. . . finish reading Lakewood Church Attendees Can Now Check Their Bible At Door.
. . . finish reading Steven Furtick’s Mansion Selected As New Amazon Headquarters.
As you desire to grow in your faith, you need to be discerning about who you listen to. Whose books will you read for teaching and encouragement? Whose blogs and podcasts will you subscribe to? Whose Bible study material will you use in your small group? Whose preaching will you sit under?
Those questions really matter, because truth really matters.
John’s concern for the readers of 1 John 4:1-6 is that they would be careful of who influences them. When it comes to spiritual teaching, he says, we need to know what’s true and what’s false (1 John 4:6).
In this passage, John instructs us in four ways that we can grow in discernment.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit… for many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1)
John’s first point is simple: don’t believe everything you hear. There are people in this world claiming to teach truth—to speak by the power of the Spirit of God—who are actually teaching lies. Actually, there are many.
Jesus said that this would happen, and he gave two particular warnings regarding false teachers:
Jesus warns in Matthew 7:15, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”
Try to picture what Jesus is saying. A false teacher dresses the part. He says many of the right things and acts in the right ways. But, as he creeps into a position of influence, he comes to destroy people by leading them away from the truth.
Jesus also warns us in Matthew 24:11 that, “Many false prophets will arise and lead many people astray” (emphasis added). This should give you pause any time you’re tempted to think that the size of the following validates the goodness of a teacher.
It’s possible for someone to be famous, well-educated, a New York Times Bestseller, have that coveted blue check-mark next to their name on Twitter, and use that fame to lead people away from the truth, and away from Christ.
John says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 John 4:1). John gives us two questions to ask about every teacher who claims to speak God’s truth:
1 John 4:2 says, “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses…Jesus Christ…is from God, and every spirit that that does not confess Jesus is not from God.”
Someone who won’t tell you about Jesus is not speaking the truth about God. Jesus is the only way to really know God. So, if you want to know the truth about God, then you need to know about Jesus. “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father but through me” (John 14:6).
1 John 4:2 continues, “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God” (emphasis added).
Central to John’s letter, central to Christianity is not only the teaching that Jesus came, but why he came. And John lays it out for us in 1 John 4:10: “God sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
A propitiation is a sacrifice that takes away wrath. Because of our sin, we deserve to face wrath—the just punishment of God. But in his grace, God sent his Son to suffer in our place at the cross, and take our wrath upon himself. In order for Jesus to take the sins of human beings upon himself, it was necessary for him to actually become a human. So he came “in the flesh.”
If we are going to grow in discernment, we need to steep ourselves in the Scriptures!
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When John says that true teachers confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, he means that they confess that Jesus Christ came to die and to bear the wrath we deserved—they proclaim the cross of Christ.
The cross has always been controversial. It’s the glaring declaration that you and I are sinners, making it undeniably clear that God takes sin seriously. And there are always people who will try and deny these truths.
But anyone who diminishes, denies, or despises the cross is ripping the heart out of our faith.
Put all teachers to the test. Do they speak about Jesus? Do they speak about Jesus’s saving work at the cross? If not, don’t believe what they say.
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, John says, you are from God and you have already overcome false teachers. They hold no power over you. How is that possible?
Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)
In John 16:13, Jesus called the Holy Spirit the “Spirit of truth,” and said that “when he comes, he will guide you into all the truth.”
This is one of the things the Holy Spirit does in our lives. When we are in a position where we need to be discerning, and we need to put teaching to the test, God is at our side to guide and to help.
So a simple, but profoundly important way to grow in discernment is to ask the Spirit for help. God delights to answer that kind of prayer.
The Spirit of God will always help us discern the truth of God through the Word of God.
In the following verses John distinguishes the false teachers from himself and the other apostles: “They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us” (1 John 4:5-6).
He says that false prophets are from the world. But, he and the other apostles of Jesus are from God.
Like the prophets of the Old Testament, the apostles of the New Testament were uniquely empowered by God to speak God’s Word. So, when John says, “We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us,” the application for us is to listen to the words of the apostles in our Bibles!
If we are going to grow in discernment, we need to steep ourselves in the Scriptures!
So, this is how you can grow in discernment: Realize there are false teachers, put all teachers to the test, ask God for help, and listen to the Word.
WAGNER’S LIE: “THE NAR…..HAS NO LEADER.”
The above quote from C. Peter Wagner was in an article he wrote titled ‘The New Apostolic Reformation Is Not a Cult‘. His attempt to distance himself as being the head of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) needs to be noted.
“The NAR is not an organization. No one can join or carry a card. It has no leader.
I have been called the “founder,” but this is not the case.“
This is a half truth, which means Wagner was lying. The truth is that he became the leader of the NAR because of what he observed developing over time through the New Order of the Latter Rain (NOLR) movement’s Charismatic Renewal Movement (CRM). He observed, and documented, the rise of this apostolic phenomena and even named it. His research and defense of Charismatic Apostles and Prophets eventually led him…
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4:24 / The seriousness of what they had to tell and their sense of dependence upon God were such that the whole group fell to prayer. The expression they raised their voices together has been taken to mean that they were all inspired to say exactly the same words, but that implies too mechanical a view of inspiration. They may all have prayed in turn (as others suggest), but in that case Luke has given us only the general thrust of their various prayers. Some have gone further, to suggest that he simply composed what he thought to be an appropriate prayer for the occasion, but that runs into the snag that it reflects a very different view to Luke’s own of the part played by Herod and Pilate in Jesus’ death. In the Gospel he shows Pilate, especially, to have been a reluctant participant, whereas here both he and Herod are cast in leading roles among those who brought it about (see also notes on v. 27). Perhaps the best explanation is that one person prayed and all assented, either by repeating the prayer phrase by phrase or by adding their Amen at the end. At all events, it was an occasion that showed them all to be “one in heart and mind” (v. 32; see disc. on 1:14).
The prayer itself may have been based on the prayer of Hezekiah (Isa. 37:16–20), and like that prayer, its dominant theme is God’s sovereignty. This is declared at the outset in their address to God (cf. Rev. 6:10 and the description of Christ in 2 Pet. 2:1; Jude 4). The Greek word despotēs denotes “absolute ownership and uncontrolled power,” especially that of a master over a slave. Compare Luke 2:29 where “your slave” (so the Greek) answers to it, as here “your slaves” (so again the Greek) in verse 29. It also expresses here, as often in the lxx (cf. Job. 5:8; Wisdom 6:7), the sovereignty of God in creation. The same word is used of the gods in classical Greek, but the creator of the heaven and the earth and the sea is no “despot” as they often were. His rule is absolute, but never exercised in the absence of wisdom and love. Nor is it restricted to the act of creation. He is the Sovereign no less in human affairs: “He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’ ” (Dan. 4:35).
24a. When they heard this, they raised their voices together to God.
As soon as the apostles are released, they rush to “their own people,” as Luke reports. Who are these people? We cannot say that they constitute the entire church in Jerusalem, for then we have to think in terms of at least five thousand men (v. 4). Perhaps Luke has in mind the original group that used to meet in the upper room after Jesus’ ascension (see 1:13–15).
Here we have the communion of the saints. Those who prayed for the release of the prisoners now receive a detailed report from the former prisoners themselves Peter and John relate to their friends the proceedings of the court trial and report the questions the chief priests and elders asked and the threats these rulers made. Furthermore, all the other apostles are interested in knowing the implications of the verdict Peter and John received.
Note that Luke mentions only the chief priests and the elders, who represent the Sanhedrin and the Sadducean party. We assume that these people had led the questioning during the trial. In Acts, this is the first time that Luke writes the plural expression chief priests, which includes the persons who belonged to the high priest’s family (see v. 6) and other representatives, including the captain of the temple guard.
