Daily Archives: December 27, 2017

December 27 The Humiliation of Christ

“We … see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for every one” (Heb. 2:9).


In serving as our substitute, Christ humbled Himself supremely.

Jesus’ death on the cross was not easy or costless; it was a horrific death. It was not calm and peaceful; it was accompanied by outward torture and inward agony. The death He tasted was the curse of sin. In a few hours on that cross, He suffered the total agony of every soul for all eternity. He was guilty of no sin, and yet He chose to suffer the weight of all sins committed for all time.

God sent His Son, and His Son willingly came to die to redeem mankind. Paul writes, “When the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law” (Gal. 4:4–5).

Only by tasting death as a man could He free mankind from death. Historically, kings have had someone taste their food and drink before they consumed it. Christ drained to the dregs the cup of poison rightfully meant for us before it could ever touch our lips. He substituted His death for ours, releasing us from the deadness of sin and bringing us into life with God.

What moved Jesus to suffer for us? Grace. What we did not deserve (salvation) we received, and what we did deserve (death) we did not receive. Unbounded love prompted Christ’s gracious work on our behalf: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

After He accomplished the work of His substitutionary death, He was “crowned with glory and honor” and was exalted to the right hand of the Father, where He will reign forever and ever. He is our great substitute, whom we can thank and praise throughout all eternity.


Suggestions for Prayer:  Ask God to give you opportunities to communicate the gospel to people you haven’t shared Christ with before, even if you might suffer in the process.

For Further Study: Read Isaiah 52:13–53:12 to understand what the God of the universe had to endure at the hands of men.[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 374). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.


Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature….

2 PETER 1:4

Here is the whole final message of the New Testament: Through the atonement in Jesus’ blood sinful men may now become one with God!

Deity indwelling men! That is Christianity in its fullest effectuation, and even those greater glories of the world to come will be in essence but a greater and more perfect experience of the soul’s union with God. Deity indwelling men! That, I say, is Christianity and no man has experienced rightly the power of Christian belief until he has known this for himself as a living reality.

Everything else is preliminary to this! Incarnation, atonement, justification, regeneration; what are these but acts of God preparatory to the work of invading and the act of indwelling the redeemed human soul? Man who moved out of the heart of God now moves back into the heart of God by redemption!

God who moved out of the heart of man because of sin now enters again His ancient dwelling to drive out His enemies and once more make the place of His feet glorious!

That visible fire on the day of Pentecost had for the Church a deep and tender significance, for it told to all ages that they upon whose heads it sat were men and women apart. The mark of the fire was the sign of divinity; they who received it were forever a peculiar people, sons and daughters of the Flame.[1]

[1] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

December 27, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)


Russia plans to limit the number of airbases the U.S. can use to launch reconnaissance flights under the Open Skies Treaty, in a fresh sign of its deteriorating relationship with Washington.

AccuWeather Inc., the digital provider of weather forecasts and warnings, is giving all of its employees “special” year-end bonuses, citing its growing confidence in economic growth following the passage of federal tax overhaul.

China’s leading policy makers plan to discuss next month a proposal to amend the national constitution for the first time since 2004, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Vietnam is deploying a 10,000-member military cyber warfare unit to combat what the government sees as a growing threat of “wrongful views” proliferating on the internet, according to local media.

China hosted top diplomats from Afghanistan and Pakistan on Tuesday in a bid to mediate a long-simmering conflict between the neighboring countries.

The richest people on earth became $1 trillion richer in 2017, more than four times last year’s gain, as stock markets shrugged off economic, social and political divisions to reach record highs.

Former President Barack Obama told Prince Harry in an interview broadcast Wednesday that people in leadership roles must be careful in their use of social media and warned against spending too much time immersed in the internet at the expense of the world outside.

Copper in London surged to the highest level since 2014 after China ordered its top producer to halt output to combat winter pollution, adding further impetus to a rally in the metal this year that’s been driven by optimism about demand as well as supply disruptions at mines.

Bitcoin’s rebound took it briefly above $16,000 on Tuesday as traders of the world’s biggest digital currency sought to draw a line under its roller coaster five-day slump.

U.S. exports of feed crops already were expected to drop this year as producers in South America and Europe expand sales. But after some lousy weather in the Midwest this year, the harvest yielded soybeans with less protein, a key ingredient that helps build muscle in animals.

AP Top Stories

At least four North Korean defectors have shown symptoms consistent with radiation exposure, including chromosomal abnormalities, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said Wednesday.

Former President Barack Obama is the most admired man in the United States and has been for the past 10 years, according to a Gallup poll released Wednesday.

The cities of New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco are suing the U.S. Department of Defense over its legal failure to report service member crimes to the FBI and national gun background check database, multiple outlets reported Tuesday.

Record-breaking snowstorm in Pennsylvania declared disaster emergency. With nearly 57 inches of snow in two days, conditions are so hazardous that the airport was forced to close.

Officials in a town near Lake Ontario’s eastern end are asking residents to avoid driving on local roads so crews can remove 5 feet of snow that has fallen since Christmas Day.

NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has filed his 100th lawsuit against Donald Trump and the administration, according to the New York Times.

The United States carried out an air strike on Christmas Eve against the Shabaab Islamist group that left 13 dead, according to a statement released Wednesday.

South Korean immigration officials said they have deported 17 foreigners who could “potentially pose a terrorist menace” to the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.

Russia is ready to act as a mediator between North Korea and the United States if both parties are willing for it to play such a role, the Kremlin said on Tuesday.

Ukraine and Russian-backed rebels swapped hundreds of prisoners in the war-torn east of the country on Wednesday, one of the largest such exchanges since the outbreak of an insurgency almost four years ago.


Israel’s transport minister wants to dig a railway tunnel under Jerusalem’s Old City and name a station next to the Western Wall after Donald Trump.

Tesla’s chief has pledged to make a pick-up truck as part of future plans for the electric vehicle-maker.

Canada has announced it is expelling Venezuela’s ambassador to Ottawa, Wilmer Barrientos Fernández, and its charge d’affaires, Ángel Herrera. Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said the move was in retaliation for the expulsion of its most senior diplomat from Caracas over the weekend.

The Vietnamese military has built up a force of more than 10,000 internet censors, according to local reports. A People’s Army leader is quoted as having said that the “cyber-troops” had been tasked with tackling “wrongful views” and anti-state propaganda.

The US has placed sanctions on two North Korean officials it says have led the development of nuclear missiles.


Shares of U.S. department stores jumped on Tuesday as Mastercard Inc said shoppers spent over $800 billion during the season, more than ever before, boosted by growing consumer confidence, rising employment and early discounts.

The International Olympic Committee is being asked to reverse its decision to let men compete in women’s events. Otherwise, “women all over the world are getting a taste of ‘fairness,’ leftist style!”

News – 12/27/2017

Western Wall Train Station To Be Named After Trump
Transport Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) announced on Tuesday that the train station for the underground rail system nearing completion will have an auspiciously named final stop at the Western Wall: the Donald J. Trump Station.“The Kotel is the holiest place for the Jewish people,” Minister Katz said to Hebrew news service Yedioth Ahronoth, “and I decided to name the Kotel station after US President Donald Trump, in appreciation of his courageous and historic decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.”

US Ambassador Friedman tells State Dept. to stop using word ‘occupation’
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman recently requested that the State Department cease using the word “occupation” to describe Israel’s control of the West Bank, according to a report on Israeli broadcasting channel Kan. The State Department reportedly refused the request. It has not commented on Friedman’s remarks, nor has his spokesperson offered a clarification on the ambassador’s assertion.

Network of 40 Salafist sisters preach hate and indoctrination online – German intel
Germany’s intelligence services have identified an Islamist terrorist network made up of 40 women. Female extremists with hundreds of Facebook followers are increasingly filling the gap left by their imprisoned husbands. Burkhard Freier, the head of the North Rhine-Westphalian Office for the Protection of the Constitution, told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper that the local female extremist network of “40 sisters” followed a strict Salafist doctrine —informing their advice on everything from raising children to interpreting the religious rules of Islam and stirring up hatred against so-called “non-believers.”

FBI makes stunning admission about Trump ‘dossier’
The FBI continues to cling to outlandish and salacious claims in the so-called “dossier” of opposition research funded by Democrats against Donald Trump during the 2016 election campaign, even though the bureau’s own officials admit the document’s allegations are largely unverified, says a new report.

US Spy Satellites Catch Chinese Ships Illegally Selling Oil To North Korea
“We need to focus on the fact that the illicit trade started after a UN Security Council resolution in September drastically capped North Korea’s imports of refined petroleum products.”

Oil prices close at 2-1/2 year peak
Oil prices in New York jumped to a two-and-a-half year high Tuesday and briefly topped $60 a barrel due to a Libyan pipeline explosion and frigid weather in the US.

Israel says 10 more countries in talks about moving embassies to Jerusalem
Following Guatemala’s announcement Monday that it would move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, at least 10 other countries are in talks to move their own missions, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said.

One-Third Of Increase In US Homicide Rate Because Of Neighborhoods In Chicago
The United States saw an increase in homicides by roughly 9 percent last year, and more than one-third of that increase came from neighborhoods in Chicago where just one-third of residents live, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal.

THIS is socialism: Venezuelan children are STARVING to death as food must now be delivered under armed guard
All of the various economic models employed by dictators, thugs, and autocratic rulers worldwide have produced nothing but misery, hardship, and death, yet far too many American Millennials are supportive and even fascinated by them.

Democrats Are Under a Spiritual Death Watch Because Liberals Cannot Know Jesus
It is often said that liberalism is a form of mental illness. However, liberalism is much than a behavioral deficit. It also represents a cluster of character flaws that cause one to be separated from the divine creator that we call God and his son and our redeemer, Jesus Christ.

Israelis Take Apple to Court For Slowing iPhones In $125mn Lawsuit as Number of Cases Snowball 
Two Israeli citizens have filed a class action lawsuit against tech giant Apple, accusing it of duping iPhone owners into buying the latest versions of the device by slowing down older units.

