Daily Archives: January 27, 2018

January 27 Trusting in God’s Power

“I pray that … you may know … the surpassing greatness of [God’s] power toward us who believe” (Eph. 1:18–19).


The same divine power that created, sustains, and controls the universe secures your salvation.

God’s power is awesome! David wrote, “Thine, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Thine is the dominion, O Lord, and Thou dost exalt Thyself as head over all. Both riches and honor come from Thee, and Thou dost rule over all, and in Thy hand is power and might; and it lies in Thy hand to make great, and to strengthen everyone. Now therefore, our God, we thank Thee, and praise Thy glorious name” (1 Chron. 29:11–13).

In Ephesians 1:19 Paul focuses on one key feature of God’s power: His ability to secure the salvation of His people. And he prays for you to understand the surpassing greatness of that truth.

The Greek word translated “power” is dunamis, from which we get dynamite and dynamo. This power is active, dynamic, and compelling—and it is mightily at work on your behalf. You might not always sense it, but it’s there nonetheless.

Peter expresses the same thought in 1 Peter 1:5, where he says you are “protected by the power of God through faith” in Christ. In that verse “protected” means “to keep or guard” and reflects Peter’s confidence that salvation is inviolable.

The same limitless power that created, sustains, and controls the universe saved you and keeps you saved. That’s why Jesus said no one can snatch you out of the Father’s hand (John 10:29). Not even Satan has the power to do that. Paul confidently added that nothing therefore can separate you from God’s love (Rom. 8:38–39). That’s the confidence you should have as you live each day.


Suggestions for Prayer:  Pray for greater spiritual enlightenment and a clearer understanding of your security in Christ. ✧ Nothing will rob you of your assurance quicker than unconfessed sin. If that has happened to you, confess it immediately and turn from it. Then ask God to restore to you the joy of your salvation.

For Further Study: Read 1 Chronicles 29:11–13. ✧ What prerogatives did David attribute to God (vv. 11–12)? ✧ What was David’s response to God’s power (v. 13)?[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 39). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.


Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation. For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness; neither shall evil dwell with thee.

PSALM 5:1, 4

Among Christians of all ages and of varying shades of doctrinal emphasis there has been fairly full agreement on one thing: they all believed that it was important that the Christian with serious spiritual aspirations should learn to meditate long and often on God!

Let a Christian insist upon rising above the poor average of current religious experience and he will soon come up against the need to know God Himself as the ultimate goal of all Christian doctrine.

Let him seek to explore the sacred wonders of the Triune Godhead and he will discover that sustained and intelligently directed meditation on the Person of God is imperative. To know God well he must think on Him unceasingly. Nothing that man has discovered about himself or God has revealed any shortcut to pure spirituality. It is still free, but tremendously costly!

Of course this presupposes at least a fair amount of sound theological knowledge. To seek God apart from His own self-disclosure in the inspired Scriptures is not only futile but dangerous. There must be also a knowledge of and complete trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Redeemer.

Christ is not one of many ways to approach God, nor is He the best of several ways; He is the only way, “the way, the truth and the life.”

To believe otherwise is to be something less than a Christian![1]

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

January 27-28, 2018 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

Top Weekly Stories from ChristianNews.net for 01/27/2018

Prosperity Preacher Kenneth Copeland Acquires Private Jet Bought With Followers’ Money, Has Goal of Raising $17 Million   Jan 21, 2018 06:14 pm

FORT WORTH, Texas — Prosperity preacher Kenneth Copeland recently acquired a Gulfstream V private jet, which his staff says is “debt free” because of the donations of his followers. The announcement has drawn both applause and outrage. Copeland’s organization announced on Jan. 12 that the 81-year-old took possession of the jet, which he purchased from actor,…

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Woman Sexually Abused by Sports Doctor Larry Nassar Presents Gospel in Victim Impact Statement   Jan 25, 2018 08:27 pm

LANSING, Mich. — A former gymnast who had been sexually abused by sports doctor Larry Nassar when she was 15 presented the gospel on Wednesday in delivering her victim impact statement in court. Rachael Denhollander was the first woman to speak out in 2016 after USA Gymnastics was accused of failing to properly handle sexual assault accusations lodged by young…

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Judge Denies Boy Who Identifies as Girl Injunction to Use Girls’ Locker Room to Change for Gym Class   Jan 25, 2018 06:25 pm

CHICAGO — A Cook County judge has declined to issue a preliminary injunction in favor of a male high school student who identifies as a girl and wishes to use the girls’ locker room to change for gym class. Judge Thomas Allen ruled that the Illinois Human Rights Act does not mandate “full and equal access” to school changing facilities as legislators removed…

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Trump Sends Congratulations to Homosexual Republican Group for its 40th Year   Jan 25, 2018 02:53 pm

WASHINGTON — President Trump recently sent a congratulatory letter to a homosexual Republican group to acknowledge its 40th anniversary—a letter that cites a belief in equality for all men no matter their so-called “sexual orientation.” “I send my congratulations to the Log Cabin Republicans on the celebration of your 40th anniversary,” the letter, most likely…

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Pediatric Nurse Files Complaint With HHS After Leaving Job Over Requirement to Provide Abortion Referrals   Jan 23, 2018 06:05 pm

ROCKFORD, Ill. — A former pediatric nurse in Illinois has filed a complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) after she felt forced out of her job when her employer allegedly told her that she could not keep her position if she wouldn’t be willing to provide referrals for abortions and morning-after pills. Sandra Rojas had been working for…

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Trump Declares Jan. 22 ‘National Sanctity of Human Life Day’ to Coincide With 45th Year Since Roe v. Wade   Jan 22, 2018 05:34 pm

WASHINGTON — President Trump has declared Jan. 22 “National Sanctity of Human Life Day” to coincide with the 45th year since Roe v. Wade was issued, a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court that has resulted in the deaths of 60 million unborn children and counting. Trump issued the proclamation on Friday while thousands marched for life in Washington, D.C. He noted…

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HHS Rescinds Obama-Era Rule Banning States From Excluding Planned Parenthood From Medicaid Program   Jan 20, 2018 09:36 pm

WASHINGTON — The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has rescinded an Obama-era rule that banned states from excluding the abortion giant Planned Parenthood from their Medicaid program. “HHS’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is issuing new guidance to state Medicaid directors restoring state flexibility to decide program standards….

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Atheist Groups Lodge Complaint With DoD Over Prayers at Military Graduation Ceremonies   Jan 22, 2018 03:22 pm

WASHINGTON — Two prominent atheist activist organizations have lodged a complaint with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) after reportedly being contacted by service members who are uncomfortable with the prayers presented at military graduation ceremonies, as well as other activities. “According to numerous reports from cadets, service members, and their…

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Iowa Bill Would Authorize Elective Bible Course in Public Schools   Jan 21, 2018 08:29 am

Photo Credit: Wong Mei Teng DES MOINES, Iowa — A bill has been introduced in the Iowa legislature that would authorize school districts in the state to create an elective course on the Bible as a social studies class. “Basically, I want to give students the opportunity to study the Bible from the perspective of its impact on history and culture,” sponsor Rep….

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UK Mother Fighting for Infant Son With Brain Damage Says it Is for God, Not Man, to Decide When He Dies   Jan 24, 2018 03:22 pm

Photo Credit: The Sun LONDON — The mother of an 11-month-old infant in the UK who suffered brain damage from a lack of oxygen at birth is fighting for the right to keep his life support connected, and says that her son should not be considered a hopeless case. “Don’t just give up on him and say it’s a hopeless case, because many children have been born in…

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This ‘n’ That

  • Ah, yes, the “touch not mine anointed” argument! I’ve certainly heard that one before!
  • Michael Kruger helps us make some sense of the most common attacks on the Bible.
  • What we do in secret matters.
  • This is an interesting perspective:”Stress is the mental and emotional tension that is generated from our unbiblical responses to pressure.
  • Here’s your weekly dose of adorable.
  • We had a really lovely snowfall here last week, and I couldn’t help but ponder the fact that, in Christ, our scarlet sins are washed white as snow.
  • Grace relations.” That’s catchy.
  • It’s true, you can’t always judge a church by its website!
  • Well, what do you know? I’m not a feminist or egalitarian either!
How sweet is rest, after fatigue! How sweet will Heaven be, when our toilsome journey is ended. 
—George Whitefield

News – 1/27/2018

Trump Threatens to Sever Connections With PA Unless They Work Towards Peace
Speaking to the media at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Friday, US President Donald Trump said that unless the Palestinian Authority shows that it wants to make peace, the US will “not have anything to do with them any longer.” (Video)

Elevated Fire Danger Returns to California
Fire danger is elevated through Monday for parts of Southern California. Red Flag Warnings have already been issued starting at 10 pm Saturday and continuing through 3 pm Monday PST. With strong high pressure building in to the Great Basin region this weekend, we will see gusty northeast winds set up. This is also known as a Santa Ana wind event, with gusts forecast 55-65 mph in the mountains and up to 50 mph in the valleys.

Florida Democrat removed from office, faces corruption charges following FBI sting
A Florida mayor was removed from office Friday after she was arrested and charged with three felony corruption charges. Gov. Rick Scott issued an executive order suspending Joy Cooper, the 57-year-old mayor of Hallandale Beach, a city just north of Miami, after she was accused of accepting illegal campaign contributions through former attorney Alan Koslow.

German Bishops Are Pushing For The Church To Recognize Heresy
A leading Catholic Bishop in Germany openly advocated for the church to embrace heresy by suggesting that they offer blessings for gay marriages. Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, the deputy chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference, argued that the Catholic Church should bless gay marriages…

Between one state and two states: Time to decide
The political debate around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the second intifada has largely been characterized by a dichotomous conceptual framework: negotiations for a permanent status agreement of “two states for two peoples” versus “continued conflict management,” without seeking a solution in the absence of a proper partner for consent and implementation.

At least 40 dead in Taliban car bomb in Afghan capital
A bomb hidden in an ambulance killed at least 40 people and wounded about 140 in Afghanistan on Saturday when it blew up in an area of the capital near foreign embassies and government buildings. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the blast, a week after it claimed an attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul in which more than 20 people were killed.

Cape Town water crisis: Residents urged to turn off toilet taps
Residents in the South African city of Cape Town have been warned to “save water as if your life depends on it” to avoid the supply being shut off. A severe drought has forced the city’s municipality to limit consumption to 50 litres (11 gallons) per person per day. Officials are urging people to switch off their toilet cisterns and limit flushing to conserve water.

Paris readies for floods as Seine surges higher
Riverside homes and businesses in Paris are on high alert as the swollen River Seine threatens to overflow its banks. Some basements in the city have already sprung leaks after the river surged following heavy rainfall, reports said. The Seine is forecast to swell even further this weekend, adding several metres of water above its normal level.

