Daily Archives: December 6, 2017

December 6: The Heir of All Things

“In these last days [God] has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things” (Heb. 1:2).

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Since Jesus is the Son of God, He is the heir of all that God possesses.

When Christ first came to earth He became poor for our sakes, that we, through His poverty, might be made rich (2 Cor. 8:9). He had nothing for Himself; He had “nowhere to lay His head” (Luke 9:58). Even His clothes were taken from Him when He died, and He was buried in a tomb that belonged to someone else.

It is beyond human understanding to imagine that the Galilean carpenter who was crucified like a common criminal, naked and bleeding on a cross outside the city of Jerusalem, is the King of kings and Lord of lords. But He is!

As the Son of God, Jesus is the heir of all that God possesses. The Apostle Paul explains that all things not only were created by Christ but also for Him (Col. 1:16). Everything that exists will find its true meaning only when it comes under the final control of Christ.

The book of Psalms predicted that Christ would one day be the heir to all that God possesses. The Father, speaking to the Son, says, “Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Thine inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Thy possession” (Ps. 2:8). God also declared, “I also shall make Him My first-born, the highest of the kings of the earth” (Ps. 89:27; cf. Col. 1:15). “First-born” refers to legal rights—especially those of inheritance and authority.

When Christ comes to earth again, He will completely and eternally inherit all things (Rev. 11:15). And because we have trusted in Him, we are to be “fellow-heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:16–17). When we enter into His eternal Kingdom, we will jointly possess all that He possesses. We will not be joint Christs or joint Lords, but we will be joint-heirs. His marvelous inheritance will be ours as well.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for making you a joint-heir with Christ. Thank your Lord for allowing that to happen through His death on the cross.

For Further Study: Read Revelation 5:1–14 and 11:15–18, noting how the inhabitants of Heaven respond to Christ.[1][1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 353). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

December 6: SUBMERGE OUR WILLS IN THE WILL OF GOD

…O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will but as thou wilt.

MATTHEW 26:39

Where there is no freedom of choice there can be neither sin nor righteousness, because it is of the nature of both that they be voluntary.

However good an act may be, it is not good if it is imposed from without. The act of imposition destroys the moral content of the act and renders it null and void! Sin is the voluntary commission of an act known to be contrary to the will of God. Where there is no moral knowledge or where there is no voluntary choice, the act is not sinful; it cannot be, for sin is the transgression of the law and transgression must be voluntary.

Lucifer became Satan when he made his fateful choice: “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” Clearly here was a choice made against light. Both knowledge and will were present in the act.

Conversely, Christ revealed His holiness when He cried in His agony, “Not my will, but thine, be done.” Here was a deliberate choice made with the full knowledge of the consequences. Here two wills were in temporary conflict, the lower will of the Man who was God and the higher will of the God who was Man, and the higher will prevailed.

Here also was seen in glaring contrast the enormous difference between Christ and Satan; and that difference divides saint from sinner and heaven from hell. The secret of saintliness is not the destruction of the will—but the submergence of it in the will of God![1][1] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

December 6, 2017: Afternoon Verse Of The Day

Jesus also assures His people that He Himself acts with them when they work to purify the church: For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst. Not only does the Father confirm discipline when it is administered according to His Word, but the Son adds His own divine confirmation.

This verse is also frequently misinterpreted, though not with such serious error as in the misinterpretations of the two previous verses. To use this statement to claim the Lord’s presence at a small worship service or prayer meeting does not fit the context of church discipline and is superfluous. Christ is always present with His people, even with a lone believer totally separated from fellow Christians by prison walls or by hundreds of miles.

The context demands that the two or three are witnesses in the process of discipline. To ask or to do anything in God’s name is not to utter His name but to ask and to work according to His divine will and character. For the witnesses to have gathered in His name is therefore for them to have faithfully performed their work of verifying the repentance or impenitence of a sinning brother or sister on the Lord’s behalf. When the church gathers in the Lord’s name and for His cause and glory, it must be engaged in self-purifying ministry under His power and authority, and with His heavenly confirmation and partnership.[1]


20 Derrett (“Where two or three”) suggests that the “two or three” [judges] reflect known Jewish legal practice. Each of the disputing parties would nominate his own “judge,” a layman known to be impartial, and these two would try to settle the problem. If this effort failed, they would approach a third, unconnected with the disputants, who worked with the others either along the lines of arbitration or adjudication. The parallel is very neat and nicely accounts for Jesus’ “two or three.” My chief hesitation comes from the fact that Jesus has just told the complainant to “tell it to the church” (v. 17), not to judges appointed by the disputants. Here the Dead Sea Scrolls (referred to above) may offer a closer parallel. Moreover, Derrett assumes that the “two” in v. 19 and the “two or three” in v. 20 are not the same individuals but disputants and judges respectively. But these points are not decisive. We have as parallels not only 1 Corinthians 5, where the entire church meets on an issue, but also 1 Corinthians 6:4, where the church becomes involved through appointed judges. Matthew 18:19–20 remains difficult; at this point we must be content with a balance of probabilities.[2]


20. For where two or three are gathered in my name there am I in the midst of them. The expression “two or three” is a development of “two” in the preceding verse. The Lord again assures his disciples that the gathering of believers for prayer and worship need not be one of “crowding worshipers.” Even two or three will receive a blessing as long as they gather in his name, that is, in close fellowship with him; hence, with his atoning work as the basis of their approach to God, at his direction, and in harmony with that which he has revealed concerning himself. For the concept “name” see also on 6:9; 7:22; 10:22, 41, 42; 12:21; 18:5.

The promise is, “There am I in the midst of them.” The expression “Jehovah (“God” or “I”) in the midst of you (“her,” “us”)” is in Scripture generally associated with the impartation of strength, direction, protection, and consolation: “to help, to comfort, and to bless.” See such passages as Ps. 46:5; Isa. 12:6; Jer. 14:9; Hos. 11:9; Zeph. 3:5, 15, 17; Zech. 2:10. Similar is “I am (“will be”) with you” (Gen. 28:15; Deut. 31:6; Josh. 1:5; Judg. 6:16, etc.). We can safely conclude therefore that in the present passage the meaning is the same. It is in that favorable sense that Jesus is spiritually in the midst of his people gathered for prayer and worship.

Most comforting is also the fact that Jehovah—and this holds also for Jesus Christ—though great and infinite, in his tender love condescends to that which is small, weak, humble, and by the world generally despised (Judg. 6:15, 16; 7:7; Ps. 20:7; Isa. 1:8, 9; 57:15; Zeph. 3:12; Matt. 18:10; Luke 12:32; 1 Cor. 4:11–13). This explains “where two or three are gathered, etc.” See also on Matt. 1:23, p. 141.[3]


20 This verse adds a promise to the preceding statements. In the conduct of its business, and again by context especially in the handling of church discipline (cf. 1 Cor 6:1–6), where two or three (cf. v. 16) are gathered together “in my name” (εἰς τὸ ἐμὸν ὄνομα; cf. v. 5; see Comment on 7:22), there Jesus will be in their midst. “In my name” is another way of saying “under my rule.” This presence of Jesus should not be understood as a metaphor (as in the case of Paul’s statement in 1 Cor 5:4) but is the literal presence of the resurrected Christ, in keeping with the promise to be articulated in 28:20 (cf. 1:23b). The community founded by Jesus (16:18) is assured that he will be present in that community until the close of the age. The saying is closely paralleled by the rabbinic saying that where two gather together to study Torah, the Shekinah glory is present with them (in m ʾAbot 3:2; 3:6; b. Sanh. 39a; b. Ber. 5b). The differences, gathering in the name of Jesus (for study of Torah) and the presence of Jesus (for the Shekinah glory), point to the enormous christological implications of this final logion. It is not far from this sense of the divine presence (cf. Joel 2:27; Zech 2:10–11) to the Christology of Paul or of the author of Hebrews.[4]


18:20 Verse 20 should be interpreted in light of its context. It does not refer primarily to the composition of a NT church in its simplest form, nor to a general prayer meeting, but to a meeting where the church seeks the reconciliation of two Christians separated by some sin. It may legitimately be applied to all meetings of believers where Christ is the Center, but a specific type of meeting is in view here.

To meet “in His name” means by His authority, in acknowledgment of all that He is, and in obedience to His Word. No group can claim to be the only ones who meet in His name; if that were so, His presence would be limited to a small segment of His body on earth. Wherever two or three are gathered in recognition of Him as Lord and Savior, he is there in the midst.[5]


18:20 there am I among them. Jesus affirms that he will be divinely present among his disciples as they seek unity in rendering decisions, which is rightly understood also as an affirmation of omnipresence and therefore of deity.[6]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Mt 18:18). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, p. 458). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Vol. 9, pp. 702–703). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] Hagner, D. A. (1998). Matthew 14–28 (Vol. 33B, p. 533). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1274). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[6] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1859). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

There’s Only One Road to Peace for Israel: U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem

by Gregg Roman
The Hill
December 5, 2017

http://www.meforum.org/7076/us-recognition-jerusalem-israel-capital

A lot happened in Washington this past week. But through the whirlwind came a huge development: President Trump is expected to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

It’s a symbolic move for sure — the embassy will remain in Tel Aviv for the time being — but it sends a powerful message that makes achieving a lasting solution to the conflict far more likely.

This past week, we commemorated the 70th anniversary of the plan passed by the United Nations to partition what was then a British Mandate territory into two states: a Jewish and Arab state.

The Israelis, of course, accepted the plan. The Palestinians, then vassals of neighboring Arab kingdoms, rejected it and soon launched a war. That war was long and hard-fought, but Israel triumphed — at least, that’s what the Israelis and the West thought.

U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is step forward in achieving lasting peace.

For the Palestinians, it seems, that war is still being fought. And that rejection continues.

Years of concessions, of work to build the Palestinian Authority into something capable of handling the levers of power that a state must wield, have brought us no closer to peace. Shaming Israel politically for defending its own people hasn’t worked either.

During the Oslo Accords, the Palestinians recognized Israel as a state, but to this day they still haven’t recognized Israel’s right to exist as a national homeland for the Jewish people. It may seem like a minor detail, but it’s critical to understanding the only true path to resolving the longstanding conflict.