Europe’s Runaway Train Towards Full Digitization Of Money & Labor
“Digitalization and robotization is just beginning…Surveillance is everywhere… banks uber alles…”

Are The Banksters Creating Their Own Cryptocurrency Called ‘Utility Settlement Coin’?

Independently-controlled cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin may or may not survive in the long run, but blockchain technology is definitely here to stay.  This technology has revolutionized how digital financial transactions are conducted, and it was only a matter of time before the big boys began to adopt it.  Previously, I have written about how the Washington Post is hyping something known as ‘Fedcoin’, but Fedcoin does not yet exist.  However, a digital currency that uses blockchain technology that is called ‘Utility Settlement Coin’ is actually very real, and it is currently being jointly developed by four of the largest banking giants on the entire planet.  The following was recently reported by Wolf Richter(Read More…)

ZeroHedge Frontrunning: December 27

  • Post-Holiday Rush: Homeowners Line Up to Prepay Tax Bills (Read More)
  • World stocks rise as metals surge mitigates iPhone X woes (Read More)
  • White House Considers Former Bush-Era Economists for Fed No. 2 Job (Read More)
  • More lawsuits over slowing down of older iPhones (Read More)
  • Barclays Takes $1.3 Billion Hit From U.S. Tax Bill (Read More)
  • Shell, Barclays Detail Billions in Tax-Linked Charges (Read More)
  • North Korean defectors may have been exposed to radiation, says South (Read More)
  • China Snares Innocent and Guilty Alike to Build World’s Biggest DNA Database (Read More)
  • Oil Slips From Highest Since Mid-2015 as Trading Volume Muted (Read More)
  • World’s Wealthiest Became $1 Trillion Richer in 2017 (Read More)
  • Russia accuses U.S. of training former Islamic State fighters in Syria (Read More)
  • Leon Black’s Tax-Overhaul Dilemma Could Alter Wall Street Model (Read More)
  • What Makes Cities Safer (Read More)
  • Traders Bent on Bludgeoning Dollar Ignore Bond Market Signals (Read More)
  • Many Comments Critical of ‘Fiduciary’ Rule Are Fake (Read More)
  • Copper Rallies to Three-Year High as China Plant Halts Output (Read More)
  • Yield-Starved Investors Bow to Bond Sellers’ Demands (Read More)
  • Huawei’s China smartphone sales chief detained for suspected bribe-taking (Read More)
  • How One Mysterious Startup Is Riding the Bitcoin Wave (Read More)
  • In Pakistan, questions raised over GE’s flagship power turbines (Read More)
  • Iron Ore Beholden to China’s Great Clean-Up as Quality Wins (Read More)
  • Library of Congress stops full-Twitter archiving at 2017’s end (Read More)

Headlines – 12/27/2017

Israeli officials: Japan offers to host peace summit with Netanyahu, Abbas and Kushner

Japan declares no Jerusalem embassy move in Jordan visit

Hamas chief: US sees Jerusalem suburb as future Palestinian capital

Displeased with Palestinians, Arab states chart new Jerusalem policy

US envoy said to ask State Department to stop calling West Bank ‘occupied’

IDF warns Gaza tensions could erupt into new conflict

Senior Hamas Official: Gaza has an army that can be depended on

Abbas spends Christmas Eve meeting with Fatah terrorist

Israeli Chief of Staff: ‘If necessary, we will act with force and defeat every enemy’

Eastern Mediterranean may be scene of first conflict of 2018

Israel’s future looks bright save for the rising Iranian threat

Vandals said to attack synagogue in Iran, rip up Torah scrolls

Saudi Arabia chess tournament row over ‘shameful’ treatment of Israeli and Qatari players

Saudi ban on Israeli chess players underscores limits of Gulf relations

Last Ukraine aliya charter plane of 2017 arrives in Israel

New archeological exhibition tells a story of an ancient city in Israel

Egypt Hangs 15 for Terrorism, Stoking Fears Among Islamists

Syrian army and Iranian proxies demand surrender of rebels near Israel border

Medical evacuations begin from rebel-held Eastern Ghouta in Syria

ISIS has lost 98 percent of its territory — mostly since Trump took office, officials say

Russia accuses US of training former Islamic State fighters in Syria

Moscow moves to make military presence in Syria permanent

Russia’s Lavrov: Main part of battle with Islamic State in Syria is over

Russia to supply Turkey with four S-400 missile divisions for $2.5bn

Iran, Russia moving closer to integrating banking systems

US-Russia Relations Plunge Still Further

Russia’s Lavrov tells Tillerson US ‘aggressive rhetoric’ on Korea unacceptable

Venezuelans scramble to survive as merchants demand dollars

Twenty-eight arrests after Venezuela looting, violence

U.S. department store stocks jump on holiday spending record

Amazon is planning a push into digital advertising in 2018, challenging Google and Facebook

Los Angeles is opening a selfie museum

2017 – a year of disaster

One dead after 4.2 magnitude quake near Iran capital Tehran

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 22,000ft

Popocateptl volcano in Mexico erupts to 21,000ft

Agung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 19,000ft

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 17,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 14,000ft

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 13,500ft

Tembin: Storm weakens as it nears southern Vietnam

Photos: Record-breaking snowfall blankets Erie, Pennsylvania, with over 60 inches of snow

Near record cold New Year’s Eve expected in New York City

Wildfires Scorch California Earth, and Its Air

Northeast states sue EPA over air pollution from Midwest

China’s Shanghai to battle ‘big city disease’ by limiting population to 25 mln

Rare And Mysterious Vomiting Illness Linked To Heavy Marijuana Use

Russia Plans National Biometric Database Starting Next Year

Genetic-based dating app works to find true love using your DNA

Genetically engineered ‘super-horses’ to be born in 2019 and could soon compete in Olympics

Federal agents found fetuses in body broker’s warehouse

Paula White Says ‘Crusader’ Trump Put Jesus Christ, Christmas, and Prayer Back in White House

Posted: 27 Dec 2017 05:45 AM PST

Paula White Says ‘Crusader’ Trump Put Jesus Christ, Christmas, and Prayer Back in White HousePaula White, who is President Donald Trump’s spiritual adviser, said Trump, whom she called a “crusader,” put Christmas, Jesus Christ, and prayer back in the White House. Speaking in an interview Monday with “Fox & Friends” on the Fox News Channel, the senior pastor of New Destiny Christian Center in Florida stated: “Well, isn’t it nice to be able to say Merry Christmas and to put Jesus Christ

back on the White House lawn? And to have the crusader that we have in our president?” “It is so vitally important — first off, it’s personal to him. He’s a man of faith, he is a believer. He’s spiritual. I’ve known him for over 17 years. And Trump just hasn’t put Christ back in Christmas, but he’s also put prayer back in the White House, he’s put justice back into, and religious freedom back into, our courts.”  READ MORE

North Korean defector had anthrax antibodies in system

Posted: 27 Dec 2017 05:35 AM PST

North Korean defector had anthrax antibodies in systemTraces of anthrax antibodies were discovered in the system of a North Korean soldier who had defected to South Korea at some point in 2017, a local South Korean television station reported Tuesday. The soldier’s name and exact date of defection were not disclosed. But the defector is said to have been exposed to or vaccinated for anthrax, a serious bacterial disease, UPI reported, citing Channel A. They

reportedly became immune to the disease before defection. “Anthrax antibodies have been found in the North Korean soldier who defected this year,” according an unnamed South Korean official speaking to Channel A. The news comes amid earlier reports that North Korea was beginning tests to mount anthrax onto intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the U.S. READ MORE

Swarthmore College offers a course in WHAT?

Posted: 27 Dec 2017 05:31 AM PST

Swarthmore College offers a course in WHAT?One of the nation’s most prestigious liberal arts colleges is advancing a “queer theology” agenda with hopes of destabilizing traditional beliefs about what the Bible says about gender and sexuality.  Swarthmore College, founded by Quakers, is offering courses in “queering the Bible” and “queering God.” The courses were first reported by Campus Reform. “Queering the Bible” is a one-credit class that surveys “queer and trans readings of biblical texts.”

“By reading the Bible with the methods of queer and transtheoretical approaches, this class destabilizes long-held assumptions about what the Bible – and religion – says about gender and sexuality,” the course description reads.  The school’s religion department is also teaching a class that questions the sexuality of the Almighty called, “Queering God: Feminist and Queer Theology.” “The God of the Bible and later Jewish and Christian literature is distinctively masculine, definitely male. Or is He?” the course description reads. READ MORE

Chinese Church Meeting on Street and Homes After Landlord Declines to Renew Lease

Posted: 27 Dec 2017 05:27 AM PST

Chinese Church Meeting on Street and Homes After Landlord Declines to Renew LeaseA persecuted church in China’s central Hubei province is meeting on the streets and meeting in church members’ homes after their landlord refused to renew their lease. Earlier this year, Yanji Christian Church began meeting outside when government officials prohibited them from entering their building. On several occasions, people hired by the authorities threw firecrackers at the Christians and doused them in mud.

In December 2016, the church received a notice from the Echeng District Religious Affairs Bureau that banned its services and religious activities, saying that they conducted them without government permission, and further forbade any missionary programs from being carried out there. Now, their lease has expired, and the landlord is refusing to renew it, most likely due to government pressure. FULL STORY

Demonic Deception Lurks Behind This Widespread Phenomenon

Posted: 27 Dec 2017 05:14 AM PST

Demonic Deception Lurks Behind This Widespread Phenomenon(By Gary Bates) I grew up as a science-fiction fan, and I can recall the religious impact it had on me. I dreamed of utopian alien worlds filled with technologically advanced beings that might save the Earth someday. After getting saved in my adult years (in an Assemblies of God church in Western Australia), I started to see things differently. I still love sci-fi, but front and center, I keep in mind the word “fiction,” because most people, including Christians, don’t recognize the strong evolutionary connection in sci-fi. Life only came about by one of two ways. Either it was created (as the Bible says), or it evolved (and countless times over in the incredibly vast universe). And if aliens evolved long before life evolved on Earth, they could also be millions of years advanced with their technology; building hyperdrive spaceships and so. It’s these ideas that permeates most sci-fi today.