Turkey’s Erdogan vows to fight Kurdish forces as far as Iraq
Turkey is prepared to take its fight against Kurdish forces in northern Syria as far east as Iraq, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said. Speaking in Ankara, Mr Erdogan reiterated that his forces will move against Kurdish-controlled Manbij, which risks confrontation with the US. US troops are based in the city, which was taken from the Islamic State group (IS) by Kurdish-led forces in 2016.

Japanese cryptocurrency exchange loses more than $500 million to hackers
Hackers stole several hundred million dollars’ worth of a lesser-known cryptocurrency from a major Japanese exchange Friday. Coincheck said that around 523 million of the exchange’s NEM coins were sent to another account around 3 a.m. local time (1 p.m. ET Thursday)… The exchange has about 6 percent of yen-bitcoin trading, ranking fourth by market share on CryptoCompare.

NATO intercepts Russian jet ‘HIDING from radar to stop air DISASTER over Europe’
The Royal Danish Air Force dispatched F-16 fighter jets to escort the Russian military aircraft in a safeguarding mission near NATO airspace in the Baltic region. The Russian jet flew towards Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania along the Baltic Coast, before being intercepted by the Danish jets over international waters.

U.S. holding Russia responsible for chemical weapons in Syria
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Saturday the United States believed it was Russia’s responsibility to curb Syria’s use of chemical weapons. “The chemical weapons … are being used to hit the civilian population, the most vulnerable – children inside of Syria,” he said on a visit to Poland.
“We are holding Russia (responsible) for addressing this. They are (Syria‘s) ally.”

California Rocked by Three Earthquakes in One Day, Scientists Expect More to Come in 2018
Three earthquakes hit California on Thursday, one as far south as Trabuco Canyon and a second all the way up to a spot off the coast of Eureka, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

UN issues 240 recommendations for Israel, including halting settlement expansion
A United Nations’ review of human rights topics in Israel has issued 240 recommendations, including that it end settlement expansion. Israel said it would need time to review 232 recommendations made by individual countries in the Human Rights Council working group in Geneva. It “noted” eight recommendations submitted by the “State of Palestine,” saying the entity doesn’t “satisfy the criteria for statehood under international law.”

Former Vice Presidential Candidate: Did President Trump Just Declare WAR on Hillary, Deep State and DC Swamp?
….December 21st is a day that will live in infamy. Why didn’t anyone notice? Because master psychologist Donald J. Trump distracted all of them with his offensive words and outrageous tweets? The whole liberal universe was so thrown out-of-wack by Trump’s tweets and strategic use of the word “s*#*hole” they didn’t even notice that many of their liberal and big government heroes are about to be sent to prison.

Catholic Bishop Calls for Ceremony to Bless Homosexual Couples
In contradiction to 2,000 years of Catholic teaching on sex and marriage, Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, who is the deputy chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference, has suggested that the Church come up with a ceremony to bless homosexual unions, as well as divorced and civilly remarried couples (who are thereby living in adultery), according to the National Catholic Register.

Law Enforcement in 675 Jurisdictions Declined to Turn Over Removable Aliens to ICE
On 29,269 occasions from January 2014 through May 2017, law enforcement agencies in approximately 675 jurisdictions around the United States declined to comply with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement “detainer” requests and hand over to ICE removable aliens whom those jurisdictions had arrested for violating local laws, according to the inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security.

Cuomo Sues Trump: Tax Cuts Hurting Illegals!
Not long after Gov. Andrew Cuomo promised free college tuition to DREAMers, New York launched a lawsuit against the Trump administration over its nationwide tax cuts because they hurt the state’s “fiscal health.”

Google Looking to Control Local Newspapers
Google is developing an app to feed news (and whatever propaganda it’s pushing) at no cost to local newspapers, effectively granting the tech giant control over local news.

In pictures: Israel’s winter wonderland
This week’s winter in Israel wasn’t comparable to most of the weather usually seen in the Middle East. Thunderstorms, flooded streets and freezing temperatures reached their peak Friday morning, when snow began to fall in the Golan Heights, Safed, and the surrounding areas.

Secretive App Promises to Aid Illegal Border Crossings
A secretive cell phone app is reportedly being designed to aid illegal immigration into the U.S.

Obama — Leader of the Deep State Coup

American Thinker

Can it be believed that as key players in the Obama administration like Strzok and Page, as well as FBI Director James Comey, Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, number 4 at Justice Bruce Ohr, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and many others were linked in a vast criminal conspiracy to keep Hillary Clinton out of prison and Donald Trump out of the White House, that Barack Obama was blissfully unaware of all this? Rather, it can be plausibly argued that he was orchestrating it.

View Article

Weekend Snapshot

Jan. 27, 2018
Top Stories This Week
Quote of the Week

“Government shutting down — partially — is not a disaster. The real disaster is paying $4 trillion a year to keep it running and getting such poor service in return.” —John Stossel

Justin Bieber Takes Mom to Hillsong Church After Years of Estrangement

Posted: 26 Jan 2018 01:58 PM PST

Justin Bieber Takes Mom to Hillsong Church After Years of EstrangementJustin Bieber is usually seen at his Hillsong home church in Beverly Hills with girlfriend Selena Gomez. But this week, the pop star took his mother to the Wednesday night worship service. Bieber was photographed outside of the church as his mom Pattie Mallette was being pushed out of the building in a wheelchair, Hollywood Life reports. The 41-year-old broke her foot while the pair was vacationing in the Maldives.

Pattie’s attendance at the service is not strange or new as she is an outspoken Christian, who often shares scriptures on social media sites like Twitter and Instagram. Pattie raised Bieber to believe in Jesus and she even introduced him to Pastor Judah Smith, who is now a good friend and mentor to the pop-star. “When I was 7, she wouldn’t let me listen to anything but [Pastor] Judah’s tapes falling asleep,” Bieber said in a 2015 Billboard interview. The mother and son were estranged for a couple of years before the young singer gave his life to Christ last summer.  READ MORE

Anne Graham Lotz Event Draws 500,000 in India; Multitudes Accept Jesus as Savior

Posted: 26 Jan 2018 01:52 PM PST

Anne Graham Lotz Event Draws 500,000 in India; Multitudes Accept Jesus as SaviorEvangelist Anne Graham Lotz drew close to 500,000 people at a prayer event in India earlier this month. And at a separate gathering of 10,000, almost “every hand” went up when people were asked if they want to receive Jesus Christ as Savior, her ministry reported.  According to Vicki Bentley, a member of AnGeL Ministries Board who traveled with Lotz to India, there were advertisements all over the city of Hyderabad for the second annual “National Day of Prayer,” which Lotz was a speaker at.

Local organizers helped put together the large gathering, with thousands of people arriving on trains, buses, and other forms of transportation from the countryside as well. AnGeL Ministries noted that according to police estimates, as many as 500,000 people in total attended the prayer call. “Anne preached on Daniel the prophet. She explained from Daniel 9 that ‘one man, who knew God and prayed, moved heaven and changed a nation.’ Then she challenged those present to pray as Daniel did,” Bentley recounted. READ MORE

Atheist Group Forces California School District to Cancel Field Trip to Christian Camp

Posted: 26 Jan 2018 01:49 PM PST

Atheist Group Forces California School District to Cancel Field Trip to Christian CampA California public school district has canceled a field trip to a Christian retreat center after the nation’s largest atheist legal group filed a complaint. The Dixie School District based out of San Rafael has reportedly nixed its plans for a fifth-grade field trip to the Alliance Redwoods Conference Center in Occidental, a Christian organization that has provided outdoor and science education opportunities to Northern California schools for over 30 years and serves 45,000 people annually.

The decision comes after the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, which advocates for a strict separation of church and state, sent a letter to Superintendent Jason Yamashiro last month. The letter, sent by attorney Elizabeth Cavell, argued that because the camp has an overtly Christian mission and only hires Christians, it is unconstitutional to send public school children there. READ MORE

Here Are The Top 30 Evidences for God!

Posted: 26 Jan 2018 09:38 AM PST

Here Are The Top 30 Evidences for God!

1. The Fine-Tuning Argument. The obvious fine-tuning of the world “proves” the existence of a “Designer.” Science has calculated the odds against our universe randomly taking a form suitable for life as: One in 10,000,000,000124 [Ravi Zacharias, The End of Reason, p. 35]

2. The Teleological Argument (Design). The obvious design (complexity) of the world “proves” the existence of a “Designer.” Science has estimated that the odds that intelligent life exists on the Earth as the result of non-directed processes to be around: One in 102,000,000,000 [Cited in Gary Habermas and Mike Licona, The Case for the Resurrection, 2004, p. 179]
See: Fine-Tuning & Complexity of Life: Ultimate Proof

3. The Moral Argument. The existence of a universal morality among humans “proves” the existence of a universal “Lawgiver.” If the evolutionary worldview were true, we would be advanced animals acting on chemical impulses. Absolute moral standards would not exist. But they do exist! See: Moral Argument (Proof God Exists)

4. The cosmological argument. The principle of cause and effect “proves” the existence of an “uncaused Cause.” Simply put, nothing cannot create something, and therefore, either the universe has always existed or something outside the universe has always existed. Scientific evidence shows us that the universe hasn’t always existed. Therefore, the something outside of the universe, that has always existed, is God. Furthermore, the characteristics of this something are the same characteristics that are attributed to God. This argument has a logical progression, and is rational, compared to the atheist’s argument. See: Cosmological Argument (Proof God Exists)

5. The Golden Ratio. In God’s creation, there exists a “Golden Ratio” (the mathematical constant of 1.618) that is exhibited in a multitude of shapes, numbers, and patterns whose relationship can only be the result of the omnipotent, good, and all-wise God of Scripture. See: The Golden Ratio: Amazing Proof of God. READ MORE


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

Posted: 26 Jan 2018 06:09 AM PST

‘Jesus is Building His Church’ Inside Iran, Millions Watching Christian Satellite TVThis may come as a surprise to many, but Christianity is growing faster in the Islamic Republic of Iran than in any other country in the world. Tens of thousands in this overwhelmingly Muslim nation are abandoning that faith. Experts say the ongoing political crisis and economic challenges are fueling widespread anger against the regime. Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani is promising to resolve the

country’s economic, social and political problems after days of protests gripped the Islamic nation last month. “I want to promise our people, that the economic, social and cultural conditions of the country, although there are problems, although the people haven’t still achieved their dreams and demands, the government is capable of resolving the problems with the help of the people,” Rouhani told Iran’s state TV media. “God willing, together we’ll solve problems step-by-step.” READ MORE

‘Limbless Evangelist’ Nick Vujicic Describes Seeing ’10-Foot-Tall Demons’ That Convinced Him God Is for Real

Posted: 26 Jan 2018 06:04 AM PST

‘Limbless Evangelist’ Nick Vujicic Describes Seeing ’10-Foot-Tall Demons’ That Convinced Him God Is for RealNick Vujicic, known around the globe as the “limbless evangelist,” is on a tireless quest to spread the gospel.  And, over the years, he has openly discussed the rare disorder he suffers from — tetra-amelia syndrome, a disorder that caused him to be born without any limbs. Vujicic, who has established himself as a successful inspirational speaker, evangelist and author, appeared in a Facebook Live on Friday, during which he made some fascinating claims surrounding why he believes God is real.

