Daily Archives: February 7, 2018

February 7 The Joy of Sacrificial Giving

“… saints … who are in Philippi” (Phil. 1:1).

✧✧✧

As you give toward the needs of others, God will supply your needs.

Perhaps more than any other New Testament church, the Philippian church was characterized by generous, sacrificial giving. Their support for Paul extended throughout his missionary travels and was a source of great joy to him. In addition to money, they also sent Epaphroditus, a godly man who ministered to Paul during his imprisonment (Phil. 2:25–30; 4:18).

Paul was selective about accepting financial support from churches because he didn’t want to be a burden or have his motives misunderstood. First Corinthians 9:6–14 tells us he had the right to receive support from those he ministered to, but he waived that right so the gospel would not be hindered in any way. In 2 Corinthians 11:9 he says, “When I was present with you and was in need, I was not a burden to anyone … in everything I kept myself from being a burden to you, and will continue to do so.”

Similarly he wrote to the Thessalonians, “We did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we might not be a burden to any of you” (2 Thess. 3:7–9).

In contrast, Paul’s willingness to accept support from the Philippian church speaks of the special trust and affection they shared.

Apparently the Philippians’ generosity was so great, it left them with needs of their own. Paul assured them that their sacrifices were well-pleasing to God and that He would supply all their needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:18–19).

Like the Philippians, you should be characterized by generous, sacrificial support of those who minister God’s Word to you. Faithful pastors and elders are worthy of such honor (1 Tim. 5:17–18), and generous giving brings joy to you and to others.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for those who faithfully minister to you. ✧ Ask for wisdom in how you might best support the financial needs of your church.

For Further Study: Read 1 Corinthians 9:1–14, 2 Corinthians 9:6–14, and 1 Timothy 6:6–9. ✧ What attitudes and principles are reflected in those passages? ✧ How might you incorporate them into your financial practices?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 50). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

February 7, 2018 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

BLOOMBERG

Kim Jong Un named his sister to represent North Korea at the Winter Olympics in South Korea, a historic visit that raises the drama as world leaders including U.S. Vice President Mike Pence gather for the event. Kim Yo Jong — promoted by her brother last year to the ruling party’s political wing — would be the Kim’s dynasty’s first official representative to set foot in the south.

In a trade that illustrates how the rise of the American shale industry is upending energy markets across the globe, the U.A.E. bought oil directly from the U.S. in December, according to data from the federal government. A tanker sailed from Houston and arrived in the Persian Gulf last month.

Elon Musk says his Tesla Roadster has survived its “grand tour” of the Van Allen radiation belts and is on its way to an orbit reaching past Mars into the asteroid belt.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is embarking on a four-day U.S. tour with the first stop in Chicago to discuss how public service can contribute to stronger economic and political ties between the two countries.

Microsoft Corp., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Apple Inc. have thrown their support behind proposals in Congress to deal with cross-border data requests from law enforcement — even as the issue heads for review before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Kenyan authorities forced a key opposition backer to leave the country after his arrest triggered protests, as the state ordered other government opponents to surrender their passports.

Mike Novogratz, the former Wall Street macro trader, raised about $250 million for his cryptocurrency merchant bank during one of the biggest routs yet in Bitcoin

Most digital currencies are unlikely to survive in their current form, and investors should prepare for coins to lose all their value as they’re replaced by a small set of future competitors, Goldman’s Steve Strongin said in a report dated Feb. 5.

Coinbase Inc. said customers are now getting slapped with “cash advance” charges when using credit cards to buy Bitcoin and other virtual currencies. The announcement in a blog post Tuesday came just days after several big banks said they’re starting to block the transactions entirely.

AP Top Stories

At the direction of the president, Pentagon generals have begun planning a grand parade on the streets of the U.S. capital to showcase American military might.

Russian cyber spies pursuing the secrets of military drones and other sensitive U.S. defense technology tricked key contract workers into exposing their email to theft, an Associated Press investigation has found. What ultimately may have been stolen is uncertain, but the hackers clearly exploited a national vulnerability in cybersecurity: poorly protected email and barely any direct notification to victims.

An attorney for a same-sex couple who were denied a wedding cake by a California bakery says they’ll continue to fight after a judge issued a preliminary injunction ruling in the baker’s favor Monday.

A locked track switch was blamed for the collision of an Amtrak passenger train with a freight train that killed two people and injured more than 100 in South Carolina on Sunday, raising questions about the delayed rollout of a system to prevent such crashes.

Southeast Asian foreign ministers on Tuesday aired concerns over China’s activities in disputed areas of the South China Sea, noting that land reclamation continued even after talks began between their 10-member bloc and Beijing to agree a code of conduct.

Poland’s president signed into law on Tuesday a bill that imposes jail terms for suggesting the country was complicit in the Holocaust, prompting sharp criticism from Israel and the United States.

Syria said Wednesday it has responded to “a new Israeli aggression” after aircraft targeted a military outpost near Damascus, claiming its air defense system destroyed most of the missiles.

Iranians have political, economic and social demands which must be heard, President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday, one of his clearest statements of the right to air grievances since demonstrations were put down violently in December and January.

Syrian activists and first responders say airstrikes on a besieged rebel-held area near Damascus have killed at least 55 people, updating an earlier toll.

BBC

Aftershocks continue to rattle Taiwan after a strong 6.4-magnitude earthquake that killed at least six people and injured more than 200 others.

Brazilian police have arrested 13 members of a religious sect on suspicion of enslavement, human trafficking and money laundering.

A power cut during the evening rush hour in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas, caused major disruption to parts of the city on Tuesday.

WND

On Tuesday, the House passed a bipartisan bill sponsored by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) that makes significant changes to the way that allegations of sexual harassment will be handled in Congress. The most significant reform in Speier’s bill (officially known as the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act) appears to be a provision that forces lawmakers to pay back the U.S. Treasury when settling sexual harassment claims, a change that has drawn widespread support across ideological boundaries. Other popular provisions in the bill prohibit senators and representatives from dipping into their congressional office funds to pay off settlements and remove requirements for accusers to receive mediation and therapy for months in advance of filing formal charges.

A “gay” activist group in the United Kingdom has released a plan to advance its agenda through every subject taught in government-sponsored schools.


The Briefing — Wednesday, February 7, 2018

1) An imaginary memo reveals a troubling reality about the politicization of abortion

New York Times (David Brooks) –
The Abortion Memo

2) A very dangerous debate about emotional health and abortion

Washington Post (Salvador Rizzo) –
Do Republicans want to ban abortion after 20 weeks with no exceptions?

3) Can we still make a distinction between those worthy of government and welfare and those who are not?

New York Times (Emily Badger and Margot Sanger-Katz) –
Who’s Able-Bodied Anyway?

4) A maelstrom over a motto at the Veterans Administration

Washington Post (Emily Wax-Thibodeaux) –
Is the VA motto outdated and sexist? The head of the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans group thinks so.


News – 2/7/2018

IG poised to reignite war over FBI’s Clinton case
Few people have heard of Michael Horowitz, but that’s about to change. Horowitz, the Department of Justice (DOJ) inspector general, is an increasingly critical player in the controversy surrounding the FBI, President Trump and the Russia investigation. With little fanfare, he has been conducting a sprawling probe of the FBI’s handling of the 2016 investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. His full report, which could set off shockwaves, is expected by the early spring.

Trump calls for Pentagon to plan military parade
“President Trump is incredibly supportive of America’s great servicemembers who risk their lives every day to keep our country safe. He has asked the Department of Defense to explore a celebration at which all Americans can show their appreciation,” Sanders said. Trump’s desires for a parade were considered a presidential directive following a Jan. 18 meeting between Trump and the military’s highest-ranking officials, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the Washington Post reported.

Tucker Exposes Insanely Creepy Google Patents To Spy On You And Parent Your Kids
“In another patent application from September 2016, Google imagines how it could take control of your parenting, your relationship with your children,” Carlson explained. “Google’s smart home system could detect children near a liquor cabinet for example, or in their parents bedroom, infer that ‘mischief is occurring’ and deliver a verbal warning.” “In another example, Google imagines a hypothetical child called Benjamin. Google’s cameras would be watching Benjamin at all times, carefully. They could see if he’s playing outside or using electronics, presumably they’d also try to use that information to sell him things, at some point, because that’s the whole point of Google.”

U.N. chief plans major disarmament push but U.S. skeptical
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is to launch a major push for disarmament talks covering everything from nuclear and cyber war to small arms, braving certain U.S. resistance to such bold initiatives, officials and experts told Reuters. Chances of success are uncertain at best. But with nuclear tensions rising, Guterres may be uniquely placed to oil the wheels of negotiations given a 2009 U.N. Security Council pledge to “create the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons”.

Trump Not Expected to Extend DACA Work Permit Deadline
Kelly said that he “doubt[s] very much” that Trump will extend the program, the Washington Post reported. He also said that he was “not so sure this president has the authority to extend” DACA work authorizations. Kelly’s doubt as to the president’s power comes from the opinion, generally propounded by the administration, that the original DACA executive order was an overextension of presidential power. As Attorney General Jeff Sessions put it, the White House considers DACA to be “an unconstitutional exercise of authority” by President Barack Obama’s administration.

France: Turkey and Iran are violating international law in Syria
France’s foreign minister on Wednesday demanded that all Iranian-backed militia, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah, leave Syria and said that Turkey and Iran were violating international law through their actions in the country. Speaking on BFM television, Jean-Yves Le Drian also said there were indications Syrian government forces were using toxic gas against civilians although the UN would need to confirm that.

Germany coalition talks: Merkel’s conservatives and SPD clinch deal
Germany’s centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) have reached an agreement on a coalition government with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives (CDU/CSU). A deal on the division of the key ministries was seen as the last major hurdle towards forming a coalition. The agreement looks set to end more than four months of wrangling since inconclusive elections in September.

Syria: Israel attacks military post on outskirts of Damascus
Israel reportedly attacked a Syrian military post on the outskirts of Damascus early Wednesday, the Syrian army said, adding its air defense system destroyed most of the Israeli missiles. The Syrian army said Israeli fighter jets fired a number of rockets from Lebanese airspace at 3:42am, targeting an army position.

Pence says U.S. to announce new, tough sanctions on North Korea
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Wednesday that Washington would soon announce new, tough sanctions to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear and missile programs, calling it the planet’s “most tyrannical and oppressive regime”. Speaking in Tokyo…Pence promised the United States and its allies, including Japan, would keep maximum pressure on Pyongyang until it took steps toward “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation”.

Bennett: We won’t use surgical precision, neighborhoods with rockets are fair game
Israel needs to face Iranian aggression head on: “Khamenei is willing to fight Israel until the last drop of Syrian, Lebanese and Gazan blood.” Amid reports that the Israeli air force struck an Iranian base in Syria overnight Tuesday, security cabinet member Naftali Bennett said he’s advancing a strategy in which Israel will confront Iran directly rather than just going after its proxies.

