Daily Archives: February 6, 2018

February 6 The Joy of Sainthood

“… to all the saints in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:1).

✧✧✧

Every Christian is a saint.

Many people think of saints as men and women who are or were especially holy or who have been canonized by an official church body. Usually only those who have been long dead and have extraordinary religious accomplishments to their credit qualify.

God, however, has a different perspective on sainthood. Paul called the Corinthian believers “saints” (1 Cor. 1:2), then went on for many chapters correcting their sinful practices. He called the Roman, Ephesian, and Colossian believers “saints” too, but they weren’t perfect either.

What, then, qualifies someone as a saint? The answer is in Philippians 1:1—“to all the saints in Christ Jesus” (emphasis added). That’s the criterion. Sainthood is not reserved for the spiritually elite. It belongs to every believer because every believer is “in Christ Jesus.”

If you love Christ, you are a saint. That might come as a surprise to those who know you best, but it’s true nonetheless!

The hallmark of sainthood is holiness. In fact, the Greek word translated “saints” in Philippians 1:1 (hagios) literally means “holy ones.” It is used throughout the New Testament to speak of anyone or anything that represents God’s holiness: Christ as the Holy One of God, the Holy Spirit, the Holy Father, holy Scriptures, holy angels, holy brethren, and so on.

To God, you are “holy and beloved” in Christ (Col. 3:12). You have received a saintly calling (1 Cor. 1:2) and a saintly inheritance (Col. 1:12). You have “redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:14) and every other spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3).

With that privilege comes the responsibility of living a holy life. That’s why Scripture admonishes you to present your body as a living and holy sacrifice (Rom. 12:1) and to live in a manner worthy of your saintly status (Eph. 5:3).

The power for godly living is the Holy Spirit, who indwells you. As you yield to Him through prayer and obedience to God’s Word, the characteristics of a true saint become increasingly evident in your life. Make that your commitment today.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for choosing you as one of His holy ones. ✧ Pray that your life will be a consistent testimony to the reality of true sainthood.

For Further Study: What are the privileges and responsibilities of saints as outlined in Psalm 34?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 49). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

FEBRUARY 6 GOD TELLS US IN THE BIBLE WHAT HE IS LIKE

And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

ACTS 2:3

Just because God cannot tell us what He is, He very often tells us what He is like, and by these “like” figures He leads our faltering minds as close as they can come to that “Light which no man can approach unto.”

Through the more cumbersome medium of the intellect the soul is prepared for the moment when it can, through the operation of the Holy Spirit, know God as He is in Himself. God has used a number of these similitudes to hint at His incomprehensible being, and judging from the Scriptures one would gather that His favorite similitude is fire.

In one place the Spirit speaks expressly, “For our God is a consuming fire.”

With the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost the same imagery was continued—for that which came upon the disciples in that upper room was nothing less than God Himself!

The God who had appeared to them as fire throughout all their long history was now dwelling in them as fire. He had moved from without to the interior of their lives. The Shekinah that had once blazed over the mercy seat now blazed on their foreheads as an external emblem of the fire that had invaded their natures.

This was Deity giving Himself to ransomed men and women.

The flame was the seal of a new union. They were now men and women of the Fire![1]


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

February 6, 2018 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

BLOOMBERG

The House is scheduled to vote late Tuesday on Republicans’ proposed stopgap spending bill to keep the government open until March 23 and provide full-year funding for the Defense Department.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence declined to rule out talks with North Korean officials while attending Winter Olympics events in South Korea, even as he urged the isolated regime to abandon it nuclear program.

The sharp sell-off in stocks that started last week and gathered steam this week lacked a specific trigger — unlike the last time U.S. shares fell this much, which came in the wake of the U.S. losing its AAA sovereign rating at S&P Global Ratings in 2011.

While it’s impossible to say for sure what was at work when the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell as much as 1,597 points, the worst part of the downdraft felt to many like the machines run amok. For 15 harrowing minutes just after 3 p.m. in New York a deluge of sell orders came so fast that it seemed like nothing breathing could’ve been responsible.

The U.S. trade deficit widened to the biggest monthly and annual levels since the last recession, underscoring the inherent friction in President Donald Trump’s goal of narrowing the gap while enjoying faster economic growth. The deficit increased 5.3 percent in December to a larger-than- expected $53.1 billion, the widest since October 2008, as imports outpaced exports.

Russia’s billionaire oligarchs are beginning to face additional scrutiny on at least some financial transactions following U.S. publication of a list of wealthy Russians identified as allies of President Vladimir Putin.

South Korea’s spy agency has begun investigating the possibility that North Korean hackers orchestrated the theft of about $500 million worth of digital coins from Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck Inc., said a lawmaker who attended a meeting with the head of the intelligence service.

The U.S. and Russia clashed Monday at the United Nations Security Council over allegations that the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad has once again used chemical weapons in attacks on rebel enclaves.

Candidates would be required to be at least 18 to run for statewide offices in Kansas under legislation drafted in response to six teenagers entering the race for governor.

The Pentagon intends to ask Congress to approve $10.7 billion to buy 77 Lockheed Martin Corp. F-35 jets in the fiscal year set to begin Oct. 1, according to U.S. officials.

Venezuela’s bolivar plunged more than 80 percent as the central bank restarted currency auctions for the first time since August as part of its efforts to ease a severe shortage of dollars and clamp down on hyperinflation. One dollar bought about 25,000 bolivars at the auction, compared with 3,345 bolivars at the last so-called Dicom sale about six months ago.

AP Top Stories

Israel has started handing out notices to 20,000 male African migrants giving them two months to leave the country or risk being thrown in jail.

Boeing announced more than $900 million in orders on Tuesday at the Singapore Airshow from companies in the region and beyond.

Bulldozers and backhoes pounded more than two dozen seized luxury cars in the Philippines on Tuesday, including Porsches, Mercedes, Jaguars and Corvettes, in a dramatic demolition showcasing the no-nonsense leader’s crackdown on crime and corruption. President Rodrigo Duterte watched as the second-hand vehicles, some valued as high as $115,000, were reduced to piles of scrap in a little over three minutes.

A U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress dropped a record number of precision guided bombs on Taliban over the past 24 hours in Northern Afghanistan, the U.S. Forces-Afghanistan said in a statement Tuesday. The bombing was part of a 96-hour air campaign that struck training facilities and sources of revenue like narcotics. The strikes also aimed at stolen Afghan National Army vehicles “being converted to vehicle-borne” improvised explosive devices.

BBC

Dozens of private security guards at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in S. Korea have been taken to hospital with norovirus, prompting organizers to call in soldiers as guards instead.

The value of Bitcoin has fallen to below $6,000 – its lowest price since November 2017.

Asian markets plunged on Tuesday as investors dumped stocks following the biggest US market fall for six years.

Industrial workers in south-western Germany have won the right to reduced working hours from 35 to 28 for up to two years to look after their families, as part of a deal that could benefit millions of employees across the country. The deal covers almost one million workers in Baden-Württemberg state and also gives them a pay rise.

WND

The picturesque port city of Cape Town, South Africa has long had the distinction of being one of the world’s top tourist destinations. But now, the first major city in the modern era to have its water supply chain switched off. The city is experiencing a record-low water drought and city officials say soon they may have to take extraordinary steps to restrict water usage. Experts say this kind of drought only comes once in 300 years. Dam water levels are dangerously low, at an average of 25 percent. In some areas, levels are dropping by as much as 1 percent a day. Residents and tourists can only use about 13 gallons of water a day, or face stiff fines.

Today, a rather unlikely-sounding candidate to become Michigan governor is looking to take back the state for the Democrats. Abdul El-Sayed, a 33-year-old doctor and son of an Egyptian immigrant, is running an economically populist campaign that would also make him the first Muslim governor in American history.

Employees at Newsweek have been told that Editor-in-chief Bob Roe and executive editor Ken Li have been fired, sources with knowledge of the situation told CNN. Staff in Newsweek’s New York offices were told they could stop working and go home for the day on Monday afternoon.


-1,175 Points! We Just Witnessed The Largest One Day Stock Market Crash Ever

The mainstream media seems so surprised that the stock market is crashing, but the truth is that it isn’t a surprise at all.  In fact, this crash is way, way overdue.  If the Dow Jones industrial average fell another 10,000 points, stock prices would still be overvalued.  I have been warning and warning and warning that this would happen, because stock valuations always return to their long-term averages eventually.  On Monday, the Dow was down a staggering 1,175 points, which was the largest single day decline that we have ever seen by a very wide margin.  In fact, it shattered the old record by nearly 400 points. (Read More…)


February 6, 2018
ALAN KEYES — Last week, I wrote a column reflecting on the assertion that Christians who support Donald Trump have, in effect, surrendered to moral relativism. In that column, I noted that – – in the very same week President Trump addressed the Right to Life March, live and in person from the Rose Garden – -… (more)

February 5, 2018
JOAN SWIRSKY — Once upon a time, a seasoned political operative ran for President of the United States against a candidate who had virtually no political experience. She – Democrat Hillary Clinton – former First Lady of Arkansas, former First Lady of the United States, former U.S. Senator from New York, former Secretary of State under the faux “president” Barack Obama, was clearly the favorite…. (more)

February 5, 2018
WASHINGTON TIMES — The House’s top investigator on Sunday said the FBI failed to notify a surveillance court that it was relying on material backed by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign when it asked to snoop on a former adviser to the Trump campaign…. (more)

February 5, 2018
WASHINGTON TIMES — A top Republican senator on Monday released an unpublished portion of the infamous Trump-Russia dossier that showed Hillary Clinton associates fed information to the author, former British spy Christopher Steele. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairmen Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, posted the heavily redacted referral he sent to the Justice Department asking for a criminal investigation into whether Mr. Steele lied to the FBI…. (more)


February 5, 2018
WASHINGTON TIMES — President Trump said Friday the leaders at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department have a political bias against Republicans. “The top Leadership and Investigators of the FBI and the Justice Department have politicized the sacred investigative process in favor of Democrats and against Republicans – something which would have been unthinkable just a short time ago. Rank & File are great people!” Mr. Trumptweeted…. (more)

February 5, 2018
FOX NEWS — Now that we know what the declassified House memo says about government misconduct, we also know what it means: The Washington swamp – – the deep state – – is bigger, more vicious and more dangerous to American liberty than even a cynic could have imagined…. (more)

February 5, 2018
ROBERT KNIGHT — Well, it’s not breaking news, but it’s worth noting as President Trump and Congress spar over spending that the national federal debt exceeds $20,000,000,000,000 – – and is rising by the minute. We’re using zeroes here instead of spelling out “trillion” to help get across the enormity of this liability that we are piling onto our children and grandchildren…. (more)

February 5, 2018
FAITH IT — The 2017 NFL season could easily be summed up in two words: Public Demonstration. Flip the channel to ESPN this season, and you’re bound to get one of two very different tales. On one hand, you may have seen headlines and reports of free agent Colin Kaepernick, and his public demonstration of taking a knee – -although it may have cost him his career…. (more)


February 4, 2018
JERRY NEWCOMBE — Another school shooting has taken place – – this one in Kentucky. Our prayers are with the families of the victims, including two dead 15-year olds and about 18 wounded. Governor Matt Bevin even declared a day of prayer in the wake of the tragedy…. (more)

February 4, 2018
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — The Trump administration’s new, revised nuclear weapons policy squarely targets Russia’s growing stockpile of non-strategic nuclear weapons with a more forceful doctrine and new low-yield warheads designed to send Moscow a message…. (more)

February 4, 2018
NEWSMAX — Public hearings should be held about the allegations in House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes’ memo that the FBI abused surveillance practices during the 2016 presidential election, Rep. Pete King, a fellow committee member, said Friday…. (more)

February 4, 2018
WASHINGTON TIMES — President Trump said Saturday that a memo on FBI surveillance abuses released by House Republicans “totally vindicates” him in the investigation into Russian meddling and collusion in the 2016 election. “This memo totally vindicates ‘Trump’ in probe,” the president tweeted. “But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on.” The president said there was “no Collusion and there was no Obstruction (the word now used because, after one year of looking endlessly and finding NOTHING, collusion is dead).”… (more)

February 4, 2018
BYRON YORK — It’s fair to say that much of the media reaction to the House Intelligence Committee “FISA abuse” memo has been a mixture of scorn and ridicule. Many commentators have called the memo wrong, worthless, or worse…. (more)


February 4, 2018
WASHINGTON TIMES — Republicans released a long-awaited memo Friday detailing government surveillance abuses, showing that the FBI would not have obtained a surveillance warrant for the Trump campaign without using information from a dubious partisan dossier…. (more)

February 4, 2018
ARI FLEISCHER — I don’t know former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. I’ve never met him. But I was supposed to. I was in an FBI car last June on my way to meet him and other top law enforcement leaders at a counterterrorism communications training event at the 9/11 Museum in New York City when McCabe suddenly ordered me not to show up. The car pulled up outside the museum and I was told not to come inside. I took a taxi back to my hotel and went home…. (more)

February 4, 2018
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — President Trump’s rollback of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah become official Friday, allowing private citizens and companies to make new oil, natural gas, and drilling claims…. (more)

February 3, 2018
NEWSMAX — House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes said on Friday that the Republican memo alleging FBI surveillance abuses was justified because “I have an obligation to the American people when we see FISA abuse” – – denying that he coordinated its release with President Donald Trump or his private attorneys…. (more)

February 3, 2018
ART MOORE — In the wake of the release Friday of a controversial memo he spearheaded that alleges politically motivated abuse of the nation’s surveillance system by the FBI and the Justice Department, he’s being called a Russian agent and much worse, and there are demands that he be removed from the chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee…. (more)


February 3, 2018
WORLDNETDAILY — The Nunes memo released Friday shows special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating the wrong people “on purpose,” contends talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh. The declassified report by the Republican majority on the House Intelligence Committee confirms that Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee paid for a British spy to produce a salacious and discredited opposition report on Donald Trump that was submitted by the Justice Department to a top-secret surveillance court as evidence to obtain warrants to spy on a Trump campaign adviser…. (more)

February 3, 2018
GREG COROMBOS — President Trump declassified the highly anticipated memo from House Intelligence Committee Republicans on Friday, and the four-page summary of federal FISA abuses convinces former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli that the government manipulated the system for partisan purposes and that the entire FISA system must be reformed…. (more)

February 3, 2018
WASHINGTON TIMES — The release of a declassified memo on FBI surveillance abuses against the Trump campaign prompted calls Friday for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to explain his involvement to Congress, or even to resign. The memo from Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee shows that at least one of the questionable surveillance warrant applications was signed by Mr. Rosenstein, who already has had a difficult relationship with President Trump. The memo said information supporting the application was obtained from a partisan anti-Trump dossier funded by Hillary Clinton’s campaign…. (more)


February 3, 2018
NEWSMAX — Former CIA Director John Brennan has signed on to be a talking head on NBC and MSNBC. He will serve as a senior national security and intelligence analyst for the networks and make his first official appearance on NBC News’s “Meet the Press” with Chuck Todd on Sunday…. (more)

February 3, 2018
NEWSMAX — The Department of Defense has put a primary focus on a multibillion-dollar effort to update its nuclear deterrence against Russia, according to its recently released Nuclear Posture Review, CNN reported Friday. The report acknowledges publicly for the first time a “new intercontinental, nuclear-armed, nuclear-powered, undersea autonomous torpedo,” known as the “Status-6” system it said Russia was “developing.”… (more)


February 3, 2018
BBC NEWS — Researchers have found more than 60,000 hidden Maya ruins in Guatemala in a major archaeological breakthrough. Laser technology was used to survey digitally beneath the forest canopy, revealing houses, palaces, elevated highways, and defensive fortifications. The landscape, near already-known Maya cities, is thought to have been home to millions more people than other research had previously suggested…. (more)


February 3, 2018
BYRON YORK — The House Intelligence Committee has released its controversial memo outlining alleged abuses of secret surveillance by the FBI and Justice Department in the Trump-Russia investigation. Here are some key points: * The Steele dossier formed an essential part of the initial and all three renewal FISA applications against Carter Page…. (more)


News – 2/6/2018

The Federal Reserve May Secretly Want to Sink the Record-Breaking Stock Market
Despite its independence, the Federal Reserve may quietly want a bear market that takes down a president that loves tweeting about the stock market. Peter Schiff, CEO of Euro Pacific Capital, told TheStreet the “[Janet] Yellen put” in the markets could expire under President Trump. “I don’t know if the Fed has much love for Trump,” he said, adding that the Fed had the markets’ back during the Obama Administration. “Maybe the Fed would be happy to see a bear market that could be blamed on Trump.” Schiff thinks the markets could easily correct 20%. One black swan event Schiff sees is the notion of investors abandoning the euphoria over Trump’s presidency, which helped fuel the stock market rally this year.