Same with another seemingly minor action: this year’s Palestinian attempt to force the British government to apologize for the Balfour Declaration, the century-old document promising the Jewish people a homeland in what would become Israel. Viewed through the Palestinian lens, these are terribly important.

Early this year, my colleague Daniel Pipes at the Middle East Forum set out to reframe the way we all think about the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians: What if it’s not a capacity problem, or an economic problem, or even a territorial or ethno-religious problem? What if it’s simply the case that a war cannot truly end without one side declaring victory and the other accepting defeat?

Then this month, something remarkable happened. A group of legislators from Israel — the Knesset Israel Victory Caucus — came to Washington. They met with influential leaders in the American Jewish community. They met with some of the leading thinkers on these issues in the press and academia.

Perhaps most significantly, they met with policymakers in the Trump administration and in a like-minded group in Congress, the Congressional Israel Victory Caucus.

The Knesset and congressional groups pledged to work together toward reframing the paradigm through which we all view the conflict. They signed a statement that said, in part, “the primary obstacle to ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the near-century of Palestinian rejectionism of the right of self-determination for the Jewish people.”

And that’s the crux of the problem. How can Israel make peace when the Palestinians don’t want peace?

Destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, Francesco Hayez, 1867.
Jerusalem’s Judaic history dates back thousands of years before the birth of Islam.

That may sound incendiary, but think about it for a moment. Individual Palestinians surely want the conflict over. But as a nation — a people — they still seem convinced that they have the choice between accepting Israel and coexisting or rejecting Israel and eradicating it. It’s a false choice, and the price for continuing the fantasy — to both sides — is simply too high.

These caucuses will advocate for policy within their own governments aimed at reaching this shared goal. So what does that policy look like?

The natural first place to start is to erect sanctions against the Palestinian Authority and Hamas as long as they continue their rejectionism.

While the Israeli delegation was in the U.S., Congress took an important first step in this direction by moving the Taylor Force Act out of committee, and is expected to pass the full Congress this week. This bill is critical because it cuts off one of the key means by which the Palestinian leadership entrenches the conflict: paying money to the families of terrorists.

Passing that bill into law would be a great start, but there’s a lot more that must be done before the Palestinians finally accept reality.

Another option is to undertake serious campaigns in the media to change the minds of the Palestinian people. Campaigns that work to drain the Palestinians’ will to reject Israel will pay dividends in the medium- to long-term. Likewise, the around 20 percent of Palestinians who accept Israel as a Jewish state should be empowered to push their leadership in that direction.

The United States and Israel can both take important steps to isolate the Palestinians. For too long, their failed leadership has been propped up by Arab allies who see perpetual conflict in Israel as a way to justify their own repression at home. Reports about Mahmoud Abbas‘s recent meeting in Saudi Arabia prove encouraging on this front, as they are beginning to demonstrate unprecedented pressure on the Palestinian leader to compromise.

Trump’s move on Jerusalem is about exactly what Palestinians fear: proclaiming that Israel wins.

Finally, the United States should work closely with the Israeli government to find ways to provide diplomatic and political cover to more effectively defeat Palestinian terrorism, rather than pressuring Israel to hold back each time its people are attacked.

Before her death nearly 40 years ago, Golda Meir, the left-wing prime minister of Israel, famously said, “peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.” She was right. For peace to come, the Palestinians must decide that they have more to gain by giving up the conflict than by perpetuating it.

Hopefully the Palestinians will understand that Trump’s move on Jerusalem is about exactly what they fear: proclaiming that Israel wins. That’s the only path forward.

Gregg Roman is director of the Middle East Forum.

December 6, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

BLOOMBERG

The U.S. deployed a B-1B Lancer bomber to the Korean peninsula Wednesday as part of a joint exercise with South Korea involving 230 warplanes.

Russia held back from immediate retaliation over the International Olympic Committee’s ban on its team from the 2018 Winter Games for doping, even as it cast the punishment as part of a campaign to isolate the country.

President Vladimir Putin, who’s ruled Russia for 18 years, announced he will seek a new six-year term in March. Constitutional limits mean it’s likely to be his last.

Almost a million people fled violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the first half of the year, outpacing conflict zones including Syria and Yemen, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre said.

The U.S. would be ready to talk with North Korea if it renounced further nuclear or missile tests and followed through on the pledge, U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad said.

China “unequivocally rejects protectionism” and will seek to safeguard the global trading system, a top Communist Party official told visiting executives at an economic development forum.

An official Chinese newspaper near North Korea has published a page of articles on coping with nuclear attacks, in a sign of growing anxiety over Kim Jong Un’s weapons program.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May was the target of an assassination attempt by Islamist militants that was broken up last week with the arrests of two men, Sky News reported.

A California lawmaker wants to put the state alongside China, France and the U.K. and have its legislature consider a ban on vehicles powered by fossil fuels starting in 2040.

AP Top Stories

United States officials say that Trump will announce that the United States will recognize Jerusalem as the capital Israel.

“The Silence Breakers” behind the #MeToo movement have been named as Person of the Year by Time magazine.

Doctors treating the U.S. Embassy victims of mysterious, invisible attacks in Cuba have discovered brain abnormalities as they search for clues to explain the hearing, vision, balance and memory damage, The Associated Press has learned.

The deficit will hit $1.05 trillion in 2019 and $1.1 trillion in 2020, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, if Congress passes the tax cut legislation it’s currently negotiating, along with disaster relief and other measures meant to avert arbitrary limits on spending established several years ago.

The International Committee of the Red Cross on Tuesday appealed for “bold measures” to provide life-saving care to civilians in Yemen after an “unprecedented” escalation of fighting in recent days. More than 230 people have been killed and at least 400 wounded in nearly a week of fighting in the Yemeni capital, now under the control of Huthi rebels.

The US Justice Department announced Tuesday that it is reviewing the legality of “bump stocks,” two months after a man shot down 58 concert-goers from a Las Vegas hotel window using the devices.

Saudi Arabia called on Tuesday for a Yemen free of “militias supported by Iran”, in its first official statement since rebels killed their erstwhile ally former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Israel’s submarine corps is a tiny force with a big open secret: in all likelihood, it is armed with nuclear weapons. The five Dolphin-class submarines represent an ace in the hole for Israel, the ultimate guarantor of the country’s security, ensuring that if attacked with nukes, the tiny nation can strike back in kind.

The US military plans on staying in Syria as long as necessary to ensure the Islamic State group not return, a Pentagon official told AFP on Tuesday, as the fight against the jihadists winds

U.S. worker productivity rose 3 percent in the third quarter, the best showing in three years, while labor costs fell for a second straight quarter.

BBC

Conflict has forced 1.7 million people to flee their homes in the Democratic Republic of Congo this year, causing “a mega-crisis”, aid agencies said.

The end of the era of throwaway plastic has been signaled by UN environment ministers meeting in Kenya. They signed off a document stating that the flow of plastic into the ocean must be stopped.

Seventeen million babies under the age of one are breathing toxic air, putting their brain development at risk, the UN children’s agency has warned. Babies in South Asia were worst affected, with more than 12 million living in areas with pollution six times higher than safe levels.

The number of homeless people in the United States has increased for the first time since 2010.

The number of arrests made at the US border has dropped to a 46-year low, according to figures released by the Trump administration.

Most of those detained in a sweeping anti-corruption drive in Saudi Arabia have agreed settlements with the authorities in exchange for a pardon, the attorney general said. Prominent figures, including princes, ministers and businessmen, were taken into custody last month.

WND

A new Harvard University poll Tuesday is blaring a loud danger signal to the Republican Party after finding that millennials are now the largest generation of voters and they are overwhelmingly Democratic, by a two-to-one margin.

The Pentagon revealing this week it is taking steps “to be prepared to accept transgender recruits on Jan. 1”?


The Briefing — Wednesday, December 6, 2017

1) Will Justice Anthony Kennedy in 2018 agree with Justice Anthony Kennedy in 2015?

Washington Post (Robert Barnes Ann Marimow) –
Supreme Court seems divided in case of baker who refused to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple

New York Times (Adam Liptak) –
Justices Sharply Divided in Wedding Cake Case

2) What Facebook targeting children age 13 and under means for kids and their parents

New York Times (Mike Isaac and Natasha Singer) –
New Facebook App for Children Ignites Debate Among Families

3) A morality tale for our times as Russia is banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics

New York Times (Rebecca Ruiz and Tariq Panja) –
Russia Banned from Winter Olympics by I.O.C.

New York Times (Christopher Clarey) –
Russian Doping: The Case for Barring Russia Entirely


News – 12/6/2017

With Historic Announcement, President Trump Will Declare End to Jerusalem’s 70-Year Exile
After a Biblically significant 70-year gap since an American president first recognized the state of Israel, White House sources announced on Wednesday that President Donald Trump will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and that the US State Department will begin making plans to move its embassy from Tel Aviv. “On December 6, 2017, President Trump will recognize that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel,” White House officials announced to the media. “While President Trump recognizes that the status of Jerusalem is a highly sensitive issue, he does not think it will be resolved by ignoring the truth that Jerusalem is home to Israel’s legislature, its Supreme Court, the Prime Minister’s residence, and as such, it is the capital of Israel,” one of the officials said.

Pope Francis defends Jerusalem ‘status quo’
“I cannot silence my deep concern over the situation that has emerged in recent days. At the same time, I appeal strongly for all to respect the city’s status quo, in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions,” the pope said in his weekly address.

Retired CIA Agent Working With Blackwater Founder Claims H.R. McMaster Approved NSA Spy Job On Trump Family
A retired CIA officer reportedly working with Blackwater founder Erik Prince to pitch the White House on a global, private spy network which as we reported yesterday would allow the White House to circumvent and counter “deep state enemies” within U.S. intelligence agencies, is said to have made the stunning claim that National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster worked with the NSA to perform surveillance on Donald Trump Jr, Eric Trump, Steve Bannon and others, according to a report in The Intercept.

