Daily Archives: February 23, 2018

February 23 Realizing the Ultimate Priority

“… to the glory and praise of God” (Phil. 1:11).


To glorify God is to reflect His character in your words and deeds.

Paul’s prayer in Philippians 1:9–11 closes with a reminder that love, excellence, integrity, and righteousness bring glory and praise to God.

God’s glory is a recurring theme in Paul’s writings, and rightly so, because that is the Christian’s highest priority. But what is God’s glory, and what does it mean to bring Him glory? After all, He is infinitely glorious in nature, so we can’t add anything to Him. And His glory can never be diminished, so it doesn’t have to be replenished or bolstered.

In Exodus 33:18–19 Moses says to God, “‘I pray Thee, show me Thy glory!’ And [God] said, ‘I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.’” In effect God was telling Moses that His glory is the composite of His attributes.

That suggests you can glorify God by placing His attributes on display in your life. When others see godly characteristics such as love, mercy, patience, and kindness in you, they have a better picture of what God is like. That honors Him. That’s why it’s so important to guard your attitudes and actions. Paul admonished Timothy to be exemplary in his “speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity” (1 Tim. 4:12). That should be true of every believer!

Another way to glorify God is to praise Him. David said, “Ascribe to the Lord, O sons of the mighty, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to His name; worship the Lord in holy array. … In His temple everything says, ‘Glory!’” (Ps. 29:1–2, 9).

You cannot add to God’s glory, but you can proclaim it in your words and deeds. What picture of God do others see in you? Does your life bring glory to Him?


Suggestions for Prayer:  In 1 Chronicles 16:8–36 David instructs Asaph and Asaph’s relatives on how to glorify God. Using that passage as a model, spend time in prayer glorifying God.

For Further Study: Reread 1 Chronicles 16:8–36, noting any specific instructions that apply to you.[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 66). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.


…Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.

MATTHEW 20:26, 27

The essence of Christ’s teaching concerning greatness was this: true greatness among humans must be found in character, not in ability or position.

While a few philosophers and religionists of pre-Christian times had noted the fallacy in man’s ideas of dominion and status, it was Christ who defined and demonstrated true greatness.

“Let him be your minister: let him be your servant.” It is that simple and that easy—and that difficult!

We have but to follow Christ in service to the human race, a selfless service that seeks only to serve, and greatness will be ours! That is all, but it is too much, for it runs counter to all that is Adam in us. Adam still feels the instinct for dominion; he hears deep within him the command, “Replenish the earth and subdue it.” Therefore he does not take kindly to the command to serve! Sin must go and Adam must give way to Christ: so says our Lord in effect. By sin men have lost dominion, even their very right to it, until they win it back by humble service.

Though redeemed from death and hell by the vicarious labor of Christ on the cross, still the right to have dominion must be won by each man separately. Each must fulfill a long apprenticeship as a servant before he is fit to rule.

After Christ had served (and His service included death) God highly exalted Him and gave Him a name above every name. As a man He served and won His right to have dominion. He knew where true greatness lay—and we do not.[1]

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

February 23, 2018 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)


President Donald Trump said he’ll announce his administration’s largest U.S. sanctions package yet against North Korea on Friday. The sanctions, which Trump plans to unveil at a meeting of conservatives near Washington, aims to disrupt North Korean shipping and trading companies and vessels to further isolate the regime of Kim Jong Un.

Pakistan will be placed back onto an international terrorism-financing watch list from June, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter, a move that may hinder the country’s access to financial markets.

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis is urging “targeted” tariffs on steel and aluminum, warning that more sweeping action might antagonize American allies.

Following vehicle-based attacks in New York and Charlottesville, Virginia, a new parking policy could force thousands to move their cars during major events in the nation’s capital.

Teachers across Florida and at a high school where 17 people were shot dead on Feb. 14 pay into a retirement fund that invests in gun companies, it was revealed earlier this week. It turns out they’re not alone. Pension funds managed for public school teachers in at least a dozen U.S. states, including New York and California, own stocks issued by the makers of firearms.

President Donald Trump called for paying bonuses to teachers who carry guns in the classroom, embracing a controversial proposal to curb school shootings hours after offering a full-throated endorsement of the National Rifle Association.

What does it take to get into the 1 percent? The price of admission is an adjusted gross income — basically, what you make before deductions — of $480,930.

AP Top Stories

President Trump has all the legal authority he needs to keep U.S. forces in Syria and Iraq indefinitely, the Pentagon and State Department said in a pair of letters released on Thursday. The letters also warned that the United States reserves the right to take military action to defend its anti-ISIS allies in Syria, potentially setting the stage for new clashes with regime forces and their Russian partners.

Puerto Rico’s governor announced Thursday that a team of experts at George Washington University will lead an independent, in-depth review to determine the number of deaths caused by Hurricane Maria amid accusations that the U.S. territory has undercounted the toll.

World leaders called Thursday for an urgent cease-fire in Syria as government forces pounded the opposition-controlled eastern suburbs of the capital in a crushing campaign that has left hundreds of people dead in recent days.

Investigators are continuing to probe what caused a helicopter to plunge into the Grand Canyon as it emerged that the crash happened on tribal land where air tours are not as highly regulated as those inside the national park itself.

The government agency in charge of granting citizenship to prospective Americans has removed a passage from its mission statement that describes the United States as a nation of immigrants.

Saudi Arabia is to invest $64 billion in its entertainment sector over the coming decade, an official said Thursday, as the kingdom pursues a program of social and economic reforms.

The United States blasted Russia on Thursday over the bombing of Syria’s Eastern Ghouta, saying it has a “unique responsibility” for the more than 400 deaths in the Damascus suburb.

An Egyptian court sentenced on Thursday 21 people to death and seven others to up to life in prison over belonging to a group believed to be affiliated with the extremist Islamic State group, the state-run MENA news agency reported.

California’s agriculture industry faces a farm labor shortage, but now it’s facing added pressure due to a wave of employee audits ordered for large farms throughout the state’s Central Valley.

Poland’s central bank paid a YouTube star to make a video about a cryptocurrency crash in order to warn about the dangers of investing in digital coins.

The massive burden of student loan debt held in the U.S. is a critical financial issue for women. “In case you missed it, graduates in the United States owe an effing fortune in student loan debt, more than $1.3 trillion. We women hold nearly two-thirds of it, averaging more than $20,000 each for a bachelor’s degree. And that’s $30,000 if you’re a woman of color. Ugh!,” says Sallie Krawcheck, the CEO of women-led digital investing platform Ellevest. What’s more, repaying student loans takes longer for women because of the gender pay gap.


About four million French women – 12% of the total – have been raped at least once in their lives, a survey suggests. The study for the Fondation Jean Jaurès, a Paris-based think tank, also says 43% have been subjected to sexual touching without their consent.

Argentina’s security ministry foiled a plot to use the Russian embassy’s diplomatic courier service to smuggle cocaine to Europe. Police seized nearly 400kg of the drug from diplomatic luggage in an embassy annex after being told about it by the Russian ambassador in December 2016.

Children in South Sudan have been forced to watch their mothers being raped and killed, the UN says. UN human rights investigators said that 40 officials may be individually responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity.