Mark Levin on FISA Memo Revelations: ‘Hillary Clinton Paid for a Warrant — That’s the Easiest Way to Put It’
This is bad. Let me tell you a couple of things here. Now we know why [Adam] Schiff and the rest of them are fighting so hard. Now we know why the left-wing praetorian guard Democrat media are fighting so hard, trashing [Devin] Nunes, me, you, and others. Let’s walk through this quickly. Who are they trying to protect? Hillary Clinton. Sean, who else are they trying to protect? Barack Obama. His name never comes up.

Pentagon: Two top Guantanamo Bay officials fired
“Today, Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis rescinded the designations of Harvey Rishikof as the Director of the Office of the Convening Authority for Military Commissions and as the Convening Authority for Military Commissions,” the Pentagon said. Mattis appointed Jim Coyne, who currently serves as the general counsel at the Defense Logistics Agency, as the acting convening authority, Pentagon spokesman Tom Crosson told CNN.

Satellite images reveal new North Korean bases for fleet of assault hovercraft
The rogue state is building two new bases and upgrading two existing facilities for the vehicles on its west coast, increasing the threat to South Korean-held islands in the West Sea. The additional bases are expected to be completed next year, with analysts pointing out that the new site at Yonbong-ni will house the furthest forward-deployed assault hovercraft in the North Korean fleet.

Nunes: Charges possible for officials who lied to court to spy on Trump
Devin Nunes, R-Calif., who spearheaded the controversial House Intelligence Committee memo released Friday, says Obama administration figures who used the dubious “dossier” funded by Democrats to obtain warrants to spy on the Trump campaign could be in serious trouble legally. “Where did the order come down from? Was this just a couple people, or did this come from above?” “Heading the cabal,” Buchanan said, was then-FBI Director James Comey, “who made the call to exonerate Hillary of criminal charges for imperiling national security secrets, even before his own FBI investigation was concluded.”

Nunes: ‘Clear evidence’ that Hillary Clinton campaign colluded with the Russians
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said Monday that there was clear evidence that the Democratic party and the Hillary Clinton campaign colluded with the Russians. …we have an active investigation into the State Department, that has been ongoing for a while now, and as soon as we can get that information out, we will, as the investigation unfolds.

Paratroopers prepare for full self-reliance in Lebanon war scenario
Amid the rugged Mt. Carmel forests, troops learn to make use of food, fuel, medical supplies from Lebanese population, fix weapons mid-battle; Fact that Hezbollah is now a more professional, conventional, highly trained army, not militia, seen as advantage for IDF.

Dollar climbs as world stock markets slide further
Currency markets showed far less of the panic movements gripping equities on Tuesday, with the dollar gaining slightly and traditional safe haven currencies like the Swiss Franc and the Japanese yen struggling to hold on to earlier gains.

Air strikes pound Syria’s last rebel strongholds, gas chokes civilians
Warplanes launched heavy attacks on the two last major rebel-held areas in Syria, killing at least 29 people in the Ghouta suburb near the capital and choking people with gas in Idlib in the northwest, rescue workers and a war monitor said on Monday.

Erdogan says U.S. has ‘calculations’ against Turkey, Iran, Russia in Syria
The United States is working against the interests of Turkey, Iran and maybe Russia in northern Syria, where it is sending in military supplies to an area controlled by Kurdish-dominated forces, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.

Poland’s President Duda says he will sign Holocaust bill into law
Poland’s president said on Tuesday he will sign into law a bill imposing jail terms for suggesting the country was complicit in the Holocaust, defying criticism from Israel, the United States and activists. Andrzej Duda said in a televised address the legislation would ensure Poland’s “dignity and historical truth”.

Analysis: US sanctions on Hamas and Hezbollah indirectly target Iran
The Trump administration has laid out several new sanctions designations over the last month that target individuals and entities connected to Hamas and Hezbollah who have strong links to the Iranian government. The newly aggressive posture against Tehran’s proxy network are part of the administration’s broader strategy to push back against Iran’s activities in the region, which it views as hegemonic and destabilizing to the greater Middle East.

Hamas praises suspected killer of Havat Gilad Rabbi
Hamas praised the suspected killer of a rabbi in the Nablus area, who Israeli security forces shot dead on Tuesday morning in a village near Jenin. Ahmad Nasr Jarrar killed 32-year-old Rabbi Raziel Shevach, a resident of the Havat Gilad outpost, in a drive-by shooting in the West Bank on January 9, according to Israel and Hamas’s armed wing, the Izzadin Kassam Brigades.

Germany sold technology to Iran for use in Syrian chemical attacks
Germany’s Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control approved a license for a company to sell military applicable technology to Iranian companies that subsequently was used in Syrian regime chemical weapons attacks, reported the German publication Bild on Monday. The German company Krempel, located near the southern city of Stuttgart, sold electronic press boards to Iranian companies that were used in the production of rockets.

Asia markets join global stock plunge
Asian markets plunged on Tuesday as investors dumped stocks following the biggest US market fall for six years. At one point Japan’s Nikkei 225 index was down 7%, but recovered some of those losses to close 4.7% lower. London, Frankfurt and Paris all fell sharply when they opened on Tuesday with new losses of up to 3%. In the US overnight the Dow lost 4.6%.

German industrial workers win right to flexible hours
Industrial workers in south-western Germany have won the right to reduced working hours as part of a deal that could benefit millions of employees across the country. Workers will be able to reduce their weekly hours from 35 to 28 for up to two years to look after their families. The deal covers almost one million workers in Baden-Württemberg state and also gives them a pay rise.

Syria war: ‘Chlorine attack’ on rebel-held Idlib town
Nine people were treated for breathing difficulties after a bomb believed to be filled with chlorine was dropped on a rebel-held town in Syria, medics say. The Syria Civil Defence said three of its rescue workers were among the casualties from the attack on Saraqeb, in the north-western province of Idlib. The Syrian opposition said the bomb was dropped by a government helicopter.

Report: China Moves 300,000 Troops Closer to North Korean Border
China is reportedly moving missile defense batteries and troops closer to its border with North Korea, a potential sign that Beijing anticipates either a large refugee wave north or a military disturbance triggered by the belligerence of communist dictator Kim Jong-un…On Friday, China’s state-run People’s Daily newspaper reported that Beijing was also investing in establishing nuclear monitoring stations throughout the world, but especially near North Korea…

Lebanese leaders agree to act against ‘Israeli threats’
Lebanon’s three top leaders accused Israel on Tuesday of threatening the stability of the border region between the two countries, where calm has largely prevailed since a 2006 war, amid rising tension over territorial and maritime boundaries. President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri agreed to act to prevent Israel from building a wall on Lebanese land at the frontier, and threatening an offshore energy block in disputed waters.

Deep State Mobile: Google Helps Lead the Charge For Socialized 5G That Would Eliminate Internet Privacy
A recently leaked proposal authored by a senior National Security Council official hopes to create a nationalized 5G network where anonymity would be banned and the government would have an easier time going after those who “sow division” or pirate copyrighted material.

Michael Savage Rings The Alarm After Stock Market Tanks: ‘Deep State’ Trying To DESTROY TRUMP! (AUDIO)
On his nationally-syndicated radio program Monday, talk show legend and New York Times best-selling author, Dr. Michael Savage, accused the ‘Deep State,’ of tanking the stock market in an effort to ‘destroy’ President Trump.

AP Exclusive: 2015 letter belies pope’s claim of ignorance
Pope Francis received a victim’s letter in 2015 that graphically detailed how a priest sexually abused him and how other Chilean clergy ignored it, contradicting the pope’s recent insistence that no victims had come forward to denounce the cover-up, the letter’s author and members of Francis’ own sex- abuse commission have told The Associated Press.

Congress Calls For Criminal Charges Against Comey, McCabe, Rosenstein For Treason
Obama-era illegal spying is coming back to haunt the globalists

BPA Hormone Disruptor Found In 86% Of Teenagers’ Digestive Tracts
A recent University of Exeter study has discovered that nearly all teenagers tested are holding bisphenol-A (BPA) in their intestinal lining. The chemical that makes plastics stronger and more flexible was found in higher amounts in teenagers than in the general public, causing major concern since the hormone disrupting toxicant can affect the reproductive system.

May Govt Admits ‘Significant Portion’ of Returned Islamic State Jihadists Going Unpunished, Roaming Free
Theresa May’s government has admitted that “a significant portion” of the more than 400 Islamic State fighters who have returned to Britain are at large, unpunished, having been deemed “no longer of national security concern”.

Hollywood actress jokes about eating unborn babies
At a telethon to raise money for abortions, Hollywood actress and comedian Sarah Silverman declared that laws banning the use of aborted fetuses in food products “would make me want to eat an aborted fetus.”

Trump Attorneys Approve Second Special Counsel To Probe FBI & DOJ
The war between the White House and the FBI/DOJ complex may be turning nuclear.

Elementary Teachers Launch SJW Curriculum to Combat Belief in Two Genders
A teachers’ union has launched a “social justice” curriculum for young children which includes lesson plans on combating “heteronormativity,” the common belief that there’s two genders with natural roles in life.

Study Reveals Science Behind Soy Boys
The ‘soy boy’ epidemic – in which young men act effeminate without being gay – is likely caused by the “gender-bending” chemicals in food and water mentioned in a new study.

‘UNVEILING JERUSALEM’ DEBUNKS U.N. REJECTION OF JEWISH HERITAGE
It was only months ago that UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural organization, declared the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron — believed to be the site of the double tombs of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah — a “Palestinian heritage site.”

CDC: US Flu Outbreak Worsens; Hospitalizations Highest in Nearly a Decade
The U.S. flu outbreak worsened over the past week as more people headed to doctors’ offices and emergency rooms, with hospitalizations at the highest in nearly 10 years, U.S. health officials said on Friday.

Tourists spooked by Cape’s #WaterCrisis
..“One of the key concerns noted by potential tourists who are considering Cape Town, is that they would make the water situation worse if they visited our region. We believe that this is incorrect. During peak season, international tourists only add 1% to the population,” said Wesgro spokesperson Russel Brueton.

Are Virtual Reality Churches the Wave of the Future?
Virtual reality, which can easily allow churches to have global presence and foster diversity and inclusiveness, is far more enabling than live-streaming, which numerous megachurches are currently using to conduct multi-site worship services. So are we going to see a rise of VR churches in the near future as the technology becomes cheaper and more accessible?

Report: Hamas believes war with Israel will break out in the coming days
Hamas and other Palestinian organizations believe there is a “95 percent chance” that Israel will launch a war as part of an IDF exercise in Southern Israel in the coming days, according to a report published by Al-Hayat on Sunday, quoting sources from various factions in the Gaza Strip, including Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar.

‘Why is the IDF promoting transgenderism and LGBT issues?’
Minister blasts IDF Chief of Staff Eizenkot over what he calls excessive ‘glorification’ of IDF’s transgender and LGBT soldiers.

Thousands Of Jobs In Ohio Are Left Unfilled Because People Can’t ‘Pass A Drug Test’
The manufacturing industry in Ohio is expanding under the Trump administration, but growth is stunted because many potential employees are also addicted to drugs.

Philly Coach Doug Pederson Praises ‘Lord and Savior Jesus Christ’ During Post-Game Celebration
….“How do you explain this, that nine years ago you’re coaching in high school and here you are with this trophy?” Dan Patrick asked.  Pederson replied, “I can only give the praise to my lord and savior Jesus Christ for giving me this opportunity and I’m going to tell you something: I’ve got the best players in the world.”

US Starts Iraq Drawdown After Declaration of Victory Over ISIS
American troops have started to draw down from Iraq following Baghdad’s declaration of victory over the Islamic State group last year, according to Western contractors at a U.S.-led coalition base in Iraq.

German Politicians ‘Alarmed’ at Scale of Anti-Christian Hate Attacks
Attacks on churches and Christian symbols accounted for a quarter of the 97 cases


Headlines – 2/6/2018

Two-state solution only way to peace: UN chief

UN chief warns consensus on two-state solution may be eroding

UN chiefs warns of ‘one-state reality’ in Middle East

Abbas sets conditions for fresh peace talks, with diminished US role

Palestinians blast Trump’s ‘Zionist American’ peace envoy

Islamic Movement leader slams Palestinian Authority for crying ‘crocodile tears,’ promises Jerusalem will be capital of Islamic Caliphate

Erdogan and Pope Discuss Jerusalem as Violence Breaks Out Near Vatican

Israeli killed in terror stabbing attack in West Bank

Hamas: Ariel attack a response to Trump’s Jerusalem declaration

Egyptian MP calls for scrapping ‘shameful’ peace deal with Israel

Lebanese military tells IDF border wall violates its sovereign territory

With high-tech warships, Navy readies to guard gas fields from Hezbollah, Hamas

Analysis: US sanctions on Hamas and Hezbollah indirectly target Iran

Situation in Gaza approaches critical point

Liberman: There’s no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, we won’t ‘spend a penny’

Poland cancels visit by Bennett, who vowed to ‘tell the truth’ about Holocaust

On Holocaust distortion, Poland is the ‘tip of the iceberg,’ Nazi hunter says

NY Assemblyman: Facebook is shamefully excluding Israel

83 killed in ‘war on children’ across Mideast in January, UN says

‘Bombs are still falling’: Syrian refugees at risk of forced return home

UN demands cessation of Syria hostilities, says situation ‘extreme’

US ‘gravely alarmed’ after fresh Syria chemical weapons attack

US urges world to ‘speak with one voice’ on Syria chemical attacks

Germany sold technology to Iran for use in Syrian chemical attacks

Experts warn of ‘escalation’ between Israel and Russia over Syria

Nikki Haley accuses Russia of shielding Syria over chemical attacks

Russian and regime jets bomb civilian areas in north-west Syria

Russian jet pilot ‘pulled grenade pin’ to avoid capture in Syria’s Idlib

Iranian-armed Yemen Rebels Now Threaten One of World’s Busiest Shipping Routes, Israeli Navy Says

Italy’s Berlusconi: 600,000 migrants ‘ready’ to commit crime

Canadian PM: Sharia law is compatible with democracy

Report: China Moves 300,000 Troops Closer to North Korean Border

Olympics 2018: Drills held in Pyeongchang prepare for threats of terrorism, war

North Korea Is Building a ‘Socialist Fairyland’ Despite U.S. Threats and Sanctions

Government shutdown deadline looms Thursday as lawmakers try for DACA deal

Dow plunges 1,175 points in worst day for stocks since 2011

Dow Jones futures fall by 600 points after massive Monday sell-off

FTSE and European stock markets fall after US and Asia ‘bloodbath’

Global Markets – Stocks crumble in vicious sell-off as “goldilocks” trade unravels

Oil prices fall more than 1 percent amid global market rout

Why global markets are in free-fall

Context Matters. The Stock Market Drop Is Less Scary Than It Seems.

