in China after a landslide buried their mountain village in southwestern Sichuan province on Saturday, with reports that only three survivors had been pulled out of the mud and rock hours after the calamity struck.

Israeli forces fired on Syrian regime positions after projectiles from the war-torn country hit the occupied Golan Heights on Sunday, the army said, in the second such exchange in two days.

An Asian carp has been found just miles from the Great Lakes, beyond an electrified barrier designed to keep the invasive species from entering the ecosystem and wreaking the sort of damage seen elsewhere in the US. The carp can weigh up to 100lbs and often outcompete other fish, typically consuming up to 20% of their body weight a day in plankton.

After a month of fasting, prayer and alms-giving, Muslims around the world will end Ramadan either June 25 or 26, depending on when the new moon is seen. Eid al-Fitr means “festival of the breaking of the fast” and it is one of the biggest celebrations in the Islamic year.

Tens of thousands of marchers paraded through New York streets Sunday in a huge Gay Pride parade, with many proudly carrying rainbow flags or waving virulently anti-Trump signs.


Hostage Johan Gustafsson, held by al-Qaeda in Mali since 2011, has been freed, the Swedish government said.

Iraqi forces have repelled counter-attacks by so-called Islamic State (IS) as they push the group into a corner of Mosul’s Old City.

US President Donald Trump has broken a nearly 20-year-old tradition by failing to host a dinner marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Organizers of an LGBT-rights festival in Chicago are being accused of anti-Semitism after they expelled marchers carrying the Star of David.

The Great Barrier Reef is worth $42bn and is critical to supporting economic activity in Australia.

Russia’s FSB security agency has said the Telegram mobile messaging app was used by a suicide bomber who killed 15 people in St Petersburg in April.

Yemen is now facing the worst cholera outbreak anywhere in the world, the United Nations has warned. The number of suspected cholera cases in the war-torn country has exceeded 200,000. So far more than 1,300 people have died – one quarter of them children


A tiny stretch of Arctic water has become a hotbed of military activity amid fears it could become the next flashpoint in a global conflict between the US and Russia.

A huge compilation of Microsoft’s proprietary Windows 10 software code has been leaked online. The leak contains more than 32 terabytes of data and includes both the Windows 10 source code and other code intended only for internal use at Microsoft.

The human race must start leaving Earth within 30 years to avoid being wiped out by over-population and climate change, Professor Stephen Hawking has warned.

The Briefing 06-26-17

A reversal of medical logic: Families are now suing doctors for saving the lives of their loved ones

What our relationship with animals reveals to us about ourselves and the glory of God

The surprising reason why the New York Times discontinued their “engagements” section in 1994

The post The Briefing 06-26-17 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.

Top News – 6/26/2017

U.S. Supreme Court reinstates Trump travel ban, will hear arguments
The Supreme Court is letting the Trump administration mostly enforce its 90-day ban on travelers from six mostly Muslim countries, overturning lower court orders that blocked it. The action Monday is a victory for President Donald Trump in the biggest legal controversy of his young presidency.

For the past two+ years, Spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus have been monitoring cosmic rays in the atmosphere above California using high-altitude space weather balloons. After more than 100 flights, they find that dose rates have increased over the Golden State by 13% since March 2015. Now we know the same thing is happening over New England–only more so……a 19% increase in New England vs. 13% in California.

North Korea v US LIVE: Updates as North Korea refuses to halt nuclear development – latest
NORTH Korea has rejected calls to halt its nuclear programme despite Donald Trump’s administration ramping up pressure on Kim Jong-un’s regime.

Former Al-Jazeera anchor says TV network aids terrorists
Fahmy is preparing a lawsuit against his former employers. And while he is still highly critical of the regime that imprisoned him, he also says the Egyptian government is correct in saying al-Jazeera is really a propaganda channel for Islamists and an arm of Qatari foreign policy.

World heading for financial crash as China on verge of ‘boom gone wrong’
A GLOBAL financial crash is brewing as China and other emerging markets are binging on debt, the world’s central bank watchdog has warned. A number of economies in developing countries look worryingly similar to the US and UK before the devastating crash hit in 2007, with soaring house prices, slow economic growth, and a large credit bubble.

What next for the troubled holy site at the Western Wall?
What’s next for this troubled holy site of ours? Taken superficially, it would appear that the haredi parties United Torah Judaism and Shas have truly got one over on the progressive Jewish movements by nixing the agreement that would have given them true, if symbolic, recognition by the State of Israel as legitimate expressions of Judaism in the Jewish state.

Bahrain accuses Qatar of military escalation in Gulf row
Bahrain’s foreign minister accused Qatar on Monday of creating a military escalation in a dispute with regional powers, in an apparent reference to Doha’s decision to let more Turkish troops enter its territory. Bahrain, alongside Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt imposed a boycott on Qatar three weeks ago, accusing it of backing militants – then issued an ultimatum, including demands that Qatar shut down a Turkish military base in Doha.

Pro-ISIS hackers break into U.S. government sites
Several United States government pages were hacked on Sunday with messages advocating support for the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group. Among those websites to be hacked was the official site of Ohio Governor John Kasich, reported Fox News.

Latest UNESCO resolution targets Hevron, Jerusalem
Israel scrambles to block PA-backed resolution declaring Tomb of the Patriarchs a ‘Muslim shrine’, denying Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem.

Turkey’s Failed Grand Design for the Middle East
Very important Turks in dark suits saw the start of the Arab Spring as a golden opportunity to realize their neo-Ottoman ambitions. In Tunisia, their Islamist brothers in arms, the Ennahdha Party, would come to power and annihilate the “secular infidels.” Rachid Ghannouchi, Ennahdha’s chief ideologue, never hid his admiration for Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s stealth Islamization by popular vote.

Syria warns Israel: Further attacks will have serious repercussions
The Syrian military threatened Israel on Sunday evening that should it launch any further attacks on Syrian army targets, Israel will have to take the responsibility for repercussions that can ensue… This threat comes after the IDF struck targets belonging to forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime in response to the errant fire that hit northern Israel earlier in the day.

In stinging blow to Diaspora Jewry, government reneges on Western Wall deal
Bowing to haredi pressure, the government on Sunday delivered two fierce and stinging blows to progressive Jewish denominations in Israel and the Diaspora, as well as moderate Orthodox groups in Israel, by indefinitely freezing its Western Wall resolution and approving a bill granting the Chief Rabbinate a total monopoly on conversion.

Italy forced to bail out two more banks for 5.2bn euros
Italy’s government is bailing out two banks in the Venice region at a cost of 5.2bn euros (£4.6bn; $5.8bn). The move comes two days after the European Central Bank warned that Banca Popolare di Vicenza and Veneto Banca were failing or likely to fail. The banks’ “good” assets will be taken on by Intesa Sanpaolo banking group.

Ohio sites hacked with IS message
A number of government websites in the US state of Ohio, including that of Governor John Kasich, have been hacked to display a pro-IS message. It said President Donald Trump would be held accountable for “every drop of blood flowing in Muslim countries” and ended “I love Islamic state”. The hacking was carried out by a group calling itself Team System DZ.

Trump breaks White House Eid dinner tradition
US President Donald Trump has broken a nearly 20-year-old tradition by failing to host a dinner marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The White House event had been held every year since President Clinton’s tenure. The Eid al-Fitr feast ends Ramadan, a period when Muslims fast and focus on charitable giving.

Parliament hit by ‘sustained’ cyber-attack
The “sustained” hack began on Friday night, prompting officials to disable remote access to the emails of MPs, peers and their staff as a safeguard. The parliamentary authorities said hackers had mounted a “determined attack” on all user accounts “in an attempt to identify weak passwords”. Government sources say it appeared the attack has been contained but it will “remain vigilant”.

Fed’s Williams sees gradual rate hikes as key to further U.S. growth
With the U.S. economy at full employment and inflation set to hit the Federal Reserve’s 2-percent target next year, the U.S. central bank needs to keep raising rates gradually to keep the economy on an even keel, a Fed policymaker said Monday. “If we delay too long, the economy will eventually overheat, causing inflation or some other problem,” San Francisco Fed President John Williams said in remarks prepared for delivery to the University of Technology Sydney.