So, I undertook specialist research as a way of using this popular cultural idea to lead people to the Gospel. However, I got more than I bargained for.  Polls report that in the U.S. alone, over 20 million people claim to have seen a UFO, and up to 4 million claim they have been abducted by aliens. Other researchers and I have collectively interviewed thousands of people, and the common pattern of the experiences makes it clear something is really happening to them. The big question is, are these “close encounters” really aliens flying to earth in faster-than-light spaceships from a galaxy far, far away? The answer is a firm no, because the evidence itself shows that these experiences are spiritual in nature. READ MORE

Twin Quakes Shake San Jose, California Region

Posted: 27 Dec 2017 05:06 AM PST

Twin Quakes Shake San Jose, California RegionA pair of earthquakes rattled the South Bay Tuesday night, in an area notorious for seismic restlessness, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.  A 3.9 magnitude quake, the stronger of the two temblors, struck at 10:32 p.m. about 5 miles east-northeast of Alum Rock at a depth of about 5.5 miles, the USGS reported. An earlier quake — a 3.1 — hit at 7:19 p.m. about 5.6 miles east-northeast of San Martin at a

depth of about 7.5 miles, the USGS said. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage. Dave Freund of Los Gatos felt “a quick, small jolt on Lexington Reservoir.” “A good shaker,” said Sanjay Khandelwal of Los Gatos. “My daughter felt it as well. She sleeps in a bunk bed and felt it move.”  READ MORE

Top insider exposes ‘Luciferian’ origin of globalist empire

Posted: 26 Dec 2017 07:08 PM PST

Top insider exposes ‘Luciferian’ origin of globalist empire“Spirit cooking.” Occult imagery outside meetings of the most powerful people in the world. Bizarre rituals held at globally important events.  What is going on? What perverted ideology animates those who control our global destiny?  Global insider Theodore Roosevelt Malloch, who has worked at the highest levels on Wall Street, at the United Nations, at elite universities like Yale and Oxford and served on the executive board of the World Economic Forum, has a disturbing answer. It’s “Luciferianism.”

And Malloch described the ideology and its influence on world leaders in a recent interview on Infowars.  “The E.U. is part, of course, of the globalist empire, the New World Order, and I think many of its origins are in fact quite evil,” Malloch explained. “And I think that we should talk about that.” Malloch, reportedly President Donald Trump’s first pick to be the U.S. ambassador to the E.U., condemned the “unconditional surrender Germany is demanding of Britain” during the Brexit negotiations. READ MORE


Genetic-based dating app works to find true love using DNA…

Posted: 26 Dec 2017 06:58 PM PST

Genetic-based dating app works to find true love using DNA…The first question out of Asma Mirza’s mouth when she makes a new acquaintance these days is, “Are you single?” If she gets a yes, the 27-year-old CEO quickly follows up with a request to swab the inside of her new friend’s cheek, in hopes it will help them find true love. Often, people look at her like she’s crazy. They’ll ask, “What does my DNA have to do with love?”  According to an ever-growing body of scientific

research, the answer is: quite a bit. That’s why Mirza and 26-year-old geneticist Brittany Barreto have spent the last year huddled in their downtown Houston office, working steadily to launch the nation’s first genetics-based dating app, Pheramor. Their phone-based app, which they plan to officially roll out in February, combines genetic information with data gleaned from social media posts to create user profiles. READ MORE

Putin Warns that Russia ‘Has Right to Respond to NATO’s Military Buildup’

Posted: 26 Dec 2017 02:43 PM PST

Putin Warns that Russia ‘Has Right to Respond to NATO’s Military Buildup’Multiple Russian state media outlets are reporting that President Vladimir Putin has stressed that Russia has a right to respond to US military build-up in Europe while furthering its strategic nuclear deterrence capabilities in a speech delivered before a Defense Ministry meeting on Friday in the city of Balashikha outside of Moscow.  At the same meeting Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that NATO has doubled the number of its military drills since 2012 in the vicinity of Russia’s borders, noting

that Russia is carefully monitoring what it considers hostile NATO build-up and intensified surveillance operations along Russian borders. The defense minister further indicated that the number of NATO-member country troops stationed near Russian borders has tripled, growing from 10 to 40 thousand in three years, saying “In the Baltic states and Poland, four battalion-tactical groups, an armored brigade of the US Army, headquarters of NATO multinational divisions in Poland and Romania are deployed.” READ MORE

Israel considers launching crypto-shekel to replace cash

Posted: 26 Dec 2017 02:35 PM PST

Israel considers launching crypto-shekel to replace cashFor several months the Bank of Israel has been considering issuing a state-sponsored virtual currency, reports the Jerusalem Post. The digital shekel will be identical in value to the traditional shekel.  According to an unnamed Israeli finance official, the digital shekel will record every transaction by mobile phone. It will allow the Israeli government to reduce the amount of cash in circulation to fight tax evasion and money laundering.

The so-called black economy in Israel accounts for 22 percent of the country’s GDP, statistics showed.  The digital shekel will be exactly like cash, but instead of coins in a wallet, there will be codes in a cellphone. Transactions with the cryptocurrency will be made immediately, unlike with a bank transfer or check, which takes a few days to clear. “You can imagine that instead of giving you a piece of paper saying the Bank of Israel on it, I can send you a piece of digital code that was issued by a central bank,” the official said, READ MORE

21-Year-Old Son Uses His First Paycheck To Pay Off His Parents’ Entire Mortgage For Christmas

Posted: 26 Dec 2017 02:23 PM PST

21-Year-Old Son Uses His First Paycheck To Pay Off His Parents’ Entire Mortgage For ChristmasDo you remember what you did with your very first paycheck? Pavin Smith will probably never forget what he did with his. The 21-year-old was the seventh overall draft pick in this year’s baseball draft. He signed to the Arizona Diamondbacks and was given a hefty $5 million bonus. Instead of dropping that money on a new house, a fancy car, or a ton of champagne, Pavin decided to do something a little more selfless: pay off his parents’ entire mortgage!

The first baseman penned a heartfelt letter to his parents explaining that their Christmas present was the mortgage payment. Then, he sat them down and filmed their reaction to reading it. Pavin wrote: “Thank you for raising me in a great home filled with love. Because of all the sacrifices you made to get me where I am, I want our family home to be yours.” Despite the magnitude of this present, Pavin says it doesn’t even begin to make up for all that his parents have given him. I have to say I agree — if I could pay off my parents’ mortgage, I’m sure I would. READ MORE

Waffle House Employees Receive Stunning Christmas Tip from Ohio Church on Christmas Eve

Posted: 26 Dec 2017 02:15 PM PST

Waffle House Employees Receive Stunning Christmas Tip from Ohio Church on Christmas EveEmployees working on Christmas Eve at an Ohio Waffle House were stunned when they received a generous tip from a local church.  Congregants from the Grand Lake United Methodist Church in Celina delivered $3,577 in cash to five women working at the restaurant chain’s Wapakoneta location, The Associated Press reported.  The church’s lead pastor, The Rev. Mick Whistler, preached about generosity at Christmas in his sermons, according to The AP.

Whistler challenged families to set aside cash in the weeks leading up to Christmas and instructed them to bring five $15 bills to the church for the Christmas Eve service.  At the end of the service, Whistler took off his minister’s robes to reveal a red server’s apron underneath and announced that they were going to the Waffle House, where hardworking servers were currently away from their families.  READ MORE

Iconic White House tree from 1800’s to be cut down

Posted: 26 Dec 2017 02:10 PM PST

Iconic White House tree from 1800’s to be cut downThe south facade of the White House will undergo a dramatic change this week: the historic Jackson Magnolia, a tree that has been in place since the 1800s, is scheduled to be cut down and removed. The enormous magnolia, one of three on the west side of the White House and the oldest on the White House grounds, extends from the ground floor, up past the front of the windows of the State Dining Room on the first floor and beyond the second-level executive residence.

The tree has had a long and storied life, yet has now been deemed too damaged and decayed to remain in place.  Specialists at the United States National Arboretum were brought in by the White House to assess the Magnolia grandiflora, as it is specifically termed. According to documents obtained exclusively by CNN, the tree must be removed, and quickly, despite efforts to preserve it over several decades. The documents read in part: READ MORE

The Absence of the Fear of the Lord Is Causing Too Many People to Drift

Posted: 26 Dec 2017 05:57 AM PST

The Absence of the Fear of the Lord Is Causing Too Many People to Drift(By Bert Farias) I remember as a child, learning to float on my back in the water at a beach we frequented in the summertime. After floating for a few minutes I’d look around and realize I had drifted quite a distance from where I first started. The gentle motion of the ocean waves had caused me to drift. I find this concept to be true in the Christian life as well. There is a spiritual drifting that occurs when we don’t maintain a strong and close communion with the Lord and feed on the full counsel of His Word.

You will begin accepting what popular elevated teachers in the Christian marketplace teach you instead of what the Bible actually says. It will become easier for you to swallow erroneous teachings – fables, fads, and popular trends in Christendom. And worse of all, you’ll slip into sin, worldliness, and compromise a little at a time, and before you know it, you’ll be flirting with darkness and activities that you never thought you would engage in again. The writer of Hebrews exhorts us: CONTINUE

Syrian Army and Hezbollah Advance Deeper Into Border Area Near Israel

Posted: 26 Dec 2017 05:44 AM PST

Syrian Army and Hezbollah Advance Deeper Into Border Area Near IsraelThe Syrian Army and the Iran-backed Lebanese terror group Hezbollah moved deeper into a strategic area bordering Israel and Lebanon this week, in the latest aggressive Iranian advancement in the region. The Syrian forces and Lebanese terror group moved near the Sunni rebel-controlled area of Beit Jin in southern Syria with support from heavy artillery and aerial bombing. Beit Jin is the last remaining rebel-controlled enclave southwest of Damascus. “The Iranian-backed militias are trying to consolidate their

sphere of influence all the way from southwest of Damascus to the Israeli border,” said Suhaib al Ruhail, a member of a Sunni rebel group in the area, Reuters reported. The developments follow a recent surge in alleged Israeli strikes on targets in Syria, suggesting a new Israeli urgency to block Iran’s spread into the war-torn country. The latest purported Israeli strikes in Syria targeted weapons production facilities and an Iranian military base. READ MORE


Christmas Eve car wreck kills man but was brought back to life after encounter with Jesus.