Janet Yellen calls stock market, real estate valuations ‘high’ in last interview before exit as Fed chief

Central banks were behind the complacency in markets, now investors are spooked: Economist

‘Short-volatility Armageddon’ craters a pair of Wall Street’s most popular trades, could roil market

The Federal Reserve May Secretly Want to Sink the Record-Breaking Stock Market

White House moves to distance Trump from market plunge

White House Responds to Historic Dow Plunge: ‘Focus Is on Our Long-Term Economic Fundamentals’

The internet has fallen for a fake Trump tweet about Dow Jones

Bitcoin Breaks Below $6,000 as Cryptocurrency Exodus Accelerates

As Bitcoin Bubble Loses Air, Frauds and Flaws Rise to Surface

Machines Had Their Fingerprints All Over a Dow Rout for the Ages

Robots in Finance Bring New Risks to Stability, Regulators Warn

Pentagon’s Defense Logistics Agency loses track of $800m

Venezuela Ups Minimum Wage 50% in a Market Where Prices Double Every 17 Days

Rex Tillerson Considers Blocking Sales of Venezuelan Oil in Bid to Squeeze Maduro

Trump turns up heat on ‘un-American’ Dems silent during SOTU: ‘Can we call that treason?’

Panel votes to release Democrats’ FBI memo as Trump, lawmaker trade barbs

Poll: Most Republicans believe FBI, Justice Dept. trying to ‘delegitimize’ Trump

Trump’s lawyers want him to refuse Mueller interview request

UC Berkeley spent $4 million for free speech event security

Telecoms lash out at plan to nationalize 5G network

Drone-catching drones to bolster security at this week’s Winter Olympics

Super Bowl anti-terrorism documents left on plane

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Chichi-shima, Japan

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near the North Island of New Zealand

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Constitucion, Chile

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Reykjanes Ridge

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 25,000ft

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 17,000ft

Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica erupts to 12,000ft

Russia calls in army after “snowfall of the century” in Moscow

Moscow authorities struggle to clear record snowfall

How much did it snow? It snowed so much that Moscow called a snow day. That never happens

France Warns Travelers of Snow and Ice After Serious Floods

Winter storm sparks deadly car crashes in U.S. Midwest

Stunning drone footage shows massive 100-vehicle pileup on snow covered highway

Ames, Iowa, Interstate Reopens After Deadly 70-Car Pileup

No rain in sight for drought-ridden southwestern US

Venice canals dry up after super blue blood moon and low rainfall cause water levels to drop

Cape Town braces for civil unrest as city’s water crisis continues to worsen

Lethal Pneumonia Outbreak Caused By Low Chlorine In Flint Water

Planned Parenthood kept aborted babies alive to harvest organs, ex-technician says

“Comedian” Sarah Silverman Says Pro-Life Laws “Make Me Want to Eat an Aborted Fetus”

Not just boy and girl; more teens identify as transgender

The Power of De-Conversion Stories: How Jen Hatmaker is Trying to Change Minds About the Bible

‘The Bible Has Caused So Much Damage’: Rob Bell…Like You Never Seen Him Before

Kris Vallotton — Knowing Who You Are in the False God You Create

Who Is Your Father, God or the Pope?

Ronnie Gorton, Pastor of The Awakening Church Becomes Suicidal After Rape Allegations

Kentucky Congregation Votes Unanimously to Dismiss Pastor Accused of Financial Abuse 

Michelle Lesley – Amputating Discernment Ministry From The Body of Christ

Pat Robertson is recovering after suffering a stroke

Who is Tommy Hicks & what is the End-Times Vision of the ‘Sleeping Giant’?

The Prophet Bob Jones: “A Three Foot Tall Being Rang My Doorbell”

Are you easy prey for false prophets?

San Diego pastor accused in ‘sexual healing’ lawsuit

Customers Owed Thousands Months After Christian Tour’s Cancellation

Are Virtual Reality Churches the Wave of the Future?

Church members barred from U of M campus for ‘aggressively’ discussing religion

Pool Found at Ancient Christian Site May Be Where Ethiopian Eunuch Was Baptized in Book of Acts

Rio de Janeiro street party targets Christian mayor

DEVELOPING: Virus Outbreak At Olympics; Military Deployed

Posted: 06 Feb 2018 06:08 AM PST

DEVELOPING: Virus Outbreak At Olympics; Military DeployedThe organizing committee for the Pyeongchang Olympics has called in 900 military personnel after more than 1,200 private security workers were pulled off duty because of concerns about the spread of the Norovirus, Christophe Dubi, IOC executive director of the Olympic Games said Tuesday. In a statement, POCOG said that starting Sunday workers reported headaches, stomach pain and diarrhea. The Gangwon Province Health and Environment Research Center found 41 workers with symptoms that might be related to the virus. The others have been pulled from duty to prevent possible spreading of the illness.

The workers are largely responsible for checking credentials and screening baggage entering the venues. The military personnel were brought in from about 40 minutes away. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Norovirus is considered highly contagious and typically includes symptoms of diarrhea, stomach pain, vomiting and nausea. The organizing committee said groundwater used in food and beverages at the Horeb Youth Centre — a housing facility — are suspected, and the cause is being investigated. READ MORE

10-year-old says he saw angel or God in his hospital room

Posted: 06 Feb 2018 05:50 AM PST

10-year-old says he saw angel or God in his hospital roomA 10-year-old Gulf Coast boy lost 100 percent of his skin after a one-in-a-million reaction to a common antibiotic.  During his four-month stay at Shriner’s Hospital in Galveston, Texas, one day, changed the way he viewed his entire experience. Thelonious Ziegelschmid-Sylvester’s parents rushed him to the hospital and within hours they learned he had an extreme case of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome called Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis. His experience with an angel, Jesus or God is different because of the clarity he had and the way the experience seemed to signify the end of his hardest days.

“After a while, I saw this man standing in the corner of the room in a white robe with a beard,” Thelonious said. “White skin, brown beard, brown hair. He smiled at me and it was like I was back in my body. I thought it was really strange but after that, it was just… kept getting better and better after that point.” After asking if Thelonious believed he was visited by an angel or God, he answered, “That’s what I believe.” In his darkest day, he saw a light. Something appeared in his room, seemingly sent from heaven. READ MORE

Fake doctor infects 21 with HIV with tainted syringes…

Posted: 06 Feb 2018 05:37 AM PST

Fake doctor infects 21 with HIV with tainted syringes…A fake doctor treating poor villagers in northern India for colds, coughs and diarrhea has infected at least 21 of them with HIV by using contaminated syringes and needles, a health official said Tuesday. Sushil Choudhury, the official, said police were looking for Rajendra Yadav, who fled Bangarmau, a small town in Uttar Pradesh state, after the HIV infections were detected in December last year.  The villagers said they rarely saw Yadav changing the needles. Choudhury said that probably led to the spread of HIV.

With India’s healthcare system facing a massive shortage of doctors and hospitals, millions of poor people seek fake doctors for cheap treatment. India had 2.1 million people living with HIV at the end of 2016, according to a UNAIDS report. Of those, 9,100 were children under age 15. India has registered a 20 percent annual decline in new infections over the past few years, according to the report. READ MORE

New documentary centered on Rob Bell to raise many eyebrows!

Posted: 06 Feb 2018 05:28 AM PST

New documentary centered on Rob Bell to raise many eyebrows!Rob Bell has sparked no shortage of controversy with views and proclamations that some believe are anti-Christian in nature.  And now fans and critics, alike, will have the chance to hear more from Bell, as he’s the focus of a new documentary titled, “The Heretic.” The film releases on March 1 on Amazon and on iTunes, as RELEVANT noted.  The trailer for “The Heretic” quotes Bell saying a variety of things that are sure to attract attention. Here are just two bits:

“When I kept going into the Jesus teachings, it took me beyond a religion to what does it mean to be human. And I actually think Jesus would be absolutely mortified that somebody started a religion in his name.” “The Bible has caused so much damage…” Bell took to his Facebook page on Thursday to note that he was approached a few years back by a filmmaker named Andrew Morgan. Morgan wanted to make a documentary about Bell’s work and Bell obliged. “We have great respect for Andrew so we said yes and he began filming tours and RobCasts and events and interviews — I can’t imagine just how much footage he captured,” Bell said. “The result is a new film that he is preparing to release. It’s called The Heretic.” READ MORE

Banks Shutter 1,700 Branches in Fastest Decline on Record…

Posted: 06 Feb 2018 05:15 AM PST

Banks Shutter 1,700 Branches in Fastest Decline on Record…Banks are closing branches at the fastest pace in decades, as they leave less profitable regions and fewer customers use tellers for routine transactions. The number of branches in the U.S. shrank by more than 1,700 in the 12 months ended in June 2017, the biggest decline on record, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of federal data.Branch numbers fell again in the second half of 2017, according to related data submitted to bank regulators and reviewed by the Journal.

That would add to the thousands of locations closed following the financial crisis, and is the longest stretch of closures since the Great Depression. Many of the closings were in big cities and surrounding suburbs, where branches were consolidated largely because of falling foot traffic. Others were in rural areas, where some large regional lenders are leaving town altogether. READ MORE

Nikkei 225 Plunges nearly 1,000 points after mass Wall Street sell off

Posted: 05 Feb 2018 06:49 PM PST

Nikkei 225 Plunges nearly 1,000 points after mass Wall Street sell offAsian shares fell sharply on Tuesday after Wall Street suffered its biggest decline since 2011 as investors’ faith in markets began to crumble.  Japan’s Nikkei share average dived on Tuesday morning to a level not seen since late October after Wall Street plunged overnight on concerns about rising bond yields and potentially rising inflation. The Nikkei fell to as low as 21,698.52 and was down 4 per cent in the early morning. The broader Topix fell 4.3 percent to 1,745.79.  Australian shares dropped 2.7 per cent in early

trade to their lowest level since October while futures suggest Japan’s Nikkei is on course to fall more than 4 percent. US stocks plunged in highly volatile trading on Monday, with the Dow industrials falling nearly 1,600 points during the session, its biggest intraday decline in history, as investors grappled with rising bond yields and potentially firming inflation. Norihiro Fujito, a senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities, said: ”Since last autumn, investors had been betting on the Goldilocks economy – solid economic expansion, improving corporate earnings and stable inflation. But the tide seems to have changed.” READ MORE

Dow plunges more than 1,100, largest single-day point drop in history

Posted: 05 Feb 2018 06:43 PM PST

Dow plunges more than 1,100, largest single-day point drop in historyThe Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 1,175 points on Monday, its largest one-day point drop in history, to close at 24,345 — a decline of 4.6 percent.  At one point, the Dow was down more than 1,600 points before slightly rebounding at the closing bell. The previous record decline for the Dow came on Sept. 29, 2008, at the height of the global financial crisis, when it fell 778 points. The Dow is still up 21

percent compared to a year ago. Health care, energy and financial stocks posted the largest declines. All 11 sectors of the S&P 500 were down. The S&P 500 slumped 4.1 percent to 2,648. The Nasdaq dropped 3.78 percent to 6,967.Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab, told ABC News the fall had been expected after markets hit record highs. READ MORE

RUMORS OF WAR: Hamas believes War with Israel will break out in the coming days!

Posted: 05 Feb 2018 06:35 PM PST

RUMORS OF WAR: Hamas believes War with Israel will break out in the coming days!Hamas and other Palestinian organizations believe there is a “95 percent chance” that Israel will launch a war as part of an IDF exercise in Southern Israel in the coming days, according to a report published by Al-Hayat on Sunday, quoting sources from various factions in the Gaza Strip, including Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar. The terrorist organization, which controls the Gaza Strip, as well as other organizations, declared a shift to the highest level of alert and evacuated most of their command echelon from their

facilities in the Palestinian enclave. Hamas also placed police and security forces around the Gaza Strip, in fear of an escalation. The report claims a potential war would involve Israeli combat units across ground, naval and air forces. Sinwar was arrested in 1989 and sentenced to four life sentences for terrorist activities but freed in 2011 in a swap of 1,047 Palestinian security prisoners for abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. READ MORE

China Moves 300,000 Troops Closer to North Korean Border

Posted: 05 Feb 2018 06:27 PM PST

China Moves 300,000 Troops Closer to North Korean BorderChina is reportedly moving missile defense batteries and troops closer to its border with North Korea, a potential sign that Beijing anticipates either a large refugee wave north or a military disturbance triggered by the belligerence of communist dictator Kim Jong-un. The South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo cited Radio Free Asia (RFA) in a report Monday, stating that RFA had compiled evidence that China had “late last year deployed another missile defense battery at an armored division in Helong, west of Longjing in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture.”

The “North Korean source in China” speaking to RFA also noted that Pyongyang had observed the movement of 300,000 troops closer to the North Korean border and “missile defense batteries near North Korean reservoirs by the Apnok and Duman rivers.” The batteries would prevent the violent outpouring of those reservoirs into China in the event of an airstrike. On Friday, China’s state-run People’s Daily newspaper reported that Beijing was also investing in establishing nuclear monitoring stations throughout the world, but especially near North Korea, to more rapidly gather information about a potential airstrike. READ MORE

Mysterious Half-shark half-dolphin creature baffles experts

Posted: 05 Feb 2018 01:42 PM PST

Mysterious Half-shark half-dolphin creature baffles expertsThe internet is divided over a picture of the ominous beast lurking beneath the waves on a beach in Queensland, Australia.  Many are convinced it is a shark, pointing to the tail as a “dead giveaway” – but others are adamant it is a dolphin, sparking a fierce social media frenzy. The picture was taken by Kellie Wilson at Duranbah Beach near Tweeds Head on Friday, who joked it could be half shark and half dolphin.

Instagram user zeal. FreeMind commented on Ms. Wilson’s picture: I am also a zoologist/ecologist and have almost finished a degree in Environmental Science and have spent most of my life studying and working with animals of all kinds. “The animal in your photos is a dolphin. “The distance of the pectoral fins is further away from the dorsal fin which clearly identifies it as a dolphin. “The tail looks as though there is something caught around it or it could just be a glitch in the photo due to the water distortion which is very common in photos of animals in water.” READ MORE

More teens are identifying as transgender

Posted: 05 Feb 2018 01:35 PM PST

More teens are identifying as transgenderFar more U.S. teens than previously thought are transgender or identify themselves using other non-traditional gender terms, with many rejecting the idea that girl and boy are the only options, new research suggests. The study looked at students in ninth and 11th grade and estimated that nearly 3 percent are transgender or gender nonconforming, meaning they don’t always self-identify as the sex they were assigned at birth. That includes kids who refer to themselves using neutral pronouns like “them” instead of “he” or “she.”

“Diverse gender identities are more prevalent than people would expect,” said lead author Nic Rider, a University of Minnesota postdoctoral fellow who studies transgender health. The study is an analysis of a 2016 statewide survey of almost 81,000 Minnesota teens. Nearly 2,200 identified as transgender or gender nonconforming. The study found that these kids reported worse mental and physical health than other kids, echoing results seen in previous research. Bullying and discrimination are among possible reasons for the differences, Rider said, although the survey didn’t ask. READ MORE

 

Why Would A Loving God Send Anyone To Hell?

