Daily Archives: January 26, 2018

January 26 Maintaining a Clear Perspective

“I pray that … you may know … what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (Eph. 1:18).

✧✧✧

How you perceive your spiritual resources dictates how you live.

Throughout Ephesians 1 Paul is clearly struck with the magnificence of our inheritance in Christ. Here he prays that we will know the riches of its glory.

Some commentators see “His inheritance” as a reference to believers, who are God’s inheritance or special possession (v. 14). That view stresses the value God places on us as believers, as demonstrated in Christ’s death, the forgiveness of our sins, and the abundant grace that He lavishes on us (vv. 7–8).

Others see it as referring to the believer’s inheritance, which Paul calls “His inheritance” because God is its source. Just as “His calling” (v. 18) issued from Him and was received by believers, so His inheritance issues from Him.

Both views are theologically sound, but the second seems more consistent with Paul’s emphasis in verses 11 and 14. In either case Paul’s point is clear: redemption and its accompanying blessings are so profound that we must have supernatural help to understand them. That’s why he prayed for our enlightenment (v. 18).

Such enlightenment is crucial because how you perceive your spiritual resources dictates how you live. If, for example, you realize you have every resource for godly living (Eph. 1:3), you are less likely to succumb to temptation. Knowing God has given you His very best in Christ (Rom. 8:32) assures you that He won’t withhold lesser things, and consequently you’ll not tend to worry about earthly needs. Understanding that you have already received “grace upon grace” (John 1:16), abundant life (John 10:10), and “everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3) gives you confidence that God’s future grace and resources will be more than sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9).

Let that motivate you to praise your rich and glorious God for His rich and glorious inheritance!

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for the privilege of being His child. ✧ Memorize Ephesians 1:3 and 2 Peter 1:3 and recite them often as anthems of praise for the Lord’s abundant grace.

For Further Study: Read 2 Corinthians 11–12. ✧ What kinds of trials did Paul face? ✧ How did God respond to Paul’s prayer to remove his “thorn in the flesh”? ✧ How might Paul’s response influence you when you face difficulties?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 38). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

January 26, 2018 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

BLOOMBERG

President Donald Trump said Friday that U.S. economic growth promoted by his policies would help the world, seeking to square his “America First” agenda with globalism.

U.S. forces in South Korea and the Pacific are honing their capability to conduct offensive cyber operations, according to the Pentagon’s testing office, a sign digital warfare is taking on added significance as a potential weapon against North Korea.

China is considering a merger of its banking and insurance regulators, people familiar with the matter said, as it seeks to better coordinate its attempts to counter financial risks in the world’s second-largest economy.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said his country will leverage its close trading partnership with China while taking a “step-by-step” approach to U.S. President Donald Trump’s efforts to reshape the international order.

George Soros said President Donald Trump is risking a nuclear war with North Korea and predicts that the groundswell of opposition he’s generated will be his downfall.

U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, a Republican congressman from Pennsylvania who settled a former aide’s sexual harassment complaint with taxpayer money, informed party and campaign officials Thursday that he will not seek re-election, a decision that came as party officials had begun to search for a replacement candidate.

Gross domestic product rose at a 2.6 percent annualized rate after 3.2 percent in the prior period, Commerce Department data showed Friday in Washington.

AP Top Stories

U.S. President Donald Trump is ready to sign on to a plan that would open a path to citizenship for as many as 1.8 million “Dreamers,” who were brought illegally to the United States as children, senior White House officials said on Thursday.

The headline in the New York Times about Tuesday’s deadly school shooting at Marshall County High School in Benton, Ky., where two students were killed and 16 others injured, included a shocking statistic: “School Shooting in Kentucky Is Nation’s 11th of Year. It’s Jan. 23.”

The apocalypse is now as close as it has ever been, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Clock, which on Thursday ticked 30 seconds closer to midnight ― the symbolic end of humanity. The clock now stands ominously at 11:58 p.m., a time reached only once before in its seven-decade history, when fears surrounding the Cold War nuclear arms race surged in 1953.

Philippine authorities said Thursday they will remove by force people who have refused to leave a no-go zone around an erupting volcano, as they seek to avoid casualties after tens of thousands of others fled to safety.

The Republican-led Senate on Wednesday narrowly approved Sam Brownback’s bid to be U.S. ambassador for international religious freedom, setting the stage for him to resign the governorship in Kansas after seven contentious years in office.

And 8-year-old boy from Oregon has just died days after contracting rare, flesh-eating bacteria. According to the East Oregonian, the young boy was rushed to a hospital after his bike’s handlebar sliced through his pants and cut into his thigh.

A partial jawbone bearing seven teeth unearthed in a cave in Israel represents what scientists are calling the oldest-known Homo sapiens remains outside Africa, showing that our species trekked out of that continent far earlier than previously known. Researchers on Thursday announced the discovery of the fossil estimated as 177,000 to 194,000 years old, and said the teeth bore telltale traits of Homo sapiens not present in close human relatives alive at the time including Neanderthals.

A team at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology has tested smart contact lenses that make it possible to track the body’s glucose levels by monitoring the fluids in the wearer’s eyes. Even better, the user would be able to know right away if something is wrong, as an LED light in the lenses would switch off if the levels are too high.

As many as six children were killed in fighting near the central Afghan city of Ghazni on Friday but there were conflicting accounts of how they died, with officials blaming the Taliban and others saying they died in an air strike by Afghan forces.

China has been invited to participate in a major US-led naval exercise, Chinese officials said Thursday, despite tensions between Beijing and Washington over activity in the disputed South China Sea.

The United States Navy has completed its first operational test shot of a new variant of Boeing’s Harpoon Block II+ anti-ship missile over the Point Mugu Sea Test Range in California. According to the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), the Jan.22 test put the new System Configuration Set H12E through its paces.

BBC

Turkey is prepared to take its fight against Kurdish forces in northern Syria as far east as Iraq, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.

China has announced plans to develop shipping lanes through the Arctic to become a “Polar Silk Route”.

WND

Brentwood Tenn. resident David Sams owns a Google Home and an Amazon audio speaker. He says both give two different answers when asking “Who is Jesus Christ?” “I even asked Google who is David Sams? Google knew who I was, but Google did not know who Jesus was, Google did not know who Jesus Christ was, and Google did not know who God was.”

Even as the Palestinian Authority faces major funding cuts from the US, it has purchased a new luxurious $50 million private jet to be used by President Mahmoud Abbas, Hadashot news reported Wednesday.


The Briefing — Friday, January 26, 2018

1) Big news from China reveals threats to human dignity and the cracking of the worldview in the West

Wall Street Journal (Preetika Rana, Amy Dockser Marcus, and Wenxin Fan) –
China, Unhampered by Rules, Races Ahead in Gene-Editing Trials

2) As monkeys are cloned in China we recognize that what happens in China won’t stay in China

New York Times (Gina Kolata) –
Yes, They’ve Cloned Monkeys in China. That Doesn’t Mean You’re Next.

3) What the depersonalization of dating tells us about the next generation

Wall Street Journal (Nicole Hong) –
The New Dating No-No: Asking for a Last Name


Conservative Heritage Foundation Rates Trump’s First Year Better Than Reagan’s

The Gateway Pundit

News Flash to Conservatives in the Republican Party – According to the Heritage Foundation President Trump did an amazing job in his first year in office – even better than conservative and American icon President Ronald Reagan!

View Article


The VP’s Moving Speech to Israel Stands in Stark Contrast to Rising Democrat Israel Hatred

But then the news becomes more fraught. The disparity between Republican support for Israel and Democratic support for Israel has never been greater. Whereas 79% of Republicans support Israel over the Palestinians, only 27% of Democrats do.

View Article


Franklin Graham warns of deep state coup against President Trump

Fox News

One of the nation’s most prominent Christian leaders said he fears President Trump is facing a grave domestic threat by forces who want to take over the White House.

“I believe we are in a coup d’etat,” Franklin Graham said Wednesday on the “Todd Starnes Radio Show.” “There are people in this country who are wanting to destroy the president and take over the government by force.”

View Article


Photo of Obama with Hate Group Leader Surfaces After Being Kept Secret for Years to Protect Him

A new photo has been recently released of former President Barack Obama with the leader of a black nationalist hate group.

The picture shows former Illinois Sen. Obama posing with the leader of the Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan.

Farrakhan is known for his radical anti-Semitic and anti-white views, outlined by the Southern Poverty Law Center. View article →


January 26, 2018

FOX NEWS — The Department of Justice has recovered missing text messages between anti-Trump FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, the DOJ’s inspector general said Thursday. In a letter sent to congressional committees, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz said his office “succeeded in using forensic tools to recover text messages from FBI devices, including text messages between Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page that were sent or received between December 14, 2016 and May 17, 2017.”… (more)


January 25, 2018
BYRON YORK — Republicans in both the House and Senate are growing increasingly frustrated with the FBI and Justice Department over tight restrictions on classified and other confidential information in the Trump-Russia affair…. (more)

January 25, 2018

THE GATEWAY PUNDIT — Hannity told his audience he has MULTIPLE SOURCES who confirm the DOJ is retrieving the missing messages between FBI lovebirds Strzok and Page. The timeline of the ‘missing’ text messages is highly suspicious. They begin on December 14, 2016 and go through May 17, 2017 which is the same day Robert Mueller was appointed as Special Counsel. On Monday, an attorney for Trump, Jay Sekulow broke down the timeline of ‘missing’ text messages which begins on December 14, 2016 and goes through May 17, 2017 which is the same day Robert Mueller was appointed as Special Counsel…. (more)


January 25, 2018
CHERYL K. CHUMLEY — Roughly half of Americans of all political walks – – 49 percent, to be exact – – want a special prosecutor appointed to investigate the FBI for crooked and partisan dealings in their look-sees into Hillary Clinton and President Donald Trump. That’s a pretty loud voice…. (more)

January 25, 2018
WASHINGTON TIMES — The powerful head of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday accused the FBI and the Justice Department of bad faith in trying to suppress key sensitive details of the Russian election meddling scandal in 2016 and the Obama administration’s handling of the investigation…. (more)

January 25, 2018
WORLDNETDAILY — Special Counsel Robert Mueller is determined to question President Trump over his firing of former FBI Director James Comey and former national security adviser Michael Flynn – – but talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh has a dire warning for the president: “Don’t do it! … It’s just a perjury trap.”… (more)

January 25, 2018
NEWSMAX — President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he is “looking forward” to speaking with Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the coming weeks, and is willing to do it under oath. Mueller is investigating Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election and whether there was any coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign and wants to speak to Trump regarding his decisions to fire former FBI director James Comey and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to The Washington Post…. (more)

January 25, 2018
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — President Trump’s campaign pledge to “build a wall” on the southern border is beginning to look like it could become a reality, even to many in the media who first thought it was an empty slogan, but are now coming around to the idea…. (more)

January 25, 2018
DAILY CALLER — A new photo has emerged that shows former President Barack Obama posing with Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the black nationalist hate group Nation of Islam. The photo shows then Democratic Illinois Sen. Barack Obama smiling with Farrakhan at a Congressional Black Caucus meeting in 2005. Farrakhan is known for embracing radically anti-Semitic and anti-white views, as even the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center has acknowledged…. (more)

January 25, 2018
WASHINGTON TIMES — TV host Mike Rowe slams the idea that every student must go to a four-year college in order to secure a good-paying job as wasteful, misguided and – – in a word – – “crazy.” “We’re lending money we don’t have to kids who can’t pay it back to educate them for jobs that don’t exist anymore, and that’s crazy,” says Mr. Rowe, the former host of the Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs” who has a new show on the Trinity Broadcasting Network…. (more)

January 23, 2018

DAILY WIRE — The country has been repulsed and horrified by the case of the Turpin family in California. David and Louise Turpin, monsters in vaguely human form, have been arrested for torturing and tormenting their 13 children. The Turpin kids – – some of them now adults in their twenties – – were emaciated, filthy, and shackled to their beds with chains when police found them. The house was strewn with the carcasses of dead dogs and cats and various other debris. The details get even more disturbing from there…. (more)


January 23, 2018
PJ MEDIA — There is serious talk on Capitol Hill about the appointment of a second special counsel amid several new bombshell revelations swirling around the Trump/Russia probe. First, there are the allegations of shocking and substantial government surveillance abuses under President Obama outlined in the FISA abuse memo. Secondly, the FBI lost five months of key text messages between the anti-Trump/pro-Clinton FBI officials Peter Strzok and his mistress Lisa Page. And now there’s talk of a “secret society” of officials within the FBI that apparently met the day after the election of Donald J. Trump to plot against the president-elect…. (more)

January 23, 2018

WASHINGTON TIMES — The two FBI officials who have been criticized for anti-Trump texts, exchanged more than 50,000 text messages, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday night. The number was released after six congressional committees requested all text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page between July 1, 2015, and July 28, 2017. Congress has been pushing for answers on the text exchanges after it was revealed the FBI failed to preserve five months of texts between Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page…. (more)


