Monthly Archives: August 2017

August 31, 2017: Verse of the day


The Presence of the Truth

“These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” (14:25–26)

Throughout His ministry, Jesus had been the source of truth for the disciples (cf. v. 6). “These things (the Father’s word; v. 24),” He reminded them, “I have spoken to you while abiding with you.” But just as He would not leave them without a source of comfort, so also He would not leave the disciples without a source of truth. He would send the Holy Spirit, the “Spirit of truth” (v. 17), to guide and teach them. Apart from His revelation, there is no way to know spiritual truth. Since “the world through its wisdom did not come to know God” (1 Cor. 1:21), fallen mankind is “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7). It is only when people are “saved [that they] come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4).

Even the disciples, before Pentecost, found it difficult to understand all that Jesus taught them. According to John 2:22, it was not until after the resurrection that they understood His teaching in verse 19. Nor did they grasp the full significance of the triumphal entry until after Jesus had been glorified (John 12:16). Because of their obtuseness, Jesus told them, “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now” (16:12). They needed instruction, so Jesus promised them, The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name (cf. Acts 2:33) He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you (cf. 16:13). The phrase, in My name, means “on My behalf,” as it also does in verse 13. Just as Jesus came in the Father’s name (5:43), so also will the Spirit come in Jesus’ name. As another Comforter like Jesus, the Spirit will always act in perfect harmony with Christ’s desires, purposes, and will. “He will glorify Me,” Jesus would later tell the disciples, “for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you” (16:14). In the divine plan, the Spirit’s ministry is to testify about Christ (15:26), not draw attention to Himself (cf. 16:13).

The Spirit is the believer’s resident truth teacher (1 John 2:20, 27); by illuminating God’s Word to their understanding, He thus grants Christians the knowledge of God that leads them to spiritual maturity.

But Christ’s promise that the Spirit would bring to their remembrance all that He had said to them was primarily a promise to the apostles of divine inspiration. The Holy Spirit’s supernatural guidance granted them an inerrant understanding of Jesus Christ’s person and teaching. The apostles (and their close associates) recorded that divinely inspired truth in the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament.

Peter described the process of inspiration in 2 Peter 1:20–21: “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.” The apostle Paul declared, “All Scripture is inspired by God” (lit., “God-breathed,” 2 Tim. 3:13). The Holy Spirit inspired the very words of Scripture, not merely the thoughts of the writers (1 Cor. 2:13). The Bible is therefore inerrant and authoritative, and thus the only infallible rule of faith and practice. It alone contains “the sacred writings which are able to give [one] the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15). For the redeemed, the Bible is “the sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17) and is “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 Tim. 3:16–17).

Armed with the truth and accompanied by the presence of God, the disciples and their contemporaries would soon be those who “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6 kjv). But in this moment of distress, just hours before the cross, the situation looked desperately hopeless. Aware of the disciples’ distress, Jesus pointed them to the ultimate and only sure source of hope—the triune God. In the same way that the promise of God’s presence heartened them two millennia ago, it should still bring confidence and courage to believers today, since it provides comfort both now (2 Cor. 1:3–4; cf. Pss. 23:4; 86:17; Matt. 5:4; Acts 9:31), and forever (Isa. 25:8; 2 Thess. 2:16; Rev. 7:17; 21:4).[1]

The Holy Spirit as Teacher

John 14:25–26

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

John 14:26 is the shortest of those sections of the final discourses dealing with the Holy Spirit, yet it is probably true that it gives us the fullest definition. The Holy Spirit is described as the “Counselor.” We have already seen what this means in our discussion of verses 16–18. He is described as being “holy”—the Holy Spirit. Finally, he is described as being a “teacher.” Here are three definitions: the Counselor, Holy One, and Teacher. Yet when the verse is looked at closely, it is undoubtedly the last of these, the fact that the Holy Spirit is a teacher, that is emphasized. The role of the Holy Spirit as Counselor is emphasized in the earlier verses. The matter of holiness is emphasized in 16:7–11. But here (as also at 15:26–27 and 16:12–15) the special ministry of the Spirit as teacher is brought forward.

When the Lord says that the Holy Spirit is to “teach you all things,” the reference is primarily to the apostles. These were those whom Jesus had chosen to be authoritative spokesmen for the truth he had revealed. They were to remember it and then record it in the pages of what has become the New Testament. Moreover, this teaching was to become normative for the church. This same idea is clear in that verse in which the Lord says, “When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all [the] truth.” Jesus did not mean that all that could possibly be known would be revealed to them. All things that can possibly be known are known only to God. But he did mean that the Holy Spirit would reveal to them the full truth of the gospel centered in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. And this he did. This was a unique ministry of the Holy Spirit to the apostles.

At the same time, however, there is a secondary sense in which these words apply to Christians who are living today. The Holy Spirit teaches us as well, and the Holy Spirit is the One who brings these things to our remembrance.

Need for Teaching

We need to look at the disciples first, however. Clearly, here were men who needed to be taught. They had been with the Lord Jesus Christ for three years. One might think that they would have understood the essence of his ministry and the gospel. He had spoken to them about these things. But the truth is that, although he had spoken to them about this, nevertheless they had not understood him. It is significant that verse 25 says, “All this I have spoken while still with you.” He had spoken to them, but that is not quite the same thing as saying that he had taught them. Obviously he had tried to teach the disciples, and had taught them many other things, but they had not yet really learned the great truths of the gospel. Actually, they were confused men who needed the Holy Spirit’s teaching.

They also had a particular problem with learning in this instance, for the Lord had announced his departure to them, and this had so seized upon their minds that they were not really hearing what he was saying. He had spoken about another Counselor, but they were not interested enough in the other Counselor even to learn about him. All they could grasp was that Jesus was to be taken from them.

So the Lord tells the disciples, “You need teaching; you really do. You have heard a lot, but you do not understand it. You need to be taught. I am going. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit is coming, and one of his roles (a very important role) is to teach you.”

The second interesting thing about the teaching of the Holy Spirit is that God himself earnestly wanted to teach the disciples. We see this in the fact that the entire Trinity is mentioned in this verse: “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you.” In other words, the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ is sending the Holy Spirit to teach the disciples, so much is he interested in having them come to the knowledge of the truth concerning Jesus.

I suppose that if we had been the Lord Jesus Christ, we might have said at this point, “Oh, these dull, dull disciples!” We could even have boasted about the quality of our instruction. We could have said, “It is impossible to imagine a better teacher than they have just had. Furthermore, they have gone through an entire seminary course in three years and have combined formal teaching with on-the-field experience. They have had the advantage of a first-class example. So if they still do not get it, I will flunk them.” We might have said that. But this is not the attitude of God. The God who recognizes, on the one hand, that the disciples needed teaching, is the same God who, on the other hand, sends the Holy Spirit in order that they might be taught.

If we ask at that point, “Were they taught?” the answer is yes; of course they were. The proof of it is our Bible. Furthermore, once the Holy Spirit had come, they began to get it quickly, because on the day of Pentecost, Peter, who on an earlier occasion had said when the Lord announced his crucifixion, “Far be it, Lord, that such a thing should happen to you,” who did not understand Jesus at all, this same Peter stood up and announced with great understanding that what had occurred in Jerusalem six weeks before had been by the foreordination of God. In other words, the crucifixion of Christ had fallen out in accordance with God’s perfect plan and was the heart of redemption. Then Peter preached Christ to the very men who had crucified him, and the Holy Spirit blessed the message so that many came to faith on that occasion. The disciples did learn through the Holy Spirit. Moreover, the Holy Spirit guided them to write these things in the books that became our New Testament.

These books record what the Lord Jesus Christ said and did, explain it, and draw conclusions. In this sense the critics are right when they say that these books are not pure biography, that is, objective historical biography. They are biography with an interpretation attached. But the interpretation, as well as the biography, is that which the Holy Spirit gave.

Our Teacher Too

All this applies primarily to the disciples, but it also comes down to us in a much closer way. For we need to be taught also, and the Holy Spirit, who taught the disciples, is our teacher as well.

Paul writes about it to the Corinthians. He talks first of the fact that in ourselves we are unable to understand spiritual truth, even when it is recorded in the pages of Scripture. But he tells us in addition that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, who inspired the Bible, speaks from its pages to bring us understanding. “As it is written, ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’—but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we many understand what God has freely given us. This is why we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spritiual truths in spiritual words” (1 Cor. 2:9–13).

