Daily Archives: July 14, 2017

July 14, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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Jul. 14, 2017

BLOOMBERG

A federal judge in Hawaii ruled that the Trump administration didn’t conform with the Supreme Court’s instructions in rolling out its temporary travel ban. The decision means many people covered by the government’s restrictions would be allowed to enter the U.S.

Deep within the Treasury Department sits a once-secret plan written by the Obama administration that could lead to the first-ever default on U.S. debt. Bond traders are worried that Donald Trump’s Treasury secretary may have to use it.

India is considering tracking digital currencies like bitcoin through the central bank and capital markets regulator along with intelligence agencies to monitor money laundering and terrorist financing, people with the knowledge of the matter said.

The U.S. will seek to use a United Nations fund designed to aid nations hard hit by climate change to promote the construction of coal-fired power plants around the world.

Elected officials’ practice of opening meetings in North Carolina with Christian prayer and inviting audience members to join is unconstitutional, a federal appeals court ruled Friday in a closely watched case likely headed for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Retail sales unexpectedly dropped for a second month in June, signaling consumers are providing only modest support for the U.S. economy, Commerce Department data showed Friday. Purchases dropped 0.2% (forecast was 0.1% gain) after falling 0.1% the prior month (previously reported as 0.3% drop)

Sepsis-a frequently lethal condition in which the body’s immune system attacks its own organs while trying to fight off infection-is the top killer in U.S. hospitals, and the country has only recently begun to understand the scope of the problem. A new government report suggests that sepsis cases tripled in the decade from 2005 to 2014, causing 1.5 million hospital stays by the end of that period. Experts who study sepsis say the apparent increase is actually a reflection of how doctors are getting better at identifying cases they used to miss.

Italy’s absolute poor, or those unable to purchase a basket of basic goods and services, reached 4.7 million last year, up from almost 1.7 million in 2006, national statistics agency Istat said Thursday. That is 7.9 percent of the population.

The eclipse set to darken skies next month threatens to sideline solar farms and rooftop panels in a wide swath of the U.S., wiping out enough power generation to supply about 7 million homes. The impact is a testament to the nine fold increase in solar installed in the U.S. since 2012 and highlights the risks associated with relying on an intermittent resource such as the sun for power.

AP Top Stories

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said Wednesday that Congress should pad the budget for President Trump’s border wall by cutting funding for Planned Parenthood and food stamps.

Jeff Sieting, the village president in Kalkaska, Michigan refuses to apologize for sharing Facebook posts calling for the killing of “every last Muslim” and for nuclear weapons to be used on the world’s 10-largest Muslim-majority cities.

China’s economic might is catching up to the United States – or is seen to be catching up. That’s according to a new report from the Pew Research Center, which released results of a 38-nation survey Thursday afternoon. While the majority of those polled still correctly believe the United States is the world’s biggest economy, 12 nations – including Canada, Russia, and most of western Europe – believe China has the largest economy in the world.

United States military advisers are operating inside the city of Raqa, the Islamic State group’s last major bastion in Syria, a US official said Wednesday.

A group of scientists from the University of Cambridge have detected a star that is so small, even one of our own planetary neighbors happens to be larger, and it’s assumed to be the absolute smallest a star can possibly be.

A Democratic congressman on Wednesday became the first US lawmaker to formally file an article of impeachment against President Donald Trump, but the effort is likely to stall in the Republican-controlled Congress.

BBC

Two Israeli policemen have been killed and a third wounded in a shooting attack near a sacred site in Jerusalem. They were shot by three Israeli Arabs close to the compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary).

Nigeria’s parliament is investigating reports that 97 fishermen have been killed in the Bakassi peninsula, which the country ceded to Cameroon. Reports say that the killings happened last week when a Cameroonian paramilitary unit was enforcing a $300 fishing levy.

Widespread opioid abuse is tied to a fall in the share of Americans working or looking for work, the head of the US central bank said. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said she was not sure if it was a cause of the decline or a symptom revealing more longstanding economic problems.

Growing competition for land and natural resources saw a record number of environmental activists killed in 2016, says Global Witness. The green group’s report details at least 200 murders across 24 countries, up significantly from 2015.

President Donald Trump is attending the Bastille Day parade in Paris, where US and French troops are marching together down the Champs-Élysées. The parade marked 100 years since the Americans entered World War One.

WND

Scientists at the University of Alberta have put together from scratch a relative of the smallpox virus – and a reminder that the threat of deadly viruses created by humans is more than theoretical. The smallpox virus, which triggered brutal disease for centuries, was declared eradicated in 1980 after a successful global effort to end its reign of terror. But some scientists fear that it could be revived through what’s known as synthetic biology – the ability to make a virus by putting together by the recipe outlined in its genetic code.


Top News  – 7/14/2017

Vatican Press Lashes Out At Catholic Trump Voters, Calls Steve Bannon “A Supporter Of Apocalyptic Geopolitics”
In a relatively shocking article – don’t forget the Vatican has been extremely outspoken for a man in his office – a close ally of Pope Francis has written in a widely-read Vatican publication attacking Stephen Bannon, the senior White House strategist and lamenting a drift towards fundamentalism among some US conservative Catholics who backed Donald Trump as president.

Water Flowing From Temple Mount: A Messianic Precursor?
Josh Wander, a resident of the Mount of Olives, frequently prays at the Kotel (the Western Wall). One of his favorite spots is the indoor section to the north of the outdoor plaza. When he went to pray at the holy site on Tuesday, he was surprised to see water flowing in rivulets from between the stones.

U.S. prepares new sanctions on Chinese firms over North Korea ties – officials
The U.S. measures would initially hit Chinese entities considered “low-hanging fruit,” including smaller financial institutions and “shell” companies linked to North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, said one of the officials, while declining to name the targets.

We need to close the Temple Mount to Muslims’
Deputy Defense Minister blames UNESCO for terror attack, Jewish Home MK says Israel respond by closing Temple Mount to Muslims.

US bars Old City to American government officials until Saturday morning
As a result of Friday morning’s attack, the US Consulate-General in Jerusalem issued a rare directive to all US government employees and their family member to refrain from entering the Old City of Jerusalem until Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m. “without prior approval” from the Consulate General. The statement said the directive was “due to a major security incident that occurred in the vicinity of the Lion’s Gate of the Old City.”

PA President Abbas Condemns Temple Mount Terror Attack
In a phone call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned Friday’s shooting attack on the Temple Mount, the official PA media agency Wafa reported. The PA president rarely condemns attacks on Israelis.

Two policemen killed in Temple Mount attack by Israeli Arabs
Three terrorists opened fire on a group of policemen near Lion’s Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City on Friday morning, killing two and injuring one before the attackers were killed by police, the Israel Police and paramedics said. The assailants, who were residents of Umm al-Fahm, near Haifa, fled to the Temple Mount where they were killed by police officers and guns were found in their possession, according to police spokeswoman Luba Samri.

Trump opposes House method for allocating Israeli missile defense aid
The Trump administration is concerned with a House committee proposal that would siphon Israeli missile defense aid from a fund that is typically reserved for current US wartime operations. The House Armed Services Committee proposed a $558 million increase in allocated Israeli aid for 2018 that would come from Overseas Contingency Operations, or OCO – a fund that is effectively uncapped by the Budget Control Act…

Trump travel ban: Judge expands definition of ‘close relative’
Grandparents and other relatives of people living in the US cannot be barred from entering under President Trump’s travel ban, a judge has ruled. The order, by District Judge Derrick Watson in Hawaii, is a fresh legal blow to Mr Trump’s immigration crackdown. The judge said the ban had interpreted a Supreme Court ruling too narrowly.