January 23, 2018
JOSEPH FARAH — I know how the eyes of most Americans glaze over when they hear about “FISA memos.” It’s understandable. Washington-speak has what we once called in American newsrooms a “high MEGO factor.” MEGO was an acronym for “my eyes glaze over.” But I’m going to tell you why there’s one FISA memo you need to see with your own eyes. Have I seen it? No. But I know it’s red hot because Democrats in the House are unanimous in their opposition to releasing it to the public…. (more)

January 23, 2018

BOB UNRUH — For the first time in nearly a decade, a sitting U.S. president has released a powerful defense of the “humanity of the unborn” in a declaration for the 2018 National Sanctity of Human Life day, which is Monday…. (more)


January 23, 2018

USA TODAY — A Perris couple who have been accused of starving and torturing their 13 children dreamed of becoming household names through a reality show that focused on a large, picturesque family, according to a relative who says he spoke with the couple as recently as a month ago…. (more)


January 23, 2018
WORLDNETDAILY — If the Book of Genesis is true, if faith in the word of God is valid, then ancient secular human history must connect in significant ways to the Genesis account of our origins. My new full-color book, “Genesis Characters and Events in Ancient Greek Art,” reveals many of these significant connections…. (more)

January 23, 2018
Events in ‘The 15:17 to Paris’ riveted 2 continents
WORLDNETDAILY — Something is going on with the new Clint Eastwood movie about an attempted terrorist attack on a train, “The 15:17 to Paris,” that doesn’t sound like Hollywood. How often do the main actors play themselves? And how often do those actors spend a morning in church, getting prayed over?… (more)

January 22, 2018
ALAN KEYES — Talk is cheap. People are unlikely to believe this old taunt if they have ever experienced a regime of totalitarian repression, where “free speech” is a criminal offense, or ever looked into the lives of people like Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, or the myriads of Christians severely persecuted or killed for bearing true witness to Christ in areas where Islamist practitioners of violent jihad deploy terror to repress such evangelization. In such circumstances, talk, in spoken or written form, may cost people their livelihood and their lives, not to mention the mental anguish of relentless fear…. (more)

January 22, 2018

POLITICO — In a dramatic turnaround, Senate Democrats voted to reopen the government on Monday after receiving a commitment from Republicans to hold a vote on immigration legislation – – paving the way to end the three-day shutdown…. (more)


January 22, 2018

WASHINGTON TIMES — Radio host Rush Limbaugh says there is a simple reason why a short-lived government shutdown ended Monday: President Trump “went on offense.” The man behind “the golden EIB microphone” told listeners this week that Democrats were so caught off guard by “Schumer Shutdown” attacks that they did a political U-turn after three days. Mr. Limbaugh said the Republicans’ refusal to negotiate on Saturday, coupled with rhetorical broadsides against Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, constituted a political masterstroke…. (more)


January 22, 2018
WORLDNETDAILY — Democrats in the House and Senate thought they would play the old government-shutdown card that has worked for them every time it has been played since 1995 when Republicans were blamed. But 2018 is different. It is backfiring. It’s no longer Republicans starving children and forcing old people to eat dog food. This time, Democrats are being blamed for refusing to fund the U.S. military as a means of aiding illegal alien… (more)

January 22, 2018
JEFF SESSIONS — For decades, the American people have been begging and pleading with our elected officials for an immigration system that is lawful and that serves our national interest. That’s not just because immigration is an economic issue. It’s also because it’s a matter of public safety and national security. If we can’t control – – or even know – – who enters this country, it’s much harder to keep people safe…. (more)

January 22, 2018
BYRON YORK — Investigators in both House and Senate were stunned late Friday when, receiving a batch of newly-released texts between FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, they also received notice from the bureau that the FBI “failed to preserve” Strzok-Page messages from December 14, 2016 through May 17, 2017…. (more)

January 22, 2018
NEWSMAX — The head of Russian television channel RT says the Kremlin-funded outlet is already suffering the consequences of having to register as a foreign agent in the U.S. amid allegations that it participated in attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election…. (more)

Mid-Day Snapshot

Jan. 26, 2018

Something For Everyone to Hate in Trump’s Immigration Proposal

Amnesty for 1.8 million in return for border wall money and eventually ending chain migration and visa lottery.

The Foundation

“Besides, to lay and collect internal taxes in this extensive country must require a great number of congressional ordinances, immediately operation upon the body of the people; these must continually interfere with the state laws and thereby produce disorder and general dissatisfaction till the one system of laws or the other, operating upon the same subjects, shall be abolished.” —Federal Farmer (1787)


News – 1/26/2018

Magnitude 5.8 earthquake strikes near Ferndale, California
The United States Geological Survey reports a preliminary magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck near Ferndale, California on Thursday. The quake hit at 8:39 AM local time at a depth of 5 kilometers.

New Dead Sea Scroll Translation Reveals Anti-Temple Calendar
“Members of the Yahad [Qumran Essene sect] adhered to a year of 364 days, which was different from the luni-solar year of the Jerusalem temple and the Hasmonean state,” the researchers reported in an article in the Journal of Biblical Literature. “The number of 364 days is neatly divided by seven, a typological number with significant religious connotation. Each 364-day year contains exactly fifty-two weeks, a fact that allows anchoring the festivals to fixed weekdays, thus avoiding their coincidence with the Sabbath. In addition, the number 364 divides neatly by four as well, yielding a good symmetry of the four seasons, each season containing exactly 91 days.”

Irish Exorcist Calls for Back-Up to Face Surge in ‘Malicious Activity’ by the Devil
In the face of the rising tide of demonic activity, Father Collins said he is “baffled” that the Irish bishops are not reacting to the need by appointing more priests as exorcists. Complaints range from claims of ghostly encounters, to people being pulled from their beds, and even “full-blown possession.” The priest said that the surge in demonic disturbances is a relatively new phenomenon, and “it’s only in recent years that the demand has risen exponentially.” The priest has seen what he calls a growing apostasy within the Church, which he ties to demonic activity.

‘We want peace and prosperity’ says Trump as he storms Davos with offers of better trade deals and pleas for big business to invest in America
President Donald Trump found a softer way to package his ‘America First’ agenda he strode through the conference center on his first day in Davos, calling for prosperity and ‘great peace.’ ‘I think the real message is we want great prosperity and we want great peace,’ Trump said after holding back-to-back meetings with British Prime Minister Theresa May and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. ‘And I think that really is the message,’ Trump told pool reporters who trailed him at each scheduled meeting at the gathering of bigwigs in the snowy Alpine town.

FBI Mulled Special Counsel For Hillary Email Probe But Feared Her Wrath, New Texts Reveal
Newly released text messages between FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page reveal that the agency’s top brass was considering appointing former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald as a special counsel in the Hillary Clinton email investigation. The idea is pitched in a March, 2016 exchange between Strzok and Page – relatively early on in their investigation into Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified information. Of note, Attorney General Loretta Lynch or one of her deputies would have had to make the ultimate decision to appoint a special prosecutor to look into the “matter.”

Anti-Trump FBI Official Identified As Leaker To WSJ, WaPo Reporter
Newly released text messages between controversial anti-Trump FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page reveal several leaks of confidential information to Wall St. Journal reporter, Devlin Barrett, who is now with the Washington Post. Following the release of the timestamped texts by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Conservative Treehouse compared the timing of the messages between the agents and tied them to several instances of Barrett breaking news or confirming rumors based on “sources” within the government.

Irish Priest Calls For Backup: Too Many Exorcisms
An Irish priest has called for backup to deal with the overwhelming number of exorcisms growing throughout the country. According to Catholic News Agency, “Fr. Pat Collins said he has been overwhelmed with the number of requests for exorcisms from the faithful in Ireland.”

Shock Video: Google Home Censors Jesus Christ
Who is Jesus Christ? Internet users are posting videos of Google products refusing to answer the simple question. In one video uploaded Wednesday, Google fails to answer but provides an in-depth summary when asked about other religious figures including Allah.

The Photo That Never Saw The Light of Day: Obama With Farrakhan In 2005 – Talking Points Memo
A journalist announced last week that he will publish a photograph of then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama (D) and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan that he took in 2005 at a Congressional Black Caucus meeting, but did not make public because he believed it would have “made a difference” to Obama’s political future.

Franklin Graham warns of deep state coup against President Trump
One of the nation’s most prominent Christian leaders said he fears President Trump is facing a grave domestic threat by forces who want to take over the White House. “I believe we are in a coup d’etat,” Franklin Graham said Wednesday on the “Todd Starnes Radio Show.” “There are people in this country who are wanting to destroy the president and take over the government by force.”

Jihad in Toronto?
…“A 20-year-old Brampton man,” the Canadian Press reported Tuesday, “is facing dozens of charges, including seven counts of attempted murder, in what police describe as a string of unprovoked, random shootings in Toronto that narrowly missed being fatal.” As it turns out, this could have been a series of jihad attacks, but you will never learn that from the Canadian Press, or from Canadian authorities.

AMERICAN SHAME: Republican support for Israel skyrockets, yet Democrat support plunges
A new Pew Research Center Poll confirms what has seemed patently obvious for years: Democrats have abandoned the state of Israel while Republicans are staunch supporters of the Jewish state.

The little-known episode of Islamist terror training camps in the Colorado Rocky Mountains
It is definitely time for Americans to wake up and realize that Islamic groups have been establishing terror training camps across America – for years.

‘Doomsday Clock’ Now 2 Minutes to Midnight
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the Doomsday Clock 30 seconds forward Thursday, placing the iconic indicator at two minutes to midnight.

Police Data: UK Violent Crime Wave Grows Even Faster, London Knife Attacks up 40 Per Cent
The UK’s surge in recorded violent and sexual crime, including knife attacks, has accelerated at a faster rate than previously thought over the past year, new police statistics reveal.

Powerful opioids are easily sold through the Internet and shipped in the mail, investigation finds
Synthetic opioids such as addictive and deadly fentanyl, fueling a drug epidemic, can be easily ordered online and shipped through the mail to United States addresses from China, a congressional investigation found.

As Israel celebrates its 70th, 1948 is Groundhog Day for Palestinians
Palestinians are dispirited and divided and disillusioned and now they face a year of Israel pouring salt on their wounds by celebrating Jewish victories that were also Palestinian catastrophes

Satanic Temple Says Abortion Laws Violate Its Rights
Editor Comment: So regarding the value of human life violates the Satanic Temple’s rights? Who would’ve thought. Missouri’s Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Tuesday in a case brought by the activist group the Satanic Temple to challenge requirements for women seeking abortions.

Podesta Calls For Population Control
Former Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post calling for more programs to “stabilize” world population to fight global warming.

History Made: Oscars Nominate First Transgender Filmmaker
..Yance Ford is a transgender man, as in a woman presenting herself as a man, and she directed the Netflix documentary “Strong Island,” becoming the first ever transgender filmmaker to earn an Oscar nomination. The irony here cannot go unsaid: in the “year of the woman,” the Left considers Yance Ford’s nomination as one for a male.