Here the ministry of the Holy Spirit as teacher is explained. It was exercised, in the first instance, when God revealed truth to the apostles and they recorded it in what would later become canonized as the pages of the New Testament. It is then exercised, in the second instance, when this same Holy Spirit teaches us from the truths that they have recorded.


The first part of John 14:26 speaks of the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit, but there is a second part that speaks of remembrance. “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you.” Why, if they were taught all things, does anything need to be brought back to mind? As we begin to reflect on this word, we see that a ministry of the Holy Spirit in helping us remember is necessary because of what we are like and because of the inability of our minds to retain important teachings. It is possible to be well taught, even brilliantly taught, and still forget; or, in the disciples’ case, to be taught the meaning of Christ’s ministry but forget that upon which it is based.

The Lord’s emphasis on remembering teaches us two separate truths. First, it teaches us that the wisdom of God is not a new thing. It is that which God has revealed in the past and that is the same because he is the same. We have a tendency, especially in America and in our age, always to be inventing theology. Churchmen speak about “process theology” today. It means “evolving” theology. But this is not the outlook of the Scriptures. Some of our contemporaries seem always to be searching the Bible in the light of newspapers and popular books in order to come up with something that no one has ever heard before. When they do and when they write a book about it, they get a hearing. This is the nature of The Passover Plot, The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross, and some other popular religious books. People buy them and say, “We never heard that before! Therefore, it must be true!” But it is not true, nor is it a product of the Holy Spirit’s ministry. The Holy Spirit does not give us new doctrines. Rather, he brings old truths to our remembrance.

So what we preach is not new doctrine but the old doctrine once and for all delivered to the saints. It is the doctrine of man’s total inability to help himself spiritually, God’s grace in Jesus Christ, the ministry of the Holy Spirit who takes these truths and brings them home to our hearts and minds so that we understand them, and God’s unfailing perseverance with his people. We preach that God does not abandon us, that God who has begun to save us in such a marvelous way, giving us a new spirit and creating a new soul, will persevere to the end, at which time he will give us a new body and make us like the Lord Jesus Christ forevermore. These are not new doctrines. They are old doctrines. They are the doctrines that the Holy Spirit brings to our remembrance.

The second truth the word “remind” teaches is that we tend to forget these doctrines, even though we have heard them many times. The history of the church is the history of great blessing through the Holy Spirit, a time of reformation and revival, followed by a gradual forgetting of the message. This happens again and again; so one of the jobs of the minister is to remind the congregation of the old truths. One of the jobs of Christian people is to remind each other of them, and one of the jobs of the Christian church is to remind the world of these old doctrines, even though the world may reject them.

He Shall Testify of Me

This verse also says something else, and we do not want to miss that either. It says that the object of the teaching is Christ. This is true in this text: “He will remind you of everything I have said to you.” It is also true in the verses about the Holy Spirit in John 15 and 16: “When the Counselor comes, whom I well send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning” (15:26–27). “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you” (16:12–14).

We have a danger, even as evangelical people, of making the Scriptures an end in themselves. We study the Bible as we would a textbook. We memorize the data. But we are always in danger of forgetting that the purpose of the Scriptures is not to exist as an end in themselves, though they will endure forever—“heaven and earth will pass away, but my word will not pass away”—but to reveal Christ to the seeking heart and mind.

God’s Power

There is a final point that belongs with what we have been saying. The Holy Spirit is also the One who enables us to teach these truths to others. Teaching spiritual truths cannot be done in the power of the flesh. Paul writes about it in 1 Corinthians in the verses that come just before the ones cited earlier. “When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. … My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power” (2:1–2, 4).

Three things are necessary if God’s truth is to be properly communicated. First, there must be the revelation of the truth to the apostles by the Holy Spirit. This has been done. Second, there must be the teaching of the Holy Spirit to our hearts, so that, as we read their words, we come face-to-face with the Lord Jesus Christ about whom they wrote. Third, there must be the continuing work of the Holy Spirit to take our testimony concerning this Word and carry it home to the hearts of those who have not yet heard or understood it. Three stages!

But there can be error in each. There are some who do not begin with the Scriptures. They consider the Bible to contain the words of men rather than the very words that the Holy Ghost taught to the apostles. Having thrown out the base, they have nothing on which to stand, and their theology becomes mere speculation. There are others who accept the Bible as the Word of God but who do not allow the Holy Spirit to teach them. They study the Bible in an academic way. Although they may have a high doctrine of Scripture, they do not strive to see the Lord Jesus Christ in its pages. Then there are those who accept the Bible as the Word of God and who do meet with Jesus Christ, but they testify in their own power in a way that brings glory to themselves, and few are won.

We do a farmer’s work. First, we prepare the soil. Then we take a seed and plant it. We water it, and we wait for it to grow. But we do not give life to the seed. The seed already has life in it. Moreover, we can scratch a furrow and put the seed in it, but the ground must have the nutrients that God has placed there. And even then the work of God is not finished, for the seed will not grow unless the sun shines upon it. The Holy Spirit must be the sun in our witnessing. We must be faithful in scratching the furrows, watering, even pulling out weeds. But we must look to God to give life.[2]

26 The instruction of the disciples, however, will not cease. The Father will send the Holy Spirit to remind them of all that Jesus has said and help them understand the full meaning of his teaching. Apart from this teaching role of the Spirit, there never could have been a reliable gospel or, for that matter, a NT at all. As Peter put it, “Men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pe 1:21).

The Counselor who is to be sent by the Father is the Holy Spirit. (Only here in John is the title in Greek given in its fullest form: to pneuma to hagion, GK 4460, 51). For the early Christians the title would emphasize the holiness of the Spirit rather than his might and power. In his vision of the exalted Lord, Isaiah saw the seraphs as they circled the throne and called out, “Holy, holy, holy [hagios, LXX] is the Lord Almighty” (Isa 6:3). As God is holy so also is his Spirit. Jesus says that the Holy Spirit will be sent by the Father “in [his] name,” i.e., his task will be in accord with the character of Jesus.

If we take the last two clauses of v. 26 as synonymous parallelism (so Brown, 651), the teaching work of the Spirit will be to “remind” the disciples of all that Jesus taught. It will not consist of new revelations. The Spirit will take the words of Jesus and make them known (cf. 16:13–15). He will help the disciples grasp the full meaning of what Jesus was teaching while he was with them in person. It is one thing to understand a statement as being true; it is something quite different to grasp the full meaning and significance of that truth. The Holy Spirit’s teaching ministry belongs in the latter category.

Calvin, 2:88, calls the Spirit “the inward Teacher (interior magister)” and points out that God has two ways of teaching: first, the words that fall on our ears, and second, the inward action of the Spirit. It is still the case that biblical truth may be heard and understood without its more profound meaning laying hold of the mind and heart of the listener. Theology as an academic discipline is not the same as truth about God understood from the heart. Obviously, the “all things” taught by the Spirit does not include matters irrelevant to God’s purpose in sending Jesus to be our Savior.[3]

A revealing teacher who conveys the truth (vv. 25–26)

While most of the promises given to the disciples at this meal are applicable for all followers of Jesus Christ at all times, this particular promise was specific to the disciples who were there in that upper room. You can imagine their concerns—how are we going to remember everything he said to us? How can we tell others what he said? Jesus comforted them by telling them that one of the jobs of the Holy Spirit would be to remind them precisely and accurately of everything he had said. That accounts for the remarkable accuracy and consistency of the New Testament record. It was supernatural that various men could naturally and personally record the life and teaching of Jesus and at the same time be entirely consistent with one another.[4]

14:26 / Will remind you of everything I have said to you: Such language was used especially of warnings about trouble and persecution (cf. 13:18; 16:4; and perhaps 14:29), but memory also played an important part in the interpretation of Jesus’ deeds (cf. 2:17, 22; 12:16). The writer of this Gospel probably saw himself as one to whom the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, had given special insight and perspective, after the fact, on the words and deeds of Jesus as he wrote them down.[5]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2008). John 12–21 (pp. 119–120). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] Boice, J. M. (2005). The Gospel of John: an expositional commentary (pp. 1147–1152). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Mounce, R. H. (2007). John. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, pp. 568–569). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] Paterson, A. (2010). Opening Up John’s Gospel (p. 125). Leominster: Day One Publications.