By 2050, humans will ditch speech and communicate using nothing but their thoughts. They’ll do this through a ‘collective AI consciousness’ that is part of the very fabric of the human brain and can reveal what anyone is thinking.

Purdue’s “microscale magnetic tumbling robots,” or microTUMs, are extremely small, measuring about 400 by 800 microns-about the size of a grain of sand. Shaped like dumbbells, the tiny machines are outfitted with magnetic end caps, enabling them to “tumble” continuously over a variety of terrains, powered by a shifting magnetic field. Wherever you are, these little bots will be able to squeeze past most any barrier and traverse most any landscape to reach you. This Purdue study proposes injecting these microTUMs into the human body.

The Briefing — Friday, February 23, 2018

1) The interesting story that one church-state group doesn’t want you to know

2) Secularists present a choice: Abandon convictions or abandon children

3) No place to hide on LGBT issues for Baptist groups

RenewAmerica Newsletter

February 22, 2018
CLIFF KINCAID — Ronald Reagan would be rolling over in his grave if he knew what the leadership of the American Conservative Union (ACU) was doing to the conservative movement. The ACU, which sponsors the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), has destroyed one leg of Reagan’s “three-legged stool” approach to conservatism, and has greatly undermined another…. (more)

February 22, 2018

WASHINGTON EXAMINER — Colton Haab, a Junior ROTC student and survivor of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., last week, said he going to participate in the CNN town hall Wednesday night, but decided not to when he said the network provided him with a list of “scripted questions.”… (more)

February 22, 2018
WASHINGTON TIMES — Sen. Ted Cruz on Thursday offered qualified support to calls for arming teachers in the wake of last week’s Florida school shooting, saying it shouldn’t be compulsory but that it would serve to make schools safer. “I think it makes perfect sense that if teachers want to exercise their right to keep and bear arms, that it will only make schools safer,” the Texas Republican said at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Oxon Hill, Maryland…. (more)

February 22, 2018

NBC MIAMI — Deputies will carry rifles on the grounds of local schools in Broward County in the wake of the Parkland school shooting, Broward Sheriff Scott Israel announced Wednesday. Israel said that only deputies who are “qualified and trained” will carry the rifles on school grounds…. (more)

February 22, 2018

WASHINGTON TIMES — President Trump expressed support for arming teachers Wednesday during an emotional meeting at the White House with teenagers who survived last week’s massacre at a Florida high school, while thousands of students walked out of schools nationwide and marched on capitols from Washington to Tallahassee to demand more gun control laws…. (more)

February 22, 2018
DAILY CALLER — None of the 16 publicly-confirmed lawyers on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team are registered Republicans, The Daily Caller News Foundation has found…. (more)

February 22, 2018
BOB UNRUH — President Trump hasn’t been pleased with the Palestinians’ refusal to consider compromises to achieve Middle East peace. So he’s decided to withhold tens of millions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer funding from the Palestinian Authority. And what answer does he get? The threat of terrorism…. (more)

February 22, 2018
BOB UNRUH — California has filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court complaining that it cannot adequately promote abortion services without the help of a tiny number of pro-life pregnancy centers that mostly offer pregnancy tests, diapers and counseling…. (more)

February 22, 2018

ART MOORE — Billy Graham, America’s best-known evangelist and a spiritual adviser to 11 presidents who preached to more than 2.2 billion souls in more than seven decades of ministry, died Wednesday at the age of 99…. (more)

February 20, 2018

CHELSEA SCHILLING — When it comes to horrific school attacks and shootings, “See something, say something, do something” is apparently a policy that really does save innocent lives. Police, schools and parents are stopping school attacks across America by taking the threats seriously, reporting them and quickly arresting the students before there’s ever a massacre…. (more)

February 20, 2018

WASHINGTON EXAMINER — After the horrific shooting which took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., a spotlight is being placed on another Florida school’s cutting-edge program to protect students. Southeastern University is the only college campus in the Sunshine State to allow staff to carry guns on campus…. (more)

February 20, 2018
WASHINGTON TIMES — Some students are calling for tougher gun-control laws after escaping last week’s horrific massacre in Parkland, Florida, but another school-shooting survivor is going in a different direction. Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, who attended Columbine High School at the time of the 1999 mass shooting, has again introduced legislation to remove limitations on concealed carry in K-12 schools…. (more)

February 20, 2018
WASHINGTON TIMES — President Trump announced Tuesday he is moving to ban “bump stock” accessories for semi-automatic firearms, and that he’s considering other gun measures in the wake of last week’s mass school shooting in Florida. Mr. Trump signed a directive ordering Attorney General Jeff Sessions to craft regulations banning “bump stocks” and other devices that turn semi-automatic firearms into automatic weapons. The president said the new federal guidelines will be finalized “very soon.”… (more)

February 20, 2018
WASHINGTON TIMES — No war here; we can’t have guns. The Elk Grove Historical Society has had to cancel a long-planned Revolutionary War re-enactment set for April because of the California city’s anti-gun laws. According to a report on TV station KOVR-13, the CBS affiliate in Sacramento, the Society was told to cancel its history lesson because it involved the firing of black-powder muskets from the 18th century…. (more)

February 20, 2018
WASHINGTON TIMES — They aren’t calling him “Lyin’ Ted” anymore. Sen. Ted Cruz’s stock is rising among members of President Trump’s base who feel double-crossed after the president offered amnesty to illegals in the immigration debate. Some who opposed Mr. Cruz in his 2016 run for the White House are even clamoring for the Texas Republican to mount a primary challenge to Mr. Trump in 2020…. (more)

February 20, 2018
NATIONAL REVIEW — Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in Washington,” he says in announcing his Senate campaign. Maybe…. (more)

February 20, 2018
‘I will not shut up rather I will respectfully speak some hard truths’

WORLDNETDAILY — The Palestinians have not been pleased with the Trump administration’s new tone at the United Nations. Where the Obama administration often acquiesced to the Palestinians demands, the new attitude is that America’s greatest Middle East ally, Israel, deserves some respect. And will get it…. (more)

February 20, 2018
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — Newspaper columnists and political commentators have raised the specter that President Trump is politically owned by the Kremlin or even guilty of treason following last week’s indictments related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation…. (more)

February 20, 2018
‘The objective is to get rid of this guy no matter what else’
BOB UNRUH — Democrats are offended by President Donald Trump, by his victory, by what he does, likely even by his very existence, and they are laying “traps” every day to try to remove him from office, says talk-radio star Rush Limbaugh…. (more)

February 19, 2018

WES VERNON — In case you haven’t noticed, there is a media war in America today. Not the usual race for ratings. This is serious business, where the survival of our country hangs in the balance. You may have noticed that for the first time our in our nation’s history, there is a serious effort to overthrow a duly elected President of the United States by inflaming political tensions. The main battlefield for this “soft coup” attempt is the media…. (more)

February 19, 2018
Alan Keyes exhorts ‘people who seek life as citizens in the Kingdom of God’
ALAN KEYES — Though there are notable exceptions, my life experience suggests that people with a lot of power and money have trouble trusting their fate to anything else. Of course, this is what Christ’s encounter with the wealthy ruler in Luke 18:18-23 (compare with a similar account in Mark 10:17-31) leads us to expect. The ruler comes to Christ asking: “Good Master, what must I do to inherit eternal Life?”… (more)