150,000 Flee Los Angeles As Wildfires Rage – “We’ll Be Fighting This All Week”
Powerful Santa Ana winds and extremely dry conditions have fueled the wildfires, according to the Washington Post, adding hundreds of millions – if not billions – of dollars in damage to what has already been a devastating year for fires. The winds that caused the fires were part of the season’s longest and strongest wind event – driving down from the desert and mountains into the city of Los Angeles. So far, the latest fires have forced tens of thousands to flee their homes, burned down more than a hundred buildings and triggered power outages in the region. According to CNN, on Tuesday, the city of Ventura declared a daily curfew, beginning 10 pm to 5 am. The curfew is to protect residents and prevent crime such as looting in the evacuation areas, the city said.

France says Syrian government obstructing peace talks
France accused the Syrian government on Wednesday of obstructing U.N.-led peace talks with its refusal to return to Geneva and called on Russia not to shirk its responsibilities to get Damascus to the negotiating table. Talks on ending the war in Syria resumed on Wednesday, but with no sign of President Bashar al-Assad’s negotiators returning to the table in Geneva.

‘Why doesn’t anyone ask why the US has an embassy in Tehran?
“Why doesn’t anyone ask about the fact that we have an embassy in Iran’s capital (Tehran)? Or in North Korea? Or in Syria and Libya? But in the state capital of our closest ally in the Middle East, a democratic state, where there is 3,300 years of Jewish history and heritage since King David, this is a subject that raises so much speculation? “When President Trump visited the Western Wall and made a declaration recognizing Jerusalem as holy to the Jews after the denunciation of UNESCO, there was not even one flare-up, not one demonstration, because when you do the right thing, you shouldn’t ask questions, just do it.”

Hamas plans ‘day of rage’ in response to Trump’s Jerusalem decision
Terror group Hamas is calling for a “day of rage” Friday, urging Palestinians to protest President Donald Trump’s plan to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv.

Nearly Insolvent Illinois Just Issued AAA-Rated Bonds Via This Shady Goldman Sachs Financing Structure
“It’s a bit of smoke and mirrors…”

EX-CIA AGENT: H.R. McMaster Authorized NSA to Spy on Donald Trump Jr. — Sent Intel to Facility Owned By George Soros
Former CIA paramilitary officer and member of the Trump transition team, John R. Maguire, reportedly revealed during a fund raising meeting for an intelligence gathering operation in Afghanistan, that National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster “authorized surveillance of Steven Bannon and Trump family members, including Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump.”

NEVER FORGET=> On Christmas Day 2016 Barack Obama Signed Over Judaism and Christendom’s Holiest Sites to Muslims
…On Christmas Day 2016, in a final despicable act against Christians and Jews, Barack Obama effectively signed over Christendom’s and Judaism’s holiest sites to radical Muslim groups. And…. The Christian and Jew-hating Obama administration HELPED WRITE the UN draft!

BIG BROTHER: Google Unleashes 10,000-Strong Army To Censor & Shut Down Conservatives On YouTube
Google, owning a virtual monopoly on the entire internet, is running a left-wing Ministry of Truth from its stronghold in Silicon Valley. The liberal powerhouse was exposed for intolerance and leftist bigotry after it fired one of its engineers, James Demore, over a memo that dared to dissent against the corporation’s code of hiring based on race, sex, and religion.

Byron York Calls Out Obama For Entrapping Michael Flynn With 218-Year-Old Law, Dems Are Desperate
The Logan Act states that no private citizen has the right to negotiate in place of the president – and reporter Byron York of the Washington Examiner has reported on the circumstances leading up to the arrest of Michael Flynn, with Obama using the 280-year-old law as a pretense for illegally spying on Flynn. It’s just downright absurd.

Gates Foundation Manipulated United Nations Over Genetically Modified Mosquitoes, Gene Drives
According to information obtained through Freedom of Information requests the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, through a PR firm, manipulated the United Nations over Gene Drives by recruiting a covert coalition of academics to manipulate the decision-making process.

‘Palestinians’ Devastated : Three Days Of Rage Over Trump’s Decision On Jerusalem Recognition And Embassy Move
The Palestinian factions announced three days of rage from Wednesday to Friday in protest of US President Donald Trump’s announcement to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to transfer the American embassy from Tel Aviv.

White House Reveals: President Donald Trump will give speech on Jerusalem tomorrow – and it is expected to ROCK the world
White House press secretary says Trump will give speech regarding Jerusalem Wednesday, won’t go into details.

FBI Issues Over 4000 Gun Seizures: US Government Start Taking Citizen’s Firearms
The FBI has issued 4,170 orders to seize guns from US citizens who owned firearms deemed to be ‘unauthorized’ by the US government.

Jim Carrey: ‘The Illuminati is Brainwashing Children into Worshipping Satan’
“Those dark forces who control everything – the Illuminati – the Illumi-nutty – they are working hard to eradicate tradition values.”Satanism is being pushed through movies, TV, and pop music to brainwash young minds into following Satan.”You must of all seen that, right?”It’s everywhere and has been for years.

WW3 RED ALERT: US families urged to EVACUATE military bases near Seoul amid fears North Korea WAR ‘close’
FAMILIES of US military should leave South Korea because war between America and Pyongyang is “getting close”, according to a senior US Senator and ex-Air Force Colonel.

MAHDI: Is Iran Trying to Bring Islamic End-of-Days in Syria?
Iran is establishing bases in Syria, but according to some sources, their preparations to engage Israel are motivated far more by Messianic aspirations than military or political ones.

Does Israel really want this Christmas present from President Trump?
Trump does not worry me. Jerusalem is the right place and Trump’s heart is in the right place. His advisors, still in 2-state solution mode, are the worry.

Muslims outraged as US Supreme Court allows FULL TRAVEL BAN that blocks 7 Islamic countries
The Supreme Court on Monday allowed the Trump administration to fully enforce a ban on travel to the United States by residents of six mostly Muslim countries. This is not a final ruling on the travel ban: Challenges to the policy are winding through the federal courts, and the justices themselves ultimately are expected to rule on its legality.

Obama slams India and says it needs to “cherish and nurture” its Muslims
This comes from the assumption that jihad terror is all the fault of non-Muslims. It’s simply Muslims lashing out at being treated harshly by non-Muslims. Thus if non-Muslims show good will to Muslims, and shower them with money and favors, all will be well. U.S. foreign policy was built on this under Obama (and Bush before him), and to a great extent still is.


Pope Francis ‘Prays To God’ That Israel’s Capital City Jerusalem Does Not Come Under Jewish Control

pope-francis-prays-jerusalem-remain-divided-not-jewish-control-antichrist

Pope Francis defended the “status quo” of the city hours before Trump’s speech, saying: “Jerusalem is a unique city, sacred for Jews, Christians and Muslims.

“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.” Zechariah 12:2,3 (KJV)

EDITOR’S NOTE: As President Trump prepares to declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel later today, Pope Francis chimed in with a prayer of his own. The Pope’s prayer is that Jerusalem, a place that God says is the eternal capital of the Jewish land of Israel, remain a divided region and not be subject to Jewish rule or authority. When he says that he wants the “status quo to remain” he is saying he wants it to remain divided and out of Israeli control. Don’t you just love it when the Catholic king says and does things to reveal that he sides with Antichrist? As if there was any question…(SMH)

Pope Francis Wednesday defended the “status quo” of Jerusalem, hours ahead of an announcement by US President Donald Trump in which officials said he will recognize the disputed city as Israel’s capital.

“I pray to God that this identity is preserved and reinforced, for the sake of the Holy Land, the Middle East and the whole world, and that wisdom and prudence prevail.”

Palestinian terror group Hamas has threatened a “day of rage” on Friday in response to the announcement, releasing a chilling message ordering Palestinians to rise up and send a message to Israel.

Israel annexed eastern Jerusalem after winning the Six Day War with Jordan in 1967 but the move was not recognized by the United Nations. Israel regards it as its capital while Palestinian sees the eastern half of the city as the centre of its ‘future state’.

“I cannot silence my deep concern over the situation that has emerged in recent days. At the same time, I appeal strongly for all to respect the city’s status quo, in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions,” the pope said in his weekly address.

Trump is also expected to order the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem but this move could take several years to push through.

The United States would become the first country to make the distinction since Israel was created in 1948. The city has been at the heart of constant and violent conflicts between the nations because it is home to key religious sites holy to Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Trump’s move could not only undermine the US administration’s fledgling effort, led by his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, but anger the wider international community.

In recent days, the European Union, Germany and France have all implored Trump not to take action on Jerusalem. source


Why Is An Appendectomy In The United States 10 Times More Expensive Than An Appendectomy In Mexico?

This is what can happen when you go to a socialized healthcare system.  A lot of people out there believe that the United States has a free market healthcare system, but that is actually not true.  The percentage of the population that receives government-subsidized healthcare is rapidly approaching 50 percent, and the healthcare industry may be the most heavily regulated sector of the entire U.S. economy.  Every year the rules, red tape and regulations seem to get even worse, and every year health insurance premiums rise much faster than the overall rate of inflation.  If we don’t start applying free market principles and start getting healthcare costs under control, our entire healthcare system could very easily implode. (Read More…)


Imports From China Hit Record High As U.S. Trade Deficit Continues To Explode

It should upset you that virtually everything stocking the shelves of our major retailers seems to have been made somewhere else.  As a nation, we are consuming far more wealth than we are producing, and that is a recipe for national economic suicide.  This week we learned that imports from China hit an all-time record high in October, and that was one of the primary reasons why our trade deficit hit a staggering 48.7 billion dollars during that month.  Year after year we buy far more stuff from the rest of the world than they buy from us, and this is systematically impoverishing us. (Read More…)


Donald Trump’s Recognition Of Jerusalem As The Capital Of Israel Will Shake The Middle East To The Core

This is one of the most historic things to happen in the Middle East in decades.  Just a few days ago I reported that Donald Trump would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel “in December”, and now we are being told that Trump will make this announcement at 1 PM eastern time on Wednesday.  Administration officials are stressing that this move is a “recognition of reality”, because of course the seat of the Israeli government has been in the holy city for a very long time.  But without a doubt this announcement will shake the Middle East to the core, because Israel’s neighbors are extremely displeased that Trump is doing this. (Read More…)


‘The Woebot will see you now’ — the rise of chatbot therapy

“Technocracy’s ‘science of social engineering’ is taking a strange and dangerous twist with the invention of AI therapy bots that help humans with their psychological issues. As you confess your darkest secrets to Woebot, rest assured that they will stay in your file forever.” — Technocracy Editor

Amy Ellis Nutt of the liberal Washington Post has the story:

My therapist wanted to explain a few things during our first online session:

“I’m going to check in with you at random times. If  you can’t respond straight away, don’t sweat it. Just come back to me when  you’re ready. I’ll check in daily.”