Posted: 05 Feb 2018 01:26 PM PST

Why Would A Loving God Send Anyone To Hell?(By Lexie Elsey) Every Christian knows that God is good and loving and caring. We know this because we know Him. From a non-believer’s point of view, it may be difficult to understand that if God is as good as He is, why He would send people to hell. The first thing to understand is that God doesn’t want anyone to go to Hell. “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. ” (2 Peter 3:9 NIV)

The second thing to understand is that God gave us free will. Since we have free will, we have the right to choose between God and Satan. God has made this pretty fair, actually. Essentially, He said, choose me and I will give you eternal life and everlasting love, but if you don’t choose me, you won’t get that. That’s pretty black and white: pick me or don’t pick me; here are the consequences for both of those choices.

Therefore, God doesn’t send us to Hell. That’s your decision. Ultimately when you don’t choose Jesus, you choose Satan, whether or not that’s something you publicly proclaim. Choosing Satan is not the same thing as worshiping him. You send yourself to hell by not accepting and having a relationship with Christ, God’s son and our savior. If you don’t choose God, you choose the enemy. READ MORE

Iran ‘Mass Producing’ Smart Bomb Strapped Drones…

Posted: 05 Feb 2018 01:13 PM PST

Iran ‘Mass Producing’ Smart Bomb Strapped Drones…Iran announced on Monday that it has begun mass-producing a new weaponized drone that carries smart bombs capable of precision strikes, according to the Islamic Republic’s military leaders. Iran, which has engaged in a massive military buildup since receiving billions of dollars in cash windfalls as a result of the landmark nuclear deal, says that these advanced new drones will be delivered to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, or IRGC, which has been coordinating war efforts across the Middle East, including most controversially in Syria, where Iranian-backed forces have attacked U.S. troops.

The new drones, dubbed the Mohajer 6, are “equipped with the smart Qa’em precision-striking bombs and different electro-optical explorers and different warheads, [and] can trace, intercept and destroy the target,” Iranian Defense Minister and Brigadier General Amir Hatami said on Monday during a speech celebrating the new weaponry. IRGC leaders also were present at the unveiling, according to Iran’s state-controlled media apparatus. READ MORE

Alarming Survey Finds Atheism Has Doubled Among Generation Z

Posted: 05 Feb 2018 12:58 PM PST

Alarming Survey Finds Atheism Has Doubled Among Generation ZFor Generation Z, those born between 1999 and 2015, atheism is no longer a dirty word, according to a new study from Barna research. This is truly the first “post-Christian” generation, the survey finds, and more than any other generation before it, Gen Z does not assert a religious identity. This is exactly the generation religion and culture expert, national radio host and author Dr. Alex McFarland is hoping to reach through the Truth for a New Generation (TNG) conference on March 23-24 at Life Community Church in the greater Greensboro area of North Carolina.

To illustrate, the Barna study found that the percentage of teens who identify as such is double that of the general population (13 percent vs. 6 percent of all adults). “It’s heart-breaking when we see young people choosing to turn away from God, especially at a time when they need Him most,” said McFarland, who is also director for Christian worldview and apologetics at the Christian Worldview Center of North Greenville University in Greenville, South Carolina. “Secularism is pervading the culture, and especially the younger generations, promising a carefree, flashy life if they emulate the celebrity set. But more and more teens and young adults are turning to drugs and committing suicide. READ MORE

Deadly ‘tick’ virus Outbreak leaves 19 dead amid desperate scramble to contain spreading

Posted: 05 Feb 2018 12:53 PM PST

Deadly ‘tick’ virus Outbreak leaves 19 dead amid desperate scramble to contain spreadingA deadly outbreak has sparked a warning to tourists after a dangerous infection known as Kyasanur Forest disease (KFD) spread to hundreds of people in India leaving 19 dead, a watchdog has warned. The virus, which is in the same family as yellow fever and dengue fever, is believed to be spreading from an outbreak that started in three villages in Sindhudurg.

The report from watchdog Rospotrebnadzor said: “Between January 2016 and January 2018, laboratory tests confirmed 332 cases of the disease in the district, and 19 cases of that number were lethal. “The Indian authorities did not specify the incidence of the KFD in January 2018.” The dangerous virus is spread to humans by tick bites or in milk from infected animals. READ MORE

DEVELOPING: Oil plummets as Dow Jones falls 1,000 points in huge plunge

Posted: 05 Feb 2018 12:49 PM PST

DEVELOPING: Oil plummets as Dow Jones falls 1,000 points in huge plungeCrude oil prices have plummeted after the Dow Jones falls 1,000 points in a huge plunge as stocks on global markets extended their recent selloff led by declines in energy shares. As the Dow plummeted oil prices were lower, pressured by rising US output and other factors. US crude fell 2.38 percent to $63.89 per barrel and Brent was last at $67.49, down 1.59 percent on the day. Canadian crude dropped 3.57

percent to $34.27 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate crude oil fell to $63.63 a barrel during the American session and later climbed back $64.15 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. This is the lowest finish since January 22, according to FactSet data. Oil prices dropped as the US benchmark dropped to the lowest settlement in two weeks. READ MORE

Flu hospitalizations are ‘the highest we’ve seen,’ According to the CDC

Posted: 05 Feb 2018 06:34 AM PST

Flu hospitalizations are ‘the highest we’ve seen,’ According to the CDCHealth officials at the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention rang the alarm about this year’s deadly flu Season at their weekly Friday briefing, saying “overall hospitalizations are now the highest we’ve seen, even higher than 2014-2015 high season.” Just as concerning, the number of pediatric deaths rose this week by 16, from 37 to 53.  Twenty percent of the children who died had been vaccinated, officials said.

Dr. Anne Schuchat, the new acting director at the CDC, said H3N2 continues to dominate this season, but other strains ─ like H1N1 and Influenza B ─ are also being reported around the country. Dr. Dan Jernigan reported at the briefing a rise in hospitalization rates from 41.9 per 100,000 last week to 51.4 this week. He said that number may ultimately exceed that of 2014-2015, when there were 710,000 by season’s end. READ MORE

The Demonic Festival Plaguing Christians Prepares to Rear Its Ugly Head Worldwide

Posted: 05 Feb 2018 06:25 AM PST

The Demonic Festival Plaguing Christians Prepares to Rear Its Ugly Head Worldwide(By Devin Vanderpool) “Haiti is 30 percent Christian, but 100 percent vodou (Haitian voodoo).”  This is a statement I’ve heard several times through my years of working in Haiti. I’ve come to realize just how close to true this actually is. Because Christians in Haiti might not practice Vodou, but they are certainly wary of the negative effects it can have on their communities. An example that comes to mind is a memory of my husband disposing of a snake as three (Christian) Haitian women screamed that he had killed a demon. The negative effects of Vodou are particularly visible as we near the Haitian celebration for Mardi Gras, called Kanaval. In Haiti, Kanaval goes for weeks preceding Lent. And while many Haitian Catholics and

Protestants do use this time to prepare for the Lenten season, Vodou practicers openly worship spirits during the Carnival parade, known as defile. They use it as a time to assert the dominance of Vodou priests and priestesses, known as houngans and mambos, on the communities. Many Vodou worshippers dress up as the spirits they are worshipping. Some dress as zombies, devils or the dead. The most dedicated Vodou worshippers use this time to thank the spirits that they believe helped them gain their independence from France in 1803. In this atmosphere one might see fights break out, curses cast, even lives lost. In 2015, Kanaval was canceled after a performer in a parade was shocked by a high-voltage wire, leading to a stampede. Eighteen were killed and 78 more injured in the resulting chaos. READ MORE

California city to experiment with ‘universal basic income’

Posted: 05 Feb 2018 06:11 AM PST

California city to experiment with ‘universal basic income’The mayor of Stockton, California, is leading an experiment with “universal basic income,” which is set to start by giving low-income residents $500 a month, no questions asked. Mayor Michael Tubbs calls his city “ground zero” for issues like wage stagnation, rising housing prices and loss of middle-class jobs that affect the nation. The Central Valley city went bankrupt in 2012, and for decades it has been trying to diversify its agriculture-based economy. “I feel that as mayor it’s my responsibility to do all I could to

begin figuring out what’s the best way to make sure that folks in our community have a real economic floor,” Tubbs said. Dorian Warren serves as co-chairman the Economic Security Project, which is contributing $1 million to the initiative. He said the goal is to gather data on the economic and social impacts of giving people a basic income. In addition to tracking what residents do with the money, Warren said they will be monitoring how a basic income affects things like self-esteem and identity. “What does it mean to say, ‘Here is unconditional guaranteed income just based on you being a human being?’” Warren asked. READ MORE

Are Virtual Reality Churches the Wave of the Future?

Posted: 05 Feb 2018 06:01 AM PST

Are Virtual Reality Churches the Wave of the Future?Virtual reality, which can easily allow churches to have global presence and foster diversity and inclusiveness, is far more enabling than live-streaming, which numerous megachurches are currently using to conduct multi-site worship services. So are we going to see a rise of VR churches in the near future as the technology becomes cheaper and more accessible?  “Attend a real church in virtual reality,” says the website of a VR church established by Los Angeles, California-based Pastor D.J. Soto and whose mission is “to explore and communicate God through virtual reality, augmented reality, and next-generation technologies.”

Soto, the owner of Sonata 7 Studios, LLC. which is a film production and virtual reality company, quit his job as a pastor at a branch of his local megachurch in Reading, Pennsylvania, a few years ago with a burden to reach out to people in unusual places. He and his wife even sold their home and most of their belongings and moved with their five young children into a 30-foot trailer. His journey soon took him to virtual reality as the vehicle of his dream. However, as Pastor Soto spoke about his vision with pastors and church planters, he realized that Christian ministers are not quite ready to try out this new technology, he tells Wired. READ MORE

This Doctrine of Demons Is Rapidly Infecting the Church

Posted: 05 Feb 2018 05:56 AM PST

This Doctrine of Demons Is Rapidly Infecting the Church(By Loren. Sandford) A doctrine of demons has been circulating in the church in recent years that has been gaining increasing traction. Cloaked in robes of false righteousness and even claims of prophetic inspiration, but born in rebellion, it appeals to something in our culture that undermines and despises the leadership God has anointed and appointed. Wherever it goes, it weakens, divides and destroys. It’s the idea that because we are all equal, there should be no “hierarchy” of leaders in the body of Christ. Somehow, people have gotten the idea that the churches and ministries should be governed by a team of “co-equal” elders. Let

me begin by saying that everywhere I’ve seen this unbalanced and unbiblical philosophy applied, it has ultimately resulted in ministry failures, wounds and broken relationships. I realize that this doctrine of governance grew out of reactions to leaders who have led with domination and control or for self-exaltation, but the existence of abuses by leaders who missed the heart of God can never justify rejection of the kind of order Scripture actually mandates. Today, tragically, this unbiblical idea of church governance has gone beyond a reaction to abuses and has become an infection spreading into places where leadership has not been abusive or controlling. Good leaders are being diminished and dishonored. The body of Christ is being weakened. READ MORE

Clergy Gather to ‘Bless’ Late-Term Abortion Facility, Claim Abortion Staff Work for God’s ‘Glory’

Posted: 05 Feb 2018 05:48 AM PST

Clergy Gather to ‘Bless’ Late-Term Abortion Facility, Claim Abortion Staff Work for God’s ‘Glory’Four clergy members who profess to be Christians and one rabbi gathered outside of a late-term abortion facility in Maryland on Monday to “bless” the location, which is run by notorious abortionist Leroy Carhart. “God of grace and God of glory, in whom we move and live,” prayed Carlton Veazey, president of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.,“… keep them safe and keep them strong. And may they always know that all that they do is for Thy glory.”

Cari Jackson, who is ordained in the United Church of Christ and also works with the Coalition, was likewise present at Wildwood Medical Center for the occasion. According to the Washington Post, which first broke the story, the clergy members sprinkled water in each room of the abortion facility, as well as in the parking lot. “We give honor to all of these women who choose to come to this space,” Jackson said. “We sanctify this space, and we honor this as holy.” READ MORE

Who Built the Ancient Pyramids?

Posted: 05 Feb 2018 05:40 AM PST

Who Built the Ancient Pyramids?

(By Jeff Roberts) When it comes to the ancient pyramids of Giza or pyramids all over the globe for that matter many speculate as how the pyramids were built, who built them and what were they built for. I am going to keep the focus this article on the facts and not conjecture. Some people believe that the Egyptians built them others believe that an advanced civilization that no longer exists created them. Ideally, when I teach I prefer to allow others to come to their own conclusions rather than provide answers. As with any topic of this nature, I like to leave people with more questions than answers. I always use the original text in its original language as my go-to source. 

The answer to our question today is found in what is known as the Gap Theory. Most biblical scholars talk about it in detail but unfortunately, most pastors don’t. So that Gap Theory goes something like this. In Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was (H1961) without form (H8414) and void (H922) and darkness (H2822) was on the face (H6440) of the deep (H8415) and God moved upon the face of the waters (H4325).” At first glance, there is nothing wrong with this verse right? Well, let’s take a look at what verse 2 says in Hebrew. The original scripture does not say the earth “was” without form and void. The Hebrew word verb used is “hayah” meaning became, to fall out, to come to pass to be done, finished or gone.

The term used without form is “tohuw” meaning vain, vanity, unreality, confusion, a place of chaos or unreal of idols. The word void is “bohuw” meaning superficial void waste or emptiness. Darkness is “choshek” which means the dark; hence (literally) darkness; figuratively, misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, wickedness. The word for face is paniym which means presence or persons (as in plural) and the faces are those of man animal seraphim and cherubim. In addition for those that believe that this was clean fresh water that YHWH was hovering over the word for waters is “mayim”which means waters of danger or violence. It also means semen and urine. Getting that out of the way we can obviously see room for another civilization that could have existed before man was created.

So who built the Pyramids of Giza? It was not the Egyptians as they didn’t even have running water. Even today’s top engineers can’t even replicate this same at 1/5th of the scale. After thorough research, they were not used to bury their Kings, pharaohs or anyone else. They were buried close by. So they more or less maintained them. Mysteriously pyramids all across the world, are perfectly aligned with the stars light years away without a telescope. This would have required the help of the pre-flood “Watchers Class Angelic Beings/Gods Divine Counsel”. So what purpose did they serve? The pyramids were originally all gold plated and they were used for energy produced by scalar waves. Nicola Tesla rediscovered this about 150 years ago. These ancient pyramids yielded much more power than that of today’s nuclear power plants and the gold has since been removed by thieves. To be continued

NYC School Cancels Father-Daughter Dance to Comply With New Gender Guidelines

Posted: 05 Feb 2018 05:32 AM PST

NYC School Cancels Father-Daughter Dance to Comply With New Gender GuidelinesA Staten Island elementary school canceled its traditional father-daughter dance because of the Department of Education’s (DOE) new gender guidelines. PS 65 had the event scheduled for Friday, February 9, until the school’s parent-teacher association realized it would not comply with the Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Student Guidelines, which went into effect in March 2017.

The school’s PTA will reschedule a dance for kids and caregivers of any gender on March 2, according to the DOE. “Father-daughter dances inherently leave people out. Not just because of transgender status, just life in general,” said Jared Fox, the DOE’s LGBT community liaison. “These can be really uncomfortable and triggering events.” READ MORE


What is The Gospel?