February 19, 2018

JERRY NEWCOMBE — U. S. Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky is beginning to sound like a lone voice in the wilderness. He’s decrying the recent budget deal that will add significantly to the national debt. Our politicians are spending money and racking up debts like there’s no tomorrow…. (more)

February 19, 2018
BRYAN FISCHER — I know a man who was living in a neighborhood when a salesman came door to door selling home security systems. He told the salesman he already had one.”What’s your security system?” he asked. The man replied, “God and a loaded gun.”… (more)

February 19, 2018
SELWYN DUKE — We don’t know the student’s name, but we do know that he hit a nerve – – in fact, he hit a whole bunch of them. Identified only as a boy of Asian descent at C.K. McClatchy High School in California, the teen’s recent science-fair project, “Race and IQ,” propounded the thesis that differences in groups’ average intelligence influence their academic performance…. (more)

February 18, 2018

CHUCK NORRIS — Forgive my forwardness, but I know what could radically reduce gun violence on U.S. school campuses without adding more gun regulations, placing more restrictions on the mentally ill, outlawing guns or even involving Washington, D.C. And I bet it could be enacted sooner than any other proposed remedy…. (more)

Mid-Day Snapshot

Feb. 23, 2018

Government Failed, So … Limit Americans’ Rights?

An armed school resource deputy failed to engage the active school shooter, adding yet another layer to the list.

The Foundation

“Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.” —Benjamin Franklin (1771)

News – 2/23/2018

Trump’s Peace Plan ‘Won’t be Loved or Hated by Either Side:’ Nikki Haley

The Trump administration is almost done drafting a peace proposal for Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which “won’t be loved by either side, and it won’t be hated by either side,” US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced on Thursday at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics.

ANALYSIS: How Israel is intervening in Syria to contain Iran

We will probably witness a major war between Israel and the Iranian axis this year, Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon, the commander of IDF Operations, said during an interview with Galatz, Israel’s Army Radio on Monday this week. “The year 2018 has the potential for escalation, not necessarily because either side wants to initiate it, but because of a gradual deterioration. This has led us to raise the level of preparedness,” according to Alo.

Fatah denies rumors of deterioration in Abbas’s health

The rumor started on American website Jewish Insider, which reported that Abbas was hospitalized at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore after a short flight from New York, where he gave a speech to the UN Security Council earlier this week. During the speech, Abbas appeared to be unwell, further fueling the rumor.

Trump threatens to yank immigration enforcement from California

President Donald Trump angrily said Thursday that he is considering withdrawing immigration and border control enforcement agencies from California because of what he called the state’s “protection of horrible criminals.” Trump said crime would explode in California if he took such an action — and predicted that the Golden State would be “begging” for the return of federal immigration authorities within two months.

Vice President Invokes Billy Graham at CPAC, Americans Must ‘Come Together to Confess our Need for God’

“… in the days ahead, as we work to advance our cause, restore our country, let us also remember to claim that hope,” he continued before paraphrasing 2 Chronicles 7:14 from the Bible. “if His people, who are called by His name, will humble themselves and pray, He’ll hear from heaven, and he’ll heal this land,” Pence said as the crowd began to clap, then rise to their feet as he continued, “This one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”

Shooting Survivor Quit CNN Town Hall After Refusing to Ask ‘Scripted’ Question

Colton Haab, a student who survived last week’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, refused to participate in a CNN Town Hall on Wednesday night after he was told to ask a “scripted” question. Haab, a junior at the high school, told Fort Lauderdale ABC affiliate WPLG that CNN invited him to speak at the televised town hall in nearby Sunrise, Florida, and that he and his parents had dressed up for the occasion.

Haab: CNN had originally asked me to write a speech and questions, and it ended up being all scripted.

Wayne LaPierre: Leftists Focused on Gun Control, ‘Don’t Care One Wit About School Children’

LaPierre said, “The elites don’t care one wit about school children. If they truly cared, they would protect them.”

LaPierre said, “It’s not a safety issue, it’s a political issue. They care more about control. Their goal is to eliminate the Second Amendment and our firearms freedoms so they can eliminate all individual freedoms

Israel And Iran: Inching Toward Armed Conflict

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared on the final day of the Munich Security Conference that Israel might go a step beyond striking the proxy powers and instead take direct action against Iran. He was especially concerned about the possibility of a land bridge stretching from Iran to the Mediterranean Sea. According to the PM, Iran represents an existential threat and its permanent military presence in Syria is unacceptable to Israel.

Nikki Haley says Trump’s Middle East peace plan nearly ready

United States Ambassador to the United Nations on Thursday night said that President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan is nearly ready while speaking at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics. During a question-and-answer session led by the Institute’s current head, David Axelrod, she said: “They’re coming up with a plan. It won’t be loved by either side, and it won’t be hated by either side…I think they’re finishing it up.”

EU parliament politicians call for a full ban of Hezbollah

Members of the European Union parliament sent a letter on Thursday to EU High Representative Federica Mogherini, urging her to classify all of the Lebanese organization Hezbollah as a terrorist entity…The letter was signed by a cross-section of 60 members of the European Parliament. The other two co-initiators were Lars Adaktusson and Péter Niedermüller.

Israeli and American troops gear up for joint 12-day Juniper Cobra drill

Israel is gearing up for an extensive aerial drill with troops from the United States European Command set to begin in early March, the IDF announced Thursday evening. The ninth annual Juniper Cobra drill scheduled to take place from March 4-15, will be the largest IDF and US European Command joint exercise taking place this year…

Argentina foils diplomatic luggage cocaine plot

Argentina’s security ministry says it has foiled a plot to use the Russian embassy’s diplomatic courier service to smuggle cocaine to Europe. Police seized nearly 400kg of the drug from diplomatic luggage in an embassy annex after being told about it by the Russian ambassador in December 2016. They then mounted a sting operation, replacing the drugs with flour and adding tracking devices.

Syria war: Ghouta pounded as UN tussles over ceasefire

The UN Security Council is struggling to agree a resolution seeking a ceasefire in Syria as a rebel-held area has been bombarded for a sixth day. Russia wants changes to a draft that calls for a 30-day calm to allow for aid deliveries and medical evacuations. Western diplomats have accused Russia, Syria’s key ally, of stalling for time. France said failure to act may spell the end of the UN itself.

CNN Told Me I Needed To “Stick To The Script”; Entire Town Hall Scripted

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivor Colton Haab appeared on FOX News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight to talk about his saga with CNN and how they “scripted” a question for him to use at Wednesday night’s town hall event hosted by the network and moderated by CNN’s Jake Tapper. Haab, a JROTC member who helped shepherd students to safety, was approached by the network to ask a question at the town hall.

AP sources: Adelson offers to help pay for Jerusalem embassy

The Trump administration is considering an offer from Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson to pay for at least part of a new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, four U.S. officials told The Associated Press. Lawyers at the State Department are looking into the legality of accepting private donations to cover some or all of the embassy costs, the administration officials said.