“Daily?” I asked.

“Yup! It shouldn’t take longer than a couple minutes. Can you handle that?

“Yes, I can,” I answered.

There was a little more back-and-forth, all via Messenger, then this statement from my therapist:

“This might surprise you, but . . . I am a robot.”

View article →


Religious Liberty Case Is Not about Refusing to Serve People ‘Because of Who They Are’

Amy K. Hall of Stand to Reason explains what the case is really about:

Today, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. I recommend you read this article by David French to clear up a major misconception about the case that’s being promoted out there. The article responds to a New York Times opinion piece that completely misunderstands the case, claiming it’s about denying people services “because of who they are.” (See here and here for more responses to this common mistake.)

View article →


Mid-Day Snapshot

Dec. 6, 2017

SCOTUS to Decide if Religious Liberty Is Sacrificed on LGBT Altar

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the infamous same-sex wedding cake case.

Headlines – 12/6/2017

Despite Arab leaders’ warnings, Trump intends to announce Jerusalem embassy move

Trump to recognize Jerusalem as capital, plan embassy move, White House confirms

Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel capital, upending decades of US policy

White House: Jerusalem embassy move a ‘recognition of reality’

Ten reasons for recognizing Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel

US to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in world first

TV: Netanyahu and aides were ‘active partners’ with Trump team on Jerusalem move

Putin tells Abbas he supports talks on Jerusalem

Flashback: Moscow surprisingly says west Jerusalem is Israel’s capital

For Abbas, come hell or intifada, Jerusalem is the hill to die on – he is leading the charge and will be the one directing violence if the street explodes

US officials: Trump’s Jerusalem endorsement may include two-state support

MK Zoabi: ‘J’lem capital of Palestinian state, we will keep fighting for that’

Trump Is Bringing Bloodshed, Not Peace, to Jerusalem

Trump phones Sissi on Jerusalem moves as Abbas rallies world to intervene

Saudi king to Trump: Jerusalem embassy move a ‘dangerous step’

Saudi King tells Trump: any declaration on Jerusalem will harm peace negotiations

U.S. Issues Travel Warning for Jerusalem’s Old City, West Bank Amid Embassy Row

Prepare for violence, US Consulate in Jerusalem warns ahead of Trump embassy announcement

Liberal US Jews blast Trump’s expected Jerusalem declaration

Why would moving the US embassy to Jerusalem be so contentious?

Trump’s Jerusalem Decision: Palestinians Declare Three ‘Days of Rage’ Across West Bank; Arab World Outraged

Palestinians burn pictures of Trump as Israel braces for violent protests

Middle Eastern Allies Threaten Trump Over Jerusalem Announcement

Turkey president Erdogan tells Trump declaring Jerusalem Israel’s capital is a ‘red line’ for Muslims

War with Iran’s proxies looming, Israel’s US envoy warns

Iran asks Muslims to disrupt Israeli ties in region

‘More countries not only willing, but eager to embrace Israel,’ says Dore Gold

Palestinian Authority Faces Massive Cut in US Aid as Taylor Force Act Targeting Terror Payments Passes House Vote

Israel Forced to Cancel Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibit due to Palestinian Claim

By Joining US-Led Energy Project, Israel Further Expands Newly-Flourishing Ties With African Nations

Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Israel sign MoU for East Med gas pipeline

Putin Vows to Rebuild Christian Syria, Restoring Churches and Bringing Refugees Home

A message to Putin: No calm in Syria as long as Iran calls the shots

Iraq accused of violating due process for ISIS suspects

Islamic terror plot to assassinate British PM Theresa May thwarted, report says

Fatal Flood Leaves Saudis Asking When Their Prince Will Deliver

UAE announces new Saudi alliance that could reshape Gulf relations

It’s Official: Lebanese Prime Minister Not Resigning After All

The Strange Case of Lebanon, France, and a Prime Minister’s Unresignation

‘No One Is Safe’: Violence Soars In Yemen After Death Of Former Dictator

Killing of Ali Abdullah Saleh changes dynamics of Yemen’s civil war

Mattis: Yemen humanitarian situation likely to worsen with Saleh death

Houthis ‘murder 200 prisoners’ and spread forces across Yemen capital

US official on Saleh’s death: ‘Iranian regime exploiting Yemen war’

Iran FM says US travel ban ‘sad!’

Mueller deputy praised DOJ official after she defied Trump travel ban order: ‘I am so proud’

Team Obama attempted ‘stealth coup’ by undermining Trump

Why Democrats Don’t Want To Talk About Flynn’s First Meeting With The Russians

Dem says he will force House vote on impeachment Wednesday

The Democrats’ Dangerous Obsession With Impeachment

Inside China’s Big Tech Conference, New Ways to Track Citizens

World’s first ‘living tattoo’ could be a wearable device in the future

Airlines Are Physically Restraining More Drunk and Unruly Passengers

How the law responds when emoji are the weapon of choice

North Korea crisis: UN political chief in rare visit to Pyongyang

‘The threat is very real’: Millions in Tokyo to take part in North Korean nuclear attack exercise

U.S. B-1B bomber flies over Korean peninsula during military drills

To counter North Korea, South Korea seeks weaponized drones, report says

The Military Is Using Falcons to Build a Drone Killer

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Kirakira, Solomon Islands

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Tobelo, Indonesia

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Hotaka, Japan

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Salcedo, Philippines

Klyuchevskoy volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 17,000ft

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 15,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 14,000ft

Southern California hit with worst Santa Ana winds in a decade

Wildfires raging in Southern California cap most destructive season in state history. Here’s why it’s so bad

Southern California fires growing quickly, forcing thousands to evacuate

Pollution wipes out the benefits of exercise, study suggests

Doctor designs a 3D-printable device that helps people end their life

UN warns of drug-resistant germ risk brewing in nature

Gates Foundation Manipulated United Nations Over Genetically Modified Mosquitoes, Gene Drives

Genetically mutated rats could be released in Britain to solve rodent problem

Russia banned from 2018 Winter Olympics over state-sponsored doping

Where Silicon Valley Is Going to Get in Touch With Its Soul – hippie hotel in Big Sur, Calif., has reopened with a mission to help technologists who discover that “inside they’re hurting.”

Austria’s supreme court paves way for same-sex marriage from 2019

Supreme Court sounds skeptical of Colorado baker’s refusal to make a wedding cake for gay couple

If the baker wins Supreme Court wedding cake case, will faith-based discrimination be legal?

The 3 Western plagues: Post-God, Post-national, Post-family

Socialist ministers cry “murder” over tax cuts, ignore abortions right down the road

Ravi Zacharias: Why I Don’t Think His Response at Christianity Today Cleared Things Up

Perry Noble Calls Pulpit & Pen “Idiots, White Washed Tombs, Brood of Vipers.”

Charismatics Prophesy of Terrorism (Captain Obvious Rolls His Eyes)

Megachurch pastor with 95,300 Twitter followers says he may quit social media

Golden Krust CEO Lowell Hawthorne Fatally Shoots Himself Days After Thanking God for Success

Former Florida cult leader arrested on charges of abusing and murdering a toddler in the 1980s

Thousands of Pro-Lifers Protest North Carolina’s Busiest Abortion Clinic

Trump to declare Jerusalem capital of Israel

California sued because too many children can’t read

Posted: 05 Dec 2017 12:56 PM PST

California sued because too many children can’t readA group of prominent lawyers representing teachers and students from poor performing schools filed a lawsuit against the state of California on Tuesday, arguing that the state has done nothing about a high number of school children who do not know how to read.  The advocacy law firm, Public Counsel, filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court to demand the California Department of Education address its

“literacy crisis.” The state has not followed suggestions from its own report on the problem five years ago, according to the lawsuit. “When it comes to literacy and the delivery of basic education, California is dragging down the nation,” said Public Counsel lawyer Mark Rosenbaum, who filed the lawsuit along with the law firm Morrison & Foerster. READ MORE

WAR DRUMS: Millions in Tokyo to take part in North Korean nuclear attack exercise

Posted: 05 Dec 2017 12:48 PM PST

WAR DRUMS: Millions in Tokyo to take part in North Korean nuclear attack exerciseMillions of residents of Tokyo are to take part in evacuation drills simulating a North Korean nuclear attack on the Japanese capital. The national and city governments are to carry out a series of exercises between January and March to prepare for a potential attack on Tokyo, the Sankei Shimbun newspaper reported, the first time that a major Japanese city will have carried out responses to a simulated attack. Towns facing the Korean Peninsula have in recent months conducted similar drills, with residents

instructed to seek shelter in response to sirens warning of an imminent missile strike. But the Japanese government has until now resisted calls for major cities to carry out similar exercises on the grounds that they would alarm the public. Shinzo Abe, the prime minister, has also called in local governments throughout the country to identify underground facilities or buildings that are sufficiently sturdy to withstand a missile attack and to designate those facilities as shelters. READ MORE

U.S. Braces for Violence at Embassies Around Muslim World as Donald Trump Nears Jerusalem Move

Posted: 05 Dec 2017 12:45 PM PST

U.S. Braces for Violence at Embassies Around Muslim World as Donald Trump Nears Jerusalem MoveThe U.S. government’s diplomatic staff braced for violent protests around the Muslim world as speculation mounted that President Donald Trump planned to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognize the city as Israel’s capital. Trump’s stated intention to relocate the embassy has been met with anger in the Arab world for months. The move is controversial due to the city’s significance to Jews, Muslims and Christians. Diplomats fear these tensions will come to a head if

Trump follows through on his campaign pledge. The warning of violence came in the form of two classified cables to staff in the past week, according to Politico. The State Department had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing. Employees at the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan, and the U.S. consulate in Istanbul declined to comment on the matter. Jerusalem police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld was not available for comment. READ MORE