U.S. prepares new sanctions on Chinese firms over North Korea ties – officials
Frustrated that China has not done more to rein in North Korea, the Trump administration could impose new sanctions on small Chinese banks and other firms doing business with Pyongyang within weeks…The U.S. measures would initially hit Chinese entities considered “low-hanging fruit,” including smaller financial institutions and “shell” companies linked to North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs…

Connecticut Bans Civil Forfeiture Without Criminal Conviction
Civil forfeiture remains a controversial issue in America since it’s “a process by which the government can take and sell your property without ever convicting, or even charging, you with a crime.” The procedures are civil, which means defendants do not receive the same protections given to criminal defendants. Connecticut has put an end to this procedure when the legislature passed a law that bans civil forfeiture without a criminal conviction.

More Christian Refugees Arriving under Trump than Muslims
Under President Donald Trump, more Christian refugees have been admitted to the United States in the first six months of 2017 than Muslim refugees, a departure from the Obama-era. Since Trump took office in January through June 30, nearly 9,600 refugees who are affiliated with the Christian faith have been resettled in the U.S., accounting for roughly 50 percent of all refugee resettlements, according to research by Pew.

Trump and Macron, once cast as adversaries, show they have much in common
For dinner on Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron chose to dine with President Trump at Le Jules Verne, an opulent restaurant nestled in the Eiffel Tower that has earned a Michelin star yet still carries the reputation of being an overpriced tourist destination.

The Striking Reason Why The US Just Spent A Record $429 Billion In One Month
The US just saw the biggest one month outlay on record, at $429 billion, 33% higher than the $323 billion one years ago. The reason for this, however, is even more striking than the number itself: it appears the student loan bubble has started to burst.

War on Cash: Desperate VISA Begs Merchants With $10,000 Bribe to Go Cashless
“Visa Inc. has a new offer for small merchants: take thousands of dollars from the card giant to upgrade their payment technology. In return, the businesses must stop accepting cash.

White South Africans Are Preparing For “The Slaughter and Removal of All Whites Within Five Years
Back in March, the President of South Africa made a shocking suggestion, which left many white landowners fearing that they may face a race war in the near future. In a speech, Jacob Zuma announced that he wanted the government to begin confiscating white owned lands, before redistributing them to black South Africans.

Why Is Soros Colluding with PornHub, Tech Giants to Flood FCC with Russian Spam?
It’s the Russians again. But this time it’s George Soros’ strange bedfellows pro-censorship coalition including Internet giants Google, Facebook, Amazon, as well as the salacious extreme-and-abusive-sex website PornHub, that have flooded the FCC with thousands of “citizen comments” coming from Russia, of all places, opposing the FCC’s planned repeal of the Obama-era “Net Neutrality” rules.

Is This Why The UN Human Rights Council Is Silent As Venezuelans Die Oppressed Under Socialism?
The United Nations Human Rights Council has been silent on the death of Venezuelans at the hands of their democratic socialist government. The UN has sided with death, but that isn’t surprising, considering the horrific plans they have laid out for most humans.


July 14, 2017

WASHINGTON EXAMINER — Senate GOP leaders hope offering more money for reducing insurance premiums for poor people is enough to get centrists to support their healthcare bill after they were cool to the latest version. Republican leadership released a new version of the healthcare bill that adds $70 billion to a stability fund to stabilize the individual market and $45 billion for fighting opioid abuse. However, leadership faces a monumental task of winning support from several key centrists, especially after leaving in place more than $700 billion in Medicaid cuts…. (more)


July 13, 2017
NEWSMAX — Tuesday’s release of photos of a chance encounter between evangelicals and President Donald Trump in the White House, which shows leading evangelicals laying hands on and praying for the president of the United States in the Oval Office, has touched off an angry backlash on Twitter and in the mainstream media…. (more)

July 13, 2017
BOB UNRUH — So the media claim there are links between President Trump’s campaign and Russia. They make wild claims about a “set-up” that had Donald Trump Jr. meet last year with a woman claiming to have information from Russia about Hillary Clinton…. (more)

July 13, 2017
RALPH Z. HALLOW — President Trump is facing the double standard with which the left-wing press and Democrats have been soiling American politics for many years. Absurdity is now the norm in the left’s drive to undermine the public’s confidence in the institutions that have made this the go-to country for seekers of opportunity and freedom all over the world for more than two centuries…. (more)

July 13, 2017
MICHAEL BARONE — Overreach. President Trump seems to have an uncanny knack for provoking it in his opponents and critics. This often hurts him and the country. But it has the potential to hurt those doing the overreach as well…. (more)

July 13, 2017
ALICIA POWE — Members of the House Freedom Caucus are demanding GOP leaders cancel the annual August recess so they can tackle top-line policy issues, including the debt ceiling, repealing the Affordable Care Act, a tax overhaul and building a wall along the nation’s southern border…. (more)

July 13, 2017
GREG COROMBOS — Senate Republican leaders are still scrambling to craft a health-care bill capable of attracting 50 GOP votes, and while success appears elusive right now, a prominent House conservative still believes a good bill can get passed thanks to the pressure from voters and the resolve of President Trump…. (more)

July 13, 2017
MCCLATCHY DC — Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., has introduced formal articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, accusing him of obstruction of justice. Sherman, who first drafted the articles in June, formally introduced H.R. 438 on the House floor on Wednesday…. (more)

July 13, 2017
NEWSMAX — Almost three-fourths of Democrats would give up drinking alcohol for the rest of their lives if President Donald Trump could be impeached tomorrow, according to a survey conducted by Detox.net…. (more)

July 13, 2017

WASHINGTON TIMES — Two-dozen House Republicans broke with their pro-defense brethren Thursday and helped Democrats kill an amendment that would have barred the military from funding transgender sex reassignment surgeries and hormone therapies…. (more)


July 13, 2017
NEWSMAX — The Obama Justice Department allowed the Russian lawyer who met Donald Trump Jr. into the country for a court case months before the meeting occurred, The Hill reported…. (more)

July 13, 2017
NEWSMAX — Evangelist leader Franklin Graham called it “unfathomable” that the parents of British baby Charlie Gard have been denied the right to bring him to the United States for treatment, calling it “one of the dangers of socialized medicine.”… (more)

July 13, 2017
WORLDNETDAILY — Bobby Schindler, the brother of Terri Schindler Schiavo, has joined the pro-life leaders expressing support for Charlie Gard in his struggle to live. Gard is an 11-month-old British infant who suffers from a rare genetic mutation of mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. The infant has brain damage, is blind and deaf, and needs a ventilator to breathe…. (more)

July 13, 2017
LEO HOHMANN — If there were any issue that Republicans and Democrats could agree on in the current, brutal political climate, one might think it would be female genital mutilation and the need to ban it. Not a chance…. (more)

July 13, 2017
THE BLAZE — One Fort Lauderdale police officer is facing disciplinary action after he “mis-gendered” a transgender person on a reckless driving ticket issued in late January. Four days after being pulled over for drag racing a Ford Mustang in a Chevrolet Camaro, Shelby Kendall, who was born male but began identifying as a woman in 2014, filed a complaint with the Fort Lauderdale Police Department’s Internal Affairs, according to The Sun-Sentinel…. (more)