Seeking to outsmart US, China races ahead on artificial intelligence

When a Google computer program beat the world’s best player of an ancient Chinese board game last May, it might have seemed like an incremental milestone. But for some, the success of the program known as AlphaGo marked more than a man vs. machine clash. It set up a broader race between China and the United States over artificial intelligence, a competition that could mold the future of humankind…

Trump to announce new sanctions against North Korea as South prepares for talks

The United States is due to announce its largest package of sanctions against North Korea to pressure the reclusive country to give up its nuclear and missile programs, as South Korea readies itself for more talks with the North. Tougher sanctions may jeopardize the latest detente between the two Koreas, illustrated by the North’s participation in the Winter Olympics in the South…

Global watchdog to put Pakistan back on terrorist financing watchlist: sources

A global money-laundering watchdog has decided to place Pakistan back on its terrorist financing watchlist, a government official and a diplomat said on Friday, in a likely blow to Pakistan’s economy and its strained relations with the United States. The move is part of a broader U.S. strategy to pressure Pakistan to cut alleged links to Islamist militants unleashing chaos in neighboring Afghanistan and backing attacks in India.

Fees case may enable U.S. Supreme Court to curb union power

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday will consider…whether to choke off a critical funding stream for public-employee unions… The nine justices will hear a challenge backed by anti-union groups to the legality of fees that workers who are not members of unions representing teachers, police, firefighters and certain other government employees must pay to help cover the costs of collective bargaining with state and local governments.

ZeroHedge Frontrunning: February 23

  • China seizes control of Anbang Insurance as chairman prosecuted (Read More)
  • How Deal-Hungry Anbang Went From Waldorf to Woe (Read More)
  • Anbang and the Financialization of China’s Economy (Read More)
  • Trump’s Stance on Gun Laws Raises Pressure on Congress (Read More)
  • Chance of halting Brexit now close to 50:50, says leading campaigner (Read More)
  • May’s Cabinet Backs the Brexit Plan the EU Is Poised to Reject (Read More)
  • VIX Funds Face Fresh Scrutiny From U.S. Regulators (Read More)
  • ‘There was a mistake made’: No. 2 FBI official addresses criticism over fumbled tip on Nikolas Cruz (Read More)
  • How Tesla and Google Jets Could Enrich a Money-Losing Gold Miner (Read More)
  • Trump to announce new sanctions against North Korea as South prepares for talks (Read More)
  • Walmart’s Big Bet on Home Delivery Hasn’t Paid Off Yet (Read More)
  • Wall Street May Be Rethinking Its Relationship With Guns (Read More)
  • Numbers starting to add up for Tesla trucks (Read More)
  • When ‘Married, Filing Separately’ Lowers Your Tax Bill (Read More)
  • Turkish forces shell convoy headed to Syria’s Afrin region (Read More)
  • Watch Wall Street Analysts Lose Their Mind Over Free Candy (Read More)
  • Global watchdog to put Pakistan back on terrorist financing watchlist (Read More)
  • Trump calls meeting on biofuels policy after refiner bankruptcy (Read More)
  • General Mills to buy pet food maker Blue Buffalo for $8 billion (Read More)
  • Figure skating: Zagitova gives OAR first Pyeongchang gold (Read More)

Headlines – 2/23/2018

Trump’s Mideast peace plan nearly ready, UN envoy says

Jimmy Carter: Option of two-state solution is fading, with ‘dire consequences’ for Israel

Jimmy Carter warns against one-state for Israel-Palestine

Why can’t we make peace? Because Palestinian elites have no interest in doing so

Fatah denies rumors of deterioration in Abbas’s health

Palestinian President Abbas in US hospital for routine checks

’10 more countries in talks to move embassies to Jerusalem’

Amnesty International says Israel violated Palestinians’ rights

Palestinians say Jericho man beaten to death by IDF soldiers during arrest

Mother of Palestinian killed by IDF in Jericho: ‘Allah take revenge upon them’

In fresh coalition crisis, religious party places ultimatum over army exemptions

In find of biblical proportions, seal of Prophet Isaiah said found in Jerusalem

Pope calls worldwide day of prayer and fasting for peace February 23

IDF, US troops get ready for drill to simulate massive missile attack on Israel

IDF simulates war in Lebanon, amid tensions with Iran, Hezbollah

Iran deputy FM: Syria is not an Iranian front against Israel

Outrage over Iran minister’s upcoming visit to UN rights council

Iran: we do not want nuclear weapons, there is no sunset clause in nuclear deal

IAEA: Iran stays within main limits of nuclear deal

Iranian official: We may leave nuclear deal if banks don’t come to Iran

Iran hints at seaborne reactors while respecting nuclear deal

Iran looking to build nuclear submarines, watchdog says

Iran’s Involvement in Syria Is Creating A “New Holocaust”

Fear of war looms over Syria neighbours, Iran says

New Russian stealth fighter spotted in Syria

Russian MP says Moscow tested ‘over 200 new weapons’ in Syria

Scores in Turkey protest Syria attacks

Haley: UN Security Council must establish ceasefire in Syria

UN Pleads For Truce In Syria To Prevent A ‘Massacre’

Russia Blocks U.N. Ceasefire in Syria as Hundreds Die in Ongoing Bombardment

Syria war: Children struggle to survive in Eastern Ghouta

Medical crisis in east Ghouta as hospitals ‘systematically targeted’

Putin ally said to be in touch with Kremlin, Assad before his mercenaries attacked U.S. troops

Iraq says handed over 4 women, 27 children suspected of ISIS ties to Russia

US looking at potential new sanctions against Russia

Egyptian court sentences 21 to death on terrorism charges

US air strike in Somalia kills four al Shabaab militants

Saudi Arabia to spend billions on expanding entertainment sector

Venezuela’s Maduro wants ‘mega-election’ amid opposition boycott

Two top White House advisers may leave over tensions with Trump: sources

Mueller files new charges against former Trump aides Paul Manafort, Rick Gates

Trump threatens to pull immigration agents out of California due to ‘sanctuary’ status

Trump considers pulling ICE out of California to let the state learn

Trump administration to target North Korea with new sanctions on Friday

North Korea criticizes UN chief over support for sanctions

NRA head accuses Soros, Bloomberg of ‘socialist takeover’

Armed cop under fire for staying outside as school massacre unfolded

Florida school shooting: Armed officer ‘did not confront killer’

CNN Denies Student’s Claim The Network Planted ‘Scripted’ Questions At Gun Town Hall

Nearly half of parents worry their child is addicted to mobile devices

Posting Too Many Selfies Can Affect Your Self-Esteem

In One Tweet, Kylie Jenner Wiped Out $1.3 Billion of Snap’s Market Value

Iran becomes latest rogue state to develop its own cryptocurrency

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits near Amahai, Indonesia

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Amahai, Indonesia

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits the Northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Chignik Lake, Alaska

Popocateptl volcano in Mexico erupts to 22,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 18,000ft

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 17,000ft

Ebeko volcano in the Kuril Islands erupts to 10,000ft

Midwest braces for record flooding as residents evacuate homes

South Bend mayor calls it a ‘500-year flood.’ What does that mean exactly?