He comments came as he was responding to someone who asked, “How can we know God’s love is real, and how do you know it?” Vujicic answered by appealing to his own spiritual experiences. “I can’t show you God, I can’t show you an angel, but one of the reasons why I’m not an atheist, and one of the reasons why I don’t believe science explains everything, is because I have seen miracles, and I’ve seen demons,” Vujicic said. READ MORE

Puerto Rico warns its population that economy will plunge

Posted: 26 Jan 2018 05:52 AM PST

Puerto Rico warns its population that economy will plungePuerto Rico’s governor submitted a revised fiscal plan overnight Thursday that estimates the U.S. Caribbean territory’s economy will shrink by 11 percent and its population drop by nearly 8 percent next year. The island is continuing to recover from the crippling impact of Hurricane Maria. The proposal doesn’t set aside any money to pay creditors in the next five years as the island struggles to restructure a portion of its $73 billion public debt. The original plan had set aside $800 million a year for creditors, a fraction of the roughly $35 billion due in interest and payments over the next decade.

The five-year plan also assumes Puerto Rico will receive at least $35 billion in emergency federal funds for post-hurricane recovery and another $22 billion from private insurance companies. Some analysts view that assumption as risky given that the U.S. Treasury Department and U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency recently told Puerto Rico officials that they are temporarily withholding billions of dollars approved by Congress last year for post-hurricane recovery because they felt the island currently had sufficient funds. READ MORE

California experiencing quake spike over past 72 hours – Ring of Fire experts on Alert!

Posted: 26 Jan 2018 05:45 AM PST

California experiencing quake spike over past 72 hours – Ring of Fire experts on Alert!California has been rocked by an earthquake measure 5.8 magnitude, with a 5.0 shock following just minutes later in a day of seismic activity along the Ring of Fire which has put Californians on alert for the Big One.  The first shock measured 5.8 magnitude with a second 5.1 shock following shortly afterward. The most recent quake happened at 5.24pm GMT, or 9.24am local time, while the previous quake

happened just an hour previously, at 4.39pm (8.39am local time), with a higher magnitude of 5.8. The aftershock of the latter tremor was unintentionally posted as a separate earthquake on the US Geological Survey (USGS) website as separate 5.1 and 5.3 quakes, before being amended. The error was likely caused by another entity such as a tsunami warning agency recording the phenomenon, and a duplicate posting being made. The USGS told the LA Times it had received a few reports of the 4.39pm 5.8 quake being felt, but said it was unlikely to have affected many people because it occurred far off the coast. READ MORE

Does This ‘Super Blue Moon’ Have Prophetic Significance?

Posted: 26 Jan 2018 05:38 AM PST

Does This ‘Super Blue Moon’ Have Prophetic Significance?(By Caitlin Burke) A special full moon is expected on Jan. 31, and if you’re in the western part of the U.S. you’ll have the best view. It’s being called a “Super Blue Blood Moon” and it’s special for three reasons, according to NASA: it’s the third in a series of “supermoons,” that’s when the moon is closer to Earth in its orbit and is brighter than usual. It’s also the second full moon of the month which is known as a “blue moon.”

Finally, the super blue moon will pass through Earth’s shadow, giving it a total lunar eclipse in some areas. While the moon is in the Earth’s shadow it will take on a reddish tint, known as a blood moon. “Weather permitting, the West Coast, Alaska and Hawaii will have a spectacular view of totality from start to finish,” said Gordon Johnston, program executive and lunar blogger at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Unfortunately, eclipse viewing will be more challenging in the Eastern time zone. The eclipse begins at 5:51 AM ET, as the moon is about to set in the western sky, and the sky is getting lighter in the east.” READ MORE

The Coming Judgment and the Coming Glory

Posted: 26 Jan 2018 05:33 AM PST

The Coming Judgment and the Coming Glory(By Bert Farias) One genuine prophet of God said he couldn’t see the condition of America past September of this year. I took it to mean that something terrible may happen. November is the time of midterm elections here in America. Could there be a vicious backlash from the angry leftists who have such hatred toward our bold bully president? Could there be an assassination attempt against him? The fight between good and evil in our nation has just begun. The liberal leftists are coming with a vengeance. They are already plotting and planning now for the overturn of Trump’s agenda that they hope will start with mid-term elections.

One righteous preacher predicted that barring a miracle in November, Nancy Pelosi may be back as the Speaker of the House again. How loathsome and nauseating that would be! He also predicted that it will be the greatest internal fight and leftist backlash in the history of our government. I submit all this to the reader for prayerful consideration. Some things can still be further delayed or stopped altogether through prayer and repentance. One thing is for sure: The time of shaking is here. And this statement, “Yet once more,” signifies the removal of those things that can be shaken, things that are created, so that only those things that cannot be shaken will remain. READ MORE

Chinese Muslims Reject Allah and Embrace Christ

Posted: 26 Jan 2018 05:28 AM PST

Chinese Muslims Reject Allah and Embrace ChristFor the few thousand Muslims in China who have become Christians, life is characterized by loneliness. Cast out from their families and communities, in the rural areas where most of them live it is difficult to find other Christians, especially under China’s strict religion regulations. According to World Watch Monitor, often Christians of Muslim background will get together in private homes in China, especially where there are only a few of them.

In February last year, World Watch Monitor reported that Chinese authorities in the north-western region of Xinjiang had banned all Christian activities not linked to state-approved churches, apparently in an “anti-terror” move. There are around 20 million Muslims in China, most of them belonging to the Hui and Uyghur ethnic groups, and nearly 100 million Christians, a comparatively small fraction of the country’s total population of 1.4 billion. READ MORE


Google Home seems know everyone but Jesus

Posted: 26 Jan 2018 05:24 AM PST

Google Home seems know everyone but JesusAudio technology like Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa are becoming a dominant source for information. But now, it appears one of the most common names is unknown to Google Home. And some people are sounding the alarm about what the technology tells you when you ask about Jesus. Brentwood 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,” Sams said.Smart speakers are a technology owned by about 40 million Americans — that’s about one in six people in the nation. And this religious conversation at home is making waves on social media. READ MORE

The Covenant and the Relationship

Posted: 25 Jan 2018 07:22 PM PST

The Covenant and the Relationship(By Ricky Scaparo) In this message, we will continue our series on “Lessons from the Life of Abraham” and discuss how Abraham made a covenant with the Lord and how his walk with God became more intimate and how it relates to us. For the entire message watch the video below:

Anne Graham Warns of Judgment Coming to ‘Immoral’ America, Perhaps a ‘Nuclear Strike’

Posted: 25 Jan 2018 07:16 PM PST

Anne Graham Warns of Judgment Coming to ‘Immoral’ America, Perhaps a ‘Nuclear Strike’(By Michael W. Chapman) Commenting on the widespread sin and wickedness in America today, preacher Anne Graham Lotz, the daughter of Billy Graham, said then when the evil is so widespread and people do not repent, then “God backs away” and leaves people to their own corruption. She added that God eventually will rattle America to repentance through some cataclysmic event, such as a “nuclear strike, an earthquake,” or an “EMP attack that devastates our electrical grid.” Anne Graham Lotz, the author of 14 books and holder of six honorary doctorates, made her remarks in the January editon of Decision magazine, which is published by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA),

founded by her father and overseen by her brother, Rev. Franklin Graham. In an article entitled “This Growing Darkness” by Jerry Pierce, Anne Graham Lotz said, “When you sin and you refuse to repent, God backs away. You don’t repent and you continue to sin and you become defiant, and He backs away further until in the end, God just turns you over to yourself.” “That’s where America is today,” said Lotz. “Look at the end of Romans 1. He’s just backed away from us, turned us over to ourselves. As they say, ‘America, how’s that working for you?’” READ MORE

RUMORS OF WAR: North Korea ‘Handful of Months’ Away from Threatening U.S. with Nuclear Weapons

Posted: 25 Jan 2018 01:44 PM PST

RUMORS OF WAR: North Korea ‘Handful of Months’ Away from Threatening U.S. with Nuclear WeaponsSpeaking at an American Enterprise Institute (AEI) forum on the future of U.S. intelligence operations, CIA Director Mike Pompeo warned that North Korea could be a “handful of months” away from plausibly threatening the continental United States with nuclear weapons. Pompeo warned North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is advancing at a “very rapid clip.” He added that U.S. intelligence fears Kim would aggressively use nuclear weapons as a tool to conquer the entire Korean Peninsula.

Pompeo repeated his recent warnings that “North Korea is ever closer to being able to hold America at risk,” but said the intelligence community is helping to hold them just shy of achieving their goals. “I said that was a handful of months,” he recalled. “I said the same thing several months before that. I want everyone to understand that we are working diligently to make sure that a year from now, I can still tell you they are several months away from having that capacity.” READ MORE

Pope says serpent temptation in Bible ‘first fake news’

Posted: 25 Jan 2018 01:29 PM PST

Pope says serpent temptation in Bible ‘first fake news’Pope Francis has denounced the “snake tactics” of those who spread fake news, saying the first case of misinformation is in the Bible when Eve is tempted by the serpent to eat the forbidden fruit. The episode showed the “dire consequences” that fake news can have, the Pope warned in a document. Francis also said it led only to the spread of arrogance and hatred.He urged social media users and journalists to unmask manipulative tactics that foment division.

The document The Truth Will Set You Free – Fake News and Journalism for Peace was issued ahead of the Catholic Church’s World Communications Day on 13 May, and it was the first time the Pope has written on the topic. It comes amid a debate on ways to contain the spread of fake news on social media platforms and how it may have influenced recent elections, including in the US in 2016. READ MORE

UPDATE: Doomsday Clock just ticked closer to midnight

Posted: 25 Jan 2018 01:24 PM PST

UPDATE: Doomsday Clock just ticked closer to midnightScientists moved the hands of the symbolic “Doomsday Clock” closer to midnight on Thursday amid increasing worries over nuclear weapons and climate change. The clock is now two minutes to midnight. “Because of the extraordinary danger of the current moment, the Science and Security Board today moves the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock 30 seconds closer to catastrophe,” said Rachel Bronson, president of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. “This is the closest the Clock has ever been to Doomsday, and as close as it was in 1953, at the height of the Cold War.”