July 13, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — An admissions letter from Harvard University was once considered cause for celebration, but in conservative households, that may be changing. David M. Whalen, provost of Hillsdale College, a school with a conservative reputation, said he has noticed an uptick in the number of parents who send their children to Hillsdale to avoid colleges where conservative thought is met with ridicule, suppression and violence…. (more)

July 12, 2017
BYRON YORK — Could there be a dumber, more obvious come-on than the one Rob Goldstone, described in press reports as a British-born publicist and former tabloid reporter, sent to Donald Trump Jr. on June 3, 2016?… (more)

July 12, 2017
NEWSMAX — New York City Police officers attending the funeral of one of their own Tuesday turned their backs on Mayor Bill de Blasio in protest when he spoke…. (more)

July 12, 2017
NEWSMAX — Doctors, parents and others involved in female genital mutilation in Michigan will face up to 15 years in prison under new laws signed Tuesday that were sparked by an ongoing criminal case involving six young girls…. (more)

July 12, 2017
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — Top-rated Fox talker Sean Hannity piled on CNN’s lackluster ratings Tuesday, belittling the cable for ranking behind nightly kiddy shows. Hannity, who scored a scoop interview Donald Trump Jr. Tuesday night, tweeted his mock with a special dig that CNN will likely end up airing his Q&A with Trump…. (more)

July 11, 2017
ALAN KEYES — Earlier this week, I wrote a column questioning why our contemporary political discourse makes so little reference to the common good. The United States was the first nation in human history that acknowledged humanity itself to be the formal premise for the common identity of the people who comprised it…. (more)

July 10, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas on Friday hit back at Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer for labeling his latest health proposal a “hoax,” saying Democrats made a series of promises about their signature health program that have fallen flat…. (more)

July 10, 2017
ROBERT KNIGHT — Unless you went to some lengths to access President Trump’s stunning address in Warsaw, Poland on Thursday instead of relying on media coverage, you missed a remarkable event. Garnering repeated applause and even chants of “Donald Trump! Donald Trump! Donald Trump!” the president declared his and America’s admiration for the Polish people, made a commitment to ensure their liberty, and promised to eradicate terrorism and preserve the West…. (more)

July 10, 2017

RICH LOWRY — magine that President Donald Trump gave a speech praising a strong Europe. Imagine that he called forthrightly on Russia to stop its aggression in Ukraine and join the community of responsible nations. Imagine that he embraced the mutual defense commitment, so-called Article 5, of NATO…. (more)


July 10, 2017

BYRON YORK — President Trump’s performance at the G-20 summit in Germany produced a wave of commentary claiming the United States has abdicated its role as world leader…. (more)

Mid-Day Snapshot

July 14, 2017

Senate Reveals Latest Health Plan; Is It DOA?

Republicans are still at odds over various aspects of repealing ObamaCare. And it may sink Version 2.0.

The Foundation

“If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions.” —James Madison (1792)

Key Connections

Evaluating Our Expectations: The American Dream vs. a Christian’s Hope (Melissa Kruger, Wit’s End)

The American Dream might best be summed up as the possibility for a life of freedom, personal happiness, material comfort, and lasting fulfillment (all nicely enclosed in a white picket fence)… In contrast to our typical image of the American Dream, Scripture offers us three images of the Christian life: a battle, a race, and childbirth.

Community Covers a Thousand Threats  (David Mathis, Desiring God)

Sadly, I have seen it happen over and over: how neglecting real, consistent, committed Christian community goes hand in hand with a cooling heart for Christ.

Grab for the Glory of God (Eric Davis, The Cripplegate)

We have a major hole in our Christian spirituality when we avoid the concept of sin. My mentor reminded me that it is a mark of conversion, spiritual maturity, and intimacy with the Lord Jesus to see, loathe, and confess personal sin, especially heart sins.

The Essential Second (John MacArthur, OnePlace)

It is very easy to love the whole wide world, and it is easy to love the church. However, it may be very difficult to love one particular person. But the love our Lord calls you to exercise is a practical, personal kind of love that is expressed primarily to individuals.

15 Questions to Apply Scripture to Your Life (Kevin Holloran, Unlocking the Bible)

A good question in Bible study helps uncover riches in the text that we may not see. This is true for observation, interpretation, and application stages of Bible study.

The post Key Connections (July 13, 2017) appeared first on Unlocking the Bible.


This ‘n’ That

  • Eugene Peterson has “changed his mind” on same-sex issues and gay marriage. Really? Anyone who has read his atrocious rendering of the Bible (aka, The Message) knows that he has long skirted and softened the edges on such issues.
  • Wait, wait, wait! He changed his mind again!
  • The salvation package; now that’s a good gift!
  • I’ve only read part one of this, but I fear that the patriarchal mindset described in this article may permeate more than those groups that outwardly identify with the movement.
  • Here’s your weekly dose of adorable (thank, James!).
  • This is one of the dumbest things I read this week. Matthew 23:23-24, anyone?
  • If drinking more coffee leads to a longer life, I may never die. Four cups a day, at least.
  • Now you know.
  • Have today’s evangelicals become Marcionite in their thinking and practice?

Featured Blogs


Top Headlines – 7/14/2017

Middle East Quartet meets for first time in Trump’s presidency

Trump: Only thing more difficult than Israeli-Palestinian peace is healthcare

Ex-intel chief: Israel should advance peace initiatives now, while we’re strong

Abbas to visit China next week at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping. China supports a Palestinian state.

Ex-defense minister says ‘corrupt’ Netanyahu should resign

Netanyahu: Political rivals, media want me convicted

PM says corruption insinuations are a left-wing plot against him

At Gaza war memorial event, Netanyahu, Rivlin call for return of soldiers’ bodies

Soros ‘distressed’ by ‘anti-Semitic’ Hungary campaign

Canada backtracks on banning ‘Product of Israel’ labels for West Bank wines

Israel, Palestinians reach landmark water deal for West Bank, Gaza

In Jerusalem, Gunmen Stage Brazen Attack Near Temple Mount

Three wounded in shooting terror attack near Temple Mount

Amid dramatic Temple Mount terror attack, Netanyahu resists calls to change status quo

Hezbollah threatens to ‘surprise Israel’ in next war

Israel Growing Concerned That Unresolved North Korea Nuclear Crisis Will Embolden Iran, Experts Say

Officials: US expected to say Iran still abiding by nuke deal

Solider accused of supporting ISIS thought 9/11 was inside job: ex-bunkmate

Fearing more terror attacks, Egypt churches suspend activities

Former UK envoy: Saudi Arabia funds extremist mosques in Europe

Turkish director arrested for film of Erdogan ‘execution’

Could North Korea turn America’s lights out? We’re living in the dark about our electric grid

Trump slams media for coverage of mysterious Russian lawyer, lays blame on Lynch

Trump’s Lawyer Apologizes for a Profane Tirade

Trump lawyer e-mail meltdown raises questions of competence

GOP operative who sought Clinton’s emails committed suicide

Hawaii Judge Orders Loosening of Trump Travel Ban

Amazon is getting too big and the government is talking about it

Why the Post Office Gives Amazon Special Delivery – A Citigroup analysis finds each box gets a $1.46 subsidy. It’s like a gift card from Uncle Sam.