OPEC Looks Totally Bewildered by the Oil Market
It may be too soon to write OPEC’s obituary, but the oil producer club appears in urgent need of late-life care. It shows little understanding of where it is, how it got there or where it’s going. While it still manages to collect new members here and there, its core group looks more fragile than at any point in nearly 30 years.

Arctic outpost becomes hotbed of Russian military activity
A TINY stretch of Arctic water has become a hotbed of military activity amid fears it could become the next flashpoint in a global conflict between the US and Russia.

Maxine Waters bars Trump supporters from town hall meeting
Supporters of President Trump were hoping to be a part of Maxine Waters’ town hall meeting in Gardena on Saturday, but they were barred from entering the building. The Trump supporters received tickets for the event, but were treated as “second class citizens” because they supposedly did not live in her district.

How the 10th Commandment Is Collapsing the Economy
Traditionally, Americans’ saving habits are far below what they should be. Conventional wisdom says that everyone should aim to have at least six months’ worth of expenses socked away for the unexpected.

Obama Ordered Cyberweapons Implanted Into Russia’s Infrastructure
A new report from the Washington Post today quoted a series of Obama Administration officials reiterating their official narrative on Russia’s accused hacking of the 2016 election. While most of the article is simply rehashes and calls for sanctions, they also revealed a secret order by President Obama in the course of “retaliation” for the alleged hacking.

Trump: Obama Not Leading Resistance
… “I don’t think he’s leading it,” Trump told Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” about claims Obama is the leader of the resistance, a political no-no in the long U.S. tradition of a peaceful transition of power.

Hysterical Democrats who say health care reform will “kill people” don’t seem to realize how many Americans are already killed every year by the medical system
…Somehow, Democrats have decided that none of these deaths count. Nope, all the people who died under Obama’s health care fiasco are forgotten and swept under the rug.

The Way Congress Is Handling Health Care Shows Why They Only Have A 17 Percent Approval Rating

The Senate health care bill was unveiled on Thursday, and it appears to be dead on arrival.  At least four conservative senators say that they can’t vote for the current version because it doesn’t go far enough, while several moderate Republicans are expressing concerns that it goes too far in repealing popular Obamacare provisions.  You can read the full text of the bill here.  Since Democrats are going to be united in voting against any bill that the Republicans put forward, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can only lose two Republican votes if he wants something to pass.  I don’t know how that is going to be possible, and so in the end we may be stuck with Obamacare for the foreseeable future and that would be a total disaster. (Read More…)

Fallout From CNN Anti-Trump Fake News Story Now Reaching As High As Network President Jeff Zucker

The ‘very fake news’ scandal that is engulfing CNN inside and outside the left-wing network now reaches its highest levels as even CNN president Jeff Zucker is personally involved in the internal investigation into a now-retracted hit piece, sources inside CNN with direct knowledge confirmed to Breitbart News.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For 9 months now, CNN and the rest of the very fake news media have willingly and deliberately colluded together to promote the false narrative of Donald Trump and the Russians working together to “hack” the elections. There is not now nor has there ever been one, single shred of evidence to support this. With the publishing and subsequent retraction of the 100% false anti-Trump story about Anthony Scaramucci, the very foundation on which CNN rests is crumbling at their feet. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of people.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats find themselves on the hot seat as insiders point to leftist staff for members like Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) as being responsible for the thinly-sourced hit piece. Staff for Harris deny any involvement, but Warren staff have not responded.

These new revelations come on the heels of a BuzzFeed News report citing internal sources at CNN calling the decision to print the “very fake news” hit piece on President Donald Trump and his associates that inaccurately alleged they were under Senate and Treasury investigation—a piece a Breitbart News investigation forced CNN to retract—a “massive, massive screw up.” BuzzFeed’s Jon Passantino reported that CNN sources told him that Zucker is “directly involved” in the matter now, as is the head of HR at CNN, and that “people will be disciplined.”

CNN was warned that perusing false Russia-Trump collusion story would blow up in their face:

“Deleting stories without explanation is considered a serious lapse of journalistic ethics,” Passantino and Jim Dalrymple wrote for BuzzFeed on Saturday. “Other outlets, including BuzzFeed, have faced considerable criticism and embarrassment for deleting content. And while CNN deleted its story, a cached version was still available online because nothing ever truly disappears on the internet.”

CNN has still not officially confirmed to anyone key details about what happened, despite being asked by both Breitbart News and BuzzFeed News, among others.

In addition to Breitbart News’ independent investigation that forced CNN’s retraction, sources close to Trump ally Anthony Scaramucci—one of the Trump associates targeted by CNN in the fake hit piece that inaccurately linked him to a Russian investment fund—confirm that he aggressively pushed back behind the scenes. Within hours of CNN posting the story Thursday evening, Scaramucci had assembled a legal, public relations, and rapid response team, the sources say, which terrified CNN since it knew the story was not solid.

Scaramucci has accepted CNN’s apology, taking the high road as the network withers under scrutiny. But he did tell Fox News’ Howard Kurtz, himself a former CNN anchor, that he was “disappointed” CNN ran the story in the first place since it was a “lie.”

Kurtz served as the anchor of CNN’s Reliable Sources program for more than a decade before he moved to Fox News, and his successor in the CNN show Brian Stelter has emerged as one of CNN’s most ardent defenders while Kurtz and other ex-CNN current Fox News reporters like Ed Henry regularly criticize CNN’s heavily anti-Trump bent.

On Kurtz’s Media Buzz Fox News program on Sunday morning, he and Henry bashed CNN’s chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta—an eventual successor of Henry, who once held that job—for whining that the White House has moved press briefings off television cameras. They said television personalities, especially attention seekers like CNN’s Acosta, seek to use on-camera briefings to advance their careers and get famous by picking fights with White House staff rather than as a tool for journalism.

You published a hit job on @Scaramucci on the word of a @SenWarren staffer (egged on by a @SenKamalaHarris staffer). Good luck w/ this, pal. https://t.co/fvOWH16k7p

— Arthur Schwartz (@ArthurSchwartz) June 25, 2017

Stelter, like Zucker, has found himself in the hot seat as this scandal engulfs CNN, a network President Trump has identified as pushing “very fake news.”

Stelter has been unwilling for months to appear on Breitbart News radio on SiriusXM when asked if he would do so to publicly defend CNN, refusing yet again to appear on the program this weekend as this scandal consumes the network. While Stelter did tweet about the retraction on Saturday, he has not been aggressively reporting on CNN’s mistakes here–not mentioning it again since that original Tweet.

Like Stelter, Zucker is currently not willing or able to publicly do interviews defending CNN’s conduct here. Network spokeswoman Emily Kuhn, who continues refusing to answer questions on the matter as a whole, will not provide Zucker for an interview on his role in the investigation when asked if he is courageous enough to defend CNN.

Most editorial staffers at CNN, inside sources say, are embarrassed at the way Zucker has handled himself here — and at the way the network has handled itself generally on this and related matters.

Kuhn similarly has refused to answer questions about which editor or editors were involved in the publication of the very fake news piece, and how many other people in the editorial process allowed this blatantly inaccurate piece that CNN was forced to retract to be published in the first place. It is also unclear what exact discipline is expected to be handed to down to everyone involved. As of this time, it appears reporter Thomas Frank—the one on the now-retracted very fake news piece byline—is still employed by CNN. Frank did eventually on Twitter post the link to the editor’s note about the retraction.

But this is hardly the only problem that Frank presents for the network. Frank’s Twitter account is loaded with leftist activism, not journalism, including political recommendations for the House Democratic conference should they decide to oust House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi has come under fire in the wake of Hollywood-backed Jon Ossoff’s failure to win in the special election in Georgia’s sixth congressional district. Despite record-breaking historic fundraising behind Ossoff—estimates expect the race between Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel will have cost nearly $50 million the majority of which was spent on Ossoff’s behalf, the most expensive House race in history—Handel defeated him. As a result, Pelosi has faced a revolt inside the House Democratic conference as several members including Reps. Seth Moulton (D-MA), Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Kathleen Rice (D-NY) question publicly whether she can continue to lead their party in the House.