Each year, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a non-profit group that sets the clock, decides whether the events of the previous year pushed humanity closer or farther from destruction. The symbolic clock is now the closest it’s been to midnight since 1953. It was also two minutes to midnight in 1953 when the hydrogen bomb was first tested. “We’ve made the clear statement that we feel the world is getting more dangerous,” said Lawrence Krauss, chair of the Bulletin’s Board of Sponsors and director of Arizona State University’s Origins Project. READ MORE

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

Posted: 25 Jan 2018 01:15 PM PST

Soros warns that Trump has US ‘set on a course towards nuclear war’President Donald Trump has the U.S. on course for a nuclear war with North Korea, billionaire investor and progressive political activist George Soros said Thursday. In a blistering critique of the country under Trump’s leadership, the head of Soros Fund Management and the Open Society Foundations painted a bleak picture. “The fact of nuclear war is so horrendous that we are trying to ignore it, but it is real,” Soros said during a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“Indeed, the United States is set on a course towards nuclear war by refusing to accept that [North] Korea has become a nuclear power.” “This creates a strong incentive for North Korea to develop its nuclear capacity with all possible speed, which in turn may induce the United States to use its nuclear superiority pre-emptively, in effect to start a nuclear war to prevent a nuclear war, obviously a self-contradictory strategy.” READ MORE

California Considers $1,000 Fine and Jail Time for Waiters Offering Straws…

Posted: 25 Jan 2018 10:53 AM PST

California Considers $1,000 Fine and Jail Time for Waiters Offering Straws…Ian Calderon wants restaurateurs to think long and hard before giving you a straw. Calderon, the Democratic majority leader in California’s lower house, has introduced a bill to stop sit-down restaurants from offering customers straws with their beverages unless they specifically request one. Under Calderon’s law, a waiter who serves a drink with an unrequested straw in it would face up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

“We need to create awareness around the issue of one-time use plastic straws and its detrimental effects on our landfills, waterways, and oceans,” Calderon explained in a press release. This isn’t just Calderon’s crusade. The California cities of San Luis Obispo and Davis both passed straws-on-request laws last year, and Manhattan Beach maintains a prohibition on all disposable plastics. And up in Seattle, food service businesses won’t be allowed to offer plastic straws or utensils as of July. READ MORE

Another massive asteroid to skim past Earth in 10 days

Posted: 25 Jan 2018 10:43 AM PST

Another massive asteroid to skim past Earth in 10 daysA huge asteroid, larger than any skyscraper ever built, is set to shoot past Earth in just 10 days as NASA warned the space rock is “potentially hazardous”. The 1.2km wide asteroid will fly by Earth on Sunday February 4, the same day that the US celebrates the NFL Super Bowl. The space agency has dubbed the massive rock 2002 AJ129 and it measures between 500m and 1.2km across, making the gigantic asteroid

larger than the Burj Khalifa. Judging by the orbit of the asteroid, NASA says that it will pass Earth just 2.6 million miles away – a hair’s width in astronomical terms. And it is expected to fly past at speeds of 76,000 mph making it nearly 16 times faster than the world’s quickest manned aircraft, the hypersonic North American X-15. READ MORE

California rocked by two earthquakes within minutes five miles apart, Fears of larger quake imminent

Posted: 25 Jan 2018 10:30 AM PST

California rocked by two earthquakes within minutes five miles apart, Fears of larger quake imminentCalifornia has been rocked by an earthquake measure 5.8 magnitudes, with a 5.0 shock following just minutes later in a day of seismic activity along the Ring of Fire which has put Californians on alert for the Big One. The most recent quake happened at 5.24pm GMT, or 9.24am local time, in the so-classed “ring of fire”. Initially USGS reported two earthquakes in the space of 15 seconds at 5.24pm, however, this was later amended to reflect just one quake, with a magnitude of 5.0. The previous quake happened just an

hour previously, at 4.39pm (8.39am local time), with a higher magnitude of 5.8. It follows the 4.1 magnitude earthquake which rocked California this morning and was felt in both San Diego and Los Angeles. The tremors affected up to 10 million people across the state, according to USGS. This morning’s earthquake hit at 2.09am PST (10.09am GMT) with its epicenter 5km north east of Trabuco Canyon in California. Tremors were felt in San Diego and the Los Angeles area, with people shaken awake by the violent tremors, with one person saying there was huge “jolt”. READ MORE

Headlines – 1/27/2018

TV report: Israel now wants Trump to reject Palestinian ‘right of return’

Obama: ‘Skyrocketing’ settlement means Palestinian state ‘almost impossible’

Obama Says He’s ‘Basically A Liberal Jew,’ Is Not Optimistic About Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks

Trump to Netanyahu: We took Jerusalem off the table in future peace negotiations

Slovenia president throws doubt on recognition of Palestine

USAID chief: ‘No decisions made’ on cutting Palestinian aid

New Israeli system shows which countries have the most online anti-Semitism

Anti-Semitism in Germany mars International Holocaust Remembrance Day

‘Human Nature Never Changes’: Holocaust Museum On Int’l Holocaust Remembrance Day

Muslim World League: Holocaust is a crime that no one can deny or undermine

Syrian opposition says will boycott Russia-brokered peace talks in Sochi

UN chief calls for Syria referral to International Court – Guterres tells Security Council of ‘serious violations,’ including blocking aid deliveries and medical care to millions

Turkey’s Erdogan vows to fight Kurdish forces as far as Iraq

In Davos, Persian Gulf nations slam an absent Iran

Trump: US will continue to block Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon

US seeks to boost case against Iran with UN Washington visit

Kim Jong Un’s slush fund running out of fuel after numerous missile, nuclear tests, report says

US defense chief: Korea talks can’t distract from denuclearization

Russia says no obligation to comply with US sanction on N. Korea

US condemns Russia deal with South Ossetia on joint military force

9/11 museum marks 25th anniversary of 1993 WTC bombing

Trump slams media at global economic forum in Davos

Trump compares arriving in Davos to Academy Awards but with ‘more photographers’

Trump Davos speech: ‘America First policy is not America alone’

Trump sells US to Davos, declares ‘America is open for business’

Bankers at Davos: Can Anything Stop the Good Times?

Dow jumps 224 points Friday, extends 2018 gain to 7.7%

Japanese cryptocurrency exchange loses more than $500 million to hackers

U.S. oil industry set to break record, upend global trade

Trump calls report he ordered Mueller’s firing ‘fake news’

Super blue moon to coincide with lunar eclipse for 1st time in 150 years

How to See the 2018 Super Blue Blood Moon From the East Coast

San Jose earthquake brings Bay Area total to 7 in last week

6.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Madang, Papua New Guinea

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Laiwui, Indonesia

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Lorengau, Papua New Guinea

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 27,000ft

Popocateptl volcano in Mexico erupts to 21,000ft

Karymsky volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 18,000ft

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 15,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 14,000ft

Seine River flooding to worsen in Paris into this weekend despite break from heavy rain

‘Star Wars’ tech may be close to reality: Scientists create 3D projection in thin air

Modern medicine infected by the virus of mistrust

100 years after ‘Spanish flu’, new global pandemics feared

‘Many more weeks’ to come in fierce, deadly flu season, CDC says

Growing number of young children dying from flu

Catholic Bishop Calls for Ceremony to Bless Homosexual Couples

Entire USA Gymnastics board to resign amid sex abuse scandal

Dozens of People Recount Pattern of Sexual Misconduct by Las Vegas Mogul Steve Wynn

An affair with Trump? Nikki Haley on ‘disgusting’ rumors and her rise to a top foreign policy role

What is The Gospel?

Selected Scriptures

Code: A335

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

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

Consider what the Bible says about Him:


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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Spiritual Shipwreck


Most people have come to the point where they say, “Well I don’t need doctrine. I don’t need theology. I just love Jesus.  That is a foolish statement.  That is a foolish statement.
If we love Jesus as much as we profess to love Him, then don’t you think we would want to get to know Him? And the only way to get to know Him is by knowing Him in His Word. We’re to study the Word of God. And when our knowledge of God is deepened, our love for God is deepened.
Justin Peters
Spiritual Shipwreck of the Word-Faith Movement

Doctrine of Perseverance


The denial of the doctrine of perseverance virtually makes the salvation of man dependent on the human will rather than on the grace of God.
Louis Berkhof
Systematic Theology p. 549
Can people who are saved lose their salvation? If not, then how do we explain those people who have fallen away? In this message, Dr. Sproul thinks about these questions as he looks at “Perseverance of the Saints.”

January 27, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

Zacharias’s Song of Salvation—Part 3 The New Covenant

(Luke 1:76–80)

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare his ways; to give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” And the child continued to grow and to become strong in spirit, and he lived in the deserts until the day of his public appearance to Israel. (1:76–80)

Of the several covenants God has given for the outworking of redemptive history, the New covenant is unique. As noted in previous chapters of this volume, three of those covenants, the Noahic, Priestly, and Mosaic, are non-salvific; that is, they are not promises associated with salvation. The Noahic covenant is God’s pledge not to destroy the world again by water, while the Priestly covenant is a “a covenant of a perpetual priesthood” (Num. 25:13) promising that all legitimate high priests would come from the family line of Phinehas. Nor is salvation in view in the Mosaic covenant, “because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20; cf. v. 28; Gal. 2:16; 3:11; 5:4). And though the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants require salvation for their blessings to be realized, nothing in them provides it.

There is a barrier, insurmountable by any human effort, which prevents everyone, including Israelites, from experiencing the benefits of the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants—sin. For those covenant blessings to be realized requires a new, different, and superior covenant—one that provides total forgiveness of sin (Heb. 7:22; 8:6). That is precisely the point the writer of Hebrews makes in Hebrews 8:7–13:

For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second. For finding fault with them, He says, “Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, when I will effect a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; not like the covenant which I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; for they did not continue in My covenant, and I did not care for them, says the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, and everyone his brother, saying, ‘know the Lord,’ for all will know Me, from the least to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.

Commenting on the significance of God’s making a new covenant the Puritan theologian John Owen wrote, “Had it not been of the greatest importance to the glory of God and the good of the souls of men, God would not, for the sake of it, have laid aside one covenant and made another.… All this was done that we might be pardoned (The Forgiveness of Sin [Reprint; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1977], 179).

The most basic problem people face is not psychological or social. It is not how they act, think, or speak. Those things merely reflect (cf. Luke 6:45) the true problem; that is, that all are sinners (Rom. 3:23), with evil, sin-defiled hearts (Jer. 17:9). The apostle Paul gave a comprehensive description (drawn from Old Testament passages) of mankind’s endemic, systemic sinfulness when he wrote to the Romans,

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. Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths, and the path of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes. (Rom. 3:10–18)

Paul referred to sin’s pervasive presence as the “law of sin” (Rom. 7:23, 25), graphically expressing the power, authority, constraint, and influence that sin exerts. The apostle’s use of the term “law” was metaphorical; he was not speaking of a standard to be lived up to, but of a force to be reckoned with. Sin is an operative reality in man’s nature that has the power to drive and compel behavior, much like hunger, thirst, sexual desire, fear, anger, and sorrow do. Indwelling sin manipulates and controls behavior from the inside, unlike external standards or rules.

Since neither the promised blessings of the Davidic and Abrahamic covenants, nor the threatened curses for violating the Mosaic law can change the heart, they cannot overpower the law of sin. No amount of willpower or determination to obey can enable a sinner to keep the Ten Commandments (or even Jesus’ summary of the law [Mark 12:28–31]). The law both demonstrates to sinners their inability to obey and their need for mercy, grace, and forgiveness, and even exacerbates sin and leads to death (Rom. 7:8–11). It displays our sin and helplessness in order, as Paul wrote, to become “our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith” (Gal. 3:24).