Headlines – 1/26/2018

UN Issues 240 Recommendations for Israel, Including Halting Settlement Expansion

Poll: most Palestinians, half of Israelis no longer believe in two-state solution

Netanyahu proposes ‘new model’ for peace

‘We’re keeping the holy sites’ in any peace deal, Netanyahu vows

Netanyahu thanks Trump for historic Jerusalem decision, ‘forever etched on the hearts of our people’

Abdullah: US must get a major Israeli concession after Jerusalem recognition

Nikki Haley skewers Mahmoud Abbas at UN Security Council meeting

Nikki Haley says Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas lacks ‘courage and the will’ to seek Israel peace deal

Palestinians: Peace ‘off the table’ if Trump doesn’t reverse Jerusalem move

Palestinians Respond to Trump: If Jerusalem Off Table, Then U.S. No Longer Has Seat at the Table

Trump: If Palestinians don’t want peace, U.S. has nothing to do with them

US said to mull shuttering PLO office in Washington

Trump ‘backstabbed’ the Palestinians, PLO’s Washington envoy says

For Trump, Middle East peacemaking is all about give and take

Trump administration doubles down on Palestinian aid cutoff threat

Trump threatens to cut aid to Palestinians for ‘disrespecting’ Pence

Celebrities: US cuts to UN refugee agency a ‘lethal attack’ on Palestinians

As Gaza approaches ‘famine,’ Israel, rather than world, appears most concerned

Israel declares victory as EU condemns PA for financing terror

Palestinian Arabs prefer terrorism to peace deal, poll finds

How Israel’s leaders use targeted killings to try to ‘stop history’

Israel had plan to shoot down passenger plane to kill Arafat, book claims

Ukraine’s new heroes: Anti-Semites and murderers of Jews

Netanyahu to Meet Putin Next Week in Snap Moscow Visit Over Iran

Netanyahu in Davos: We will not allow Iran to destroy us – Not only does Iran spread terror all over the world, it openly says it will use its weapons to destroy Israel

Trump gave Israel strong support on Iran on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos

Netanyahu’s threats to attack Iran ‘panicked’ Obama into nuke talks, author says

UN Security Council to inspect ‘Iranian-made’ missile debris

Analysts Fear Bigger Iran Military Budget Could Mean More Proxy Wars

British Parliament Debates Outright Ban on Hezbollah

Yemenite woman finds long-lost sister thanks to DNA testing

Israel’s UN Ambassador: Iran Trying to Turn Syria Into Its Military Base

Danon: Iran currently controls 82,000 fighters in Syria

Syria war: Turkish forces ‘shelling civilians randomly’

Syria war: Kurds call on Damascus to defend against Turks

Trump Slams Erdogan Over Syria Incursion, Turkey Claims It Didn’t Happen

Turkey to U.S.: End support for Syrian Kurd YPG or risk confrontation

Caroline Glick: The U.S. Is Quietly Sidelining a Turkey in Decline

Erdogan Enacts Plan to Reshape Turkey With More Islamic Schooling

Egyptian presidential election shows Sisi is even less democratic than Mubarak

‘Mohammed’ on Course to be Most Popular Baby Name in Germany

EU court bars sexual orientation tests for asylum-seekers

Trump says he ‘would apologize’ for sharing anti-Muslim videos from far-right British group

Donald Trump says retweet of anti-Muslim videos did not equal endorsement

Despite sanctions, North Korea exported coal to South and Japan via Russia – intelligence sources

North Korea calls for unification of Korean Peninsula

U.S. senator from Hawaii says states should not send missile alerts

Kissinger calls North Korea’s nukes ‘most immediate challenge to international peace’

Soros: Trump has US ‘set on a course towards nuclear war’

Doomsday Clock reaches 2 minutes to midnight – closest point to nuclear annihilation since Cold War

Trump offers to triple Obama’s amnesty number in exchange for tougher security laws

Trump immigration proposal could provide path to citizenship for 1.8 million in US illegally

Newly recovered FBI texts raise further questions about Clinton investigation

FBI officials worried about being too tough on Hillary Clinton during email investigation, texts show

DOJ says missing FBI text messages recovered, senator backs off ‘secret society’ claim

Senate committee moves toward releasing Trump-Russia interviews

Trump ordered Mueller’s firing, then backed off

Trump was talked out of firing Mueller last June, source says

Franklin Graham warns of deep state coup against President Trump

Anti-Trump celebs to hold ‘People’s State of the Union’ next week

The case of the phantom tsunami: Why an Alaska buoy showed a big wave that wasn’t there

California Rocked by Three Earthquakes in One Day, Scientists Expect More to Come in 2018

5.8 magnitude earthquake hits near Ferndale, California

5.7 magnitude earthquake hits near Lambasa, Fiji

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits the Northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Kodiak, Alaska

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits South of the Fiji Islands

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Ferndale, California

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 25,000ft

Mayon volcano in the Philippines erupts to 23,000ft

Popocateptl volcano in Mexico erupts to 22,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 14,000ft

Podesta: ‘Stabilize The Population’ To Fight Global Warming

Meat tax ‘inevitable’ to beat climate and health crises, says report

California Considers $1,000 Fine and Jail for Waiters Who Hand Out Plastic Straws

A person was able to ‘shoplift’ from Amazon’s new convenience store

Facebook goes down Thursday morning. People (predictably) freak out.

Soros to Google and Facebook: ‘Your days are numbered’

George Soros calls Facebook and Google a ‘menace’ to society and ‘obstacles to innovation’ in blistering attack

Israel is a leading country in the field of digital healthcare: Netanyahu unveils NIS 1 billion shekel digital health project

U.S. Postal Service unwittingly smuggles Chinese opioids to American addicts

People Outraged as Google Home Identifies Buddha, Muhammad and Satan But Not Jesus Christ

Joni Eareckson Tada: If Christians Don’t Act, US Assisted Suicide Laws Could Become Like UK, Canada

Satanic Temple Says Abortion Laws Violate Its Religious Rights by Promoting Christian Beliefs

Cuban Christian Man Jailed After Police Confiscate Bibles, Told ‘Our God Is Fidel Castro’

Irish priest asks for back-up as demand for exorcisms rises ‘exponentially’


Christian Headlines – 1/26/2018

Michelle Lesley – Touch Not My Anointed?

Mike Oppenheimer – Shocked by “Shocked by the Bible!”

Rick Becker – The New Breed of Crafty Evangelists 

Tim Challies – A Guided Tour to 2017’s Bestselling Christian Books

Why Bill Johnson says the Bible is not enough

The Truth About Religious Freedom in China

Jesus is Building His Church’ Inside Iran, Millions Watching Christian Satellite TV

Pastor R.G. Stair accused of sexual misconduct released on bond

California ‘Church’ Shut Down After Police Discover Marijuana Dispensary

Woman Sexually Abused by Sports Doctor Larry Nassar Presents Gospel in Victim Impact Statement

Mike Ratliff – God is Sovereign in Salvation

Jennifer Leclaire — Propheseer Training and Fleecing the Flock

Pastor Greg Locke: Opting for the Newer Model

Former Church for Life Pastor Taught Young Women to Masturbate, Orgasm in Pre-Marriage Classes, Suit Says

Moody blues – Financial errors, insider dealings, and theological concerns force a change at an evangelical powerhouse

‘Bethelated’ spirits? Bethel teaching we can walk through walls & walk on water

Jenn Johnson Got More Cute By Believing What God Said About Her

Copeland bought his new Gulstream jet used from Tyler Perry

A Former Follower of the Duggars’ “Cult” Speaks Out: “These Are Trapped Women”

Charismatic Prophetess Says She’s Greater than Elijah

T.D. Jakes and Toni Braxton walk red carpet in Dallas for screening of Lifetime movie

Beth Moore’s Daughter Says to Boycott Seminaries Without Female Professors

Two divorce cases: Summer White and Melissa Moore

Former pastor John Bishop arrested in California on drug charges

Russell Moore Changes Definition of “Pro-Life,” Says It’s About Immigration, Human Trafficking

215,000,000 Christians Persecuted, Mostly by Muslims


Sacrificing Our Privacy for Security & Convenience

The news swirling around Washington D.C. is that we are about to hear about the exposure of illegal activities within the Obama Administration where American citizens, including then presidential candidate Donald Trump, were spied upon in direct violation of federal law. All this against the background of accusations against President Trump that he colluded with Russians to steal the election from Hillary Clinton. Like an excellent magician, the Left is great at distracting people with one hand while the other hand does the dirty work behind the scenes.

In other news, we may be surrendering our privacy due to our fascination with technology such as new products Alexa and Amazon Echo. Are we virtually giving big corporations access to our homes, personal information, and even private conversations. Are we headed toward a “Big Brother” State as predicted in the classic book 1984? Eric Barger suggests Christians are becoming “enemies of the state.”

In our first segment, we check in with Jay Seegert of The Starting Point Project to discuss how feelings and opinions have increasingly become “truth” to many people, and the dangers of this trend.

Read more


A Biblical Perspective on Immigration

The federal Government recently experienced a short shut down over the issue of immigration and the so-called “dreamers,” and unless our leaders come up with a plan to address the immigration issue facing our nation, another shut down may happen again. Conservatives are insisting that border security and a comprehensive plan on immigration be adopted while most liberals seem to want a form of “blanket amnesty” for illegal immigrants.

Does the Word of God address the issue of immigration? Today we share a perspective from Laura Lacey of Christian Headlines.

In our first segment we talk with Steve Sonderman, coordinator of the No Regrets Men’s Conference. What is the role of Christian men in our churches, family and society, and how is the enemy trying to undermine the role of Christian men as leaders both in the home and in our communities?

Read more


Are We Reliable, Believable Witnesses to the World?

God’s Word is under attack and indictment these days in the court of public opinion. It is being mocked and ridiculed as antiquated thinking in an “enlightened” world.

Now God does not need us to defend Him or His Word. One day every knee will bow before Him. But Jesus did appoint us as His ambassadors to share the good news of salvation available to all people through confession, repentance and faith in Jesus Christ alone. We are to be witnesses to all He taught and point people to His return. But are we effective, believable witnesses? Or does our testimony fall on deaf ears because we are unreliable witnesses, discredited by the life we live?

Dave Wager of Nicolet Bible Institute joins us to discuss how we effectively bear witness to the truth of Jesus Christ.

Read more


Kenneth Copeland is “Hearing from God Again”

We hear stories of persecuted Christians in China, North Korea, Africa, Iran and more praying for God’s protection as they are imprisoned, tortured or even murdered for the sake of the gospel. Some Christians face a health crisis, poverty, and wonder how they will put food on the table for their families because they are out of work. They go from day to day praying and trusting in God for His provision and protection, remaining faithful in the face of serious challenges. And then there are people like Kenneth Copeland…

According to his so-called ministry, Copeland recently heard from God that he needed another luxury jet to accommodate his overseas excursions; and that God miraculously sent Tyler Perry his way to sell him a luxurious Gulfstream V private jet. All of this on the financial backs of naive followers who believe in Copeland’s “prosperity gospel teaching.” But wait, apparently the luxurious jet Copeland received is not quite good enough because he is asking his followers for another $2.5 million for “necessary upgrades” to his new toy – and $17 million for a hanger to house the jet. We tackle details in our second segment.

In our first segment today we are joined by Brad Dacus, president of The Pacific Justice Institute to talk about the fight for religious freedoms of Christians in our nation.

Read more


What is The Gospel?


Selected Scriptures

Code: A335

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

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

Consider what the Bible says about Him:

JESUS IS GOD

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS HOLY

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE SAVIOR

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH

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

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

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

JESUS IS LORD

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

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE JUDGE

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

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

HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?

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

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


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/articles/A335
COPYRIGHT ©2017 Grace to YouYou may reproduce this Grace to You content for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Grace to You’s Copyright Policy (http://www.gty.org/connect/copyright).


Truth2Freedom Blog Disclaimer

This post was originally posted on: https://truth4freedom.wordpress.com

(Alternative News, Apologetics, Current Events, Commentary, Opinion, Theology, Discernment Blog, Devotionals, Christian Internet Evangelism & Missions Activist).

“In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”

— Augustine

This blog is an aggregator of news and information that we believe will provide articles that will keep people informed about current trends, current events, discussions and movements taking place within our church and culture.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107,material here is distributed without profit for research and educational purposes.

A headline link on this blog post doesn’t necessarily mean that there is agreement or approval with all the views and opinions expressed within the headline linked article. Caution is also warranted with regards to the advertisements and links that are embedded within the headline linked article.

*Please note that the preceding blog post content is formed by my personal conviction, values, worldview and opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

JANUARY 26 FAITH RESTS UPON THE CHARACTER OF GOD

…So now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

PHILIPPIANS 1:20, 21

The witness of the Christian church is most effective when she declares rather than explains, for the gospel is addressed not to reason but to faith. What can be proved requires no faith to accept and faith rests upon the character of God, not upon the demonstrations of laboratory or logic.

The power of Christianity appears in its antipathy toward, never in its agreement with, the ways of fallen men. At the heart of the Christian system lies the cross of Christ with its divine paradox and the truth of the cross is revealed in its contradictions.

The cross stands in bold opposition to the natural man. Its philosophy runs contrary to the processes of the unregenerate mind, so that Paul could say bluntly that the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness. To try to find a common ground between the message of the cross and man’s fallen reason can only result in an impaired reason, a meaningless cross and a powerless Christianity!

Note this also about the cross-carrying Christian: when he looks at the cross he is a pessimist, for he knows that the same judgment that fell on the Lord of glory condemns in that one act all nature and all the world of men. He rejects every human hope out of Christ because he knows that man’s noblest effort is only dust building on dust.

Yet he is calmly, restfully optimistic, for the resurrection of Christ guarantees the ultimate triumph of good throughout the universe. Through Christ, all will be well at last and the Christian waits the consummation![1]


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

The new breed of ‘crafty evangelists’.

A new post from our good friends and fellow polemicists at ‘Famine In The Land’.


Rick Becker writes:

In order to make the gospel more palatable, many are resorting to crafty means in order to attract the lost. One of the means employed is going”under cover’ at various events. This new breed of revivalists and evangelists don’t rely on the gospel, but so-called “encounters with God”. Words of knowledge and healings are utilized in order to win the lost. This Covert evangelism involves:

• an absence of the gospel
• using terminology that does not offend
• supposed supernatural encounters
• cards, colours and stones to facilitate messages from God

In other words  – “another gospel”.