CNN’s Frank, the reporter on the byline of this anti-Trump hit piece that has now been retracted, took time out of his Thursday—the day the piece was published—to tweet political advice to House Democrats if they remove Pelosi.

“If #Democrats replace #NancyPelosi they cannot pick a male speaker; horrible optics would enrage the female base and intellectual leaders,” Frank tweeted.

Kuhn, CNN’s corporate spokeswoman, has not responded to multiple inquiries from Breitbart News on whether a CNN reporter providing this political advice via social media to the Democratic Party is acceptable editorial behavior.

What’s more, in addition to all of the above, a key part of the genesis of this very fake news piece is a leftist pipe dream that seemingly originated in the annals of the office of anti-Trump “Resistance” leader Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). The idea that Scaramucci and others would be investigated for “meeting” with executives for the Russian investment fund in question is something Warren and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) pushed now-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to look into before President Trump was inaugurated.

“The matter has been reviewed and determined to be without merit,” a senior Trump administration official told Breitbart News for the original investigation that prompted CNN’s retraction. In other words, Mnuchin looked into the allegations and found that there is nothing to it.

But now reports are surfacing that CNN’s sole source for the hit piece seems to have been a staffer for Warren who was apparently “egged on” by staff for Harris. Harris is a freshman Democrat Senator who has aligned herself with the Warren-led “resist” movement, using congressional hearings to increase her profile nationally by arguing with Trump administration officials. While Warren’s team is not responding, Harris’s office denies the reports. Warren’s office has not responded to requests for comment on this matter. CNN’s Kuhn has not denied that Warren or Harris staff were involved in the publication of the hit piece the network has retracted. A spokeswoman for Harris, Lily Adams, when sent the above Tweet denied it. “I have never heard of this person but his accusation is 100% false,” Adams said in an email on Sunday, also adding in a follow-up that she is certain that nobody from Harris staff was involved. It is unclear how Adams would know for certain that nobody from Harris’s staff was involved in this matter, as her response came a little over two hours after Breitbart News’ original press request on Sunday morning–and it strains credulity that she was able to ask every single person on Harris’s staff in that timeframe if they had involvement in this matter. source

Mark Levin: We’ve started on the road to single-payer health care

“This is the week that the road to single-payer health care, European-style centralized health care, has been paved,” Levin said. The Republicans in the U.S. Senate have enshrined the core of Obamacare in all of their proposals to reform health insurance.

Access Audio and Video

Analyzing Annihilationism: Will Those in Hell Cease to Exist?

Eric Davis of The Cripplegage examines the eternality of hell. “The misery of it all is simply unfathomable,” says Davis. “It is one that must move us to the deepest reverence before God and compassion towards sinners

In yesterday’s post, the miseries of hell were briefly described. When the unredeemed enter, there will be a shock as the magnitude of hell sets in. One of the greatest miseries of hell will be the eternality of it: there will be no end to the conscious torment.

However, there have been questions as to the eternality of hell. The biblical teaching of unending punishment in hell has often been under attack. Do those in hell suffer forever? Or will they experience annihilation at some point and cease to exist? Annihilationism teaches that those in hell will eventually cease to exist. They will not be punished forever, but for a length of time, culminating in their annihilation.

View article →

Pro-Family Groups Push Back After GuideStar Labels 46 American Organizations ‘Hate Groups’

Christian News reports:

Over 40 pro-family groups recently signed a letter to the charity database site GuideStar after it labeled dozens of organizations as “hate groups” based on a list compiled by the controversial Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). “The ‘hate group’ list is nothing more than a political weapon targeting people it deems to be its political enemies. The list is ad hoc, partisan, and agenda-driven,” the correspondence read. GuideStar added a banner atop the info pages of 46 nonprofits, which reads, “This organization was flagged as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.”

View article →

Mid-Day Snapshot

June 26, 2017

Time to Appoint a Second Special Counsel

With Mueller’s investigation becoming increasingly free-ranging and politicized, Trump can fight fire with fire.

The Foundation

“There are certain social principles in human nature, from which we may draw the most solid conclusions with respect to the conduct of individuals and of communities. We love our families more than our neighbors; we love our neighbors more than our countrymen in general. The human affections, like solar heat, lose their intensity as they depart from the centre.” —Alexander Hamilton (1788)

ZeroHedge Frontrunning: June 26

  • Italian Bank Deal Raises Questions About Eurozone Rules (Read More)
  • UK PM May strikes $1.3 billion deal to get Northern Irish DUP support for her government (Read More)
  • Nestle Targeted by Dan Loeb in Activist’s Biggest-Ever Bet (Read More)
  • Nestle ‘committed’ to strategy as activist investor moves in (Read More)
  • Troubled Air-Bag Maker Takata Files for Bankruptcy (Read More)
  • Merkel’s Election Opponent Slams Her for Being Too Nice to Trump (Read More)
  • Berlusconi Stages Comeback to Frontline Politics (Read More)
  • European Stocks Jump as Crude, Nestle Power Gains (Read More)
  • Amazon’s Grocery Ambitions Spell Trouble for Food Brands (Read More)
  • Clogged oil arteries slow U.S. shale rush to record output (Read More)
  • U.S. warship stayed on deadly collision course despite warning – container ship captain (Read More)
  • How Earthquakes Are Rattling a Dutch Province Atop One of the World’s Richest Gas Troves (Read More)
  • Deutsche Bank Fund Buys London Office Buildings for $395 Million (Read More)
  • Trumpmania Cools in This Pennsylvania Town (Read More)
  • Asylum seekers in Canada trapped in legal limbo (Read More)
  • Saudi Religious Police Return, Just With a Little Less Vengeance (Read More)
  • New U.S. ambassador to China says North Korea a top priority (Read More)
  • Bankers Have Less to Fear From ‘Stress Tests’ (Read More)
  • Europe Doesn’t Need American Climate Scientists. It Needs American Climate Data (Read More)
  • SpaceX Executes Back-to-Back Launches in Roughly 48 Hours (Read More)
  • U.S. court hears challenge on Texas law to punish ‘sanctuary cities’ (Read More)
  • OPEC Looks Totally Bewildered by the Oil Market (Read More)
  • Bankers Are Hiring Cyber-Security Experts to Help Get Deals Done (Read More)

Top Headlines – 6/26/2017

Hamas: Eliminate the ‘cancer’ Israel

Will Iran’s Israel doomsday clock join history’s list of failed predictions?

Israel freezes plan for mixed-sex Jewish prayer site at Western Wall

Bowing to ultra-Orthodox pressure, PM halts pluralistic Western Wall deal

US liberal Jews decry ‘slap in the face’ from Netanyahu on Western Wall prayer

Liberman: Shelving Western Wall plan a ‘severe blow’ to Jewish unity

Netanyahu tells thousands of Birthright youths they secure Israel’s future

Israel’s settlement policy is not irreversible

IDF, settlers clash during razing of illegal structure in Yitzhar

Bennett: Allowing Palestinian refugees to return would be ‘demographic nightmare’ for Israel

Israel bars UNESCO team from Hebron field visit

UK pro-Palestinian event may be canceled over alleged Hamas support

German MPs set ultimatum that could torpedo Israel drone deal

Errant Syrian fire spills over into Israeli Golan for second time in two days

Projectiles from Syria land in Golan Heights; no injuries

Netanyahu warns Iran over Syria involvement after Golan exchange

Iraqi forces say major Islamic State attack blocked outside old city of Mosul

UN rejects Israel claim that Hezbollah violated cease-fire

IDF girds for possible Hezbollah clash during border fence construction

As Islamic State wanes, Iran and Hezbollah could turn on Israel

Iran mocks reports its Syria missile strikes fell short

Iran says arrests 50 suspected of links to militant groups

Iran’s drug problem: Addicts ‘more than double’ in six years

Qatar demands difficult to meet, says US

US urges Qatar, neighbors to ‘sit together’ to ease tension

Erdogan says ultimatum on Qatar ‘against international law’

Erdogan rejects Saudi demand to pull Turkish troops out of Qatar

Europeans learn to live with – and adapt to – terror attacks

The TSA is going to look through your books but promises not to notice what you’re reading