U.S. asks nations to provide more traveler data or face sanctions

High-speed Hyperloop project ready for key test in Nevada

Watch a Giant Sunspot Whirl Across the Sun in Incredible NASA Video

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Oitui, Indonesia

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Raoul Island, New Zealand

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Vinchina, Argentina

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Padangsidempuan, Indonesia

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 27,000ft

Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica erupts to 12,000ft

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 11,000ft

Giant Antarctic Icebergs and Crushing Existential Dread

New York Man Dies From ‘Exceedingly Rare’ Tick Virus Transmitted Within Minutes

‘Cholera is everywhere’: Yemen epidemic spiralling out of control

GOP Lawmakers Bought Health-Insurance Stocks While Advancing Trumpcare

US charging 412 in health fraud schemes worth $1.3 billion

House defeats bid to block Pentagon funding transgender surgeries

Shock as teens arrested for alleged sex assault that thousands watched on Facebook live

Jeff Sessions Tells ‘Hate Group’ DOJ Will Issue Religious Freedom Guidance

Kim Riddlebarger – Civil Religion, The Chief Rival of Biblical Christianity in America?

After Lifeway Threatens to Pull The Message Eugene Peterson Changes His Mind on Gay Marriage

Walter Martin’s Family Demands Hank Hanegraaf Step Down From CRI

Tim Keller Claims People Cannot Be Reached Without Art

Winnie Banov Has Lost Touch With Sanity

Two Abortion Clinics With History of Health Violations Close in NE Ohio

Christians in Coastal Kenya Concerned After Slaughter of 13 Non-Muslims

 


What is The Gospel?


Who Do You Think That I Am?

Selected Scriptures

Code: A335

With that brief question Jesus Christ confronted His followers with the most important issue they would ever face. He had spent much time with them and made some bold claims about His identity and authority. Now the time had come for them either to believe or deny His teachings.

Who do you say Jesus is? Your response to Him will determine not only your values and lifestyle, but your eternal destiny as well.

Consider what the Bible says about Him:

JESUS IS GOD

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS HOLY

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE SAVIOR

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH

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

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

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

JESUS IS LORD

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

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE JUDGE

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

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

HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?

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

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


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/articles/A335
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When Your Faith Is Shaken

What makes you question your faith? A crisis, chronic condition, daily drudgery, or something else? If you experience a season when your faith is shaken, you’re not alone.

At least three Bible heroes faced a crisis of faith. In each case, Christ intervened and transformed dark moments of questioning, cynicism, and abandonment into reassurance, revelation, and ministry.

Can you identify with any of these cases below? If so, God has an answer for you too.

Case #1: The Seeker

John the Baptist knew Jesus well. He saw the Spirit of God descend at Jesus’ baptism. His entire life was devoted to preaching the good news that the Messiah was coming. He had experienced Jesus’ presence firsthand, and yet he questioned whether Jesus was the Messiah.

Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” (Matthew 11:2-6)

John the Baptist had been preaching the nearness of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 3:2), but once in prison, no kingdom seemed forthcoming. It didn’t make sense; this wasn’t how the story was supposed to end. Had John been mistaken about the Messiah?

In the midst of his confusion, John the Baptist came seeking answers. And in his mercy, Jesus responded to John’s questions with the reassuring message that he was indeed the Messiah.

For the seeker faced with circumstances that make no sense, Christ offers the good news of the gospel. Jesus is who he says he is: The blind see, the lame walk, and the good news is preached. He is ready to answer us when we pray, cast our cares on him (Philippians 4:5-6), and trust him by faith to save us from sin.

Case #2: The Cynic

Thomas was ready to die with Jesus. When he saw that Jesus was determined to go to Judea despite the danger, Thomas rallied the disciples to follow Christ to the death: “So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him’” (John 11:16).

But Thomas’ noble intentions were later crushed by the news that Jesus had died on the cross. Maybe it was the way Jesus died—the death of a criminal—that caused Thomas to give up. Maybe it was witnessing nails piercing Jesus’ hands or the sword thrust into his side that caused Thomas’ courage to be replaced with cynicism. Was it all a hoax?

Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:24-29)

Jesus responded to Thomas’ doubts and pointed to the very evidence that Thomas demanded to see. Thomas recognized the scars, and he saw that Jesus was indeed “Lord” and “God.”

Unexpected circumstances have a way of changing our attitudes. Facing pain, loss, or disappointment can turn faith into fear and courage into cynicism. When we find ourselves insisting, “Unless I see…I will never believe,” we can turn to the Lord in prayer and cry out, “I believe, help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).

Case #3: The Deserter

Peter loved the Lord. Of all the disciples, he was the one with faith enough to step out of a boat and walk on water.

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” (Matthew 14:28-30)

But this same Peter, full of great faith in Christ, abandoned him one dark night.

And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.” And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept. (Mark 14:70-72)

Have you walked with the Lord and then experienced a great failure of faith like Peter? Knowing we’ve messed up can make us hide from Christ and from one another. For me, great failures usually come when I start trusting myself to hold on to Christ and forget that he’s the one who holds on to me. I need a constant reminder that my faith can’t be in my faith; my faith must be in Christ alone. Leaning on him each day is the only way I can avoid another great failure of faith.


My faith can’t be in my faith; my faith must be in Christ alone. 
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Christ showed mercy to Peter. After Peter’s failure, he returned to the fishing life he knew. And although he abandoned Christ, Christ didn’t abandon him. Jesus found Peter at the shore and offered him a second chance to demonstrate his love for Christ.

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:17)

As if to erase the three times Peter denied Christ, Jesus asked Peter three times to affirm his love by accepting the ministry of feeding his sheep.

Which Case Are You?

Are you a seeker, a cynic, or a deserter? If you’re in a situation that has shaken your faith, bring it to Christ. He is never surprised by your questions. He doesn’t leave you in hopelessness or cynicism. And he will never abandon you, even when you fail miserably.

Just as he did for John the Baptist, Thomas, and Peter, Jesus can turn our questions into reassurance, our cynicism into revelation, and our abandonment into ministry. He is indeed faithful and will surely do it (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

[Photo Credit: Lightstock]

RELATED POSTS:

The post When Your Faith Is Shaken appeared first on Unlocking the Bible.

The Five Key Factors in Every Christian’s Sanctification

Growth in Christlikeness is a lifelong, active progression. We are holier on the day we die than we were on the day we came to Christ. We are holier on the day we die than we are on the day before we die. Yet this long progression is peppered with seasonal lulls, drudgery, and complacency. We know we are never as Christlike as we ought to be or even as we want to be. Yet while our lack of holiness ought to motivate greater effort in godliness, we often allow it to contribute to discouragement, laziness and apathy. Sanctification is a tricky business.

How does God go about this work of sanctification? David Powlison helpfully narrows it down to five means or five streams through which God pours out his sanctifying grace. These factors work in tandem, each one contributing to our lifelong gain in godliness.

God Changes You

God changes you. He sovereignly and sometimes invisibly intervenes and interferes in your life to help you grow in holiness. This may be the most obvious means, but your natural atheistic bent paired with your inclination for self-glory threatens to lead you to forget or dismiss its importance. Your sanctification would not be possible without God first intervening to make the gospel beautiful to your darkened heart and mind. You cannot will yourself to see when you have been blind from birth. In the same way, you cannot make yourself alive in Christ when you are dead in sin.

Conversion is only one example of God’s sovereign interference. When you call upon him to be your Lord, you must welcome his permanent and perfect interference throughout the course of your life. You must remember that your sanctification too depends on him, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

Truth Changes You

God chooses to work in harmony with a book, his book. Romans 15:4 shows this interplay between God and God’s Word: “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Yet in verse 13, Paul prays, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” The Scripture gives hope because its author is the God and giver of hope.