The West sleeps peacefully because of Israel
While Turkish President Erdogan and Pope Francis were in Rome complimenting each other on Jerusalem and the European Union was rolling out red carpets to Mahmoud Abbas, Israel was protecting the West This small state has hitherto prevented Iran from manufacturing the atomic bomb, it has ruined the nuclear plans of Saddam Hussein and Bashar el Assad thanks to two solitary bombings, it guards the security of Jordan that without Israel would collapse today like a cooked pear, it has foiled attacks by ISIS on European civilian flights and we now discover that Egypt’s el Sisi has recently asked Israel to bomb ISIS’ posts in Sinai.

FBI lovebirds’ newly revealed texts appear to show Obama involvement in Clinton email case
Page wrote to Strzok on Sept. 2, 2016 about prepping Comey because “potus wants to know everything we’re doing.” Senate investigators told Fox News this text raises questions about Obama’s personal involvement in the Clinton email investigation.

Dozens feared trapped in Taiwan after deadly earthquake topples buildings
Dozens of people are missing following a deadly earthquake in Taiwan, with more than 40 feared trapped in a multi-story building in the northeastern city of Hualien that is tilting perilously. The magnitude 6.4 quake struck 22 kilometers (13 miles) north of the city late Tuesday, killing at least four people and injuring 243 people. It also damaged bridges and buckled roads in the east of the island.

Trump Calls Out 5 Officials as ‘Liars and Leakers’
President Donald Trump slammed five high-level government officials as “liars and leakers” on Monday morning as part of a Twitter message aimed at House Intelligence Committee member Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) “Little Adam Schiff, who is desperate to run for higher office, is one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington, right up there with Comey, Warner, Brennan and Clapper!” the president wrote. “Adam leaves closed committee hearings to illegally leak confidential information. Must be stopped!”

Mattis Defends Plan to Deploy Small Nuclear Arms
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Congress on Tuesday the United States will deploy small nuclear weapons on two new missiles to counter growing threats posed by Russia and China.

Russia calls in army after “snowfall of the century” in Moscow
Russian soldiers have been drafted in to help clear the streets of Moscow and the surrounding region after a record snowfall which delayed flights, felled hundreds of trees, and turned some roads and pavements into an obstacle course. More than a month’s worth of snow fell on Moscow within just 36 hours at the weekend as the temperature hovered below zero degrees Celsius, the biggest snowfall in the Russian capital since meteorological records began.

Cape Town braces for civil unrest as city’s water crisis continues to worsen
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 city is on track to top another list it doesn’t want to be included in: The first major city in the modern era to have its water supply chain switched off.

How much did it snow? It snowed so much that Moscow called a snow day. That never happens
When Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin tweeted late Sunday that schoolchildren should stay home from classes Monday morning because of heavy snowfall in the Russian capital over the weekend, there was a collective gasp on the internet.

Disturbing: Child Flesh Used For Enhancement Pills
“Powdered human baby flesh” marketed as an aphrodisiac is still being smuggled from China to South Korea. The abominable contraband is reportedly in high demand in both countries; moreover, customs officials narrowed down the pills’ sources to four cities in China.

REVEALED: Britain’s Foreign Office Promotes ‘Liberation’ of Hijab in London, Avoids Commenting on ‘Staff Event’
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom (FCO) has promoted the wearing of the Islamic veil amongst its London staff, using the February 1st occasion of “World Hijab Day” to promote the head covering and even issue “free scarves” to those who chose to try it.

Judge issues key ruling on ‘same-sex wedding’ cakes
A California judge has refused to advance a social agenda in his state that targets Christians who refuse to endorse homosexuality through their work.

Four Months into FY 2018, Refugee Admissions Plunge to Lowest Level in 15 Years
Four months into FY 2018, refugee admissions into the United States have plunged to 6,708, the lowest level this far into a fiscal year in 15 years.

New “recycling” technology is actually CANNIBALISM: Dead people are liquefied, drained into city sewers, then dumped on food crops as “biosludge”
In a shocking true story that’s part The Matrix and part Soylent Green, a company based in Smith Falls, Ontario has devised a “bio-cremation” system that it calls an “eco-friendly alternative to flame-based cremation or casket burials,” reports Canada’s CBC News. The company is called Hilton’s Aquagreen Dispositions and touts its approach to dissolving dead bodies as “eco-friendly alkaline hydrolysis.”

People Not Having Kids B/c Global Warming
Some couples and individuals are trying to save the next generation from potential climate change disaster by forgoing reproduction altogether.

B-52 Breaks Bombing Record Against Taliban
…Shattering the previous record set in November, the American bomber dropped 24 precision guided munitions during a 96-hour air campaign against Taliban training and narcotics facilities in Afghanistan, Fox News reports. The conventional rotary configuration on board allows the B-52s to unleash hell on the terrorists.

Is the Market Crash More Related to Inflation Fears, Fed Sabotage or Deep State Players Caught and Not Brought to Justice?
Market Crashes as Memo Released Showing Crimes and Corruption in Obama’s FBI and DOJ – Maybe AG Sessions Should Do Something?!

Soros Targeted After White House Rolls Out Revamped Petitions Page
A petition called “Declare George Soros a terrorist and seize all of his related organizations’ assets under RICO and NDAA law” on whitehouse.gov has already gathered over 150,000 signatures. That’s well more than the 100,000 signatures needed to qualify for a response from the president.

Mid-Day Snapshot

Feb. 7, 2018

Another Government Shutdown Looming as Deadline Approaches

Democrats demand a deal on DACA, while Republicans are concerned about getting the military fully funded.

The Foundation

“The pyramid of government-and a republican government may well receive that beautiful and solid form-should be raised to a dignified altitude: but its foundations must, of consequence, be broad, and strong, and deep. The authority, the interests, and the affections of the people at large are the only foundation, on which a superstructure proposed to be at once durable and magnificent, can be rationally erected.” —James Wilson

ZeroHedge Frontrunning: February 7

  • Volatility Inc.: Inside Wall Street’s $8 Billion Bomb (Read More)
  • Wall Street set to fall again after Tuesday’s recovery (Read More)
  • Congress Seeking Bigger Budget Deal While Avoiding Shutdown (Read More)
  • Merkel’s conservatives make big concessions to SPD in coalition deal (Read More)
  • What were the chances? U.S. stock selloff sinks Probabilities Fund among others (Read More)
  • An Inventor of the VIX: ‘I Don’t Know Why These Products Exist’ (Read More)
  • Oil World Turned Upside Down as America Sells Oil in Middle East (Read More)
  • With Yellen Out of the Picture, Get Ready for Trump vs. Powell (Read More)
  • Democratic House Hopefuls Out-Raise Vulnerable GOP Candidates (Read More)
  • Get Ready for Most Cryptocurrencies to Hit Zero, Goldman Says (Read More
  • UK crops left to rot after drop in EU farm workers in Britain after Brexit referendum (Read More))
  • Navy Presses Mattis to Delay ‘Shock Testing’ Costliest Carrier (Read More)
  • Snap surges 24 percent after user growth bounce (Read More)
  • Kim Jong Un’s Sister to Become First Dynasty Member to Enter South Korea (Read More)
  • Musk’s Big Questions: Can Tesla Make Model 3s and Burn Less Cash? (Read More)
  • German pay deal heralds end of wage restraint in Europe’s largest economy (Read More)
  • Kushner, Trump Jr. May Escape Public Hearings With Help From GOP (Read More)
  • Chinese Police Go RoboCop With Facial-Recognition Glasses (Read More)

Headlines – 2/7/2018

Putin and Palestinian leader Abbas to discuss new peace talks format

Abbas: We never said no to resuming peace talks

Palestinian leader says US cannot impose peace deal

The entire issue of “Palestinian national identity” is a giant hoax, intended to be no more than a temporary ruse, until the Jewish hold on sovereignty in the Holy Land – any part of the Holy Land – is prised loose

Trump’s Mideast Peace Plan: Intimidate the Palestinians Into Surrender

Draft Coalition Agreement in Germany Includes Clause Critical of West Bank Settlements – Israel’s settlement policy ‘contradicts international law, makes a two-state solution difficult’

In the West Bank, a violent storm is brewing – With Palestinians losing faith in their leaders and lionizing terrorists

France hits out at Poland’s ‘ill advised’ Holocaust law

Polish president: Enforcing Holocaust law may be ‘unrealistic’

Poland isn’t the only country trying to police speech about the Holocaust

Everything You Need to Know About Israel’s Mass Deportation of Asylum Seekers

Gaza health services face shutdown in 10 days, UN says

Palestinian killed in Nablus clashes as IDF hunts for Ariel terrorist

Israel working with Germany to combat ISIS terrorism in Europe

Police to present recommendations in PM Netanyahu corruption cases next week

In ongoing ‘Diamond week’, Israel to launch diamond backed cryptocurrency

The World Bank’s Red-Dead Sea gamble

Hezbollah threatens Israeli offshore gas rigs with missiles

Paratroopers prepare for full self-reliance in Lebanon war scenario

Bennett: We won’t use surgical precision, neighborhoods with rockets are fair game

Lebanese leaders say Israel threatens border stability

PM Netanyahu, Security Cabinet tour Lebanese border

Netanyahu visits Syria border, issues warning: Israel prepared for any scenario, don’t test us

Israel said to strike targets near Damascus

Syria Says Israel Struck Scientific Military Center for Second Time in 3 Months

Syria says intercepted Israel strikes near Damascus

‘Extreme’ Suffering in Syria as Government Steps Up Bombing

UN outrage at Syrian suffering: ‘We can no longer stay silent’

Syria war: UN calls for truce as government pounds rebel enclave

Newborn Babies Reportedly Evacuated From Syrian Hospital Amid Russian Airstrikes

French minister: All Iranian militia, including Hezbollah, must leave Syria

France: Turkey, Iran violating international Law, Syria using chlorine gas

Erdogan says U.S. Should leave Syria’s Manbij as Turkey aims to return it ‘to its true owners’

Turkey says will tell Tillerson it wants to mend trust with US

Egypt to Turkey: We will fight attempts seeking to undermine our sovereignty

Saudi Arabia spends almost a billion dollars in aid to Yemen

Iran Returns Ailing U.S. Citizen to Prison in New Sign of Tension

Iran will abide by nuclear deal even if US pulls out, assures Rouhani

US defends new nuclear stance, slams Russia, China, North Korea

Pence says US to unveil ‘toughest’ sanctions on N. Korea

Winter Olympics security workers hit with vomiting illness; military personnel called in for backup

Coldest Olympics in history? PyeongChang organizers break out the hats and blankets

Trump orders military ‘celebration’ in Washington, DC

Trump seeks military parade to showcase US might

‘Homeland’ in the Trump era tackles the ‘deep state’

Russians already meddling in US midterms, Tillerson says

Trump threatens government shutdown if Congress doesn’t fix immigration laws

Dow closes 567 points higher after crazy market swings

Carl Icahn Says Market Turn Is ‘Rumbling’ of Earthquake Ahead

Icahn: The market will one day ‘implode’ because of these wacky funds using so much leverage

Stock market roars back as White House affirms strength of U.S. economy

The country running out of space for its millionaires

Blackout hits parts of Venezuelan capital

With sports car on top, SpaceX launches world’s most powerful rocket toward Mars

Deadly 6.4-magnitude earthquake strikes Taiwan

Powerful quake hits Taiwan; aftershocks continue as buildings tilt dangerously

At least five killed, 60 missing after quake rocks Taiwan tourist area

5.6 magnitude earthquake hits near Isangel, Vanuatu

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits near Hualian, Taiwan

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Hualian, Taiwan

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Hualian, Taiwan

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Hualian, Taiwan

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Vanj, Tajikistan

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 16,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 16,000ft

Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica erupts to 13,000ft

Record Heat Brings Mosquitoes Out In Sacramento

People Are Actually Considering Not Having Kids Because of Global Warming

Motherhood on ice: Sharp rise in women freezing eggs for the future

Chinese invent nano-Venus flytrap to supplant antibiotics by catching bacteria in our blood

Fort Worth father now an amputee after flu complications

At least 33 infected with HIV in Uttar Pradesh after “quack” uses tainted syringe: police

First openly transgender teen elected to board of Conservative youth group

Calif. Court Rules Christian Baker Cannot Be Forced to Make Cake for Same-Sex Wedding


What is The Gospel?