Posted: 26 Dec 2017 05:36 AM PST

Christmas Eve car wreck kills man but was brought back to life after encounter with Jesus.A man was technically dead on Christmas Eve after being involved in a car crash but was brought back to life by paramedics says he had a close encounter with Jesus.  The person, who goes by the name Paul O, claims to have enjoyed the experience of being deceased and says he was given a message from Jesus. He said he was driving to his father’s grave to place flowers with his wife and her sister in 1971 when disaster struck. Mr O says lost control of the car, swerved on the other side of the road where a piece of

wood came loose from another vehicle and headed straight towards him. He said: “I saw coming towards the windscreen a plank of wood. It was moving very slowly, end on to my line of sight. “As I realised I was about to be killed, a sensation as of a swirling vortex began that enveloped my whole body, which then concentrated in my head and I exited my body through the top of my head. I literally flew out of the top of my head.  READ MORE

China to Overtake U.S. Economy In 15 Years…

Posted: 26 Dec 2017 05:29 AM PST

China to Overtake U.S. Economy In 15 Years…The growing importance of Asia’s major economies will continue in 2018 and beyond, according to a league table that sees the region dominating in terms of size in just over a decade. The report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research in London sees India leapfrogging the U.K. and France next year to become the world’s fifth-biggest economy in dollar terms. It will advance to third place by 2027, moving ahead of Germany.

In 2032, three of the four largest economies will be Asian — China, India and Japan — and, by that time, China will also have overtaken the U.S. to hold the No. 1 spot. India’s advance won’t stop there, according to the CEBR, which sees it taking the top place in the second half of the century. Also by 2032, South Korea and Indonesia will have entered the top 10, supplanting the Group of Seven nations of Italy and Canada. 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:


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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Biblical Age Of Accountability Raised To 30 For Millennials

GRAND RAPIDS, MI—A national task force of Bible scholars has voted to raise the biblical age of accountability to 30 for late-blooming millennials. According to this decision, millennials who die before age 30 will receive automatic entry into the kingdom of heaven along with complimentary participation trophies. Focus on the Family founder James Dobson wrote […]

. . . finish reading Biblical Age Of Accountability Raised To 30 For Millennials.

The Top 10 Cold-Case Christianity Articles from 2017

Here we are again, at the end of another year. It’s been our busiest yet at Cold-Case Christianity, with more speaking events than ever before, even as we published Forensic Faith, the Forensic Faith Curriculum Kit, and God’s Crime Scene for Kids. In addition, we updated the Case Makers Academy and finished two student academies designed to help your kids make the case for Jesus and the existence of God. Along the way we also posted over 250 new articles, videos and broadcasts. In keeping with our annual tradition, here are the ten most popular articles posted in 2017 (including the links to each article):

#10. Is the Raising of Lazarus Fictional?
Why is the raising of Lazarus missing from the other gospel accounts? Does the account contain exaggerations that expose it as fiction?

#9. The Case for the Historicity and Deity of Jesus (Free Bible Insert)
A helpful brief summary of the cumulative case for the historicity and deity of Jesus (also available as a free downloadable Bible Insert).

#8. Who Is Jesus, According to Other Religions?
If you’re interested in a quest for truth, it would be wise to start with the faith system best describing the man many other systems already acknowledge.

#7. Christian Worldview: What Does It Mean to Be “In the World” but Not “Of the World”?
What does it really mean to live as a Christian in a non-Christian environment? What happens when our “point of location” becomes our “source of information”?

#6. The Best Question to Ask When Starting a Conversation About God
Ever struggle to find a way to start a conversation about God? This one important question will get you started.

#5. Three M’s That Naturalism Can’t Provide
I once called myself a naturalist while embracing three characteristics of reality that simply cannot be explained by naturalism.

#4. UPDATED: Are Young People Really Leaving Christianity?
Some deny the flight of young people altogether, but the growing statistics should alarm us enough as Church leaders to do something about the dilemma.

#3. The Challenges Facing Young Christians
Young Christians face challenges from a very early age. Many struggle to hold on to their faith, or leave Christianity altogether. How is the Church responding?

#2. Is There Any Evidence for Jesus Outside the Bible?
The ancient non-Christian interpretations (and critical commentaries) of the Gospel accounts serve to strengthen the core claims of the New Testament.

And here it is, the most popular article posted in 2017:

#1. Is Jesus Simply a Retelling of the Horus Mythology?
Is Jesus simply a retelling of the Horus myth? How similar is Horus to Jesus upon close examination? Do these similarities invalidate the historicity of Jesus?

These ten articles, all posted in 2017, became the most read, most popular articles on our website. They were viewed and shared thousands of times. I hope you got a chance to read them as well, but if you didn’t, here is your opportunity. Thanks so much for making Cold-Case Christianity a part of your Christian experience. We hope we’ve helped you to become a better Christian Case Maker.

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case DetectiveChristian Case Maker, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and the author of Cold-Case ChristianityCold-Case Christianity for KidsGod’s Crime SceneGod’s Crime Scene for Kids, and Forensic Faith.

Source: The Top 10 Cold-Case Christianity Articles from 2017

December 27, 2017: Afternoon Verse Of The Day

10:14 / The six verses of 10:14–19 are carefully structured as a pair of matching triplets: verses 14, 15, 16, and verses 17, 18, 19. In each of the two passages there is an opening, hymn-like exaltation of Yahweh with resounding superlatives (vv. 14, 17). The following verse describes something unexpected about God’s action or character (vv. 15, 18). The concluding verse is a command for Israel to respond appropriately (vv. 16, 19). This stereophonic effect enriches the impact of the whole symphony.

Even the highest heavens (lit. “heavens of heavens”—a superlative expression): This verse, with wonderful rhythmic cadence, affirms the universal exaltation and cosmic ownership of Yahweh (cf. 1 Kgs. 8:27; Pss. 24:1; 47:7–9; 68:34; 95:4f.; 115:16; 148:4f.; Jer. 10:10–13). There is absolutely nothing in creation “up there or down here” that does not belong to him. Some commentators insist on relativizing verses like this, based on their own certainty that such claims cannot be expressing monotheism, but reflect only a relatively special status for Yahweh. But if absolutely everything belongs to Yahweh (and the text could hardly have found more emphatic words to say so), what was left to be franchised out to other deities? The text attributes cosmic universality to Yahweh, and it is exegetically unsound to reduce its scope on the basis of a priori assumptions about Israelite religion.[1]

[1] Wright, C. J. H. (2012). Deuteronomy. (W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston, Eds.) (pp. 145–146). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.


That ye might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

1 Corinthians 2:12

Every Christian believer should be aware that our God has given us definite promises of an amazing inheritance to be realized in the eternal!

The blessings and riches of our divine inheritance are not riches that will come to us for anything that is worthy or superior in ourselves, but will come because of our relationship in faith to the One who is the fount of every blessing.

We must remember that an inheritance has not actually been earned. Such bequests come from One who owns everything and gives to another whom He delights to honor and who can establish his rightful claim.

Inheritance is a right resulting from a relationship. In this case, the right belongs to the children of God by virtue of the fact that their identification as children of God by faith in the eternal Son of God has been established and is in the heavenly records! The apostle said of us: “Men and women cannot imagine or even dream of all the things which God has prepared for those who love Him!” (see 1 Corinthians 2:9).

Lord, I pray that in the coming year my relationship with You will grow stronger through spending time in prayer and reading Your Word.[1]

[1] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

December 27 Principles of the Dragnet, Part 1

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind; and when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away. So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous.—Matt. 13:47–49

During the present church era, God allows unbelief and unrighteousness to exist in His kingdom. Therefore believers and unbelievers coexist, as Jesus already illustrated in His parable of the wheat and tares. This parable of the dragnet, however, depicts the separation of believers and unbelievers as the kingdom’s form changes at the end of the age. The dragnet of the Father’s judgment quietly moves through the sea of humanity drawing all people to the shores of eternity for separation to their final destinies—believers to heaven and unbelievers to hell.

The invisible net of God’s judgment affects every person just as the dragnet impinges on every sea creature. Most people don’t perceive God’s sovereign plan or His eternal kingdom. They don’t realize He is working in this world. At times they can be moved by hearing of the gospel’s grace, or scared by the threat of judgment. But usually they quickly return to their worldly lifestyles and disregard matters of eternity.

However, we can be certain that when this era ends and the Lord Jesus returns to establish His glorious kingdom, final judgment will be at hand. Here Christ does not fully describe the end times, but He focuses on judgment of unbelievers. He pictures a general judgment with particular reference to the final, great white throne judgment (Rev. 20:11–15). There “the dead, the great and the small” will be “judged, every one of them” (vv. 12, 13). But thank the Lord we do not have to fear that fate if we are trusting Him for salvation.


How does your heart react when you contemplate the vastness and grandeur of God’s plan—His knowledge and oversight throughout history and forward into eternity?[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 370). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

December 27 The Best Use of Life

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Philippians 1:21

Personalize today’s verse by filling in the blanks: “For to me, to live is __________, and to die is __________.” If you put wealth in the first blank, dying brings not gain but loss. The same is true if you selected prestige, fame, power, or possessions because none of those things remains after death: prestige is lost, fame is forgotten, power is useless, and possessions are taken by others. For today’s verse to make sense as Paul wrote it, only Christ can fill the first blank. Otherwise, death is inevitably a loss.