Israel’s experience illustrates that truth. The people had the best intentions, vowing obedience to God’s law and sealing their commitment with blood as recorded in Exodus 24:4–8:

Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. Then he arose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain with twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel. He sent young men of the sons of Israel, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as peace offerings to the Lord. Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and the other half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. Then he took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!” So Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

But it proved impossible for them to overcome their sinful natures and soon they were breaking the commandments with a level of idolatry and immorality that led to divine judgment (Ex. 32).

In his farewell address to the nation nearly forty years later as the wilderness wandering ended, Moses described the blessings that would come from obedience (Deut. 28:1–14), and warned of the consequences of disobedience (vv. 15–68). As an object lesson, Moses commanded that after Israel entered the Promised Land, half the tribes were to recite the promised blessings of obedience from Mount Gerizim and the other six pronounce the threatened curses for disobedience from Mount Ebal (Deut. 27:11–26). After the conquest of the land of Canaan, Joshua, like Moses, also challenged Israel to obey:

If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Josh. 24:15)

In response “the people answered and said, ‘Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods’ ” (v. 16). When Joshua further cautioned them, “If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you after He has done good to you” (v. 20) they protested, “No, but we will serve the Lord.… We will serve the Lord our God and we will obey His voice” (vv. 21, 24).

Again, those good intentions were not enough to keep the people from slipping into apostasy. “The people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who survived Joshua, who had seen all the great work of the Lord which He had done for Israel” (Judg. 2:7). But after

All that generation also were gathered to their fathers … there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel. Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals, and they forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed themselves down to them; thus they provoked the Lord to anger. So they forsook the Lord and served Baal and the Ashtaroth. The anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and He gave them into the hands of plunderers who plundered them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies around them, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies. Wherever they went, the hand of the Lord was against them for evil, as the Lord had spoken and as the Lord had sworn to them, so that they were severely distressed. (vv. 10–15)

Israel’s situation thus seemed hopeless. Were they never to receive the promised blessings of the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants? Could they somehow be forgiven for violating the Mosaic covenant and granted the means to obey? What they desperately needed was for God to provide another covenant that would provide both forgiveness and the power to obey. That reality underscores the need for the New covenant—the personal work of God to forgive sin, cleanse the heart, and provide spiritual power. (For a detailed exposition of the theological aspects of the New covenant, see 2 Corinthians, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary [Chicago: Moody, 2003], 93–117.)

Zacharias, a true believer in the Lord God, and a student of the Old Testament Scripture, understood the covenants and their fulfillment through the Messiah to come. His response to the announcement of a son to be Messiah’s forerunner was to break out in praise for the inevitable fulfillment of the messianic covenants. He had already referred to the Davidic and Abrahamic covenants (see the discussion of vv. 67–75 in chapters 9 and 10 of this volume). Now as he concluded his magnificent hymn of praise, he turned to the crucial New covenant, relating its promise, source, and blessings. But before discussing the New covenant Zacharias addressed his newborn son, John. He was to be the forerunner of the Messiah, whose sacrificial death would ratify that New covenant (Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25; cf. Heb. 8:6; 9:15; 12:24; 13:20).

John would be called the prophet of the Most High. Through John’s prophetic ministry the Most High (a term that stresses God’s absolute sovereignty; cf. the discussion of El Elyon [“Most High”] in chapter 4 of this volume) God would end four centuries of revelatory silence. John’s ministry would be to go on before the Lord to prepare his ways, in fulfillment of God’s promise through Malachi, “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me” (Mal. 3:1; cf. 4:5). He was “the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said, ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness, “make ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight!” ’ ” (Matt. 3:3). John’s mission was to prepare the people for Messiah’s arrival. To that end he “preach[ed] a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 3:3), and his uncompromising message was that the people should “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2). John also challenged the legitimacy of some of his hearers’ repentance:

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” (vv. 3:7–10)

John’s message ran counter to the popular conception of the Messiah. The people were looking for a conquering hero, who would defeat their enemies, establish his throne, and usher in the promised blessings of the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants. That is why the crowd wanted to make Jesus king after He miraculously fed the five thousand (John 6:14–15). But before realizing the blessings of those covenants they needed to face the reality of their sin, repent, and seek the forgiveness provided only in the New covenant, already in operation, though ratified by our Lord on the cross. In God’s timeless, eternal view He applied the death of the Savior through all redemptive history to those who repented and sought His salvation by grace.[1]

76 The second part of Zechariah’s hymn begins with a direct word to his son. The role of John, like that of Paul and the Lord’s servants throughout history, derives its significance and greatness from God’s purpose and, even more, from the greatness of the Person served. Before addressing the theme of salvation, Zechariah speaks of the “Most High” and “the Lord” John represents.

The description of John here, when compared with Isaiah 40:3 and Malachi 3:1; 4:5, clearly links him with Elijah, dispelling any doubts about the recognition of this link in Luke. Such doubts have arisen largely from Luke’s omission of the conversation (cf. Mt 17:10–13; Mk 9:11–13) about Elijah following the transfiguration. There Jesus says that Elijah has “already come,” i.e., the predictions about Elijah were fulfilled in John the Baptist. Also Luke’s parallel to Matthew 11:12 (Lk 16:16) has seemed to some to detach John from the age of Jesus and the church. Thus some have considered it unlikely that Luke thought of John as the Elijah figure whose coming was to usher in the last days. We must keep in mind that as a physician Luke was strongly aware of corporeality. More than the other gospel writers, he stressed the physical resurrection of Jesus (“they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus” [24:3]), the reality of Jesus’ ascension, and the Spirit’s descent in “bodily form” like a dove (3:22) at Jesus’ baptism. It would, therefore, be understandable for Luke to hold that John had indeed come “in the spirit and power of Elijah” (1:17), yet for him to avoid saying anything that might imply the reincarnation of Elijah as John. If Elijah could still appear in recognizable form, as he did at the transfiguration, Luke may have hesitated to include in his gospel anything about Elijah’s apparent identification with John. Luke 1:76, though consistent with the idea that John came in the “spirit and power of Elijah,” avoids the kind of terminology about which Luke may still have had some hesitation. For more insight, see Walter Wink, John the Baptist in the Gospel Tradition (London: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1968), 42–45.[2]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2009). Luke 1–5 (pp. 113–118). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] 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. 72). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.


If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.

John 13:14

The lordship of Jesus is not quite forgotten among Christians, but it has been relegated to our hymnbook, where all responsibility toward it may be comfortably discharged in a glow of pleasant religious emotion.

The idea that the Man Christ Jesus has absolute and final authority over all its members in every detail of their lives is simply not accepted as true by the rank and file of evangelical Christians.

To avoid the necessity of either obeying or rejecting the plain instructions of our Lord in the New Testament, we take refuge in a liberal interpretation of them. We find ways to avoid the sharp point of obedience, comfort carnality and make the words of Christ of none effect. And the essence of it all is that “Christ simply could not have meant what He said.” Dare we admit that His teachings are accepted even theoretically only after they have been weakened by “interpretation”? Dare we confess that even in our public worship, the influence of the Lord is very small? We sing of Him and preach about Him, but He must not interfere!

Dear Lord, I have to admit that there have been times when I have conveniently ignored the clear instructions of Your Word. Help me to give someone a cup of cold water—in Your name—today.[1]

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

January 27 The Lord’s Ministry All According to Plan

He withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea.—Matt. 4:12b–13a

Nothing was accidental or happenstance about Jesus’ earthly ministry. He did not go from Judea to Galilee because Herod or the Jewish leaders forced Him to or because He had nowhere else to go. He left Judea because His work there was finished for the time being. And He came to Galilee because that was the next place, according to the Father’s plan, for Him to minister.

Humanly speaking, Jesus left the lower Jordan region for Galilee because of the Jewish leaders (cf. John 4:1, 3). His close association with John the Baptist as well as His growing number of followers had caused the scribes and Pharisees to hate Jesus as much or more than they hated John. Jesus was not afraid of their hatred but removed Himself from the leaders’ immediate influence because it was not yet time for them to fully turn their wrath on Him.

The Lord by no means avoided the Jewish leaders permanently, for at the appropriate, foreordained time, He faced them without flinching and denounced them far more harshly than John the Baptist ever did (cf. Matt. 23:1–36). Jesus was simply forever safe from wicked human schemes and devices. He knew He would die, but it would be according to the will of His Father, not that of His earthly enemies (cf. John 10:17–18). He also knew He would rise from the dead, all according to the divine plan.


Can Christians live with the same kind of bold assurance that Jesus did, fearlessly walking through life at the Spirit’s direction? If the worst that could happen would only put us that much closer to Jesus, what reason do we have for fear? Why not resolve to follow Jesus’ example?[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 35). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

January 27 Something of Eternal Value

I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established.

Romans 1:11

Some years ago, a young woman in our church who was a student at a local university said to me, “I learned a great lesson from one of your sermons on love. I always told myself that I loved the little girls in my fourth–grade Sunday school class. They all have small, frilly dresses and the cutest smiles.”

She went on to say, “One Saturday I was attending a football game at my school—something I do every Saturday—and the Lord convicted me about not adequately preparing my Sunday school lesson. Because I attended the games on Saturday, I was in the habit of teaching a lesson on Sunday morning that was very shallow and superficial. God pointed out that I didn’t really love those girls the way I thought I did because I made no sacrifice in my own life to give them something of eternal value.”

She ended our conversation by saying, “So from now on, I will not be attending any more football games until my lesson is completed and I feel I can impart to them something of eternal value.”[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 38). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

January 27, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

31:6Be strong and courageous. This command to all Israel is also made directly to Joshua (vv. 7, 23; Josh. 1:6, 7, 9). Do not fear. See Deut. 1:28. He will not leave you or forsake you. In 1 Chron. 28:20, David applies this to Solomon; cf. Heb. 13:5.[1]

31:6you should not be in dread from their presence Fear of the indigenous population, especially the giant clans, was at the heart of Israel’s unbelief that had resulted in the punishment of 40 years of wandering (see Num 13–14). See note on Deut 2:10–12.

God is the one going with you This phrase, used with some frequency in the ot, indicates God’s assurance of protection. See Gen 21:22; 26:3, 28; 28:15, 20; 39:2–3; Judg 6:13; Isa 8:10.[2]

31:6 Be strong and courageous. These and the following words resemble the encouragement God gave Joshua after Moses died (Josh. 1:9).[3]

31:6 The Lord was the Divine Warrior, the commander-in-chief of Israel’s forces. He will not leave you nor forsake you: Moses reminded the people that God had promised to remain with them, to protect them, bless them, and fight for them (Josh. 1:5; 1 Kin. 8:57). Joshua used the same language to assure the people of the continuity of God’s Presence and of godly leadership (Josh. 1:6, 7, 9). Jesus made the same promise to His church (Matt. 28:20).[4]

[1] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 375). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Dt 31:6). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[3] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 287). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[4]The NKJV Study Bible. (2007). (Dt 31:6). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.