Selected Scriptures

Code: A335

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

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

Consider what the Bible says about Him:

JESUS IS GOD

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS HOLY

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE SAVIOR

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH

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

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

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

JESUS IS LORD

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

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE JUDGE

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

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

HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?

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

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


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


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How Facebook, Amazon and other Information Technology Giants are: – Invading our Privacy – Programming for Addiction – Embedding Godless Philosophies – Eric Barger

Part 2 of “Home Invasion”

One of the most disconcerting pieces of information that I came across in preparing this article is that, besides the various Amazon Echo home units I discussed in part one, there is a home unit, the Echo Look, that Amazon suggests users place in their bedrooms.

Amazon’s own web page about this unit announces “Echo Look | Hands-Free Camera and Style Assistant with Alexa—includes Style Check to get a second opinion on your outfit.”[1]

Yes, it is a camera that allows Amazon’s programmed Artificial Intelligence (i.e., A.I.) to offer its advice on your clothing selection, color coordination, and overall apparel for the day!

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The Philadelphia Eagles: A Band of Bible-Believing Brothers Whose Faith is Inspiring Millions

“Every Monday night we have a couple’s Bible study. We have a Thursday night team Bible study,” Wentz shared. “And Saturday nights, we actually get together the night before the game and just kind of pray and talk through the Word and what guys have been reading, what they’re struggling with, and just kind of keep it real with each other. To have that here in an NFL facility like this, it’s really special.”

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Pope Francis: “It is the Communists Who Think Like Christians”

Absolute Truth from the Word of God

Ever since the conclave of Vatican Cardinals selected the first Jesuit Pope – EVER – in 2013, Pope Francis has not ceased to shock the world with his unconventional comments. Perhaps “unconventional” is a gross understatement.

I have written numerous articles on this pope.  In one of these pieces, I showed the reader many surprising quotes from the Pontiff.

Here are a few excerpts from my article “Quotes from Pope Francis Compared to the Word of God”

He came onto the world stage much in the manner of President Obama. The left wing “Save mother earth” radicals are embracing him as their own. Funny, isn’t it? Wasn’t the job description of a Pope to lead the so-called faithful upon the earth — spiritually speaking? This speaks VOLUMES about the Vatican and RCC worldwide! The institution of Roman Catholicism is a CULT! I love the Catholic people, and because of this…

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Barna Update | Gen Z: Your Questions Answered

Barna just unveiled a landmark study of Gen Z at a live event (and national webcast) last month in Atlanta. Throughout the event we asked for viewers to submit their own questions about Gen Z. We received an overwhelming response and weren’t able to get to all of them. So we’ve decided to address some of your most common and burning questions about Gen Z right here.

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Pulpit & Pen: This is Why We Call it The Social Gospel Coalition

The polemics term for this heresy is called Rauschenbushism, named after its chief 20th-century proponent, Walter Rauschenbush. You know the heresy as “Social Gospel,” and Rauschenbush wrote the book, A Theology for the Social Gospel, in 1917. Rauschenbuschism teaches that the Gospel’s primary consequence on Earth is not the forgiveness of sins, but the solution to racism, social or economic inequality, poverty, crime, environmental problems or other social ills. The roots of Rauschenbuschism is post-millennial theologically (although not by necessity), but it has come to widespread acceptance in all eschatological views.

In “A Theology for the Social Gospel” (which itself denotes that it is an ideology in pursuit of a theology), Rauschenbusch explained that the goals of social improvement could be reached and enthusiasm for its completion intensified if only a theology could be created that was designed to promote those goals. In his opinion, the “regular Gospel” made clear the sinfulness of individuals, but did not make clear the “sinfulness of institutions.” Rauschenbuschism teaches that institutions that are inherently wicked can be redeemed through the right theological focus, and even be brought to repentance in the same way that individuals can be brought to repentance. Rauschenbuschism can be discerned by common use and misuse of the word “Kingdom,” as taken from Matthew 6:10.

Rauschenbuschism became a highly favored tool of social progressives in the 20th Century, as well as Communists and Marxists propagating their views in the United States, although conservatives also utilized the ideology in prohibition and other social movements. In no uncertain terms, the Social Gospel is an enemy of the true Gospel, and is the tool used by Marxists to to co-opt Biblical Christianity and use it as a tool for a worldview that is the opposite of Biblical Christianity.

In our post on Rauschenbushism we wrote

Modern proponents of Rauschenbuschism include certain segments of Christian Reconstruction, adherents to Black Liberation theology, and Jim Wallis. There is growing concern that Rauschenbuschism is becoming slowly accepted by modern evangelicals like Russell Moore, Thabiti Anyabwile and the organizations, the Gospel Coalition and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Time will tell if Rauschenbuschism truly takes hold in traditionally more conservative evangelicalism.

Again, Pulpit & Pen proves itself awfully prophetic for being Cessationists. The Gospel Coalition has been going full Social Gospel for some time, but as of late, there is no doubt that it is a Marxist organization with Marxist ideology designed to push a Marxist faux-gospel. They recently posted, “Martin Luther King Jr. and the Gospel’s Social Demands.

The article was written by Mika Edmondson, a Presbyterian Pastor who has been accused of Marxism himself, and written about a proven Marxist, sex-trafficker, homosexual and whoremonger, and heretic Martin Luthern King, Jr. King, who denied such essential doctrines as the bodily resurrection of Christ and the Inerrancy of Scripture, is well known to have been a Communist. And yet in spite of his moral failings – which make Judge Roy Moore’s look pale in comparison – and his heresies, King continues to be lauded by the Social Gospel Coalition. Edmondson writes…

First, we’ll consider the social entailments of the Christian gospel. King often faced the widespread belief that efforts for racial and economic justice were at best an aside from gospel ministry, and at worst a distraction or even contradiction to gospel ministry. That night in Memphis, however, King was especially encouraged to see a number of prominent pastors publicly standing alongside the sanitation workers. As he gazed at the crowd, he explained:

What’s beautiful to me is to see all of these ministers of the gospel . . . . Who is it that is supposed to articulate the longings and aspirations of the people more than the preacher? Somewhere the preacher must have a kind of fire shut up in his bones, and whenever injustice is around he must tell it. Somehow the preacher must be an Amos, who said, “When God speaks, who can but prophesy?” Again with Amos, “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Without denying the gospel’s power to save from the punishment of sin, King insisted that a full-orbed gospel ministry must also address the presence and power of sin wherever it exists. For King this was vital to the liberation Christ proclaimed. To King’s mind, the most tragic part of racism was the way it scars the souls of the oppressed by making them feel inherently “inferior” and the souls of the oppressors by making them feel inherently “superior”—both forms of spiritual bondage. Gospel ministry must declare Christ’s freedom from this bondage, and assert the sinfulness of the systems that perpetuate this longstanding and deeply entrenched lie.

The idea that “justice” relates to economic inequality? Check. 

Claiming that the “full gospel” requires social justice? Check. 

Promoting liberation theology? Check. 

Promoting the myth of systemic and institutional racism? Check.

Seriously. Could the Gospel Coalition do anything to make it any more clear that they’re 100% sold out to Rauschenbushism besides officially adding “Social” to their name, Gospel Coalition? They couldn’t possibly make it any clearer.

The article continues…

Despite these historic patterns, many modern evangelicals tend to be uneasy about connecting the gospel with social ethics. They rightly recognize the gospel is about what God has done for us in Christ, and ethics is about how the redeemed respond to that saving work in obedience to God’s law. But they sometimes speak as if any emphasis on the latter is legalistic. King’s insistence that gospel ministry has a social claim, however, helps us remember that the Scriptures speak strongly about not only what God has done for us (justification), but also what he’s doing in us (sanctification). Alongside justification, Christ has freed us from the bondage of sin to a new life of righteousness empowered by the Spirit of God.

Calvin scholar Matthew Tuininga summarizes this point well:

Does [the Lord] only speak of the forgiveness of individuals, or does he describe the way in which Christ establishes the church as a new humanity, a new community, a new social reality characterized by love, justice, compassion, forgiveness, reconciliation, and peace? Does he leave Christians to act within fundamental social institutions, such as marriage, the family, and the master-slave relationship, as was customary in pagan antiquity, or does he call Christians to be transformed according to the mind and example of Christ in the way they love and serve one another, to the point of self-sacrifice?

As Tuininga observes, “Individualism is no orthodox corrective to the theological liberalism of the past.” He is exactly right. Evangelicals’ aversion to the historic errors of the social gospel movement can tempt them to slide into another error—a hyperindividualism that neglects the gospel’s social claims altogether. This is precisely where King’s life and legacy challenge us to become more biblically faithful.

What are the problems of the “theological liberalism of the past” that Tuinsinga and then Edmondson refer to? Edmondson doesn’t say. Regardless, he claims that individualism is bad and so uses the phrase “gospel’s social claims” instead of “social gospel” as though these are two different things. Of course, changing word order doesn’t change the concept. New “Gospel’s social claims” is the same as the old “Social Gospel.” They have the same heroes, in this case, a homosexual and sex-trafficking communist heretic, Martin Luther King

Source: This is Why We Call it The Social Gospel Coalition

CultureWatch: Recalcitrants Versus the Rainbow Ruling Class

In our brave new world of radical minority activist groups effectively taking over entire cultures, things are looking very bleak indeed for anyone who dares to resist the revolution. The militants have now become extremely powerful as the political world, the media, academia, and other institutions of power and influence readily run with their causes.

Those who refuse to bow the knee are being made to pay. They are being socially and culturally ostracised, hated on, and treated as outcasts. And there are very real ramifications of this: people are now being fired from their job, fined, or even jailed, for refusing to submit to the new agenda of the coercive utopians.

The most obvious example of activist agendas terrorising the mainstream is the radical homosexual agenda. As they consolidate power, win ever more special rights, and especially when they destroy marriage and replace it with fake marriage, we see the heavy jackboot being used against all opponents.