[5] Michaels, J. R. (2011). John (p. 269). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

August 30, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)



President Donald Trump’s plan to boost the economy with millions of jobs rebuilding roads, bridges and ports has a snag, the construction industry says: There aren’t nearly enough skilled workers to fill them.

China’s foreign minister said Wednesday he hopes India can “learn lessons” from a recently resolved border standoff and avoid such occurrences in the future, as the leaders of the two Asian giants prepare to meet next week for a summit in southeastern China.

Aviation regulators imposed a prohibition on hobbyist drones and other civilian aircraft flying in the area affected by Tropical Storm Harvey after concerns were raised about potential interference of rescue efforts.

A Washington state paper maker is asking the U.S. government to impose duties on Canadian imports of uncoated groundwood paper, used in everything from newsprint to book publishing. North Pacific Paper Co., or Norpac, alleges Canadian imports are subsidized and are increasingly taking market share from domestic producers

The University of Tampa has fired a visiting assistant professor who suggested in a tweet that Hurricane Harvey’s destruction is “instant karma” for Texas because it voted Republican.

U.S. second-quarter growth was revised upward to the fastest pace in two years on stronger household spending and a bigger gain in business investment, putting the economy on a stronger track. Gross domestic product rose at a 3% annualized rate from prior quarter (est. 2.7%); revised from initial estimate of 2.6%.

Southwest Airlines Co. quietly took delivery of its first Boeing Co. 737 Max jetliner, canceling an employee celebration in Dallas to mark the milestone because of the devastation in Houston caused by Hurricane Harvey.

AP Top Stories The Trump administration has not decided whether it will accept aid from Mexico to help victims of the hurricane that has devastated swaths of Texas and overwhelmed emergency responders.

Rogue alligators have been cropping up in backyards and driveways around Texas due to the rising flood waters brought by Hurricane Harvey. But a greater gator problem may soon face the city of Beaumont if water levels continue to rise. A popular alligator theme park says that flood waters are dangerously close to exceeding the height of fences that are keeping hundreds of the reptiles inside their enclosures.

A multi-racial coalition of faith, student and community activists began a planned march on Monday from Charlottesville, Virginia, to the nation’s capital in response to what they called President Donald Trump’s failure to confront the white supremacy on display at a violent rally in the Virginia city earlier this month.

A vital dam in suburban Houston that protects the central city began overspilling on Tuesday, and officials said the rainfall from Harvey is so unprecedented they do not know what the impact on surrounding communities will be.

The U.S.-led coalition said Wednesday it is monitoring a convoy of IS militants that evacuated the Lebanon border headed toward eastern Syria under a controversial agreement brokered by Hezbollah and may strike at them.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi says his country will “fully and completely” abide by U.N. Security Council sanctions resolutions on North Korea. Wang told reporters Wednesday China would work with other members of the council on how best to react to North Korea’s launch of a ballistic missile over Japan on Tuesday. He says, “We will make a necessary response.”

North Korea’s firing of a ballistic missile over Japan could increase pressure on Washington to consider shooting down future test launches, although there is no guarantee of success and U.S. officials are wary of a dangerous escalation with Pyongyang.

A suicide bombing in a busy commercial area in Kabul near a string of banks and not far from the U.S. Embassy killed at least five people on Tuesday, Afghan officials said. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

A fast-moving wildfire destroyed several homes and forced the evacuation of residents in Northern California on Tuesday, local media and fire officials said. The fire burned 1,000 acres in Butte County.

More than 100 members of Muslim Youth USA, and 40 members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association, passed out food, water, and other supplies in Houston, according to organizers.


US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said that transgender people already in the military will continue to be allowed to serve pending a study on President Donald Trump’s proposed ban.

At least 60 children, including 31 infants, have died in the last three days at a hospital in northern India. It is the same hospital where more than 100 children died earlier in August amid allegations that the oxygen supply had been cut over unpaid bills. Officials said the latest deaths were due to diseases and not because of a shortage of oxygen.

Iraqi forces are facing fierce resistance in a small town where Islamic State militants who fled the city of Tal Afar have taken refuge.


A statue of celebrated explorer Christopher Columbus was found beheaded in a Yonkers park.

Longtime televangelist Jim Bakker has created a furor by predicting a “civil war” in the United States if President Trump were to be impeached. Some Democrats are pursuing that goal, even though impeachment and conviction likely would require the party retaking the House and the Senate.

The Briefing 08-30-17

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Top News – 8/30/2017

Time for Trump to Follow Footsteps of Cyrus the Great
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Guterres in Ramallah: We’ll do everything to realize two-state solution
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, on his first visit to the Palestinian territories since taking office in January, embraced a two-state solution on Tuesday… “I want to express very strongly the total commitment of the United Nations [and] my personal total commitment to do everything for a two-state solution to materialize,” Guterres told a joint press conference in Ramallah, alongside Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.

North Korea: ‘Japan missile was first step in Pacific operation’
North Korea says its firing of a missile over Japan was “the first step” of military operations in the Pacific, signalling plans for more launches. State media also repeated threats to the US Pacific island of Guam, which it called “an advanced base of invasion”. The missile launched on Tuesday crossed Japan’s northern Hokkaido island, triggering public alerts to take cover, before landing in the sea.

India floods: Toddlers killed in Mumbai rains
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Houston floods: Night curfew bid to stop robbery and looting
The US city of Houston is under a night-time curfew as it battles the impact of Hurricane Harvey. The storm has dumped record rainfall, leaving large parts of the Texas city underwater, homes destroyed and more than 20 people reported dead. Houston mayor Sylvester Turner said the curfew was needed to head off looting.

US tests ‘most dangerous nuclear weapon ever produced’ amid North Korea row
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Tropical Storm Harvey made landfall again on Wednesday near the Texas-Louisiana border, adding more rain after a record downpour that has caused catastrophic flooding and paralyzed the city of Houston. The storm that first came ashore on Friday as the most powerful hurricane to hit Texas in more than 50 years has killed at least 17 people and forced tens of thousands to leave their deluged homes.

Why Google Made The NSA
“The origins trace back to a secret Pentagon-sponsored group, that for the last two decades has functioned as a bridge between the US government and elites…The results have been catastrophic: NSA mass surveillance, a permanent state of global war, and a new initiative to transform the US military into Skynet.”

Hurricane Harvey Likely To Destroy More Cars Than Katrina: “This Is Bad; Real Bad”
Hurricane Harvey’s historic flooding in Texas is set to wreak havoc on the auto industry and its insurers with analysts now predicting the storm could damage more vehicles than Hurricane Katrina.

Calfornia closer to allowing third gender on state IDs
California could become the U.S. state with the most fluid definition of gender on its official state IDs if a bill making its way through the legislature becomes law. The California Senate has already passed SB179, which would introduce a third gender option for state identification. Currently, driver’s licenses and other forms of official identification only contain options for male or female. The bill would allow a third option, which would likely be ‘X,’ according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

DNC Forced In Court To Admit that they Purposely Rigged the 2016 Primary Elect
Bernie Sanders supporters worst nightmare came true when the DNC had to admit in a court of law that they did rig the election and were shocked to find out they felt they had the right!

ACORN Sues California To Allow More Illegals To Vote
An ACORN offshoot and other left-wing pressure groups are suing California in federal court because the state hasn’t made it easy enough for Democrats to flood voter rolls with illegal aliens and foreign nationals who aren’t legally eligible to vote. Throughout the years Mickey Mouse, Mary Poppins, and celebrities living and dead were registered to vote because now-defunct ACORN and its allied groups were allowed to pollute the voter rolls.

Joel Osteen’s Houston Megachurch To House Displaced When ‘Shelters Reach Capacity’
After receiving heavy criticism for keeping its doors closed while thousands remained without shelter, Pastor Joel Osteen’s Houston megachurch will open its doors on Tuesday to residents who have been displaced by the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey.

Mid-Day Snapshot

Aug. 30, 2017

Ivy League Profs to Students: ‘Think for Yourself’

An open letter from 15 professors encourages students to refrain from “the vice of conformism.”