The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.

—Psalm 119:130

Thanks to our splendid Bible societies and to other effective agencies for the dissemination of the Word, there are today many millions of people who hold “right opinions,” probably more than ever before in the history of the Church. Yet I wonder if there was ever a time when true spiritual worship was at a lower ebb.

Sound Bible exposition is an imperative must in the Church of the Living God. Without it no church can be a New Testament church in any strict meaning of that term. But exposition may be carried on in such a way as to leave the hearers devoid of any true spiritual nourishment whatever. For it is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself, and unless and until the hearers find God in personal experience they are not the better for having heard the truth. The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts. POG009

Lord, as I study Your Word may I not merely read the words on the page but personally experience their truths, that I may know You and genuinely delight in Your presence. Amen.[1]

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

January 27 Seeking Righteous Attitudes

“I … entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 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.”

Ephesians 4:3


God is most concerned about who we are, because who we are determines what we do.

Now that we’ve looked in depth at Ephesians 4:1–3, let’s take a step back. These verses reveal a basic truth: the Christian life is not primarily about what we do but who we are. When Paul teaches about the worthy walk, about how we live each day, he never discusses actions, only attitudes.

It is possible to have what I call “action fruit”—such as praise (Heb. 13:15), giving (Phil. 4:17), evangelism (Rom. 1:13), and other good works (Col. 1:10)—without “attitude fruit,” which is the fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self–control” (Gal. 5:22–23). Plenty of people can do good deeds without inner righteousness. But that’s legalism; that’s the hypocrisy that the Bible speaks so much about. The right path to true spirituality is to have proper attitudes first. The Holy Spirit works through our attitudes to produce right actions.

Unfortunately, many Christians miss this point. To them, being a Christian is primarily a list of do’s—going to church, putting money in the offering, carrying a Bible—and don’ts—not cursing, not drinking, not murdering. They see external behavior as the fact of Christianity instead of the manifestation of it. They don’t cultivate the inner graces.

Of course, God wants us to live righteous lives. But to those with merely external actions, Jesus said, “Woe to you … hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self–indulgence…. First clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also” (Matt. 23:25–26).

Don’t let yourself become a slave to external religion. Make sure you do your good works out of love for God and others, as part of the overflow of the spiritual fruit in your life.


Suggestions for Prayer: If you see hypocrisy in yourself, ask God to purge it. Pray for and diligently seek attitude fruit.

For Further Study: Jesus warned about internal sinfulness in Matthew 5:21–22, 27–30 and external righteousness in 6:1–18 and 7:1–5. How is Proverbs 4:23 an antidote to those?[1]

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

January 26 Daily Help

GOD is love in its highest degree. He is love rendered more than love. Love is not God, but God is love; He is full of grace, He is the plenitude of mercy—He delighteth in mercy.

I believe that every flower in a garden, which is tended by a wise gardener, could tell of some particular care that the gardener takes of it. He does for the dahlia what he does not for the sunflower; somewhat is wanted by the rose that is not required by the lily; and the geranium calls for an attention which is not given to the honeysuckle. Each flower wins from the gardener a special culture.

He loves us better than we love ourselves.[1]

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 30). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

January 26, 2018 Evening Verse Of The Day

The Plea

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, (5:1–2a)

The walk of the believer is a key matter to Paul. He has introduced the fact that ours is to be a worthy walk (4:1) and a walk different from the world’s (4:17). He will also call for a walk in light (5:8) and a walk in wisdom (5:15). In this verse the apostle pleads with believers to walk in such a way that daily life is characterized by love. Growing in love is a continuing need for every believer, since love fulfills all of God’s law (Rom. 13:8–10). As we grow in love we also see the need to be even more loving. And since biblically defined love is so contrary to the flesh, we are always in need of reminders and encouragement to love.

Therefore refers back to the last part of chapter 4, especially verse 32. Kindness, tender-heartedness, and forgiveness are characteristics of God, who is love. God Himself is infinitely kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving, and we achieve those virtues by imitating their Source.

Mimētēs (imitator) is the term from which we get mimic, someone who copies specific characteristics of another person. As imitators of God, Christians are to imitate God’s characteristics, and above all His love. The whole of the Christian life is the reproduction of godliness as seen in the person of Christ. God’s purpose in salvation is to redeem men from sin and to conform them “to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29). To be conformed to Christ is to become perfect, just as God is perfect (Matt. 5:48). “As obedient children,” Peter tells us, “do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’ ” (1 Pet. 1:14–16; cf. Lev. 11:44). The great hope of believers is, “We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2). Imitating His love is possible because “the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:5).

When Alexander the Great discovered a coward in his army who also was named Alexander, he told the soldier, “Renounce your cowardice or renounce your name.” Those who carry God’s name are to be imitator’s of His character. By His grace it is possible to reflect Him even in our present limitations.

To know what God is like we must study His Word, His revelation of Himself, His great Self-disclosure. Yet the more we learn of God’s character the more we learn how far above us He is and how impossible in ourselves it is fulfill the command to be like Him, to be absolutely perfect, just as He is. That is why we need “to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man” in order to “be filled up to all the fulness of God” (Eph. 3:16, 19). The only way we can become imitators of God is for the Lord Jesus Christ to live His perfect life through us. We are totally dependent on His Spirit to become like Him. If we are to obey Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians, “let all that you do be done in love” (1 Cor. 16:14), we must submit to the controlling influence of the Spirit.

It is natural for children to be like their parents. They have their parents’ nature and they instinctively imitate their parents’ actions and behavior. Through Jesus Christ God has given us the right to become His children (John 1:12; Gal. 3:26). As Paul declared at the beginning of this letter, God “predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will” (Eph. 1:5). Because our heavenly Father is holy, we are to be holy. Because He is kind, we are to be kind. Because He is forgiving, we are to be forgiving. Because God in Christ humbled Himself, we are to humble ourselves. Because God is love, as His beloved children we are to walk in love. This ability is not natural, however, but supernatural—requiring a new nature and the continuous power of the Holy Spirit flowing through us by obedience to God’s Word.

The greatest evidence of love is undeserved forgiveness. The supreme act of God’s love was to give “His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). God’s love brought man’s forgiveness. God loved the world with such a great love that He offered forgiveness to sinful, rebellious, wretched, vile mankind, by sending His own Son to give His life on the cross that they might not suffer death. He offered the world the free gift of eternal fellowship with Him.

Because forgiveness is the supreme evidence of God’s love, it will also be the most convincing proof of our love. Love will always lead us to forgive others just as love led God in Christ to forgive us (Eph. 4:32). Nothing more clearly discloses a hard, loveless heart than lack of forgiveness. Lack of forgiveness betrays lack of love (see 4:31). The presence of forgiveness always proves the presence of love, because only love has the motive and power to forgive. The extent of our love is the extent of our ability to forgive.

Whatever another believer may do against us, no matter how terrible or destructive or unjustified, Christ has paid the penalty for that sin. No matter how others may hurt, slander, persecute, or in any way harm us, Christ’s sacrifice was sufficient to pay their penalty. When a Christian expresses, or even harbors, vengeance toward a brother, he not only sins by allowing selfish hatred to control him but he sins by profaning Christ’s sacrifice—by seeking to mete out punishment for a sin whose penalty has already been paid by his Lord.

Because Christ has paid the penalty for every sin, we have no right to hold any sin against any person, even a nonbeliever. Peter thought that forgiving someone “up to seven times” was generous. But Jesus said, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:22). In Christ all our “sins are forgiven for His name’s sake” (1 John 2:12); He has “forgiven us all our transgressions” (Col. 2:13, emphasis added). “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7).

Just as the depth of God’s love is shown by how much He has forgiven, the depth of our love is shown by how much we forgive. “Above all,” Peter says, “keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pet. 4:8). The Greek word behind “fervent” refers to a muscle stretched to the limit. Our love is to stretch to the limit in order to cover “a multitude of sins” The greater our love the greater the multitude of sins it will cover in forgiveness.

The depth of our love is also shown by how much we know we have been forgiven. When Jesus was eating dinner with Simon the Pharisee, a prostitute came into the house and anointed Jesus’ feet with her tears and with expensive perfume. Simon was incensed at what she did and was disappointed in Jesus for allowing such a woman to touch Him. Jesus responded by telling a parable: “ ‘A certain moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. Which of them therefore will love him more?’ Simon answered and said, ‘I suppose the one whom he forgave more.’ And He said to him, ‘You have judged correctly.’ ” After comparing the ways that Simon and the woman had treated Him, Jesus said, “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little” (Luke 7:36–47).

Because Simon had no real sense of the enormity of the sin in his own life, and therefore sensed no need for forgiveness, he was unforgiving of others—especially those whom he considered moral and social outcasts. Unforgiveness is the measure of self-righteousness just as forgiveness is the measure of love. Our ability to love, and therefore to forgive, depends on our sense of how much God has forgiven us. Unforgiveness is also a measure of unbelief, because the person who feels no need for forgiveness feels no need for God.

Robert Falconer tells the story of his witnessing among destitute people in a certain city and of reading them the story of the woman who wiped Jesus’ feet with her tears. While he was reading he heard a loud sob and looked up at a young, thin girl whose face was disfigured by smallpox. After he spoke a few words of encouragement to her, she said, “Will He ever come again, the One who forgave the woman? I have heard that He will come again. Will it be soon?” “He could come any time. But why do you ask?” Falconer replied. After sobbing again uncontrollably, she said, “Sir, can’t He wait a little while? My hair ain’t long enough yet to wipe His feet.”

The person who sees the greatness of his own forgiveness by God’s love will himself in love be forgiving. He forgives in love because his heavenly Father has forgiven in love and he desires to be an imitator of His Father.

The Pattern

just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. (5:2b)

A young child often learns to draw by tracing. The more carefully he traces, the truer the likeness of his copy is to the original.

The pattern for Christian living is Christ Himself, the one by whom every believer is to trace his life. The great difference between this tracing and that of a young child learning to draw is that we will never have a time when Christ will cease to be our pattern. And we will never be “on our own,” sufficiently skilled in ourselves to live as He lived. In fact, our part is not so much to pattern our lives ourselves as to allow God’s Spirit to pattern us after His Son. Second Corinthians 3:18 expresses this profound truth in magnificent terms: “But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”

The summum bonum of Christ that we are to imitate is His love. He loved us and gave Himself up for us. Giving of oneself to others is the epitome of agapēlove. Biblical love is not a pleasant emotion or good feeling about someone, but the giving of oneself for his welfare (cf. 1 John 3:16). Divine love is unconditional love, love that depends entirely on the one who loves and not on the merit, attractiveness, or response of the one loved. Christ did not simply have a deep feeling and emotional concern for mankind. Nor did He sacrifice Himself for us because we were deserving (cf. Rom. 5:8, 10). “While we were yet sinners,” He gave Himself us for us purely out of sovereign, gracious love, taking our sin upon Himself and paying its penalty in our behalf.