Cincinnati flood forecast: Ohio River to rise to highest level since 1997

River flooding triggers water rescues, state of emergency declarations across central US

Crews Used Boats to Help Residents Amid Midwest Flooding

California officials delay decision on new water restrictions amid low snowpack, worsening drought

Europeans rip Trump on climate change, import record amounts of U.S. coal

Australian deputy prime minister resigns following sex scandal

Grand jury indicts Missouri governor who took nude picture of woman without consent

Missouri House advances ‘revenge porn’ bill, with some lawmakers thinking of Greitens

Mattis expected to back transgender troops — if they can deploy, official says

Gucci Models Carried Severed Heads to Introduce Feminist Cyborg Theory to Milan Fashion Week

Billy Graham to lie in honor at Capitol Rotunda

How much was Billy Graham worth? “America’s Pastor” assembled quite a fortune

Benny Hinn Says He’s Guilty of Taking the Prosperity Gospel Outside of What the Bible Teaches

Video – How has ‘Christian’ television made the faith a mockery to the world?

Why Does the Holy Spirit Only Move When People Are Yelling?

Great-grandson of Rhema Bible College founder pleads guilty in drive-by shooting

Controversial church group (World Mission Society Cult) recruiting at Rider, other NJ schools

Did Archaeologists Just Prove the Existence of Prophet Isaiah?

City in Mississippi Denies Homosexual Group’s Request to Parade ‘Gay Pride’ Through Streets

Breaking the Cycle of Christian Shaming Regarding Debt

Divorce, drugs, drinking: Billy Graham’s children and their absent father

Twisting the legacy of Billy Graham: End-time apostle and prophet, Lou Engle–The new Billy Graham?

You Can Unlock the Supernatural from the Courts of Heaven! (For $139.00)

Michael Brown Retweets Claim His New Book is Word from God

Jesus Suffered the Penalty in Hell Kenneth Copeland Still Says 02-21-2018

Church encourages couples to bring AR-15 rifles to be blessed

911 dispatcher killed in suspected drunk driving crash involving church pastor

Did shunning from Jehovah’s Witnesses drive mom to murder-suicide?

This ‘n’ That

  • Archaeological findings are always fascinating! (HT to Paula for this!)
  • Maskimals” are a thing. People buy them ($19.98 at Walmart) and wear them. These same people are allowed to drive cars and vote. Sigh.
  • The New Testament books of Hebrews and James give us insight into the how to read the Old Testament.
  • The doctrine of election should kill our pride.
  • This looks like fun! Too bad I’m too old!
  • What is the mission of the church?
  • I hope pastors will read this article—written by a pastor—about building a biblically healthy women’s ministry in the church.
  • “Joy is woven deep into the tapestry of God’s revelation in Scripture.”
Peter preaching on the Day of Pentecost under the power of the Spirit, for instance, had no need to call people forward in decision because, as you remember, the people were so moved and affected by the power of the Word and Spirit that they actually interrupted the preacher, crying out, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” That has been the traditional Reformed attitude towards this particular matter. The moment you begin to introduce this other element [the altar call], you are bringing a psychological element. The invitation should be in the message. We believe the Spirit applies the message, so we trust in the power of the Spirit. […] I have never called people forward at the end for this reason; there is a grave danger of people coming forward before they are ready to come forward. We do believe in the work of the Spirit, that He convicts and converts, and He will do His work. There is a danger in bringing people to a “birth,” as it were, before they are ready for it. —D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

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CultureWatch: More Lessons From the Life of Whitefield

The other day I penned a piece about the life and ministry of the great evangelist George Whitefield. It was largely based on the two-volume, 1200-page biography by Arnold Dallimore. There are so many lessons for us today that we can learn from the man, that one article was never going to be sufficient.

So here is my next instalment – and more perhaps may still be forthcoming. But several further major themes based on him and his ministry and the Great Awakening can be offered. Here I present two more vital truths and lessons from the mighty evangelist.

Preaching a full, biblical gospel

There is no question that one of the reasons for the amazing effectiveness of his ministry was the sort of gospel he proclaimed. He offered a full, biblical gospel, not a man-pleasing gospel. He never shrank back from proclaiming the whole counsel of God.

And that always included a very strong emphasis on the core Christian doctrines: the justice and holiness of God; the devastating nature of sin; the reality of future judgment including the reality of hell; the sole remedy of a crucified Christ; and the utter necessity of new birth.

Consider just one of those emphases: Hellfire preaching was a normal part of his ministry and that of the other revivalists. They were not at all shy about speaking on the wrath of God and judgment to come. Oft heard was the admonition about ‘fleeing the wrath to come’.

And this sort of preaching had the desired effect. Hundreds of thousands were converted in England and the colonies in America. Yet today most Christians think this is not the sort of thing we should even mention in our pulpits. I actually heard one megachurch pastor say these topics may have been OK in the past, but they are not workable today.

Mind-boggling! Does he actually think that he can improve on what Jesus, the disciples, and all the great evangelists and revivalists preached on? So we should tell Jesus he needs to get with the times and go with a feel-good message of acceptance and your best life now?

As Dallimore rightly says:

Whitefield speaks to us about the power of the Gospel. It was not the “social gospel” but the gospel of “redeeming grace” that brought the great change two hundred years ago. In the knowledge of the power of the Gospel Whitefield went with confidence to the semi-heathen Kingswood colliers or the equally godless aristocracy and to all other classes of mankind and witnessed the transformation of lives among all.
The Gospel is the need of this present hour. Not the partial Gospel which characterises so much of today’s evangelicalism, but the whole Gospel that declares the majesty and holiness of God, the utter helplessness of man, the necessity of repentance, and a salvation that is manifested, not in a mere profession, but in the miracle of a new life. May Whitefield’s example bring Christians back to the Gospel in its fullness and therefore its power!

Let me mention just two other things about his gospel preaching. One, it was from a heart broken by God. He loved God and so he loved sinners. As one of his associates put it:

I hardly ever knew him to go through a sermon without weeping, more or less, and I truly believe his tears were the tears of sincerity. His voice often interrupted by his affection; and I have heard him say in the pulpit, “You blame me for weeping, but how can I help it when you will not weep for yourselves, though your immortal souls are on the verge of destruction, and for aught you know, you are hearing your last sermon, and may never more have an opportunity to have Christ offered to you.”

Secondly, Whitefield was never concerned with mere numbers when he preached. He was interested in real disciples. So he never counted “converts” but instead insisted on real signs of the new birth. Says Dallimore, “He chose to wait until conversion had been manifested by months of a transformed life, and his attitude is well expressed in his words, ‘Only the judgment morning will reveal who the converts really are’.”

One more quote:

Whitefield did exercise an effective leadership of this movement. It was not, however, a leadership by domination and the giving of commands; rather it was one of affection and example. Most of the exhorters had been converted under his ministry and looked on him, as many of them stated, as a spiritual father. In turn, holding him in such high esteem and seeing in him an embodiment of so much of their own Christian ideal, they delighted to be his co-laborers and to co-operate with his plans. Whitefield was inflexible in matters of moral rectitude and expected the men to maintain a life of strong Christian discipline and tremendous activity, but in general his relationship with the people and exhorters throughout his movement was by his heart-felt concern, his unfailing encouragement, and his personal example.

His ever-busy, relentless ministry

No one reading about the life of Whitefield can fail to notice how doggedly relentless and dedicated he was. He never seemed to slow down. He never seemed to allow himself any of the luxuries and pleasures of life. His sole purpose in life was to share the glories of Christ and to win souls.