There are now many hundreds of examples of this occurring all over the world. And even before Australia went down the path of redefining marriage, we have had plenty of notable cases of people, including religious leaders, being taken to the courts and tribunals all for affirming the traditional understanding of marriage.

The sad case of Archbishop Julian Porteous in Tasmania is but one glaring example of this. And with the new homosexual marriage bill enacted, the range of religious freedoms and other freedoms is exceedingly narrow indeed. The “exemptions” of Dean Smith’s bill are effectively limited to a tiny minority of religious people, such as paid, professional clergy.

Ordinary religious folks, including civil celebrants, those in religious educational institutions, government employees, and small business owners – to name but a few – basically have no protections whatsoever, and are now all at risk of facing the same sort of persecution that I have documented time and time again, including in my 2014 book Dangerous Relations.

Now, simply sharing one’s own personal views on things like the true nature of marriage – be it on a website or a personal social media page – puts people greatly at risk. Here are just five examples of this – out of 165 – that I featured in my book:

“Business owners threatened, face legal action for refusing to rent facility for gay ‘wedding’”
August 12, 2013
“A Christian couple is facing a state complaint, business cancellations, and vulgar, harassing, and threatening e-mail messages after refusing to rent out a business facility for a gay ‘wedding.’ Dick and Betty Odgaard said they could not in good conscience allow a homosexual couple to use their business, the Görtz Haus Gallery, to conduct the ceremony itself. . . . As the story of their denial broke, frightening messages began filling up the Odgaard’s inbox, the couple says. ‘F–k you, f–k your God, f–k your religion,’ said one message from an angry gay rights activist. The same writer enlarged upon his thoughts, adding, ‘You are mean, rude, selfish, mother f—er racist sons of b—hes from hell’.”

“Air Force Sergeant claims he was fired for refusing to endorse gay ‘marriage’: faces court martial”
September 10, 2013
“An Air Force sergeant who filed a discrimination complaint with the U.S. military claiming he was fired by his lesbian commander for refusing to make a statement of support for same-sex ‘marriage’ may now face prosecution for taking his accusations public. Senior Master Sergeant Phillip Monk was relieved of his duties as first sergeant at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio in August after two separate confrontations with an openly homosexual superior officer, Major Elisa Valenzeula.”

“Transgender man wins complaint against bridal shop for not letting him try on wedding dress”
September 19, 2013
“The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission announced that a mediated settlement has been reached between the owner of a Saskatoon bridal shop and a man who presents himself as a woman. Rohit Singh, a student from India who came to Canada in 2010, filed a complaint against Jenny’s Bridal Boutique after the owner of the shop refused to allow him access to the women’s changing room. When Singh selected a dress and wanted to try it on, shop owner Jenny Correia refused him, saying “I don’t allow men to wear dresses in my store.’ Singh retorted, ‘I’m not a man, I’m a transgender and my sex-change procedure is going on,’ according to media reports of the incident that happened on April 21. The owner believed allowing a man to try on dresses would make female customers in the shop uncomfortable.”

“Gay activists launch complaint against teacher who included homosexuality on list of possible sins”
September 23, 2013
“Days after the Italian lower house passed the country’s ‘anti-homophobia’ law, the country’s leading homosexualist lobby group, Arcigay, appears to be testing the legal waters. Together with The Omphalos Association and Arcilesbica Perugia, Arcigay has launched a complaint, called a ‘denunzia,’ of ‘homophobia’ that they allege was committed during a religious education class at the Liceo Classico Mariotti, a university preparatory high school, in the Umbrian town of Perugia.”

“Mayors cannot refuse to ‘marry’ homosexual couples: French Constitutional Court”
October 22, 2013
“French mayors and members of municipal councils in charge of registering civil status will not be allowed to invoke a right to conscientious objection to justify their refusal to celebrate same sex “marriages,” the French Constitutional Court decided last Friday. Two groups of mayors had brought the issue before the Court. But the court’s decision now puts an end to their hopes of finding a loophole to guarantee that elected civil rights officers who object to same sex “marriage” will have their conscience rights respected.”

But this keeps getting worse by the day. Consider two brand new cases of anti-Christian bigotry and the crack-down on various freedoms because recalcitrants have dared to resist the new PC agendas. The first case comes from New Jersey in the US. The story begins:

A high school teacher was suspended for three years for sharing her views of homosexuality on a personal Facebook page. Jenye “Viki” Knox served Union High School since 2000 as a teacher and faculty adviser for the students’ Bible study group. She began teaching handicapped students 28 years ago.
An ordained minister, Knox communicated her opinion openly on social media. In 2011, she criticized an LGBTQIA+ promotion featured in the school’s display glass. “Why parade your unnatural immoral behaviors before the rest of us?” Knox posted….
Knox was summarily charged with conduct unbecoming a teacher and suspended without pay. Later, school officials filed tenure charges against her to take away her job security in order to fire her.
Included in the school charges were allegations that Knox alerted school officials via email that homosexual teachers were “targeting young and impressionable students for indoctrination into alternative sexual lifestyles.” Knox denied sending the emails.
Knox eventually resigned in mid-2012 under “stress.” In 2013, Knox sued the district for violating her right to free speech and her right to the free expression of her religion. She wanted her job back with back pay and the admission that she was within her rights under the Constitution to express her views on Facebook.

My second horror story comes out of the UK. It starts this way:

A government-funded pre-apprenticeship academy in Bristol reported a Christian teacher as a “radicalisation threat” for answering students’ questions about her beliefs, Bristol Employment Tribunal has heard. Svetlana Powell, a teacher of some 17 years’ experience, told the Tribunal that she was dismissed by the T2 Apprenticeship Academy in Bristol in July 2016 after being asked by students about her views on homosexuality.
In reply to a personal question, Mrs Powell said that her personal belief was that homosexuality was against God’s will, but that He loved every person, regardless of what they did, or who they were.
When told that one of the students identified as a lesbian, Mrs Powell in conviction of God’s care and love for every person, turned to her and said: “God loves you”. Two days later, the Academy’s HR Officer, Stacy Preston, told Mrs Powell that she was fired for “gross misconduct” with immediate effect.
The Academy’s Chief Safeguarding Officer, Sian Prigg, told the Tribunal that after a group of students complained that they were “brainwashed and preached to”, she decided to contact the local coordinator for Prevent – the government’s ‘counter-terrorism’ strategy group – to report the incident. Mrs Powell said she did not know of being reported as a “radicalisation threat” until she brought a legal claim against the Academy and read Mrs Prigg’s witness statement for the Tribunal.

These cases are now everyday occurrences all over the West. And with fake marriage now the law of the land in Australia, how many more such cases will we see here, all because folks – including religious folks – will stay true to their beliefs and their consciences, and not give in to the new draconian persecution?

We know that many homosexual activists and allied groups have insisted that there be NO religious exemptions whatsoever here in Australia. It seems clear that they will keep pushing this until all non-compliance is targeted and dealt with.

Broadly speaking the purposes of the law can do one of three things: prohibit, permit, or promote. We have seen the whole gamut when it comes to things like homosexuality. Now everyone is being made to conform to the new sexual orthodoxy, and those who refuse to do so will be subject to the heavy hand of the law.

We expect such state-based repression of dissidents in police states. But it is shocking when supposed free and democratic nations head down this path. The truth is, all sorts of freedoms – religious freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, freedom of assembly, and so on – are now all under great risk with the new homosexual agenda taking hold over our culture.

This is very scary stuff indeed.

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/african-american-teacher-faces-three-year-suspension-for-calling-homosexual?utm_source=LifeSiteNews.com&utm_campaign=110289d3d5-Daily%2520Headlines%2520-%2520U.S.&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_12387f0e3e-110289d3d5-401398773
https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/christian-teacher-referred-to-anti-terrorism-agency-for-telling-lesbian-stu?utm_source=LifeSiteNews.com&utm_campaign=b657d0bdbb-Daily%2520Headlines%2520-%2520U.S.&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_12387f0e3e-b657d0bdbb-401398773

Source:

FEBRUARY 7 A COMPROMISE: “THE CHURCH MUST CHANGE”

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine …and they shall turn away their ears from the truth….

2 TIMOTHY 4:3, 4

Any evangelism which by appeal to common interests and chatter about current events seeks to establish a common ground where the sinner can feel at home is as false as the altars of Baal ever were.

Every effort to smooth out the road for men and to take away the guilt and the embarrassment is worse than wasted: it is evil and dangerous to the souls of men! One of the most popular of current errors, and the one out of which springs most of the noisy, blustering religious activity in evangelical circles, is the notion that as times change the church must change with them. Christians must adapt their methods by the demands of the people. If they want ten-minute sermons, give them ten-minute sermons! If they want truth in capsule form, give it to them! If they want pictures, give them plenty of pictures! If they like stories, tell them stories!

Meanwhile, the advocates of compromise insist that “The message is the same, only the method changes.” “Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad,” the old Greeks said, and they were wiser than they knew. That mentality which mistakes Sodom for Jerusalem and Hollywood for the Holy City is too gravely astray to be explained otherwise than as a judicial madness visited upon professed Christians for affronts committed against the Spirit of God![1]


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

February 7, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

The Agitation of Herod

And when Herod the king heard it, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he began to inquire of them where the Christ was to be born. And they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it has been written by the prophet, ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; for out of you shall come forth a Ruler, who will shepherd My people Israel.’ ”

Then Herod secretly called the magi, and ascertained from them the time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, “Go, and make careful search for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, that I too may come and worship Him.” (2:3–8)

The response of Herod was exactly the opposite of that of the magi. Whereas the magi rejoiced at hearing of Jesus’ birth, when Herod the king heard it, he was troubled. The king’s anxiety is not hard to understand. In the first place, he was sitting on a political and religious powder keg. He had driven the Parthians out of Palestine but had to continue fighting the bands of Jewish zealots who wanted their country to be free from Roman occupation and domination. Especially in light of his intense jealousy and paranoia, any mention of another king of the Jews sent him into a frenzy of fear and anger.

The fact that the magi themselves were probably Parthians, or closely associated with the Parthians, gave Herod special cause for concern. Because the magi at this time were still powerful in the east, it is likely that they traveled with a large contingent of soldiers and servants—causing their presence in Jerusalem to seem even more threatening to Herod. Because of their wealth, prestige, and power, they had the appearance and demeanor of royalty—which is why they have long been traditionally pictured and sung about as kings from the Orient. The magi were not simple mystics and, as mentioned above, their number could have been considerably more than three. To Herod, the appearance of this impressive company portended a renewed political threat from the east. And though He was by now some seventy years old, he wanted to maintain his position and power to the end, and did not want to spend his last years in warfare.

The ruling body in the Parthian-Persian empire at this time was much like the Roman senate. They were the king-makers in an almost absolute way, and were composed entirely of magi. They had become discontent with the weak king that presently ruled them and were looking for someone more capable to lead them in a campaign against Rome. Caesar Augustus was old and feeble, and since the retirement of Tiberius the Roman army had had no commander in chief. The time was propitious for the east to make its move against Rome.