The Bible is “perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7). An unconverted mind may glean wisdom from its proverbial truths and even this can result in behavioural changes. But Christians drink from its words because they are indwelled by God’s Spirit and they desire to hear God’s voice. This, too, should result in behavioural changes, and changes of a much better and deeper nature. God’s truth transforms you as you read, ponder, understand, and obey his Word.

Wise People Change You

At a most basic level, you cannot know the gospel unless it comes to you. You came to faith because someone shared the gospel with you: “how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Romans 10:14). Soon after, I hope, you became a part of a church family. It is, after all, in this corporate setting that God dispenses grace through the ordinary means of grace. No man or woman is meant to be an island.

Proverbs 13:20 admonishes us to walk with wise people, for then we become wise. Conversely, the companion of fools becomes foolish. I hope you are acquainted with the sweet blessing of Christian friendship. God calls us to rebuke, to encourage, to confess our sins, to disciple, and to comfort one another in affliction. As we do that, we change each other. Perpetual isolation will keep you from one of God’s great means of sanctification.

Suffering and Struggle Change You

If even Christ “learned obedience through what he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8), how much more are you changed by suffering and struggle? Think about doctrines that became dearer to you in the darkest nights of your soul. Think about the lessons you learned in your toughest trials. Suffering and struggle necessitate God’s grace in your life in a way that ease does not.

Much of your suffering is a result of your inner darkness, and the evil in others. As you wait with expectation for your complete sanctification, your sinful nature keeps you bent towards evil, and this often opens a door to suffering. Other times, it is the result of uncontrollable circumstances, of loss, of physical deterioration, of persecution, or of the harmful effects of someone else’s sin. We live in a decadent world where trouble abounds. But suffering is never without cause, for we know “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3-4). God changes us through every struggle and every moment of suffering.

You Change

Suffering, wise people, truth, and the sovereign work of God must be joined with your willful and constant repentance. You resist sanctification when you are passive and unresponsive to these four factors. You are called to be both a hearer and a doer of the Word. If someone gently rebukes you for sin, you ought to choose to repent and change. In the face of suffering, you have the choice to give in to the temptation to mental doom or to find hope in God. When you believed upon the Lord, “You turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9). But even your repentance is an outworking of God’s power in you.

Rather than resisting, enter into the current of God’s sanctifying work and see the Lord’s power reveal itself in all the ways God, truth, people, and struggle change you as you respond in continual obedience and continual repentance.

These points were drawn from How Does Sanctification Work? by David Powlison.

Source: The Five Key Factors in Every Christian’s Sanctification

Hank Hanegraaff Must Step Down After Converting to Eastern Orthodoxy: CRI Founder’s Family

The following article by Stoyan Zaimov of Christian Post is posted for informational purposes and not as an endorsement of CP.  Zaimov’s story contains an interview with Jill Martin Rische, the spokesperson for most members of Dr. Walter Martin’s family, where she reveals that they’re requesting that Hank Hanegraaff leave his leadership post at Christian Research Institute (CRI.) As of this writing, daughter Cindee Martin Morgan has not called for Hank to step down.  In May, Morgan stated her view of the controversy in a piece titled “Christians Are Jumping to ‘Shameful Conclusions’ About Bible Answer Man’s Conversion to Orthodoxy, Says Daughter of CRI Founder.”

CRN has reported on Hank’s conversion to Eastern Orthodoxy since the news broke in April. You can follow the story here.

Now to Stoyan Zaimov’s piece:

Family members of Dr. Walter Martin, founder of the Christian Research Institute, are calling on current CRI president Hank Hanegraaff to step down due to his conversion from evangelicalism to Eastern Orthodoxy.

A majority of the family members have signed a statement asking the “Bible Answer Man” to leave his leadership post.

Jill Martin Rische, the eldest daughter of Dr. Martin and who leads Walter Martin Ministries alongside her husband, Kevin Rische, told The Christian Post in a phone interview on Thursday that she and many other evangelical Christians were “shocked an surprised” when Hanegraaff was formally received into the Eastern Orthodox Church back in April.

She argued that Hanegraaff has since been teaching a blend of Eastern Orthodoxy and evangelical Christianity on the “Bible Answer Man” show, which she called “fundamentally dishonest.”   View article →

Related:

Christians Are Jumping to ‘Shameful Conclusions’ About Bible Answer Man’s Conversion to Orthodoxy, Says Daughter of CRI Founder

Bible Answer Man Renounces Evangelical Christian Faith

See CRN’s excellent Research Paper on the Roman Catholic Church

Source: Hank Hanegraaff Must Step Down After Converting to Eastern Orthodoxy: CRI Founder’s Family

Group of Religious Leaders, False Teachers Surround and Lay Hands on President Trump

According to Christian News:

Rodney Howard-Browne Facebook photo

A group of religious leaders, including several known for their false teachings, appeared in the oval office on Monday, where they surrounded President Trump and laid hands on him.

Rodney Howard-Browne, known for the “Holy Laughter Movement” and his claim of being a “Holy Ghost bartender,” said that he had been asked by prosperity preacher Paula White, who reportedly serves as a spiritual advisor to the president, to pray over Trump.

“Yesterday I was asked by Pastor Paula White-Cain to pray over our 45th president,” he wrote on Tuesday in sharing several photos of the occasion to Instagram. “[W]hat a humbling moment standing in the Oval Office, laying hands and praying for our president—supernatural wisdom, guidance and protection. Who could ever even imagine. Wow. We are going to see another great spiritual awakening.”

View article →

Source: Group of Religious Leaders, False Teachers Surround and Lay Hands on President Trump

July 14, 2017: Verse of the day

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The Effort Prescribed

Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply (1:5a)

Because of all the “precious and magnificent promises” (v. 4) God has given believers and because they have received “everything pertaining to life and godliness” (v. 3), for this very reason they must respond with maximum effort toward living for Christ. This prescription echoes Paul’s exhortation to the Philippians:

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. (Phil. 2:12–13)

God, through Christ, granted believers a perfect and complete salvation (cf. Eph. 1:7; 3:17–21; Col. 2:10; Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 2:9); yet, paradoxically, He requires that they work it out by applying all diligence (cf. Col. 1:28–29). Applying (pareispherō) means “to bring in,” or “to supply besides” and implies making a strong effort to provide something necessary. In view of and parallel to God’s endeavor in providing salvation, believers are compelled to call on all their regenerate faculties to live godly lives (3:14; cf. Rom. 6:22; Gal. 6:9; Eph. 5:7–9; Heb. 6:10–12). Believers must carry out that effort with all diligence (spoudē, “zeal and eagerness”), accompanied by a sense of urgency (cf. 2 Cor. 8:7).

Saving faith is the ground in which the fruit of Christian sanctification grows (cf. Rom. 15:13; Eph. 2:10; 5:9; Gal. 5:22–23; 2 Thess. 2:13–15; Heb. 6:11–12, 19–20; 1 John 5:13). But that faith battles the flesh and will not produce a firm sense of assurance unless saints pursue sanctification (cf. Phil. 3:12–16). The word rendered supply (epichorēgeō) derives from the term meaning “choirmaster.” In ancient choral groups, the choirmaster was responsible for supplying everything needed for his group, and thus the term for choirmaster came to refer to a supplier. William Barclay provides this additional background:

[That Greek verb] comes from the noun choregōs, which literally means the leader of a chorus. Perhaps the greatest gift that Greece, and especially Athens, gave to the world was the great works of men like Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, which are still among its most cherished possessions. All these plays needed large choruses and were, therefore, very expensive to produce.