First Icelandic Pagan Temple in 1,000 Years Built in Iceland

Posted: 05 Dec 2017 10:14 AM PST

First Icelandic Pagan Temple in 1,000 Years Built in Iceland“On that day, men shall fling away, to the flying foxes and the bats, the idols of silver and the idols of gold which they made for worshiping.” (Isaiah 2:20)

As the pagan Norse religion makes a roaring comeback in Iceland, the Asatru Society is expected to finish construction of a new temple – the first structure dedicated to the Norse god Odin in over one thousand years. The Icelandic Ásatrú religion follows the belief systems of the Old Norse religion, or Germanic neo-paganism. The followers worship the ancient Norse gods such as Ódin, Thor and Freyja. There have been no temples to the Norse gods in Iceland for over 900 years, but in 2015, the Ásatrú

Society, re-established in 1972, began construction on a modern temple in Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland. It is expected to be ready for use sometime this summer at a final cost of around $1.25 million. The pagan religion is making a comeback in Iceland, necessitating the construction of the new facility. Established 45 years ago by farmer Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson, the Ásatrú Society initially had 12 members. According to the National Bureau of Statistics in Iceland, there were 2,382 members in 2014; today there are 3,583 members. READ MORE

 

Evangelical Support for Israel Declining, Especially Among Millennials

Posted: 05 Dec 2017 10:08 AM PST

Evangelical Support for Israel Declining, Especially Among MillennialsSupport for Israel is decreasing among evangelical Christians, particularly among younger generations, a new survey shows a decline borne out of confusion about or indifference to the world’s only Jewish state. Seventy-seven percent of evangelicals ages 65 and older say they support the existence, security and prosperity of Israel, according to a LifeWay Research survey released Monday. Only 58 percent of evangelicals ages 18 to 34 say the same.

The survey was conducted using a web-based utility, a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the American population, measuring the attitudes of 2,002 evangelicals pertaining to Israel from Sept. 20–28. “For the most part, younger evangelicals are indifferent about Israel,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. Some say such indifference is the result of how young people view recent geopolitical events and conflicts in the region. READ MORE

POWDER KEG: Palestinians call for three days of rage over Trump’s decision on Jerusalem …

Posted: 05 Dec 2017 09:54 AM PST

POWDER KEG: Palestinians call for three days of rage over Trump’s decision on Jerusalem …The Palestinian factions announced three days of rage from Wednesday to Friday in protest of US President Donald Trump’s announcement to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to transfer the American embassy from Tel Aviv. The Palestinian factions called President Trump’s policy “political blackmail, which would destroy his ability to achieve regional or colonialist achievements in the region.”
In a joint statement, the Palestinian “national and Islamic forces” announced three days of rage that

would begin Wednesday and end on Friday. “We call on all our people in Israel and around the world to gather in city centers and Israeli embassies and consulates, with the aim of bringing about general popular anger,” the statement said.  The statement added that “a huge protest should be launched in order to reject out of hand the attempts of the US administration to transfer the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem or recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel. READ MORE

Trump Informs Abbas He Intends to Move U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem

Posted: 05 Dec 2017 09:48 AM PST

Trump Informs Abbas He Intends to Move U.S. Embassy to JerusalemU.S. President Donald Trump informed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah that he plans to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Tuesday, according to Abbas’ spokesman and Jordanian reports. Trump also called Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi to inform him of the decision.  Abbas warned Trump in response that the action will have “dangerous consequences,” says Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh.  Abu Rudeineh said “the

Palestinian stance is determined and steadfast – there will not be a Palestinian state without East Jerusalem as its capital according to decisions by the international community. Abu Mazen [Abbas] is now holding an emergency meeting in his bureau following the phone conversation with Trump.” Following the call, Abbas urged Pope Francis as well as French and Jordanian leaders to intervene on Trump’s plan to move the embassy. READ MORE

Japan seeking missiles capable of striking range of North Korea

Posted: 05 Dec 2017 05:59 AM PST

Japan seeking missiles capable of striking range of North KoreaJapan is preparing to acquire precision air-launched missiles that for the first time would give it the capability to strike North Korean missile sites, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said. Japan plans to put money aside in its next defense budget starting April to study whether its F-15 fighters could launch longer-range missiles including Lockheed Martin Corp’s extended-range Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM-ER), which can hit targets 1,000 km (620 miles) away, said one the

sources with knowledge of the plan. He said: “There is a global trend for using longer-range missiles and it is only natural that Japan would want to consider them.” The sources asked to remain anonymous as they were not authorized to talk to media. Japan is also interested in buying the 500 km-range Joint Strike Missile designed by Norway’s Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace to be carried by the F-35 stealth fighter, Fuji Television reported earlier. READ MORE

UN warns of drug-resistant germs brewing in the natural environment

Posted: 05 Dec 2017 05:50 AM PST

UN warns of drug-resistant germs brewing in the natural environmentThe UN warned Tuesday of a ticking time bomb of drug-resistant germs brewing in the natural environment, aided by humans dumping antibiotics and chemicals into the water and soil.  If this continues, people will be at an even higher risk of contracting diseases, incurable by existing antibiotics, from swimming in the sea or other seemingly innocuous activities, a report warned.  “Around the world,

discharge from municipal, agricultural and industrial waste in the environment means it is common to find antibiotic concentrations in many rivers, sediments and soils,” the investigation said. “It is steadily driving the evolution of resistant bacteria,” it warned bluntly. “A drug that once protected our health is now in danger of very quietly destroying it.” READ MORE

Scientists and residents on edge waiting for imminent volcanic eruption in Indonesia

Posted: 05 Dec 2017 05:46 AM PST

Scientists and residents on edge waiting for imminent volcanic eruption in IndonesiaThe question Indonesian volcanologist Devy Kamil Syahbana gets most is the one he cannot answer – when, or if, rumbling Mount Agung on Bali island will blow up in a major eruption. The 3,000 metre (9,800 ft) Agung – a so-called strato-volcano capable of very violent eruptions – has recorded a sharp rise in activity that has raised worries about a repeat of a 1963 eruption that killed more than 1,000 people.

“There’s no instrument in the world that can estimate precisely when there will be a major eruption,” said Syahbana, who runs an observatory monitoring the towering volcano, just outside a 10-km exclusion zone. Sensors beeped and walkie-talkies crackled he spoke to Reuters at the monitoring station. READ MORE

GOOGLE supercomputer creates its own ‘AI Child’…

Posted: 05 Dec 2017 05:33 AM PST

GOOGLE supercomputer creates its own ‘AI Child’…The tech giant’s computer-made system known as NASNet is able to identify objects, such as people and cars, in photos and videos. According to studies, the Google “brain” can pick out these objects with a 82.7% accuracy rate – something the company says is better than any man-made AI system. And the AI breakthrough will have a huge impact on the entire field. Experts have said the findings show automation is the key to creating the most accurate AI systems – meaning Artificial Intelligence would

actually create more AI. NASNet itself was actually created earlier this year AutoML, which is an AI system capable of creating more learning programmes. The Google Brain team, which developed the mother system AutoML, said: “We hope that the larger machine learning community will be able to build on these models to address multitudes of computer vision problems we have not yet imagined.” But ethical concerns have been raised about the invention of such powerful machines. READ MORE

Turkey warns recognition of Jerusalem as capital is “Red Line” For Muslims

Posted: 05 Dec 2017 05:21 AM PST

Turkey warns recognition of Jerusalem as capital is “Red Line” For MuslimsTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would be a “red line” for Muslims. He also warned such a step would force Ankara to cut diplomatic ties with the Jewish state. “This could go as far as cutting our diplomatic relations with Israel. You cannot take such a step,” Erdogan told a parliamentary group meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party. The Turkish president also said he would call for a meeting with the Organization

for Islamic Cooperation to oppose any move recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. He said the measure would not only be a violation of international law, but also “a big blow to the conscience of the humanity.” US President Donald Trump was expected to weigh in on the sensitive foreign policy matter Monday, but public warnings from allies and private phone calls between world leaders led to the White House delaying its decision. Turkey has been a vocal critic of the proposed move. READ MORE

150 structures destroyed, 27,000 people evacuated in raging CA wildfire

Posted: 05 Dec 2017 05:17 AM PST

150 structures destroyed, 27,000 people evacuated in raging CA wildfirefast-moving, wind-fueled wildfire swept into the city of Ventura early Tuesday, burning 31,000 acres, destroying homes and forcing 27,000 people to evacuate.  About 150 structures — including at least one large apartment complex — were consumed by flames, and much more were threatened as the fire crept about a quarter mile away from City Hall. Engulfed in flames, the Hawaiian Village Apartments collapsed about 4 a.m. Residents watched with their cameras and cell phones out, the sound of propane

tanks bursting filled the air. Hundreds of firefighters working through the night tried to prevent the blaze from spreading, block by block, as they were confronted by wind gusts of up to 50 mph. One firefighter was injured, though it’s unclear how.  Water gushed down North Laurel as firefighters work to put out a flaming Hawaiian Village Apartments. About 4 a.m., the building continued to collapse.  READ MORE

Pink Raising Her Children to Be Gender-Neutral

Posted: 04 Dec 2017 06:29 PM PST

Pink Raising Her Children to Be Gender-NeutralPop star Pink says she is raising her children to be gender-neutral because her family lives in a “label-less household.”  The singer, who is 38 and married to motorcycle racer Carey Hart, 42, told the U.K.’s The People she does not want her children defined by their gender. Pink said she is delighted her 6-year-old daughter Willow told her she wants to marry an African woman when she grows up. “We are a very l,

label-less household,” Pink, whose real name is Alecia Beth Moore, explained, “Last week Willow told me she is going to marry an African woman. I was like: ‘Great, can you teach me how to make African food?’” “And she’s like: ‘Sure mama, and we are going to live with you while our house is getting ready,’” Pink continued. “I was like ‘what the f***, who are you? Who is paying for this by the way?’” READ MORE

Feds issue 4,000 orders to seize guns from people who failed background checks

Posted: 04 Dec 2017 06:15 PM PST

Feds issue 4,000 orders to seize guns from people who failed background checks

Federal authorities sought to take back guns from thousands of people the background check system should have blocked from buying weapons because they had criminal records, mental health issues or other problems that would disqualify them.  A USA TODAY review found that the FBI issued more than 4,000 requests last year for agents from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives to

retrieve guns from prohibited buyers.  It’s the largest number of such retrieval requests in 10 years, according to bureau records – an especially striking statistic after revelations that a breakdown in the background check system allowed a troubled Air Force veteran to buy a rifle later used to kill 26 worshipers at a Texas church last month. The FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) vets millions of gun purchase transactions every year. READ MORE


What is The Gospel?