A host of articles have recently exposed the unbiblical evangelistic tools and shenanigans of Bethel and Christalignment.  Going undercover at psychic fairs and the use of “destiny cards” to offer readings, or as they would…

View original post 3,803 more words

Friday’s Featured Sermon: “Responsive to the Gospel”

Matthew 13:3-23

Code: B180126

We sometimes think of the parable of the soils as one of the ways Christ trained His disciples—and by extension, the church—to be faithful evangelists. But is that the point of the parable? It doesn’t describe any techniques or methods for sowing the seed of the gospel. And there’s no information about the character or the giftedness of the sower.

The fact is the parable isn’t about the sower at all; it’s about the soils. As John MacArthur explains in his sermon “Responsive to the Gospel,” Christ delivered this familiar parable to help prepare His disciples for the inevitability of people not responding to the gospel. The Lord was bracing them to face rejection in their future ministries.

And as John explains, we need to learn the same lesson.

Now here’s the basic point of this parable. It is this, that the result of the hearing of the gospel depends on the condition of the heart to whom the gospel is addressed. Did you get that? It is not the skill of the sower. It is not the attractiveness of the seed. It is the condition of the soil. So that what we are dealing with in this matter of evangelism is the character of those who hear.

Now this is so important. I have known Christians all my life who have backed off from witnessing for Christ because they feel they are not effective because they don’t see a lot of results. And this parable is here to dispel that ridiculous notion, that somebody’s salvation is dependent on the skill of the sower or on some manipulated capability in the seed. Not so. It’s dependent on the condition of the heart. You have unresponsive hearts, impulsive hearts, preoccupied hearts, and prepared hearts. And they’re all out there. And if you get the seed right . . . the only issue is the condition of the heart.

That is a tremendous encouragement as we face a rebellious world that wants nothing to do with God. We don’t make the gospel more potent through our techniques or strategies or personal magnetism. We simply must be faithful to sow it, and trust the Lord to oversee the results. He has plowed the field and prepared sinners’ hearts—if we’re faithful to sow the seed, by His grace we will see the fruit.

To listen to “Responsive to the Gospel,” click here.


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B180126
COPYRIGHT ©2018 Grace to YouYou may reproduce this Grace to You content for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Grace to You’s Copyright Policy (http://www.gty.org/about#copyright).

What’s So Special About Christianity?

Every world view takes a position regarding eternity. Even those who don’t believe in God, still believe something about death and the possibility of heaven. To disbelieve a claim requires a belief in something contrary. When I was an atheist, I believed something about eternity and the possibility of life after death:

1. If you’re an Atheist…
You deny that there is a God, have no belief in supernatural phenomena (or anything beyond the natural realm), and no belief in an afterlife.

All the world’s religious belief systems, on the other hand, posit that humans can work their way into God’s presence through some set of good behaviors. Regardless of religious system, all proclaim a similar truth: you, as a simple human, can control (or at least contribute to) your own eternal destiny.

2. If you’re a Jew…
You obey the Ten Commandments

3. If you’re Muslim…
You obey the Five Pillars of Faith

4. If you’re a Buddhist…
You obey the implications of the Four Noble Truths and the Eight-fold Path

5. If you’re a Baha’i…
You must keep the Baha’i Law

6. If you’re a Hindu…
You must perform good deeds (Karma Yoga), work to attain a state of consciousness in meditation (Jnana Yoga), or perform acts of worship, temple rituals, and pilgrimages (Bhakti Yoga)

7. If you’re a Jehovah’s Witness…
You must perform good works that fulfill God’s will

8. If you’re a Scientologist…
You must work toward spiritual enlightenment and an attainment of brotherhood with the universe

9. If you’re a Mormon…
You obey the Ten Commandments of Judaism, every commandment of Jesus, and the teachings of all the Mormon Prophets

Notice the similarity? All these worldviews are dependent on the beliefs or works of humans. You either think you are smart enough to explain it all (Atheism), or think you can somehow unite yourself to God through your own good works (all the aforementioned religious beliefs). Christianity, on the other hand, proclaims something very different.

10. If you’re a Christian…
You are convinced that God is too powerful to be impressed with good deeds and that there is nothing you can do as a mere mortal to earn your way to heaven. Amazingly, God simply offers something that he has already done for you

If there is a God powerful enough to create everything in the universe from nothing, this God is certainly powerful enough to bring us home without any additional help from us. A God this powerful wouldn’t be impressed with the works of men. A God this powerful doesn’t need our help; He’s is fully capable of getting the job done on His own. More importantly, if there is a God powerful enough to create everything in the universe from nothing, this God is also powerful enough to eliminate imperfection. A God this powerful is a perfect Being, separated from His creation by this important distinction. Our good works might be good, but they aren’t perfect. Of the ten worldviews we’ve listed here, only one addresses the true, powerful nature of God. Only Christianity offers the free gift of an all-powerful Deity. Only Christianity offers grace and hope for those who know they are imperfect.

If I placed the Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa in a room along with many copies I painted myself, you would notice two things: First, you would notice that there is only one true Mona Lisa. All my copies would differ from the original (even though they might share common characteristics as copies). You’d also be able to identify the true painting. It would stand out from the rest; it would have a property of “singularity” marking it as genuine. Second, you’d notice the slight imperfections of all the other paintings. Each would show signs of having been painted by someone who is far less gifted than the inspired artist. One painting in the room would reflect the nature of a gifted artisan and creator, the rest would reflect the nature of an ordinary man.

Christianity is the Mona Lisa in the room. It stands alone, bearing the unique, singular quality of grace (the undeserved free gift of Salvation). All other belief systems and worldviews share a common logical flaw: they are “works based” and fail to offer the grace of God. And, like my Mona Lisa copies, they are alike in their imperfection. You can spot the truth about eternity the same way you can spot the true Mona Lisa. The Christian offer of Salvation stands out from the rest; it possesses a property of “singularity” marking it as true. The other worldviews display common imperfections, each having been created by people who are far less gifted than the inspired Artist. One worldview – Christianity – reflects the nature of this gifted Artisan and Creator, the others reflect the nature of an ordinary men.

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

Source:

Pleading with Sinners to Be Reconciled to God

The means of our reconciliation to God—the sacrificial death of Christ, the perfect forgiveness God applies to our sin—are divine works. But there is a human component that goes along with it. We bear some responsibility, too, if we are to be reconciled and redeemed. Paul hints at it in 2 Corinthians 5:20: “We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

In God’s divine design, He has given each of us the responsibility to respond to the gospel in the obedience of faith. He doesn’t pluck us out of this wicked world against our will— we’re not robots that He merely has to reprogram. God is the initiator; He’s the Savior. But it does not happen without a response.

The two little parables in Matthew 13 perfectly illustrate this point. Jesus said: “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matt. 13:44–46). Christ’s point in those two parables is that if you want salvation, it will cost you everything.

Reconciliation to God isn’t a little bump in the road of life—it’s a radical transformation and reorientation of your entire being. We become new creatures entirely. Paul had just made that very point in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” Being reconciled to God means dying to our old selves, our old lives, and our old interests. Christ repeatedly urged His disciples to count the cost of following Him. It’s why He told them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matt. 16:24). Responding in obedience to God’s call to be reconciled to Him can cost us everything—even our lives.

The rich young ruler understood that. It’s why he walked away from Christ in shame (Luke 18:18–30). When Jesus told him to sell all his possessions and give everything to the poor, He wasn’t offering the young man salvation by works. The money itself wasn’t the point—it was a question of his willingness to do whatever the Lord told him to do. What would he give up for the sake of his eternal soul? It was a test of his obedience and what he valued most in his heart. And he failed miserably. Reconciliation to God doesn’t happen on our terms, according to our schedules, when it’s convenient for us. It’s a radical redemption and transformation, and it requires us to be penitent, submissive, and completely sold out for God’s purpose and work. Nothing less is acceptable. And because of that high cost, Paul says we have to “beg” sinners to be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:20).

When I was in college, I played football, and I had a coach who meant a lot to me personally. Throughout high school and college, he was the best coach I ever had. His name was Jim Brownfield, and he was a legend in southern California. He coached at every level of football. He was innovative, he was creative, and I cared about him a great deal.

I remember sitting next to him on the plane as we were flying up to San Francisco for a game. I took that opportunity to communicate the gospel to him with all my heart, but he rejected it. Through the years, I had opportunities to be with him here and there, at golf tournaments or other functions. He knew about my church and the ministry God has called me to, and he watched my life from a distance. And every time I was with him, I tried to talk to him about the Lord. He’d say, “I respect that. I respect you. But I’m not interested.” I felt like I was always begging him, “Coach, this is the most important thing you’ll ever do.” But he was stubborn.

One day, I got a phone call. Coach was in the hospital. He had heart problems. Surgery hadn’t helped, and it looked like he was about to die. When I arrived at the hospital, the nurse said to me, “He hasn’t moved for three days. We haven’t seen any motion, so I can’t promise anything.” I walked in the room, took his hand, and said, “Hey, Coach, it’s Johnny Mac.” He opened his eyes and smiled. I said, “Coach, one more time, can I beg you to be reconciled to God? Coach, you are the thief on the cross. You have no future. This has to be your time. Will you open your heart to Christ?” His head went up and down. He grabbed my hand, started to squeeze it, and reached his other arm over and grabbed my other hand. I was locked in his grip. The nurse came in and scolded me, saying, “Sir, you’ll have to let go of him.” I said, “I’m not holding on to him. He is holding on to me.” With every last ounce of his strength, he was responding to the call of the gospel. For all those years, I had begged and pleaded with him—right down to the last hour. And as we prayed together in his hospital room, the Lord poured out his forgiveness and reconciled Coach Brownfield to Himself. I’m so glad I went to the hospital that day. I’m so thankful I had one more opportunity to beg him to be reconciled to God.

We ought to cling to the vital doctrine of God’s sovereignty. But don’t ever let your view of sovereignty overwhelm or obscure the fact that sinners have a responsibility to respond to God—and we have a responsibility to beg them to do so. God accomplishes His reconciling work through—not in spite of—the obedience of faith from those He calls to be reconciled.

This excerpt is adapted from Good News: The Gospel of Jesus Christ by John MacArthur.

Source: Pleading with Sinners to Be Reconciled to God

The false gospel we don’t talk about

TheoThoughts

When we think of false gospels, a couple of common ones that raise to the top are the false gospel of works based acceptance and the prosperity gospel. In both cases, the gospel is false because our hope and trust is anchored in something other than the completed work of Christ. And let’s be clear, this doesn’t mean that perpetrators of false gospels don’t acknowledge Jesus and his sacrificial work on our behalf. In fact, you’ll find they most likely do. For the most part, they will acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God who came in the flesh and atoned for our sins without which there is no reconciliation to the Father. They will even talk about grace and forgiveness.

However, what makes the gospel false is when acceptance and approval by God is placed in something other than Christ. This is crucial because Christianity is Christianity because…

View original post 973 more words

January 26, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

13 This is the first indication of prayer on the part of Zechariah. The word Luke uses (deēsis, GK 1255) indicates a specific petition. If this was for a child (probably a son), the aorist tense in the phrase “has been heard” refers to Zechariah’s lifelong prayer. Otherwise, his just-offered prayer in the temple was probably for the messianic redemption of Israel. Actually, the birth of his child was bound up with redemption in a way far beyond anything Zechariah expected. That the prayer included a petition for a son is substantiated by the further description of the child, beginning with his name. “John” (Iōannēs) combines in its Hebrew form the name of God with the word ḥānan (“to show favor to or be gracious to,” GK 2858). God did indeed answer Zechariah’s prayer. That the child was named before his birth stresses God’s sovereignty in choosing him to be his servant.[1]


1:13 / your prayer has been heard: We are not told what Zechariah’s prayer was. In his temple duties he naturally would pray for Israel’s redemption, although he and his wife no doubt had often prayed for a son. Thus, both prayers were answered in the conception of John, for he would be their long-awaited son and the forerunner of the Messiah.