Selected Scriptures

Code: A335

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

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

Consider what the Bible says about Him:

JESUS IS GOD

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS HOLY

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE SAVIOR

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH

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

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

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

JESUS IS LORD

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

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE JUDGE

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

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

HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?

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

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


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Showdown looms over SBC and Calvinism

AFA–OneNewsNow

There have always been Calvinists within the Southern Baptist Convention, observes Land, who likens their influence to the “harmony and never the melody” of the 15-million member denomination.

He describes the current struggle over the next leader as a battle between the “Billy Graham wing” of the SBC versus the “John Calvin wing.”

View Article

The Power of De-Conversion Stories: How Jen Hatmaker is Trying to Change Minds About the Bible

Fans of Jen Hatmaker may not realize that she follows the same basic playbook used by former megachurch pastor and Oprah Winfrey pal Rob Bell and other progressive “Christians.” According to Michael J. Kruger, professor of Reformed Theological Seminary, the details may be different, but the overall point is the same.  Berean Research has posted numerous articles to show that even though they profess to be evangelicals, both Jen and her husband Brandon are firmly ensconced in the Religious Left. In other words, they’re progressives.  As you’re about to see, Jen rejects the inerrancy of Scripture.  A few years ago the Hatmakers came out in support of the LGBTQ community and in doing so the couple made it clear that they deny the biblical teaching on marriage, sexuality and family.

The purpose of Professor Kruger’s post “is to lay out the steps in [progressive’s] de-conversion playbook and offer a quick response to each of them.  My hope is to help others who hear these de-conversion stories and struggle with how to respond.” Kruger’s important essay is over at Canon Fodder:

When it comes to reaching the “lost,” one of the most tried-and-true methods is the personal conversion story.  Whether done privately or publicly, it’s compelling to hear a person’s testimony about how they came to believe in the truth of the Gospel, the truth of the Bible, and embraced the Christian faith. Such testimonies can personalize and soften the message so it is more easily understood and received.

But when it comes to reaching the “found,” there’s an equally effective method—and this is a method to which the evangelical church has paid very little attention. It’s what we might call the de-conversion story.

De-conversion stories are designed not to reach non-Christians but to reach Christians.  And their purpose is to convince them that their crusty, backwards, outdated, naïve beliefs are no longer worthy of their assent.  Whether done privately or publicly, this is when a person simply gives their testimony of how they once thought like you did and have now seen the light.

Of course, there have always been de-conversion stories available throughout the history of the church—if one would only take the time to dig them up and listen to them.  Christianity has never had a shortage of people who were once in the fold and then left, hoping to take with them as many people as possible.

But in recent years these de-conversion stories seem to have taken on a higher profile.  Part of this is due, no doubt, to the technology that makes these de-conversion stories more available whether through podcasts, blogs, or other forms of media.

But, it’s also due to the fact that many of those who de-convert have realized a newfound calling to share their testimony with as many people as possible.  Rather than just quietly leaving the faith and moving onto other things—something that would have been more common in prior generations—there seems to be a new guard that has made it their life’s ambition to evangelize the found.

Indeed, many of these de-conversion stories are told with the kind of conviction, passion, and evangelistic zeal that would make any modern televangelist blush.  In their minds, they’re missionaries to the “lost” in every sense of the word.  They just have to help these Christians realize they are mistaken and lead them to the truth.

Modern examples of those in the de-conversion business are well known:  Bart Ehrman, Rob Bell, Peter Enns, and (as we shall discuss below) Jen Hatmaker.

Of course, each of their stories are different. Ehrman moved from fundamentalism all the way to agnosticism, with no desire to retain the label “Christian.”  In contrast, those like Bell would still consider themselves “Christian” in some fashion, maybe even an evangelical of sorts.

But what all these folks do share is the same background. They were all once what we might call traditional, evangelical Christians and have now come to see the error of their ways.  Whatever they embrace, it is no longer that version of Christianity.

I’ve seen a number of these de-conversion stories over the years in the books I’ve reviewed—a number by Ehrman, and some by Bell and Enns (you can find them all here).  And a few years ago, I had a number of guest blog posts responding to Enns’ “Aha Moments” blog series (see responses here).

But, I was particularly reminded of the power and impact of de-conversion stories when I listened to last week’s podcast of Jen Hatmaker being interviewed by Peter Enns (you can listen here).  This interview has been making the rounds, and I can see why.  She’s a friendly, charming and well-spoken woman who is easy to listen to.

And the title of her interview fits this de-conversion theme perfectly: “Changing Your Mind about the Bible: A Survivor’s Guide.”  As many know, the main issue Hatmaker changed her mind about is that she now fully affirms the LGBQT lifestyle as consistent with biblical Christianity.

But, Hatmaker’s journey in this interview is not as original as it might first appear. In effect, she simply follows the same basic playbook used by Rob Bell, Bart Ehrman and others. The details may be different, but the overall point is the same.

The purpose of this post is to lay out the steps in this de-conversion playbook and offer a quick response to each of them.  My hope is to help others who hear these de-conversion stories and struggle with how to respond.

Step #1: Recount the Negatives of Your Fundamentalist Past 

The first place to start in every good de-conversion story is to tell about the narrow dogmatism of your evangelical past. You begin by first flashing your evangelical credentials—Hatmaker was a Southern Baptist who went to a Southern Baptist College—and then you recount the problems you observed.

For Hatmaker, her evangelical past included people who are afraid to ask questions, won’t let you ask questions, only give pat answers, and never acknowledge gray areas.  She says, “I had no idea that we had permission to press hard on our faith.”

Of course, there are some evangelical groups that are like this.  And it’s certainly possible Hatmaker is from one of these groups.  The problem, however, is that Hatmaker’s language is a caricature of evangelicalism as a whole.

Many evangelicals believe what they believe not because they are backwater bucolic yokels who are scared to press hard on the text, but precisely because they have engaged the text and are persuaded it teaches these truths.

Indeed, it’s usually evangelicals who are actually reading both conservative and liberal arguments and weighing them against each other. There are plenty of liberal seminaries and universities that never have their students read a single conservative book. And it’s supposedly evangelicals that are in the intellectual echo chamber?

It’s for these reasons, I grow weary of claims that evangelicals give “pat answers.” Liberal complaints against “pat answers” are typically just veiled complaints about answers in general. It’s just another version of the tiresome trope, “Religion isn’t about answers, it’s about the questions!”

This is why Hatmaker often describes herself as merely exploring or on a “journey”—it’s a way to disarm a postmodern world who wants there to be no answers (all the while she is happy to sneak her own dogmatic answers through the back door—more on that below).

Step #2: Position Yourself as the Offended Party Who Bravely Fought the Establishment.

One of the major themes of Hatmaker’s interview was the relational-social trauma she experienced as she left the evangelical world.  She says she was mistreated in ways that were “scary,” “disorientating,” “crushing,” “devastating” and “financially punitive.”

Of course, it’s difficult to sift through these sorts of statements. No doubt there were people out there who were cruel, mean and unchristian in their response to her.  And such behavior should be called out for what it is. It’s wrong.

At the same, there’s nothing illegitimate about people criticizing her newfound theology. Much of the response to Hatmaker was simply vigorous opposition to her new direction that many regard as fundamentally unbiblical and out of sync with the entire history of Christendom.

Regardless, the tone of the interview very much set Hatmaker up as an oppressed minority fighting against what she called “commercial Christianity.”  She is merely the victim of a powerful and cruel evangelical world bent on revenge.

Needless to say, some of this is difficult to swallow given the current cultural climate where LGBTQ-affirming people are embraced as heroes (including Hatmaker herself), and evangelicals are being fired, sued, and drug into court for simply believing marriage should be between a man and a woman.

And if one wants to talk about “satire” and “outrage” and internet “hit pieces,” Hatmaker might do well to observe the outrageous level of vitriol displayed by the LGBQT community, and its advocates in the mainstream press, toward any Christian who shows the slightest hesitation about our culture’s new sexual direction. The PC police are always on the prowl, ready to prosecute evangelicals who don’t comply.

On top of all of this, it’s a bit disingenuous for Hatmaker to complain about harsh and judgmental rhetoric when, as we shall see below, she turns around in this very interview and lambasts evangelicals with language that would make any good Pharisee proud.   View article →

Source: The Power of De-Conversion Stories: How Jen Hatmaker is Trying to Change Minds About the Bible

The Five Tests of False Doctrine

In summary, true doctrine (content) originates with God (origin), is grounded in the Bible (authority), and agrees with the whole of Scripture (consistency). Because such doctrine is sound (quality), it is healthy (benefit), and profitable (value) for us, and we are responsible for holding it (responsibility).

False doctrine (content) originates with man (origin), is not grounded in the Bible (authority), and contradicts portions of Scripture (consistency). Because such doctrine is unsound (quality), it is unhealthy (benefit) and unprofitable (value) for us, and we are responsible for rejecting it (responsibility).

Read more: The Five Tests of False Doctrine

February 6, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

The Arrival of the Magi

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him.” (2:1–2)

The events described in this passage probably occurred several months after Jesus was born. We see from 2:11 that Jesus’ family was now staying in a house rather than the stable where He was born (Luke 2:7). Jesus, therefore, would already have been circumcised, and Mary would have completed her period of purification (Luke 2:21–27). The fact that she offered “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons” (Luke 2:24) instead of the normal lamb (Lev. 12:6–8) indicates that the family was poor. Had this offering been made after the magi with their expensive gifts (Matt. 2:11) had already visited Jesus, the lamb could easily have been afforded and would have been required.

bethlehem of judea

As it still is today, Bethlehem was then a small town five or six miles south of Jerusalem, in the fertile hill country of Judea (Judah). It is cradled between two ridges and was located along the main ancient highway from Jerusalem to Egypt. It was once called Ephrath, or Ephrathah, and is referred to by that name several times in the Old Testament (Gen. 35:16; Ruth 4:11; Ps. 132:6; Mic. 5:2). The town came to be called Bethlehem after the conquest of Canaan under Joshua, its new name meaning “house of bread.”

It was at Bethlehem that Jacob buried Rachel (Gen. 35:19), the traditional site of whose tomb is still shown to tourists today. It was also here that Ruth met and married Boaz (Ruth 1:22; 2:4) and that their illustrious grandson, David, grew up and tended sheep (1 Sam. 17:12, 15). By the time of Jesus’ birth, it had long been called “the city of David” (Luke 2:4, 11). The prophet Micah specifically promised that the Messiah would come from this small village (5:2).

herod the king

This Herod, known as “the Great,” is the first of several Herods mentioned in the New Testament. Julius Caesar had appointed his father, Antipater, to be procurator, or governor, of Judea under the Roman occupation. Antipater then managed to have his son Herod appointed prefect of Galilee. In that office Herod was successful in quelling the Jewish guerilla bands who continued to fight against their foreign rulers. After fleeing to Egypt when the Parthians invaded Palestine, Herod then went to Rome and in 40 b.c. was declared by Octavian and Antony (with the concurrence of the Roman senate) to be the king of the Jews. He invaded Palestine the next year and, after several years of fighting, drove out the Parthians and established his kingdom.

Because he was not Jewish, but Idumean (Edomite), Herod married Mariamne, heiress to the Jewish Hasmonean house, in order to make himself more acceptable to the Jews he now ruled. He was a clever and capable warrior, orator, and diplomat. In times of severe economic hardship he gave back some tax money collected from the people. During the great famine of 25 b.c. he melted down various gold objects in the palace to buy food for the poor. He built theaters, race tracks, and other structures to provide entertainment for the people, and in 19 b.c. he began the reconstruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. He revived Samaria and built the beautiful port city of Caesarea in honor of his benefactor Caesar Augustus (Octavian’s title). He embellished the cities of Beirut, Damascus, Tyre, Sidon, and Rhodes, and even made contributions to rebuilding work in Athens. He built the remarkable and almost impregnable fortress of Masada, where in a.d. 73 nearly a thousand Jewish defenders committed suicide rather than be captured by the Roman general Flavius Silva.

But Herod was also cruel and merciless. He was incredibly jealous, suspicious, and afraid for his position and power. Fearing his potential threat, he had the high priest Aristobulus, who was his wife Mariamne’s brother, drowned—after which he provided a magnificent funeral where he pretended to weep. He then had Mariamne herself killed, and then her mother and two of his own sons. Five days before his death (about a year after Jesus was born) he had a third son executed. One of the greatest evidences of his bloodthirstiness and insane cruelty was having the most distinguished citizens of Jerusalem arrested and imprisoned shortly before his death. Because he knew no one would mourn his own death, he gave orders for those prisoners to be executed the moment he died—in order to guarantee that there would be mourning in Jerusalem. That barbaric act was exceeded in cruelty only by his slaughter of “all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its environs, from two years old and under” (Matt. 2:16) in hopes of killing any threat to his throne from the One the magi said had been born King of the Jews.

magi from the east

Few biblical stories are as well known, yet so clouded by myth and tradition, as that of the magi, or wise men, mentioned by Matthew. During the Middle Ages legend developed that they were kings, that they were three in number, and that their names were Casper, Balthazar, and Melchior. Because they were thought to represent the three sons of Noah, one of them is often pictured as an Ethiopian. A twelfth-century bishop of Cologne even claimed to have found their skulls.

The only legitimate facts we know about these particular magi are the few given by Matthew in the first twelve verses of chapter 2. We are not told their number, their names, their means of transportation to Palestine, or the specific country or countries from which they came. The fact that they came from the east would have been assumed by most people in New Testament times, because the magi were primarily known as the priestly-political class of the Parthians—who lived to the east of Palestine.

The magi first appear in history in the seventh century b.c. as a tribe within the Median nation in eastern Mesopotamia. Many historians consider them to have been Semites, which if so, made them—with the Jews and Arabs—descendants of Noah’s son Shem. It may also be that, like Abraham, the magi came from ancient Ur in Chaldea. The name magi soon came to be associated solely with the hereditary priesthood within that tribe. The magi became skilled in astronomy and astrology (which, in that day, were closely associated) and had a sacrificial system that somewhat resembled the one God gave to Israel through Moses. They were involved in various occult practices, including sorcery, and were especially noted for their ability to interpret dreams. It is from their name that our words magic and magician are derived.

A principle element of magian worship was fire, and on their primary altar burned a perpetual flame, which they claimed descended from heaven. The magi were monotheistic, believing in the existence of only one god. Because of their monotheism, it was easy for the magi to adapt to the teaching of the sixth-century b.c. Persian religious leader named Zoroaster, who believed in a single god, Ahura Mazda, and a cosmic struggle between good and evil. Darius the Great established Zoroastrianism as the state religion of Persia.

Because of their combined knowledge of science, agriculture, mathematics, history, and the occult, their religious and political influence continued to grow until they became the most prominent and powerful group of advisors in the Medo-Persian and subsequently the Babylonian empire. It is not strange, therefore, that they often were referred to as “wise men.” It may be that “the law of the Medes and Persians” (see Dan. 6:8, 12, 15; Esther 1:19) was founded on the teachings of these magi. Historians tell us that no Persian was ever able to become king without mastering the scientific and religious disciplines of the magi and then being approved and crowned by them, and that this group also largely controlled judicial appointments (cf. Esther 1:13). Nergal-sar-ezer the Rab-mag, chief of the Babylonian magi, was with Nebuchadnezzar when he attacked and conquered Judah (Jer. 39:3).

We learn from the book of Daniel that the magi were among the highest-ranking officials in Babylon. Because the Lord gave Daniel the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream—which none of the other court seers was able to do—Daniel was appointed as “ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon” (Dan. 2:48). Because of his great wisdom and because he had successfully pleaded for the lives of the wise men who had failed to interpret the king’s dream (Dan. 2:24), Daniel came to be highly regarded among the magi. The plot against Daniel that caused him to be thrown into the lions’ den was fomented by the jealous satraps and the other commissioners, not the magi (Dan. 6:4–9).