Some who read this will say they put Christ in the blank. But if they think about it carefully, they will realize that what they really meant was Christ plus wealth, Christ plus power, or Christ plus possessions. Christ can’t share the first blank with anything else. Those who truly live for Christ have no fear of death and make the best use of life—in both they glorify Christ.[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 388). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

December 27, 2017: Morning Verse Of The Day

The Reality of Freedom—No Condemnation

There is therefore now no condemnation (8:1a)

By simple definition, therefore introduces a result, consequence, or conclusion based on what has been established previously. It seems unlikely that Paul is referring to the immediately preceding text. He has just finished lamenting the continued problem of sin in a believer’s life, including his own. It is surely not on the basis of that truth that he confidently declares that believers are no longer under divine condemnation. One might expect rather that any further sin would deserve some sort of further judgment. But Paul makes clear that such is not the case with our gracious God. It seems probable that therefore marks a consequent conclusion from the entire first seven chapters, which focus primarily on justification by faith alone, made possible solely on the basis of and by the power of God’s grace.

Accordingly, chapter 8 marks a major change in the focus and flow of the epistle. At this point the apostle begins to delineate the marvelous results of justification in the life of the believer. He begins by explaining, as best as possible to finite minds, some of the cardinal truths of salvation (no condemnation, as well as justification, substitution, and sanctification).

God’s provision of salvation came not through Christ’s perfect teaching or through His perfect life but through His perfect sacrifice on the cross. It is through Christ’s death, not His life, that God provides the way of salvation. For those who place their trust in Christ and in what He has done on their behalf there is therefore now no condemnation.

The Greek word katakrima (condemnation) appears only in the book of Romans, here and in 5:16, 18. Although it relates to the sentencing for a crime, its primary focus is not so much on the verdict as on the penalty that the verdict demands. As Paul has already declared, the penalty, or condemnation, for sin is death (6:23).

Paul here announces the marvelous good news that for Christians there will be no condemnation, neither sentencing nor punishment for the sins that believers have committed or will ever commit.

Ouketi (no) is an emphatic negative adverb of time and carries the idea of complete cessation. In His parable about the king who forgave one of his slaves an overwhelming debt (Matt. 18:23–27), Jesus pictured God’s gracious and total forgiveness of the sins of those who come to Him in humble contrition and faith. That is the heart and soul of the gospel—that Jesus completely and permanently paid the debt of sin and the penalty of the law (which is condemnation to death) for every person who humbly asks for mercy and trusts in Him. Through the apostle John, God assures His children that “if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world” (1 John 2:1–2).

Jesus not only pays the believer’s debt of sin but cleanses him “from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Still more amazingly, He graciously imputes and imparts to each believer His own perfect righteousness: “For by one offering He [Christ] has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Heb. 10:14; cf. Rom. 5:17; 2 Cor. 5:21; Phil. 3:9). More even than that, Jesus shares His vast heavenly inheritance with those who come to Him in faith (Eph. 1:3, 11, 14). It is because of such immeasurable divine grace that Paul admonishes Christians to be continually “giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (Col. 1:12). Having been qualified by God the Father, we will never, under any circumstance, be subject to divine condemnation. How blessed to be placed beyond the reach of condemnation!

The truth that there can never be the eternal death penalty for believers is the foundation of the eighth chapter of Romans. As Paul asks rhetorically near the end of the chapter, “If God is for us, who is against us?” (v. 31), and again, “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies” (v. 33). If the highest tribunal in the universe justifies us, who can declare us guilty?

It is extremely important to realize that deliverance from condemnation is not based in the least measure on any form of perfection achieved by the believer. He does not attain the total eradication of sin during his earthly life. It is that truth that Paul establishes so intensely and poignantly in Romans 7. John declares that truth as unambiguously as possible in his first epistle: “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). The Christian’s conflict with sin does not end until he goes to be with the Lord. Nevertheless, there is still no condemnation—because the penalty for all the failures of his life has been paid in Christ and applied by grace.

It is also important to realize that deliverance from divine condemnation does not mean deliverance from divine discipline. “For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives” (Heb. 12:6). Nor does deliverance from God’s condemnation mean escape from our accountability to Him: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap” (Gal. 6:7).

The Reason for Freedom—Justification

for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. (8:1b–2)

As noted at the beginning of the previous section, the therefore that introduces verse 1 refers back to the major theme of the first seven chapters of the epistle—the believer’s complete justification before God, graciously provided in response to trust in the sacrificial death and resurrection of His Son.

The divine condemnation from which believers are exonerated (8:1a) is without exception or qualification. It is bestowed on those who are in Christ Jesus, in other words, on every true Christian. Justification completely and forever releases every believer from sin’s bondage and its penalty of death (6:23) and thereby fits him to stand sinless before a holy God forever. It is that particular aspect of justification on which Paul focuses at the beginning of chapter 8.

Paul’s use of the first person singular pronouns (I and me) in 7:7–25 emphasizes the sad reality that, in this present life, no Christian, not even an apostle, is exempt from struggles with sin. In the opening verses of chapter 8, on the other hand, Paul emphasizes the marvelous reality that every believer, even the weakest and most unproductive, shares in complete and eternal freedom from sin’s condemnation. The holiest of believers are warned that, although they are no longer under sin’s slavish dominion, they will experience conflicts with it in this present life. And the weakest of believers are promised that, although they still stumble and fall into sin’s power in their flesh, they will experience ultimate victory over sin in the life to come.

The key to every aspect of salvation is in the simple but infinitely profound phrase in Christ Jesus. A Christian is a person who is in Christ Jesus. Paul has already declared that “all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death,” and that “therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection” (Rom. 6:3–5).

Being a Christian is not simply being outwardly identified with Christ but being part of Christ, not simply of being united with Him but united in Him. Our being in Christ is one of the profoundest of mysteries, which we will not fully understand until we meet Him face-to-face in heaven. But Scripture does shed light on that marvelous truth. We know that we are in Christ spiritually, in a divine and permanent union. “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive,” Paul explains (1 Cor. 15:22). Believers are also in Christ in a living, participatory sense. “Now you are Christ’s body,” Paul declares in that same epistle, “and individually members of it” (12:27). We are actually a part of Him and, in ways that are unfathomable to us now, we work when He works, grieve when He grieves, and rejoice when He rejoices. “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,” Paul assures us, “whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13). Christ’s own divine life pulses through us.

Many people are concerned about their family heritage, about who their ancestors were, where they lived, and what they did. For better or worse, we are all life-linked physically, intellectually, and culturally to our ancestors. In a similar, but infinitely more important way, we are linked to the family of God because of our relationship to His Son, Jesus Christ. It is for that reason that every Christian can say, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20).

God’s Word makes clear that every human being is a descendant of Adam and has inherited Adam’s fallen nature. It makes just as clear that every true believer becomes a spiritual descendant of Jesus Christ, God’s true Son, and is thereby adopted into the heavenly Father’s own divine household as a beloved child. More than just being adopted, we inherit the very life of God in Christ.

Martin Luther said,

It is impossible for a man to be a Christian without having Christ, and if he has Christ, he has at the same time all that is in Christ. What gives peace to the conscience is that by faith our sins are no more ours, but Christ’s, upon whom God hath laid them all; and that, on the other hand, all Christ’s righteousness is ours, to whom God hath given it. Christ lays His hand upon us, and we are healed. He casts His mantle upon us, and we are clothed; for He is the glorious Savior, blessed for ever. (Cited in Robert Haldane, An Exposition of Romans; [reprint, McLean, Va.: McDonald, 1958], p. 312)

The relationship between God and His chosen people Israel was beautifully illustrated in the garment of the high priest. Over his magnificent robes he wore a breastplate in which twelve different precious stones were embedded, representing the twelve tribes of Israel. Each stone was engraved with the name of the tribe it represented. When the high priest entered the Holy of Holies once each year on the Day of Atonement, he stood before God with those visual representations of all His people.

That breastplate was a rich symbolism of Jesus Christ, our Great High Priest, standing before the Father making intercession on behalf of all those the Father has given Him (Heb. 7:24–25). In what is commonly called His high priestly prayer, Jesus prayed on behalf of those who belong to Him “that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me” (John 17:21).

Luther also wrote,

Faith unites the soul with Christ as a spouse with her husband. Everything which Christ has becomes the property of the believing soul; everything which the soul has, becomes the property of Christ. Christ possesses all blessings and eternal life: they are thenceforward the property of the soul. The soul has all its iniquities and sins: they become thenceforward the property of Christ. It is then that a blessed exchange commences: Christ who is both God and man, Christ who has never sinned, and whose holiness is perfect, Christ the Almighty and Eternal, taking to Himself, by His nuptial ring of faith, all the sins of the believer, those sins are lost and abolished in Him; for no sins dwell before His infinite righteousness. Thus by faith the believer’s soul is delivered from sins and clothed with the eternal righteousness of her bridegroom Christ. (Cited in Haldane, Exposition of Romans, p. 313)

The phrase “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” appears at the end of verse 1 in the King James, but it is not found in the earliest manuscripts of Romans or in most modern translations. It is probable that a copyist inadvertently picked up the phrase from verse 4. Because the identical wording appears there, the meaning of the passage is not affected.

The conjunction for, which here carries the meaning of because, leads into the reason there is no condemnation for believers: the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

Paul does not here use the term law in reference to the Mosaic law or to other divine commandments or requirements. He uses it rather in the sense of a principle of operation, as he has done earlier in the letter, where he speaks of “a law of faith” (3:27) and as he does in Galatians, where he speaks of “the law of Christ” (6:2). Those who believe in Jesus Christ are delivered from the condemnation of a lower divine law, as it were, by submitting themselves to a higher divine law. The lower law is the divine principle in regard to sin, the penalty for which is death, and the higher law is the law of the Spirit, which bestows life in Christ Jesus.