In the great days of Athens there were public spirited citizens who voluntarily took on the duty, at their own expense, of collecting, maintaining, training and equipping such choruses. It was at the great religious festivals that these plays were produced. For instance, at the city Dionysia there were produced three tragedies, five comedies and five dithyrambs. Men had to be found to provide the choruses for them all.… The men who undertook these duties out of their own pocket and out of love for their city were called chorēgoi. …

The word has a certain lavishness in it. It never means to equip in any cheeseparing and miserly way; it means lavishly to pour out everything that is necessary for a noble performance. Epichorēgein went out into a larger world and it grew to mean not only to equip a chorus but to be responsible for any kind of equipment. It can mean to equip an army with all the necessary provisions; it can mean to equip the soul with all the necessary virtues for life. (The Letters of James and Peter, rev. ed. [Philadelphia: Westminster, 1976], 298–99)

Believers must supply (“give lavishly or generously”)—alongside all that Christ has provided—all virtues required to maintain the assurance of salvation (cf. Luke 10:20; Rom. 5:11; 14:17).

The Virtues Pursued

moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. (1:5b–7)

The first virtue, moral excellence (aretē), uses the distinctive word in classical Greek for virtue. It was such a lofty term that it was used for moral heroism, viewed as the divinely endowed ability to excel in heroic, courageous deeds. It came to encompass the most outstanding quality in someone’s life, or the proper and excellent fulfillment of a task or duty (cf. Phil. 4:8). Aretē never meant cloistered virtue, but that which is demonstrated in the normal course of living. The apostle Paul modeled the pursuit of such spiritual heroism: “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14; cf. 2 Cor. 5:9; 1 Thess. 4:1, 10).

At the heart of moral excellence is knowledge. Knowledge refers to the divine truth that is the foundation of spiritual discernment and wisdom (Rom. 15:14; 2 Cor. 10:5; Col. 1:9; cf. Prov. 2:5–6; 9:10), the truth properly understood and applied (cf. Col. 1:10; Phile. 6). This virtue is related to illumination (cf. 2 Cor. 4:6), which is having one’s mind accurately enlightened about the truth of Scripture (Col. 3:10; Titus 1:1; 2 Peter 1:3; 3:18) and involves diligent study and meditation on it (John 5:39; Acts 17:11; 2 Tim. 2:15; cf. Deut. 11:18; Job 23:12; Ps. 119:97, 105), so as to acquire “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16).

Flowing from knowledge is a third virtue, self-control (egkrateia), which literally means “holding oneself in” (cf. Gal. 5:23). It was used of athletes who sought self-discipline and self-restraint, even beating their bodies into submission (cf. 1 Cor. 9:27). They would also abstain from rich foods, wine, and sexual activity in order to focus all their strength and attention on their training regimen. False theology (such as that propounded by the heretics of Peter’s day and discussed in chapters 2 and 3) inevitably divorces faith from conduct because it cannot deliver the soul from sin’s harmful effects and forces its followers to battle for self-control on their own and indulge their lusts (cf. 1 Tim. 6:3–5; 2 Tim. 2:14, 16–19; 1 John 4:1–6; Jude 16–19).

A fourth essential virtue to pursue is perseverance, which connotes patience and endurance in doing what is right (Luke 8:15; Rom. 2:7; 8:25; 15:4–5; 2 Cor. 12:12; 1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 3:10; Titus 2:2; Rev. 2:19)—resisting temptations and enduring in the midst of trials and difficulties.

Perseverance (hupomonē) is a difficult term to express with one English word. Uncommon in classical Greek, the New Testament uses the word frequently to refer to remaining strong in unwelcome toil and hardship (cf. Rom. 5:3–4; 12:12; 2 Cor. 1:6; 2 Thess. 1:4; James 1:12; 1 Peter 2:20; Rev. 2:2–3), the kind that can make life extremely difficult, painful, grievous, and shocking—even to the point of death (cf. Rev. 1:9; 3:10; 13:10; 14:12). Barclay again offers helpful insight:

[Hupomonē] is usually translated patience, but patience is too passive a word. Cicero defines patientia, its Latin equivalent, as: “The voluntary and daily suffering of hard and difficult things, for the sake of honour and usefulness.” Didymus of Alexandria writes on the temper of Job: “It is not that the righteous man must be without feeling, although he must patiently bear the things which afflict him; but it is true virtue when a man deeply feels the things he toils against, but nevertheless despises sorrows for the sake of God.”

Hupomonē does not simply accept and endure; there is always a forward look in it. It is said of Jesus … that for the joy that was set before him, he endured the Cross, despising the shame (Hebrews 12:2). That is hupomonē, Christian steadfastness. It is the courageous acceptance of everything that life can do to us and the transmuting of even the worst event into another step on the upward way. (Letters of James and Peter, 303)

At the heart of spiritual pursuit is a fifth virtue, godliness, from a term (eusebeia) meaning reverence for God (1:3; 3:11; 1 Tim. 2:2; 6:6; cf. 1 Cor. 10:31). It could also be translated “true religion,” or “true worship” and conveys the idea that one who has it properly honors and adores God (1 Tim. 3:16; Titus 1:1; cf. John 4:24; Phil. 3:3). In Greek thought eusebeia encompassed all the rituals related to worship and loyalty given to the pagan gods—respect toward all that is divine. The early Christians sanctified the Greek definitions of the word and directed them at the one true God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul instructed Timothy that such reverence toward God is the highest priority because of its eternal value. “Godliness,” Paul wrote, “is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Tim. 4:8; cf. Acts 2:25–28).

Flowing out of the vertical reverence for God in every area of life is the horizontal virtue of brotherly kindness. The companion of affection for God is affection for others (cf. Rom. 13:8–10; Gal. 5:14; 1 Thess. 1:3; Heb. 6:10; James 2:8). Peter undoubtedly recalled what Jesus had told the religious leaders:

One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matt. 22:35–40; cf. 1 John 4:20–21)

The saints’ pursuit of devotion to one another flows from the highest virtue of all—love. For believers, love for others (especially fellow believers) has always been inseparable from love for God (John 13:34; 15:12; 1 Thess. 4:9; 1 John 3:23; 4:7, 21). This is the familiar agapē, the sacrificial, selfless love of the will (Matt. 5:43–44; 19:19; Mark 10:21; Luke 6:35; John 14:21, 23; 15:12–13; Rom. 12:9; 1 Cor. 8:1; 16:14; 2 Cor. 8:8; Gal. 5:13–14; Eph. 1:15; Phil. 1:9; 2:2; Col. 1:4; 1 Thess. 3:6; Heb. 10:24; 1 John 2:5; 4:7–12). (For further discussion of the biblical concept of love, see chapter 7 of John MacArthur, 1 Peter, MacArthur New Testament Commentary [Chicago: Moody, 2004].)[1]


5 The supply of virtue, couched in an ethical catalog, is presented to the reader of 2 Peter in language that is evocative and adds much color to our reading of the text, even though the richness of the picture is lost in its translation. The verb translated “add” is epichorēgeō (GK 2220), a strengthened form of chorēgeō (“to add, supply, supplement,” GK 5961). Originally, chorēgeō possessed the sense of “to lead a chorus”; in time it came to denote “defraying the expenses of something” (BDAG, 1087; cf. Josephus, J.W. 1.625). Typically, Greek theater proceeded on the generosity of a wealthy local benefactor, the chorēgos, who saw to it that actors, musicians, and dancers were paid. The relative extravagance attached to these productions is conveyed by the verb chorēgeō. The readers are not merely to “add” or “supply”; they are to contribute extravagantly to their own moral development, and this based on extravagant resources already provided by God, the wealthy Benefactor.