He was daily up at 4am and went to bed at 10pm, but because of his amazingly busy ministry, it was often midnight and beyond before he could retire. He preached countless sermons, sometimes two hours in length. Henry Venn said he probably spent 40 to 60 hours a week at this labour.

In addition to preaching he was constantly counselling people and dealing with their spiritual questions and problems. As he said, “I sleep and eat but little, and am constantly employed from morning till midnight.” As one person said of his life: “Whitefield’s career permitted him hardly a day of what would be called repose, till he found it in the grave at the age of fifty-six.”

Already back in 1748 he was doing so much outdoor preaching and the like that he developed pain in breathing that would afflict him until he died in 1770. Quite often after he preached to an especially large crowd, he would afterward vomit a “large quantity of blood”.

His boundless love for God and his passion for souls meant he could never rest. He always felt the need to reach out to the lost. As he lay on his deathbed one of his associates greatly concerned about his deteriorating health said that he wished he would not preach so often. Whitefield famously replied, “I would rather wear out than rust out.”

Of course most Christians today would rightly say there is indeed a place for regular rest, for breaks, and for a downtime from ministry, simply to keep our bodies in shape as temples of the Holy Spirit. So I am not saying we all should copy Whitefield in his tireless and non-stop ministry.

His incredibly busy life more than likely contributed to his perhaps premature death. But we can all emulate and learn from his total commitment to Christ, his undying passion for souls, and his determination to see God glorified in everything he did.

Says Dallimore: “The burning desire to reach the hosts of mankind with the message of saving grace overruled all trials that came in the way, and he testified to the Divine assistance he experienced in learning the task, and the joy that was his as he performed it.”


There are many other items I could mention here. But more articles will be needed for that. So let me close by encouraging you to learn about this amazing man and his amazing ministry. There are various books out there about his life.

For those who simply cannot countenance the prospect of a 1200-page read – and some Christians struggle with finding ten minutes a day to read God’s Word! – there is some relief. In 1990 Dallimore did a 200-page abridgement of his 2-volume work, which, while nowhere near as full and detailed – sort of like reading an abridged version of The Lord of the Rings – still offers a helpful overview of the man and his ministry.

Why not grab a copy and be inspired and blessed? Happy reading.

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The post More Lessons From the Life of Whitefield appeared first on CultureWatch.

CultureWatch: Lessons from the Life of Whitefield

For those few ferociously faithful followers of this website, you may have noticed that things have been a bit quiet here for the past few days. That is because I have been rather busy, and the main thing occupying my attention has been devouring 1200 pages of an inspiring and captivating biography.

Yes, it took me quite a while, but I finally bought the superlative 2-volume biography of George Whitefield by Arnold Dallimore (Banner of Truth). After twenty years of painstaking research, volume 1 was released in 1970. Another decade of research saw volume 2 making its appearance in 1980.

At 600 pages each, the two volumes are a rich, detailed and thorough look at one of the greatest preachers and revivalists of the Christian church. For those who know nothing about the man – and you all should know about him – see my writeup here: billmuehlenberg.com/2015/03/31/notable-christians-george-whitefield/

There is just so much that a Christian today can relate to, learn from, and be moved by in this great biography. In so many ways I found myself identifying with what Whitefield was going through, including so many of his trials, heartaches, conflicts and tribulations.

Numerous lessons can be pointed to, but I can only highlight a few of them here. Another article or two will be needed to deal with some of the other important lessons.

Opposition and persecution

Whenever a wonderful work of God is under way, you can be sure the ugly opposing work of Satan will be there. One of the dominant themes found in this work is the extent and enormity of the relentless opposition – from friend and foe, men and devils, believers and non-believers.

The more God used Whitefield and the other revivalists, the more opposition and resistance they faced. Plenty of it was outright diabolical hatred and fury. Physical violence was faced by all the major preachers. Consider one of Whitefield’s diligent co-workers, Howell Harris. He was actually doing open air preaching some years before Whitefield, and then the Wesleys. Dallimore says this:

Harris’s mother treated him with bitter scorn and his brother Joseph wrote to him as though he were mentally deranged. Magistrates threatened to throw him in jail and warned that heavy fines would be imposed against all persons who allowed him to minister in their houses. Some of the people, infuriated by his condemnations, became violent against him, seeking to do him bodily harm.

On one occasion in 1741 for example he was set upon by a raging mob, attacked with fists and clubs, leaving him covered in blood: “The enemy continued to persecute him… striking him with sticks and staves, until overcome with exhaustion he fell to the ground… They still abused him, though prostrate…”

Now that is persecution. But what is even more appalling is this: these attacks were often instigated by the religious leaders! Says Dallimore, “The local clergyman, in what he called an effort ‘to defend the Church,’ opened a barrel of beer on the main street and used it to entice a mob to attack the evangelist.”

A year earlier he was hit in the eye with a stone while preaching, but went right back to it the next day: “We had continual showers of stones, walnuts, dirt, a cat and also a dead dog thrown at us. I was much afraid of the hurt on my eye, but the voice to me was ‘Better endure this than hell!’ I was struck on my forehead and under my right eye again, and also on my side with a stone.”

Wow. As mentioned, all the revivalists faced such opposition and physical assaults. In one brutal attack Whitefield was nearly killed. He often allowed spiritual inquirers to visit him with their spiritual problems. One night he let in a man to his room, only to be savagely beaten with a gold-headed cane. A second attacker appeared, but the commotion caused them to flee when others in the house appeared. The pair had intended to murder him.

Then there was all the verbal opposition, especially from church leaders, priests, bishops, etc. That was the really shocking thing. You would expect the heathen to oppose these Christians, but when church leaders joined the opposition, that was just so painful to witness and endure.

Many of these church leaders were not even genuine Christians, and most were carnal, compromised, worldly and spiritually dead. Pamphlets and books were written, published and distributed widely, attacking them as fanatics, troublemakers, lawbreakers and worse. All manner of lies and falsehoods were levelled against them.

Many of these Whitefield just ignored, but at times, for the sake of the gospel, he had to dispel the lies and clear his name from the slander and malicious rumours. This was something he had to deal with all throughout his 34-year evangelistic ministry.

All this offers a salutary lessons for us believers today. Just what sort of opposition are we facing? I suspect most of us have known nothing of such persecution. We all have a long way to go before having to endure this sort of demonic opposition. So we need to persevere, and prepare for possibly much worse to come.

Divisions, rivalries and dealing with criticism

One thing that was clear from this account of the great Awakening (and of any other move of God) is the way various rivalries will form, divisions creep in, and polarisation takes place. I already mentioned opposition from non-believers as well as nominal Christians.

But those within the same evangelical camp also tended to splinter and divide over theological issues, organisational methods, and behavioural activities. As a clear example, Whitefield, who was as much a founder of the Methodist movement as the Wesleys were, was Calvinist in his theology, while the Wesleys were Arminian.

That led to plenty of longstanding divisions, and John Wesley published a book denouncing what he saw as major errors in Whitefield’s theology. Eventually and reluctantly Whitefield published a reply to it. But all along Whitefield sought to be a peacemaker, and never gave up hope of having Christian unity with the Wesleys.

Decades later this became a reality. But for many years Whitefield was all but written off by the brothers. But he never gave up attempting to reconcile and unite. He hung on to his theological convictions, to be sure, but he always sought to bring peace and restoration.