John means “the Lord has shown favor.” Heavenly imposed names usually related to one’s destiny. Elsewhere in biblical literature names are imposed (see Gen. 32:28; Isa. 9:6; Matt. 1:21; Luke 1:31).[2]


1:13. God’s angel responded in words God always used to announce salvation to the prophets: Do not be afraid. Now Zechariah could listen. The angel could deliver God’s message: your prayer has been heard. Which prayer? The one I am now praying for the people and the nation? Yes, in a way, but really, No! God is answering your personal prayer. The one you and Elizabeth have uttered for years, the one you think has passed you by. You will be a father. You will name your son John.[3]


13. But the angel said to him, Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your petition has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall give him the name John. Note the following points:

  • “Do not be afraid.” In other words, “Stop being frightened; cheer up.” Is it not encouraging to note how very often in Scripture God or Jesus Christ tells his people not to be afraid but instead to take heart? A partial list of passages in which, in some form or other, this exhortation is found would be: Gen. 15:1; 26:24; 46:3; Exod. 14:13, 14; Josh. 1:9; 11:6; Judg. 6:23; 2 Kings 19:6, 7; 1 Chron. 28:20; 2 Chron. 20:15; 32:7; Neh. 4:14; Ps. 49:16; 91:5; Isa. 10:24; 37:6; 41:10, 13, 14; 43:1, 5; 44:2, 8; Dan. 10:19; Zech. 8:13; Matt. 14:27; 17:7; 28:10; Mark 5:36; Luke 1:30; 2:10; 5:10; 8:50; 12:4, 7, 32; John 14:1, 27; 16:33; Acts 18:9; 27:24; Heb. 13:6; 1 Peter 3:14; Rev. 1:17. And is not “Do not be afraid” another way of saying, “Have faith”? Truly salvation by grace through faith is not a Pauline invention. It is firmly rooted in Scripture throughout.
  • “Your petition has been heard.” Which petition? The one which Zechariah had barely finished when the angel suddenly appeared; hence, the supplication that peace in its richest sense—salvation—might be bestowed upon Israel? Or was the angel referring to the request for a child, a petition that belonged to bygone days? In spite of what certain commentators say to the contrary, it simply is not true that this question can be decided on the basis of grammar (tense of verb). Those who favor the former alternative base their conclusion on the fact that Zechariah had hardly ceased praying for the peace of Israel when the angel appeared. But with at least equal right those who favor the latter alternative point to the very close connection between “Your petition has been heard” and “Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son.” As it were “in one breath” these two statements were made by the angel. If a choice must be made between these two alternatives, this interpreter would choose the latter.

But is it absolutely necessary to make this choice? Is there not a very close relation between the two? Is it not true that the son to whom Elizabeth would give birth was destined to be the forerunner of the Messiah, through whom salvation would come for Israel; in fact, for all God’s children, whether Jew or Gentile?

  1. “Your wife Elizabeth.” The very one whose barren condition was common knowledge would be delivered from her affliction. Through Elizabeth, and not through some other woman, Zechariah would become the father of a child.
  2. “a son.” The very sex of the child is already predicted!
  3. “… and you shall give him the name John.” See on verses 59, 63.[4]

1:13Do not be afraid: Angels often calmed the fears of those to whom they appeared (v. 30; 2:10; Gen. 15:1; Dan. 10:12; Matt. 1:20; Acts 18:9; 27:24; Rev. 1:17). your prayer is heard: The angel was probably referring to the prayer for the redemption of Israel that Zacharias had recited in the holy place, or to his earlier prayers for a child. In fact, God’s action starts a process that answers both requests at once. The meaning cannot be that he was praying for the child in the holy place, since v. 18 indicates he presently had no hope of having a child. you shall call his name John: When God names a child, greatness usually follows (Gen. 16:11; 1 Kin. 13:2; Is. 7:14).[5]


1:13do not be afraid A common heavenly greeting and message of reassurance found throughout the Bible (e.g., vv. 30; 2:10; Judg 6:23; Dan 10:12; Rev 1:17).[6]


1:13 your prayer. This may have been a prayer for a son, but more probably at such a moment it was prayer for the redemption of Israel. Either way, the answer to the prayer would be seen in the birth of a son.

John. The name means “the Lord is gracious.”[7]


1:13Do not be afraid: Angels often calmed the fears of those to whom they appeared (see v. 30; 2:10; Gen. 15:1; Dan. 10:12; Matt. 1:20; Acts 18:9; 27:24; Rev. 1:17). your prayer is heard: The angel was probably referring to the prayer for the redemption of Israel that Zacharias had recited in the Holy Place, or to his earlier prayers for a child. you shall call his name John: When God names a child, greatness usually follows (see Gen. 16:11; 1 Kin. 13:2; Is. 7:14).[8]


[1] Liefeld, W. L., & Pao, D. W. (2007). Luke. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, p. 55). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Evans, C. A. (1990). Luke (pp. 27–28). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Butler, T. C. (2000). Luke (Vol. 3, p. 8). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[4] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke (Vol. 11, pp. 69–70). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[5] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1248). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[6] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Lk 1:13). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[7] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 1453). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[8]The NKJV Study Bible. (2007). (Lk 1:13). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

JANUARY 26 JOURNEY OF THE HEART

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.

Acts 16:31

I object to the charge that “Tozer preaches experience.” I preach Christ, the Savior—that is my calling! But I am positive about the validity, the reality and the value of genuine Christian experience. We can talk to Jesus just as we talk to our other friends.

As a boy, I was not a Christian. I did not have the privilege of growing up in a home where Christ was known and loved. God spoke to me through a street preacher who quoted the words of Jesus, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

That invitation let me know that Jesus is still calling “Come now!” I went home and up into the attic. There in earnest prayer I gave my heart and life to Jesus Christ. My feet had taken me home and into the attic. But it was my heart that went to Jesus! Within my heart I consented to go to Jesus. I have been a Christian ever since that moment.

Dear Jesus, I want to thank You for saving me through Your difficult journey to the cross. Give me grace and strength to honor Your sacrifice through my life this week.[1]


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

January 26 Christ Our Example in Overcoming Temptation

But He answered and said, “It is written … it is written … it is written …”—Matt. 4:4a, 7b, 10b

The Lord Jesus Christ is indeed our supreme example for how to resist temptation. Hebrews 4:15 reminds us, “We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (cf. 2:18). Our responsibility is to consider the many ways He was tempted, look to Him, and follow His example in turning away from sin.

Jesus met the worst temptations Satan could hurl at Him, and He emerged victorious. Now He is ready to share the joy of victory with all His saints: “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13).

The key to our triumph over temptation is to resist it the way Jesus did, by completely obeying God and His Word. Just as in every aspect of the Christian life, we will have success in resisting temptation by “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (Heb. 12:2). Like the hurdler who learns to keep his eyes on the finish line as he runs, thereby not tripping over any individual hurdle, so we must keep our eyes on the ultimate goal—being with our glorious Lord and Savior forever in heaven.

ASK YOURSELF

God’s Word is such that the more time we spend in it, the more it sinks into us—into our hearts, into our thoughts, into our impulses, reactions, and conversations. Are you mining daily from this treasure? Make sure Satan has to climb over a lot of Scripture to get to you.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 34). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

January 26 Is Anyone Listening?

I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.

2 Corinthians 12:15

There have been times in my ministry as a pastor that I’ve wondered if anyone is listening to what I’m teaching. Do people really appreciate me or the teaching of the Word? It’s easy to fall into that kind of woe–is–me complex.

Maybe you’ve felt the same way in your ministry. If so, you must remember that as long as you look at the ministry you’re in as something you give, you will never have that problem. But if you look at the ministry as something you get, you will end up with a twisted view of what real ministry is.

If you’re ever tempted to view your ministry with a selfish attitude, adopt the attitude Paul exhibited in today’s verse. Even if the people hated him, he would still love them. The main characteristic of love is unselfish giving.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 37). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

January 26, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

conviction

and he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” (9:4)

Prostrate on the ground, Saul heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” The repetition is emphatic, as elsewhere in Luke’s writings (cf. Luke 10:41; 13:34; 22:31). Here it marks a rebuke of Saul, intended to bring anguish of soul, so Saul would realize how wrong he had been, and guilt would overwhelm him. He was one who had hated Jesus Christ without cause (John 15:25).

Our Lord’s words “Why are you persecuting Me?” reflect the inseparable link between Himself, as head of the body, and its members. No blow struck on earth goes unfelt in heaven by our sympathetic High Priest. By persecuting Christians, Saul inflicted blows directly on their Lord.

Saul, who had been so violent, was violently brought face to face with the enormity of his crimes—not against Christians but against Christ. Those who go to hell do so ultimately because of their rejection of the Savior. Even those who don’t persecute believers, but simply live apart from Jesus Christ, are as guilty of crimes against Him as was Saul. As Saul himself was later to write, “If anyone does not love the Lord, let him be accursed” (1 Cor. 16:22). Jesus said the Holy Spirit would convict men “concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me” (John 16:9). The crime of all crimes for which men will be eternally damned is to refuse to love and follow the Lord Jesus Christ.

True salvation must include conviction of this damning sin, since it is this very sin and no other that finally separates man from God. Saul knew enough about the Christian faith to hate it and persecute it. He knew the claims of Jesus and the true history of God’s redemption as Stephen had preached it. He knew the apostles and their associates Stephen and Philip had miraculous power over disease and demons. All that the Spirit had laid as the groundwork in Saul’s life. When Jesus confronted Saul, the conviction must have been overwhelming. He knew about the truth; here he was crushed into the dust and made to believe it.[1]


4 Likewise, in v. 4 it is reported that Saul heard the voice (ēkousen phōnēn, GK 201, 5889) and in v. 7 that his companions also heard the voice (akouontes men tēs phōnēs), whereas in 22:9 it is said that his companions did not hear the voice (tēn phōnēn ouk ēkousan) and in 26:14 that only Saul heard the voice speaking to him (ēkousa phōnēn legousan pros me). Some commentators have seen here a flagrant contradiction in Luke’s source materials, which he unwittingly incorporated into his finished product. But since the noun phōnē means both “sound” in the sense of any noise, tone, or voice and “articulated speech” in the sense of language, undoubtedly it was understood by all concerned (as the respective contexts suggest) to mean that while the whole group traveling to Damascus heard the sound from heaven, only Saul understood the spoken words.

As Saul fell to the ground, the voice from heaven intoned his name in solemn repetition: “Saul, Saul.” It was common in antiquity for a person in a formal setting to be addressed by the repetition of his name (cf., e.g., Ge 22:11; 46:2; Ex 3:4; 1 Sa 3:10; Lk 10:41; 22:31; 2 Esd 14:1; 2 Bar. 22:2). The fact that the transliterated form Saoul (from Heb. and Aram. šaʾul) was used in addressing Saul, rather than the Greek vocative Saule, suggests that the words came to him in either Hebrew or Aramaic (cf. 26:14). Of more significance is the fact that Saul understood the voice to be a message from God himself, for in the rabbinic thought of the day to hear a voice from heaven (a bat qôl, lit., “a daughter of the [divine] voice”) never meant to hear a lower deity in the pantheon of gods speaking, as in Greek religious speculations, or some psychological disturbance, as many would presume today. Rather, it always connoted a rebuke or a word of instruction from the one true God himself. So when the voice went on to ask, “Why do you persecute me?” Saul was undoubtedly thoroughly confused. As he saw it, he had not been persecuting God; he was defending God and his laws![2]


9:4 / Why do you persecute me? The answer to this question has been found in Gal. 3:13. Before his conversion Paul regarded Jesus as accursed in terms of Deut. 21:22f. (see disc. on 5:20). For this reason, he blasphemed him (1 Tim. 1:13) and tried to make others blaspheme him (Acts 26:11), i.e., to say, “Jesus be cursed” (1 Cor. 12:3). After his conversion, Paul still went on saying, “God made Christ a curse,” but now added two words, “for us” or “for me” (cf. also Gal. 2:20). See J. Jeremias, The Central Message of the New Testament (London: SCM Press, 1965), pp. 35f.[3]


4. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

Jesus brings Paul to conversion by appearing to him in heavenly glory light. In this supernatural light, the only thing man can do is fall to the ground and lie face down. And this is exactly what Paul does. Then Jesus personally addresses Paul by his given name. He asks Paul the penetrating question: “Why do you persecute me?” Indeed, Jesus’ wording is remarkable, for with this question he identifies himself completely with the believers whom Paul seeks to destroy. Jesus and his followers are one (compare Matt. 10:40; 25:45).

The cautionary message not to oppose God, advocated by Paul’s teacher, Gamaliel, now confronts Paul in stark reality. The martyred Stephen, the persecuted Christians driven from Jerusalem, the believers jailed by Paul—all these people are represented by Jesus Christ. Accordingly, Paul has been fighting against Jesus and has lost the battle. Jesus addresses Paul in Aramaic (see 26:14) and repeats his Hebrew name, Saul (compare, e.g., 1 Sam. 3:10). Paul knows that the repetition means that a divine voice is calling him.[4]

†


9:4 — Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”

Saul thought he was arresting and imprisoning dangerous heretics; Jesus told him that he was persecuting the Christ Himself. When we bless other believers, we bless Christ; and when we wound other believers, we harm Christ (Matt. 25:40, 45).[5]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1994). Acts (Vol. 1, pp. 267–268). 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, p. 853). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Williams, D. J. (2011). Acts (pp. 172–173). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles (Vol. 17, pp. 331–332). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[5] Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (Ac 9:4). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.

JANUARY 26 GOD IS A PERSON

But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

—Psalm 1:2

We have almost forgotten that God is a person and, as such, can be cultivated as any person can. It is inherent in personality to be able to know other personalities, but full knowledge of one personality by another cannot be achieved in one encounter. It is only after long and loving mental intercourse that the full possibilities of both can be explored….