That all Jerusalem with him was also troubled may indicate that their concern, like Herod’s, was political and military. Perhaps they too viewed the magi as the precursors of another conquest by the Parthians, who had sent this forward body ahead to discover and perhaps even crown some new king that would rule Palestine in Parthia’s behalf—much in the same way that Herod ruled it in Rome’s behalf. The fact that the magi came to worship the newborn king would not have indicated to Herod or the others in Jerusalem that the mission of the magi was purely religious. The magi had long been known as much for their politics as for their religion, and the practice of worshiping the king or emperor was then common in both the east and the west.

It is more likely, however, that the concern of the populace was not directly about the magi but about Herod’s reaction to them. By bitter experience they knew that Herod’s agitation usually meant maniacal bloodshed. He did not bother to identify his enemies carefully. Anyone even suspected of doing him harm or of threatening his position or power was in considerable danger. In his sweeping carnage many totally innocent people were often destroyed. The people’s fear for their own safety was well founded. Although Herod’s maliciousness was not vented against Jerusalem, it would shortly be vented against Bethlehem, her small neighbor to the south, when the enraged king ordered the slaughter of all the infant male children there (Matt. 2:16). Herod feared for the throne, which was not really his, and Jerusalem knew what Herod’s fear meant. It meant rebellion, bloodshed, and terrible suffering.

Herod’s first response to the news of the magi was to gather together all the chief priests and scribes of the people and to inquire of them where the Christ was to be born. Obviously Herod connected the King of the Jews with the Messiah, the Christ. Though Herod was not himself a Jew he knew Jewish beliefs and customs rather well. The current messianic expectations of most Jews at that time was more for a political and military deliverer than a spiritual savior—an expectation apparently shared by Jesus’ own disciples (Acts 1:6).

the chief priests

All Jewish priests were of the priestly tribe of Levi and, even more particularly, descendants of Aaron, the first high priest. In some ways the priests were like the magi, having considerable political as well as religious power.

First among the chief priests was the high priest. According to Old Testament law, there was to be but one high priest at a time, who served for life and whose special and unique duty it was to enter the Holy of Holies once a year on the Day of Atonement and offer sacrifice for all the people. But by the time of Christ the office had become subject to political favoritism and even purchase. High priests were appointed and removed at the whim of various rulers. Consequently, there were often several living at one time. And, though the ones who had been removed from office lost their high priestly function, they usually kept the title, as well as considerable prestige and power (see Luke 3:2). The ruling high priest also presided over the Sanhedrin, a type of combined senate and supreme court, made up of seventy of the key Jewish religious leaders.

Another of the chief priests was the captain of the Temple, who was appointed by and responsible to the high priest. Among his powers, approved by the Romans, was that of arrest and imprisonment. He therefore was allowed to have a rather large contingent of soldiers, all Jewish, at his disposal, who acted as the Temple police. He ranked second to the high priest in authority.

The others included among the chief priests were not a particular category but were composed of various other leading, influential priests, including the leaders of the daily and weekly course of priests, the Temple treasurer, and other Temple overseers and officials. Together with the high priests and the captain of the Temple, they formed the priestly aristocracy often referred to loosely as the chief priests. For the most part, these chief priests were Sadducees, whereas the normal priests were Pharisees. By New Testament times they had become little more than a group of corrupt, religiously oriented politicians. From the time of Jesus’ birth to His crucifixion they are shown by the gospel writers to have been in opposition to the true revelation and work of the Lord.

Scribes

The scribes were primarily Pharisees, authorities on Jewish law, scriptural and traditional, who were often referred to as lawyers. They had considerable prestige among Jews, and were recognized as the key scholars of religious Judaism. They were conservative theologically, held a literalistic view of Scripture, and were generally legalistic and strict in regard to both ceremonial and moral law. Those of the scribes who were Sadducees were liberal in their interpretation of Scripture, not believing in such things as the resurrection and angels (Acts 23:8). Whether conservative or liberal, however, the scribes of Jesus’ day were alike in their opposition to Him.

Herod called together all of those Jewish religious leaders, who were both politicians and theologians, in order to inquire of them where the Christ was to be born (the imperfect tense of inquire suggests a constant asking). Although they proved that they knew where His birth was predicted to be (common knowledge among the Jews, John 7:42), they showed no belief or special interest in the announcement of the magi that they had seen the star given as a sign of that birth.

In any case, the chief priests and scribes told Herod what he wanted to know, referring him to the specific passage (Mic. 5:2) where the birthplace is predicted. Out of Bethlehem would come forth a Ruler. The last phrase, Who will shepherd My people Israel, is not from Micah, but does express the emphasis of One who would rule. Either the Jews said this or Matthew added the words as his own comment to indicate the kind of Ruler the Christ would be. Though the popular idea of a shepherd is that of kind, tender care (Ps. 23), the Scripture emphasis is also on authority and strong, even stern, leadership. The combination of a Ruler (hēgemōn) who will shepherd (poimainō) shows that the shepherding function is more than tender care. It is sovereign dominance. Nowhere is that made more clear than by the use of the verb poimainō in Revelation 2:27; 12:5; and 19:15. In each of those verses the verb is justifiably translated “rule”—and “with a rod of iron” at that. Its appearance in Revelation 7:17, as well as its use in John 21:16; Acts 20:28; and 1 Peter 5:2, could warrant a similar rendering. The point is that the statement here in Matthew is a consistent elucidation of the idea of a shepherd’s being a Ruler, and thus fits the intent of Micah’s prediction. Unlike Herod, Jesus not only would be a legitimate King of the Jews, but would also be the final and perfect Ruler of Israel.

Even the unbelieving, politicized, self-serving Jewish leaders recognized that God’s Word clearly spoke of a literal, personal Messiah—a historical figure, born in Bethlehem in Judea, come to rule Israel. They did not accept Him when He was born or when He preached and taught or when He suffered and died; they were, in fact, His supreme enemies. Yet they acknowledged that the One predicted to come would be sent by the Lord to rule the Lord’s people. Contrary to what many, perhaps most, unbelieving Jews today think, those ancient teachers of Israel knew that the coming Messiah, the Christ, would be more than a godly attitude or the personified perfection of the Jewish kingdom. The Messiah would be a real man born among men, sent to rule men. Those chief priests and scribes had a far from perfect idea of what Christ would be like and of what He would do, but they had more than enough knowledge to have enabled them to recognize Him when He came and to know that they, like the magi, should worship Him. They knew, but they did not believe. Consequently, a few years later their initial indifference to Jesus would turn to rejection and persecution. These who now ignored Him would soon become His hateful, venomous murderers.

The magi had much less knowledge of the true God than did the Jewish leaders, but what they knew of Him they believed and followed. The Jewish leaders had the letter of God’s Word, which, by itself, kills because it judges and condemns those who know it but do not know and accept the One who has given it. The Gentile magi, on the other hand, had little of the letter of God’s Word but were remarkably responsive to God’s Spirit, who “gives life” (2 Cor. 3:6).

We see in this account the three typical responses to Jesus Christ that men have made throughout history. Some, like Herod, are immediately hateful, wanting to know nothing of God’s way except how to attack and, if possible, destroy it. Others, like the chief priests and scribes, pay little if any attention to God and His way. They are those over whom Jeremiah heartbrokenly lamented, “Is it nothing to all you who pass this way?” (Lam. 1:12). What they know of God they do not accept or obey. At most, He is given lip service. Eventually, of course, this second group inevitably joins the first—because indifference to God is simply hatred that is concealed and rejection that is delayed.

Others, however, like the magi from the east, accept the Lord when He comes to them. They may have little of His light initially, but because they know it is His light, they believe, obey, and worship—and live.

After Herod received the information he wanted from the Jewish leaders, he secretly called the magi, and ascertained the time the star appeared. His concern was for the time of the star’s appearance, not its meaning or significance. It was enough for him to know only that the sign pointed to the birth of someone who could be a threat to his own power and position. The time of the star’s appearance would indicate the age of the child who had been born.

Herod then instructed the magi to proceed with their mission and then report their findings to him as they returned home. He hypocritically gave them a good-sounding reason for wanting to know the exact location and identity of the Child—in order that I too may come and worship Him. His ultimate purpose, of course, was made clear by what he actually did. When the magi, again obedient to the Lord’s leading (2:12), did not report to Herod, he ordered his soldiers to slaughter every male child in and around Bethlehem that was under two years of age (v. 16), in order to guarantee, he thought, the destruction of his rival newborn “King.”[1]


4 Here “all” modifies “chief priests and teachers of the law,” not “the people,” and refers to those who were living in Jerusalem and could be quickly consulted. “Chief priests” refers to the hierarchy, made up of the current high priest and any who had formerly occupied this post (since Herod, contrary to the law, made fairly frequent changes in the high priesthood), and a substantial number of other leading priests (cf. Josephus, Ant. 20.180 [8.8]; J.W. 4.159–60 [3.9]; the same Greek word (archiereus) is used for “high priests” and “chief priests”). The “teachers of the law,” or “scribes” as other EV call them, were experts in the OT and in its copious oral tradition. Their work was not so much copying out OT manuscripts (as the word “scribes” suggests) as teaching the OT. Because much civil law was based on the OT and the interpretations of the OT fostered by the leaders, the “scribes” were also “lawyers” (cf. 22:35: “expert in the law”).

The vast majority of the scribes were Pharisees; the priests were Sadducees. The two groups barely got along, and therefore Schweizer judges this verse “historically almost inconceivable.” But Matthew does not say the two groups came together at the same time; Herod, unloved by either group, may well have called both to guard against being tricked. If the Pharisees and Sadducees barely spoke to one another, there was less likelihood of collusion. “He asked them” (epynthaneto, GK 4785; the imperfect tense sometimes connotes tentative requests [Herod may have expected the rebuff of silence]; cf. Turner, Grammatical Insights, 27) where the Christ (here a title; see comments at 1:1) would be born, understanding that “the Christ” and “the king of the Jews” (2:2) were titles of the same expected person. (See 26:63; 27:37 for the same equivalence.)[2]


2:3–6 / Upon arriving in Jerusalem the Magi asked where they could find the baby born to be king of the Jews. They had come with gifts and wanted to worship him. It is no surprise that the sudden arrival of these foreign visitors with their bold query caused considerable consternation among the ruling elite. Upon hearing the report, King Herod was “greatly agitated” (Weymouth). And well he should be. His hold upon the country was shaky at best. Should a bona fide Jewish king appear on the horizon, his own hegemony could be quickly overthrown. Herod was thrown into confusion and called together the chief priests and teachers of the law in order to inquire of them where the Messiah was to be born. At that time there was a widespread expectation that a universal king would appear and bring about a golden age of peace and prosperity.