Notice also that Luke mentions that the apostles gave a report concerning the questions and threats from the chief priests and elders but not about their own defense. The leaders of the Jerusalem church, therefore, are looking to the future and realize the dangers they are facing from the members of the Sanhedrin. Their only recourse is to flee to God in prayer.
From ev’ry stormy wind that blows,
From ev’ry swelling tide of woes,
There is a calm, a sure retreat;
’Tis found beneath the mercy-seat.
Together the leaders of the church pray to God, as they did after Jesus’ ascension (1:14). They find their strength and courage in intimate communion with God, for they realize that he rules in this world and will overrule the threats of the Sanhedrin.
24b. They said: “Lord, you have made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything in them.”
The prayer that Luke records is typically Jewish and is modeled after the petition Hezekiah uttered when the Assyrian army surrounded Jerusalem (Isa. 37:16–20). The leaders of the Jerusalem church now pray and address God as sovereign Lord (see Luke 2:29; 2 Peter 2:1; Jude 4; Rev. 6:10). He is the sovereign ruler over everything he has made. He is the creator of the universe and master of all his servants (notice the term servant in the next verse [v. 25]).
When the apostles pray, they acknowledge God as creator of “the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything in them.” In fact, they quote from the Old Testament. Scriptures, which in numerous places record these words (Exod. 20:11; Neh. 9:6; Ps. 146:6; Isa. 37:16). They know the fundamental truth that God, who created heaven, earth, sea, and everything else, has the sovereign right to rule his creation. God rules in his creation; therefore, man’s will cannot stand up against the sovereign Lord for one moment.
4:24 Lord. The Gr. word is an uncommon NT title for God that means “absolute master” (Lk 2:29; 2Ti 2:21; 2Pe 2:1; Jude 4; Rev 6:10), which represented the disciples’ recognition of God’s sovereignty.
4:24 After praising God, the believers prayed, quoting Ps. 2:1–2 (Acts 4:25–26), which they treated as a messianic prophecy inspired by the Spirit speaking through David.
4:24 with one mind to God The Christians were unified not only in their prayer, but in their mindset, desires, and mission.
Master This way of addressing God is suitable in light of the recently failed challenges to Jesus’ lordship by the religious leaders.
one who made the heaven and the earth Because God reigns over all creation, He is the only one able to answer His people’s prayers and preserve them in the midst of danger. Compare Gen 1:1; 2 Kgs 19:15; Neh 9:6; Psa 146:6.
4:24 lifted their voices together to God. This activity was a natural result of the apostles’ training with Jesus and the habits they had formed (2:42).
Sovereign Lord. A term used to express the total creative power and control of the Lord over all His physical creation and over the affairs of humanity (cf. vv. 25, 26; Jer. 10:12).
 Williams, D. J. (2011). Acts (pp. 87–88). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
 Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles (Vol. 17, pp. 165–166). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ac 4:24). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2088). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
 Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ac 4:24). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
 Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 1565). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.
147 I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I hope in your words.
148 My eyes are awake before the watches of the night,
that I may meditate on your promise.
149 Hear my voice according to your steadfast love;
O LORD, according to your justice give me life.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 119:147–149). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
147–149 The psalmist’s intensity in prayer (“with all my heart,” v. 145; cf. v. 58) is matched by his intense loyalty to obedient living (“with all my heart,” vv. 34, 69). So intense is his longing for God’s salvation that he prays “for help” (v. 147; cf. 22:24; 28:2) “before” (qādam, GK 7709, “rise before”) dawn and “through” (qādam, v. 148, lit., “stay open before”) the watches of the night. Throughout the night he loves to “meditate” (śîaḥ, GK 8488; cf. vv. 15, 23, 27, 48, 99) on God’s “promises” (ʾimrâ). Having put his “hope” in God’s word, he waits for the Lord to come through (v. 147; cf. v. 81). The focus of his hope lies in the renewal of God’s “love” (ḥesed, v. 149), by which the Lord will justly (NIV, “according to your laws”) transform to “life” the present, adverse conditions.
119:147 Weigle writes, “This is a description of the devotional habits of a pious (man) who rises before dawn to begin his day with meditation and prayer.” Our motto should be, “No Bible, no breakfast.”
119:147 I rise before dawn. The poet’s first thought as he awakens is the Lord. His prayer is frequent as well as fervent.
119:149 according to your steadfast love … according to your justice. God’s love and devotion toward His people is not incompatible with His law.
119:145–149 So intense was his prayer that he confessed, I rise before the dawning of the morning. Before the light broke through the shadows of night, the psalmist was already prevailing upon God in prayer. My eyes are awake through the night watches: The Jews, like the Greeks and the Romans, divided the night into military watches instead of hours. Accompanying the prevailing prayer of the psalmist was a meditation in the Word of God. Prayer and reading the Word preceded the dawning of the day and continued unto the watches of the night. That is the secret of getting a hold on God.
 VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, p. 885). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 746). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 849). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.
 Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (pp. 728–729). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.
29 The only way this man (or any person) can “justify himself” is to limit the extent of the Law’s demand and consequently limit his own responsibility. This maneuver not only fails but also has an opposite effect. Jesus will change the man’s very words “who is my neighbor?” from a passive to an active sense (v. 36).
10:29. The leader tried to take the offense again and put Jesus on the defensive. One more trick question: Who is my neighbor? That is, how far does my love have to extend? Jewish legal interpretation sought to govern every situation and every relationship: Jew and Gentile; Jew and Roman; man and woman; free man and slave, priest and laity, clean and unclean, righteous and sinner. Every relationship was clearly defined, and the definitions determined how and when a person could participate in Jewish worship. The question was vital to Jewish identity.
Undoubtedly the questioner, proud man that he probably is (cf. Luke 18:9), is already chuckling within, thinking, “I have you where I want you now. You will never be able to answer this difficult question.” He is again trying to lure Jesus into committing a faux pas, a blunder. Simultaneously he is trying to absolve himself from any guilt: 29. But he, wishing to justify himself, said, And who is my neighbor?
On this point there was a wide variety of opinion among the Jews. There were those who perverted the command of Lev. 19:18 into meaning: “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” Jesus refutes this interpretation in Matt. 5:43–48. A widely accepted view seems to have been, “Love your neighbor, the Israelite.” The Pharisees, however, narrowed this down even more, namely, to “Love your neighbor, the Pharisee.” They reasoned, “But this rabble that does not know the law, accursed are they” (John 7:49). And the Qumran people were declaring that anyone who did not belong to their little group was “a son of darkness” and should be hated.
It is clear, therefore, that with the question, “And who is my neighbor?” the law-expert tried to quiet his own conscience and embarrass Jesus.
29 The link with the question of neighbor probably came with the parable to Luke, but the formulation here is likely to be largely a Lukan bridge from vv 25–28. The idiom represented here by δικαιῶσαι ἑαυτὸν, “to justify himself,” recurs at 16:15 (cf. 18:9, 14; 7:29) and is probably Lukan, as will be the use of πρός, “to,” after a verb of speaking. The lawyer wishes to appear in a good light, despite having lost the initiative to Jesus, and having been displaced from the position of challenger to that of the one being challenged. It is finally unclear whether the self-justification is thought to involve the justifying of his earlier question (“there is still a difficulty to be cleared up”—this is the common view), or whether we should see here a preparation for making a claim to having fulfilled what the law asks of him (Bailey, Peasant Eyes, 39; cf. Luke 18:9–12, 21). On the question of the scope of neighbor love, see at v 27. The question assumes a restricted scope for neighbor love (cf. Sir 12:1–4: “If you do good, know to whom you do it … and do not help the sinner”). “Neighbor” here is discussed further in Form/Structure/Setting above.
10:29 Instead of that, he sought to justify himself. Why should he? No one had accused him. There was a consciousness of fault and his heart rose up in pride to resist. He asked, “Who is my neighbor?” It was an evasive tactic on his part.