The Foundation

“For I agree with you that there is a natural aristocracy among men.” —Thomas Jefferson (1813)

ZeroHedge Frontrunning: August 30

  • Harvey Forces Thousands to Seek Shelter (Read More)
  • Damage From Harvey Rising by the Hour Amid ‘Apocalyptic’ Flooding (Read More)
  • Houston’s Economic Heft Gives City Means to Recover From Harvey (Read More)
  • Why Trump Didn’t Tweet About Latest North Korea Missile Launch (Read More)
  • Stocks Rebound as Korean Fears Abate; Gold Steady: Markets Wrap (Read More)
  • Value of Trump’s brand up in Middle East, his Gulf partner says (Read More)
  • From Stocks to Bonds, the Bear-Market Signals Are Multiplying (Read More)
  • Trump hits road to tout tax reform as helping workers (Read More)
  • Trump Pitches Business Tax Cut to Middle Class (Read More)
  • Trump’s Tax Pitch Will Be Populist, But Bill May Benefit Elites (Read More)
  • Message from North Korean missile over Japan ‘loud and clear’: Trump (Read More)
  • Businesses Struggle With Flawed Insurance as Floods Multiply (Read More)
  • White House downplays Charlottesville comments from Tillerson, Cohn (Read More)
  • 21st Century Fox Pulls Plug on Fox News in the U.K. (Read More)
  • This Freshman GOP Senator Could Defy Wall Street (Read More)
  • White House Won’t Require Firms to Report Pay by Gender, Race (Read More)
  • Dollar Rebound Threatens Euro’s Jackson Hole Breakout Level (Read More)
  • Abbott Releases New Software Updates for Pacemakers (Read More)
  • Apple App Store to Let Chinese Customers Pay Using WeChat Pay (Read More)

Featured Blogs

Top Headlines – 8/30/2017

UN Secretary-General Guterres reaffirms ‘total commitment’ to two-state solution – There is no plan B

Obama’s Israel Ambassador: The Two-State Solution Remains the Best Option, But We Need to Plan in Case It Fails

Palestinian Authority: US asked for 3-4 months to prepare its peace plan

French president plans Mideast trip to push peace process next spring

PM Netanyahu Tells UN’s Guterres to Stop Illegal UN Construction in Jerusalem

UN Chief Wrangles With Netanyahu Over Demolishing Settlements

Abbas spokesman says Netanyahu’s comments ‘hinder peace efforts’

White House unfazed by Netanyahu pledge not to evacuate settlements

Arab League chief condemns PM’s pledge to not evacuate settlements

Palestinians, NGOs file objection that could delay new settlement

Liberman slams illegal outposts as ‘sabotaging settlement movement’

‘The vision – one million residents in Judea and Samaria’

After Inciting Over Temple Mount, Erdogan Says Rising Tensions No Good for Israel, Palestinians

Jewish MKs make first Temple Mount visit since 2015

Jordan blasts MKs for visiting Temple Mount

UN chief said to meet families of Palestinian terrorists in Ramallah

Why Palestinian Payments to Convicted Militants Are Likely to Continue, No Matter What Congress Does

At Yad Vashem, UN Chief Vows to Fight Antisemitism ‘in All Its Expressions’

Hungarian monument to Jewish Holocaust victims smashed

Netanyahu ally denies Putin rejected request to shackle Iran

Iran dismisses US ‘dream’ of military site inspections

Head of Military Intelligence: Hezbollah is tightening grip on Lebanon

“Gates of Hell”: Iraqi army says fighting near Tal Afar worse than Mosul

Europe begins to appreciate the reality of Islamic terrorism

Kim Jong Un called missile launch ‘meaningful prelude’ to containing Guam, North Korea says

Trump: ‘All options on the table’ after North Korea missile launch

North Korean leader urges more missile launches targeting Pacific

North Korea’s antique airplane could be its most dangerous weapon yet

Dollar rebounds, Asia stocks gain as North Korea missile test fears recede

Gold Spike: When bad news is good news

Russia seeks to reassure over war games, denies invasion plans

Russia Says War Games Are ‘Purely Defensive’

How America Helped Make Vladimir Putin Dictator for Life

FBI shuts down request for files on Hillary Clinton by citing lack of public interest

A really big asteroid is about to pass Earth

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits near Namuac, Philippines

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Bristol Island, South Sandwich Islands

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 25,000ft

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 19,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 18,000ft

Poas volcano in Costa Rica erupts to 11,000ft

Harvey may be one of the costliest storms in U.S. history

“Unprecedented” Hurricane Harvey Is “One Of The Worst Disasters In US History”

Texas flood disaster: Harvey has unloaded 9 trillion gallons of water

As Harvey breaks rainfall record, Houston imposes a curfew and death toll climbs to 18

Catastrophic levee failure may occur in Texas amid Harvey’s relentless rain

Houston says bridges, roads starting to fail under stress of flooding

Crippled Houston watches dams, levees; forecast offers hope

‘We never thought this area would flood’: Neighbors race to evacuate as Houston reservoirs spill over

Pentagon says up to 30,000 National Guard troops prepared to assist in response to Harvey

Reporter slammed on social media for alerting the police to ‘looters’

Texas deploys entire National Guard ahead of Harvey’s third US landfall

Epic Floods – Not Just In Texas – Are A Challenge For Aid Groups

Chris Christie: Harvey aid should ‘not be held political hostage like Sandy aid’

Most of Houston Jewish community hard-hit by Harvey flooding

Bennett urges Israelis to help Jews in flood-hit Houston

Hurricane Harvey Likely To Destroy More Cars Than Katrina: “This Is Bad; Real Bad”

Harvey’s Effects on Fuel Network Hit U.S. Motorists as Gas Prices Rise

Harvey blamed on climate change despite drought from hurricane strikes

Ann Coulter: “I don’t believe Hurricane Harvey is God’s punishment for Houston electing a lesbian mayor. But that is more credible than ‘climate change.'”

Storm that almost became Irma soaks NYC; Harvey remnants arrive by Sunday

Six die in rains lashing India’s business hub, more downpours forecast

Italy drought: Rome forced to cut water pressure at night

Chile leader sends gay marriage bill to congress

Israel reverses opposition to same-sex couples adopting children

Australian Psychologists Push Teaching Gay Marriage Support, Gender Transition for Young Kids

People are outraged over this new Australian anti-marriage equality ad

Canada Minister Hussen announces major step forward in gender equality by making changes to passports and immigration documents

Mattis freezes transgender policy; allows troops to continue serving, pending study

Anthony Wade – The Banal, Platitudinal Storm Known as Hurricane Osteen

Joel McDurmon – Franklin Graham, school prayer, and godless socialism

False Teacher Christian Harfouche – An Apostles Empire

Joel Osteen’s words versus Hurricane Harvey’s winds…

A Lesson From Korea About Gospel Power

University of Tampa professor fired for saying Texans deserve hurricane for voting Trump

Small Churches That Evangelize, Share the Gospel With Non-Believers Retain Most Converts: LifeWay

Jordanian Believers Providing Safe Haven for Refugees

Mike Ratliff – Scripture Twisting

Joel Osteen’s Houston Megachurch Blasted For Closing As Thousands Are Displaced

Former 700 Club producer: “I knew where the line was. But that didn’t stop us.”

Destiny Church co-leader Hannah Tamaki has once again splashed out on a new Mercedes-Benz – this time it’s a 577-horsepower twin-turbo V8 beast

Paramilitary Christian Sect Quietly Operated in New Mexico

The Vatican Still Upholds Over 100 Curses Against Those Who Fight Against Their False Teachings

Widow of Late Kentucky Pastor Found Murdered in Church’s Fellowship Hall

Egypt Closes Church Over Muslim Extremist Opposition, Blocks Worship at Another

“My church practices the ‘Sinner’s Prayer’”

Jen Hatmaker’s Revision of the Truth

Taizé Worship – Growing in Popularity, But Roots Are in Mystical Monasticism

Ex Members of Military Style Christian Sect Recall Beatings, Abuse

‘Churches’ Nationwide Host Viewing Parties for Mayweather v. McGregor Fight

California Could Start Jailing People Who Don’t Use Transgender Pronouns

US Pastor Andrew Brunson Faces New Charges of Attempting to Overthrow Turkish Gov’t

Iranian refugees turn to Christianity in the Netherlands


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?