The Jewish council answered Herod, telling him that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem in Judea. Matthew adds that this is in fulfillment of the prophecy of Micah, who said that from Bethlehem would come a ruler who would shepherd his people Israel. It is instructive to compare Matthew’s quotation with the original in Micah 5:2. “Ephrathah” (probably the district in which Bethlehem lay) becomes the land of Judah; “clans of Judah” becomes rulers of Judah; and “though you are small” becomes you … are by no means least. What we have is a form of midrashic interpretation that combines scriptural interpretation with reflection of contemporary events. The Dead Sea Scrolls show that the Essenes (a Jewish ascetic order) of Jesus’ day practiced this kind of messianic adaptation of Old Testament passages. For Matthew, it was a way of bringing out the deeper intention of prophetic passages by making the words of the prophet more specific. It is the fulfillment of ancient prophecy that allows for messianic clarification.[3]


2:4–6 Herod assembled the Jewish religious leaders to find out where the Christ was to be born. The chief priests were the high priest and his sons (and perhaps other members of his family). The scribes of the people were lay experts in the Law of Moses. They preserved and taught the law and served as judges in the Sanhedrin. These priests and scribes promptly quoted Micah 5:2 which identified Bethlehem of Judea as the King’s birthplace. The text of the prophecy in Micah calls the city “Bethlehem Ephrathah.” Since there was more than one town called Bethlehem in Palestine, this identifies it as the one in the district of Ephrathah within the tribal boundaries of Judah.[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Vol. 1, pp. 30–34). 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. 113–114). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Mounce, R. H. (2011). Matthew (p. 14). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1207). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

FEBRUARY 7 CHRIST IS NOT DIVIDED

Jesus answered…If a man love me, he will keep my words.

John 14:23

Much of our full gospel literature and much of our preaching tend to perpetuate a misunderstanding of what the Bible says about obedience and Christian discipleship.

I think the following is a fair statement of what I was taught in my early Christian experience and before I began to pray and study and anguish over the whole matter:

“We are saved by accepting Christ as our Savior.”

“We are sanctified by accepting Christ as our Lord.”

“We may do the first without doing the second.”

What a tragedy that in our day we often hear the gospel appeal made in this way:

“Come to Jesus! You do not have to obey anyone. You do not have to give up anything. Just come to Him and believe in Him as Savior!”

The fact that we hear this everywhere does not make it right! To urge men and women to believe in a divided Christ is bad teaching—for no one can receive a half or a third or a quarter of the divine Person of Christ!

Heavenly Father, You are a wonderful Savior and Lord deserving my full obedience to all of Your teachings. Forgive me, Lord, for the times that I’ve obeyed only a portion of Your Word. Show me the areas in my life in which I am weak.[1]


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

February 7 Healings’ Extraordinary Confirmations

Large crowds followed Him from Galilee and the Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond Jordan.—Matt. 4:25

The healing miracles of Jesus accomplished things that surpassed and were far more significant than the obvious, immediate benefit to those healed. First, they demonstrated He was the Son of God, since no mere man could do such feats. Jesus later instructed Philip and the other disciples, “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves” (John 14:11).

Second, the marvelous healings revealed that God, through Christ, was and is compassionate to all who suffer: “Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him” (Matt. 20:34).

Third, Jesus’ healings proved He was the predicted Messiah of the Old Testament. Jesus directly told John the Baptist’s disciples, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Matt. 11:4–5; cf. Isa. 35:5–10; 61:1–3).

Finally, the healing miracles proved that God’s kingdom is a reality (cf. Matt. 9:35; 10:7–8). Perhaps even more marvelous for us is that Jesus’ healings were a foretaste of a future kingdom: “The eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will shout for joy” (Isa. 35:5–6; cf. Ps. 96:10).

ASK YOURSELF

Certainly, many in the “large crowds” came for what they viewed as a sideshow, an entertaining diversion from the humdrum. But are we often guilty of following while expecting nothing? Are you still willing to believe God for the unexplainable?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 46). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

February 7 The Aim of Your Life

Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31

When you confessed Jesus as Lord, you did so to the glory of God. Now whatever else you do—even the most mundane functions of life such as eating and drinking—should be focused on the glory of God. That should be the underlying attitude of your life.

Jesus observed His focus in this way: “I honor My Father…. I do not seek My own glory” (John 8:49, 50). You will grow spiritually when you follow Christ’s example of ssubmit your life to Christ’s lordship, you will be characterized by His humble desire to glorify the Father.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 50). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

February 7, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

The Purpose

And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.” (9:2–5)

The blind man’s condition created a theological dilemma in the minds of the disciples. The question they posed, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” assumed the popular Jewish doctrine that anyone’s physical suffering is the direct result of personal sin. Therefore they saw only two possible explanations for his condition: either the sins of this man or those of his parents had caused his blindness.

But the man, having been born blind, could not have been responsible for his condition unless he had somehow sinned before he was born. Perhaps the disciples considered that a possibility, since the view that children could sin while still in the womb was widespread in contemporary Judaism. In addition, some Hellenistic Jews, influenced by Greek philosophy, argued for the soul’s preexistence. Therefore, they believed people could be punished in this life for sins they committed in a previous existence. (The Bible, of course, rejects such views.) On the other hand, if the man’s parents were responsible, it hardly seems fair that their child should be punished for their sin.

The disciples’ reasoning, although not completely illogical, was based on a false premise. Certainly, it is true that suffering in general is ultimately a result of sin in general. And it is also true that a specific illness can sometimes be the direct consequence of a specific sin. Miriam, for example, was stricken with leprosy for rebelling against Moses’ authority (Num. 12:10). Jesus had earlier warned the man He healed at the pool of Bethesda, “Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you” (John 5:14). The apostle Paul likewise told the Corinthians, who were partaking of the Lord’s supper in an unworthy manner, “Many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep” (1 Cor. 11:30).

Tragically, there are also times when children are forced to suffer the natural consequences of their parents’ sinful choices. For example, the eyes of babies born to women who have gonorrhea can become infected when they pass through the birth canal. If the babies’ eyes are not treated medically after birth, blindness can result. A baby’s health can also be negatively affected by the mothers’ smoking, excessive drinking, or substance abuse during pregnancy.

The disciples may also have been thinking of certain Old Testament passages in which God seems to promise punishment on children for the sins of their parents. In Exodus 20:5 God said to Israel, “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me.” Exodus 34:7 repeats the warning that God “will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations” (cf. Num. 14:18; Deut. 5:9).

Such passages, however, must be understood in a national or societal sense. The point is that the corrupting effect of a wicked generation seeps into subsequent generations. This is axiomatic, an obvious reality. The idea that a child will be punished for the sins of his own parents is a concept foreign to Scripture. Deuteronomy 24:16 commands, “Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin” (cf. 2 Chron. 25:4). Through Jeremiah God declared, “In those days they will not say again, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’ But everyone will die for his own iniquity; each man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth will be set on edge” (Jer. 31:29–30). Ezekiel 18:20 adds, “The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.”

Subsequent generations (“to the third and fourth” [Ex. 34:7]) of children, however, have suffered the consequences of a previous generation’s disobedience. The Hebrew children of the Exodus, for example, suffered through forty years of wilderness wandering because of the sins of their parents’ generation. Centuries later, when the northern and southern kingdoms were carried off into captivity, generations of children suffered for the sins of their elders.

Jesus’ reply, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him,” exposed the error in the disciples’ thinking. There is not always a direct link between suffering and personal sin. When Job’s would-be counselors rested their case for his suffering on this wrong assumption, they caused him needless misery (cf. Job 13:1–13; 16:1–4) and ultimately received a rebuke from God (42:7). On another occasion, Jesus taught that neither those Galileans whom Pilate slaughtered in the temple nor those killed when the tower in Siloam fell on them (Luke 13:1–5) suffered those deadly effects because they were particularly vile sinners—as His audience had smugly assumed. Instead, the Lord used those two incidents to warn His hearers that all sinners, including them, face death, and when it comes would perish unless they repented and trusted in Him.

The truth was that like Job (Job 1; 2), the blind man was afflicted so that the works of God might be displayed in him. But as F. F. Bruce notes,

This does not mean that God deliberately caused the child to be born blind in order that, after many years, his glory should be displayed in the removal of the blindness; to think so would again be an aspersion on the character of God. It does mean that God overruled the disaster of the child’s blindness so that, when the child grew to manhood, he might, by recovering his sight, see the glory of God in the face of Christ, and others, seeing this work of God, might turn to the true Light of the World. (The Gospel of John [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994], 209)

God sovereignly chose to use this man’s affliction for His own glory.

Having addressed their misunderstanding and introduced the matter of doing God’s work, Jesus affirmed it as the priority, saying to the disciples, “We must work the works of Him who sent Me.” Their focus was backward, on analyzing how the blind man came to be in his condition; the Lord’s concern was forward, on putting God’s power on display for the man’s benefit. As noted in the discussion of 4:4 in chapter 11 of this volume, John frequently used the verb dei (must) to describe Jesus’ active fulfillment of the mission given Him by the Father (cf. 3:14; 10:16; 12:34; 20:9). Here the plural pronoun we includes the disciples, who also were empowered to do the works of the Father who sent Jesus.

The phrase as long as it is day conveys a sense of urgency (cf. 7:33; 11:9–10; 12:35; 13:33). It refers to the brief time (only a few months remained until the crucifixion) that Jesus would still be physically present with the disciples. After that, He said, “Night is coming when no one can work”—a reference to His being taken away from the disciples in death. They would then be overtaken by the darkness (cf. 12:35) and unable to work (cf. 20:19; Matt. 26:56) until the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost once again empowered them to minister.

But while Jesus was still in the world, He was the Light of the world. The Lord, of course, did not cease to be the Light of the world after His death, since He carried on His ministry through the disciples (Matt. 28:18–20). Yet that Light shone most clearly and brightly during His earthly ministry. What Jesus told the disciples applies to all believers. They are to serve God with a sense of urgency, “making the most of [their] time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16; cf. Col. 4:5). The noble Puritan pastor Richard Baxter captured that sense of urgency when he wrote, “I preached as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men” (cited in I. D. E. Thomas, A Puritan Golden Treasury [Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1977], 223).[1]


The Problem of Pain

John 9:2–3

His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”

“If God were good, he would wish to make his creatures perfectly happy, and if God were almighty he would be able to do what he wished. But the creatures are not happy. Therefore God lacks either goodness, or power, or both.” This, as C. S. Lewis states in his small book, The Problem of Pain, is the problem of human suffering in its simplest form. And it must be admitted that if the Bible does not throw additional light upon this problem—if it does not reveal more about the nature and purposes of God than this statement of the problem leads us to see—then the problem is insoluable and life lacks meaning.

All Suffer

At some time or other every human being must experience suffering. A person causes pain by being born. Many live by inflicting pain. Most suffer pain. Eventually all experience death. It is true that believers who are alive at the time of Christ’s return to this earth will be transformed in a moment and will not die. But with this exception, it is the lot of all to suffer and die. Eliphaz spoke truthfully to Job when he told the suffering patriarch, “For hardship does not spring from the soil, nor does trouble sprout from the ground. Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward” (Job 5:6–7).