10:29 wishing to justify himself. This reveals the man’s self-righteous character. who is my neighbor? The prevailing opinion among scribes and Pharisees was that one’s neighbors were the righteous alone. According to them, the wicked—including rank sinners (such as tax collectors and prostitutes), Gentiles, and especially Samaritans—were to be hated because they were the enemies of God. They cited Ps 139:21, 22 to justify their position. As that passage suggests, hatred of evil is the natural corollary of loving righteousness. But the truly righteous person’s “hatred” for sinners is not a malevolent enmity. It is a righteous abhorrence of all that is base and corrupt—not a spiteful, personal loathing of individuals. Godly hatred is marked by a broken-hearted grieving over the condition of the sinner. And as Jesus taught here and elsewhere (6:27–36; Mt 5:44–48), it is also tempered by a genuine love. The Pharisees had elevated hostility toward the wicked to the status of a virtue, in effect nullifying the second Great Commandment. Jesus’ answer to this lawyer demolished the pharisaical excuse for hating one’s enemies.
10:29 Desiring to justify himself reveals the lawyer’s insincerity. who is my neighbor? An improper question, because the lawyer was trying to exclude responsibility for others by making some people “non-neighbors.” A more appropriate question would be, “How can I be a loving neighbor?”
10:29 wanting to justify himself The legal expert seeks to support his claim to be righteous (perhaps only in his own mind) and presses Jesus to define the term “neighbor.”
And who is my neighbor The legal expert’s question and his own answer in Luke 10:37 frame the parable of the Good Samaritan.
10:29 Luke makes it clear that the lawyer was trying to place himself in the position of satisfying the highest demands of the law. who is my neighbor: This question was an attempt to limit the demands of the law by suggesting that some people are neighbors while others are not. The lawyer was looking for minimal obedience while Jesus was looking for absolute obedience.
 Liefeld, W. L., & Pao, D. W. (2007). Luke. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, p. 199). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Butler, T. C. (2000). Luke (Vol. 3, p. 172). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
 Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke (Vol. 11, pp. 592–593). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
 Nolland, J. (1998). Luke 9:21–18:34 (Vol. 35B, p. 592). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1410). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Lk 10:29). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1977). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
 Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Lk 10:29). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
 Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1273). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.
This writer has been concerned for some time that the powers-that-be (i.e., the globalist Establishment that controls both US political parties, the media, and most US institutions and power centers) want to push America and the entire world into a major war (i.e., World War III). They see the erosion of their power and influence via Brexit, the Trump upset, and the coming financial collapse, and they believe that they can retain their power in the context of a major war and also advance their agenda for a one world government. Had their presidential choice of Hillary Clinton been elected, a major war (probably in 2017) was virtually guaranteed.
But it now seems that with the very strong neocon/Establishment influence inside the Trump administration the trajectory towards a major war with Russia, China, North Korea, Iran – or all of the above – is still drawing ominously closer. Instead of negotiations and rapprochement with Russia and China, the Trump administration is escalating its confrontational rhetoric and moving more troops, weapons, missiles, and warships close to Russian and Chinese territory, and into the Middle East. At this point, it appears that American foreign policy is hell-bent on challenging Russia and China to a duel – a duel that could ultimately be fought with nuclear weapons. Rhetoric and troop/weapon movements on all sides are escalating sharply at this writing. As the title to this issue says (quoting the old French Proverb), “The more it changes, the more it remains the same.”
In Summary: Iran just conducted another provocative missile test; more US troops are being sent to the Middle East; it was just announced that the US military will be sending B-1 and B-52 bombers to South Korea in response to North Korea firing four missiles into the seas near Japan; and China is absolutely livid that a US carrier group just sailed through contested waters in the South China Sea. American and NATO forces are moving into Poland and closer to the Russian border, while increasing their deployment of missiles. Russia (which is currently deploying new nuclear submarines and a new generation of sub-launched nuclear supersonic cruise missiles) is responding with more nuclear missile submarines off of the US East and West coasts and in the Gulf of Mexico. How do you spell “p-r-o-v-o-c-a-t-i-o-n” and “e-s-c-a-l-a-t-i-o-n”?
(Excerpt from McAlvany Intelligence Advisor, March 2017)
Recent allegations of sexual harassment against high-profile figures have sparked the #metoo movement and prompted victims to come forward in unprecedented numbers and public fashion. A new Barna study asks American adults about their views and experiences of sexual harassment.
This truth is best summarized in the doctrines of grace, which are total depravity, unconditional election, definite atonement, effectual calling, and preserving grace. These truths present the triune God as the author of our salvation from beginning to end. Each member of the Godhead—Father, Son, and Spirit—has a part to play in redemption, and they work together as one God to rescue those perishing under divine wrath. In perfect unity, the three divine persons do the work that hellbound sinners, utterly unable to save themselves, cannot do.
The first man, Adam, sinned, and his transgression and guilt were immediately imputed to all mankind (Christ excepted). By this one act of disobedience, he became morally polluted in every part of his being—mind, affections, body, and will. By this sin, death entered the world, and Adam’s fellowship with God was broken.
Adam’s guilt and corruption were transmitted to his natural offspring at the moment of conception. In turn, each of his children’s children inherited this same radical fallenness. Subsequently, it has been passed down to each generation to the present day. Adam’s perverse nature has spread to the whole of every person. Apart from grace, our minds are darkened by sin, unable to understand the truth. Our hearts are defiled, unable to love the truth. Our bodies are dying, progressing to physical death. Our wills are dead, unable to choose the good. Moral inability to please God plagues every person from their entrance into the world. In their unregenerate state, no one seeks after God. No one is capable of doing good. All are under the curse of the law, which is eternal death.
Long before Adam sinned, God had already decreed and determined salvation for sinners. In eternity past, the Father chose a people in Christ who would be saved. Before time began, God elected many from among mankind whom He purposed to save from His wrath. This selection was not based upon any foreseen faith in those whom He chose. Nor was it prompted by their inherent goodness. Instead, according to His infinite love and inscrutable wisdom, God set His affection upon His elect.
The Father gave the elect to His Son to be His bride. Each one chosen was predestined by the Father to be conformed to the image of His Son and to sing His praises forever. The Father commissioned His Son to enter this world and lay down His life to save these same chosen ones. Likewise, the Father commissioned the Spirit to bring these same elect ones to faith in Christ. The Son and the Spirit freely concurred in all these decisions, making salvation the undivided work of the triune God.
In the fullness of time, God the Father sent His Son to enter this fallen world on a mission to redeem His people. He was born of a virgin, without a sin nature, to live a sinless life. Jesus was born under the divine law so that He would fully obey it on behalf of disobedient sinners who have repeatedly broken it. This active obedience of Christ fulfilled all the righteous demands of the law. By keeping the law, the Son of God achieved a perfect righteousness, which is reckoned to believing sinners so that they are declared righteous, or justified, before God.
This sinless life of Jesus further qualified Him to go to the cross and die in the place of guilty, hellbound sinners. On the cross, Jesus bore the unmitigated wrath of the Father for the sins of His people. In this vicarious death, the Father transferred to His Son all the sins of all those who would ever believe in Him. As a sin-bearing sacrifice, Jesus died a substitutionary death in the place of God’s elect. On the cross, He propitiated the righteous anger of God toward the elect. By the blood of the cross, Jesus reconciled the holy God to sinful man, establishing peace between the two parties. In His redeeming death, He purchased His bride—His elect people—out of bondage to sin and set her free.
Jesus’ death did not merely make all mankind potentially savable. Nor did His death simply achieve a hypothetical benefit that may or may not be accepted. Neither did His death merely make all mankind redeemable. Instead, Jesus actually redeemed a specific people through His death, securing and guaranteeing their salvation. Not a drop of Jesus’ blood was shed in vain. He truly saved all for whom He died. This doctrine of definite atonement is sometimes called limited atonement.