God’s love, and all love that is like His, loves for the sake of giving, not getting. With conditional love, if the conditions are not met there is no obligation to love. If we do not get, we do not give. But God’s makes no conditions for His love to us and commands that we love others without conditions. There is no way to earn God’s love or to deserve it by reason of human goodness.

Romantic, emotional love between husband and wife ebbs and flows, and sometimes disappears altogether. But loss of romantic love is never an appropriate excuse for dissolving a marriage, because the love that God specifically commands husbands to have for their wives is agapē love (Eph. 5:25; 3:19; cf. Titus 2:4; etc.)—love like His own undeserved love for us, love that is based on willful choice in behalf of the one loved, regardless of emotions, attraction, or deserving. Romantic love enhances and beautifies the relationship between husband and wife, but the binding force of a Christian marriage is God’s own kind of love, the love that loves because it is the divine nature to love. It is the love of giving, not of getting; and even when it ceases to get, it continues to give. Where there is the sacrificial love of willful choice, there is also likely to be the love of intimacy, feeling, and friendship (philia).

God loved us while we were still sinners and enemies, and He continues to love us as believers, even though we continue to sin and fall short of His perfection and His glory. He loves us when we forget Him, when we disobey Him, when we deny Him, when we fail to return His love, and when we grieve His Holy Spirit. When Jude said, “Keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 21), he was indicating the responsibility to stay in the place where that divine love sheds its blessing.

Those who are given God’s nature through Jesus Christ are commanded to love as God loves. In Christ, it is now our nature to love just as it is God’s nature to love—because His nature is now our nature. For a Christian not to love is for him to live against his own nature as well as against God’s.

Lovelessness is therefore more than a failure or shortcoming. It is sin, willful disobedience of God’s command and disregard of His example. To love as God loves is to love because God loves, because we are to “be imitators of God, as beloved children” and because Christ also loved [us], and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God.

God’s love not only is forgiving and unconditional but is also self-sacrificing. Therefore to love as God loves is to love sacrificially, to love by the giving of ourselves as He gave Himself.

The Christian’s walk in love is to extend to every person, believer and unbeliever. If God’s love can reach out even to His enemies, how can we refuse to love our enemies? If He loves His imperfect children with a perfect love, how can we not love fellow believers, whose imperfections we share? And if divine love led Christ to sacrifice Himself for unworthy and ungrateful sinners, how can we not give ourselves to fellow sinful people, unbelievers as well as believers, in His name?

Shortly before His betrayal and arrest, Jesus was having supper with His disciples. During the meal the disciples began arguing among themselves as to which was the greatest. Their Lord was facing His ultimate humiliation and affliction, and yet their only concern was for themselves, for their own prestige, rank, and glory. When the Lord most needed their comfort, encouragement, and support, they acted as if He were not with them. All their attention was focused selfishly on themselves (Luke 22:24).

It was then that Jesus picked up a basin of water and began washing their feet, a task usually reserved for the lowest of servants. Despite their callous lack of concern for His impending suffering and death, Jesus humbly, forgivingly, unconditionally, and self-sacrificially ministered to them. After He finished washing their feet and returned to the supper table, “He said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master; neither is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him” (John 13:12–16). Later He commanded them to love in this same manner (John 13:34–35).

Christ’s giving Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God was a fragrant aroma to His heavenly Father because that sacrifice demonstrated in the fullest and most ultimate way God’s kind of love. The words for us indicate the personal expression of love directed at all who believe. (This does not limit the provision of the atonement only to believers, as other Scriptures make clear. See John 1:29; 3:15–16; Rom. 10:13; 2 Cor. 5:14; 1 Tim. 2:4, 6; 4:10; 2 Pet. 2:1; 1 John 2:2; 4:14.)

The first five chapters of Leviticus describe five offerings commanded by God of the Israelites. The first three were the burnt offering, the meal offering, and the peace offering. The burnt offering (Lev. 1:1–17) depicted Christ’s total devotion to God in giving His very life to obey and please His Father; the meal (grain) offering (Lev. 2:1–16) depicted Christ’s perfection, and the peace offering (Lev. 3:1–17; 4:27–31) depicted His making peace between God and man. All of those offerings obviously spoke of what was pleasing to God. Of each, the Scripture says it provided a “soothing aroma to the Lord” (Lev. 1:9, 13, 17; 2:2, 9, 12; 3:5, 16). Philippians 4:18 explains that the fragrant aroma meant the sacrifice was “acceptable, … well-pleasing to God.” But the other two offerings—the sin (Lev. 4:1–26, 32–35) and the trespass (Lev. 5:1–19) offerings—were repulsive to God, because, though they depicted Christ, they depicted Him as bearing the sin of mankind. They depicted the Father’s turning His back on the Son when “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf” (2 Cor. 5:21), at which time Jesus exclaimed from the cross, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46).

While Christ was the sin-bearer, God could not look on Him or rejoice in Him or be pleased in Him. But when the Father raised Christ from the dead, the sacrifice that caused Him to become sin became the sacrifice that conquered sin. The sin that put Him to death was itself put to death, and that great act of love was to God as a fragrant aroma. That fragrant aroma spreads its fragrance to everyone on earth who will place himself under the grace of that sacrifice, and it will spread its fragrance throughout heaven for all eternity. In all aspects, our lives should please God (cf. 2 Cor. 2:14–16).[1]

On the Imitation of God

Ephesians 5:1–2

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

The fifth chapter of Ephesians begins with one of the most startling admonitions in the New Testament: “Be imitators of God.” It is the only place in the Bible where these words occur, and what makes them so startling is that they point to a standard beyond which there is no other. William Barclay calls this “the highest standard in the world.” Alexander Maclaren calls it “the sum of all duty.”2 To Martyn Lloyd-Jones it was “Paul’s supreme argument … the highest level of all in doctrine and in practice … the ultimate ideal.”

“Be imitators of God” reminds us of Thomas à Kempis’ classic, Of the Imitation of Christ. Thomas was born in 1380 at a time when Europe was in turmoil. The church was split by rival popes, one of whom still sat on the throne of St. Peter in Rome while the other exercised a rival rule in Avignon. The Hundred Years War was in progress. The Black Death had ravished city after city. Thomas grew up in the midst of corruption, unrest and disillusion, entered a monastery and, presumably in the 1420s, wrote what has since been called “the most influential book in Christian literature.” To be honest, Of the Imitation of Christ has never moved me as other books have, but it has been influential, and for more than five hundred years Christians have apparently found no difficulty with the concept of imitating the Jesus of history.

But the imitation of God the Father is quite another matter—or at least it seems so. How is it possible to imitate one who is infinitely above us, the sovereign God of the universe?

Incommunicable Attributes

Part of our problem comes from the nature of God and from what theologians call his noncommunicable attributes. In theological textbooks a distinction is made between God’s communicable attributes, in which we share, and God’s noncommunicable attributes, in which we do not share. For example, when we talk about God we often begin with the fact that he is self-existent, self-sufficient, and eternal.

Self-existent means that God has no origins and consequently is answerable to no one. This sets God utterly apart, for everything else does have origin and is accountable. Human beings are accountable to people (parents and friends), organizations (the church, the state, the company for which one works), and ultimately God. Everyone will face a final judgment.

Self-sufficient means that God has no needs and therefore depends on no one. That is not at all true of us. We need countless things—food, warmth, clothing, homes, companionship, oxygen. If our supply of oxygen is cut off even for a few minutes, we die.

Eternal means that God has always existed and will always exist. That is not true of us either. We have a point before which we did not exist. Moreover, we change as time passes. God does not change. He is always the same in his eternal being.

To these initial attributes, without which God would not be God, we can add such things as omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience, majesty, and holiness in its fullest sense. We cannot be like God in these characteristics.

Omnipotent means all-powerful. We are not nor will we ever be all-powerful. If we could be, we would be God.

Omnipresent means being everywhere at once. We will never possess this ability. We are finite creatures and will always be finite.

Omniscient means knowing all things. We will never know all things. We will spend all eternity learning.

Majesty and holiness also set God off from his creation. They are what make him “wholly other.” We are not that. Each of these incommunicable attributes sets God apart from us and delineates an area in which we cannot and never will be like him.

But we are also overwhelmed by God’s communicable attributes, that is, those attributes in which we share. They are things like justice, wrath, wisdom, faithfulness, goodness, love, mercy, compassion, tenderness, forgiveness. We can exercise these attributes and indeed we ought to. But when we think of them in reference to God the Father, who is perfect in them, we are necessarily overawed and wonder properly if there is any point in comparing our wisdom to God’s wisdom, our goodness to God’s goodness, our faithfulness to God’s faithfulness, and so on.

That is a healthy comparison, which should humble us, if nothing else. But it is nevertheless true that in our text Paul says that we are to imitate God. We are to imitate God “as dearly loved children.” In other words, just as a son should imitate a good father (though he is not a father and cannot imitate his father in many respects) and just as a daughter should imitate a good mother (though she is not a mother and cannot imitate her mother in many respects), so should the children of God imitate God. And they have this going for them: They have the enabling life of God within through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Consequently, just as physical genes should lead a child in the direction of a parent’s chief characteristics, so should a Christian’s spiritual genes lead in the direction of the moral character of God.

Forgiving Love

When we look at the passage in which the command to imitate God occurs we see at once that it is not just any attribute of God that Paul has in mind for our imitating, though it would be possible to imitate God in more ways than the one he mentions. What Paul chiefly has in mind is the imitation of God’s love. Indeed, this is what ties Ephesians 5:1 to the end of chapter 4 and links it also to the following verse. (Ephesians 5:1–2 are part of the preceding paragraph.)

The entire text says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” It is in loving that we are to imitate the Creator.

What kind of a love is this? The passage answers this question in several ways, and the first answer is that this love is to be forgiving. Since God the Father forgave us through the work of Christ, we are to forgive one another. This is love’s nature.

This link between God’s forgiveness of us and our forgiveness of others is important, because it is only through knowing ourselves to be forgiven that we are set free to forgive others lovingly. People are in desperate need of forgiveness. Some years ago I was talking with a friend who is a psychiatrist, and he said, “As far as I am concerned, most of what a psychiatrist does is directly related to forgiveness. People come to him with problems; they feel guilty about their part in them; they are seeking forgiveness. In effect, they confess their sins to the counselor and find that he forgives them. Then a pattern is set up in which they can show their change of heart in tangible ways toward others.”

In his book on confession John R. W. Stott quotes the head of a large mental hospital in England as having said, “I could dismiss half my patients tomorrow if they could be assured of forgiveness.”

That is what we have in Jesus Christ—forgiveness—and because we find forgiveness there, we can in turn be forgiving. God’s forgiveness is not a mere overlooking of sin, as though he said, “Well, boys will be boys (or girls will be girls). We’ll overlook it for now; just don’t let it happen again.” God takes sin with such seriousness that he deals with it fully at the cross, and it is on that basis—the death of Jesus—that we can know we are forgiven.