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CultureWatch: The Nashville Statement

Every so often a short, succinct and vigorously reasonable and readable public statement is needed to deal with some of the vital issues of the day. There have been a number of these of late. Here in Australia some of us put out the Canberra Declaration seven years ago to deal with the crucial issues of marriage and family, the sanctity of life, and religious freedom

Others important documents would include the Manhattan Declaration of 2009. These international statements help to clarify, reassert and reaffirm basic truths; offer a standard around which we can rally; and point a way forward as things grow darker and foggier in the surrounding culture.

A brand new declaration has just been released in the US, and it is well worth being aware of, signing and sharing. Put out by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, it reaffirms the biblical and biological case for two sexes, for God’s intentions for human sexuality, and for the purposes of marriage.

A number of America’s leading evangelicals have helped to put this together and promote it, and the timing could not be better, given the many fierce battles now raging on such matters. The 14-point document deals with the biblical understanding of sex and sexuality.

John Piper called it “a Christian manifesto concerning issues of human sexuality.” With all the confusion about sexuality – even in Christian circles – especially with the homosexual and transgender war on God’s design and purposes, such a statement is vitally needed.

Some of the initial signatories have included:

R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Tony Perkins, President, Family Research Council
D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
John MacArthur, Pastor, Grace Community Church; President, The Master’s Seminary & College
John Piper, Founder & Teacher, Desiring God; Chancellor, Bethlehem College & Seminary
James Dobson, Founder, Focus on the Family
Russell Moore, President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
J. I. Packer, Professor of Theology, Regent College
Wayne Grudem, Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies, Phoenix Seminary
Sam Allberry, Speaker & Apologist, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries
R. C. Sproul, Founder & Chairman, Ligonier Ministries
Francis Chan, Author & Pastor, We Are Church
Marvin Olasky, Editor in Chief, World Magazine
Ligon Duncan, Chancellor & CEO, Reformed Theological Seminary
Christopher Yuan, Speaker & Author, Moody Bible Institute

But enough from me. Let me here offer the 14 points. Also worth reading (see the link below) is the preamble to the statement, along with other documents. Here then is the Nashville Statement:

WE AFFIRM that God has designed marriage to be a covenantal, sexual, procreative, lifelong union of one man and one woman, as husband and wife, and is meant to signify the covenant love between Christ and his bride the church.
WE DENY that God has designed marriage to be a homosexual, polygamous, or polyamorous relationship. We also deny that marriage is a mere human contract rather than a covenant made before God.

WE AFFIRM that God’s revealed will for all people is chastity outside of marriage and fidelity within marriage.
WE DENY that any affections, desires, or commitments ever justify sexual intercourse before or outside marriage; nor do they justify any form of sexual immorality.

WE AFFIRM that God created Adam and Eve, the first human beings, in his own image, equal before God as persons, and distinct as male and female.
WE DENY that the divinely ordained differences between male and female render them unequal in dignity or worth.

WE AFFIRM that divinely ordained differences between male and female reflect God’s original creation design and are meant for human good and human flourishing.
WE DENY that such differences are a result of the Fall or are a tragedy to be overcome.

WE AFFIRM that the differences between male and female reproductive structures are integral to God’s design for self-conception as male or female.
WE DENY that physical anomalies or psychological conditions nullify the God-appointed link between biological sex and self-conception as male or female.

WE AFFIRM that those born with a physical disorder of sex development are created in the image of God and have dignity and worth equal to all other image-bearers. They are acknowledged by our Lord Jesus in his words about “eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb.” With all others they are welcome as faithful followers of Jesus Christ and should embrace their biological sex insofar as it may be known.
WE DENY that ambiguities related to a person’s biological sex render one incapable of living a fruitful life in joyful obedience to Christ.

WE AFFIRM that self-conception as male or female should be defined by God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption as revealed in Scripture.
WE DENY that adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception is consistent with God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption.

WE AFFIRM that people who experience sexual attraction for the same sex may live a rich and fruitful life pleasing to God through faith in Jesus Christ, as they, like all Christians, walk in purity of life.
WE DENY that sexual attraction for the same sex is part of the natural goodness of God’s original creation, or that it puts a person outside the hope of the gospel.

WE AFFIRM that sin distorts sexual desires by directing them away from the marriage covenant and toward sexual immorality — a distortion that includes both heterosexual and homosexual immorality.
WE DENY that an enduring pattern of desire for sexual immorality justifies sexually immoral behavior.

WE AFFIRM that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness.
WE DENY that the approval of homosexual immorality or transgenderism is a matter of moral indifference about which otherwise faithful Christians should agree to disagree.

WE AFFIRM our duty to speak the truth in love at all times, including when we speak to or about one another as male or female.
WE DENY any obligation to speak in such ways that dishonor God’s design of his image-bearers as male and female.

WE AFFIRM that the grace of God in Christ gives both merciful pardon and transforming power, and that this pardon and power enable a follower of Jesus to put to death sinful desires and to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.
WE DENY that the grace of God in Christ is insufficient to forgive all sexual sins and to give power for holiness to every believer who feels drawn into sexual sin.

WE AFFIRM that the grace of God in Christ enables sinners to forsake transgender self-conceptions and by divine forbearance to accept the God-ordained link between one’s biological sex and one’s self-conception as male or female.
WE DENY that the grace of God in Christ sanctions self-conceptions that are at odds with God’s revealed will.

WE AFFIRM that Christ Jesus has come into the world to save sinners and that through Christ’s death and resurrection, forgiveness of sins and eternal life are available to every person who repents of sin and trusts in Christ alone as Savior, Lord, and supreme treasure.
WE DENY that the Lord’s arm is too short to save or that any sinner is beyond his reach.

Overall this is a terrific restatement of some of the core biblical teachings on these issues, and it is well worth sharing far and wide. While it is of course not perfect, and other things might have been added, it is a very good start indeed. Many thanks to all those responsible for putting it together.

Source: The Nashville Statement

Joel Osteen’s words versus Hurricane Harvey’s winds…

Could Joel Osteen have prevented Hurricane Harvey?

Sadly Osteen is a heretic (a person who promotes anti-Christian teaching under the guise of a Christian minister). Although the backdrop of his Lakewood church is of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), he has pioneered shaping his movement independent of the NAR to that of a Word of Faith (WOF) and Health and Wealth (HAW) cult. The dominionist aspect of NAR teaching is still there in his false doctrine (“I am the head and I am not the tail”), but it is clearly trumped by his positive confession and unhealthy focus on wealth.

“Friend, if you’ll do your part and speak words of victory, God will pour out His favor in exciting, fresh ways in your life, and you will live the abundant life He has in store for you.”

If Joel sincerely believes these false teachings – where was he using…

View original post 1,085 more words

CultureWatch: There is No “Conservative” Case for Homosexual Marriage

Every now and then you will happen upon an article or talk made by someone claiming to be a conservative that seeks to argue that homosexual marriage is somehow a conservative value. Let me cut to the quick: no, it is not a conservative value, and the person trying to make that case is very likely not a real conservative.

They may well be a libertarian, but that is a far cry from a true conservative. But I have elsewhere sought to explain those major differences. See this piece for example:

While it may come as a surprise to some, conservatives actually seek to conserve and preserve; they do not want to destroy and distort. Thus they will do all they can to maintain and protect our most vital social institutions, including marriage and family.

Recently in the Australian newspaper we had yet another lame attempt to say that homosexual marriage is somehow something conservatives can rally around. In this case it was no less than the Liberal Party federal president Nick Greiner seeking to make the “conservative” case for homosexual marriage.

Sorry, but there is so such thing. All true conservatives know how important marriage is, and the only ones on the right seeking to argue for its redefinition, and thus its destruction, are radical libertarians. But libertarians on the right are often little different from anarchists on the left. In my books, a pox on both their houses.

Before offering some careful dissection of his rather shallow article, let me share a few words from Andrew Bolt about the ongoing implosion of the Liberal party:

Being made Liberal president has gone to Nick Greiner’s head. He’s again lecturing elected MPs on policy and making clear the party is ruled by the Left. . . . It is inappropriate, to say the least, for the president of the Liberals to lead a campaign by one group on Liberal MPs in conflict with another. He is supposed to be a figure of unity, not division. But Greiner seems determined to wage war on his party’s conservatives, demonstrating that maybe they should go to One Nation or the Australian Conservatives if they’re no longer wanted by the Liberals.