With oneness of purpose, the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit into the world to apply this salvation to those chosen and redeemed. The Spirit came to convict the elect of sin, righteousness, and judgment and to turn to the Son all whom the Father gave to Him. At the divinely appointed time, the Spirit removes from each elect person his unbelieving heart of stone, hardened and dead in sin, and replaces it with a believing heart of flesh, responsive and alive unto God. The Spirit implants eternal life within the spiritually dead soul. He grants the chosen men and women the gifts of repentance and faith, enabling them to believe that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Suddenly, all things are made new. New life from the Spirit produces new love for God. New desires to obey the Word of God produce a new pursuit of holiness. There is a new life direction, lived with new passion for God. These born-again ones give evidence of their election with the fruit of righteousness This call from the Spirit is effectual, meaning the elect will certainly respond when it is given. They will not finally resist it. Thus, the doctrine of effectual calling is sometimes called the doctrine of irresistible grace.
Once converted, every believer is kept eternally secure by all three persons of the Trinity. All whom God foreknew and predestined in eternity past, He will glorify in eternity future. No believer will drop out or fall away. Every believer is firmly held by the sovereign hands of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, never to be lost. None of Jesus’ sheep for whom He laid down His life will perish. The Holy Spirit permanently seals in Christ all whom He draws to faith. Once born again, none can ever be unborn. Once a believer, none can ever become an unbeliever. Once saved, none will ever be-come unsaved. God will preserve them in faith forever, and they will persevere until the end. Thus, the doctrine of preserving grace is often called the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints.
From beginning to end, salvation is of the Lord. In reality, these five doctrines of grace form one comprehensive body of truth concerning salvation. They are inseparably connected and therefore stand or fall together. To embrace any one of the five necessitates embracing all five. To deny one is to deny the others and fracture the Trinity, setting the three persons at odds with one another. These doctrines speak together with one voice in giving the greatest glory to God. Such high theology produces high doxology. When it is rightly understood that God alone—Father, Son, and Spirit—saves sinners, then all glory goes to Him.
This post was originally published in Tabletalk magazine.
Source: TULIP and The Doctrines of Grace
When we think about the Christian faith, most people today rarely think about creeds, liturgy, or confessions, let alone see them as essential to their relationship with God. Our hesitation concerning creeds is understandable, especially when they are disconnected from our worship and love of God. People often see them as cold, mindless doctrines that have nothing to do with Jesus. But this is not how they were created nor how they should be used.
In the creeds of the early church, we find something of a hidden secret – a treasure chest overlooked by many. We find a way to instruct ourselves and our children in the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). Let’s look at each of these three points to see why every Christian needs to use the creeds in their personal and corporate worship.
The five plenary sessions of this conference were on the five solas of the Reformation: Kevin DeYoung (Sola Fide), James Anderson (Sola Gratia), Blair Smith (Solus Christus), Derek Thomas (Soli Deo Gloria), and myself (Sola Scriptura).
I might add that all these speakers (except myself!) are Systematic Theology profs at Reformed Theological Seminary.
And Keith and Kristyn Getty capped off the weekend with a concert that Sunday night.
Over the years (and even this year) I’ve heard a number of talks on the five solas. And I have to say that the four talks given by my colleagues are some of the best I’ve ever heard. They were insightful, profound, enlightening, convicting and encouraging.
The good news is that we have these talks on video. Feel free to skip over mine and get onto the good ones! Here they are:
Mike Kruger — “The Foundation for the Reformation, the Church, and All of Life”
Kevin DeYoung — “Why the World Desperately Wants the Doctrine of Justification (But Doesn’t Realize It Yet)”
James Anderson — “The Glorious Offense of God’s Gospel Grace”
Blair Smith — “Against the Idol Making Factory”
Derek Thomas — “Worshiping the God Who is Worthy”
22:13 / Jesus’ self-ascription, the Alpha and the Omega, is critical since it refers elsewhere to God (1:8). After maintaining a hierarchy between God and the Risen Jesus (e.g., Father-Son, Sovereign-Lamb), John brings the two together as cosmic equals in his benediction. In his forthcoming monograph, The Past of Jesus in the Gospels, SNTSMS 68 (Cambridge: University Press), E. E. Lemcio argues that God’s resurrection of Jesus marked a substantive change in his status, and that this change is indicated in the gospel narratives by the contrast between pre-Easter and post-Easter portraits of Jesus. Perhaps a similar contrast can be found in Revelation’s description of pre-parousia and post-parousia portraits of the Risen Jesus. If so, then I would suggest that one effect of the parousia will be another substantive change in how the faith community perceives the status of Christ: he is now God’s equal—equal parts of the eschatological temple (21:22).
22:13 the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last. See note on 21:6. Eternal life and lordship characterize God (1:8) and his Christ, who is coming soon (1:17; 2:8).
The eternal christ (22:13)
22:13. Once again Christ is described as the Alpha and the Omega (first and last letters of the Gr. alphabet), the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Christ is before all Creation and He will continue to exist after the present creation is destroyed. He is the Eternal One (cf. 1:4, 8, 17; 2:8; 21:6).
 Wall, R. W. (2011). Revelation (p. 271). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
 Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2497). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
 Walvoord, J. F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 989). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 139:13–16). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
13 Confidence in the Lord’s ability to discern and perceive the nature and needs of his people comes from a belief in God’s purpose. He is the Creator, and his creative concerns include individuals.
In a sense this section continues the emphasis on divine involvement by an emphatic use of “you” (ʾattâ, vv. 2, 13: “you know … you created”) and by the use of the pronominal prefixes and suffixes to the verbs and nouns in Hebrew (translated by “you” and “your”). The Lord has formed the individual as a spiritual (“you created [qānâ, GK 7865; Ge 14:22; Pr 8:22] my inmost being [‘kidneys’],” v. 13) and a physical being (“you knit me together”; cf. Job 8–11; Jer 1:5). All beings owe their existence to the Creator-God. How much more the individual who walks with God, who knows that the Lord has formed him or her for a purpose.
For his omnipotence (vv. 13–14)
God’s power is evidenced by his creation of each individual. God created our ‘reins’ (our innermost being, that is, those things that control us—minds, hearts, wills). He ‘covered’ us while we were in the womb. The word ‘covered’ may also be translated ‘knit’ or ‘wove’. By using this term the psalmist pictures himself as a fine piece of art and God as a skilled craftsman.
The psalmist’s conclusion is that he is ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’. Henry writes: ‘… we may justly be astonished at the admirable contrivance of these living temples, the composition of every part, and the harmony of all together.’
Some of the newer translations render this phrase as a description of God—‘You are fearfully wonderful’, that is, a God who is so marvellous and wonderful that the only thing one can do is stand in awe of him.
It isn’t all that important which of the two translations we follow. A fearfully wonderful God can only do fearfully wonderful works.
David would have us know he is not just getting carried away with his own writing. He is not indulging in poetic licence. He says it is the deep conviction of his soul that all God’s works are marvellous (v. 14).
139:13–16 / These verses, with their introductory for you created my inmost being, explain and substantiate the reason for this divine loyalty. God is portrayed as a skilled weaver and the speaker as his handiwork. God’s interest in the speaker from his life’s beginning evidences God’s personal and long-term investment in him. As in the first section, this one also draws attention to the extent of God’s knowledge, spatially (v. 15) and temporally (v. 16). In addition, this section substantiates that God can see equally in light and darkness (as claimed in vv. 11–12). The evidence is that your eyes saw my unformed body, which was in my mother’s womb, in the secret place, in the depths of the earth. Verse 16 does not point to a notion of divine predestination but foreknowledge. In verses 1–12, the speaker reflects a sense of freedom (e.g., “when I sit” and “when I rise,” and “if I go up,” vv. 2, 8). What is divinely determined is God’s inevitable presence and knowledge.