But it should not be concluded that the law Paul is speaking of in this passage has no relationship to obedience. Obedience to God cannot save a person, because no person in his unredeemed sinfulness wants to obey God and could not obey perfectly even if he had the desire. But true salvation will always produce true obedience—never perfect in this life but nonetheless genuine and always present to some extent. When truly believed and received, the gospel of Jesus Christ always leads to the “obedience of faith” (Rom. 16:25–26). The coming kingdom age of Christ that Jeremiah predicted and of which the writer of Hebrews refers is far from lawless. “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their minds, and I will write them upon their hearts” (Heb. 8:10; cf. Jer. 31:33). Release from the law’s bondage and condemnation does not mean release from the law’s requirements and standards. The higher law of the Spirit produces obedience to the lower law of duties.

The freedom that Christ gives is complete and permanent deliverance from sin’s power and penalty (and ultimately from its presence). It also gives the ability to obey God. The very notion of a Christian who is free to do as he pleases is self-contradictory. A person who believes that salvation leads from law to license does not have the least understanding of the gospel of grace and can make no claim on Christ’s saviorhood and certainly no claim on His lordship.

In speaking of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, Paul makes unambiguous later in this chapter that he is referring to the Holy Spirit. The Christian’s mind is set on the things of the Spirit (v. 6) and is indwelt and given life by the Holy Spirit (vv. 9–11). Paul summarized the working of those two laws earlier in the epistle: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).

When Jesus explained the way of salvation to Nicodemus, He said, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). God “saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness,” Paul explains, “but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:5–6). It is the Holy Spirit who bestows and energizes spiritual life in the person who places his trust in Christ Jesus. Paul could not be talking of any spirit but the Holy Spirit, because only God’s Holy Spirit can bring spiritual life to a heart that is spiritually dead.

The truths of Romans 7 are among the most depressing and heart-rending in all of Scripture, and it is largely for that reason that many interpreters believe they cannot describe a Christian. But Paul was simply being honest and candid about the frustrating and discouraging spiritual battles that every believer faces. It is, in fact, the most faithful and obedient Christian who faces the greatest spiritual struggles. Just as in physical warfare, it is those on the front lines who encounter the enemy’s most fierce attacks. But just as frontline battle can reveal courage, it can also reveal weaknesses and vulnerability. Even the most valiant soldier is subject to injury and discouragement.

During his earthly life, the Christian will always have residual weaknesses from his old humanness, the old fleshly person he used to be. No matter how closely he walks with the Lord, he is not yet completely free from sin’s power. That is the discomfiting reality of Romans 7.

But the Christian is no longer a slave to sin as he once was, no longer under sin’s total domination and control. Now he is free from sin’s bondage and its ultimate penalty. Satan, the world, and his own humanness still can cause him to stumble and falter, but they can no longer control or destroy him, because his new life in Christ is the very divine life of God’s own Spirit. That is the comforting truth of Romans 8.

The story is told of a man who operated a drawbridge. At a certain time each afternoon, he had to raise the bridge for a ferry boat and then lower it quickly for a passenger train that crossed at high speed a few minutes later. One day the man’s young son was visiting his father at work and decided to go down below to get a better look at the ferry as it passed. Fascinated by the sight, he did not watch carefully where he was going and fell into the giant gears. One foot became caught and the boy was helpless to free himself. The father saw what happened but knew that if he took time to extricate his son, the train would plunge into to the river before the bridge could be lowered. But if he lowered the bridge to save the hundreds of passengers and crew members on the train, his son would be crushed to death. When he heard the trains whistle, indicating it would soon reach the river, he knew what he had to do. His son was very dear to him, whereas all the people on the train were total strangers. The sacrifice of his son for the sake of the other people was an act of pure grace and mercy.

That story portrays something of the infinitely greater sacrifice God the Father made when He sent His only beloved Son to earth to die for the sins of mankind—to whom He owed nothing but condemnation.[1]

1 The reader is hardly prepared by the contents of ch. 7 for the glorious pronouncement that there is “no condemnation” at all for those who are in Christ Jesus. Here is the statement of the gospel in just a few words. Here is the answer to the condemnation mentioned in 5:18. It is not easy to associate the “therefore” with anything in the immediately preceding context. The connection must be sought in the entire sweep of the thought as developed from ch. 3 on. The natural antithesis to the sentence of condemnation is justification. It can be replied, of course, that Paul has already covered this truth and would not be likely to revert to it here. However, this is such a basic truth that Paul brings it even into his discussion of the Christian life (vv. 33–34; cf. v. 10). Justification is the basis and starting point for sanctification. One must be assured of acceptance with God before one can grow in grace and conformity to Christ.

At the same time, it is clear that the construction of vv. 2–4 carries us beyond the thought of freedom from condemnation in the sense of guilt. What is developed is the application of the redeeming work of Christ by the Spirit to the believer’s life in such a way that the dominion of sin is broken and the reign of godliness assured. In Christ we have entered a new aeon, and those “in Christ Jesus,” i.e., Christians, participate in the freedom of this new aeon. The noun “condemnation” (katakrima, GK 2890) has its counterpart in the verb “condemned” (v. 3), which is followed immediately, not by a statement about the standing of the believer, but by one concerning the believer’s manner of life (v. 4). Consequently, there is both a forensic and a practical force in “no condemnation.”[2]

8:1 / Chapter 8 begins with the triumphant crash of Beethoven’s “Emperor Concerto”—Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The Greek behind Therefore (ara nyn) signals an emphatic break from the preceding train of thought. To be in Christ Jesus is to experience something not offered by the law of Moses. Paul’s tireless labors have shown that the law reveals sin (3:20), aggravates sin (7:8–9), and condemns both sin and sinner (7:11); and the burden of this awareness causes him to cry out, “What a wretched man I am!” (7:24). His only recourse is to cry for help outside himself, and help he finds in Jesus Christ.

Without diminishing the force of verse 1, we must not mistake its message. Paul does not say that those in Christ Jesus no longer sin or that they are exempt from the struggle against sin so dramatically portrayed in 7:7–25. Romans 8 is not an apology for Christian perfectionism. What he does say is that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. The antecedent idea is found in 5:16 where, in speaking of Adam’s sin, Paul said, “The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation” (also 5:18). It is that condemnation which is revoked in Jesus Christ. Verse 1 is therefore a victorious summary of 5:12–6:11. The ongoing skirmishes with sin do not defeat believers, but the thought of being cursed or abandoned by God does. Believers need to know that they do not stand condemned by God. Christ has cancelled the bond of indebtedness against humanity (Col. 2:14). The accent throughout falls on Christ’s victory, not on human merits.

When Paul says, there is now no condemnation, he means that the sentence of death and judgment on the Last Day has been commuted. Verse 11 will repeat the idea of 7:24: believers remain in “mortal bodies” (see also 2 Cor. 4:7–11). But the consequences of sin are annulled through Christ’s death, and even now the Spirit begins in believers a work of regeneration that will be completed in the world to come. Grace is knowing that God is for us and with us even in our “body of death” (7:24).[3]

1. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

The statement, “There is therefore now no condemnation” is closely connected with the main thrust of Paul’s previous reasoning, taken as a unit. See especially verses 1:16, 17; 3:21, 24; 5:1, 2, 6–8, 15–21; 7:6. In these passages the apostle has been setting forth the fact that, through Christ’s debt-removing and sanctifying self-sacrifice, believers have been released from the curse of the law. Because of the entrance of sin (cf. 8:3) the law cannot now be regarded as a means of obtaining salvation, nor does it have the power to condemn believers. Rather, the law is the means for the expression of their gratitude. As such it is the object of their delight, even though, as 7:14f. has shown, in the present life complete obedience is impossible.

This does not mean that there is no connection between 8:1 f. and the immediately preceding context. As has been indicated—see pp. 238, 239—there is a close connection between “Thanks be to God through Christ Jesus our Lord” (7:25a) and “There is therefore now no condemnation, etc.” (8:1). But even what Paul says in 7:25b—and more generally in 6:1–7:25—about the enslaving power of sin, is not absent from his mind in 8:1, as the sequel (8:1 f.) indicates. For Paul “no condemnation” means freedom not only from sin’s guilt but also from its enslaving power.

To be sure, a distinction must be drawn between justification and sanctification. But this distinction must never become a separation. Calvin has made this clear by stating, “As Christ cannot be divided, so also these two blessings which we receive together in him are also inseparable” (Institutes III, xi, 6).

In line with this twofold reference of the words “no condemnation” is the phrase “in Christ Jesus.” What Paul is saying is that for those who not only forensically are in Christ Jesus—the guilt of their sins having been removed by his death—but also spiritually—the sanctifying influences of his Spirit dominating their lives, there is now (=consequently) no condemnation. For them there is justification and therefore salvation full and free (see 8:29, 30). For more on the phrase “in Christ Jesus” see above on 3:24, p. 131, and on 6:3 f., p. 196. See also N.T.C. on Ephesians, pp. 70, 71.

Justification and sanctification always go together. The fact that the expression “no condemnation” implies both pardon and purification is also clear from verse[4]

8:1 From the valley of despair and defeat, the apostle now climbs the heights with the triumphant shout, There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus! This may be understood in two ways.

First, there is no divine condemnation as far as our sin is concerned, because we are in Christ. There was condemnation as long as we were in our first federal head, Adam. But now we are in Christ and therefore are as free from condemnation as He is. So we can hurl out the challenge:

Reach my blest Savior first,

Take Him from God’s esteem;

Prove Jesus bears one spot of sin,

Then tell me I’m unclean.

W. N. Tomkins

But it may also mean that there is no need for the kind of self-condemnation which Paul described in chapter 7. We may pass through a Romans 7 experience, unable to fulfill the law’s requirements by our own effort, but we don’t have to stay there. Verse 2 explains why there is no condemnation.[5]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans (Vol. 1, pp. 398–405). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Harrison, E. F., & Hagner, D. A. (2008). Romans. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, p. 128). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Edwards, J. R. (2011). Romans (pp. 198–199). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (Vol. 12–13, pp. 244–245). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1708). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.


The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne.

—Revelation 4:10

All of the examples that we have in the Bible illustrate that glad and devoted and reverent worship is the normal employment of moral beings. Every glimpse that is given us of heaven and of God’s created beings is always a glimpse of worship and rejoicing and praise because God is who He is.