God is a person, and in the deep of His mighty nature He thinks, wills, enjoys, feels, loves, desires and suffers as any other person may. In making Himself known to us He stays by the familiar pattern of personality. He communicates with us through the avenues of our minds, our wills and our emotions. The continuous and unembarrassed interchange of love and thought between God and the soul of the redeemed man is the throbbing heart of New Testament religion. POG013-014

Lord, how careless I am with the privilege of deep and intimate interaction with You! May I learn to delight in constant, loving communication with You, that I may more fully know You. Amen.[1]


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

January 26 The Bond of Peace

“Being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

Ephesians 4:3

✧✧✧

The key to peace in the church is selfless love.

People often delude themselves that there is peace when there is no real peace (Jer. 8:11). However, we can show the world that Jesus is the true peacemaker if we have a community of peaceful, loving, united believers. Others will realize then that Christ must be sent from God, because only God can make true, lasting peace.

“The bond of peace” is what holds our unity together. The Greek word translated “bond” refers to a belt. It pictures the Body of Christ being wrapped with the belt of peace, a peace that is born of love.

Our bond of peace is vital to our testimony. As Christians, we have “peace with God” (Rom. 5:1) and “the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18), the privilege of telling others how they may have peace with God. If we don’t have peace among ourselves, why would unbelievers look to us to find peace with God?

The Corinthian church teaches us how not to have peace. Members would have a “love feast,” followed by Communion. Apparently, though, those who brought food gorged themselves and became drunk, leaving the poorer believers to go hungry (1 Cor. 11:17–22). Those gluttons not only dishonored the Lord but also hurt their fellow believers, causing resentment and conflict.

During their worship services, everyone wanted attention. Paul laments, “Each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation” (1 Cor. 14:26)—and they all wanted to speak at once. They weren’t interested in building up each other, only in being heard. The result was a loud, confusing mess.

The Corinthians’ disharmony was evident in different ways, but the root cause was the same: selfishness.

So where does peace come from? Selflessness, the primary characteristic of Christian love. Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself.” We must humble ourselves and focus on the needs of others. When that happens, there will be harmony and unity.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Confess any selfishness, and ask God to help you grow in selfless love.

For Further Study: What does Romans 8:6 equate peace with? Memorize this verse during the next few days.[1]


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

January 25 Daily Help

IN the very beginning, when this great universe lay in the mind of God, like unborn forests in the acorn-cup; long ere the echoes walked the solitudes; before the mountains were brought forth; and long ere the light flashed through the sky, God loved His chosen creatures. Before there was creatureship—when the æther was not fanned by the angel’s wing; when space itself had not an existence; when there was nothing save God alone; even then, in that loneliness of Deity, and in that deep quiet and profundity, His love moved for His chosen. Their names were written on His heart, and then were they dear to His soul.[1]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 29). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

January 25, 2018 Evening Verse Of The Day

The Characteristics of the Worthy Walk

with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (4:2–3)

Here Paul gives five essentials for faithful Christian living, five attitudes on which walking worthily in the Lord’s call are predicated.

humility

These characteristics, of which humility is the foundation, form a progression, the genuine exercise of one leading to the exercise of those that follow.

Tapeinophrosunē (humility) is a compound word that literally means to think or judge with lowliness, and hence to have lowliness of mind. John Wesley observed that “neither the Romans nor the Greeks had a word for humility.” The very concept was so foreign and abhorrent to their way of thinking that they had no term to describe it. Apparently this Greek term was coined by Christians, probably by Paul himself, to describe a quality for which no other word was available. To the proud Greeks and Romans, their terms for ignoble, cowardly, and other such characteristics were sufficient to describe the “unnatural” person who did not think of himself with pride and self-satisfaction. When, during the first several centuries of Christianity, pagan writers borrowed the term tapeinophrosunē, they always used it derogatorily—frequently of Christians—because to them humility was a pitiable weakness.

But humility is the most foundational Christian virtue. We cannot even begin to please God without humility, just as our Lord Himself could not have pleased His Father had He not willingly “emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and … humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:7–8).

Yet humility is terribly elusive, because if focused on too much it will turn into pride, its very opposite. Humility is a virtue to be highly sought but never claimed, because once claimed it is forfeited. Only Jesus Christ, as the perfectly obedient Son, could justifiably claim humility for Himself. “Take My yoke upon you,” He said, “for I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matt. 11:29). He came to earth as God’s Son, yet was born in a stable, raised in a peasant family, never owned property except the garments on His back, and was buried in a borrowed tomb. At any time He could have exercised His divine rights, prerogatives, and glory, but in obedience and humility He refused to do so because it would have been to go outside His Father’s will. If the Lord of glory walked in humility while He was on earth, how much more are His imperfect followers to do so? “The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6).

Although humility is at the heart of Christian character, no virtue is more foreign to the world’s ways. The world exalts pride, not humility. Throughout history, fallen human nature, ruled by Satan, the prince of this world, has shunned humility and advocated pride. For the most part humility has been looked on as weakness and impotence, something ignoble to be despised. People unashamedly claim to be proud of their jobs, their children, their accomplishments, and on and on. Society loves to recognize and praise those who have accomplished something outstanding. Ostentation, boasting, parading, and exalting are the world’s stock in trade.

Unfortunately the church often reflects that worldly perspective and pattern, building many programs and organizations around the superficial enticements of awards, trophies, and public recognition. We seem to have found a way to encourage boasting that is “acceptable,” because such boasting is done in the name of the gospel. But in doing so we contradict the very gospel we claim to promote, because the hallmark of the gospel is humility, not pride and self-exaltation. God’s work cannot be served by the world’s ways. God’s call is to humility and His work is only accomplished through humility.

The first sin was pride, and every sin after that has been in some way an extension of pride. Pride led the angel Lucifer to exalt himself above his Creator and Lord. Because the bright “star of the morning” continually said, “I will, I will, I will” in opposition to God’s will, he was cast out of heaven (Isa. 14:12–23). Because he said, “I am a god,” the Lord cast him “from the mountain of God” (Ezek. 28:11–19). The original sin of Adam and Eve was pride, trusting in their own understanding above God’s (Gen. 3:6–7). The writer of Proverbs warns, “When pride comes, then comes dishonor” (11:2), “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling” (16:18), and again “Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, is sin” (21:4).

Isaiah warned, “The proud look of man will be abased, and the loftiness of man will be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day” (Isa. 2:11; cf. 3:16–26). “Behold, I am against you, O arrogant one,” God declared against Babylon, “For your day has come, the time when I shall punish you. And the arrogant one will stumble and fall with no one to raise him up” (Jer. 50:31–32). The last chapter of the Old Testament begins, “For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff” (Mal. 4:1). The Beatitudes begin with “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matt. 5:3), and James assures us that “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6; cf. Ps. 138:6).

Pride is the supreme temptation from Satan, because pride is at the heart of his own evil nature. Consequently, Satan makes sure that the Christian is never entirely free from the temptation of pride. We will always be in a battle with pride until the Lord takes us to be with Himself. Our only protection against pride, and our only source of humility, is a proper view of God. Pride is the sin of competing with God, and humility is the virtue of submitting to His supreme glory.

Pride comes in many forms. We may be tempted to be proud of our abilities, our possessions, our education, our social status, our appearance, our power, and even our biblical knowledge or religious accomplishments. But throughout Scripture the Lord calls His people to humility. “Before honor comes humility” (Prov. 15:33); “The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honor and life” (22:4); “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips” (27:2).

Humility is an ingredient of all spiritual blessing. Just as every sin has its roots in pride, every virtue has its roots in humility. Humility allows us to see ourselves as we are, because it shows us before God as He is. Just as pride is behind every conflict we have with other people and every problem of fellowship we have with the Lord, so humility is behind every harmonious human relationship, every spiritual success, and every moment of joyous fellowship with the Lord.

During the days of slavery in the West Indies, a group of Moravian Christians found it impossible to witness to the slaves because they were almost totally separated from the ruling class—many of whom felt it beneath them even to speak to a slave. Two young missionaries, however, were determined to reach those oppressed peoples at any cost. In order to fulfill God’s calling they joined the slaves. They worked and lived beside the slaves, becoming totally identified with them—sharing their overwork, their beatings, and their abuse. It is not strange that the two missionaries soon won the hearts of those slaves, many of whom accepted for themselves the God who could move men to such loving selflessness.

A person cannot even become a Christian without humility, without recognizing himself as a sinner and worthy only of God’s just condemnation. “Truly I say to you,” Jesus said, “unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself …” (Matt. 18:3–4). At the height of his own fame and recognition as a prophet, John the Baptist said of Jesus, “I am not fit to remove His sandals” (Matt. 3:11) and “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). Martha was busy doing many things supposedly for Jesus’ sake, but on three different occasions we see Mary simply sitting humbly at Jesus’ feet. In all four gospels the writers hide themselves and focus attention on Jesus. How easy it would have been for them to subtly include accounts favorable to themselves. Matthew identifies himself as a despised tax-collector, which none of the other gospel writers does. On the other hand, he does not mention the feast that he gave for his fellow tax-collectors to meet Jesus. Because of Matthew’s humility, it was left to Luke to write about that.

Mark probably wrote under the tutelage of Peter, and possibly because of that apostle’s influence he does not report two of the most amazing things that happened to Peter during Jesus’ ministry—his walking on water and his confession of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God. John never mentions his own name, referring to himself simply as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”

In a compilation of old quotes is an excellent paragraph written by Thomas Guthrie:

The grandest edifices, the tallest towers, the loftiest spires rest on deep foundations. The very safety of eminent gifts and preeminent graces lies in their association with deep humility. They are dangerous without it. Great men do need to be good men. Look at the mighty ship. A leviathan into the sea, with her towering masts and carrying a cloud of canvas. How she steadies herself on the waves and walks erect on the rolling waters like a thing with inherent, self-regulating life.… Why is she not flung on her beam’s end, sent down floundering into the deep? Because unseen beneath the surface a vast well-ballasted hull gives her balance and takes hold of the water, keeps her steady under a pressive sail and on the bosom of a swelling sea. Even though to preserve the saint upright, to preserve the saint erect and safe from falling, God gives him balance and ballast bestowing on the man to whom He has given lofty endowments, the tendant grace of a proportionate humility.

Humility begins with proper self-awareness, “the virtue,” said Bernard of Clairvaux, “by which a man becomes conscious of his own unworthiness.” It begins with an honest, unadorned, unretouched view of oneself. The first thing the honest person sees in himself is sin, and therefore one of the surest marks of true humility is daily confession of sin. “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8–9). “We are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves,” Paul says; “but when they measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding” (2 Cor. 10:12). It is not only unspiritual but unintelligent to judge ourselves by comparison with others. We all tend to exaggerate our own good qualities and minimize the good qualities of others. Humility takes off our rose-colored glasses and allows us to see ourselves as we really are. We are not “adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves,” says Paul, “but our adequacy is from God” (2 Cor. 3:5).

Second, humility involves Christ-awareness. He is the only standard by which righteousness can be judged and by which pleasing God can be judged. Our goal should be no less than “to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6), and Jesus Christ walked in perfection. Only of Jesus has God ever said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased” (Matt. 3:17).

Third, humility involves God-awareness. As we study His life in the gospels we come to see Jesus more and more in His human perfection—His perfect humility, His perfect submission to the Father, His perfect love, compassion, and wisdom. But beyond His human perfection we also come to see His divine perfection—His limitless power; His knowing the thoughts and heart of every person; and His authority to heal diseases, cast out demons, and even forgive sins. We come to see Jesus Christ as Isaiah saw the Lord, “sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted” and we want to cry out with the seraphim, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory,” and with the prophet himself, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isa. 6:1, 3, 5).

When Paul looked at himself in self-awareness, he saw the foremost of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). When Peter looked at himself in Christ awareness, he said, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5:8). When Job looked at himself in God awareness, he said, “Therefore I retract, I repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6).

Our business success, fame, education, wealth, personality, good works, or anything else we are or have in ourselves counts for nothing before God. The more we rely on and glory in such things, the greater barrier they become to our communion with God. Every person comes before the Lord with nothing to commend him and everything to condemn him. But when he comes with the spirit of the penitent tax-collector, saying, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner,” God will willingly and lovingly accept him. “For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted” (Luke 18:13–14).

gentleness

Humility always produces gentleness, or meekness. Meekness is one of the surest signs of true humility. You cannot possess meekness without humility, and you cannot possess meekness with pride. Because pride and humility are mutually exclusive, so are pride and meekness, or gentleness.

Many dictionaries define meekness in terms such as “timid,” or “a deficiency in courage or spirit”; but that is far from the biblical meaning. Praotēs (here translated gentleness) refers to that which is mild-spirited and self-controlled, the opposite of vindictiveness and vengeance. Jesus used the adjective form in giving the third beatitude (“Blessed are the gentle,” Matt. 5:5) and to describe His own character (“For I am gentle,” Matt. 11:29). Gentleness is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:23) and should characterize every child of God (Col. 3:12; cf. Phil. 4:5).