139:13, 14 So much then for the omnipresence of God. David now turns to consider His power and skill. And the particular phase of divine omnipotence he chooses is the marvelous development of a baby in his mother’s womb. In a speck of watery material smaller than the dot over this i, all the future characteristics of the child are programmed—the color of his skin, eyes and hair, the shape of his facial features, the natural abilities he will have. All that the child will be physically and mentally is contained in germ form in that fertilized egg. From it will develop:
… 60 trillion cells, 100 thousand miles of nerve fiber, 60 thousand miles of vessels carrying blood around the body, 250 bones, to say nothing of joints, ligaments and muscles.
David describes the formation of the fetus with exquisite delicacy and beauty. “You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.” Yes, God formed our inward parts; each one a marvel of divine engineering. Think of the brain, for instance, with its capacity for recording facts, sounds, odors, sights, touch, pain; with its ability to recall; with its power to make computations; with its seemingly endless flair for making decisions and solving problems.
And God knit us together in our mother’s womb. This aptly describes the marvelous weaving of the muscles, sinews, ligaments, nerves, blood vessels and bones of the human frame.
David bursts forth in praise to the Lord. As he thinks of man, the crown of God’s creation, he can only confess that he is fearfully and wonderfully made. The more we think of the marvels of the human body, its orderliness, its complexity, its beauty, its instincts and inherited factors—the more we wonder how anyone trained in natural science can fail to be a believer in an infinite Creator.
139:13 formed … wove. By virtue of the divinely designed period of pregnancy, God providentially watches over the development of the child while yet in the mother’s womb.
139:13–16 You Even Saw and Loved Me before I Was Born. These verses illustrate the point of vv. 11–12 (the section begins with for, showing the connection to the previous) by describing a particular “dark place” where the Lord saw and cared for the singer, namely, his mother’s womb. God was active as the unformed substance (embryo) grew and developed; indeed he is the one who formed my inward parts and knitted me together. God saw him, and even had written in his book, every one of … the days that were formed for me. The worshiper realizes that, even before his mother knew she was pregnant, the Lord was already showing his care for him. His personal life began in the womb (see note on 51:5), and God had already laid out its course.
139:14 I am fearfully and wonderfully made. If the ESV text is followed, the statement helps the worshiper to marvel over the mysterious process of a developing baby. The word translated “wonderfully made” (Hb. nipleti) has a slightly unusual spelling (the expected spelling is niple’ti), which favors the ESV footnote: “I am fearfully set apart.” This takes the word to be the term for God setting his people apart (Ex. 8:22; Ps. 4:3) or making a distinction between them and those who are not his people (Ex. 9:4; 11:7; 33:16). The faithful person singing this, who in the OT would be the child of faithful parents, can affirm that God set his special love upon him from the earliest stages of his personal life (cf. Ps. 22:9–10; 71:5–6).
139:15 in the depths of the earth. As a parallel to in secret, this would be a poetic expression for the darkness and secrecy of the womb.
139:13 my inward parts The Hebrew word used here, kilyah, can refer to organs like kidneys in sacrificial animals. It is also used metaphorically for one’s inner self and is often used parallel to the heart (see Jer 11:20).
139:15 My frame People in the ancient Near East considered bones to be particularly indicative of a person’s nature because they were the deepest and longest-lasting part of a person.
139:16 my embryo The Hebrew word used here, golem, refers to a formless mass or incomplete vessel and is sometimes thought to indicate an embryo or fetus.
139:13 you formed my inward parts. God’s knowledge of the writer goes back even before his birth, to his conception, when the Lord created the psalmist’s personal existence.
139:14 Wonderful are your works. Such works include creating the writer and every other human being. The wonder of the developing child in the womb gives praise to the Creator.
139:15 in secret. In his mother’s womb.
depths of the earth. Here a metaphor for the womb.
139:16 the days that were formed for me. God’s preparation of the poet’s days does not wait for time. He rejoices in God’s predetermined course for his life.
139:13–16 This passage extols God for His marvelous work in human creation and constitutes the most important pericope in Scripture on one’s self-image. God prescribed the custom design for each individual (vv. 14–16) to equip one for specific achievement and purpose (cf. Is. 43:7, 21; Rom. 9:20; 1 Thess. 1:4). The Creator never finishes but continues to edify and build up the creation (cf. Eph. 2:10; 1 Pet. 5:10), because, as the Creator, He receives glory or dishonor according to the fruits of His creation (cf. Matt. 5:16). The importance of self-image is threefold: (1) to realize one’s own potential, one must see his worth as God’s creation (Gen. 1:26, 27; Matt. 19:19; Eph 2:10); (2) to relate to others, one must develop his own unique testimony (cf. 1 Cor. 3:2; 2 Cor. 1:3–8; 1 Pet. 3:15); (3) to relate to God, one must honor Him as the Creator/Designer (cf. Rom 9:20, 21). One can achieve a wholesome self-image by recognizing the lordship of the Creator in his life (Rom. 8:28; Eph. 2:10) through a continuous and systematic quiet time of reading the Word and praying (5:3,note), through a careful assessment of one’s priorities (Matt. 6:33; Col. 4:5), and by building a personal image according to God’s blueprint. God does not assess personal worth as man does, for He looks beyond the bodily frame to the picture within (1 Sam. 16:7; Prov. 15:13; 1 Pet. 3:3, 4). Even the most obnoxious negative traits can be transformed by the Creator into positive qualities (Rom. 12:2), and even the most tragic circumstances can be overruled or redirected to good by the providence of God (Rom. 8:28). Because one’s physical characteristics are prescribed by God and not by the accident of genetics, to criticize the creation is to blame the Creator (cf. Is. 45:9, 10). “Skillfully wrought [lit. >embroidered’] in the lowest parts of the earth” (v. 15) is poetic language for his formation in the darkness of the womb. “My substance, being yet unformed” (v. 16) refers to the embryo. Verse 16 affirms God’s prior knowledge of David’s life—all the way from the preembryonic stage through death. The Bible thus avows that personhood exists from the very moment of conception. This is a very important matter in the question of abortion. Abortion, from the biblical perspective, is nothing less than murder (cf. Jer. 1:5).
139:13–16 You formed my inward parts: David affirms that the work of God in his life extended back to his development in his mother’s womb. You covered me may also be translated as “You wove me together,” a description of the work of God creating the person in the mother’s womb. I am fearfully and wonderfully made might be rephrased as “I am an awesome wonder” (Ps. 8). skillfully wrought: The development of the fetus was something quite mysterious to the ancients. To them, it was as though the fetus were being developed in the middle of the earth. The Hebrew word my substance indicates the embryo. in Your book: The idea is that the life of a person, and the structure and meaning of that person’s life, are all established from the beginning by God.
 VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, p. 962). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Ellsworth, R. (2006). Opening up Psalms (pp. 126–127). Leominster: Day One Publications.
 Hubbard, R. L. J., & Johnston, R. K. (2012). Foreword. In W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston (Eds.), Psalms (p. 486). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 770). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ps 139:13). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (pp. 1116–1117). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
 Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 139:13–16). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
 Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 861). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.
 Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Ps 139:13–16). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 738). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.
14 This point is stressed by Jesus’ reversal of the order in which he uses the titles here: “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” The goal of a servant is to become like his master. The priorities and practices of the greater must of necessity become those of the lesser. Since the Lord of the disciples had washed their feet, it was incumbent on them to extend the same humble service to one another. Jesus had set an example so that they would do as he had done for them.