But back to his very shallow and unhelpful article. Greiner’s very first sentence could not be more wrong – no wonder his entire article is less than helpful. He claims, “Marriage is an institution that celebrates stability and commitment.” Um, no. If that was all that marriage is about, then a long-standing group of ardent bank-robbers should be the first in line to demand marriage rights.

He then quotes one writer who claims ‘significant relationships’ must be officially recognised by marriage. Wrong again. There are all sorts of significant relationships out there which the state has no compelling interest in, whether to recognise or legalise as a form of marriage. For example, two elderly sisters who live together, care for each other dearly, and enjoy a significant relationship are not in need of marriage rights.

This is true of all sorts of relationships. They may be significant, emotionally close, and even long-term, but they deserve no special government recognition. Societies have instead chosen to give special recognition to only one type of relationship: heterosexual marriage.

That is because genuine marriage has the natural ability to bring about the next generation. Therefore societies have taken a keen interest in it. Heterosexual marriage is good for children and good for society, which is why society has long given it preferential treatment if you will.

Even an atheist like philosopher Bertrand Russell saw this uniqueness: “It is through children alone that sexual relations become of importance to society, and worthy to be taken cognizance of by a legal institution”. And marriage most certainly is all about children.

As American political scientist James Q. Wilson succinctly put it: “Marriage is a socially arranged solution for the problem of getting people to stay together and care for children that the mere desire for children, and the sex that makes children possible, does not solve.”

Natural marriage has always been a conservative value, and one despised by the left. No wonder the Spanish philosopher George Santayana once quipped that “the chief aim of liberalism seems to be to liberate men from their marriage vows.” Conservativism affirms and promotes marriage both as an institution and as a tremendous good for male-female couples. Liberalism does not.

Since Greiner rather disingenuously seeks to harness Edmund Burke for his case, let me quote him again. Burke argued that “religion is the basis of civil society,” and that includes “all our laws and institutions.” He certainly had the institution of heterosexual marriage in mind here, never faux marriage such as homosexual marriage.

Greiner goes on to make the quite reckless claim that nothing changes when homosexual marriage is legalised, and everyone’s religious freedoms will be just fine. Nice theory, but reality is against you. Wherever homosexual marriage has become law, there have been massive changes, including the heavy hand of the law brought to bear on all recalitrants.

For example, those who simply state on their private social media page that they believe marriage should be between a man and a woman can be – and are – at risk. In my book Dangerous Relations that I wrote on this a few years ago, I offered nearly 200 actual cases of those who had lost their jobs, were fined, or were even imprisoned for daring to go against the homosexual marriage narrative in countries where it had been legalised.

Be it the cake maker, the marriage celebrant, the florist, the priest, the pastor, the reception centre owner, the photographer, or anyone even remotely connected to the marriage industry, they have all faced the wrath of the activists once marriage was redefined.

And given all the harassment, bigotry, and bullying those opposed to homosexual marriage in Australia are already experiencing on a regular basis – and I too have often been on the receiving end of all this – just imagine how much worse it will become once our laws are so radically changed.

And it will not just be those of a religious persuasion who will experience the negative impact of all this. Anyone who dares to differ will potentially be subject to various forms of persecution, ostracisation and bigotry.

Greiner closes his piece by pretending that the radical redefinition, and thus end of marriage, is no big deal: “Together let’s celebrate the many achievements of this government and focus on the real challenges and opportunities our nation faces. Rather than tying ourselves in knots over whether same-sex couples can get married, let them tie the knot and we can move forward together.”

Um, it is the other side that is all in a lather about this. All that we true conservatives are doing is trying to conserve and preserve the most important social institution ever devised. We are not the ones all worked up – it is the activists on the other side and the clueless wonders who pretend they are conservatives that are.

Folks like Greiner try to make the case for homosexual marriage by somehow dragging a genuine conservative principle of small government into the debate. But this simply backfires on these fake conservatives. Whenever the state seeks to radically alter the institution of marriage, big government becomes bigger, and liberty is contracted even further.

One simply has to look at those places that already have legalised homosexual marriage. The state grows, freedom shrinks, and homosexual fascism is allowed to run its full course. More and more people are persecuted, jailed, fined and dismissed from their jobs when this happens – just how is that a conservative value?

As the American philosopher and free market advocate Jay Richards has rightly said about all this:

To claim seriously that government is and ought to be limited, you have to answer this question: What limits the state? The longstanding conservative answer: the rights and responsibilities of individuals and the institutions outside the state’s jurisdiction. And the institution that limits the state more than any other is the family, precisely because it pre-exists the state. The family is initiated by the marriage of a man and a woman. Ideally, human beings will be born, fed, raised and educated in a family, which will in turn be supported by the other institutions of civil society around it — neighborhoods, churches, voluntary associations and so forth, institutions the state should recognize and respect.
A limited government doesn’t try to redefine reality; it recognizes those pre-political realities outside its jurisdiction. The totalitarian, and Orwellian, governments of the twentieth century understood this perfectly well, and set about doing exactly the opposite. Lenin and other Marxists knew that to realize their vision, they had to destroy not just the idea of private property, but also religion and “this present form of marriage.”
What could possibly be less conservative than to decide, politically and legally, that marriage and family are mere social constructions that we’re free to change the moment the Supreme Court or a state legislature decides to do so? If a state can redefine marriage, then what can’t, what won’t, it redefine?

True conservatism, as mentioned, is about conserving, about valuing what works, about hanging on to what is vitally important. Sure, some small, incremental changes are necessary within that overall framework. But redefining marriage out of existence is no small change.

In his important 1953 volume The Conservative Mind, Russell Kirk, the father of modern American conservatism, listed six basic principles that characterise conservatism. His sixth point was that “change may not be salutary reform: hasty innovation may be a devouring conflagration, rather than a torch of progress.”

One can think of no more incendiary change than the radical redefinition of marriage, and all the social upheaval that naturally follows from it.

Source: There is No “Conservative” Case for Homosexual Marriage

Joel Osteen: False Teacher Finally Exposed

Absolute Truth from the Word of God

Through the years I have written about false teachers and the “itching ear” crowd. Well, this past week in the midst of the devastation of Texas and its people by Hurricane Harvey, one of these so-called teachers showed the world his true colors.

He will answer for this.

Joel Osteen has never been a true pastor of the Gospel. He is a motivational speaker and the people who happily sit under his “Your best life now” speeches are deceived. But they really only have themselves to blame. 

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables”  (2 Timothy 4: 3-4).

If you are among those in Osteen’s congregation, and you are angry…

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Barna Update | How Teens Spend Their After-School Hours

Smartphones are changing the way an entire generation spends their time—and it’s dramatically altering their behavior. As part of the back-to-school series, this article explores how young people spend their time after school, illustrating the impact of technology on their lives

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August 30, 2017: Verse of the day


But thanks be to God, who always leads us (2:14a)

Recognizing the Lord’s sovereign leading is foundational to a pastor’s (or any believer’s) joy, and it is the undergirding strength of his ministry. Paul’s confident hope was that God … always leads believers, through every circumstance of life. No matter what trials or persecutions he endured in Corinth, Ephesus, or anywhere else he ministered, Paul rejoiced that God was in control.

The apostle never lost his sense of wonder at the privilege of belonging to the ranks of the sovereign Lord, of marching behind the Commander in Chief in His Triumph. To Timothy he wrote,

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. (1 Tim. 1:12–16)

Contemplating the marvelous privilege of being led by God instead of fretting over his circumstances contributed to turning Paul’s discouragement into joy.

paul was thankful for the privilege of promised victory in christ

in triumph in Christ, (2:14b)

In keeping with the imagery of the Roman Triumph, Paul proclaimed that God leads believers in triumph in Christ. They follow the all-conquering Commander in the victory parade, sharing in the triumph of His decisive victory over sin, death, and hell. In Matthew 16:18 Jesus spoke of His ultimate victory over Satan and the forces of hell: “I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” His followers share in His victory, as Paul declared in Romans 16:20: “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” The writer of Hebrews also spoke of that victory: “Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, so that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14). In 1 John 3:8 the apostle John wrote, “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.” Christ won that victory on the cross: “When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him” (Col. 2:15). As Paul wrote to the Romans, “In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37). Believers are not only coconquerors with Christ, but also “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17; cf. Gal. 3:29; Eph. 3:6; Titus 3:7; James 2:5). They follow behind their Commander in the Triumph, bringing the spoils of war—the souls of men and women “rescued … from the domain of darkness, and transferred … to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col. 1:13; cf. Rom. 8:18–25, 28–30).