In contrast to the pistis (“faith,” GK 4411) that normally conveys trust or loyalty in common (secular) parlance, in 2 Peter it is subjective trust placed in the gospel, a faith produced en dikaiosynē tou theou hēmōn kai sōtēros Iēsou Christou (“through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ”). This faith, in the Petrine scheme of things, results in virtue (NIV, “goodness”; aretē, GK 746), i.e., moral excellence. In its earlier, classical usage, aretē denotes excellence or renown. Over time it was applied to the sphere of ethics, to which it became more or less restricted. Commonly employed in Stoic ethical lists, virtue is the quality of life, and not surprisingly the centerpiece of classic pagan morality. It is moral goodness toward which all humanity strives. For the Christian, virtue is tangible evidence of the reality of saving faith.

Moral excellence, in turn, supplies knowledge (gnōsis, GK 1194). Knowledge frequently begins or concludes pagan ethical lists. Its placement in the catalog following virtue reflects the Stoic belief, confirmed in Christian thought, that there is an organic and indivisible link between the two qualities (to the Stoic, all vice is rooted in ignorance). Where Christian and Stoic views differ is that the former strips knowledge of its technical nuance so that it is not a goal in and of itself (1 Co 8:1–4); hence, it is proper to speak of a chastened knowledge. In contrast with speculative philosophy, by which gnōsis underpins the acquisition of all virtues, in the Petrine progression it is an extension and not the sole basis for one’s faith and virtue. Hereby, with some qualification, the intellectual element of belief is affirmed. A knowledge that is perceptive and desirous to know wisdom and truth can never harm the true seeker. For the Christian, knowledge perceives the proper and indivisible relationship between faith and virtue.

6 By the logic of virtue, knowledge motivates and moves the individual toward self-control (enkrateia, GK 1602). A quality highly prized (and thus “cardinal”) among Greek moral philosophers, enkrateia knows an organic connection to gnōsis that is not incidental; both elements go together just as their opposites, ignorance (agnoia, GK 53) and lust (NIV, “evil desires”; epithymia, GK 2123), find an irrepressible linkage, both in pagan ethics and the NT (1 Pe 1:14; cf. TDNT 1:339–42). As a pagan virtue, knowledge is equated with mastery over one’s lusts and appetites. True knowledge, therefore, leads not to license but to self-mastery. Herein an expressly Christian faith distinguishes itself: A system of belief divorcing content from ethics and severing belief from practice demonstrates itself as wrong teaching, and hence inauthentic. True knowledge, by contrast, will tend toward self-restraint, not libertinism. This is especially important for the fledgling Christian community dispersed throughout Hellenistic culture.

Self-control, in turn, supplies perseverance or endurance. Self-mastery and discipline have the effect of producing the ability to endure, literally to be patient under the weight of adversity. In its classical usage, hypomonē (GK 5705) denotes brave resistance, in this way bringing honor (Plato, Theaet. 117b; cf. TDNT 4:581–88). Thus endurance, rightly understood, is active rather than passive. It is the mark of maturity (Jas 1:3–4), since superficial faith will not endure. Moreover, it has two sides: it expresses itself toward the world and toward God. Far from being the exercise of mere willpower, by which the Stoic deadened his sensibilities, endurance for the Christian issues out of a deep awareness of and confidence in God’s sovereignty (so Paul, “Love always perseveres” [1 Co 13:7]; also, Calvin, 363). In this way a Christian understanding of endurance distinguishes itself from its pagan counterpart insofar as it is not fatalistic or cynical. Because of this deep-rooted awareness, it can hold out, persisting in adverse circumstances (cf. 2 Pe 3:9, 15).

The connection between self-control, endurance, and godliness or piety (eusebeia, GK 2354)—the next link in the Petrine catena—is transparent and logical in the Christian ethical progression. Given the common occurrence of eusebeia in pagan ethical lists, it is best to interpret the term in its broadest sense. Godliness entails both vertical and horizontal duties. It is simultaneously reverence toward deity and a sense of duty toward people. In late Hellenism it expresses reverence in this general sense and occurs in both religious and nonreligious contexts—e.g., in the sense of reverence toward the gods, toward family, and toward tradition and the social order (cf. TDNT 7:175–85; also Starr, 42). Not insignificantly, all the occurrences of eusebeia in the NT are confined to the Pastoral Epistles (ten times) and 2 Peter (1:3, 6–7; 3:11). Eusebeia comes to expression most completely in the Christian community.

7 In the Petrine progression, piety leads in the direction of philadelphia (GK 5789), mutual or brotherly affection. That is, godliness expresses itself in our relationships with others—particularly with those of the Christian community. Behind the term philadelphia stands the Greek ideal of friendship, suggesting duties that attend our filial and familial relationships. For the household of faith, however, it acquires a special meaning, though it can be taken for granted. It constantly needs to be refined by the work of the Spirit (e.g., Ro 12:9–10; Eph 4:1–3; Php 4:2, 5; Col 3:12–15; 1 Th 4:9; Heb 13:1; 1 Pe 1:22; 1 Jn 5:1).

The catalog achieves its climax in agapē (GK 27), which distinguishes the Christian ethos and without which it would be incomplete. Thus it is fitting to speak of agapē (“love”) as the “crown” of moral development (so Green, 80; Bauckham, 187), i.e., in Christian terms, the ultimate expression of Christian belief (1 Co 13:3) and the fruit of genuine faith (Gal 5:6; Jas 2:14–26). Christian morality is distinctly the morality of charity, whereby one demonstrates gratitude through actions for the experience of divine grace. Inasmuch as agapē is the fount and the goal of Christian virtue, therein lies the difference between the Christian and pagan ethos.

While vice and virtue lists in the NT are not of the same compositional variety, one peculiar feature absent from pagan catalogs is the occasional movement toward crescendo or decrescendo. Second Peter 1:5–7 features an ethical progression that builds toward a climax in agapē. The virtues do not stand in random or unrelated juxtaposition. Together they represent the fruit of the life of faith, whereby each facilitates the next, though all comprise an organic unity. Mayor, 93, aptly summarizes the progression and interconnectedness of the virtues: “Faith is the gift of God already received; to this must be added (1) moral strength which enables a man to do what he knows to be right; (2) spiritual discernment; (3) self-control by which a man resists temptation; (4) endurance by which he bears up under persecution or adversity; (5) right … behavior toward God [godliness]; (6) toward the brethren [brotherly kindness]; [and (7)] toward all [love].”[2]


1:5–7. These verses describe in more specific terms what participating in the divine nature should look like. Such participation exhorts us to make every effort to change our lives. Verses 3–4 lay out the incredible gift of God in allowing his power, his Spirit to be a part of the believer’s life as a divine helper in the process of transformation. Verses 5–7 show that each believer also has a role to play in this transformation. A resolve, a desire, a commitment to growth and transformation must be part of the individual believer’s life if the Holy Spirit is to be effective.

The characteristics in verses 5–7 describe in overview the nature or essence of godly living introduced in verse 3. We see here that the letter is addressed to believers who are asked to add to [their] faith. The beginning point of transformation is salvation that Peter assumes his readers have experienced. The characteristics of godliness can be attained only by saved people:

Goodness speaks of moral excellence.

Knowledge concentrates on practical knowledge or knowledge that is lived out. This kind of knowledge makes a distinction between what is true and what is not true. It is able to discern what is right versus what is wrong and what is encouraging versus what is hurtful.