There is a distinction to be made even at this point, however. For while it is true that all suffer, Christians as well as non-Christians, it is nevertheless not true that all suffering is alike. Seen from the outside, a Christian suffering from an incurable disease and a non-Christian suffering from the same disease may be supposed to be undergoing the same experience. But, according to the plain teachings of the Word of God, the two are not equal. From God’s point of view the non-Christian is suffering without purpose. Or, which may sometimes be the case, he is suffering at the whim of Satan, who is merely doing as he pleases with a member of his own kingdom. In the case of the Christian, an all-wise heavenly Father is permitting suffering in a carefully controlled situation in order that he might accomplish a desirable purpose. The Book of Job alone teaches us about the latter.

But if suffering—that endured by a Christian—has purpose, surely we are not out of line in asking what that purpose is. If we are to learn from it, we must ask what it is we are to learn; if we are to profit, we must ask how. The answers to these questions are suggested to us by some of Christ’s words uttered on the occasion of his healing of the blind man, recorded in John 9.

False Assumptions

We are told by the author that as Jesus passed by the gate of the temple, having placed himself out of reach of those leaders of the nation who were attempting to kill him, “he saw a man blind from birth.” This man had begged at the temple gate for many years, and he was apparently known to the disciples. They would have walked on. But when Jesus stopped to look at this man, they stopped too and began to ask him a philosophical question: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

The question they asked was the age-old question of the problem of pain, the question we have been asking. But in their mouths it took a form that immediately reveals two basic (and erroneous) assumptions. In the first place, the question revealed the pagan assumption that suffering in this life often is retribution for sin committed in some previous life, conceived in the categories of a system of reincarnation. Such views were common in the first century, even in Judaism. Many religions and cults in our own day still hold to them. The Scriptures do not support this, however. Instead they teach that the issues of eternity are settled for each individual during his own, single lifetime.

The second erroneous assumption made by the disciples was that the suffering of the blind man had been caused by the sin of his parents. This, of course, was possible. Sins of parents can be visited upon children. Blindness can result from venereal disease, for instance.

In this case, however, Jesus replied that the man had been born blind, neither because of his own sin nor for the sin of his parents, but rather that the glory of God might be revealed in him. He said, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life” (v. 3). This means—let us state it frankly—that God had allowed the man to be born blind so that at this particular moment in his earthly life Jesus might come upon him and cure him and that, as a result, God might receive glory. Having said that, Jesus then performed a miracle and restored the man’s sight.

Here is our first great lesson from the story. There are no pat answers to the question of human suffering. There are answers, of course—we are going to see some of them—but there are no pat answers. Consequently, we cannot say, as some do, that it is the right of every believer to be healthy. This is nonsense. Or that suffering is always the direct result of personal sin. In some cases, suffering is corrective. It is given in order to get us back on the path that God has chosen for us. In other cases, it is constructive. It is given to build character. In still other cases, as here, it is given solely that God might receive glory.

We must not make the mistake of some people who imagine that if someone suffers some great natural catastrophe, it is because God has struck him or her down for some sin. These people imagine God to be a stern, implacable judge, who spends his time watching over people in order to catch them sinning. “I am watching you,” God says, “and if you do something you are not supposed to do—whoops!—you did it! So ‘BANG’—that’s what happens to you.” This is not true. What is more, it is a scandal on the name of God. One commentator puts it this way: “God is not up in heaven trying to hit people. God is love. Anyone could testify to the fact that many times he has sinned and has not reaped the fruits of that sin. God has been gracious in a wonderful way. How tender and patient He is with us.”

Do not ever imagine that this is God’s way. For if you do, you immediately make yourself into a nasty little judge, trying to find out what another Christian has done instead of recognizing that in God’s providence all things come to God’s people, and that in many cases God simply sends suffering that he might be glorified. In these cases suffering is a great honor, and we should be humbled before it.

Three Errors

Calvin, the great reformer, has some wonderfully wise words for all of us who tend to judge others. First, we should note, he acknowledges that in one form or another suffering does come from sin. If there had never been sin, there would be no suffering. But when we go on from that statement to begin to link up particular suffering in some person with some particular sin, we generally err in one or all of three ways.

“Since everyone is a bitter censor of others,” Calvin writes, “few apply the same severity to themselves as they should do. If things go badly with my brother, I at once acknowledge the judgment of God. But if God chastises me with a heavier stroke, I overlook my sins. In considering punishments, every man should begin with himself and spare none less than himself. And so, if we want to be fair judges in this matter, let us learn to be perspicacious in our own evils rather than in those of others.

“The second error lies in immoderate severity. No sooner is a man touched by the hand of God than we interpret it as deadly hatred, and make crimes out of faults, and almost despair of his salvation. On the other hand, we extenuate our sins, and are hardly conscious of faults when we have committed most serious crimes.

“Thirdly, we are wrong to put under condemnation all without any exception whom God exercises with the cross. What we have said just now is undoubtedly true, that all our distresses arise from sin. But God afflicts His people for various reasons. Just as there are some whose crimes He does not avenge in this world, but whose punishment He delays to the future life, to try them the harder, so He often treats His faithful more severely; not because they have sinned more, but that He may mortify the sins of the flesh for the future. Sometimes, too, He is not concerned with their sins, but only testing their obedience or training them to patience. As we see that holy man Job unfortunate beyond all others, and yet he is not beset on account of his sins; but God’s purpose was quite different—that his godliness might be the more fully testified in adversity. They are false interpreters, therefore, who attribute all afflictions without distinction to sins; as if the measure of punishments were equal, or as if God regarded nothing else in punishing men than what every man deserves.”

God’s Purpose in Suffering

There are, then, many false views of suffering, and they must be avoided. But, when that is said, we still want to know the correct views. We still want to know why Christians especially suffer. And, to make it very personal, we want to know why God permits us to suffer in any specific instance. Here only the Word of God gives guidance.

To begin with, we are told that some sufferings are corrective, that is, that God sends some pain in order to get us back on the path he has set before us. Spankings are an illustration here. If a child has done wrong, he needs a spanking; and if he has the right kind of father and mother, he receives one. Why? Because the father and mother delight to inflict pain? Because they do not love the child and therefore do not care about him? Not at all! In fact, the opposite is the case. If they do not love him, they do not spank him; if they do love him, chastisement follows when he has done wrong. Spankings are a necessary part of the child’s training, for he must learn that an individual is not free to do whatever he wishes to do, irrespective of the wishes and sometimes the commands of others. Moreover, he must learn through obeying the parent to obey God. In the same way, some suffering is given to teach Christians that sin is wrong and to teach them obedience.

It is along this line that the well-known verses from Hebrews 12 were written. “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? … No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it”(vv. 5–7, 11).

The first thing we should do when we are confronted with suffering is to ask God whether or not it is intended for our correction. If it is, then we need to confess our sin or waywardness and return once more to the path set before us.

Constructive Suffering

Second, God sends the believer some sufferings that are constructive. It is by means of these sufferings that God is able to whittle away that which is unpleasing in our lives and form the character of the Lord Jesus Christ within us.

In one of his books, Donald Grey Barnhouse illustrates this process by the task of producing a statue. He writes, “The great artist Benvenuto Cellini tells us in his autobiography how he felt as he stood before a block of marble that had been brought to Florence for him to form into a great statue. Several chapters are devoted to the design and creation of the work of art which still stands in his native city as his greatest monument. Between the rough-hewn block of marble and the finished statue were all the love and care of the artist, and the infinite patience of releasing from stone the vision of beauty which he saw before he began to work. Thus the Heavenly Father is at work in the life of everyone whom he has foreknown as believing in the Savior. There is a difference between ourselves and a block of marble, however, in that we have feelings and can shrink from the strokes with which the divine Sculptor would cut away the marble so that the likeness of Christ may emerge in our lives.”

In David’s great psalm about the importance of knowing the Bible, the great king tells us that before he was afflicted he went astray, but that after his affliction he obeyed the word of God (Ps. 119:67). Affliction was a factor in his growth. So it is in the lives of many of God’s children.

Glory to God

Finally, as in the case of the man who had been born blind, some suffering is merely that the grace of God might be revealed in the life of the Christian. Job was such a person. Lazarus was another. Beyond any doubt, both of these men were sinners and both suffered corrective and constructive sufferings at many different times in their lives. Nevertheless, in the cases of their suffering that are recorded for us in the pages of God’s Word (one in the Book of Job and one in John 11), neither constructive nor corrective sufferings are in view but rather that kind of suffering that brings glory to God. In Job’s case glory was given in the demonstration, observed by Satan and all the angels, that Job did not love the Lord for what he could get out of him but because the Lord was worthy to be loved and obeyed. This was true regardless of what happened to Job personally. Ultimately Job was vindicated and received his reward.

Would God Almighty permit a man to be stripped of his family and all his possessions, to be struck with such illness that he would find himself sitting in ashes bemoaning that he had ever been born, just so that God himself might be vindicated? Would God permit a man to be struck with total blindness throughout the better part of his life so that in God’s own time he might become the object of a miracle performed by the Lord Jesus Christ? Would God permit a child of his to die, bringing suffering not only upon himself but also upon his sisters who mourned for him, just so God could be glorified? In the light of the Word of God we answer not only that God would do such things but that he has done them and, indeed, continues to do them in order that he might bring victory for himself and all believers in that great and invisible war between the powers of good and of evil. Moreover, those who know God well know this and (in part) understand it. They know that God is both perfect and loving and that he does all things well.

When suffering comes we must therefore check out these three possibilities. One, is it corrective, sent by God to return us to the proper path? Two, is it constructive? If so, we should ask him to use it in making us more like Jesus Christ. And three, is it for his glory? If the latter is the case, we must ask God to keep us faithful so that Satan and his hosts may be discomfited and others may learn that we at least are delighted to have God do with us whatsoever he pleases.[2]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). John 1–11 (pp. 391–394). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Boice, J. M. (2005). The Gospel of John: an expositional commentary (pp. 687–692). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

FEBRUARY 7 A VOICE OUT OF THE SILENCE

And after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD  was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORDwas not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

—1 Kings 19:11-12

It is significant that the psalm in which the words “Be still” occur is filled with noise and commotion. The earth shakes, the waters roar and are troubled, the mountains threaten to tumble into the midst of the sea, the nations rage, the kingdoms are moved and the sound of war is heard throughout the land. Then a voice is heard out of the silence saying, “Be still, and know that I am God” ([Psalm] 46:10).

So today we must listen till our inner ears hear the words of God. When the Voice is heard, it will not be as the excited shouting of the nervous world; rather it will be the reassuring call of One of whom it was said, “He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street” (Isaiah 42:2).

It cannot be heard in the street, but it may be heard plainly enough in the heart. And that is all that matters at last. GTM018

Quiet the storms around me and still my heart, Lord, that I may hear the call of Your still small voice. Amen.[1]


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

February 7 God’s Holiness Revealed

“The Lord is righteous in all His ways.”

Psalm 145:17

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God’s holiness is evident in everything He does, particularly in creation, the law, judgment, and salvation.

The whole purpose of the Old Testament is to reveal the holiness and righteousness of God, who is utterly perfect and pure. In fact, the Hebrew word for “holy” is used more than 600 times in the Old Testament to indicate moral perfection.