Because of Daniel’s high position and great respect among them, it seems certain that the magi learned much from that prophet about the one true God, the God of Israel, and about His will and plans for His people through the coming glorious King. Because many Jews remained in Babylon after the Exile and intermarried with the people of the east, it is likely that Jewish messianic influence remained strong in that region even until New Testament times.

During both the Greek and Roman empires the magi’s power and influence continued in the eastern provinces, particularly in Parthia. As mentioned above, it was the Parthians that Herod, in behalf of Rome, drove out of Palestine between 39 and 37 b.c., when his kingship of Judea began. Some magi—many of them probably outcasts or false practitioners—lived in various parts of the Roman Empire, including Palestine. Among them was Simon of Samaria (Acts 8:9), whom tradition and history have come to refer to as Simon Magus because of his “practicing magic” (Greek, mageuō, derived from the Babylonian magus, singular of magi). The Jewish false prophet Bar-Jesus was also a sorcerer, or “magician” (Greek, magos). These magicians were despised by both Romans and Jews. Philo, a first-century b.c. Jewish philosopher from Alexandria, called them vipers and scorpions.

The magi from the east (the word literally means “from the rising” of the sun, and refers to the orient) who came to see Jesus were of a completely different sort. Not only were they true magi, but they surely had been strongly influenced by Judaism, quite possibly even by some of the prophetic writings, especially that of Daniel. They appear to be among the many God-fearing Gentiles who lived at the time of Christ, a number of whom—such as Cornelius and Lydia (Acts 10:1–2; 16:14)—are mentioned in the New Testament.

When these magi, however many there were, arrived in Jerusalem, they began asking, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” The Greek construction (saying is a present participle emphasizing continual action) suggests that they went around the city questioning whomever they met. Because they, as foreigners, knew of the monumental birth, they apparently assumed that anyone in Judea, and certainly in Jerusalem, would know of this special baby’s whereabouts. They must have been more than a little shocked to discover that no one seemed to know what they were talking about.

During that time there was widespread expectation of the coming of a great king, a great deliverer. The Roman historian Suetonius, speaking of the time around the birth of Christ, wrote, “There had spread over all the Orient an old and established belief that it was fated at that time for men coming from Judea to rule the world.” Another Roman historian, Tacitus, wrote that “there was a firm persuasion that at this very time the east was to grow powerful and rulers coming from Judea were to acquire a universal empire.” The Jewish historian Josephus reports in his Jewish Wars that at about the time of Christ’s birth the Jews believed that one from their country would soon become ruler of the habitable earth.

As seen in the writings of the Roman poet Virgil (70–19 b.c), Rome was expecting its own golden age. Augustus Caesar, Herod’s benefactor, had for some time been hailed as the savior of the world. Many magi could be found in the great cities of the west, including Athens and Rome, and were frequently consulted by Roman rulers. The Romans were looking for a coming great age, wise men from the east had long influenced the west with their ideas and traditions, and—though the particulars varied considerably—there was a growing feeling that from somewhere a great and unprecedented world leader was about to arise.

We are not told how the God of revelation caused the magi to know that the King of the Jews had been born, only that He gave them the sign of His [the One called King] star in the east. Almost as much speculation has been made about the identity of that star as about the identity of the men who saw it. Some suggest that it was Jupiter, the “king of the planets.” Others claim that it was the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, forming the sign of the fish—which was used as a symbol for Christianity in the early church during the Roman persecutions. Still others claim that it was a low-hanging meteor, an erratic comet, or simply an inner vision of the star of destiny in the hearts of mankind.

Since the Bible does not identify or explain the star, we cannot be dogmatic, but it may have been the glory of the Lord—the same glory that shone around the shepherds when Jesus’ birth was announced to them by the angel (Luke 2:9). Throughout the Old Testament we are told of God’s glory being manifested as light, God radiating His presence (Shekinah) in the form of ineffable light. The Lord guided the children of Israel through the wilderness by “a pillar of cloud by day … and in a pillar of fire by night” (Ex. 13:21). When Moses went up on Mount Sinai, “to the eyes of the sons of Israel the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire on the mountaintop” (Ex. 24:17). On a later occasion, after Moses had inscribed the Ten Commandments on stone tablets, His face still glowed with the light of God’s glory when he returned to the people (Ex. 34:30).

When Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James, and John, “His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light” (Matt. 17:2). On the Damascus road, just before Jesus spoke to him, Saul of Tarsus was surrounded by “a light from heaven” (Acts 9:3), which he later explained was “brighter than the sun” (26:13). In John’s first vision on the Island of Patmos, he saw Christ’s face “like the sun shining in its strength” (Rev. 1:16). In his vision of the New Jerusalem, the future heavenly dwelling of all believers, he reports that “the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Rev. 21:23).

Both the Hebrew (kôkāb) and the Greek (astēr) words for star were also used figuratively to represent any great brilliance or radiance. Very early in the Old Testament the Messiah is spoken of as a “star [that] shall come forth from Jacob” (Num. 24:17), and at the end of the New Testament He refers to Himself as “the bright morning star” (Rev. 22:16). It was surely the glory of God, blazing as if it were an extremely bright star—visible only to the eyes for whom it was intended to be seen—that appeared to the magi in the east and later guided them to Bethlehem. It was a brilliant manifestation of “the sign of the Son of Man” (see Matt. 24:29–30; Rev. 1:7). The Shekinah glory of God stood over Bethlehem just as, centuries before, it had stood over the Tabernacle in the wilderness. And just as the pillar of cloud gave light to Israel but darkness to Egypt (Ex. 14:20), only the eyes of the magi were opened to see God’s great light over Bethlehem.

That the magi were not following the star is clear from the fact that they had to inquire about where Jesus was born. They saw His star in the east, but there is no evidence that it continued to shine or that it led them to Jerusalem. It was not until they were told of the prophesied birthplace of the Messiah (2:5–6) that the star reappeared and then guided them not only to Bethlehem but to the exact place “where the Child was” (v. 9).

These travelers from the east had come to Palestine with but one purpose: to find the One born King of the Jews and worship Him. The word worship is full of meaning, expressing the idea of falling down, prostrating oneself, and kissing the feet or the hem of the garment of the one honored. That truth in itself shows that they were true seekers after God, because when He spoke to them, in whatever way it was, they heard and responded. Despite their paganism, quasi-science, and superstition they recognized God’s voice when He spoke. Though having had limited spiritual light, they immediately recognized God’s light when it shone on them. They had genuinely seeking hearts, hearts that the Lord promises will never fail to find Him (Jer. 29:13).

On a plane trip several years ago I was hoping that whoever sat next to me would take a nap and not want to talk, so that I could get some urgent work done. The Lord obviously had other plans, because as soon as the man next to me saw I was studying he asked if I were a teacher. I replied that I was not a classroom teacher but that I did teach the Bible. His next question was, “Can you tell me how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?” After I explained the way of salvation, he received Christ. He was looking for God’s light and, like the magi, when he saw it he knew it.[1]


2 The Magi saw a star “when it rose” (NIV text note; see Notes, vv. 1–2). What they saw remains uncertain.

  1. The German astronomer Johannes Kepler (d. 1630) pointed out that in the Roman year AUC 747 (7 BC), there occurred a conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Saturn in the zodiacal constellation of Pisces, a sign sometimes connected in ancient astrology with the Hebrews. Many details can be fitted to this suggestion (cf. Brown, Birth of the Messiah, 172–73; NIDNTT, 3:735), not least that medieval Jews saw messianic significance in the same planetary conjunction. Moreover, the conjunction occurred in May, October, and November of 7 BC, and one of the latter two appearances could account for 2:9. But there is no solid evidence that the ancients referred to such conjunctions as “stars”; and even at their closest proximity, Jupiter and Saturn would have been about one degree apart—a perceived distance about twice the diameter of the moon—and therefore never fused into one image.
  2. Michael Molnar (The Star of Bethlehem: The Legacy of the Magi [Piscataway, N.J.: Rutgers Univ. Press, 1999]) suggests that twice in 6 BC the moon comes in front of Jupiter, totally obscuring it (a lunar “occultation” of Jupiter), and that astrologically this indicates a royal birth. He then makes other connections to tie this to the birth to Judah. The problem is that these occultations were not visible in Babylon (the most likely provenance of the Magi) since Jupiter at that time of year was below the horizon. Molnar acknowledges the point, but thinks the Magi might nevertheless have calculated the occultation without witnessing it. Matthew, however, stipulates that the Magi “saw” the star (v. 2). Moreover, Molnar’s theory does not align well with v. 9 (see below).
  3. Kepler himself preferred the suggestion that this was a supernova—a faint star that violently explodes and gives off enormous amounts of light for a few weeks or months. A recent defense of this view is that of Mark Kidger (The Star of Bethlehem: An Astronomer’s View [Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univ. Press, 1999]), who argues for a nova in 5 BC, preceded by three precursors (e.g., a triple conduction of Saturn and Jupiter in Pisces in 7 BC). There is little confirming evidence, and it is difficult on this theory to account for 2:9.
  4. Others have suggested comets, what some older writers refer to as “variable stars.” The most likely is Halley’s Comet (cf. Lagrange), which passed overhead in 12 BC; but this seems impossibly early.
  5. Ernest L. Martin opts for a number of planetary conjunctions and massings in 3/2 BC. This suggestion depends on his entire reconstruction and late date for Herod’s death (see comments at v. 1), which is no more than a possibility. The theory also shares some of the difficulties of point 1.
  6. In the light of 2:9, many commentators insist that astronomical considerations are a waste of time: Matthew presents the “star” as strictly supernatural. This, too, is possible and obviously impossible to falsify, but v. 9 is not as determinative as is often suggested (see comments at v. 9).
  7. Because it is difficult to imagine a “star” of any conceivable astronomical variety guiding the Magi along the road to Bethlehem, Allison (Studies in Matthew, 17–41) suggests that the “star” is actually a guiding angel. It is easy to list many texts in which stars and angels are linked; it is more difficult to find convincing parallels in which a star simply represents an angel. Moreover, the difficulty many find with v. 9 is not nearly as great as some have thought (see comments at vv. 9–10).

The evidence is insufficient to come down firmly on one particular astronomical theory.

Matthew uses language almost certainly alluding to Numbers 24:17: “A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.” This oracle, spoken by Balaam, who came “from the eastern mountains” (Nu 23:7), was widely regarded as messianic (Tg. Ps.-J.; Tg. Onq.; CD 7:19–20; 1QM 11:6; 1QSb 5:27; 4QTest 12–13; T. Jud. 24:1). Both Matthew and Numbers deal with the king of Israel (Nu 24:7), though Matthew does not resort to the uncontrolled allegorizing on “star” frequently found in early postapostolic Christian writings (cf. Jean Danielou, The Theology of Jewish Christianity [London: Darton, Longman, 1964], 214–24).

Granting Matthew’s informed devotion to the OT, he surely knew that the OT mocks astrologers (Isa 47:13–15; Da 1:20; 2:27; 4:7; 5:7) and forbids astrology (Jer 10:1–2). Nevertheless, it was widely practiced in the first century, even among Jews (cf. Albright and Mann). Matthew neither condemns nor sanctions it; instead, he contrasts the eagerness of the Magi to worship Jesus, despite their limited knowledge, with the apathy of the Jewish leaders and the hostility of Herod’s court—all of whom had the Scriptures to inform them. Formal knowledge of the Scriptures, Matthew implies, does not in itself lead to knowing who Jesus is. Just as God sovereignly worked through Caesar’s decree that a census be taken (Lk 2:1) to ensure that Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem would fulfill prophecy, so God sovereignly used the Magi’s calculations to bring about the situation this pericope describes.

The question the Magi asked does not tell how their astrology led them to seek a “king of the Jews” and what made them think this particular star was “his.” The widely held idea that the ancient world was looking for a Jewish leader of renown (based largely on Josephus, J.W. 6.312–13 [5.4]; Suetonius, Vesp. 4; Tacitus, Hist. v. 13; Virgil, Ecl. 4) cannot stand close scrutiny. The Josephus passage refers to Jewish expectations of Messiah, and the others probably borrowed from Josephus. The Magi may have linked the star to “the king of the Jews” through studying the OT and other Jewish writings—a possibility made plausible by the presence of the large Jewish community in Babylon.

We must not think that the Magi’s question meant, Where is the one born to become king of the Jews? but, Where is the one born king of the Jews? (see Notes). His kingly status was not conferred on him later on; it was his from birth. Jesus’ participation in the Davidic dynasty has already been established by the genealogy. The same title the Magi gave him found its place over the cross (27:37).

“Worship” (see Notes) need not imply that the Magi recognized Jesus’ divinity; it may simply mean “do homage” (Broadus). Their own statement suggests homage paid royalty rather than the worship of Deity. But Matthew, having already told of the virginal conception, doubtless expected his readers to discern something more—namely, that the Magi “worshiped” better than they knew.[2]


2:1–2 / Luke recounts Joseph and Mary’s journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem in order to comply with census regulations (Joseph was a descendant of David, who was a son of “Jesse of Bethlehem,” 1 Sam. 16:1); Matthew simply states that Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea (there was another Bethlehem within the territory assigned to Zebulun, Josh. 19:15). The name Bethlehem means “house of bread.” It was nestled in a fertile countryside some six miles south of Jerusalem, and its history was long and illustrious. It was there that Rachel died (Gen. 48:7) and there that Ruth lived after her marriage to Boaz (Ruth 1:22). Bethlehem was most important, however, as the city of David. Thus it was from Bethlehem that Israel expected David’s greater son, the Messiah, to come (Mic. 5:2). So, in fulfillment of prophetic anticipation, Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

The birth of Jesus took place during the reign of Herod the Great. This crafty and cruel monarch secured his position as ruler over Palestine by successfully manipulating Marcus Antonius. Although he erected many ornate buildings (the temple in Jerusalem was one) and was on occasion exceptionally generous, he steadily lost favor with the Jewish people. His mixed lineage (half Idumean and half Jewish) would make him suspect to begin with. His Edomite blood (cf. Mal. 1:4) made him unacceptable.

Toward the end of his reign (which lasted from 40 until 4 b.c.) he became increasingly cruel. Suspicious that his own family was plotting his overthrow, he murdered his favorite wife (Mari-amne), her mother, two of her sons, and his own eldest son. Augustus, the Roman emperor, who for years had retained confidence in Herod, finally acknowledged that it was safer to be Herod’s pig (hys in Greek) than his son (hyios). He was, as it were, a second Pharaoh, that symbol of unbelief and coldheartedness in the Old Testament.

The first to visit the newborn child were astrologers from the East. The av calls them “wise men” (niv Magi, translating magoi) indicating that they were thought to possess secret wisdom concerning the movement of the stars and the influence that this would have on the course of human history. Beare notes that although astrology was a dominant influence at that time (“the real religion of many of the most elevated and clearminded spirits”), it was a pseudoscience, for it depended upon the theory that the earth is the center of the universe and that the planets are living powers (p. 74). The astrologers probably came from Babylonia, where they would have had contact with the Jewish exiles and the opportunity to develop an interest in the coming Messiah (cf. TDNT, vol. 4, pp. 356–59). The same word (magos, sg.) occurs in Acts 13:6, 8, of the magician Elymas (Bar-Jesus), but in the negative sense of one who practices magical arts (Paul calls him a “child of the devil … full of all kinds of deceit and trickery,” Acts 13:10). The wise men who came to worship the Christ were not crafty magicians but highly respected members of the community (note, however, that Ignatius of Antioch took them in the bad sense, Ign. Eph. 19).