The meaning of praotēs has nothing to do with weakness, timidity, indifference, or cowardice. It was used of wild animals that were tamed, especially of horses that were broken and trained. Such an animal still has his strength and spirit, but its will is under the control of its master. The tamed lion is still powerful, but his power is under the control of his trainer. The horse can run just as fast, but he runs only when and where his master tells him to run.

Meekness is power under control. Biblical meekness, or gentleness, is power under the control of God. A meek person is normally quiet, soothing, and mild mannered, and he is never avenging, self-assertive, vindictive, or self-defensive. When the soldiers came to arrest Him in the Garden of Gethsemane and Peter drew his sword to defend His Lord, Jesus said, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matt. 26:53). Even in His humanity Jesus had access to infinite divine power, which He could at any time have used in His own defense. Yet not once did He choose to do so. His refusal to enlist divine resources for anything but obeying His Father’s will is the supreme picture of meekness—power under control.

David displayed such meekness when he refused to kill King Saul in the cave near Engedi, although he had easy opportunity and considerable justification from the human point of view (1 Sam. 24:1–7). After David himself became king, he again showed the restraint of meekness when he refused to retaliate against the malicious taunts, curses, and stone throwing of Shimei (2 Sam. 16:5–14).

Moses is described as, “very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth” (Num. 12:3). Yet he fearlessly confronted Pharaoh in the Lord’s name (see Ex. 5–12), angrily confronted Israel with her rebelliousness and idolatry (32:19–29), and even boldly confronted the Lord to forgive the people’s sin (32:11–13, 30–32). Yet Moses’ confidence was not in himself but in the Lord’s character and promises. When God first called him, Moses replied, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since Thou hast spoken to Thy servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue” (4:10). As he served the Lord throughout his life, Moses had God’s rod to remind him that the great work to which the Lord had called him could be accomplished only in the Lord’s own power. That he himself was nothing and God was everything were the marks of Moses’ meekness. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones has observed, “To be meek means you have finished with yourself altogether.”

Yet the meek person is also capable of righteous anger and action when God’s Word or name is maligned, as Jesus was when His Father’s house was made into a robber’s den and He forcibly drove out the offenders (Matt. 21:13). As Paul affirms later in this letter, it is possible to be angry and not sin (Eph. 4:26). Like the Lord Himself, the meek person does not revile in return when he is reviled (1 Pet. 2:23). When the meek person becomes angry, he is aroused by that which maligns God or is harmful to others, not by what is done against himself. And his anger is controlled and carefully directed, not a careless and wild venting of emotion that spatters everyone who is near.

One of the marks of true meekness is self-control. People who are angered at every nuisance or inconvenience to themselves know nothing of meekness or gentleness. “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city” (Prov. 16:32). Two other marks of meekness, already mentioned, are anger at God’s name or work being maligned and lack of anger when we ourselves are harmed or criticized.

The meek person responds willingly to the Word of God, no matter what the requirements or consequences, humbly receiving “the word implanted” (James 1:21). He is also a peacemaker, who readily forgives and helps to restore a sinning brother (Gal. 6:1). Finally, the person who is truly meek and gentle according to God’s standards has the right attitude toward the unsaved. He does not look down on them with a feeling of superiority but longs for their salvation, knowing that he himself was once lost—and would still be lost but for God’s grace. We are to be “ready to make a defense to everyone who asks [us] to give an account for the hope that is in [us], yet with gentleness (praotēs) and reverence” (1 Pet. 3:15). Not only Christian women but all believers should be adorned “with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Pet. 3:4).

patience

A third attitude that characterizes the Christian’s worthy walk is patience, which is an outgrowth of humility and gentleness. Makrothumia (patience) literally means long-tempered, and is sometimes translated longsuffering. The patient person endures negative circumstances and never gives in to them.

Abraham received the promise of God but had to wait many years to see its fulfillment. “Thus,” the writer of Hebrews tells us, “having patiently waited, he obtained the promise” (Heb. 6:15). God had promised that Abraham’s descendants would be a great nation (Gen. 12:2) and yet he was not given Isaac, the child of promise, until after Abraham was nearly a hundred years old. “Yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God” (Rom. 4:20).

God told Noah to build a ship in the wilderness, far from any body of water and before there had ever been rain on earth. For 120 years Noah worked at that task, while preaching to his neighbors of God’s coming judgment.

In the chronicle of faithful Old Testament saints in the book of Hebrews, Moses’ patient endurance is mentioned twice. He chose rather “to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin; considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen” (Heb. 11:25–27).

James said, “As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord” (James 5:10). When God called Jeremiah, He told the prophet that no one would believe his message and that he would be hated, maligned, and persecuted (Jer. 1:5–19). Yet Jeremiah served the Lord faithfully and patiently until the end of his life. Similarly, when the Lord called Isaiah he was told that the nation would not listen to him nor turn from their sin (Isa. 6:9–12). Like Jeremiah, however, he preached and ministered with patient faithfulness.

Paul was willing to endure any hardship, affliction, ridicule, or persecution in order to patiently serve his Master. “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart?” he asked the Christians at Caesarea after the prophet Agabus predicted the apostle’s arrest and imprisonment. “For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13).

When H. M. Stanley went to Africa in 1871 to find and report on David Livingstone, he spent several months in the missionary’s company, carefully observing the man and his work. Livingstone never spoke to Stanley about spiritual matters, but Livingstone’s loving and patient compassion for the African people was beyond Stanley’s comprehension. He could not understand how the missionary could have such love for and patience with the backward, pagan people among whom he had so long ministered. Livingstone literally spent himself in untiring service for those whom he had no reason to love except for Christ’s sake. Stanley wrote in his journal, “When I saw that unwearied patience, that unflagging zeal, and those enlightened sons of Africa, I became a Christian at his side, though he never spoke to me one word.”

Aristotle said that the greatest Greek virtue was refusal to tolerate any insult and readiness to strike back. But that is not God’s way for His people. The patient saint accepts whatever other people do to him. He is “patient with all men” (1 Thess. 5:14), even those who try his patience to the limit. He is patient with those who slander him and who question his motives for serving the Lord.

The patient saint accepts God’s plan for everything, without questioning or grumbling. He does not complain when his calling seems less glamorous than someone else’s or when the Lord sends him to a place that is dangerous or difficult. He remembers that God the Son left His heavenly home of love, holiness, and glory to come to earth and be hated, rejected, spat upon, and crucified—without once returning evil for evil or complaining to His Father.

forbearing love

A fourth characteristic element of the worthy Christian walk is forbearance to one another in love. Peter tells us that such “love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pet. 4:8). It throws a blanket over the sins of others, not to justify or excuse them but to keep the sins from becoming any more known than necessary. “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all transgressions” (Prov. 10:12). Forbearing love takes abuse from others while continuing to love them.

Forbearing love could only be agapē love, because only agapē love gives continuously and unconditionally. Erōs love is essentially self-love, because it cares for others only because of what it can get from them. It is the love that takes and never gives. Philia love is primarily reciprocal love, love that gives as long as it receives. But agapē love is unqualified and unselfish love, love that willingly gives whether it receives in return or not. It is unconquerable benevolence, invincible goodness—love that goes out even to enemies and prays for its persecutors (Matt. 5:43–44). That is why the forbearance of which Paul speaks here could only be expressed inagapēlove.

unity

The ultimate outcome of humility, gentleness, patience, and forbearance is being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Spoudazō (to be diligent) basically means to make haste, and from that come the meanings of zeal and diligence. One commentator describes it as a holy zeal that demands full dedication. Paul used the word in telling Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15; cf. Titus 3:12–13).

Preservation of the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace should be the diligent and constant concern of every believer. Paul is not speaking of organizational unity, such as that promoted in many denominations and in the ecumenical movement. He is speaking of the inner and universal unity of the Spirit by which every true believer is bound to every other true believer. As Paul makes clear, this is the unity of the Spirit working in the lives of believers. It does not come from the outside but the inside, and is manifested through the inner qualities of humility, gentleness, patience, and forbearing love.

Spiritual unity is not, and cannot be, created by the church. It is already created by the Holy Spirit. “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.… There are many members, but one body” (1 Cor. 12:13, 20; cf. Rom. 8:9). It is this very unity of the Spirit for which Jesus so earnestly prayed in the Upper Room shortly before His betrayal and arrest: “Holy Father, keep them in Thy name, the name which Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, even as We are, … that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us.… And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given to them; that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in unity” (John 17:11, 21–23).

The church’s responsibility, through the lives of individual believers, is to preserve the unity by faithfully walking in a manner worthy of God’s calling (v. 1), manifesting Christ to the world by oneness in Him (cf. Rom. 15:1–6; 1 Cor. 1:10–13; 3:1–3; Phil. 1:27). The world is always seeking but never finding unity. All the laws, conferences, treaties, accords, and agreements fail to bring unity or peace. Someone has reported that throughout recorded history every treaty made has been broken. There is not, and cannot be, any peace for the wicked (Isa. 48:22). As long as self is at the center; as long as our feelings, prestige, and rights are our chief concern, there will never be unity.

The bond that preserves unity is peace, the spiritual belt that surrounds and binds God’s holy people together. It is the bond that Paul described in Philippians as “being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose” (2:2). Behind this bond of peace is love, which Colossians 3:14 calls “the perfect bond of unity.”

Humility gives birth to gentleness, gentleness gives birth to patience, patience gives birth to forbearing love, and all four of those characteristics preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. These virtues and the supernatural unity to which they testify are probably the most powerful testimony the church can have, because they are in such contrast to the attitudes and the disunity of the world. No program or method, no matter how carefully planned and executed, can open the door to the gospel in the way individual believers can do when they are genuinely humble, meek, patient, forbearing in love, and demonstrate peaceful unity in the Holy Spirit.[1]


The Worthy Life

Ephesians 4:1–3

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Years ago when my wife and I were in a Christian education class in seminary, we were given an assignment to design a Sunday school curriculum. It was to have various age levels and an overall theme, tying the various subjects, classes, and age groupings together. Today, years later, there is much about this curriculum that I have forgotten, but the unifying concept is still vivid in my mind. It was based on the principle that “input” (what is taught as content) should equal “output” (the expression of content in practical works of service).

This curriculum was never put into practice; it was only an exercise. I cannot say how successful we might have been in matching each bit of information to some practical expression, but I do know that the principle itself is valid. The apostle Paul followed the same principle in his major epistles. Anyone who has studied Paul’s letters knows that they tend to begin with a doctrinal section and that this is customarily followed by a section containing practical advice or application.

The epistle to the Romans fits this pattern. The doctrinal sections are in chapters 1–11. The practical section is chapters 12–15, beginning with the words: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” In Galatians the division is between chapters 1–4, on the one hand, and chapters 5 and 6 on the other. The latter section of Galatians begins: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

This is the point to which we have now come in our study of Ephesians. With the possible exception of Romans, no New Testament letter contains a stronger or more exhilarating presentation of theology. Chapters 1–3 have spoken of predestination and election, adoption and redemption, the work of the Holy Spirit, rebirth, the work of God in joining people from all nations and all walks of life together in the one holy body of Christ, the church. This is so marvelous a section that Paul ends chapter 3 with a doxology. We want to say with Paul, “To [God] be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (v. 21). And we do say this, passionately and intently—if we have understood the teaching in these chapters.

Yet the letter does not stop. Paul immediately goes on to say, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” He is telling us that doctrinal “input” must be matched by an equal, practical “output” of that doctrine in our lives.

Scales of Life

This important idea is also contained in the word “worthy,” which Paul uses in verse 1. “Worthy” means to have worth or value. But it is more than that. It means to have a worth equal to one’s position. A worthy opponent is one whose gifts equal one’s own. A workman “worthy of his hire” is one whose service merits the wages he receives. In his commentary on Ephesians, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones describes this as a scale in which the weight on one side always equals the weight on the other, in this case the weight of practice equaling the weight of doctrine: “The Apostle … is beseeching them and exhorting them always to give equal weight in their lives to doctrine and practice. They must not put all the weight on doctrine and none on practice; nor all the weight on practice and just a little, if any at all, on doctrine. To do so produces imbalance and lopsidedness. The Ephesians must take great pains to see that the scales are perfectly balanced.”

But that is hard to achieve.

There are some Christians who are primarily intellectual in nature. They love books, enjoy study, and delight in the exposition of the Bible’s great doctrinal passages. This is a good thing. It is proper to love doctrine and rejoice at what God has done for us in Christ. Paul himself obviously did this; we can tell from the way he has unfolded his doctrines in the first three chapters of this letter. But the intellectual believer faces a great danger and often has a great weakness as a result of failing to overcome the danger. He loves doctrine so much that he stops with doctrine. He reads the first three chapters of Ephesians and delights in them; but when he comes to chapter 4 he says, “Oh, the rest is just application. I know all about that.” Then he skips ahead to the next doctrinal section and neglects what he perhaps most needs to assimilate.