The Apostle John in Revelation 4:10-11 gives us a plain portrayal of created beings around the throne of God….

I can safely say, on the authority of all that is revealed in the Word of God, that any man or woman on this earth who is bored and turned off by worship is not ready for heaven. WHT013

Lord, revive my worship so that it may indeed be a foretaste of the worship I will enjoy for all eternity. Amen.[1]

[1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

December 27 God Becomes Visible

“[Christ] is the image of the invisible God.”

Colossians 1:15


In Christ, the invisible God became visible.

Sometimes I listen to different preachers on the radio or watch them on television, and I get tremendously frustrated. That’s because so many of them present a confusing picture of who Christ really is. Since there are so many who distort the Christian faith, there should be in every believer a desire to defend it. The apostle Paul certainly had that desire. Since the heretics at Colosse viewed Jesus as a lesser spirit who emanated from God, Paul refutes that with a powerful description of who Jesus really is.

Paul describes Him as “the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15). The Greek word translated “image” (eikon) means “likeness.” Although man is also the eikon of God (1 Cor. 11:7), he is not a perfect image of God. Humans are made in God’s image in that they have rational personality. Like God, they possess intellect, emotion, and will, by which they are able to think, feel, and choose. We humans are not, however, in God’s image morally: He is holy, and we are sinful. We are also not created in His image essentially, since we do not possess His divine attributes.

Unlike man, Jesus Christ is the perfect, absolutely accurate image of God. He did not become the image of God at the Incarnation but has been that from all eternity. Hebrews 1:3 says Christ “is the radiance of [God’s] glory and the exact representation of His nature.” Christ reflects God’s attributes and is the exact likeness of God. That is why Christ could say, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

By using the term eikon, Paul emphasizes that Jesus is both the representation and manifestation of God. He is the full, final, and complete revelation of God. He is God in human flesh. That was His claim (John 8:58), and it is the unanimous testimony of Scripture (cf. Col. 2:9; Titus 2:13). To think anything less of Him is blasphemy and gives evidence of a mind blinded by Satan (2 Cor. 4:4).


Suggestions for Prayer: Thank the Lord for removing your spiritual blindness so that you could “see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4).

For Further Study: According to Romans 8:29, what has God predestined for all believers?[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

December 26 Daily Help

WHAT bliss to be a perfectly pardoned soul! My soul dedicates all her powers to Him who, of His own unpurchased love, became my surety, and wrought out for me redemption through His blood! What riches of grace does free forgiveness exhibit! To forgive at all, to forgive fully, to forgive freely, to forgive ever! Here is a constellation of wonders; and when I think of how great my sins were, how dear were the precious drops which cleansed me from them, I am in a maze of wondering, worshiping affection. I bow before the throne which absolves me; I clasp the cross which delivers me; I serve henceforth the Incarnate God, through whom I am this day a pardoned soul.[1]

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 364). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

December 26, 2017: Evening Verse Of The Day

The Appeal

Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself.” And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” (2:37–40)

Peter’s conclusion to the main body of his sermon was devastating. He charged his listeners with rejecting and executing their Messiah—the very One whom God had made both Lord and Christ (v. 36). When they heard this—Peter’s statement in verse 36—they were pierced to the heart. Katanussō (pierced) appears only here in the New Testament. It means “to pierce,” or “to stab,” and thus depicts something sudden and unexpected. Stunned by their inability to evade the indictment that they were guilty of heinous behavior before God, they were overcome by grief and remorse.

There were several reasons for their anguish. First, as already noted, was the realization that they had executed their Messiah. The One for whom they had longed for centuries, the One who was the hope of all their personal and national promises, had finally come. Instead of welcoming Him, however, they rejected Him and handed Him over to their bitter and hated enemies, the Romans, for execution.

Second, they themselves had done it. It would have been bad enough to learn that Messiah had been killed. Far worse was the knowledge of their own complicity in the crime. That no doubt produced in them a deep sense of guilt. They could not imagine a greater sin than killing their Messiah.

A third cause for their anguish was fear of Messiah’s wrath. Peter had announced to them in no uncertain terms that the same Jesus they had crucified was now alive (vv. 24, 31, 32). Worse still, he had quoted to them a passage from Psalm 110 that spoke of the vanquishing of Messiah’s enemies. What greater enemies of God existed than those who killed His Messiah?

Finally, they were devastated by the understanding that what they had done could not be undone.

Overwhelmed with anguish, despair, remorse, and guilt, they said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” They sought desperately for a way to make right what they had done, and avoid Messiah’s wrath. They were at the same point Paul was when he cried out on the Damascus road, “What shall I do, Lord?” (Acts 22:10). Their words are reminiscent of those of the Philippian jailer, who asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). Their state of mind illustrates perfectly that of the convicted sinner. They had a deep sense of their own guilt, and a panicky fear of God’s wrath. They had a strong desire to be saved from that wrath, and a willingness to submit to God’s will. Such conviction of sin is a part of every genuine conversion.

The book of Zechariah illustrates that truth. Zechariah 12:10 describes the first step in the restoration of Israel—conviction of sin: “And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born.” Only after that conviction does the cleansing of sin described in Zechariah 13:1 take place: “In that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity.” Conviction is the key used by the Holy Spirit to open the heart to salvation.

An indictment for sin is an essential part of any gospel presentation. People need to be convicted of sin before they will see the need for a savior. No matter how morally upright they may be, all unbelievers are guilty of the vile sins of rebellion against God (cf. Acts 17:30) and rejection of Jesus Christ (John 16:8–9). Genuine conviction is produced by the Spirit of God, in conjunction with the Word of God, which is “living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).

The Holy Spirit, through Peter’s powerful preaching, had brought them to the point of desperation. Peter now answers their question with the only correct answer: repent. Metanoeō (repent) is a rich New Testament term. It speaks of a change of purpose, of turning from sin to God (1 Thess. 1:9). It is an essential component of a genuine conversion. Both John the Baptist (Matt. 3:2) and the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 4:17) called for repentance. It is an oft-repeated theme in Acts (3:19; 5:31; 8:22; 11:18; 17:30; 20:21; 26:20).

Although Peter’s hearers feared God’s judgment, true repentance involves more than fear of consequences. Commentator Albert Barnes rightly notes that “false repentance dreads the consequences of sin; true repentance dreads sin itself” (Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament: Acts-Romans [1884–85; reprint, Grand Rapids: Baker, n.d.], 52. Emphasis in original). True repentance hates sin for what it is—an affront to God. Knowing that sin is evil and that God hates it motivates the truly repentant person to forsake it. Genuine repentance thus forsakes sin and turns in total commitment to Jesus Christ. (For a discussion of repentance, see my books The Gospel According to Jesus, rev. ed. [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994], and Faith Works [Dallas: Word, 1993].)

It is difficult for modern readers to grasp the magnitude of the change facing Peter’s Jewish hearers. They were part of a unique community, with a rich cultural and religious history. Despite long years of subjugation to Rome, they were fiercely nationalistic. The nation had rejected Jesus as a blasphemer and executed Him. Now Peter calls on them to turn their back on all that and embrace Jesus as their Messiah.

By calling on each of them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ Peter does not allow for any “secret disciples” (cf. Matt. 10:32–33). Baptism would mark a public break with Judaism and identification with Jesus Christ. Such a drastic public act would help weed out any conversions which were not genuine. In sharp contrast to many modern gospel presentations, Peter made accepting Christ difficult, not easy. By so doing, he followed the example of our Lord Himself (Luke 14:26–33; 18:18–27). Baptism was always in the name of Jesus Christ. That was the crucial identification, and the cost was high for such a confession.

The meaning of Peter’s statement that baptism is for the forgiveness of sins has been much disputed. Those who teach baptismal regeneration—the false teaching that baptism is necessary for salvation—see this verse as a primary proof text for their view.

That view ignores the immediate context of the passage. As already noted, baptism would be a dramatic step for Peter’s hearers. By publicly identifying themselves as followers of Jesus of Nazareth, they risked becoming outcasts in their society (cf. John 9:22). Peter calls upon them to prove the genuineness of their repentance by submitting to public baptism. In much the same way, our Lord called upon the rich young ruler to prove the genuineness of his repentance by parting with his wealth (Luke 18:18–27). Surely, however, no one would argue from the latter passage that giving away one’s possessions is necessary for salvation. Salvation is not a matter of either water or economics. True repentance, however, will inevitably manifest itself in total submission to the Lord’s will.

Second, such teaching violates the important hermeneutical principle known as analogia Scriptura (the analogy of Scripture). That principle states that no passage, when correctly interpreted, will teach something contradictory to the rest of Scripture. And the rest of Scripture unmistakably teaches that salvation is solely by faith (cf. John 1:12; 3:16; Acts 16:31; Rom. 3:21–30; 4:5; 10:9–10; Phil. 3:9; Gal. 2:16).

Third, after condemning the ritualistic religion of the scribes and Pharisees, our Lord would hardly have instituted one of His own. F. F. Bruce remarks, “It is against the whole genius of Biblical religion to suppose that the outward rite [of baptism] had any value except in so far as it was accompanied by true repentance within” (The Book of the Acts [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971], 77).

Fourth, this interpretation is not true to the facts of Scripture. Throughout the book of Acts, forgiveness is linked to repentance, not baptism (cf. 3:19; 5:31; 26:20). In addition, the Bible records that some who were baptized were not saved (Acts 8:13; 21–23), while some were saved with no mention of their being baptized (Luke 7:37–50; Matt. 9:2; Luke 18:13–14). The story of the conversion of Cornelius and his friends very clearly shows the relationship of baptism to salvation. It was only after they were saved, as shown by their receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:44–46), that they were baptized (vv. 47–48). Indeed, it was because they had received the Spirit (and hence were saved) that Peter ordered them to be baptized (v. 47). That passage clearly shows that baptism follows salvation; it does not cause it.