Tradition has expanded on the visitors from the East. Because they brought three kinds of gifts (v. 11), it is commonly held that they were three in number. The idea that they were kings was probably derived from such passages as Psalms 72:10, 15, and Isaiah 49:7 Some seven hundred years later they were given the names Caspar, Balthasar, and Melchior. There is no basis in the text for these conjectures.

The journey from the East was prompted by a remarkable phenomenon that they had seen in the heavens. It may have been the conjunction of Jupiter and Venus in the spring of 7 b.c. We know that ancient astronomers were able to calculate the orbits of planets years in advance. Stauffer holds that the Magi noted only the beginning of the conjunction (the appearance of Jupiter in the east; v. 2) and set out for Palestine. Upon arriving, they witnessed the extremely rare (once every 794 years) conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the Sign of the Fishes. Note that when they left Jerusalem for Bethlehem they saw “the star they had seen in the east” (v. 9) and were filled with joy. Stauffer goes on to say that since Jupiter was regarded as the star of the universe, Saturn the planet of Palestine, and the constellation of the Fishes the sign of the last days, this rare conjunction “could only mean that the ruler of the last days would appear in Palestine” (Jesus and His Story, p. 33).[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Vol. 1, pp. 25–30). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, pp. 111–112). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Mounce, R. H. (2011). Matthew (pp. 12–13). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

FEBRUARY 6 TRUTH IS A PERSON

Then said Jesus…And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

John 8:31–32

Let me say boldly that it is not the difficulty of discovering truth, but the unwillingness to obey it, that makes it so rare among men.

Our Lord said, “I am…the Truth” (John 14:6). And again He said, “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Truth, therefore, is not hard to find for the very reason that it is seeking us!

So we learn that Truth is not a thing for which we must search, but a Person to whom we must hearken! In the New Testament, multitudes came to Jesus for physical help, but only rarely did one seek Him out to learn the Truth. The whole picture in the Gospels is one of a seeking Savior, not one of seeking men.

The Truth was hunting for those who would receive it, and relatively few did, for “many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14).

Thank You for this truth, Lord, that You came “to seek and to save that which was lost.” I don’t want to keep this truth tucked in my back pocket. Give me an opportunity to share Your good news with someone today.[1]


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

FEBRUARY 6 HEALINGS VALIDATE JESUS’ EARTHLY MINISTRY

The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them.—Matt. 4:24

Jesus’ miraculous healing ministry powerfully augmented the divine veracity of His teaching and preaching ministry. But any completely honest observer will concede that our Lord’s words alone provide sufficient evidence that He was the Messiah. The apostles left everything to follow Him before He did any healing or performed any other miracle. Many who heard and believed when Jesus taught in their villages had no need for healing, and neither did their relatives or friends. In that sense they were like those who believed John the Baptist’s message even though “John performed no sign” (John 10:41).

Yet in spite of the overwhelming adequacy of Jesus’ verbal teaching, His Father saw fit to provide a healing ministry to supplement it. Alexander Maclaren has written, “It may be doubted whether we have an adequate notion of the immense number of Christ’s miracles. Those recorded are but a small portion of those done. Those early ones were illustrations of the nature of His kingdom; they were His first gifts to His kingdom subjects.”

Concerning the gospel of the kingdom, Hebrews 2:3–4 says, “After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.” Like Christ’s words, His healings and other miracles provided a preview of His glorious earthly kingdom.

ASK YOURSELF

How dependent are you on the specific, visible, measurable acts of God on your behalf? How often does His Word alone brighten your heart, even when your prayers seem to be waiting on His answer? What does one do to get his or her heart operating this way?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 45). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

FEBRUARY 6 CONFESSING JESUS AS LORD

If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

Romans 10:9

To give glory to Christ, we must confess Him as Lord. That’s a part of salvation, not a subsequent act. Salvation is a matter of confessing that Christ is God and, therefore, that He is sovereign in your life.

If you have never confessed Jesus Christ as Lord, you have no capacity to live for His glory. You cannot say, “I deny Christ. He is not my Savior or Lord,” and then expect to glorify God. If you dishonor the Son, you dishonor the Father (John 5:23). So salvation is the necessary beginning for glorifying God and, therefore, for spiritual growth. You cannot grow until you are born.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 49). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

February 6, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

The New Covenant Is Energized by the Spirit

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (3:17)

There was nothing in the old covenant to energize obedience. The Law was a jailer, locking up sinners and condemning them to death and hell. But the new covenant liberates through the power of “the Spirit [who] gives life” (3:6).

Paul’s declaration that the Lord is the Spirit strongly affirms the deity of the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 5:3–4). The same God who gave the old covenant gave the new covenant. The same God who gave the Law is the God who brings salvation under the new covenant. The almighty Yahweh of the Old Testament is the same God who grants liberty in the new covenant from the futile attempts to earn salvation by keeping the Law. It is the Spirit of the Lord who brings the liberty of salvation to repentant sinners of any age—liberty from bondage to the Law (Rom. 7:1–6), Satan (Heb. 2:14–15), fear (Rom. 8:15), sin (Rom. 6:2, 7, 14), and death (Rom. 8:2).

There has been much confusion about the Holy Spirit’s ministry in the Old Testament. Some believe that His ministry in some economies or dispensations was different than in others. But there is a consistency in the Spirit’s ministry throughout redemptive history. The Holy Spirit’s ministry in the Old Testament can be summarized in four categories.

The first ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament was creation. Genesis 1:2 records that “the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving (lit. “hovering”) over the surface of the waters.” In Psalm 104:30 the psalmist wrote of the Holy Spirit’s role in creation, “You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the ground.” Isaiah asked rhetorically,

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and marked off the heavens by the span, and calculated the dust of the earth by the measure, and weighed the mountains in a balance and the hills in a pair of scales? Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, or as His counselor has informed Him? (Isa. 40:12–13)

The Spirit of God was involved in the creation not only of the physical world, but also of man: “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33:4).

The second ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament was empowerment. The Old Testament frequently records that the Spirit of the Lord came upon various individuals (and that He departed from the rebellious King Saul; 1 Sam. 16:14). That, of course, was not referring to the normal relationship of the Holy Spirit to Old Testament believers; all true children of God must have the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom. 8:9), because the divine life imparted in regeneration is not humanly sustainable. The Old Testament references to the Holy Spirit coming upon people describe the Spirit’s empowering specific people to perform special tasks. Four categories of people received the Spirit’s special empowering: judges (Othniel [Judg. 3:9–10], Gideon [Judg. 6:34], Jephthah [Judg. 11:29], Samson [Judg. 14:6, 19; 15:14; cf. 13:25]); craftsmen (Bezalel [Ex. 31:2–3; 35:30–31], Oholiab [Ex. 31:6; 35:34] and others [Ex. 36:1], Hiram [1 Kings 7:13–14]); prophets (Balaam [Num. 24:2], Amasai [1 Chron. 12:18], Jahaziel [2 Chron. 20:14], Zechariah the son of Jehoiada [2 Chron. 24:20], Ezekiel [Ezek. 11:5]); and civic leaders (Moses [Num. 11:17], the seventy elders of Israel [Num. 11:25–26], Joshua [Num. 27:18], Saul [1 Sam. 10:6, 10; 11:6; cf. 1 Sam. 16:14], David [1 Sam. 16:13; cf. Ps. 51:11]).

The third ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament was revelation. He is the divine Author of the Old Testament Scriptures. Zechariah 7:12 laments concerning rebellious Israel, “They made their hearts like flint so that they could not hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets; therefore great wrath came from the Lord of hosts” (cf. Neh. 9:30). The Old Testament was written by “men moved by the Holy Spirit [who] spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:21).

The fourth and most significant ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament was regeneration. Some maintain that regeneration or the new birth is foreign to the Old Testament. But the evidence clearly shows that Old Testament believers were regenerated. The convicting work of the Spirit, which precedes regeneration (cf. John 16:8), is not restricted to the New Testament. In Genesis 6:3 “the Lord said, ‘My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.’ ” The Spirit of God striving with sinful hearts to bring conviction of sin is not unique to the New Testament.

Further, total depravity has defined the human condition since the Fall. In fact, Paul’s classic description of total depravity in Romans 3:10–18 comes entirely from the Old Testament. There is no clearer statement of total depravity anywhere in Scripture than the one found in Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” Since fallen, totally depraved people are incapable of saving themselves, no one in any age could be saved apart from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit.

How could a totally depraved person exclaim, “O how I love Your law!” (Ps. 119:97, 113, 163) apart from regeneration? How could Noah be “a righteous man, blameless in his time” (Gen. 6:9) if he were unregenerate? How can the New Testament hold up Abraham as a model of faith (Rom. 4:1–16; Gal. 3:6–9) unless he was regenerated by the Holy Spirit? How could the Old Testament say that “David did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and [did not turn] aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the case of Uriah the Hittite” (1 Kings 15:5; cf. 3:14; 11:4, 33) if he were not regenerate? How could the Old Testament figures listed in Hebrews 11 have lived such exemplary lives of faith if the Holy Spirit had not regenerated them? The transformed lives of the Old Testament saints testify to their having been regenerated by the Holy Spirit.

Jesus’ conversation with the noted Jewish teacher Nicodemus offers convincing proof that Old Testament believers experienced regeneration. The conversation took place before the ratification of the new covenant with Jesus’ death (Luke 22:20). Yet Jesus declared to Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.… Unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:3, 5). Thus Old Testament conversion involved being “born again,” and being “born of water (cf. the new covenant text of Ezek. 36:24–27) and the Spirit.” Salvation in any age has always been through the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit.

The difference between the Holy Spirit’s ministry under the old and new covenants is one of degree. Jesus implied that when he told His disciples, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you” (John 14:16–17). As old covenant believers, the disciples already possessed the Holy Spirit, as Jesus’statement, “He abides with you” indicates. Yet there was a fullness of the Spirit’s presence and ministry in their lives that awaited the ratification of the new covenant. Then, Jesus declared to them, the Spirit “will be in you.” He also spoke of that coming fullness in John 7:37–39:

Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ ” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

There is a degree to which new covenant believers experience the power and the enabling of the Spirit that goes beyond that of old covenant believers. In addition, the Spirit unites believers into one body in the church (1 Cor. 12:13). But the essential work of the Holy Spirit in salvation was the same in the old covenant as in the new.[1]


17 Outside of its context this verse might suggest that Paul is identifying the risen Christ with the Spirit (as W. Bousset and others have held). But v. 17 explains v. 16. “The Lord” referred to in the quotation from Exodus 34:34, to whom the Jew must now turn for the removal of the veil, is in the present era none other than the life-giving Spirit of the living God (cf. vv. 3, 6, 8). This is an affirmation about the Spirit, not about Christ; it describes his function, not his identity (as though the Spirit were the Lord [= Yahweh] of v. 16).

Another view finds here a functional equivalence between Christ and the Spirit: in v. 14 it is Christ who removes the veil; in v. 16 it is the Spirit. Again, some believe that Christ (ho kyrios, GK 3261) is being identified as “life-giving Spirit” (1 Co 15:45; cf. 2 Co 3:6).

Paul’s point in v. 17b is that though the Spirit is Lord, who has the right to exercise authority, his presence brings liberation, not bondage (cf. Ro 8:15). Not only does he remove the veil of ignorance about Christ and bring freedom of access into God’s presence without fear; he also sets a person free from bondage to sin, to death, and to the law as a means of acquiring righteousness.[2]


3:17 / Paul proceeds to explain (Now, de) the removal of the veil as providing access to the presence of the Lord through the Spirit. This extremely obscure and controversial statement seems to equate the Lord with the Spirit (cf. John 4:24). As we have seen, Lord can refer either to God or to Christ in Paul’s writings, for they act together or interchangeably. Hence, the Spirit is closely identified with both God and Christ (cf. 13:14). On the one hand, it is called “the Spirit of God” (Rom. 8:9, 14; 1 Cor. 2:11, 14; 3:16; 6:11; 7:40; 12:3; Phil. 3:3), “the Spirit of the living God” (2 Cor. 3:3), or “the Spirit which is from God” (1 Cor. 2:12); and on the other hand, it is called “the Spirit of (Jesus) Christ” (Rom. 8:9; Phil. 1:19) or “the Spirit of his Son” (Gal. 4:6; cf. Rom. 8:14). In fact, Romans 8:9 uses “the Spirit of God” interchangeably with “the Spirit of Christ.” The fact that 2 Corinthians 3:17a refers to the same close identification of the Spirit with God and/or Christ is signaled by the expression the Spirit of the Lord in verse 17b. In emphasizing the identification between the Lord and the Spirit, Paul shows the historical continuity between Moses’ encounter with the Lord in the tent of meeting and believers’ experience of the presence of the Lord through the Spirit of God.

The presence of the Spirit of the Lord spells freedom as a result of the new covenant situation in Christ. Upon returning to the Lord and receiving a new heart through the Spirit of the Lord, those who have been enslaved in exile receive freedom. The proclamation of liberty to captives is at the very core of the ot’s “good news” for Israel (cf. Isa. 52:2–10; 61:1–2). Of particular interest is Isaiah 61:1, where the “Spirit of the Lord” (pneuma kyriou) who comes upon the prophet, sends him “to preach good news” (euangelisasthai) to the poor and to proclaim “release” (aphesin; mt, derôr, “liberty, freedom”) to the captives. We find the same idea developed elsewhere in Paul (cf., e.g., Gal. 3:10–14; 4:1–7, 21–31; Rom. 8:14–16, 21).[3]


3:17. Continuing to draw attention to the change that had taken place in Christ, Paul stated, Now the Lord is the Spirit. This sentence is difficult to interpret because it appears to assert an identity between Christ and the Holy Spirit. Such an identification would contradict the doctrine of the Trinity which states that God is one substance, but three persons. The persons of the Trinity are not identical to one another.

The context indicates that Paul used the term Lord here and in 3:16 to refer to Christ and that he spoke figuratively about the relationship between Christ and the Holy Spirit. He did not intend to describe an identity between Christ and the Holy Spirit. As the immediate context makes clear, Paul did not always speak literally. In the preceding three verses, he had described the related realities of Moses’ veil and contemporary Jewish dullness by identifying one with the other. Thus, it is likely that when he identified Christ with the Spirit, he used a figure of speech (cf. Phil. 1:21).

He really meant something like “the Lord is the one who sent the Spirit” or “the Spirit is of the Lord.” This is evident from 3:17b, which refers to the Spirit of the Lord. This second half of the verse assumes that the first half does not equate the Lord with the Spirit, but asserts a close connection between them. Paul had already drawn this connection between Christ and the Spirit a number of times in this context.

Paul explained how those who turned to Christ had the veil removed by declaring that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. Paul had not yet touched on the theme of freedom in this context, but elsewhere in his epistles this idea is clear enough. Those who seek salvation through obedience to the Law of Moses (as many Jews did in Paul’s day) are in bondage to the law and death (Rom. 6:6–22; Gal. 2:4; cf. Heb. 2:15). Those in Christ, however, are free from the dominion of sin and death (Rom. 7:6). In Christ believers are set free from sin’s guilt and influence. Believers are no longer slaves to sin, incapable of resisting its influence over their behavior. Instead, they become free to withstand sin and to do good instead of evil. Freedom stood as one of those words that Paul used to summarize the experience of salvation in Christ.