And as the revival and awakening in England progressed, three distinct bodies began to emerge: the Moravians (founded by Zinzendorf), the Methodists, and the Whitefieldians. The three tended to attack each other and seek to take members from each other. Whitefield himself had long sought and worked for unity, and long sought to keep all the parties as one – but without compromising key doctrinal beliefs.

We all can learn from this. I am still trying to get all this right, especially on the internet. When do I stand firm theologically speaking, and when should I give a bit of ground? When should I publicly rebuke error, and when should I just hold my tongue? How much should I seek to be a peacemaker and strive for unity?

When must fellowship be severed? How can I seek to love others, while standing strong against clear errors in theology and doctrine? These and related questions I still am grappling with. The example of Whitefield certainly moved me and challenged me greatly.

As to dealing with criticism, Whitefield was constantly criticised and attacked – and from all sides. When he defended his Calvinism, he was criticised and attacked by non-Calvinists, most notably the Wesleys. But when he sought long and hard to keep relationships open with his various theological opponents, including the Wesleys, he was attacked by fellow Calvinists and others.

His usual response was to not respond to the critics. He knew he would be attacked as Christ and the disciples were, but he pressed on with his heavenly calling. But sometimes he had to reply publicly to all the lies, misinformation and false reports. And when he did reply, it was often in a far more gracious and Christlike manner than his attackers.

As I say, I am still learning how to deal with all this. I know all about criticism from all sides. It seems so often you just can’t win! It seems no matter what you do, what you say, or what you believe, you will always be surrounded by critics.

When and where do we respond, and when do we just bear with all the attacks? And how does this all work out in terms of Christian unity and fellowship? For example, the Wesleys could be quite cantankerous at times, and would not let ‘recalcitrants’ stay in their societies – much like being unfriended on Facebook today!

When do we take such harsh steps, and when do we seek and pray for a resolution? When is a public rebuke necessary, and when is just a prayer for your critics enough? When should we allow others to go their own way, as painful as it may be?

There is so much for all of us to learn here. I know I have such a long way to go in all of this. Thus reading about Whitefield in great detail as he dealt with this continuously was a real help and encouragement to me. It convicted me in many areas, and drove me to my knees. That is always a good thing!

And a last word on criticism. Like Luther at first, so here: it was not the intention of Whitefield and others to form a new church or a new denomination. Whitefield always considered himself to be a loyal member of the Anglican Church, although he fully loved working with other like-minded saints in nondenominational endeavours.

This too created all sorts of problems and resulted in all sorts of enemies rising up against him. He sought to be true to the CoE but he also extended the right hand of fellowship to true believers everywhere – within reason of course. Real fanatics and heretics had to be rebuked and rejected.

But Whitefield was certainly one of our best examples of a proper sort of ecumenism and working together. His deep humility and his willingness for others to get the credit played a big role in this. As long as God’s Kingdom was advancing and God was being glorified, he was happy to press on.

As mentioned, much more remains to be said, so stay tuned for further articles on the amazing life and ministry of George Whitefield.

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The post Lessons from the Life of Whitefield appeared first on CultureWatch.

Friday’s Featured Sermon: “The Primacy of Truth”

2 John 1-4

Code: B180223

If we don’t know the truth and we don’t live for the truth, and we aren’t the pillar and ground for the truth, then the church has a deficient immune system. We lack discernment. And if we lack discernment, we’ll die from a thousand illnesses. . . . We can’t have an open door to those who deceive by misinterpreting and misrepresenting the truth. Of all things to be protected, the truth is most important.

That urgent call for discernment, discipline, and a vigorous defense of the truth comes from John MacArthur’s sermon “The Primacy of Truth.” In this short but powerful message, John considers where God’s Word ought to figure in the priorities of His people.

Set against the backdrop of the apostle John’s second epistle, John MacArthur looks at the world of the New Testament—particularly the biblical mandate for believers to be hospitable. As he explains, the church’s emphasis on hospitality created an opportunity for false teachers.

They could make a good living as an itinerant preacher leaching off people everywhere they went, and saying just enough to seduce people into thinking they preached the truth. And then preying on the gullible Christians who were loving them in a kind way, and getting a hearing for their lies and bringing corruption and distress into the church.

Second John is a call to turn away from those who corrupt the truth of God’s Word and confuse His people. It places the highest priority on the purity of the church and the protection of biblical truth. In the same way, John MacArthur charges his listeners to carefully guard themselves from the influence of false teachers and their heresies.

Sound doctrine is always the test of fellowship, always. The truth, listen carefully, is never served—the truth is never honored; the truth is never respected; the truth is never aided by those who deny it or those who attack it. Nothing is gained by being exposed to error. . . . You cannot hold up the truth and welcome in those who seek to destroy it. So if we get a little defensive around here about protecting the truth, you will understand our mandate. The truth matters more than anything else, people. If the church loses the truth, it isn’t the church.

“The Primacy of Truth” is a call to live according to Paul’s exhortation to the church at Rome.

Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. (Romans 16:17-18)

God’s people need to take His Word seriously. They need to protect it—and themselves—from the bewitching influence of false teachers and their satanic doctrines.

To listen to “The Primacy of Truth,” click here.

Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B180223
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Russia Announces New Plan To Just Let The U.S. Tear Itself Apart Unaided

MOSCOW—After years of meddling by Russian agents and Russia-funded bots and hacking attempts, the Kremlin announced Thursday it would be withdrawing from all activity in the U.S., and would instead be allowing the country to tear itself apart without any help from them. “Our spies and bots simply couldn’t keep up with the rapid pace […]

. . . finish reading Russia Announces New Plan To Just Let The U.S. Tear Itself Apart Unaided.

February 23, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

Faith in the Truth

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God … For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1a, 4–5)

The foundational mark of an overcomer is believing that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah). That abbreviated statement implies all that is true about Him; that Jesus is the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, who came to earth to die and rise to accomplish salvation for sinners. Only the one who believes in the truth about Him is born of God (lit., “out of God has been begotten”) and overcomes the world. All who are born of God are overcomers, and only those who believe in Jesus Christ are born of God.

In the prologue to his gospel, John wrote, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). The Lord Himself declared, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). In Acts 4:12 Peter boldly told the hostile Jewish authorities that “there is salvation in no one else [other than Jesus; v. 10]; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Paul wrote, “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11), and, “There is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time” (1 Tim. 2:5–6). Any teaching that people can be saved apart from faith in Jesus Christ is biblically untenable (see the discussion of this point in chapter 20 of this volume).

The tenses of the verbs in verse 1 reveal a significant theological truth. Believes translates a present tense form of the verb pisteuō, whereas gegennētai (is born) is in the perfect tense. The opening phrase of verse 1 literally reads, “Whoever is believing that Jesus is the Christ has been begotten of God.” The point is that, contrary to Arminian theology, continual faith is the result of the new birth, not its cause. Christians do not keep themselves born again by believing, and lose their salvation if they stop believing. On the contrary, it is their perseverance in the faith that gives evidence that they have been born again. The faith that God grants in regeneration (Eph. 2:8) is permanent, and cannot be lost. Nor, as some teach, can it die, for dead faith does not save (James 2:14–26). There is no such thing as an “unbelieving believer.”