Do you know that, really know it? So long as you think you are a pretty good person who does not really need to be forgiven, you will naturally have a very hard time loving and forgiving others. But if you know yourself to have been a sinner under God’s just wrath, all that is changed. God says that in his sight even the best of us is vile to the extreme:

It is written,

“There is no one righteous, not even one;

there is no one who understands,

no one who seeks God.

All have turned away,

they have together become worthless;

there is no one who does good,

not even one.”

“Their throats are open graves;

their tongues practice deceit.”

“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”

“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”

“Their feet are swift to shed blood;

ruin and misery mark their ways,

and the way of peace they do not know.”

“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Romans 3:10–18

That is the way God sees us. If we see ourselves through his eyes, knowing our vile rebellion against his love and moral standards and yet finding ourselves forgiven on the basis of Christ’s death for us, then we will inevitably love and forgive others. For nobody can act as badly toward us as we have acted toward God, and yet he has forgiven us.

If we are not forgiving in our love, we really do not know the extent of God’s forgiveness of us. We still consider ourselves to be better than we are. But if we see ourselves as forgiven sinners, then we will be set free to love others in imitation of God.

Giving Love

The second thing these verses teach about the love of God, which we are to imitate, is that it is a giving love—not merely forgiving but also giving. Again, God is the model of such love, and the point at which it is most clearly demonstrated is the cross.

What is it that God chiefly gives us? He has given us all things, of course. Before Adam and Eve were even created God had prepared a wonderful environment to receive them. It was a place of beauty and interest, with meaningful work to do. Sin marred that environment, as we know. But even marred by sin, our experience of God’s gifts to us is not entirely unlike the experience of our first parents. God has given us life itself, and he has placed us within an imperfect but nevertheless beautiful and fascinating world. And the work we have to do in it is important. Having said this, however, we have to admit at once that it does not even come close to an expression of the full measure of God’s giving love. For that, like God’s forgiving love, is seen primarily at the cross:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:10).

God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8).

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Gal. 2:20).

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).

I am particularly interested in Philippians 2:5–8, for those verses tell us that even Jesus did not merely give up things to save us; he gave himself. He did not only give up things which were outward accompaniments of his divinity: his outward glory, the service of the angels, his position at the right hand of God the Father: “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” The heart of the passage is that Jesus gave himself, to the point of even death: “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross.” The greatest expression of love is not that it gives things or even that it gives up things, but that it gives itself.

In this too we are to be God’s imitators. Years ago, Donald Grey Barnhouse was counseling a couple who were having marital difficulties. The husband spoke in frustration at one point, saying, “But I don’t understand it. I have given you anything a woman could want. I’ve given you a nice house. I’ve given you a car. I’ve given you all the clothes you can wear. I’ve given you …” The list went on.

At last the man ended and his wife replied sadly, “Yes, John. That much is true. You have given me everything … but yourself.”

Why don’t we give ourselves to other people? It is because we are afraid to, and because we are selfish. We want ourselves for ourselves, and we are afraid that if we give ourselves to others, we will be hurt or disappointed. Only those who have God are set free from these fears and can give to others out of God’s own immensity.

Living Love

The third thing our text teaches about the love of God which we are to imitate is that it is to be a living love: forgiving, giving, but also living. It occurs in verse 2, where Paul says, “and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

There are two things that a living love suggests. First, it suggests a practical or active love. This is what Paul’s whole section on practical Christianity involves. For if we ask, “What does it mean to ‘live a life of love’?” the answer is in the very thing Paul has been saying. To use the outline of the last chapter, it means: (1) to put off lying and speak truthfully, (2) to put off anger, (3) to put off stealing and work for a living instead, (4) to put off unwholesome talk and instead speak to help others, and (5) to put off bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice, and instead to be kind, compassionate, and forgiving. That is what it means to live a life of love.

Second, living love suggests love that is made alive by the very life of God and is therefore an eternal love, as God is eternal. What a need we have for this today! Our loves are weak and faltering, variable and untrustworthy. What we need in our loves is something of the character of God’s love as Paul writes about it in Romans:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:35–39

Can you be an imitator of God in such an eternal love as that? The answer, if we look only to ourselves, is no. No, we cannot. Nothing that is natural to us is eternal, or forgiving or giving either, for that matter. But the answer is yes, if we look to God. The very man who wrote Ephesians 4:1 said, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13).

But we must spend time with God if that is to happen. The word that our text translates “imitate” or “imitator” is mimētai, from which we get our English word “mimic.” Mimic means to copy closely, to repeat another person’s speech, actions, or behavior. That is what we are to do with God. We are to repeat his actions, echo his speech, duplicate his behavior. How can we do that if we do not spend time with him? We cannot, because we will not even know what his behavior is. Spend time with God! Spend time with God in prayer. Spend time with God in Bible study. Spend time with God in worship. It is only by spending time with God that we become like God. We need men and women who are like God today.[2]

Live as the Child of God (5:2)

In savoring their new identity the Ephesians are reminded that they are to live not only as children of God, but also to live as the Child of God. Held before us and the Ephesians is the example of Jesus Christ. We are told to “live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph. 5:2). Imitating God means imitating his Son, and that means doing whatever is required to make our lives a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. The smell of Jesus, the fragrance of the Savior that we are to have waft from our lives, also includes offering and sacrifice.

The image that the apostle is bringing to mind, of course, is that of the Old Testament sacrifices where the people brought an offering to God and sacrificed it upon the altar so that its fiery consumption would cause the odor of a sweet sacrifice to God. There is much in the image that is pleasant. But it also reminds us that the fragrance from an altar does not come without some giving of self (an offering) and some dying of another (a sacrifice). There is no life of love without a degree of giving and dying.

As intimidating as that sounds, it may also be a source of comfort to us. In a world where we are tempted to advertise the earthly benefits of the faith, the Scriptures remind us of the theology of the cross. All who would be like Jesus must offer and sacrifice themselves. Luther taught that if we are truly to imitate Christ, then we must also in some measure suffer for the sins of others. The Reformer did not mean that we can atone for others’ sin, but we do suffer for their sake as we endure suffering so that they might know him.

In a world full of people caught up in sinful practices and attitudes, living like Jesus for the sake of others will involve both the giving of ourselves and the dying of self. Why is this a comfort? Because it allows me to confess that there is nothing unusual or odd in me when the purity and integrity to which God calls me also hurt me. Christian young men and women are too often ill-prepared for battle and weakened in spirit by the sense that they should not have to struggle much with the temptations of physical lust and personal gain. Such persons are tempted to think that if they were really holy, mature, and Christian, then it would not be difficult or painful to please God. But what is fragrant to God involves a giving and a dying of self—there is going to be some pain. If there were no pain involved, there would be no sacrifice. The fact that your obedience involves pain and struggle does not necessarily mean that God is displeased with you or that you are less spiritual than others. In fact, without the pain of giving and sacrifice there could be no fragrant offering to God. What enables us to bear and offer this pain is savoring our identity as children of God, and remembering that we are called to live as the Child of God who offered and sacrificed himself for us.[3]

2 Or imitating God may point to what Paul says next, for he says, “and walk in love” (present tense, imperative mood—i.e., “keep on conducting your lives in love”; NIV, “live a life of love”). Paul used the verb peripateō (“walk”) for the conduct of life in 2:2; 4:1, 17. “Love” represents the crucial divine trait to be imitated, and one that Paul has stressed for the community (recall 4:2, 15–16). Here Paul presents Christ’s self-giving love for his people as the pattern of love to emulate. With an active form of the verb, Paul insists that Christ “gave himself up” for his people (cf. v. 25; Gal 2:20). Employing language of the sacrificial system, Paul shows how love and giving are closely identified (cf. Jn 3:16). In Paul’s view, Christ’s death was a vicarious death—“for us”—and elsewhere Paul spelled out some of the benefits of Christ’s salvific work (e.g., 1:5, 7; 2:5–6). It was a sacrificial offering “to God” that was, literally, “for a smell of fragrance.” Paul paints the picture of the aroma of the sacrifice ascending to God and bringing God pleasure (cf. Ge 8:21; Ex 29:18; Lev 2:2, 9, 12). Paul clearly implies that God was pleased and accepted Christ’s offering. By implication, then, when believers love one another—i.e., when they sacrificially put others’ interests above their own—God is pleased with this offering to him. Paul employs this same language to capture what the Philippians demonstrated in giving Paul gifts (Php 4:18).[4]

5:2 / Since forgiveness and love are bound together, believers are admonished to live a life of love. That love finds its example in Christ who gave himself up for us. By implication, the Christian’s love is to be expressed as a self-giving sacrifice (cf. 5:25). Love is the essence of God and is to be the main feature of the believer’s walk (peripateō). By mentioning Christ’s death, the apostle recalls words that were applicable to Jewish sacrifices—namely, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. The sacrifice of Jesus and the sacrificial life of love that believers live are pleasing to God.[5]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians (pp. 193–199). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Boice, J. M. (1988). Ephesians: an expositional commentary (pp. 171–177). Grand Rapids, MI: Ministry Resources Library.

[3] Chapell, B. (2009). Ephesians. (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.) (pp. 238–239). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.

[4] Klein, W. W. (2006). Ephesians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 133). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[5] Patzia, A. G. (2011). Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon (p. 255). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

January 26: A Little Folly

Genesis 41:38–42:28; Hebrews 3:1–5:10; Ecclesiastes 10:1–9

Like dead flies in perfumer’s oil, the writer of Ecclesiastes aptly proclaims that a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. Sometimes fools are elevated to positions of power, while those who are fit for the position are given no influence. The Preacher says, “I have seen slaves on horses, and princes walking on the ground like slaves” (Eccl 10:7).

It’s not difficult to nod our heads and say “Amen” when we come to this example of an “evil under the sun.” We probably all have a story to tell about a leader who wasn’t fit for a position and about the injustices we endured under their authority. When a fool is set up as an authority figure, everyone suffers.

The Preacher gives a suggestion, though: “If the anger of the ruler rises against you, do not leave your place, for calmness will lay great offenses to rest” (Eccl 10:4). This doesn’t just tell us we should have a posture of humility and obedience before bad leaders. We should also teach them by responding with love and humility—something that may calm even the worst of fools.

In Hebrews, we find the context for this. We stand naked and exposed to God, who judges our thoughts and the intentions of our hearts. On our own, sin and guilt would condemn us. But we have a high priest in Jesus Christ. He intercedes for us, just as the Old Testament high priests interceded for the people of Israel. Our confidence is not in our own wisdom and righteousness, but in Him.

We can’t credit ourselves for our own wisdom. We stand before God on account of His Son’s righteousness and obedience. Jesus is the one who is able to withstand our folly. We stand in His righteousness, and we can learn from His obedience.

How can you respond to authority in a way that reflects God’s righteousness?

Rebecca Van Noord[1]

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