Paul did not mean that believers were free from all obligation to obey God. Rather, for Paul freedom in Christ was only freedom from sin—it was not also freedom from righteousness. In fact, freedom from sin was slavery to righteousness. Only this slavery to righteousness enabled a person to serve “in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code” (Rom. 7:6). It is easier to understand Paul’s perspective and vocabulary when one considers that he probably drew the image of freedom not from slaves and freemen in the Roman empire, but from Israel’s freedom from their slavery in Egypt. Thus, he did not contrast slavery to another’s control with freedom to be autonomous. Instead, he contrasted slavery to a sinful power that prevented proper worship with the freedom to be ruled by God—to obey him and to worship him.[4]


17. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

  • “Now the Lord is the Spirit.” The clauses are short and the words are uncomplicated, but the meaning of this relatively short verse is profound. Identifying the Lord with the Holy Spirit touches the doctrine of the Trinity. Is Paul referring to God the Father or to Christ? The answers to this question are numerous and varied. Nearly all the studies on verse 17a can be placed in two categories: those that present God as the Lord, and those that understand Christ to be the Lord. The close link that this verse has with the preceding one (v. 16) and its interpretation determines to a large extent the choice for the exegete. That is, one’s interpretation of verse 16 has an unavoidable bearing on verse 17.

If we interpret verse 16 to suggest strictly its Old Testament setting at the time of Moses, the word Lord means God. Whenever Moses turned to the Lord God, he removed the veil (Exod. 34:34). One translation explains verse 17 in a paraphrase, “Now the Lord of whom this passage speaks is the Spirit” (REB). God, then, is the Spirit and the word Lord in verse 18, as an expansion of verse 16, points to God.

If we take the term Lord in verses 16–18 as a reference to Christ (see v. 14), we interpret the passage to mean that Paul was addressing his Jewish contemporaries. As Moses approached God, so the Jew of Paul’s day is invited to turn to Christ. If the Jew responds affirmatively to this invitation, the veil that covers his heart is removed. Throughout this passage (vv. 16–18), Paul does not use the word God in connection with “the Lord.” Next, the purpose of verse 18a appears to focus attention on Christ: “And all of us with uncovered face are reflecting the glory of the Lord” (compare 4:4, 6). It is Paul’s intention to point his readers to Jesus Christ. And last, the flow of verses 16–18 calls for the identification of Christ with the Lord.

Let us briefly retrace some of Paul’s emphases in chapter 3. One of these is the work of the Holy Spirit. Paul mentioned the life-giving Spirit who works in people’s hearts in a ministry of glory that surpassed that of Moses (vv. 3, 6, 8). Next, in a following section he considered the difference between the old and the new covenants. Third, he does so in terms of a veil that either remained or was removed in Christ (vv. 13–15). Whenever Paul’s fellow Jews turn to Christ, the veil is lifted and they are able to accept the new covenant. Now Paul has to complete his earlier discussion on the Holy Spirit. He accentuates the nuance of the Spirit who in Christ takes away the veil from the reading of the old covenant.

The Holy Spirit works in the heart of all believers who are in Christ, for only in Christ is the veil removed (v. 14b). Without identifying the Lord and the Spirit, Paul sees the Holy Spirit at work in all the people who are in Christ. The Spirit is breathing life into the words of the new covenant. Without the veil that covered the old covenant, believers meet the Christ of the Scriptures. Paul views the Lord to be the Spirit at work in giving the believers the correct understanding of God’s revelation. Through the Word, the Spirit changes a person’s heart, fosters life, and leads a believer to freedom in Christ. In slightly different wording Paul utters the same thought at another place:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. [Rom. 8:1–2]

  • “And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” With the second clause in verse 17, Paul makes it plain that he does not identify the Lord with the Spirit. This second clause clarifies the first, for the phrases Spirit of the Lord, of Jesus, of Christ, and of Jesus Christ occur many times in the New Testament. Paul notes a close correlation between Christ and the Holy Spirit when he writes, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

Some scholars attempt to revise this part of the text, but their emendations are unconvincing. Conjectures are considered viable only when a reading makes no sense at all. This is not the case here. Nevertheless, some scholars wish to change the reading of the text. For example, Jean Héring seeks perfect parallelism and with conjectures contrives the following lines:

There where the Lord is, is the Spirit.

There where the Spirit is, is the liberty of the Lord.

He admits that for the reading of the first line, textual support is entirely lacking. Without this evidence, we must reject his emendation. And we question his proposed reading of the second line for its lack of textual witnesses. Early and old Latin versions, Syriac and Coptic translations, and manuscripts of the Western text stress the word there in the reading: “However, where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” With respect to Héring’s second line, the evidence is wanting. His proposal is speculative, and we do well to stay with the biblical formula the Spirit of the Lord.

What is the meaning of “freedom”? The context suggests that Jews bound to the old covenant cannot fully understand God’s revelation. The hardness of their heart is a veil that prevents them from understanding the Scriptures. But when they turn to the Lord, the Spirit removes that veil. Through the Spirit of the Lord believers enjoy freedom within the setting of the new covenant, because God has written his law on their hearts and minds (Jer. 31:33). In Christ, they have been set free from the bondage to the law (Rom. 7:3–6; 8:3; Gal. 5:1), from the enslavement of sin that leads to death (Rom. 6:18–23), and from their old nature (Rom. 6:6: Eph. 4:22; Col. 3:9). Believers are able to lead a joyful life, for the Spirit of God lives within them (1 Cor. 3:16).[5]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2003). 2 Corinthians (pp. 113–116). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] Harris, M. J. (2008). 2 Corinthians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, p. 464). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Scott, J. M. (2011). 2 Corinthians (p. 81). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Pratt, R. L., Jr. (2000). I & II Corinthians (Vol. 7, pp. 325–326). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[5] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians (Vol. 19, pp. 124–127). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

FEBRUARY 6 BE STILL TO KNOW

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

—Psalm 46:10

Our fathers had much to say about stillness, and by stillness they meant the absence of motion or the absence of noise or both.

They felt that they must be still for at least a part of the day, or that day would be wasted. God can be known in the tumult of the world if His providence has for the time placed us there, but He is known best in the silence. So they held, and so the sacred Scriptures declare. Inward assurance comes out of the stillness. We must be still to know.

There has hardly been another time in the history of the world when stillness was needed more than it is today, and there has surely not been another time when there was so little of it or when it was so hard to find. GTM012-013

Lord, in today’s world stillness is so rare but so needed. Quiet my world even for these few moments and speak to me in the stillness, I pray. Amen. [1]


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

February 6 God Is Holy

“There is no one holy like the Lord.”

1 Samuel 2:2

✧✧✧

God’s holiness means He transcends everything else and is completely righteous and separated from evil.

Holiness is arguably God’s most significant attribute. The angels don’t sing, “Eternal, eternal, eternal” or “Faithful, faithful, faithful” or “Mighty, mighty, mighty.” Rather, they sing, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God, the Almighty” (Rev. 4:8; compare Isa. 6:3). His holiness sums up all He is. The psalmist says, “Holy and awesome is His name” (Ps. 111:9). Moses sings, “Who is like Thee among the gods, O Lord? Who is like Thee, majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders?” (Ex. 15:11). And Hannah prays, “There is no one holy like the Lord, indeed, there is no one besides Thee, nor is there any rock like our God” (1 Sam. 2:2).

What does it mean that God is holy? The words translated “holy” in the Bible have the root meaning of “separation.” God’s being and character transcend everything else. He is not subject to the frailties and limitations of His creation. God is completely without sin. He does not just conform to a holy standard; He is the standard.

God’s righteousness is related to His holiness. Holiness is the standard, and righteousness is its active fulfillment. Or you might say His holiness is His complete separation from all that is sinful, and His righteousness is the manifestation of that holiness.

David understood how holy and righteous God is. He says, “The Lord is righteous in all His ways” (Ps. 145:17), and “Thy righteousness, O God, reaches to the heavens, Thou who hast done great things; O God, who is like Thee?” (Ps. 71:19).

Sadly, many today completely misunderstand God’s righteousness. If they really understood how holy God is, do you think they would live the way they do? But they ignore God’s standard, thinking He won’t really judge them because they’re basically good people. But “God is a righteous judge, and a God who has indignation every day” toward the wicked (Ps. 7:11). Since God is holy, the penalty for any sin—however small that sin might seem—is death (Rom. 6:23).

Don’t let the world corrupt your view of God. Don’t treat your sin lightly. Instead, confess it, forsake it, and seek to please a holy God.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Ask that you would have the same righteous hatred of sin that God does.

For Further Study: Read the Book of Habakkuk. What are the prophet’s questions? ✧ What are God’s answers? ✧ Study in detail Habakkuk’s response in chapter 3.[1]


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

February 5 Daily Help

THERE are moments when the eyes glisten with joy: and we can say, “we are persuaded, confident, certain.” I do not wish to distress any one who is under doubt. Often gloomy doubts will prevail; there are seasons when you fear you have not been called, when you doubt your interest in Christ. Ah! what a mercy it is that it is not your hold of Christ that saves you, but his hold of you! What a sweet fact that it is not how you grasp his hand, but his grasp of yours, that saves you.

The Lord’s promise once given is never recalled.[1]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 40). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

February 5, 2018 Evening Verse Of The Day

Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. It is not enough for an individual merely to profess love for others (which is also true regarding faith; cf. Luke 6:46; James 2:18–26). The proof that one has genuine love and is a child of God rests not in sentiments but in deeds (cf. Matt. 25:34–40).

For John, therefore, the differences between Satan’s children and God’s children could not be more distinct. Those who murder, habitually hate, or are chronically self-centered and indifferent to the needs of others do not have eternal life. But those who, as part of their repentance from sin and trust in Christ, have renounced murderous, hateful attitudes and all cold, selfish indifference to the needs of others give evidence that they have been born again. In place of those sinful traits, Christians manifest genuine love to others, especially fellow believers (Rom. 12:10–13; Gal. 6:10), because of the love of God shed abroad in their hearts. They sincerely obey James’s injunction: “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (James 1:27; cf. 2:8, 15–17).[1]


18 After blasting the Antichrists John suddenly shifts to a more pastoral tone to encourage his “children” (teknion), those who pass the test of love. Verse 18 summarizes vv. 11–17 and also John’s general view of Christian duty. Love does not express itself “with words or tongue” but rather “in deeds and truth” (NIV, “with actions and in truth”). This statement parallels John 4:24, where Jesus tells the Samaritan woman that true worshipers must approach the Father “in spirit and in truth.” “In truth” has a doctrinal orientation, referring to a correct view of Jesus. Just as real worship depends on a proper recognition of Jesus’ identity, genuine Christian ethics must also be based on John’s orthodox witness. This verse epitomizes John’s belief that all aspects of Christian life are grounded in Christology.[2]


3:18 / Verse 18 is a fitting conclusion to the teaching on love for one another in vv. 11–18. Influenced by the negative example in v. 17, the present tense command in this verse is also negative: “let us not be loving.” The command is followed by four nouns in two pairs: with words (the Greek is singular, “word,” logō) or tongue (tē glōssē), but with actions (again the Greek is singular, “action,” or “deed,” ergos) and in truth (alētheia). Genuine love must be practical, visible, and active. Just as God’s/Jesus’ love is made manifest in the giving of his life for us (3:16), and just as the secessionists’ lack of love is seen concretely in their failure to help their brothers and sisters in need (3:17), so authentic love is a matter not of words (“I/we love you”) but of practical actions.

The most difficult aspect of interpreting v. 18 concerns the relation of the second word in each pair to its partner. At first glance, they do not appear to be parallel. While word and tongue are roughly similar, actions and truth are not. In truth can mean “in reality,” as opposed to mere intention or even deceptive lies. But in the letters of John, in truth usually means “within the sphere of God’s truth,” i.e., God’s revelation of the way things really are in Christ, who is the truth (John 14:6); much as in Paul’s writings “in Christ” can represent “in the sphere of Christ,” where he is the all-determining reality. The writer means, then, something like “deeds of truth,” or “actions which come from the truth.” The words and tongue phrase could also be parallel, since words come from the tongue. The Elder means that his readers should love, not with mere spoken words, but with the kind of actions which knowing Christ (3:16) and having God’s love within them (3:17) produce.[3]


18. Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

Whereas John places his words in the context of love, James in his epistle discusses the same matter in connection with faith (see James 2:20). Love and faith have this in common: both need deeds to prove their genuineness. Words of love that are never translated into action are worthless.

In order to be genuine, love seeks the welfare of others: “it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Cor. 13:7). Love is the act of giving of one’s possessions, talents, and self to someone else.

Note that the words we speak must correspond to our actions, and the use of our tongue must agree with the truth of God’s Word. Words and tongue find their counterpart in actions and truth. It is significant that John ends this verse with the word truth to remind us of Jesus, the supreme example of love, who said, “I am the … truth” (John 14:6).[4]


3:18 We should not love in word or in tongue, but rather in deed and in truth. In other words, it should not be a matter of affectionate terms only, neither should it be an expression of what is not true. But it should be manifested in actual deeds of kindness and should be genuine instead of false.[5]


3:18 To love in word is to feel love and speak loving words but stop short of doing anything. To love in tongue is to profess what one does not have at all. The opposite of loving “in word” is to love in deed and the opposite of loving “in tongue” is to love in truth. Love from the heart and with actions.[6]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2007). 1, 2, 3 John (pp. 136–137). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] Thatcher, T. (2006). 1 John. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 466). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Johnson, T. F. (2011). 1, 2, and 3 John (p. 85). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of James and the Epistles of John (Vol. 14, p. 312). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2318). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[6] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1712). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

February 5: Why Does God Punish People?

Exodus 11–13; John 2:13–3:25; Song of Solomon 2:1–3

In regard to why a good God would punish people, I recently heard one homeless man wisely tell another, “You wouldn’t want to live in a world where God didn’t punish injustices and just freely forgave sin—without any request for someone to choose the salvation He offers back. Imagine a place where injustice was never punished and people never recognized their sin and need for salvation. That would be terrible and painful.”

We all want justice to reign. For a good God to be truly good, injustice must be punished. This is why it makes complete sense that Jesus had to die. There must be a payment for the evil we inflict on the world and one another. Jesus’ death epitomizes God’s mercy and justice—and it all happened in one act.

This also makes sense out of the Passover event (Exod 12:1–31). I usually hear this preached about as a saving act, which indeed it was, but it was also brutal: God kills firstborn sons in an act of justice against the people of Egypt for the suffering they inflicted on an innocent people. (It’s important to note that the plagues that came before Passover gave Pharaoh more than ample warning.)

Following this, evil finally loosens its grip, and God’s people are freed (Exod 12:33–40). None of us truly wants to have justice fall upon us because we know that true justice would cost us our very lives. We have all done wrong against a good God, bringing evil into the world. Thus, we all deserve to be wiped out. Instead, God offers grace. But He does so only after the wages of our sin are paid with Jesus’ life. Jesus makes this incredibly clear: “For God did not send his Son into the world in order that he should judge the world, but in order that the world should be saved through him” (John 3:17).

Jesus goes on to explain that salvation requires choosing God back: “The one who believes in him is not judged, but the one who does not believe has already been judged, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God” (John 3:18). Before we believe, we’re judged—we are regarded to be dead in our sin. After we believe, we escape that judgment. God’s faithfulness, shown in Jesus’ death and resurrection, allows for that. I want to live in a world of people freed in Christ through His mercy and grace; I’m sure you want to as well. Thus, we should no longer ask, “Why judgment?” but instead, “Why not?”

In what ways are you misjudging God’s motives? How can you change that perspective?

John D. Barry[1]


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