What are some areas in which we see God’s holiness? First, we see it in the original perfection of His creation: “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:31). All of creation was in tune with God’s holy character.

Later God laid down His righteous, moral law for Israel. In it He gave rules about worship and society. He prescribed penalties for murder, adultery, and stealing. He condemned lying, coveting, and many other sins. There were many rules, but they revealed a God who is infinitely right and without error, flaw, or tolerance for sin. The law showed God’s character: “The Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good” (Rom. 7:12).

God’s holiness will ultimately be demonstrated “when 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” (2 Thess. 1:7–9). His judgment on sin is a reflection of His holiness; He must punish it.

Perhaps the supreme expression of God’s holiness is seen in sending His Son to die on the cross (cf. Rom. 8:3–4). God paid the highest price, but it was the only price that could satisfy His holiness. Jesus Christ is Himself “the Holy and Righteous One” (Acts 3:14); so only He could “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Heb. 9:26). God’s holiness is so infinite, and our unholiness is so great, that only the sacrifice of the God–man could pay for the enormity of our sin.

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Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God that He sent His Son to die for our sins, so we could be “holy and blameless before Him” (Eph. 1:4).

For Further Study: Some of God’s laws for the Israelites are given in Exodus 21–23. Note in particular the penalties for breaking these laws. What does this passage teach you about God’s character?[1]


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

February 6 Daily Help

THE gospel is the sum of wisdom; an epitome of knowledge; a treasure-house of truth; and a revelation of mysterious secrets. Our meditation upon it enlarges the mind; and as it opens to our soul in successive flashes of glory, we stand astonished at the profound wisdom manifest in it. Ah, dear friends! if ye seek wisdom, ye shall see it displayed in all its greatness. But turn aside and see this great sight!—an incarnate God upon the cross; a substitute atoning for mortal guilt; a sacrifice satisfying the vengeance of Heaven, and delivering the rebellious sinner. Here is essential wisdom; enthroned, crowned, glorified.[1]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 41). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

February 6, 2018 Evening Verse Of The Day

Appreciation for the Indwelling Holy Spirit

The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. (3:24)

The blessing promised to the one who keeps His commandments is that he abides in Christ and He in him. The term translated abides (from the verb menō, “to stay, remain”) is one of John’s favorite words for salvation (see John 15:4–10) and is a repeated reference in this letter (cf. 2:6, 10, 24, 28; 3:6; 4:13, 16). (For more on the theme of abiding, see the earlier discussions of 2:6 and 2:28 in chapters 5 and 10, respectively, of this volume.) That shared life is possible only by the Spirit whom He has given (cf. Luke 11:13; 12:12; John 14:16–17, 26; 15:26; Acts 1:4–8; Rom. 5:5; 8:11, 16; Gal. 4:6; 5:16, 22; Eph. 1:13–14; 1 John 2:20, 27; 4:1–2, 13).

To be sure, the workings of the Holy Spirit include an element of the mysterious; they cannot be controlled or fully understood by frail, sinful human beings. Nevertheless, the results of those workings are readily apparent, as Jesus told Nicodemus by means of a familiar illustration: “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). As the effects of the wind can be seen, felt, and heard, so the Spirit’s working in lives is manifest and those who see that work will know by this that He [Christ] abides in them.

It was the Spirit of Christ (Rom. 8:9) who made saints’ spiritually dead souls alive (John 3:5–8; Titus 3:5), gave sight to their blind eyes, caused their sinful hearts to repent (cf. Acts 16:14), and drew them in faith to Jesus (1 Peter 1:2). It was the Spirit who placed them into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13) and gifted them for ministry in the church (1 Cor. 12:7; cf. Rom. 12:3–8; 1 Peter 4:10–11). It is through His illuminating instruction that Scripture comes alive for believers as they read and meditate on it (1 Cor. 2:10–14; cf. Eph. 6:17). The Spirit also energizes the saints’ prayers (Eph. 6:18; Jude 20) and intercedes for them (Rom. 8:26–27). He leads and guides Christians (8:14) and assures them that they are children of God (vv. 15–16; Eph. 1:13–14).

Salvation is not a one-time event but a way of life and entails a willingness to follow Jesus no matter the cost (cf. Luke 9:23, 57–62). The presence of genuine holy affections—gratitude toward God, boldness in prayer, submission to His commandments, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and an appreciation of the Holy Spirit’s power in their lives—all characterized and undergirded by a continual love for other believers—marks those who persevere in this true faith (cf. Rom. 2:7; Col. 1:21–23). The presence of those godly virtues gives those who manifest them true assurance (2 Peter 1:8–10; cf. Phil. 1:6; 2 Tim. 1:12b) and confidence that they have been born from above by the power of God.[1]


The Witness of the Holy Spirit (v. 24)

In the last verse of chapter 3, John introduces two new ideas into the letter, neither of which has even been suggested up to this time. He mentions the idea of a mutual abiding, of Christ in the Christian and of the Christian in Christ; and he mentions the Holy Spirit, through whom the abiding is effected. Because of the development to come in chapter 5, the idea of the witness of the Holy Spirit is the more important of the two new concepts.

When John mentions the Holy Spirit, we might think that he is here introducing a new and subjective criterion by which the Christian may assure his heart before God, much as Paul seems to do in Romans 8:15–16. But this is not the case, for it is not as a subjective witness that the Spirit is mentioned. Here Stott concludes wisely,

The Spirit whose presence is the test of Christ’s abiding in us, manifests himself objectively in our life and conduct. It is he who inspires us to confess Jesus as the Christ come in the flesh, as John immediately proceeds to show (iv. 1ff.; cf. ii. 20, 27). It is also he who empowers us to live righteously and to love the brethren (cf. iv. 13; Gal. vv. 16, 22). So if we would assure our hearts when they accuse and condemn us, we must look for evidence of the Spirit’s working, and particularly whether he is enabling us to believe in Christ, to obey God’s commandments and to love the brethren; for the condition of abiding is this comprehensive obedience (24a), and the evidence of abiding is the gift of the Spirit (24b).

This, of course, returns us to the starting point of this chapter; for it reminds us that the cure of doubt is not to be found in some subjective experience, but rather in knowledge. It is to be found in knowledge of the workings of God in our lives and of his verdict of acquittal of sinners through the work of Christ.[2]


24 John concludes the present section and transitions toward the next (4:1–6). Up to this point, the discussion has focused heavily on what the individual must do to establish her status as a true child of God. John has emphasized sinlessness, correct beliefs, and expressions of love—all personal achievements—as the marks of a Christian. Verse 24 highlights the spiritual dimension of genuine Christian experience. Those who obey enjoy the mystical, mutual indwelling with the Father that Jesus requested for his disciples at John 17:20–23. To stress this point, John introduces a community slogan with the formula ginōskomen hoti (“we know”): “He remains [menō] in us” (NIV, “we know that he lives in us”). This proposition is validated by the Christian experience of the Spirit. John closely associates Jesus with the Spirit, so much so that Jesus will come to the disciples in the form of the Paraclete (Jn 14:15–18). The fact, then, that true believers have the Spirit proves that God is with them and that they have passed the tests. John’s implication that the Antichrists do not possess God’s Spirit suggests that belief, ethics, and union with God go hand in hand. Those who do not hold to a proper belief and do not live under Jesus’ commands cannot legitimately claim that God’s Spirit dwells in them. Rensberger, 107, notes that “although the possession of the Spirit and mutual abiding with God are interior events, they are validated by means that are … thoroughly public.”[3]


3:24 / The closing verse of chapter three completes the teaching on keeping God’s commands and returns to the main subject of this section of 1 John, assurance. The Elder makes the point that the obedient Christian has the indwelling presence of the Spirit of God as the assurance of knowing God.

Those who obey his commands, i.e., who believe in Jesus and love one another (v. 23), receive what they ask for in prayer (v. 22) and abide in God (v. 24, menei; niv, “live in him”). The indwelling is mutual (the first time this has been expressed in 1 John; cf. 4:13, 15–16), for God also abides in them. This Johannine tradition (cf. 2:6; 4:15) is based on Jesus’ teaching in the Farewell Discourses of the Fourth Gospel on the coming of the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit. In John 14:16–17, the Father will give to Jesus’ disciples a “Counselor” (paraklētos), “the Spirit of truth” (cf. 1 John 4:6), who will live in them and be with them forever. Jesus and the Father will come and make their home in those who keep Jesus’ teaching (14:23). Jesus urges his followers to “remain (meinate) in me, and I will remain in you” (15:4). As in vv. 22–23, the commands are God’s commands, although it is quite possible that the author intends the reader to infer both God and Jesus. The interpreter faces the same problem in 2:3–4 and 2:26–29. Obedience results in ongoing, personal communion with God (the meaning of menō, “abide”; see the discussion of this important concept in 1 John 2:6).

This fellowship with God is mediated by the Spirit he gave us, and it is how we know that he lives in us. The secessionists were making claims about their relationship to God through the Spirit (4:1–3, 6). They claimed to be God’s inspired prophets. But the Elder maintains that only those who obey his commands (faith in Jesus and love for one another) receive the Spirit and live in communion with God. This the opponents do not do. The faithful Johannine Christians may rest assured that God lives in them and not in their opponents, because they have the Spirit, and the disobedient secessionists do not, despite their claims. The evidence for possessing the Spirit is in the confession of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God (v. 23; John 20:31), and in the fruit of the Spirit (esp. love, vv. 16–18; cf. Gal. 5:22–23).[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2007). 1, 2, 3 John (pp. 148–149). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] Boice, J. M. (2004). The Epistles of John: an expositional commentary (p. 104). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Thatcher, T. (2006). 1 John. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, pp. 469–470). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] Johnson, T. F. (2011). 1, 2, and 3 John (pp. 91–92). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

February 6: Student or Scholar?

Exodus 14:1–15:27; John 3:1–21; Song of Solomon 2:4–7

Sometimes we approach God with curiosity, but not with a spirit of humility. We enjoy participating in religious discussions, but forging the link between interpretation and application is difficult for us. We have certain expectations of who He should be for us, but we don’t think about how we should align our lives with Him.

Nicodemus—a Pharisee, a leader of his fellow Jews, and a teacher of Israel—wanted answers from Jesus. He told Him, “we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one is able to perform these signs that you are performing unless God were with him” (John 3:2). Was Jesus a Messiah, like Moses or David, who would restore Israel?

The scholar quickly became a student. Through His answers, Jesus showed Nicodemus that he wasn’t in a place to hold Jesus accountable. Rather, it was the other way around: Nicodemus needed to be challenged and transformed. He was a teacher of Israel, but he didn’t really understand Jesus’ teaching; his questions showed that he was hesitant to even believe Him, despite all the signs.

We might be like Nicodemus, approaching God with off-par expectations. Jesus showed Nicodemus that he had to receive the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. In order to see the kingdom of God and enter into it, we need to do the same.

Are you teachable? Do you approach God ready to learn and apply His words?

Rebecca Van Noord[1]


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