In 1 Corinthians 15:1–4, the apostle Paul summarizes the gospel he preached and by which the Corinthians had been saved. There is no mention of baptism. Further, in 1 Corinthians 1:14–16, Paul rejoiced that he had baptized none of the Corinthians except Crispus, Gaius, and the household of Stephanas. That statement is inexplicable if baptism is necessary for salvation. Paul would then in effect be saying he was thankful that only those few were saved under his ministry. The apostle clearly distinguishes baptism from the gospel in 1 Corinthians 1:17, where he says that “Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel.” How could Paul have made such a statement if baptism was necessary for salvation?

While the preposition eis (for) can mean “for the purpose of,” it can also mean “because of,” or “on the occasion of” (A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament [Grand Rapids: Baker, reprint of the 1930 edition], 3:35–36; H. E. Dana and J. R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament [Toronto: Macmillan, 1957], 104). The latter is clearly its meaning in Matthew 12:41, which says that the people of Nineveh repented because of the preaching of Jonah.

The order is clear. Repentance is for forgiveness. Baptism follows that forgiveness; it does not cause it (cf. 8:12, 34–39; 10:34–48; 16:31–33). It is the public sign or symbol of what has taken place on the inside. It is an important step of obedience for all believers, and should closely follow conversion. In fact, in the early church it was inseparable from salvation, so that Paul referred to salvation as being related to “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 4:5).

Complete forgiveness of sins is the blessed joy and privilege of every believer. That glorious truth fills the pages of the New Testament. In Matthew 26:28, our Lord said, “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.” In Luke 24:47, He reminded the disciples that “repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” Therefore, “in Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7). Paul wrote to the Colossians that “when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions” (Col. 2:13). The apostle John says simply, “Little children, your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake” (1 John 2:12. See also Acts 5:31; 10:43; 13:38; 26:18; Rom. 4:7; Eph. 4:32; Col. 1:14; 1 John 1:9.)

Salvation would not only bring them forgiveness, but they would also receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For this they had been waiting; the gift of the Spirit, according to Joel 2:28–29, would mark the beginning of messianic times.

Dōrea (gift) refers to that which is free and unmerited. Contrary to much contemporary teaching, Peter attached no condition to receiving the Spirit except repentance. Nor did he promise that any supernatural phenomena would accompany their reception of the Spirit. It should be noted as well that the gift of the Spirit does not come through water baptism (Acts 10:47).

The marvelous gift of the Holy Spirit was not merely for those in Peter’s audience that day. The promise of the Holy Spirit, Peter informs them, is for you and your children, and for all who are far off. They and their children, the nation of Israel, would receive the Spirit, as the Old Testament promised (Isa. 44:3; Ezek. 36:27; 37:14; Joel 2:28–29). They would share that blessing, however, with those who are far off—the Gentiles (cf. Eph. 2:11–13).

Peter’s description of those who would receive the Spirit as those whom the Lord our God shall call to Himself describes God’s sovereignty at work in salvation. It presents the necessary balance to his statement in verse 21 that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” A biblical view of salvation does not exclude either human responsibility or divine sovereignty, but allows them to remain in tension. We must resist the attempt to harmonize what Scripture does not, content in the knowledge that there is no ultimate contradiction in God’s mind.

Luke adds that with many other words Peter solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” Luke has given us only a synopsis of Peter’s sermon, which obviously lasted far longer than the few minutes it takes to read this passage. It is likely as well that Peter engaged in a dialogue with the crowd following his sermon, as the statement kept on exhorting indicates. The gist of his exhortation was that they should be saved from this perverse generation through repentance and faith in Christ. Perverse translates skolios, which means “bent,” or “crooked,” and hence evil and unrighteous.

Peter’s condemnation echoed that of our Lord. In Matthew 12:39 and 16:4, He described them as an “evil and adulterous generation.” In Matthew 12:45 He referred to them as “this evil generation,” while in Luke 11:29 He commented that “this generation is a wicked generation.” In Mark 9:19 He condemned them as an “unbelieving generation,” while Matthew 17:17 and Luke 9:41 add the word “perverted” to “unbelieving.” Finally, in Mark 8:38, Jesus denounced them as an “adulterous and sinful generation.”

Many thousands from that generation were to perish during the Jewish revolt, culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem in a.d. 70. Peter’s appeal for immediate response was timely.[1]

39 The “promise” that Peter speaks about includes both the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Both are logically and indissolubly united in applying Christ’s redemptive work to the believer. They were only separated chronologically, it seems, for what could be called circumstantial reasons. This promise, Peter declares, is not only for his immediate hearers (“for you”) but also for succeeding generations (“for your children”) and for all in distant places (“for all who are far off”). It is a promise, Peter concludes, that is sure, for it has been given by God and is based on the prophetic word of Joel 2:32: “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (cf. Ac 2:21)

Some interpreters see in the expression “for all who are far off” (pasin tois eis makran) a temporal reference to future Jewish generations, thereby paralleling the phrase “for your children” (tois teknois hymōn). But makran (“far off”) is not used temporally in the LXX or anywhere else in the NT, and so it is probably better to interpret it here more spatially than temporally. A spatial interpretation, however, raises the question of whether makran refers exclusively to Jews of the Diaspora or should be seen also to include Gentiles. That two OT remnant passages are alluded to here (Isa 57:19, “Peace, peace, to those far and near,” and Joel 2:32) has led some commentators to assume that makran refers to Jews of the Diaspora. On the other hand, the use of Luke’s report of Paul’s defense at Jerusalem (22:21; cf. Eph 2:13) has led other commentators to argue that makran refers also to Gentiles.

This is probably one of those situations where a narrator (e.g., Luke) has read into what a speaker said more than was originally there, and so implied that the speaker spoke better than he knew. It seems difficult to believe that Peter himself thought beyond the perspective of Jewish remnant theology. Just as he could hardly have visualized anything beyond the next generation, so he could hardly have conceived of anything spatially beyond God’s call to a scattered but repentant Jewish remnant. But Luke’s desire is to show how an originally Jewish gospel penetrated the Gentile world so extensively that it came to enter the capital of the Roman Empire “without hindrance” (cf. 28:31). Very likely, therefore, in recounting Peter’s words here in Acts, Luke meant them to be read as having Gentiles ultimately in mind—whatever Peter may have been thinking at the time. So we may conclude that Luke here used makran in the same sense as he did in 22:21.[2]

2:39 / What a wonder of grace is evident here, in that the promise of the previous verse was made to the very people who not long before had invoked the blood of Jesus upon themselves and their children (Matt. 27:25). But it was also made to those whom Peter described as far off. It is unlikely, however, that the apostle intended to include the Gentiles in this statement. More likely it was a reference to the Jews of the Diaspora. Had he meant otherwise, we might have expected a specific mention of the Gentiles, as in 22:21. It is true there is an analogous phrase in Ephesians 2:13, 17 (cf. Isa. 57:19; also Isa. 2:2; 5:26; Zech. 6:15), where the reference is to the Gentiles, but we must not look in Peter’s first public address for the wider vision that Paul later had. For Peter it was still a matter of our God in the narrow sense of Jewish nationalism, and even the reference in 3:26 to Jesus being sent “first” to the Jews does not necessarily imply “then to the Gentiles also” in the Pauline sense, but only the long-cherished hope that in the new age the Gentiles would flock to Mount Zion to join in the worship of God (see, e.g., Ps. 22:27; Isa. 2:2f.; 56:6–8; Zeph. 3:9f.; Zech. 14:16; Psalms of Solomon 17:33–35; Sibylline Oracles 3.702–28, 772–76). That Peter had not yet grasped the full scope of the good news is evident from chapter 10 (see esp. the disc. on 10:9ff.; cf. 5:31). The last line of verse 39 is an allusion to Joel 2:32, thus completing and complementing the earlier quotation, for none can call on the name of the Lord (as v. 21) except the Lord calls first. The initiative in salvation is always with God. Even repentance and faith are his gifts (5:31; 11:18).[3]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1994). Acts (Vol. 1, pp. 71–76). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Longenecker, R. N. (2007). Acts. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, pp. 751–752). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Williams, D. J. (2011). Acts (pp. 54–55). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

December 26: Community

Jeremiah 50:1–46; Romans 12:9–13:7; Proverbs 27:1–27

She might be the one we tend to avoid—the member of a small group who always states the obvious or brings up topics unrelated to the discussion at hand. I’m always a bit impatient for her to finish speaking so that others can offer more insightful comments, but generally her comments are followed by only awkward pauses. Or, he’s the person we’re attempting to avoid after church and small group because he always repeats the story about his grandkids that we’ve heard more than just a few times. I hope someone else will be there for him. If I’m feeling extra congenial, I might chat with him—always good to earn some kindness points.

I might approach community this way, but reading Romans 12:9–16 convicts me. The list of instructions on building up the community quickly reveals the selfish bent of my motives. Paul, who has just finished explaining that each member has specific spiritual gifts, shows what living in loving community is supposed to look like: “Love must be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; be attached to what is good, being devoted to one another in brotherly love, esteeming one another more highly in honor, not lagging in diligence, being enthusiastic in spirit, serving the Lord, rejoicing in hope, enduring in affliction, being devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, pursuing hospitality. Bless those who persecute, bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. Think the same thing toward one another; do not think arrogantly, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own sight” (Rom 12:9–16).

I’m not meant to approach my small group study as a support group to help me work out my problems. Faith communities are familial settings where the gifts I have are meant to be developed and worked out for the good of others. It’s where I’m called to serve people around me—even, and especially, people who are lonely or a little different than me. I can only do that with a heart that is devoted to others, highly esteems them, and looks out for their needs. It’s when I humbly serve that I learn things I didn’t know in passing—the death of her husband and her difficulty in finding the right words to convey her ideas and experiences. It’s there where I learn that his kids barely call, and he’s reciting the same information from the yearly Christmas card. It’s where I help when I can, and pray when I can’t. And along the way, through my service, I may learn a thing or two from people who have gifts I have yet to discover.

Are you involved in a community? If you are, are you actually involved? How can you use your gifts to build up the people around you?

Rebecca Van Noord[1]

[1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.