On the other hand, some Christians are primarily oriented to experience. They thrive under the teaching found in the second half of this book. They want to know about spiritual gifts and their own exercise of them. They are excited about Paul’s teaching about the family and other such things. This is “where it’s at” for them; they find the doctrinal section dry and impractical.

But, you see, each of these is an error. Doctrine without practice leads to bitter orthodoxy; it gives correctness of thought without the practical vitality of the life of Christ. Practice without doctrine leads to aberrations; it gives intensity of feeling, but it is feeling apt to go off in any (and often a wrong) direction. What we need is both, as Paul’s letters and the whole of Scripture teach us. We can never attach too much importance to doctrine, for it is out of the doctrines of God, man, and salvation that the direction and impetus for the living of the Christian life spring. At the same time, we can never attach too much importance to practice, for it is the result of doctrine and proof of its divine nature.

Calling and Conduct

Paul’s way of teaching this truth in verse 1 is to urge us to live worthy of our Christian calling. The old versions used the word “vocation” at this point, but “calling” is better, at least in contemporary speech. Vocation has come to mean something we choose, while calling is something for which we are chosen. We remember here that the word “church” (Greek, ekklēsia) means “the called out ones.” The emphasis is upon what God has done, which is the point Paul has been elaborating in the opening chapters of Ephesians. Because God has set his hand upon us and called us, changing us from what we were into what we have now become, we are to live as Christians in this world.

Two parts of this calling deserve special notice. First, God has called us “out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). This means that we have been given understanding. Before our calling we were like the blind man in John 9. We could not see Christ, and we were not even fully appreciative of our blind condition since, having never seen, we could never fully value sight. We thought the way to happiness was the world’s way. We did not know that we were spiritually bankrupt, emotionally warped, and morally naked. When God called us, opening our eyes to the blessed truths of the gospel, for the first time we understood the nature of God’s way and perceived how desirable it is. This is so basic to the experience of salvation that if a person has not had an opening of the eyes to see things differently, we may properly wonder if he has actually been saved. How can a person be urged to live a life worthy of his calling if he has not begun to understand what that calling is?

But there is more than this. The first part of God’s calling involves being brought into light from darkness; that is, it involves understanding. The second part involves God’s calling us out of death into life, which is what Paul emphasized in Ephesians 2:4: “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” This means that God, who has awakened us to a new life also gives us the power to live that life. It is because we are now spiritually alive, where before we were spiritually dead, that we are able to heed Paul’s urging and live for God.

Life Together

In the remainder of this letter Paul is going to develop two main themes, both aspects of the worthy life: (1) unity among believers and (2) the godly life, particularly in regard to relationships. The first will be considered in 4:4–16. The second is from 4:17 to the end. However, in the first three verses of chapter 4 Paul gives a preliminary statement embracing both: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” There are five specific characteristics of the worthy life in these verses.

  1. Humility. Everyone knows that Christians should be humble. Humility is the opposite of pride or self-assertion. If we are saved “by grace … through faith … not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8–9), it is evident that Christians cannot be proud. We are to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility [are to] consider others better than [our]selves,” as Paul says in Philippians 2:3.

But it is not easy to do, because our pride is easily wounded by what we consider thoughtless or unfair conduct by others.

In his commentary on Ephesians, Watchman Nee of China tells of a brother in south China who had his rice field on a hill. During the growing season he used a hand-worked water wheel to lift water from the irrigation stream that ran by the base of the hill to his field. His neighbor had two fields below his, and one night he made a hole in the dividing wall and drained out all the Christian’s water to fill up his own two fields. The brother was distressed. But he laboriously pumped water up into his own field, only to have the act of stealing repeated. This happened three or four times. At last he consulted his Christian brethren. “What shall I do?” he asked. “I have tried to be patient and not retaliate. Isn’t it right for me to confront him?”

The Christians prayed, and then one of them replied. “If we only try to do the right thing, surely we are very poor Christians,” he said. “We have to do something more than what is right.”

The Christian farmer was impressed with this advice. So the next day he went out and first pumped water for the two fields below his and then, after that, worked throughout the afternoon to fill his own field. From that day on the water stayed in his field, and in time the neighbor, after making inquiries as to what caused him to behave in such a fashion, became a Christian. This is humility. It is refusing to insist on our rights and actually putting our neighbor’s interests before our own.

  1. Gentleness. In the older versions this is called meekness, but for us “gentleness” is probably better, simply because meekness is so generally misunderstood. To most, meekness suggests weakness. But that is not the idea at all. Meekness was the chief characteristic of Moses, according to Numbers 12:3 (where the niv uses the word “humble”), but Moses was not a weak man. He was a strong man, strong enough to appear before Pharaoh, declaring, “This is what the Lord says: Let my people go” (Exod. 8:1). Similarly, the Lord Jesus was meek or gentle, yet strong. He said of himself, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:28–29). He told his disciples, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5).
  2. Patience. It takes time to learn patience, and unfortunately one of the chief ways we learn it is through suffering. A rather pious individual once came to a preacher and asked him to pray for him that he might have patience. “I do so lack patience,” he said, trying to be humble as he said it. “I wish you would pray for me.”

“I’ll pray for you right now,” the preacher replied. So he began to pray: “Lord, please send great tribulation into this brother’s life.”

The man who had asked for prayer put a hand out and touched the preacher on the arm, trying to stop his prayer. “You must not have heard me rightly,” he said. “I didn’t ask you to pray for tribulation. I asked you to pray that I might have patience.”

“Oh, I heard what you said,” the preacher answered. “But haven’t you read Romans 5:3, ‘And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience’? It means we acquire patience through the things that we suffer. I prayed that God would send tribulations so that you would have patience.”

Another valid translation of the word “patience” is “long-suffering,” which means “suffering long.” It is what God does with us. He suffers long with us; if he did not, there would be no Christianity. Therefore, we ought to suffer long or be patient with each other.

  1. Bearing with one another. The suffering aspects of patience come out clearly in this next Christlike characteristic, but there is a difference. This one relates specifically to trials we have as a result of uncharitable conduct toward us by other Christians. When the non-Christian neighbor stole the field-water of the Chinese Christian, the Christian showed patience, gentleness, and humility in the way he dealt with the offense—and won the unbeliever to Christ. But what if that neighbor is a Christian, wronging us in this or some other way? What is to be our attitude to him or her? Paul’s answer is that we are to endure the wrong, suffer the slight. Thus, we are to demonstrate a way of life superior to that of the ungodly world and show the special unity which is ours in Jesus Christ.
  2. Unity. The fifth characteristic is that believers are to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (v. 3). It is evident at this point, in case we had missed it before, that each of these characteristics is related to the others (which the translators show in part by their groupings of them) and that they have all been tending in the direction of this great matter of unity, which is to be Paul’s theme for the next thirteen verses. Christians are to be one because, as he will say in just a moment, “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called—one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (vv. 4–6).

It is important to say two things about this unity. First, it is “the unity of the Spirit,” which means that it is a unity the Holy Spirit has already given to those who are in Christ. This is a wonderful and often a very visible thing. Harry Ironside writes about how he once fell sick while in the midst of a series of meetings in Minneapolis and was forced to return home to California by train, which was the best mode of transportation in those days. He could barely stand. So the porter made up a lower berth for him and allowed him to recline there throughout the day. The first morning he opened his Bible and began to read it as part of his devotions. A stout German woman happened by and stopped when she saw the Bible. “Vat’s dat? A Bible?” she asked.

“Yes, a Bible,” Ironside replied.

“Vait,” she said, “I vill get my Bible and we vill haf our Bible reading together.”

A short time later a tall gentleman came by and asked, “Vat are you reading?” He was a Norwegian. He said, “I tank I go get my Bible too.” Each morning these three met, and others collected. Ironside wrote that once there were twenty-eight people and twenty-eight Bibles and that the conductor would go through the train, saying, “The camp meeting is beginning in car thirteen. All are invited.” It was a great experience.

At the end of the trip, as the cars divided up in Sacramento, some to go north and some south, the German woman asked, “Vat denomination are you?”

Ironside replied, “I belong to the same denomination that David did.”

“Vat vas dat? I didn’t know dat David belonged to any denomination.” Ironside said, “David wrote that he was ‘a companion of all them that fear God and keep his precepts.’ ”

The woman said, “Yah, yah, dat is a good church to belong to.”

This is a real and wonderful unity, as I said. But at the same time, it is often destroyed by false pride, narrow denominationalism, and sinful striving for position. So Paul says, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” This is the second important thing to be said about unity. The first is that we have a unity given to us by the Holy Spirit; it corresponds in some measure to the doctrinal truths of Christianity, which is why Paul lapses into doctrine again in verses 4–6. But, second, we are to keep or maintain this unity, which corresponds to the practical or experiential side of Christianity.[2]


2 Paul begins a list of those qualities that would be truly worthy of the high calling believers possess in Christ Jesus. First, Paul appeals for “humility” (tapeinophrosynē, GK 5425), a noun conveying “lowliness” or a “humble position”—a quality not valued among the Greek world, which detested hints of servility. It may be translated also as “modesty” (BDAG, 989) and often occurs in a list of similar virtues (cf. Col 3:12). To this trait and the next Paul attaches the word pasēs (“all,” “completely”), as though to emphasize that a touch of these will not suffice. One must not settle for being somewhat humble; a complete makeover is required. As we will begin to see, unity in the church requires a set of virtues and practices that are in contrast to the way people typically relate to each other (see also the Beatitudes, Mt 5:3–12). Like the humble Jesus (Mt 11:29), Christians ought not to strive for supremacy or power; they ought to allow others to take precedence and credit (cf. Php 2:2–4).

The second trait to embrace is (complete) “gentleness” (prautētos, GK 4559), sometimes rendered as “meekness,” or “mildness,” though these sound too passive. BDAG, 861, nicely defines it as “the quality of not being overly impressed by a sense of one’s self-importance.” Also a trait of Jesus (2 Co 10:1) and a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22–23), this quality does not suggest weakness but characterizes the person who does not need to assert or dominate and is not touchy, resentful, or retaliatory. The gentle person bears others’ burdens (Gal 6:1–2) and shows courtesy (Tit 3:2).

To this Paul adds “patience” (makrothymia, GK 3429) as the third trait. A more precise translation may be “steadfast” or “long-suffering”—the ability to bear up or persevere under difficult circumstances. This virtue characterizes God himself (the adjectival form, usually translated “slow to anger,” is found in the LXX: Ex 34:6; Nu 14:18) and is also a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22). The close fellowship of a church supplies numerous opportunities to put this trait into practice, for there we face people who are invariably difficult or offensive. Along with being gentle, the patient believer does not rush to give up or get even (see 1 Co 13:4; Gal 5:22; Col 3:12; 2 Ti 4:2).

Paul expands the essence of this “patience” with these words: “bearing with one another in love.” The one who embraces this virtue backs off from condemning another or even pointing out his or her faults. “In love” (agapē, GK 27) introduces the bookends of this section—v. 2 and v. 16 (recall 1:4; 3:17–19). As love covers over a multitude of sins (1 Pe 4:8), believers need this quality to promote unity in the church. These are active, not passive qualities; they imply taking steps to foster harmony and camaraderie.[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians (pp. 120–129). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Boice, J. M. (1988). Ephesians: an expositional commentary (pp. 120–125). Grand Rapids, MI: Ministry Resources Library.

[3] Klein, W. W. (2006). Ephesians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 106–107). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

January 25: Radiance

Genesis 40:1–41:37; Hebrews 1–2, Ecclesiastes 9:11–18

When I was a boy, my dad took me to his construction site, and told me, “Don’t look directly at the welding light; it can blind you.” But a welding flame is cool and dangerous. As my father was talking with the foreman, I fixated on the light. I saw spots for the rest of the evening, but didn’t tell anyone. I secretly feared that the radiance had actually blinded me.

The radiance of Christ is blinding—it was for Paul (Acts 9:1–31). In an epic hymn about the work of God’s Son throughout history, the author of Hebrews calls Jesus “the radiance of [God’s] glory and the representation of his essence, sustaining all things by the word of power” (Heb 1:3). It’s easy to wonder if sustainability is possible, if the world will one day crumble and fall. But in Christ, there is hope.

Jesus is much like the sun. You don’t always notice its power, warmth, or even that it’s there. That is especially the case for the cloudy days. We forget that without the sun, there would be no life. It’s easy to forget that it is warming us even through rain and clouds.

The same is true for Jesus in our lives. It’s easy to forget Him until we desperately need Him. It’s easy to overlook the daily miracles, such as life itself, when searching for something extraordinary. But the extraordinary is always present. It’s here in the work of Christ, every day. His radiance shines upon us, even when we don’t realize it.

What miracles can you recognize today?

John D. Barry[1]


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