White House blames Obama for failing to stop Russia collusion

Top Democrat slams Obama administration’s response to Russian hacks

Trump: Hillary Clinton colluded with Democrats to defeat Bernie Sanders

Bernie and Jane Sanders, under FBI investigation for bank fraud, hire lawyers

It’s going to end ‘extremely badly,’ with stocks set to plummet 40% or more, warns Marc ‘Dr. Doom’ Faber

Trump to Call for U.S. ‘Dominance’ in Global Energy Production

OPEC Looks Totally Bewildered by the Oil Market

In 10 Years, Your iPhone Won’t Be a Phone Anymore

6.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Nuku’alofa, Tonga

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits near Alaqahdari-ye Kiran wa Munjan, Afghanistan

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits southeast of Easter Island

Nevado Chachani volcano in Peru erupts to 22,000ft

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 13,000ft

Ulawun volcano on Papua New Guinea erupts to 10,000ft

Southern Mexico to face increased downpours from Tropical Storm Dora

Arizona is so hot right now planes can’t take off and plastic and paint is melting

Grenfell Tower fire: Dozens of UK high-rises fail fire safety tests, government says

Swedish PM to Force Priests to Conduct Gay Marriages, Compares them With Abortions

It’s okay to decorate a police car with rainbow flags, but not Bible verses

Gaga on gay pride: It’s a time to shine light on equality

Turkey LGBT: Istanbul’s Gay Pride organisers to defy ban

Turkish police disperse Gay Pride march, fire rubber bullets

3 asked to leave Chicago LGBT march over ‘triggering’ Star of David flags

New York Pride marchers target Trump, San Francisco parties

Gay pride parades sound a note of resistance – and face some

More blood but no victory as Philippine drug war marks its first year

Prosperity Pimp Todd Coontz Indicted on Federal Tax Charges

Keith Green’s Prophetic Words About The Roman Catholic Church

Darren Wilson Whining About People With Discernment, Yet Again

Word of Faith Fellowship – Authorities delayed investigating gay ‘demons’ case

Yoga: How did it conquer the world and what’s changed?

Houston Police Department’s rainbow cruiser raises eyebrows but ready to go for Pride Parade

Pro-lifers stop Planned Parenthood from opening inside high school – for now

New Mexico taxpayers pay hundreds of thousands of dollars annually for abortions

Abortion Has Killed More Black Americans Than Crime, Accidents, Cancer or AIDS

President Trump just ended a long tradition of celebrating Ramadan at the White House. Note – “long tradition” began in 1996 

United Methodist Conference Faces ‘Unprecedented Financial Crisis’ After Election of Lesbian Bishop

Posted: 26 Jun 2017 06:19 AM PDT

A United Methodist Church regional body says it’s been experiencing an “unprecedented financial crisis” since the election of a married lesbian as bishop. Yellowstone Annual…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

First-Ever ‘Africa Study Bible’ Released; ‘Watershed Moment’ in History

Posted: 26 Jun 2017 06:14 AM PDT

A new study Bible with a distinctly African voice has been launched to equip and disciple the churches in Africa, which is growing exponentially. An…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Ohio Government Websites Hacked With Pro-Islamic State Messages

Posted: 26 Jun 2017 05:57 AM PDT

The websites of Ohio Governor John Kasich and other state government agencies were hacked on Sunday with a posting professing love for the jihadist group…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Bankers warn next global crash could arrive ‘with a vengeance’

Posted: 26 Jun 2017 05:53 AM PDT

A new financial crisis is brewing in the emerging economies and it could hit “with a vengeance”, an influential group of central bankers has warned….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

President Trump Breaks with Tradition, Skips Annual Ramadan Dinner

Posted: 25 Jun 2017 06:21 PM PDT

For the first time in nearly two decades, the White House has decided to skip hosting the annual Eid al-Fitr dinner celebrating the end of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DAYS OF LOT: It’s okay to decorate a police car with rainbow flags, but not Bible verses

Posted: 25 Jun 2017 06:07 PM PDT

(Reported By Todd Starnes) It’s permissible in the United States to decorate police cars with rainbow flags to celebrate gay pride, but it’s not permissible…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Consuming less sugar is more powerful than any medication doctors could prescribe

Posted: 25 Jun 2017 05:56 PM PDT

A doctor has revealed the secrets behind the “world’s healthiest village”– and there it all comes down to eating less sugar. Cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Extreme Heat in Arizona preventing planes from taking off and melting plastic and paint

Posted: 25 Jun 2017 05:48 PM PDT

Arizona is no stranger to heat waves. But even by natives’ own high standards, the past week has been scorching. The Guinness World Record for hottest…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Financial Expert Warns Stocks Will plummet 40% or More

Posted: 25 Jun 2017 05:42 PM PDT

If the man often hailed as the original “Dr. Doom” is right, the stock market could see another “lurch” higher — at which point investors…

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:


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!


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.”


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).


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.


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.


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.”


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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A More Sure Word of Prophecy

2 Peter 1:16-18

Code: B170626

Go with your gut.

That might be good advice when shopping for shoes online, but it’s not a reliable means for interpreting or understanding God’s Word. Too many people in the church today trust the inclinations of the upper abdomen to be the final arbiter that determines both when God is speaking and what He is saying.

As we saw last time, that is a dangerous approach—one that will likely lead to spiritual confusion and chaos. If we turn our faith into an entirely subjective exercise, we’re left with no reliable way to determine what is actually true.

Scripture very clearly addresses that issue. The apostle Peter settled the matter by proclaiming the authority and supremacy of Scripture when he wrote,

We did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”—and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain (2 Peter 1:16–18).

Peter was describing an event that may have been the most spectacular spiritual experience of his life. This was the transfiguration of Christ, when our Lord appeared in His full glory. Peter heard the voice of God and saw Moses and Elijah face to face. Best of all, he got a preview of Christ in His glory.

This was not a dream or vision. It was not an impression in Peter’s mind, or a figment of his imagination. It was real life (“we did not follow cleverly devised tales”). He saw it with his own eyes (“we were eyewitnesses”). He heard the voice of God with his own ears (“we ourselves heard this utterance”). He was there in person with other apostolic eyewitnesses (“we were with Him”). There was nothing subjective about this experience.

Yet Peter goes on to say that even what he heard with his own ears and saw with his own eyes was not as authoritative as the eternal Word of God contained in Scripture:

We have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God (2 Peter 1:19–21).

Peter is not saying that his eyewitness testimony makes the “prophecy of Scripture” more sure. He is saying that the written Word of God by its very nature is more sure than his own experience. This is confirmed by Peter’s argument in verses 20–21, where he establishes the authority and divine origin of every “prophecy of Scripture.”

The Greek word order in verse 19 also supports this as the true meaning of the text: “We have more sure the prophetic Word.” More sure than what? More sure than experience—even the valid, genuine, eyewitness experience of the apostles. Peter is saying that the written Word is an even more reliable source of truth than his own experience. To paraphrase Peter’s message to his readers, it is this: “James, John, and I saw Christ’s glory firsthand. But if you don’t believe us, there is one authority even more certain than our testimony: the written Word of God.”

The “we” at the beginning of verse 19 is generic, not emphatic. It means “you and I”; not “we who witnessed the Transfiguration.” Peter is saying, in effect, “All of us who are believers have a word of prophecy that is more sure than any voice from heaven. It is the ‘prophecy of Scripture’ (v. 20) which is more sure, more reliable, more authoritative than anyone’s experiences.”

That surely puts subjective impressions in their proper place. Remember, Peter’s experience was not subjective. What he saw and heard was real. Others experienced it with him. But Peter knew that the written Word of God is even more authoritative than the shared experience of three apostles.

Why would anyone seek truth in subjective impressions when we have such a sure Word? Peter admonishes his readers with the reminder that they would “do well to pay attention [to Scripture] as to a lamp shining in a dark place” (v. 19). The imagery here speaks of a single source of light, like a night light, shining in an otherwise dark place. Peter’s point is that we needn’t grope about in the dark in search of truth. Rather we should focus all our vision on the light cast by that single source—the written Word of God.