Selected Scriptures

Code: A335

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

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

Consider what the Bible says about Him:

JESUS IS GOD

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS HOLY

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE SAVIOR

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH

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

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

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

JESUS IS LORD

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

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE JUDGE

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

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

HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?

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

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


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Knots in Christ’s Family Tree: A Tale of Four Outcast Women

Matthew 1:1-17

Code: B171206

Jesus’ ancestry may surprise you. His genealogy includes some names you might be shocked to find in the royal line of the King of kings. Looking closely at the royal lineage as Matthew records it, we note a striking anomaly. Four women are named in this genealogy. The typical Hebrew genealogy excluded women. To find four women’s names in a single, brief genealogy is remarkable.

Even more extraordinary is that none of these four women epitomizes the kind of person we would expect to find in the royal heritage of the King of kings. All of them were outcasts, yet they made it into Jesus’ family album. They are a strong assurance of God’s grace to sinners like us.

Tamar

The first is Tamar: “Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar” (Matthew 1:3). What kind of woman was Tamar? Her story, if you want to read it in its entirety, is in Genesis 38. It is a sordid tale of incest, prostitution, and deception.

Judah had chosen Tamar as a wife for his firstborn son, Er. Er was evil. We don’t know what he did, but God struck him dead for it (Genesis 38:7). Er’s brother Onan then became Tamar’s husband, as the law at that time required. When he spitefully refused to father children by Tamar, God struck him dead too (v. 10).

Frustrated at being childless, and unwilling to wait on the Lord’s timing for the right husband, Tamar concocted an evil scheme to become pregnant. She dressed up as a prostitute, put a veil over her face, and waited by the road until Judah, her own father-in-law, came along. Not realizing who she was, Judah committed a sinful act of fornication with his own son’s widow (v. 18). Twin sons were conceived through that shameful act of harlotry and incest. Their names were Perez and Zerah. Perez, who was born first, carried on the messianic line.

That is a shocking tale! Did you realize a woman like Tamar was part of Jesus’ ancestry? Don’t bother looking for her redeeming virtues. Almost nothing more is said about Tamar in the Old Testament account. Scripture records no happy ending to her life. She’s really just a footnote in the early history of the Jewish nation, but she stands as a classic illustration of the frailty and utter sinfulness of humanity.

Perhaps that is the very reason Matthew mentions Tamar so prominently in this genealogy. If God would continue the Messianic line through Tamar’s offspring—the product of incest, harlotry, fornication, and deception—He must surely be a God of grace.

Rahab

The next woman Matthew mentions may be more familiar to you. She’s referred to in Scripture as “Rahab the harlot” (Joshua 6:1725Hebrews 11:31James 2:25). The name Rahab itself means “pride,” “insolence,” “savagery.”

Rahab was a Canaanite, a mortal enemy of God’s people. When we first encounter her in the biblical account, she is nothing more than an idolatrous, outcast Gentile woman, a professional prostitute. Her most memorable act was telling a lie.

Joshua 2 records that part of her story. After forty years of wandering in the wilderness, the Israelites were finally preparing to enter the Promised Land. Joshua had sent spies to scout out the city of Jericho. They happened upon Rahab, who hid them in her home. When city officials came looking for the men, Rahab lied to protect them. Knowing that the Israelites would destroy Jericho and everyone in it, she bargained with the spies to save her family. They agreed to spare her and them if she hung a cord of scarlet thread from her window to let the attacking Israelites know which house was hers.

She did, and the Israelites spared Rahab and her family. Rahab abandoned the gods of the Canaanites for Jehovah. She became not only a convert to the true God, but also a part of the Messianic line. She was the great, great grandmother of David.

Ruth

Rahab was the mother of Boaz. Matthew’s genealogy continues: “Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth” (Matthew 1:5). Here, just one generation later, is another Gentile woman in the Messianic line. Unlike Rahab or Tamar, Ruth was not a prostitute or fornicator. But like them she was a Gentile.

Ruth was a Moabite. The entire Moabite race was a product of incest. The incident is chronicled in Genesis 19:30-38. Lot was living in a cave with his two daughters after the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah had been decimated. The daughters were fearful that there would be no one to marry them and carry on the family. So the eldest of the two suggested a scheme to get their father drunk and have sex with him.

Lot, Scripture says, had no idea what was happening, but his daughters on two successive nights each took a turn at getting him drunk and luring him into incestuous fornication. Both girls became pregnant. Scripture says,

Thus both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father. The firstborn bore a son, and called his name Moab; he is the father of the Moabites to this day. As for the younger, she also bore a son, and called his name Ben-ammi; he is the father of the sons of Ammon to this day. (Genesis 19:36-38)

Thus Ruth was from a tribe of people who were the product of incest. Their very existence was repugnant to the Jewish people. Deuteronomy 23:3 is one of the laws that governed worship in Israel: “No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the Lord; none of their descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall ever enter the assembly of the Lord.”

Yet Ruth became the wife of Boaz. Like Rahab, she converted to the truth and found grace in the eyes of God. Her great-grandson was David.

Bathsheba

There’s more. Matthew 1:6 mentions a fourth woman: “David was the father of Solomon by Bathsheba who had been the wife of Uriah.” Her story is not pretty either.

Bathsheba, according to 2 Samuel 11, was on a rooftop bathing herself when David saw her and lusted after her. He had his servants bring her to him, and he had a secret sexual relationship with her. It wasn’t secret very long. Their union produced a child.

When David learned that Bathsheba was pregnant, he tried to cover their sin by bringing Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, back from the front lines of battle, where he was loyally serving David. David assumed that Uriah would have normal relations with his wife. Then no one would ever know that the baby was not Uriah’s.

But David’s attempts to cover his sin with Bathsheba failed. Uriah was more a man of integrity than he. As a matter of principle he refused to spend the night with his wife while his men were sleeping in tents on the battlefield. David wouldn’t give up. He even got Uriah drunk, but Uriah would not compromise.

When David realized he could not cover his sin by making Uriah think he was responsible for Bathsheba’s pregnancy, he sent a note to his commanding generals ordering them to put Uriah on the front line and fall back in the thick of the battle, leaving Uriah to be killed. In effect, he murdered Uriah.

Worse, he took Bathsheba to be his own wife. The child conceived by their fornication died shortly after birth. David ultimately was confronted with his sin and repented. Bathsheba conceived again and bore a son, Solomon. Solomon became the next link in the Messianic line. And thus Bathsheba, though guilty of an act of sinful adultery, also became part of the line that would culminate in the birth of Jesus.

What a genealogy Matthew gives us! It’s almost as if he is nominating people for a Hall of Shame. Here are two harlots, one cursed Moabite, and an adulteress. These are the only four women mentioned in the entire genealogy, and every one of them was an outcast. Add Jeconiah and all the evil kings of Judah that preceded him, and it begins to seem like Jesus’ royal genealogy was filled with sinners.

But that’s just the point. Matthew, writing his gospel for an expressly Jewish audience, must have realized that by deliberately emphasizing these four women, he was confronting the self-righteous arrogance of the pharisaic tradition. The reality that the Messianic line was populated with Gentiles, fornicators, adulteresses, liars, cursed kings, and other sinners was something most of Matthew’s readers would have preferred to ignore. That’s the kind of truth men’s writings frequently gloss over, but the Bible—because it is the inerrant Word of God—consistently refuses to obscure what is truly important.

Why? Because the people in the Messianic genealogy are not on display; God’s grace is. Bathsheba and Rahab, for example, are memorable not because of their sin, but because of God’s mercy in forgiving them. Rahab is mentioned two other times in the New Testament, in Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25. Both times she is cited as an example of genuine faith. Whatever her background as a Gentile and prostitute, she will spend eternity in heaven, not because of anything she did, but because the God she turned to is a God of grace and mercy.

Jesus Christ is the friend of sinners (Luke 7:34). He Himself said, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:13). He came to live among sinful men. He experienced what we experience. He was tempted in every way we are tempted, yet He was completely without sin (Hebrews 4:15). Nevertheless, He took on Himself the punishment for our sins. That’s the grace of God.

How devastating this genealogy is when we see it for what God intended it to be! It strikes a blow in the face of legalism, self-righteousness, and human religion. It underscores the truth that Jesus identified with sinners. It puts a holy spotlight on God’s grace.

You may skip the genealogy when you read the Christmas story aloud. But don’t overlook its message of grace, which after all is the heart of the Christmas story: God in His mercy doing for sinners what they cannot do for themselves. That’s why He came—to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).

Here’s the best part: the same grace that was evident in the genealogy is active today, and the same Jesus is saving His people from their sins. No sin, no matter how heinous, puts sinners beyond His reach. “He is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25, KJV).

(Adapted from The Miracle of Christmas.)

 


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A Concise Resource on Justification by Faith Alone from Romans 4:3-5

Any of the following types of theological confusion, such as 1) mingling justification with sanctification; 2) equating  justification with church membership; 3) describing saving faith in terms of a saving faithfulness; 4) teaching that faith or righteousness is conferred by a sacrament rather than that faith is sealed by a sacrament; or 5) claiming that faith is the basis for justifying righteousness rather than the instrument by which it is imputed are contrary to the teaching of this passage. Rather, the elect are justified by faith (the sole, God-granted instrument) in Christ alone as God definitively imputes to them forever the perfect righteousness of Christ even as their sins and the eternal judgment they deserved are transferred to Christ.

With the confusion that is often sown regarding the doctrine of justification by faith alone, I wanted to review and clarify in my own mind my understanding of this essential doctrine. Especially in light of just celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, writing down my thoughts is a good exercise in application. Yet I wanted to be sure this clarification came from a study of Scripture, not only just from reading what others have written about it.

Thus, I returned to the crystal clear teaching of Romans 4:3-5 on this subject. How refreshing it is! This text says, “For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’ Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness” (NASB).