13:13, 14 The disciples had acknowledged Jesus to be their Teacher and Lord, and they were right in doing so. But His example showed that the highest rank in the power structure of the kingdom is that of servant.
If the Lord and Teacher had washed the disciples’ feet, what excuse could they have for not washing one another’s feet? Did the Lord mean that they should literally wash each other’s feet with water? Was He here instituting an ordinance for the church? No, the meaning here was spiritual. He was telling them that they should keep each other clean by constant fellowship over the Word. If one sees his brother growing cold or worldly, he should lovingly exhort him from the Bible.
13:14 Footwashing continues as a regular ceremony in a number of modern denominations, which literally obey Jesus’ command, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. Others believe the language is figurative for the importance of serving one another, and that the act itself is not required.
13:14, 15 Christ’s act is an example of the dignity and responsibility of Christian reciprocal servitude. The act was never taken by the church as an initial rite or an ordinance. Only in 1 Tim. 5:10 is its practice mentioned, and there the devout widows who performed the washing did it as an act of hospitality. In the early church it did become a custom, and in a.d. 694 at the Synod of Toledo, it was officially prescribed. However, since “pedilavium,” or footwashing, is not given as an ordinance, nor commanded and developed in the N.T. church, most evangelical denominations do not perform the ritual. The intended lesson in Christ’s example, however, is clearly not to be set aside. There is no service too extensive, costly, or humiliatingly modest to be performed for another of God’s children.
 Mounce, R. H. (2007). John. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, p. 549). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 1542–1543). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2051). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
 Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Jn 13:14). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
U.S. President Donald Trump plans to meet Tuesday with Senate Republicans in a crucial week for his presidency and his tax plan that could decide whether he ends his first year with a major legislative achievement.
The Trump Organization said its luxury hotel in Panama is legally required to keep the Trump brand following an Associated Press report that the 70-story building’s owners are trying to remove it, the third such effort this year.
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa ordered anyone who had illegally moved cash and assets out of the southern African nation to return them within three months or face arrest.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his foreign minister said the same-sex partners of foreign dignitaries should be treated the same as other spouses, rebuffing a ruling-party executive who said they shouldn’t be invited to receptions at the Imperial Palace.
The U.S. military says a Russian fighter flew within 50 feet of a U.S. Navy reconnaissance jet over the Black Sea with full afterburners on, causing violent turbulence that knocked the American plane into a 15-degree roll.
Japan is stepping up patrols and urging local authorities and fishermen to be on the alert after several boats thought to be from North Korea, some carrying dead bodies, were found on its northern coast.
It’s looking like boom time in the world economy again: As more economists publish their 2018 outlooks, those from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Barclays Plc are proving the most bullish in predicting global growth will reach 4 percent next year. That would be the strongest since 2011 and up from the 3.7 percent that Goldman Sachs estimates for this year.
Mercedes-Benz, conducting the biggest test using drones to ship everyday items like ground coffee and cellphones, said the mini aircraft completed 100 drop-offs to strategically placed vans in Zurich with a perfect safety record and more deliveries are planned for next year.
A 14.93-carat pink diamond ring sold for about $32 million at Christie’s in Hong Kong, at the low end of estimates in a volatile market for gems, while a vintage Patek Philippe set a record auction price for a wristwatch in Asia. The oval stone sold after a three-minute contest. It was estimated to sell for as much as $42 million.
AP Top Stories
A nurse at an Indiana hospital was let go after an offensive tweet suggesting that the sons of white women “be sacrificed to the wolves” was traced back to her Twitter account.
A plane carrying hundreds of people experienced “tire issues” upon landing at Newark Liberty International Airport on Sunday, with passengers reporting that two of the tires had exploded.
Eleven days after Argentina’s missing San Juan submarine went silent following an explosion, a 14-nation search has failed to find the vessel at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. For more than a week, aircraft from Argentina, Britain and the United States have crisscrossed the South Atlantic.
Six former British soldiers working as part of a private security team protecting ships from piracy have been released from prison in India after serving four years for possessing weapons.
A senior Syrian Kurdish official says the Americans would undermine the fight against Islamic State militants in the region if they “turn their back” on their only ally in Syria – the Syrian Kurds. U.S. and British officials have expressed support for the Syrian opposition ahead of peace talks in Geneva.
South Korea is reportedly using loudspeakers along its border with North Korea to broadcast updates on a deflecting soldier’s dramatic escape into the South.
Palestinian movement Hamas again refused to disarm on Monday ahead of a key reconciliation deadline, instead threatening to carry out attacks against Israel in the West Bank.
Pope Francis on Monday begins a six-day trip to Myanmar and Bangladesh. While attention will focus on how Francis addresses the Rohingya Muslim crisis, the trip also holds huge significance for the tiny Catholic communities in each country.
Former President Barack Obama sent his well wishes Monday afternoon to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on their engagement.
A former top Chinese general under investigation for major corruption has killed himself, official media reported Tuesday, denouncing his death as a “despicable” act to escape punishment.
Home prices continued to climb in the U.S. The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index rose 6.2% in September, up from 5.9% a month earlier – the fastest annual rate increase since June 2014. The index was up 0.4% in September from a month earlier, beating analysts’ estimate of 0.3%.
Sixteen men arrested last month during a crackdown on homosexuality by the authorities in Egypt have been sentenced to three years in prison.
The number of US troops in Syria and Iraq is significantly higher than acknowledged by Pentagon officials, a US defense department report shows. Officially there are 503 US troops in Syria and 5,262 in Iraq. However, the Pentagon’s quarterly report puts number of troops as 1,720 in Syria and 8,892 in Iraq.
Ohio State University’s student government has added an inclusivity measure of a five-minute break during its weekly general assembly meetings. The break, installed after a student requested it, is meant to allow student government representatives time for prayers, as practicing Muslims pray five times throughout the day.
Men married to women who opt to keep their maiden names after tying the knot are often viewed as less masculine and lacking pants in the relationship, a new study finds.
Telegraph (Foreign Staff) –
Church of Sweden to stop clergy calling God ‘he’ or ‘the Lord’ in bid to crack down on gendered language
Telegraph (Henry Samuel and Matthew Day) –
France and Poland clash over court ruling to remove cross from late Pope John Paul II statue
Religion News Service (Catherine Pepinster) –
Prince Harry will marry a divorced American — and the church is fine with it
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Muhammad bin Salman has been kicking up a lot of sand since being made Saudi Crown Prince in June and heir apparent to the throne. Unfortunately, his latest initiative, an ‘Arab NATO,’ promises to be just as successful as his other efforts to date. If the world escapes the latest brainchild of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) with nothing more serious than a regional fender-bender we should count our lucky stars.
Iron Dome at Sea Has Gone Live, IDF Navy Announces
A new maritime version of the Iron Dome missile defense system has been declared operational by the IDF following months of testing. “Today, the Naval ‘Iron Dome’ Aerial Defense System was qualified for operational use. This innovation will help protect Israel’s strategic assets at sea and naval troops operating in the area,” the IDF said in a statement.
Tehran Is Winning the War for Control of the Middle East
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Clinton campaign planned to fire me over email probe, Obama intel watchdog says
A government watchdog who played a central role in the Hillary Clinton email investigation during the Obama administration told Fox News that he, his family and his staffers faced an intense backlash at the time from Clinton allies – and that the campaign even put out word that it planned to fire him if the Democratic presidential nominee won the 2016 election. “There was personal blowback. Personal blowback to me, to my family, to my office,” former Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough III said. Some of those email exchanges contained Special Access Program (SAP) information characterized by intel experts as “above top secret.”