Moreover, we are to maintain that focus “until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.” This phrase is admittedly difficult to understand, but we discover a clue in the fact that Revelation 22:16 refers to Christ as “the bright morning star.” He is the incarnate Word of God, the one who is light (John 8:12). The apostle John wrote, “When He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2). And Paul wrote of that same day, “Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

This is what Peter seems to be saying: “In the midst of the darkness of this age, keep your eyes fixed on the lamp of Scripture—until that day when Christ returns and our knowledge of truth is made perfect—that day when the Morning Star Himself arises in our hearts and we are made like Him, to know as we are known.” It is a reference to the Second Coming, the only remaining revelation for which we wait.

Meanwhile, “Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105, emphasis added). Those who turn aside from the lamp and grope in the darkness after subjective impressions open themselves up to deception, disappointment, spiritual failure, and all manner of confusion. But those who keep their hearts and minds fixed firmly on the lamplight of Scripture—they are the truly discerning ones. That is Peter’s message.

During the Great Awakening Jonathan Edwards wrote,

Why cannot we be contented with the divine oracles, that holy, pure word of God, which we have in such abundance and clearness, now since the canon of Scripture is completed? Why should we desire to have any thing added to them by impulses from above? Why should we not rest in that standing rule that God has given to his church, which the apostle teaches us, is surer than a voice from heaven? And why should we desire to make the Scripture speak more to us than it does? [1]

Why indeed! Elsewhere Edwards penned this warning:

They who leave the sure word of prophecy—which God has given us as a light shining in a dark place—to follow such impressions and impulses, leave the guidance of the polar star to follow a Jack with a lantern. No wonder therefore that sometimes they are led into woeful extravagances. [2]

Surely the best advice of all comes from Scripture itself:

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 (Proverbs 2:3–6, emphasis added).

We don’t need to hear something fresh and unique from God—He has already spoken to us clearly and comprehensively through the Bible. God’s Word consistently testifies to its own sufficiency: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Moreover, Scripture never encourages us to look beyond its pages for another source of truth—it always calls our attention back to itself.

God’s people should want to hear from Him. But rather than chasing fanciful impressions and private revelations, that longing ought to prompt us to become eager students of His Word. He has already said everything He needs to say—it’s our job to strive to understand it.

(Adapted from Reckless Faith.)


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B170626
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You may reproduce this Grace to You content for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Grace to You’s Copyright Policy (http://www.gty.org/about#copyright).

The New, Truly Confused Evangelicals – Eric Barger

The Truly Confused Evangelicals – Eric Barger – Part 1

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The Truly Confused Evangelicals – Eric Barger – Part 2

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The Truly Confused Evangelicals – Eric Barger – Part 3

Too often believers reject unfavorable news about pastors or teachers they are personally endeared to. Instead of consumers reevaluating their positions and coming to grips with biblically-based data, a continued blind acceptance of error is often the result.

Illustrating with a clip excerpted from “The New, Truly Confused Evangelicals” DVD set, Barger asks, “Can we ever separate Jesus from the Bible?” The answer is NO, but this deceptive, liberal, postmodern error is taught – and insisted on – by popular Atlanta pastor to over 20,000, Andy Stanley.

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The Truly Confused Evangelicals – Eric Barger – Part 4

As the culture around us quickly declines, Christianity has its own set of resident anarchists determined to overthrow biblical truth with a new unholy reformation. The research is disturbing and the conclusions shocking to those uninformed but the fact remains – evangelicalism is in desperate trouble.


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The Truly Confused Evangelicals – Eric Barger – Part 5

In part five of the series, Eric Barger details the ongoing theological collapse of modern evangelicalism underway around us. He documents the disturbing trends resulting in belief becoming secondary while and the actions and activities of men becomes primary in the Church. After gathering considerable data and communicating with many victims of the “new”evangelicalism, Eric Barger simply notes that according to the law of physics where a void exists something must fill it. Now, as alarming numbers abandon the long-held mission of the Church, the cry of “social justice” is now trumpeted from many once-conservative pulpits. But where are the calls for biblical evangelism, repentance, and holiness heard not long ago?

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The Truly Confused Evangelicals – Eric Barger – Part 6

This segment examines two tragic elements of confused Evangelical thinking as both Universalism and Mysticism have become a staple in postmodern thought.

For many decades once-faithful Christian leaders, denominations, and seminaries have been moving further and further from Scripture to adopt what they view as only “positive” attributes of the faith – while discounting or completely ignoring what they deem as unseemly. Seeking only a God of love while ignoring the equal attribute of His justice, the perverse view of universal inclusion now reigns as the politically correct, more charitable stance on eternity but completely betrays the overall teaching of Scripture.

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The Truly Confused Evangelicals – Eric Barger – Part 7

In this final episode of the series, Eric illustrates that “Kingdom Now” or dominionist eschatology rules in many postmodern circles – while an orthodox outlook on Bible Prophecy is often mocked.

Aided by the “gurus” of Church Growth, young pastors have been led to believe that Bible prophecy must be avoided. Passages such as Matthew 24, Luke 21 and Mark 13, let alone several large sections of the Epistles and the entire book of Revelation must be allegorized but that matters little to those intent on bringing about a suitable Postmodern remake of Christianity.

As this series comes to a close, Eric provides a list of points that every concerned Christian should be aware of in combating the unbiblical elements of the growing Emergent/Postmodern movement in our churches. He warns that the current wholesale theft of the faith will continue unless Bible-believers become knowledgeable and bold in communicating with those taken captive.

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Ecumenical vs. Evangelical | The Cripplegate

One of the most devastating attacks on the life and health of the church throughout all of church history has been what is known as the ecumenical movement—the downplaying of doctrine in order to foster partnership in ministry between (a) genuine Christians and (b) people who were willing to call themselves Christians but who rejected fundamental Christian doctrines.

In the latter half of the 19th century, theological liberalism fundamentally redefined what it meant to be a Christian. It had nothing to do, they said, with believing in doctrine. It didn’t matter if you believed in an inerrant Bible; the scholarship of the day had debunked that! It didn’t matter if you believed in the virgin birth and the deity of Christ; modern science disproved that! It didn’t matter if you embraced penal substitutionary atonement; blood sacrifice and a wrathful God are just primitive and obscene, and besides, man is not fundamentally sinful but basically good! What mattered was one’s experience of Christ, and whether we live like Christ. “And we don’t need doctrine to do that!” they said. “Doctrine divides!” Iain Murray wrote of that sentiment, “‘Christianity is life, not doctrine,’ was the great cry. The promise was that Christianity would advance wonderfully if it was no longer shackled by insistence on doctrines and orthodox beliefs” (“Divisive Unity,” 233).

The Emergence of the Social Gospel

The result of this kind of thinking was the social gospel of the early 20th century. If what it means to be a Christian has little to do with creeds and everything to do with deeds, then what makes someone a Christian is whether they’re laboring for the betterment of society—feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, working for justice, and so on. And so across denominational lines, professing “Christians” were coming together to promote unity around a common mission, even if they didn’t share a common faith. In 1908, more than 30 denominations representing over 18 million American Protestants set their doctrinal differences aside and met in Philadelphia at what is called the Federal Council of Churches. Their great concern was not the Gospel, but how to address the social issues of the day: race relations, international justice, reducing armaments, education, and regulating the consumption of alcohol. This was the beginning of the modern ecumenical movement.

Now, in each of these denominations there were faithful Christians who recognized that—as much as social ills mattered—the body of Christ was not defined most fundamentally by a common social agenda, but by a common confession of faith in the Christ of Scripture. These faithful men, led by the great Presbyterian professor J. Gresham Machen, among others, understood that there were certain fundamental truths that no one claiming to be a Christian could deny. A Christ who is not fully God is a fundamentally different Christ than one who is fully God. A salvation that can be more-or-less earned through good morals and good deeds is a fundamentally different salvation than the one purchased freely on the cross by our wrath-bearing Substitute. A religion built upon the authority of man’s ideas is a fundamentally different religion than one built upon the authority of God as revealed in Scripture. And so these men—pejoratively labeled Fundamentalists—insisted that the doctrinal fundamentals of the Christian faith were non-negotiable, and that, if they were abandoned, it didn’t matter how many people-who-called-themselves-Christians you could gather into one place: there was no true unity.

Strength in Numbers?