I thought I would share my thoughts with you. To that end, I offer below why this subject continues to need to be treated, a concise exegetical treatment on how to understand this text, a short summary statement on justification from my study, and then a guard produced by others to protect the church against those who would try to teach contrary to this doctrine. I hope this is a handy resource here on Gentle Reformation.

Modern Confusion

For there is confusion. The last few decades have shown us that. Examples abound. Norman Shepherd stating that “The exclusive ground of the justification of the believer in the state of justification is the righteousness of Christ, but his obedience, which is simply the perseverance of the saints in the way of truth and righteousness, is necessary to his continuing in a state of justification” (Call of Grace). Pastor Steve Schlissel saying at the Auburn Avenue conference that “anyone who believes that the main message of the book of Romans or Galatians is justification by faith is a nutcase.” N.T Wright declaring that “justification…is not a matter of how someone enters the community of the true people of God, but of how you tell who belongs to that community” (What Saint Paul Really Said). Recently, Kyle wrote this post on yet the latest controversy surrounding this topic.

Remembering we need sola scriptura to uphold sola fide, let’s look then at this passage. We will consider first the context of the verses under study.

The Context of Romans 4:3-5

Contrary to the statements above, one of the main teachings of all of Scripture, and particularly the Book of Romans, is justification by faith. Looking back at the previous chapter, we read that we are justified “through faith” (dia pisteuo in the Greek of Romans 3:25), “by faith” (pistei in Romans 3:28 is an instrumental dative), and “from faith” (ek pisteuo in Romans 3:30), but never “on account of faith” (dia pistin) as indicated by some of the quotes above. Faith is the instrument of our justification, but not the meritorious grounds of it. Faith is expressed as trusting Christ for our salvation.

Coming to our immediate context, Paul makes clear that Abraham was not justified by works (Romans 4:1-2). The thrust of Paul’s argument in Romans 4 is that Abraham was justified by faith before he was circumcised, making him the father of all – Jew or Greek – who believe in Christ (Romans 4:9-12). Paul then speaks with undeniable clarity in our verses regarding this truth.

Studying Our Text

Paul’s chief statement regarding justification by faith is in Romans 4:3 where he quotes from Genesis 15:6, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” This quote comes from Abraham’s story where the LORD promised him that his seed would number as the stars. In the Hebrew Old Testament of Genesis 15:6, the word “believed” is a form of the Hebrew word “Amen,” which indicates ideas such as “certainly, truly, solemn ratification, hearty approval.”  In its verb form, the word means “to stand firm in, to trust in, to be certain in, to believe in,” and always has an object, which in this case is the Lord.  The Lord must provide the salvation and blessing he has promised, and this is what Abraham believes or says “Amen” to. Abraham could not have been justified by works anymore than he could have counted all the stars that the Lord showed to him.  Continue reading…

The post A Concise Resource on Justification by Faith Alone from Romans 4:3-5 appeared first on The Aquila Report.

Survey: Younger Evangelical Support of Israel is Declining

Israel

Evangelicals find themselves divided by age when it comes to beloved support of Israel. Lifeway Research released a new survey on December 4, 2017, showing Evangelicals age 65 and older in full support of Israel’s existence, security, and prosperity as a nation-state. By contrast, Millennial Evangelicals ages 18-34 are simply less concerned with Israel’s affairs, if not downright hostile.

According to Lifeway, 41 percent of younger Evangelicals have no strong feelings about Israel’s survival. Nineteen percent of younger Evangelicals are more likely to view the 1948 rebirth of Israel as an injustice against Palestinians.

Sentiments among older Evangelicals are quite different, with 76 percent hold a positive view of Israel. Older Evangelicals also disagree (62 percent) that the birth of Israel posed any injustice.

These survey results confirm what many Evangelicals probably witness already within their local church communities. That is, a growing number of younger Evangelicals are shifting their support away from Israel based on emotivism.

As I’ve previously written, efforts exist among the political and religious Left to attempt to dismantle Evangelical support of Israel by appealing to younger Evangelicals’ feelings rather than intellectual arguments rooted in history, foreign affairs, and theology.  Often conducted under an elusive “Pro-Israel, Pro-Palestine, Pro-Peace” banner, Israel’s opponents suggest a vague David versus Goliath scenario. In this cut-and-dry narrative, Israel is the bully and Palestinians are the underdog.

On such efforts to shift younger Evangelicals’ support away from Israel, the Institute on Religion and Democracy’s President Mark Tooley has said, “Unfortunately, their perspective ignores the nasty reality of the Middle East, where democracy, human rights and religious liberty are largely confined to Israel and absent nearly everywhere else.”

So what will it take to strengthen younger Evangelicals’ support of Israel? According to author and Lifeway survey contributor, Joel Rosenberg, the answer is a holistic approach.

“Unless the church gives younger believers a healthy, balanced, solidly biblical understanding of God’s love and plan for Israel, overall evangelical support for the Jewish state could very well plummet over the next decade as millennials represent an ever-larger percentage of the overall church body,” Joel Rosenberg said.

Source: Survey: Younger Evangelical Support of Israel is Declining

LifeWay Research: Many who call themselves evangelical don’t actually hold evangelical beliefs

evangelical identity LifeWay Research banner

By Bob Smietana

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—About 1 in 4 Americans say they are evangelical Christians.

Most of them are white, live in the South and identify as Republican.

Many go to church every week.

But they’re not always sure what they believe.

Fewer than half of those who identify as evangelicals (45 percent) strongly agree with core evangelical beliefs, according to a new survey from Nashville-based LifeWay Research.

“There’s a gap between who evangelicals say they are and what they believe,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research.

And a significant number of evangelical believers reject the term “evangelical.” Only two-thirds (69 percent) of evangelicals by belief self-identify as evangelicals.

Beliefs and belonging

For the past few years, LifeWay Research has been looking at the intersection of belief and belonging in the evangelical movement.

Some research studies define “evangelical” by self-identification—respondents pick from a list of religious traditions. Others categorize people as evangelical by the churches they identify with.

In this new survey, LifeWay used a set of four questions about the Bible, Jesus, salvation and evangelism. Those questions were developed in partnership with the National Association of Evangelicals. Those who strongly agree with all four are considered to be evangelicals by belief.

Fifteen percent of Americans are evangelicals by belief, according to LifeWay Research. By contrast, 24 percent of Americans self-identify as evangelicals.

Researchers found some significant differences between the two groups.

Evangelicals by belief are more diverse than self-identified evangelicals. Fifty-eight percent are white, 23 percent are African-American and 14 percent are Hispanic. Five percent claim another ethnicity.

By contrast, 70 percent of self-identified evangelicals are white. Fourteen percent are African-Americans. Twelve percent are Hispanic, and 4 percent claim another ethnicity.

Evangelicals by belief go to church more often. Seventy-three percent say they attend services once a week or more. That drops to 61 percent for self-identified evangelicals.

Evangelicals congregate in the South

The two groups of evangelicals share some similarities. About half are Southerners. Most are Republicans.

Just over half (55 percent) of evangelicals by belief live in the South. Twenty-two percent are in the Midwest. Sixteen percent live in the West, while 6 percent live in the Northeast.

Among self-identified evangelicals, 48 percent live in the South. Twenty-five percent live in the Midwest. Seventeen percent live in the West, and 9 percent live in the Northeast.

“If you are an evangelical who lives in the South, you’re often going to run into people who believe the same things you do,” said McConnell. “In the Northeast, you’re often going to feel alone.”

Two-thirds of evangelicals by belief (65 percent) are Republicans or lean Republican. Thirty percent are Democrats or lean Democratic. Four percent are undecided or independent.

Among self-identified evangelicals, 64 percent are Republicans or lean Republican. Thirty-three percent are Democrats or lean Democratic. Three percent are undecided or independent.

Both groups also tend to be older. Thirty-one percent of Americans 65 and older identify as evangelicals. That drops to 22 percent among those 18 to 34. Nineteen percent of those 65 and older hold evangelical beliefs. That drops to 10 percent for those 18 to 34.

The more education Americans have, the less likely they are to be evangelicals of either type. A quarter of Americans with a high school diploma or less (26 percent) or some college (28 percent) identify as evangelicals. Eighteen percent of those with a bachelor’s degree say they are evangelicals.

Americans with some college (20 percent) are more likely to have evangelical beliefs than those with a bachelor’s degree (9 percent) or graduate degree (12%).

Some of the results surprised McConnell, especially when it comes to politics. He expected more political differences between the two types of evangelicals.

“The political differences between them turn out to be very small,” he said.

LifeWay Research also asked if politics played a role in whether Americans identify as evangelicals. It appears that few evangelicals shun the term because of its political implications.

When asked, “If the term had nothing to do with politics, would you consider yourself an evangelical Christian?” 1 in 4 Americans say yes.

That’s almost identical to the number of who identify as evangelicals without any political qualifications.

McConnell suspects that party affiliation and race play a bigger role in how people vote than their faith does.

“Evangelical religious beliefs by themselves do not explain political behavior,” he says. “Ethnic group is a better predictor of political behavior, but the best predictor of voting patterns is one’s political party identification.”

Born-again Americans are a diverse crowd

The term “born again” has often been used as a synonym for self-identified evangelicals. LifeWay Research found some overlap between the two groups.

Two-thirds (66 percent) of self-identified born-again Americans say they are evangelicals. That remains true even if the term evangelical didn’t have political implications (67 percent).

Like self-identified evangelicals, fewer than half (45 percent) hold evangelical beliefs. And they are less likely (56 percent) to attend services once a week or more than either type of evangelicals.

Born-again Americans have more political parity than either type of evangelical. Fifty-six percent are Republican or lean Republican. Four in 10 (39 percent) are Democrats or lean Democratic. Five percent are undecided or independent.

African-American Christians appear to find the term “born again” more appealing than “evangelical.”

African-Americans are more likely to say they are born again (49 percent) than whites (27 percent), Hispanics (24 percent) or those from other ethnicities (19 percent).

African-Americans are also the most likely to have evangelical beliefs (30 percent). Whites (13 percent), Hispanics (13 percent) and those from other ethnicities are less likely (9 percent). African-Americans (30 percent) and whites (26 percent) are more likely to say they are evangelical than Hispanics (18 percent) or those from other ethnicities (11 percent).