Self-control describes the inner strength to control one’s desires and cravings. The believer, through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, is not to be a prisoner to any sinful desire or craving.

Perseverance in its most literal rendering means “to walk under the load.” This refers to the courage to deal with the difficult times in life, perhaps a veiled reference to the dominant theme of suffering in 1 Peter.

Godliness is the virtue heralded in verse 3, and it means “reverence and obedience.”

Brotherly kindness translates one Greek word, philadelphia, a common word used to describe relationships of love with a family. According to Green, brotherly kindness involves “bearing one another’s burdens, and so fulfilling the law of Christ; it means guarding that Spirit given unity from destruction by gossip, prejudice, narrowness and the refusal to accept a brother Christian who is what he is in Christ” (Green, 79).

Love (agape) is a deliberate desire for the highest good of the person loved. It demonstrates itself in sacrificial action for that person’s good.

These last two characteristics, “brotherly kindness and love,” are supremely the characteristics of Jesus Christ. His mission in life was to sacrifice himself for humanity’s good. The transforming process of God’s Holy Spirit is to take each individual believer toward this direction—becoming Christlike (cf. Rom. 8:28–29).

It is most difficult to model reverence toward God and continued obedience when your life is under siege from people or circumstances. Yet, with the enabling of the Spirit and the personal resolve to pursue such a course, this becomes another mark of transformation in the growing believer’s life, a life continually reflecting “brotherly kindness and love.”[3]


Virtues

1:5–7

  1. Faith, Goodness, and Knowledge

1:5

The apostle specifies how a Christian ought to live virtuously by claiming God’s promises and avoiding the corruption of the world. He lists the qualities the Christian must have to lead a spiritually productive and effective life. He exhorts the believer to possess a number of virtues; faith heads the list.

  1. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge.

Peter reiterates the idea of the preceding verses in the words for this very reason. He has alluded to God’s work in saving us; now he stresses our work in the process of salvation. In a sense, he says the same thing Paul wrote in one of his epistles: “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you” (Phil. 2:12–13). God has given us his promises and, true to his word, fulfills them. Now God expects us to do our part. Therefore, Peter writes,

“Make every effort to add.” The Greek for this particular phrase is interesting indeed. Peter uses the noun effort, then the verb to apply, and last the verb to add. Peter writes the noun first to give it emphasis. The noun itself means “diligence” and even conveys the idea of haste. That is, when God calls a person, he wants him to put forth every possible effort to obey this divine call and to do so without delay. The verb to apply signifies that we must bring our diligence into God’s presence and place it next to what God does for us. Even though the initiative in salvation comes from God, he works out our sanctification by putting us to work.

The verb to add is meaningful in the Greek. The word comes from the Greek world of stage and drama. The director of a play not only coached the cast. Together with the state, he also paid the expenses the members incurred for giving a performance on stage. In other words, the choirmaster added his financial contribution to the amount the state supplied. This verb to add, then, signifies that the believer contributes lavishly to the work of his salvation.

Peter presents a list of eight virtues, of which faith is the first and love the last (compare Gal. 5:6, 22). These are the first three virtues:

Faith

Faith is the personal reliance of the believer (see also v. 1). It is his subjective trust in his Lord and Savior and therefore is the basis of his spiritual life. Faith is the root of all the other virtues Peter mentions. Peter exhorts the readers of his letter to add the seven following virtues to faith. “These other virtues are unattainable until the step of faith has been taken.” Moreover, because of our trust in Jesus, our faith has its source in him (e.g., see Mark 9:24).

Goodness

Of the seven virtues that are directly related to faith, Peter mentions goodness first. It relates to one of God’s characteristics (see v. 3). Because it is a divine attribute, we ought to reflect this virtue in our lives. Our daily conduct should be a demonstration of moral excellence. Faith and excellence support one another.

Knowledge

The next virtue that flows from faith is knowledge. The Greek word implies that we use our minds, have correct insight in all circumstances, and know the moral quality of the people we meet. We put our knowledge to work by using common sense in everything we say, do, and think. Furthermore, knowledge and faith go hand in hand, for faith is strengthened through knowledge and the increase of knowledge is rooted in trust.

  1. Self-control, Perseverance, and Godliness

1:6

  1. And to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness.

The next three qualities that contribute to the believer’s sanctification are:

Self-control

In the Hellenistic world of Peter’s day, this word pertained to sports. As Paul puts it, “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training” (1 Cor. 9:25; the italicized words convey the concept self-control). The athletes in preparation for the games “abstained from unwholesome food, wine, and sexual indulgence.” A Christian must exercise self-discipline in all circumstances and should do so by placing his trust in God. The apostles, however, refrain from issuing a detailed command on self-control that covers every situation. They mention self-control as a virtue the believer must practice (1 Cor. 7:9; Gal. 5:23; Titus 1:8). Martin Luther aptly remarks, “People are not alike. One is strong, another is weak by nature, and no one is always as fit in every respect as the other person is.” A Christian ought to maintain his self-control in complete reliance on God.

Perseverance

A momentary lack of self-discipline leads to failure and a loss of self-respect. Therefore, Peter adds the New Testament concept perseverance. This word means “to remain under” a particular conflict. Perseverance is defined as “the characteristic of a man who is unswerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings.” The word appears repeatedly in the New Testament (see, e.g., Rom. 5:3–4; 1 Tim. 6:11; Heb. 12:2; James 1:3; 1 Peter 2:20; Rev. 2:19). Perseverance is related to faith as daughter to mother. It originates in faith, for the believer knows that God is in complete control of every situation. Accordingly, Zacharius Ursinus explained the combination of perseverance and trust in these words:

We can be patient when things go against us,

thankful when things go well,

and for the future we can have

good confidence in our faithful God and Father.

Godliness

Peter tells us to add godliness to perseverance. This is the second time he introduces the expression godliness (see v. 3). He also mentions it in the context of Christ’s return (3:11, where it is translated “godly lives”). As Noah and Lot, whom Peter calls “righteous” (2:5, 7), lived among ungodly people, so the Christian today pursues godliness in a sinful world. A Christian practices godliness when he is fully conscious of God’s presence in every circumstance, so that his life is guided by the motto of the Genevan Reformer John Calvin: Coram Deo (in the presence of God).

  1. Brotherly Kindness and Love

1:7

  1. And to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.

The last two virtues are significant, because both of them express love. Notice that when we show brotherly affection and love, we fulfill the summary of the Ten Commandments:

“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” [Matt. 22:37–39]

Transliterated from the Greek, the term brotherly kindness is philadelphia (see Rom. 12:10). The term implies that we express our love to the brothers and sisters in the church and that we “love one another deeply, from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22).

Peter writes, “[Add] to brotherly kindness, love.” He seems redundant in his emphasis on love. But Peter does not want us to restrict our love to the members of the church. He knows the teaching of Jesus, “Love your enemies” (Matt. 5:44). Love is a debt we owe our fellow man (Rom. 13:8) without exception. In other words, whereas we can limit the application of brotherly kindness to the Christian community, we are unable to restrict the practice of love. “God is love,” writes John. “Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16). Love, which Peter mentions as the last characteristic in the series of eight virtues, is the fruit of faith in God.[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2005). 2 Peter and Jude (pp. 39–42). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] Charles, D. J. (2006). 2 Peter. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, pp. 387–389). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Walls, D., & Anders, M. (1999). I & II Peter, I, II & III John, Jude (Vol. 11, pp. 110–111). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[4] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Epistles of Peter and the Epistle of Jude (Vol. 16, pp. 250–253). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.