The conflict between the Liberals and the so-called Fundamentalists raged on through the ensuing years. In 1948, the World Council of Churches convened in Amsterdam, and embraced as Christian anyone who merely said they believed that Jesus Christ was God and Savior. Delegates from 147 churches brought Protestants, Anglicans, and Eastern Orthodox persons together from all over the world. Once again, the goal was to show strength in numbers—to portray to the world that “Christianity” was visibly united, a cultural force—and to pool support for worldwide missions and social justice. In every case, these movements and councils lamented the division across doctrinal and denominational lines, and argued that if Christianity is to have any genuine influence in the world, we must be big. And so we must come together. A divided church is an offense to God and a cause of her ineffectiveness in the world, they said.

By the 1950s, the Billy Graham crusades had become an evangelistic phenomenon. Tens of thousands were flocking to hear this evangelist speak, and thousands were making professions of faith in Christ. Now this caught the attention of the liberal ecumenists, because Graham believed in all the fundamental doctrines that they rejected. He believed in the sinfulness of man, the need of a spiritual Savior from sin, and he called for conversions. And yet he was drawing crowds! When Graham began his first crusade in Britain in 1954, the liberal Anglicans denounced him. But by the end of the crusade several months later, they were sitting on the platform alongside him. The Archbishop of Canterbury even gave the benediction at the final meeting.

And it was all—as it always is—driven by numbers. One of the Anglican liberals said of partnering with Graham, “What does fundamentalist theology matter compared with gathering in the people we have all missed?” In other words, Who cares about the theology? Just get the people in the seats! And sadly enough, the uncrucified lust for influence worked in both directions. Iain Murray writes,

“But the truth was that [Graham] wanted the cooperation of these men for the aid that their reputations gave to his work, and for the way it could secure wider denominational support. Winning the mainline denominations remained the primary objective and that could not be done without the good will of the leaders. So both sides were motivated by an ulterior motive. On Graham’s side the motive was to get a wider hearing for the gospel, but in order to do this, he adopted an attitude towards false teachers that is not compatible with the New Testament” (“Divisive Unity,” 240).

Good Morals Do Not Reform Bad Company

And though the motive is almost always pure—that is, to influence the enemies of the Gospel to be swayed from their opinions and embrace the Gospel—when you blur the lines between belief and unbelief, it always works in the opposite direction. 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’” You might think, “Oh, I’m just partnering with them so that I can minister to them and so that they can get saved!” But Paul says, “No, don’t be deceived! Good morals do not reform bad company; bad company corrupts good morals.”

And, sadly, that’s precisely what happened to Billy Graham. His biographer, William Martin, records Graham as saying, “The ecumenical movement has broadened my viewpoint.” “I don’t think the differences [between evangelicalism and Roman Catholicism] are important as far as personal salvation is concerned.” And “I feel I belong to all the churches. I am equally at home in an Anglican or Baptist or a Brethren assembly or a Roman Catholic church” (“Divisive Unity,” 243). And in 1997, in a now-famous interview with Robert Schuller, Graham demonstrates the inevitable end of ecumenism when he says,

“I think that everybody that loves or knows Christ, whether they are conscious of it or not, they are members of the body of Christ. . . . They may not know the name of Jesus but they know in their hearts that they need something they do not have, and they turn to the only light they have, and I think that they are saved and going to be with us in heaven” (ibid, 243).

The force of the ecumenical battles could be felt throughout the 1960s, especially as they related to the widening gulf between Anglicanism and British Evangelicalism. Martyn Lloyd-Jones continually exhorted British Evangelicals to disassociate from an Anglican Church that had compromised with liberalism and Roman Catholicism, and to form an evangelical union of churches in its stead. He wrote, “We have evidence before our eyes that our staying amongst [the non-evangelicals] does not seem to be converting them to our view but rather to a lowering of the spiritual temperature of those who are staying amongst them and an increasing tendency to doctrinal accommodation and compromise” (ibid., 242). And as I said, that’s always what happens, because bad company corrupts good morals.

In the mid-60s, the Roman Catholic Church convened the Second Vatican Council, and the effects of the ecumenical movement could be felt throughout. Vatican II was in large measure an attempt to soften and liberalize Catholic dogma. As the years progressed, Anglicanism grew more and more polluted with theological compromise both in the direction of liberalism and Roman Catholicism.

Fighting to End the Reformation

But that’s not the end of the story. In March of 1994, the ecumenical movement breathed new life when 30 well-known evangelicals and influential Roman Catholics signed and published the document titled “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” (ECT). And in precisely the same spirit as the original social gospel compromisers, the authors and signatories of this document totally downplayed and diminished the fundamental doctrinal differences that separate evangelicals and Roman Catholics, so that we can stand “united” to promote a “Christian” view of society and social issues.

Rome had not budged on their insistence that the Roman Catholic Magisterium, and not Scripture alone, is the infallible authority for the church. They had not rescinded the anathemas of the Council of Trent, which condemn to hell anyone who believes that a man is justified by faith alone, apart from works. And yet in the name of “the right ordering of society,” and the assertion that “politics, law, and culture must be secured by moral truth,” these cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith were marginalized, as if they were not absolutely fundamental to salvation. And one can only grieve that several prominent evangelicals fixed their signatures to this document.

Religious freedom, abortion issues, parental choice in education, a free-market economy, pro-family legislation, and a responsible foreign policy were all good things. But they were not and are not ultimate. But these men made them ultimate. Uniting on these issues became more important than the Gospel. More important than the truth that we’re declared righteous by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Than the reality that Christ alone is the Head of the Church, the sole Mediator between God and men. That the sacrifice He offered as our Great High Priest is so sufficient that it does not need to be repeated each week in wine and wafers.

15 years later, in late 2009, a sort of “ECT II” was published in what is called The Manhattan Declaration. Focusing on the perceived need for co-belligerence on social issues like religious freedom and the right to life, the declaration begins this way: “We, as Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christians, have gathered . . . to make the following declaration.” And so in the first sentence, the writers of the Manhattan Declaration deny that belief or unbelief in the very heart of the Gospel makes someone a Christian. You can be an “[Eastern] Orthodox Christian” while believing you’re saved through baptism; you can be a “Catholic Christian” while believing that Christ’s once-for-all sacrificial death is insufficient to secure your salvation. You don’t have to be Evangelical—that is, you don’t need the Evangel—to be a Christian!

It goes on, “We act together in obedience to the one true God . . . .” And yet it is absurd to suggest that it’s possible to obey the one true God while rejecting the one true Gospel. Paul says that even if he himself, or even an angel from heaven—no matter if he calls himself a Christian—preaches a gospel contrary to the Gospel preached in Scripture, “he is to be accursed” (Gal 1:8).

Ecumenical or Evangelical?

And so the story of the ecumenical movement is exactly the same. From the Federal Council of Churches in 1908, to the Manhattan Declaration in the present day, it’s the exact same story: Redefine Christianity so that faith in the Christ of Scripture and/or the Gospel of Scripture is unnecessary, so that you can partner with enemies of the Gospel who call themselves Christians, form a large group, and seize cultural influence. But Francis Schaeffer captured well the fundamental failure of the ecumenical movement when he wrote, “What is the use of evangelicalism seeming to get larger and larger if sufficient numbers under the name evangelical no longer hold to that which makes evangelicalism evangelical?” (“Divisive Unity,” 243).

If you lose the Gospel, you have no true unity, because the mission of Christ’s Church is not to exercise dominion over society and culture, but to preach the Gospel to every creature—to proclaim the Gospel of repentance for the forgiveness of sins through faith alone in Christ alone—so that we relieve the eternal suffering that sinful men and women are condemned to face as the just penalty for their sins. And any time throughout all of church history when the professing church has forgotten that, and—however well-intentioned—has compromised to partner in ministry with those who do not share a common faith in the one and only Gospel of Jesus Christ—she has ceased to be the church, and has courted the judgment rather than the blessing of God.

The 19th-century Scottish minister Horatius Bonar didn’t have to live in the midst of 20th-century ecumenism to understand this. He wrote, “Fellowship between faith and unbelief must, sooner or later, be fatal to the former.” Iain Murray comments on this, saying,

“This is so, not because error is more powerful than truth, but because if we befriend the advocates of error, we will be deprived of the aid of the Spirit of truth. If we retain orthodoxy in word, we shall certainly lose its power. Wrong teaching about Christ and the gospel, according to Scripture, is deadly dangerous. Out of good motives we may seek to win influence for the gospel among those who are not its friends, but when we do so at the expense of truth, we shall not prosper in the sight of God” (ibid., 244).