Limbaugh: Bernie Sanders is Democratic front-runner for 2020
Talk-radio superstar Rush Limbaugh says the front-runner for the 2020 Democratic Party nomination for president “as we sit here today” is Bernie Sanders. And his opponent for that nomination will be Michelle Obama. “You disagree with me or you don’t believe it? Well, believe it, because the Democrat Party is no more the Democrat Party. The Democrat Party is the party of American communism,” “And if you look at what Bernie Sanders stands for, where did Bernie Sanders honeymoon? Moscow. Bernie Sanders sidles up to the traditional enemies of this country. And Bernie Sanders is the most popular right now Democratic presidential candidate in the Democrat Party. It isn’t Joe Bite Me, and it isn’t Al Franken. And it isn’t Elizabeth Fauxcahontas Warren, and it’s not Kamala Harris. It is Bernie Sanders. And it’s not even close. Bernie Sanders, hands down.”
Clinton accusers: End secret ‘hush fund’ for sex predators
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Russian cosmonauts find mysterious bacteria on the hull of the International Space Station that’s NOT from Earth
BACTERIA discovered on the surface of the International Space Station may not be from Earth, a Russian cosmonaut claims. Anton Shkaplerov, an ISS expedition flight engineer who will take his third trip to the space station in December, said that living bacteria harvested from the metal skin may be extraterrestrial.
Russian bishop claims last tsar murdered by Jews for ritual purposes
Russia’s largest Jewish group protested a local bishop’s claim…that the country’s last tsar was murdered by Jews for ritual purposes. Marina Molodtsova, a senior investigator for a special ministerial committee on the 1917 slaying of Nicholas II of Russia, said on Monday during a conference in Moscow that her committee will conduct “a psycho-historical examination” to find out whether the execution of the royal family was a ritual murder, Ria Novosti reported.
Israel lobbies UNIFIL nations against Hezbollah arms ahead of UN debate
Israel made its case on Monday to countries that contribute troops to the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), saying they have to do much more to both inspect for, and report on, Hezbollah arms violations in southern Lebanon. Foreign Ministry deputy director-general for diplomacy Alon Ushpiz and deputy director-general for the United Nations and International Organizations Alon Bar briefed a number of ambassadors from states contributing to UNIFIL…
Chess federation vows ‘huge effort’ to include Israelis in Saudi-hosted match
The World Chess Federation (FIDE) is undertaking a “huge effort” to include Israeli players in a speed chess championship hosted by Saudi Arabia next month, the federation said on Monday. Seven Israeli players hoping to attend the championship on Dec. 26-30 have submitted visa requests, FIDE Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos told Reuters.
IDF declares naval Iron Dome system operational
The army’s ship-mounted Iron Dome system was declared operational Monday evening, the IDF spokesperson’s unit announced. The Tamir-Adir system was declared operational after a final test in which Grad rockets were fired, both individually and in barrages, at the INS Lahav Sa’ar 5-class corvette small warship, as well as towards Israel’s offshore gas rigs, scenarios envisioned in future conflicts with Hamas or Hezbollah.
Hawaii reinstates Cold-War era nuclear attack warning signal amid North Korea tension
Hawaii is reinstating a statewide nuclear attack warning signal in December to prepare for a potential attack from North Korea. The alarm, which has not been used since the Cold War will be reinstated on Dec. 1 as part of a ballistic missile preparedness program, according to the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA).
Europe’s HIV epidemic growing at alarming rate, WHO warns
The number of people newly diagnosed with HIV in Europe reached its highest level in 2016 since records began, showing the region’s epidemic growing “at an alarming pace”, health officials said on Tuesday. That year, 160,000 people contracted the virus that causes AIDS in the 53 countries that make up the World Health Organization’s European region, the agency said in a joint report with the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
Japan detects radio signals pointing to possible North Korea missile test: source
Japan has detected radio signals suggesting North Korea may be preparing another ballistic missile launch, although such signals are not unusual and satellite images did not show fresh activity, a Japanese government source said on Tuesday…Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported late on Monday that the Japanese government was on alert after catching such radio signals…
There Have Been 698 Earthquakes In California Within The Past 30 Days
Why is the west coast shaking so violently? According to the latest data from Earthquake Track, there have been 698 earthquakes in California within the past 30 days. By the time that you read this article, that number will undoubtedly have changed. In recent days I have felt such an urgency to write about the seismic activity on the west coast, and I am quite concerned that so few people seem to be paying attention to what is happening.
Teachers Attend ‘LGGBDTTTIQQAAP’ Sensitivity Training (WTF?)
Gather ’round children! The Canadian Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario has some super interesting new information for you! First, we’re going to learn a new acronym. Can you say, “LGGBDTTTIQQAAPP?” Let’s try it to the tune of “Old MacDonald!” Everyone sing along! Next, we’ll learn what these letters mean. Are you ready?
Report: Israel vows to destroy Iranian positions within 40 km of Syrian border
Syrian President Bashar Assad reportedly offered Netanyahu a comprehensive deal that would include a demilitarized zone stretching 40 kilometers from the border.
Nolte: New York Times NAMBLA-izes Pre-Teen Boys Wearing Eye Makeup
One of the healthiest of human instincts is to feel your stomach roll over at the sight of sexualized children. Though we might not be able to articulate it, there is a big difference between a little kid playing grownup and, say, this… And that is not a little girl, by the way; that is a young boy as photographed by the left-wing New York Times.
VIDEO=> Trump Brings Christ Back to Christmas: First Lady Melania Promotes Nativity Scene — Removes Mao Balls
Melania released video of the beautiful White House decorations. And this year a Nativity scene was included.
Lunatic leftist bureaucrat carries out coup at CFPB
Who is the duly elected president of the United States, former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau boss Richard Cordray or Donald Trump? If your name is Leandra English, then in your psychotic fantasy President Cordray named you as acting director of the CFPB, a loathsome federal agency created to persecute businesses.
AU Faithful Worried Over Gay Marriage
Jewish and Islamic leaders have demanded protections for religious officials who refuse to perform gay marriages under Australia’s new same-sex marriage law.
Antifa Member Kills Horse During Anti-Hate Protest: ‘Trump Voters Next’
An Antifa member has been arrested following the sudden death of a police horse during a demonstration between Antifa and right-wing Pegida in the Dutch city of Nijmegen.
Bodies Wash Up In Japan Across From DPRK
The decomposing remains of ten people have been found in wrecked ships along Japan’s coast, just opposite North Korea.
Trump Berated for Voting Against Russia’s Annual ‘Nazism’ Resolution; Obama and Bush Did Too Critics of the Trump administration continued to vent outrage on social media over the holiday weekend for its vote earlier this month against a U.N. resolution condemning the “glorification of Nazism” – but were mostly silent about the fact the Obama and Bush administration both did the same thing each year.