Though they may suffer setbacks and discouragement, believers’ ultimate triumph is certain. They will march victoriously in the Lord Jesus Christ’s Triumph on that glorious day when the heavenly choir cries out, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever” (Rev. 11:15). Believers will forever reign with Him (2 Tim. 2:12; 1 Peter 1:3–5).

paul was thankful for the privilege of having influence for christ

and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. (2:14c)

The sweet aroma of the Triumph arose from the incense-filled censers carried by the priests in the parade and from the garlands of flowers that were thrown into the streets. The fragrance speaks of influence; Paul’s point is that God, in wonderful condescending grace and mercy, manifests through believers the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Christ in every place. He uses human preachers to give off the sweet aroma of the gospel, to influence people with the saving knowledge of Christ. To the Romans Paul wrote, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things’!” (Rom. 10:14–15).

It is not that believers deserve such a high privilege of being influences for the eternal gospel. Paul was keenly aware of his unworthiness for such service to God. In 1 Corinthians 15:9 he wrote, “For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” To the Ephesians he added, “I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:7–8). As previously noted, he expressed to Timothy his wonder that Christ chose him, a persecutor of the church, to preach the gospel:

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. (1 Tim. 1:12–16)

No preacher should take lightly his inestimable privilege of proclaiming the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Whether or not preachers are successful, achieve popularity, or fulfill their ambitions is immaterial. The satisfaction of having an eternal influence for Jesus Christ should be sufficient. The issue is not results, but privilege. The disheartened preacher is disheartened because he focuses on circumstances; the joyful preacher is joyful because he focuses on the eternal worth of his service to God. The disheartened preacher considers his difficulties; the joyful preacher considers his privilege.[1]

14 Paul likens the irresistible advance of the gospel, in spite of temporary frustration, to a Roman triumphus (“triumph”) in which the victorious general, along with his proud soldiers, used to “lead in triumphal procession” (thriambeuō, GK 2581; see Notes) the wretched prisoners of war, who were thus exposed to public ridicule. Paul sees himself and his fellow apostles not as exultant soldiers who share in their general’s victory pageant but as willing, joyful captives who count it a privilege to be part of God’s “triumph” and as vocal witnesses to the General’s victorious strength. Paul’s implied prior “defeat” will be his Damascus encounter when he surrendered to God or Christ (Php 3:12). In this context, “in Christ” will mean “through our union with Christ” or “in the cause of Christ,” though it may possibly mean “in Christ’s triumphal procession” (NEB, REB). The only other NT use of the verb thriambeuō is in Colossians 2:15, where the despoiled powers and authorities are seen as unwilling, sullen captives driven before the triumphal chariot of God, silent witnesses to the General’s power and majesty.

In the reference to the diffusion of “fragrance,” Paul may simply be developing the imagery, for perfumes were sometimes sprinkled or incense burned along the processional route. Through the apostles God was spreading far and wide the fragrant knowledge of Christ (Php 3:8, 10).[2]

2:14 / Paul’s defense commences with a thanksgiving to God for his apostolic ministry as revelatory mediator. We note here again Paul’s use of the so-called apostolic/literary plural (us) with reference to himself, since Paul’s apostleship is the main issue in this section. This verse is so pivotal to Paul’s argument and yet so difficult to interpret that we will need to give it special attention.

The main problem is the interpretation of thriambeuein, which is correctly translated leads in triumphal procession. For some interpreters, this usage of the term conjures up an image of the apostle that seems quite unlikely, coming as it does as part of a thanksgiving at the very beginning of his defense for the legitimacy for his apostolic ministry. Further, Paul would thus seem to be portraying himself as a complete disgrace, a prisoner of war who is led by the conquering general (God!) in a triumphal procession that culminates in the apostle’s death. Many scholars have sought to avoid this interpretation either by proposing an idiosyncratic usage of thriambeuein (e.g., “make known” [G. Dautzenberg]) or by assuming the use of a rhetorical strategy whereby the meaning of verse 14 is ultimately positive. More recently, however, the trend has been to recognize the unequivocal usage of thriambeuein, with its negative implications for Paul, and then to correlate the passage with Paul’s apostolic self-conception as expressed elsewhere, particularly in his admissions of personal weakness and suffering in the Corinthian correspondence (cf. 1 Cor. 4:9; 2 Cor. 4:10–11).

Whereas most interpretations of 2 Corinthians 2:14 consider the metaphor of triumphal procession only with respect to Paul, no interpretation so far has examined the metaphor with respect to God as the acting subject. In order to grasp this we will first recall a basic motif of the Roman triumphal procession, with its focus on the triumphant general and his chariot. Then we will investigate how Paul uses this imagery metaphorically in our text.

The Roman triumphal procession was originally led by the victorious general appearing symbolically as the living image of Jupiter. By the time of the empire, however, the procession was celebrated to honor the gods in thanksgiving for the victory. The Roman magistrates, the Senate, people carrying booty from the campaign, the priests leading the bulls for sacrifice, and enemy captives (who were executed at the end of the ceremony) entered the city, followed by the victorious general on a chariot leading his army. Normally, the chariot was a quadriga, that is, a two-wheeled chariot drawn by four horses harnessed abreast, although four elephants were sometimes used instead (cf. Plutarch, Pompeius, 14.4; Pliny, Natural History 8.4). Since Roman imperial coins frequently included images of the emperor in a triumphal chariot, the concept of triumphal procession was familiar throughout the Roman Empire. What do these findings imply for our text? If, by using thriambeuein, Paul portrays himself as being led by God in a Roman triumphal procession, then the image is one of God riding in a quadriga.

The metaphor in 2 Corinthians 2:14, as with all metaphors, presents us with two thoughts of different things—tenor and vehicle—active together and supported by a single word or phrase, whose meaning is a result of their interaction (“two ideas for one”). The “tenor” is the underlying subject of the metaphor, and the “vehicle” is the means by which the tenor is presented. In our passage, the vehicle is the idea of a Roman triumphal procession in which a conquering general rides a quadriga. However, the underlying subject is different. Paul merely uses the idea of the Roman triumphal procession in order to convey another set of associations—the thought that God on his throne-chariot leads the apostle captive.

The divine throne-chariot is found in both the ot and Jewish tradition. Quite commonly, the “chariotry/chariot of God” in Psalm 68:17–18 is taken to refer to the merkabah in which God descended to Mount Sinai. Ezekiel’s prophetic call-vision by the river Chebar (Ezek. 1:4–28; cf. 10:1–22; 43:1–4) gives us a cryptic picture of what later came to be known as the throne-chariot of God. In Jewish tradition, Ezekiel’s vision is interpreted as a reference to a merkabah or “chariot,” drawn by the four living creatures/beasts. This comes out most explicitly in a midrash (Exod. Rab. 43:8) focusing on the golden calf incident, which refers to the chariot of God as a “four-mule chariot.” Also, in Habakkuk 3:8 Yahweh is said to drive a horse-drawn merkabah (cf. M. Haran).

In sum, we have seen that by using thriambeuein, Paul evoked the image of a triumphal procession in which the triumphant leader rode in a four-horse chariot. This, in turn, suggested the familiar idea of the merkabah, which was commonly viewed as a chariot drawn by the four living creatures/beasts of Ezekiel 1. We should not be surprised that Paul would use Roman imagery to suggest an ot idea. Paul, who does not like to discuss his visions and does so only under compulsion (cf. 2 Cor. 12:1ff.), uses a metaphor in order make his point without being overly explicit about ineffable matters.

Furthermore, it is possible that in 2 Corinthians 2:14 Paul is alluding specifically to Psalm 68:17–18. According the lxx version of this psalm, when God in his chariot ascended from Sinai into his holy sanctuary on high, he led captivity captive and received gifts among humanity. Ephesians 4:8 actually applies Psalm 68:18 [lxx 67:19] to the ascension of Christ and the spiritual gifts, including apostles (v. 11), which he gave to the church (cf. G. B. Caird). This kind of interpretation of the psalm would, of course, be very congenial at the beginning of Paul’s defense of his apostolic office in 2 Corinthians 2:14–7:4. The use of Psalm 68:18–19 in Jewish tradition provides further evidence that Paul may have had this passage in mind when he wrote 2 Corinthians 2:14.