There can be no partnership in ministry between the body of Christ who has been saved by the Gospel, and the enemies of that Gospel. No matter how many other good things they agree on, if you don’t have the Gospel, you don’t have Jesus. And if you don’t have Jesus, you simply cannot be united to those who do.

And this is precisely Paul’s point in 2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1, a passage we’ll spend several posts looking into in the weeks to come.

When Evangelicals Become Useful Idiots for Islamism

James White is a well-known conservative Christian evangelist who has been seduced by the siren call of the Interfaith Dialog, and has partnered with a Muslim Imam, Dr. Yasir Qadhi, to “educate” Americans on the Muslim religion. White finds their budding relationship “refreshing” and expounds on how much he has learned about Islam from his newfound friend. He calls Qadhi his “mentor” on aspects of Islam. He bristles at those who suggest he is being used, and instead has gone on offense, engaging his allies among Christian conservatives to attack his critics.

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June 26, 2017: Verse of the day


The Representation of True Unity

even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, … The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity (17:21b–23a)

The unity of nature Christ prayed for reflects that of the Father and the Son, which is expressed in Christ’s words You, Father, are in Me and I in You. Because of His unity with the Father, Jesus claimed in John 5:16ff. to have the same authority, purpose, power, honor, will, and nature as the Father. That startling claim to full deity and equality with God so outraged His Jewish opponents that they sought to kill Him (5:18; cf. 8:58–59; 10:31–33; 19:7).

The unique intra-Trinitarian relationship of Jesus and the Father forms the pattern for the unity of believers in the church. This prayer reveals five features of that unity the church imitates.

First, the Father and the Son are united in motive; they are equally committed to the glory of God. Jesus began His prayer by saying, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You” (v. 1), as He had done throughout His ministry (v. 4). In verse 5 He added, “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” Finally, in verse 24 Jesus expressed to the Father His desire that believers would one day “be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me.” In John 7:18 Jesus declared that He was constantly “seeking the glory of the One who sent Him.” He did not need to seek His own glory (8:50), because the Father glorified Him (8:54). Both Jesus and the Father were glorified in the raising of Lazarus (11:4). In John 12:28 Jesus prayed, “ ‘Father, glorify Your name.’ Then a voice came out of heaven: ‘I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.’ ” Shortly before His High Priestly Prayer, Jesus had said to the disciples, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him; if God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and will glorify Him immediately” (13:31–32). Jesus promised to answer the prayers of His people “so that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (14:13).

The church is also united in a common commitment to the glory of God. “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do,” Paul wrote, “do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).

Second, the Father and the Son are united in mission. They share the common goal of redeeming lost sinners and granting them eternal life, as Christ made clear earlier in this prayer:

Even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.… I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. (vv. 2–4, 6)

God chose in eternity past to give believers to Christ as a gift of His love, and Christ came to earth to die as a sacrifice for their sins and redeem them. That the church lives to pursue the one goal of evangelizing the lost is clear from Jesus’ words in verse 18: “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world” (cf. Matt. 28:19–20).

Third, the Father and the Son are united in truth. “The words which You gave Me,” Jesus said, “I have given to them” (v. 8), while in verse 14 He added, “I have given them Your word.” Earlier that evening Jesus had told the disciples, “The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works” (14:10; cf. 3:32–34; 7:16; 8:28, 38, 40; 12:49).

The church is also unified in its commitment to proclaiming the singular truth of God’s Word. In Romans 15:5–6 Paul prayed, “Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (cf. Acts 2:42, 46; Phil. 1:27). Far from dividing the church, a commitment to proclaiming sound doctrine is what defines it.

Fourth, the Father and the Son are united in holiness. In verse 11 Jesus addressed the Father as “Holy Father,” and in verse 25 as “righteous Father.” The utter holiness of God is expressed throughout the Old and New Testaments. God’s holiness is His absolute separation from sin. In Habakkuk 1:13 the prophet declared, “Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You can not look on wickedness with favor.” In Isaiah’s vision of God the angelic beings cried out, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isa. 6:3; cf. Rev. 4:8). The writer of Hebrews described Jesus as “holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners” (Heb. 7:26). In Revelation 4:8 the heavenly chorus unceasingly cries out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.”

When they see believers united in the pursuit of holiness, unbelievers will be drawn to Christ. In Hebrews 12:14 the writer of Hebrews exhorted his readers, “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.” If a church tolerates sin, it not only obscures the glory of Christ it is called to radiate, but also faces the discipline of the Lord of the church (Rev. 2:14–16, 20–23).

Finally, the Father and the Son are united in love. In verse 24 Jesus affirmed that the Father had “loved [Him] before the foundation of the world.” In John 5:20 Jesus said, “For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing” (cf. 3:35). Both at His baptism (Matt. 3:17) and at the transfiguration (Matt. 17:5), the Father declared Jesus to be His beloved Son. Similarly, love is the glue that binds believers together in unity (Col. 3:14; cf. 2:2), and it is that love for one another that is the church’s ultimate apologetic to the lost world (John 13:34–35).

Though not to the same infinite divine extent, the spiritual life and power that belongs to the Trinity belongs also in some way to believers and is the basis for the church’s unity. This is what the Lord meant when He said, The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as we are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity. That stunning truth describes believers as those to whom the Son has given glory—that is, aspects of the very divine life that belongs to God. The church’s task is to so live as to not obstruct that glory (Matt. 5:16).[1]

The Fifth Mark of the Church: Unity

John 17:20–23

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

Considering all the divisions that have plagued Christendom for two thousand years, it is amazing that God has continued to use the church to extend his kingdom.”

This statement by John White, an InterVarsity Chrisitian Fellowship worker and writer, introduces us to the subject of Christian unity in two important ways: first, by portraying the unfortunate lack of unity that has plagued the church throughout its history and, second, by suggesting why Jesus asked that the church might be marked by unity at this particular point in his high priestly petition. The divisions that exist today are too obvious to need comment. They lie both on the surface and within. Battles rage. Highly praised church mergers not only fail to heal these divisions but also usually lead to further breakups involving those who do not like the new union. So far as Christ’s reasons for praying for unity go, it is simply that he foresaw these differences and so asked for that great unity that should exist among his own in spite of them.

Another way of pointing to Christ’s interests is to note that all the marks of the church concern the Christian’s relationship to some thing or some person and that unity is to be the mark of the church in the relationships that exist between its members. Joy is the mark of the Christian in relationship to himself. Holiness is the mark in relationship to God. Truth is the mark in his relationship to the Bible. Mission is the mark in his relationship to the world. In this mark, unity, and the last, love, which in some sense summarizes them all, we deal with the Christian’s relationship to all who are likewise God’s children.

What Kind of Unity?

But what kind of unity is this to be? This is an important preliminary question, for if the unity is to be an organizational unity, then our efforts to achieve and express it will be in one direction while, if it is to be a more subjective unity, our efforts will be expended differently.

One thing for sure—the church is not to be is a great organizational unity; for whatever advantages or disadvantages may be involved in massive organizational unity, this in itself obviously does not produce the results Christ prayed for, nor does it solve the church’s other great problems. Moreover, it has been tried and found wanting. In the early days of the church there was much vitality and growth but little organizational unity. Later, as the church came to favor under Constantine and his successors, the church increasingly centralized until during the Middle Ages there was literally one united ecclesiastical body covering all Europe. But was this a great age? Was there a deep unity of faith? Did men and women find themselves increasingly drawn to this faith and come to confess Jesus Christ to be their Savior and Lord (for that is what Christ promised, namely, that if the church were one, men and women would believe on him)? Not at all! On the contrary, the world believed the opposite. Spurgeon once wrote, “The world was persuaded that God had nothing to do with that great crushing, tyrannous, superstitious, ignorant thing which called itself Christianity; and thinking men became infidels, and it was the hardest possible thing to find a genuine intelligent believer north, south, east, or west.”