Did you know that the number of retail store closings in 2017 has already tripled the number from all of 2016? Last year, a total of 2,056 store locations were closed down, but this year more than 6,700 stores have been shut down so far. That absolutely shatters the all-time record for store closings in a single year, and yet nobody seems that concerned about it. In 2008, an all-time record 6,163 retail stores were shuttered, and we have already surpassed that mark by a very wide margin. We are facing an unprecedented retail apocalypse, and as you will see below, the number of retail store closings is actually supposed to be much higher next year. (Read More…)
PAUL BEDARD — The Obama-era Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under fire by the Trump administration has been a Democratic Party donor bank, its bureaucrats writing checks to liberals at a rate of 593 to one Republican…. (more)
LOS ANGELES TIMES — When he was named special counsel in May, Robert S. Mueller III was hailed as the ideal lawman – – deeply experienced, strait-laced and nonpartisan – – to investigate whether President Trump’s campaign had helped with Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election…. (more)
NEWSMAX — President Donald Trump Friday tweeted another call for a travel ban on several predominantly Muslim countries and for a wall at the Mexican border, while responding to the news of a massive terrorist attack at an Egyptian mosque…. (more)
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — President Trump on Thursday thanked the “brave, incredible” U.S. troops serving around the world this Thanksgiving, and said they are a critical difference in the fight against terrorism… (more)
ALICIA POWE — Under the Obama administration, the White House, the Department of Justice and other federal agencies repeatedly circumvented Congress by using guidance memos to create de facto regulations, changing laws without going through the review process…. (more)
WASHINGTON TIMES — Actress Mayim Bialik says she loathes Thanksgiving because it’s “one of the grossest examples of genocide in recent history.” The “Big Bang Theory” star – – who has an expansive social media presence across her website Grok Nation, another 2.3 million Instagram fans, and 304,000 subscribers on YouTube – – offered up “4 Reasons I Don’t Like Thanksgiving,” a video which included a retelling of America’s past, echoing Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States.”… (more)
JERRY NEWCOMBE — With another Thanksgiving upon us, it’s good to consider what the Pilgrims endured and how they thanked God through it all. I just finished reading a phenomenal book on the group of dissident Christians who founded Plymouth in 1620. Historian Rod Gragg wrote The Pilgrim Chronicles: An Eyewitness history of the Pilgrims and the Founding of Plymouth Colony (Regnery History, 2014). I thought I knew a lot about the Pilgrims, but this book added greatly to my knowledge…. (more)
Holly Pivec of Spirit of Error offers 5 tips for identifying NAR churches in your neighborhood. For example, NAR churches often provide links to other NAR websites or advertise their upcoming conferences — but not always. As well “they might share the leaders’ Facebook comments or even invite them to speak at their church. Any church […]
The post Identifying New Apostolic Reformation churches in your city appeared first on Berean Research.
Dr. Michael S. Horton, Member of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals and cohost of the White Horse Inn radio program. penned the exposé on Charles Finney that’s posted over at Monergism: No single man is more responsible for the distortion of Christian truth in our age than Charles Grandison Finney. His “new measures” created a framework for […]
Sadly, many people are unaware that they are caught up in a cult. This piece over at Faith After Deception is about how we can help those who are in a cult face the truth about their organization. It is a fact that hypnosis and other manipulative techniques are very effectively used to influence people’s thinking. […]
With that brief question Jesus Christ confronted His followers with the most important issue they would ever face. He had spent much time with them and made some bold claims about His identity and authority. Now the time had come for them either to believe or deny His teachings.
Who do you say Jesus is? Your response to Him will determine not only your values and lifestyle, but your eternal destiny as well.
Consider what the Bible says about Him:
JESUS IS GOD
While Jesus was on earth there was much confusion about who He was. Some thought He was a wise man or a great prophet. Others thought He was a madman. Still others couldn’t decide or didn’t care. But Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). That means He claimed to be nothing less than God in human flesh.
Many people today don’t understand that Jesus claimed to be God. They’re content to think of Him as little more than a great moral teacher. But even His enemies understood His claims to deity. That’s why they tried to stone Him to death (John 5:18; 10:33) and eventually had Him crucified (John 19:7).
C.S. Lewis observed, “You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to” (Mere Christianity [Macmillan, 1952], pp. 40-41).
If the biblical claims of Jesus are true, He is God!
JESUS IS HOLY
God is absolutely and perfectly holy (Isaiah 6:3), therefore He cannot commit or approve of evil (James 1:13).
As God, Jesus embodied every element of God’s character. Colossians 2:9 says, “In Him all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form.” He was perfectly holy (Hebrews 4:15). Even His enemies couldn’t prove any accusation against Him (John 8:46)
God requires holiness of us as well. First Peter 1:16 says, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
JESUS IS THE SAVIOR
Our failure to obey God—to be holy—places us in danger of eternal punishment (2 Thessalonians 1:9). The truth is, we cannot obey Him because we have neither the desire nor the ability to do so. We are by nature rebellious toward God (Ephesians 2:1-3). The Bible calls our rebellion “sin.” According to Scripture, everyone is guilty of sin: “There is no man who does not sin” (1 Kings 8:46). “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And we are incapable of changing our sinful condition. Jeremiah 13:23 says, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.”
That doesn’t mean we’re incapable of performing acts of human kindness. We might even be involved in various religious or humanitarian activities. But we’re utterly incapable of understanding, loving, or pleasing God on our own. The Bible says, “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one” (Romans 3:10-12).
God’s holiness and justice demand that all sin be punished by death: “The soul who sins will die” (Ezekiel 18:4). That’s hard for us to understand because we tend to evaluate sin on a relative scale, assuming some sins are less serious than others. However, the Bible teaches that all acts of sin are the result of sinful thinking and evil desires. That’s why simply changing our patterns of behavior can’t solve our sin problem or eliminate its consequences. We need to be changed inwardly so our thinking and desires are holy
Jesus is the only one who can forgive and transform us, thereby delivering us from the power and penalty of sin: “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Even though God’s justice demands death for sin, His love has provided a Savior, who paid the penalty and died for sinners: “Christ … died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Christ’s death satisfied the demands of God’s justice, thereby enabling Him to forgive and save those who place their faith in Him (Romans 3:26). John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” He alone is “our great God and Savior” (Titus 2:13).
JESUS IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH
Some people think it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere. But without a valid object your faith is useless
If you take poison—thinking it’s medicine—all the faith in the world won’t restore your life. Similarly, if Jesus is the only source of salvation, and you’re trusting in anyone or anything else for your salvation, your faith is useless.
Many people assume there are many paths to God and that each religion represents an aspect of truth. But Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6). He didn’t claim to be one of many equally legitimate paths to God, or the way to God for His day only. He claimed to be the only way to God—then and forever.
JESUS IS LORD
Contemporary thinking says man is the product of evolution. But the Bible says we were created by a personal God to love, serve, and enjoy endless fellowship with Him
The New Testament reveals it was Jesus Himself who created everything (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16). Therefore He also owns and rules everything (Psalm 103:19). That means He has authority over our lives and we owe Him absolute allegiance, obedience, and worship.
Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.” Confessing Jesus as Lord means humbly submitting to His authority (Philippians 2:10-11). Believing that God has raised Him from the dead involves trusting in the historical fact of His resurrection—the pinnacle of Christian faith and the way the Father affirmed the deity and authority of the Son (Romans 1:4; Acts 17:30-31).
True faith is always accompanied by repentance from sin. Repentance is more than simply being sorry for sin. It is agreeing with God that you are sinful, confessing your sins to Him, and making a conscious choice to turn from sin and pursue holiness (Isaiah 55:7). Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15); and “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine” (John 8:31).
It isn’t enough to believe certain facts about Christ. Even Satan and his demons believe in the true God (James 2:19), but they don’t love and obey Him. Their faith is not genuine. True saving faith always responds in obedience (Ephesians 2:10).
Jesus is the sovereign Lord. When you obey Him you are acknowledging His lordship and submitting to His authority. That doesn’t mean your obedience will always be perfect, but that is your goal. There is no area of your life that you withhold from Him.
JESUS IS THE JUDGE
All who reject Jesus as their Lord and Savior will one day face Him as their Judge: “God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).
Second Thessalonians 1:7-9 says, “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.”
HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?
Who does the Bible say Jesus is? The living God, the Holy One, the Savior, the only valid object of saving faith, the sovereign Lord, and the righteous Judge.
Who do you say Jesus is? That is the inescapable question. He alone can redeem you—free you from the power and penalty of sin. He alone can transform you, restore you to fellowship with God, and give your life eternal purpose. Will you repent and believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?
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After I speak about the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) and its dangers, a question I’m often asked is, “Do you think there are any NAR churches where I live?” My answer is “Almost certainly. Churches that hold to NAR beliefs can be found in pretty much every city and town.”
The next question is, “How do I know which churches those are?” That’s a very good question since most NAR churches don’t put the words “New Apostolic Reformation” on their street sign or website. So how are you supposed to know if they’re part of NAR?