In Jewish tradition Psalm 68:18 refers not to God’s ascent on high, corresponding to his merkabah descent to Mount Sinai in verse 18, but to the ascent of Moses, who took captive the Torah and gave the gift of Torah to humanity. Thus, for example, the Targum interprets Psalm 68:18 as a reference to Moses, who ascended into heaven, received the Torah there, and brought the Torah to the people (cf. Exod. Rab. 28:1). According to Midr.Ps. 68:18, Moses ascended to the divine beings and there received the Torah as a “gift” for Israel. In the Jewish tradition, therefore, Psalm 68:17–18 refers to Moses’ merkabah encounter with God on Sinai and the revelation that he mediated to humanity.

Paul might be making the same connection between merkabah encounter and revelation in 2 Corinthians 2:14, for here also God both leads him in triumphal procession and “reveals” (phanerounti, spreads) through him the fragrance of the knowledge of God. In other words, Paul is presenting himself here as a mediator of divine revelation on par with Moses, summarizing the whole basis for his apostleship in this one verse. Hence, if metaphor is speaking about one thing in terms suggestive of another, then by speaking of a Roman triumphal procession in connection with divine revelation, Paul evidently suggests the throne-chariot of God and the powerfully complex tradition of Psalm 68:17–18. According to this tradition, God descended to Sinai in his merkabah and revealed himself to Moses and all Israel. Moses, in turn, ascended on high, took the Torah captive, and gave it as a gift to humanity. Although Paul’s image turns this tradition on its head by making the apostle a captive rather than the triumphant one (cf. 2 Cor. 11:30; 12:5), it nevertheless preserves the idea that an encounter with the merkabah effects a revelation to humanity through a mediator. Paul’s claim is especially crucial in the situation at Corinth, where his opponents evidently claim to have numerous visions and revelations (cf. 12:1).

Paul’s thanksgiving in 2:14 (But thanks be to God) fits well in the context of merkabah tradition. The visionary often observed and sometimes participated in the angelic hymns before the throne of God, the praises of the heavenly beings being viewed as the model and example for heavenly worship (cf. 1 En. 71:11–12; Apoc. Ab. 17:4–18:1; K. Grözinger). How much more, then, is Paul’s praise warranted and justified, since his encounter with the merkabah rivals even that of Moses.

If God is said to be leading the apostle in triumphal procession in Christ, then we will do well to recall Martin Hengel’s idea of the conjoint activity between the Father and the Son. As a result of being seated at the right hand of God at the resurrection, the Son now sits in the divine throne-chariot with the Father, and both together, occupying the same throne, now carry out activities together (cf. Mark 14:62). Hence, just as “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself” (2 Cor. 5:19), so also here God “in Christ” leads the apostle in triumphal procession.

Once we recognize the traditional background of our text, it is not difficult to suggest why Paul would refer to his revelation as the fragrance of the knowledge of God. Jewish tradition associates wonderful aromas with the merkabah vision. For example, in the third heaven (= Paradise), where Paul encountered the merkabah (cf. 2 Cor. 12:2–4), the fruit trees are said to be ripe and fragrant, abundant crops give off a sweet smell, and the tree of life itself is indescribable for pleasantness and fine fragrance (2 En. 8:1–3). In sum, 2 Corinthians 2:14 presents God as revealing the knowledge of himself to the world through Paul. In connection with his ongoing encounter with the merkabah, Paul, as minister of the new covenant (cf. 3:6), becomes a revelatory mediator who infuses the world with an aromatic, Torah-like knowledge of God through the Spirit.[3]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2003). 2 Corinthians (pp. 70–72). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] Harris, M. J. (2008). 2 Corinthians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, pp. 455–456). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Scott, J. M. (2011). 2 Corinthians (pp. 60–64). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Why I Love the Church (John MacArthur)

Original Post Date: March 24, 2015

I love the church.

I am an inveterate and incurable lover of the church. It thrills me beyond expression to serve the church. Although I am also involved in some para-church ministries, I would not trade my ministry in the church for all of them combined. The church takes first place in my ministry priorities, and all the para-church ministries I serve are subordinate to, and grow out of, my ministry in the church.

In fact, my whole life has been lived in the church. My father was a pastor, as were my grandfathers for three more generations before him. So a deep love for the church practically runs in my blood.

In a short series of upcoming posts, I’m going to outline some biblical reasons I love the church. Let’s start with the first one today:

1. The Church Is Being Built by the Lord Himself

The church is the New Testament counterpart of the Old Testament Temple. I’m not referring to a church building, but the body of all true believers.

It is a spiritual building (1 Pet. 2:5), the dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16-17; 2 Cor. 6:16), the place where God’s glory is most clearly manifest on earth, and the proper nucleus and focal point of spiritual life and worship for the community of the redeemed.

God Himself is the architect and builder of this temple. In Ephesians 2:19–22, Paul writes:

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.

It is impossible to overstate the importance of the church in the eternal plan of God. The church is His building (1 Cor. 3:9). Moreover, He is the immutable, sovereign, omnipotent Lord of heaven. His Word cannot return void but always accomplishes what He says (Isa. 55:11). He is always faithful and cannot deny Himself (2 Tim. 2:13). His sovereign purposes always comes to pass, and His will is always ultimately fulfilled (Isa. 46:10). His plan is invincible and unshakable, and He will bring to pass all that He has spoken (v. 11). And he has spoken about building the church in the most triumphant words.

For example, in Matthew 16:18 Christ said, “I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” He who knows His sheep by name (John 10:3)—He who wrote their names down before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8)—He personally guarantees that the gates of Hades will not prevail against the church He is building.

“The gates of Hades” was a Jewish expression for death. Hades is the place of the dead, and the gates of Hades represent the portal into that place—death itself. Hades is also the domain of the devil. Hebrews 2:14 refers to Satan as the one “who had the power of death,” and verse 15 says he used that power to keep people in fear and bondage all their lives. But now Christ has broken that power, and liberated His people from Satan’s dominion—in essence, he has broken down the gates of Hades. And therefore even the power of death—the strongest weapon Satan wields—cannot prevent the ultimate triumph of the church He is building.

There is still more significance to the imagery of “the gates of Hades.” Gates are a walled city’s most vital defensive safeguards. Christ’s words therefore portray the church militant, storming the very gates of hell, victoriously delivering people from the power of death. Thus Christ assures the triumph of the church’s evangelistic mission. He is building the church, and the work will not be thwarted.

Christ’s promise in this passage should not be misconstrued. He does not suggest that any particular church will be infallible. He does not teach that any of the bishops of the church will be error-free. He does not guarantee that this or that individual church will not apostatize. He does not promise success and prosperity to every congregation. But He does pledge that the church—that universal body of believers under Christ’s headship—will have a visible being and a testimony in this world as long as the world itself lasts. And that all the enemies of truth combined shall never secure the defeat or destruction of the church.

Notice also that the church is a work in progress. Christ is still building His church. We are still being joined together (Eph. 2:21). The church is still under construction (v. 22). God is not finished yet. The imperfections and blemishes in the visible church are still being refined by the Master Builder.

And here’s something remarkable: The plan for the finished product is a blueprint that was drawn in eternity past.

Click here to read Part 2.

The post Why I Love the Church appeared first on The Master’s Seminary.

‘My church practices the “Sinner’s Prayer”‘

According to Amy Spreeman of Berean Research “Telling someone that he or she is saved by reciting a prayer is a lie from the pit of Hell.” Amy backs up this claim with Scripture. She writes:

Several readers have asked us, “What should I do if I am attending a church that practices the Sinner’s Prayer?”

If you’ve ever been to an evangelical church service or ministry outreach, you know the drill: Head down, no looking around, just you and God, sappy background music, and just slip your hand up if you want to invite Jesus into your heart. I see that hand in the second row. Thank you. Anyone else?

I can certainly understand why many people feel uncomfortable. There are some elements of it that are good, like confessing our belief in Jesus, admitting we are sinners and saying “I’m sorry,” but the most dangerous part of the practice comes at the end, when the minister declares, “If you prayed that prayer with me, congratulations and welcome into the kingdom of God!”  Telling someone that he or she is saved by reciting a prayer is a lie from the pit of Hell.

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Source: ‘My church practices the “Sinner’s Prayer”‘