Certainly there is something to be said for some form of outward, visible unity (at least in most situations). But it is equally certain that this type of unity is not what we most need, nor is it that for which the Lord prayed.

Another type of unity that we do not need is conformity, that is, an approach to the church that would make everyone alike. Here we probably come closest to the error of the evangelical church, for if the liberal church for the most part strives for an organizational unity—through the various councils of churches, the Consultation on Church Union, denominational mergers, and so forth—the evangelical church for its part seems to strive for an identical pattern of looks and behavior among its members. This is not what Jesus is looking for in this prayer. On the contrary, there should be the greatest diversity among Christians, diversity of personality, interests, lifestyle, and even methods of Christian work and evangelism. This should make the church interesting, not dull. Uniformity is dull, like rows upon rows of Wheaties boxes. Variety is exciting! It is the variety of nature and the character and actions of our God.

But if the unity for which Jesus prayed is not an organizational unity or a unity achieved by conformity, what kind of unity is it? The answer is that it is a unity parallel to the unity that exists within the Godhead; for Jesus speaks of it in these terms—“that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you … I in them, and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity” (vv. 21, 23). This means that the church is to have a spiritual unity involving the basic orientation, desires, and will of those participating. Paul points to this true unity in writing to the Corinthians, saying, “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men” (1 Cor. 12:4–6).

This is not to say that all believers actually enter into this unity as they should. Otherwise, why would Christ pray for it? The actual case is that, like the other marks of the church already considered, unity is something given to the church but also something for which the body of true believers should strive. There is a sense in which we already are one in Christ. But there is also a sense in which we must achieve that unity.

Brothers and Sisters

Here we are helped by the various images used of the church throughout the New Testament, one of the most valuable being that of the family. Christians belong to the family of God, and therefore they are rightly brothers and sisters of one another.

The unique characteristic of this image is that it speaks of relationships and therefore of the commitments that the individuals must have to one another. The relationships are based upon what God has done. Salvation is described in the verses that use this image as God begetting spiritual children, who are therefore made members of his spiritual family through his choice and not through their own. John even says this explicitly in the preface to his Gospel, when he writes of our having become children of God “not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (1:13). There is a tendency in the world to talk about all men and women as brothers and sisters, but while this is true in a certain humanitarian sense it is nevertheless not what the Bible is talking about when it speaks of Christian brotherhood. This is something that God has intervened to establish among his own regenerated children.

This fact has two important consequences. First, if the family to which we belong has been established by God, then we have no choice as to who will be in it or whether or not we will be his or her sister or brother. On the contrary, the relationship simply exists, and we must be brotherly to the other Christian, whether we want to be or not.

The second consequence is related to this, simply that we must be committed to each other in tangible ways. We must be committed to helping each other, for example, for we all need help at times, and this is one clear way in which the special bond among believers can be shown to the watching world. A number of years ago I walked into the bathroom in our home and found one of my children sitting on the floor with a large pile of unrolled toilet paper beside her. She had been spinning the roll and watching it pile up in intricate patterned layers as it settled. I took one look at her and said, with a note of astonishment in my voice, “What in the world are you doing?”

“I’m unrolling the toilet paper,” she answered. There was no questioning the truthfulness of that.

“Why are you being naughty?” I countered.

She said, “Nobody helps me to be good.” I suspect that her answer was a carefully worded excuse (and also not nearly so truthful as her first statement.) But whatever her reasons, the statement did at least point to a true need. We do need help as Christians, and we need it from Christians. Moreover, we must be ready to give help, just as we would to a needy member of our own human family.

A Fellowship

The second important image used to portray the unity of the church of Christ is a fellowship, which the New Testament normally indicates by the Greek word koinonia. Unfortunately, neither the word “fellowship” nor the word koinonia is very helpful in conveying what we mean. This is because the English word commonly means only a loose collection of friends, and the Greek word has become something of a theological cliché. Actually, the word has to do with sharing something or having something in common. The common Greek of the New Testament period is called Koine Greek. Partners, as those who hold property in common or share in a business, are koinonoi. In spiritual terms koinonia, or fellowship, is had by those who share a common Christian experience of the gospel. In this respect the New Testament speaks often of our fellowship with the Father (1 John 1:3), with the Son (1 Cor. 1:9), which is sometimes described as a fellowship in the blood and body of Christ (1 Cor. 10:16), and with the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 13:14). This obviously involves the totality of our experience of God’s grace.

But fellowship is not only defined in terms of what we share in together. It also involves what we share out together. And this means that it must involve a community in which Christians actually share their thoughts and lives with one another.

How is this to be done practically? It will probably be done in different ways in different congregations depending upon local situations and needs. Some churches are small and therefore will have an easier time establishing times of sharing. Here church suppers, work projects, and other such efforts will help. Larger churches will have to break their numbers down into smaller groups in various ways. At Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, which I serve as pastor, we have tried to do this in three ways simultaneously. First, we have tried to divide the congregation according to age levels. Thus we have a fully graded Sunday school, and on the upper levels we have tried to establish groups for college students, postcollege students, young couples, other adult classes, and meetings for senior citizens. Part of this is an adult elective program. Second, we have tried to divide the congregation geographically. Tenth Church members come from a large and scattered metropolitan area. Some of them drive twenty, thirty, or more miles to get there. Midweek meetings at the church are impractical for most. Therefore we have established area Bible studies, where people can meet weekly with those in their area. They meet to study the Bible, share concerns, and pray together. These area groups are probably the least structured but also the most profitable of all the church activities. Finally, we have also begun to divide the church according to professional interests. In this area there are regular meetings by groups of artists, musicians (we have a chamber orchestra), medical students and nurses, and ministerial candidates and young pastors.

My own experience in this area conforms to that of John R. W. Stott, who experimented with similar groups in his own London parish. He has written on the grounds of his experience, “The value of the small group is that it can become a community of related persons; and in it the benefit of personal relatedness cannot be missed, nor its challenge evaded. … I do not think it is an exaggeration to say, therefore, that small groups, Christian family or fellowship groups, are indispensable for our growth into spiritual maturity.”

Once again, this is an area in which Christian unity can become a visible and practical thing, and its unique and desirable qualities can be made known to the world.

The Body

The third important image used to stress the unity of the church is the body. Clearly, this image has many important connotations. It speaks of the nature of the Christian union—one part of the body simply cannot survive if it is separated from the whole. It speaks of interdependence. It even suggests a kind of subordination involving a diversity of function; for the hand is not the foot, nor the foot the eye, and over all is the head which is Christ. Paul speaks of this in 1 Corinthians saying, “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Now the body is not made up of one part but of many” (12:12–14).

However, the one function of the body that is unique to this image is service, for just as the family emphasizes relationships, and fellowships emphasizes sharing, so does the body emphasize work. The body exists to do something and, since we are talking about unity, we must stress that it exists to enable us to do this work together.

In the book from which I quoted earlier, Stott speaks of this service flowing out of the small groups that his church emphasizes. “It must be admitted that several have been unsuccessful—through lack of time or of enterprise,” he writes. “Others, however, have offered their practical services as a group. … Certainly without some such common concern and service, the fellowship of any Christian group is maimed.”

Your Part

The question we end with is simply: What is to be your part in this area? What will you do? Obviously you cannot change the whole church, but, as one writer puts it, “You can begin in your own life to be an answer to the high priestly prayer of Christ. You can become a small focus of change.” First, you can become aware of that great family, fellowship, and body to which you already belong, and you can thank God for it. Second, you can join a small group, where the reality of Christian unity is most readily seen and experienced. Third, you can work with that group to show forth Christian love and give service. If you are willing to do that, you will find God to be with you, and you will be overwhelmed at the power with which he works both in you and in others whom he will be drawing to faith.

But perhaps you are not a part of that family, the family of God, in the first place. You may be a Baptist, a Presbyterian, a Roman Catholic, a Pentecostal. But you have never been born into God’s family. If so, do not let pride of denomination (or of anything else) keep you from the reality of Christianity. Run to Jesus and enter in through him, the only true door.[2]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2008). John 12–21 (pp. 290–292). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] Boice, J. M. (2005). The Gospel of John: an expositional commentary (pp. 1327–1332). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.