In the past, said McConnell, some research groups, limited the term “evangelical” to white Christians. Others have focused on white evangelical voters—which has left other ethnic groups out.

“For many African-Americans, the term ‘evangelical’ is a turn-off, even though they hold evangelical beliefs,” said McConnell. “The term ‘evangelical’ is often viewed as applying to white Christians only. And that’s unfortunate. It’s lost some of its religious meaning that actually unites these groups.”

For more information, visit LifeWayResearch.com or view the complete survey report PDF.

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Bob Smietana is senior writer for Facts & Trends.

Methodology:

LifeWay Research conducted the study Nov. 10-12, 2017. The survey was conducted using the web-enabled KnowledgePanel®, a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. Initially, participants are chosen scientifically by a random selection of telephone numbers and residential addresses. People in selected households are then invited by telephone or by mail to participate in the web-enabled KnowledgePanel®. For those who agree to participate but do not already have internet access, GfK provides at no cost a laptop and ISP connection.

For this survey, a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults (18 and older) was selected from the KnowledgePanel®. Sample stratification and base weights were used for gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, metro/non-metro, home ownership, education and income to reflect the most recent U.S. Census data. Study-specific weights included for gender by age, race/ethnicity, region and education to reflect GSS 2016 data. The completed sample is 1,000 surveys. The sample provides 95 percent confidence that the sampling error does not exceed plus or minus 3.1 percent. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.

Evangelical beliefs are defined using the NAE LifeWay Research Evangelical Beliefs Research Definition based on respondent beliefs. Respondents are asked their level of agreement with four separate statements using a four-point, forced-choice scale (strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, strongly disagree). Respondents are categorized as having evangelical beliefs if they strongly agree with all four statements:

  • The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe.
  • It is very important for me personally to encourage non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior.
  • Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin.
  • Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation.

LifeWay Research is a Nashville-based, evangelical research firm that specializes in surveys about faith in culture and matters that affect churches.

Source: LifeWay Research: Many who call themselves evangelical don’t actually hold evangelical beliefs

HBC Chairman of the Executive Elder Committee Resigns in Protest

The Elephant's Debt

Update (5 December 2017)As you may recall, on October 24th, The Elephant’s Debt published a letter by David Wisen.  In that piece, we explained to our readers that David Wisen is the Teaching Pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel Springlake in Michigan; and more importantly, that he was the President of the Van Kampen Asset Management Company.  In other words, David Wisen is a wealthy man, who has donated tens of millions of dollars to Harvest Bible Chapel over the many years. 

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Discernment and man-made religiosity

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

10 When I entered the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was confined at home, he said, “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you, and they are coming to kill you at night.” 11 But I said, “Should a man like me flee? And could one such as I go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in.” 12 Then I perceived that surely God had not sent him, but he uttered his prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 He was hired for this reason, that I might become frightened and act accordingly and sin, so that they might have an evil report in order that they could reproach me. 14 Remember…

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Joy to the World: The Worship of Christmas (Part 1)

Pastor Dave Online

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,and they shall call his name Immanuel” (Matt. 1:23).

It is interesting to think about the value of Christmas gifts that I received many years ago. At the time they were the things I most wanted and treasured, but eventually their meaning faded. I so desperately wanted a Stretch Armstrong toy but once I got it I was ready to trade it in for something cooler. I wanted a Goldfinger album, but now I couldn’t name more than one song on that record. I wanted a Columbus Crew jersey, but I’ve long since lost my passion for the MLS. The list of gifts long since forgotten could go on. But Christmas, as Christians celebrate it, is the reminder of one gift which has never and will never lose its luster. At Christmas we worship the God who gave us Himself.

“Immanuel” is the…

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December 6: EVERYONE MAY COME

Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

Revelation 22:17

There is a strange beauty in the ways of God with men. He sends salvation to the world in the person of a Man and sends that Man to walk the byways, saying, “If any man will come after Me!” No fanfare; no tramp of marching feet!

A kindly Stranger walks through the earth, and so quiet is His voice that it is sometimes lost in the hurly-burly; but it is the last voice of God, and until we become quiet to hear it, we have no authentic message.

“If any man,” He says, and teaches at once the universal inclusiveness of His invitation and the freedom of the human will. Everyone may come; no one need come, and whoever does come, comes because he chooses to.

Every man thus holds his future in his hand. Not the dominant world leader only, but the inarticulate man lost in anonymity is “a man of destiny!” He decides which way his soul shall go. He chooses, and destiny waits on the nod of his head. He decides, and hell enlarges itself, or heaven prepares another mansion!

So much of Himself has God given to man!

Dear Lord, I pray again for my family and close friends. Some of them have not made wise choices and are still on the outside looking in. Lord, I pray that Your Spirit will melt their hearts and that they will come to You at long last.[1][1] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

December 6: Parables Conceal

Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, “You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive; for the heart of this people has become dull, with their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes, otherwise they would see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and I would heal them.”—Matt. 13:13–15

Jesus quoted this passage from Isaiah 6:9–10 to describe the unbelieving Jews of His day. Isaiah pronounced judgment on the people of Judah for their pervasive sin and rebellion. As part of the Lord’s judgment, they were led away into captivity by Babylon, yet still they refused to repent and trust God’s mercies. Because the people in the prophet’s day intentionally closed their eyes and ears and refused any heartfelt understanding of truth, God judicially sealed them in their unbelief.

Christ’s parables served as similar forms of judgment on unbelief. Those who refused His previous, straightforward teachings would not be able to grasp His deeper, parabolic instructions.

Paul also quotes from Isaiah in reference to another first-century judgment on unbelievers: “In the Law it is written, ‘By men of strange tongues and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this people, and even so they will not listen to Me,’ says the Lord. So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers but to those who believe” (1 Cor. 14:21–22). God allowed tongues (various human languages) to play a dramatic role on Pentecost and periodically thereafter as a testimony against those who refused to accept the gospel. Thus the Lord sometimes conceals His word to those predisposed to reject it.

ASK YOURSELF

Is there any pattern of rejection or disbelief in your mind as you deal with the holy Scriptures? Praise the Lord that He makes His Word plain to those called to be His children.[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 349). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

December 6: Gaining Courage

Most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

Philippians 1:14

The implication of today’s verse is that before Paul’s imprisonment, the church in Rome lacked courage. When the believers saw that God provided for Paul and enabled him to have an incredible opportunity for outreach, they confidently began to proclaim the gospel. They realized that since God could minister through Paul in his condition, He could minister through them as well. As Paul’s strength became theirs, the leadership in Rome began “to speak the word without fear” (v. 14).

Does your joy ebb and flow according to the tide of earthly benefits? Do pleasure, possessions, prominence, prestige, reputation, comfort, and fulfillment or your own ambitions propel your joy? If they do, your joy will ebb and flow according to the shifting tides of life. But if your joy is tied to the progress of the gospel, it will never diminish. Fix your heart on the progress of the gospel, and your joy will be constant.[1][1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 367). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

December 6, 2017: Morning Verse Of The Day

20:44 you will know. God purposed all of this great restoration so that repentant, renewed Israel knew that He is the Lord, a key theme, as in v. 38. Also, those of other nations will know by this who He is and render Him due reverence (v. 41; 36:23, 36).[1]


20:44 for the sake of my name Yahweh didn’t punish them according to what they deserved for their sin. He punished but then saved for the sake of His reputation (see note on Ezek 20:9).[2]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Eze 20:44). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[2] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Eze 20:44). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

December 6: AN AWESOMENESS ABOUT GOD

Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things. And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen.

—Psalm 72:18-19

Worship also means to “express in some appropriate manner” what you feel. Now, expressing in some appropriate manner doesn’t mean that we always all express it in the same way all the time. And it doesn’t mean that you will always express your worship in the same manner. But it does mean that it will be expressed in some manner.

And what will be expressed? “A humbling but delightful sense of admiring awe and astonished wonder.” It is delightful to worship God, but it is also a humbling thing; and the man who has not been humbled in the presence of God will never be a worshiper of God at all. He may be a church member who keeps the rules and obeys the discipline, and who tithes and goes to conference, but he’ll never be a worshiper unless he is deeply humbled. “A humbling but delightful sense of admiring awe.” There’s an awesomeness about God which is missing in our day altogether; there’s little sense of admiring awe in the Church of Christ these days. WMJ004-005

Great God, I do indeed stand in admiring awe at the wondrous things You do. Remind me today of that awesomeness about You that I so often forget in my hurried life. Amen.[1][1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

December 6: The Emptying of Christ

“[Christ] emptied Himself.”

Philippians 2:7

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Christ renounced His divine privileges.

Although Christ never surrendered His deity, He did empty Himself in certain ways. One such way was to give up His heavenly glory. That’s why in John 17:5 Jesus prays, “Glorify Thou Me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I ever had with Thee before the world was.” Christ gave up the glory of a face–to–face relationship with God for the muck of this earth. He gave up the adoring presence of angels for the spittle of men.

Christ also emptied Himself of His independent authority. He completely submitted Himself to the will of the Father and learned to be a servant. Philippians 2:8 says He was obedient, and we see that illustrated when He said in the garden, “Not as I will, but as Thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39). He came to do His Father’s will, not His own (John 5:30).

Another way Christ emptied Himself was by setting aside the prerogatives of His deity—the voluntary display of His attributes. He didn’t give up His deity, but He did give up the free exercise of His attributes, limiting Himself to the point of saying that even He did not know the time of His second coming (Matt. 24:36).

Christ also emptied Himself of His personal riches. “Though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). Christ was poor in this world; He owned very little.

Finally, Christ emptied Himself of a favorable relationship with His Father. God “made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf” (2 Cor. 5:21). As a result our Lord cried out on the cross, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46).

Though Christ renounced all those privileges, He never ceased to be God. At any moment He could have blasted His enemies off the face of the earth, but He didn’t. He voluntarily emptied Himself for you and me.

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Suggestions for Prayer: Christ submitted Himself completely to His Father’s will. Regularly ask for the Lord’s perfect will to be reflected in your life as well.

For Further Study: Every now and then men glimpsed Christ’s glory. Read Luke 9:28–36 as one example, reminding yourself that Christ emptied Himself of the continuous outward manifestation and personal enjoyment of heavenly glory.[1][1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.