The question sometimes arises concerning those who profess faith in Christ, but then stop believing in Him. Our Lord described such people in the parable of the soils:

Others [seeds] fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out.…

The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. (Matt. 13:5–7, 20–22)

Such false, temporary faith produces no fruit, in contrast to genuine saving faith, which alone produces the fruit that proves one’s new birth:

And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.…

And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. (Matt. 13:8, 23; cf. 3:8; Acts 26:20)

Earlier in this epistle, John explained that those who permanently fall away from the faith were never redeemed in the first place: “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us” (2:19; cf. the exposition of this verse in chapter 9 of this volume). Their professed faith was never true saving faith. Saving faith is not mere intellectual knowledge of gospel facts, but involves a wholehearted, permanent commitment to Jesus as Lord, Savior, Messiah, and God incarnate.

The content of saving faith, as noted above, is that Jesus is the Christ; He is its object. People who are born of God believe the truth about Christ; those who do not are liars and antichrists. As John warned earlier in this letter, “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son” (2:22). Then, making it unmistakably clear that no one can come to the Father apart from Jesus Christ, he added, “Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also” (v. 23; cf. chapter 9 of this volume for an exposition of 2:22–23). No one who rejects Jesus Christ will ever see heaven, since anyone who “does not confess Jesus is not from God” (4:3), and only in the one who “confesses that Jesus is the Son of God [does God abide], and he in God” (v. 15).

John repeated for emphasis the truth from verse 1 that those who believe in Jesus Christ and have been born of God … overcome the world, gaining the victory over it through their faith. The phrase our faith literally reads, “the faith of us.” It could refer to the subjective, personal faith of individual believers, or objectively to the Christian faith, “the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3; cf. Acts 6:7; 13:8; 14:22; 16:5; 1 Cor. 16:13; 2 Cor. 13:5; Gal. 1:23; Phil. 1:27; 1 Tim. 4:1; 6:10, 21; 2 Tim. 4:7). It is safe to see in this context of believing that John is referring not to the objective content of the gospel as theology, but to the subjective trust by which God makes saints overcomers.

This interpretation is supported by the apostle’s rhetorical question, Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (cf. 4:15). Christians are victorious overcomers from the moment of salvation, when they are granted a faith that will never fail to embrace the gospel. They may experience times of doubt; they may cry out with David, “How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? (Ps. 13:1; cf. 22:1; 27:9; 44:24; 69:17; 88:14; 102:2; 143:7; 2 Tim. 2:11–13). But true saving faith will never fail, because those who possess it have in Christ triumphed over every foe. The “great … cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:1; cf. Rom. 8:31–39)—the heroes of faith described in Hebrews 11—testify that true faith endures every trial and emerges victorious over them all. Job expressed the triumph of faith when he cried out in the midst of his trials, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him” (Job 13:15).

Love for God and Others

whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. (5:1b)

The primary mark of an overcomer involves the doctrinal test of believing the truth of the Christian faith. The second mark is again a moral characteristic: an overcomer loves both the Father and the child born of Him. The new birth brings people not only into a faith relationship with God, but also into a love relationship with Him and His children. John has emphasized that principle throughout this epistle:

The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (2:10–11)

By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother. (3:10)

We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. (3:14)

But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? (3:17)

This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. (3:23)

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (4:7–8)

No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. (4:12)

If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also. (4:20–21)

The love of which John writes is not mere emotion or sentimentality, but a desire to honor, please, and obey God. Directed toward people, it is the love of the will and choice, the love that sacrificially meets the needs of others. Paul described it in 1 Corinthians 13:4–7:

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

The New Testament repeatedly commands such love (e.g., John 13:34–35; 15:12, 17; Gal 5:13; 1 Thess. 4:9; Heb. 13:1; 1 Peter 1:22).[1]

Children of God (v. 1)

The idea of spiritual birth or being “born of God” ties these verses together, for the concept occurs in verses 1 and 4, and it is from this that the realities involved in the three tests are developed. In John’s understanding, the potential child of God is first made alive by God as a result of which he comes to believe on Christ, pursue righteousness, and love the brethren.

Which comes first, faith or life? The question is often asked in discussions of the differences between Calvinistic and Arminian theology, for it expresses the question of whether men choose God by deciding to believe on Christ or whether God first chooses men by making them alive in Christ, as a result of which they believe. John’s first verse answers this question in reference to the new birth. In none of the English versions is the full sense of the verse adequately communicated, for the differences in tense are not as striking in English as in Greek. In the Greek text the word “believe” is present tense, indicating a present, continuing activity. The word “born” (in the phrase “born of God,” also translated “is a child of God,” rsv) is in the perfect tense. The perfect tense indicates a past event with continuing consequences. In other words, as Stott writes, “Our present, continuing activity of believing is the result, and therefore the evidence, of our past experience of new birth by which we became and remain God’s children.” We believe and, in fact, do everything else of a spiritual nature precisely because we have first been made alive. If this were not the order, then the tests of life would have no value as indicators that an individual is truly God’s child.

The image of conception and birth is a wonderful picture of what is involved in God’s activity in bringing forth life in those who thereby become his children. This was suggested briefly in the discussion of 1 John 2:28–3:3.

First, it is a reminder of the fact that the initiative in begetting spiritual children is God’s. James indicates this in writing, “He chose to give us birth [literally, ‘engendered us’] through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created” (James 1:18). In other words, it is the Father’s choice to beget a child, spiritually as well as on the human level. John says the same thing when he writes in the prologue to the Gospel, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:12–13). Second, the means of the new birth is suggested; for, as James says, this is by the word of truth, meaning the words of Scripture or of the gospel. In Peter this function of the Word is even compared explicitly to that of the male life germ or semen, which permeates the ovum of saving faith within the heart as the result of which a spiritual conception takes place and birth follows. Peter writes, “You have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23).[2]

1 John opens this section with a doctrinal test: If anyone believes “Jesus is the Christ,” then that person has been born of God. Notably, the phrases pas ho pisteuōn (“everyone who believes”) and pas ho agapōn (“everyone who loves”) are parallel: confessing Jesus as the Christ and loving the Father are indistinguishable. The Antichrists’ claims to love are therefore inherently deficient.

The latter portion of the verse ties the orthodox confession of Jesus to the discussion of love at 4:7–21. As the NIV indicates, John suggests that “everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.” The Greek text here is open to several interpretations. First, the verb agapaō could be indicative (“she loves”) or a hortatory subjunctive (“she should love”). The NIV adopts the indicative reading, which makes the statement a proverb: as a rule, those who love the parent love the child (Dodd, 124; Marshall, 227; Schnackenburg, 227). Technically, John is probably thinking of the subjunctive to allow for possible exceptions to this rule. By the nature of things, “everyone who loves the one who gives birth should love the one born from him,” but some do not love the child and therefore do not truly love the parent either. According to John’s dualistic perspective, “like loves like” (see comment at 4:12). A person can only love people and things in the same category as herself and, further, must love people in the same category as herself. Following this principle, 4:7–21 established that one’s affections reveal one’s true nature. Logically, then, anyone who truly loves God will also love the one “born of God.”

Who, then, is “the one born from him” (gegennēmenon ex autou; NIV, “his child”)? One might think of Jesus. This would be consistent with the parallelism between the two phrases in v. 1: the one who believes that “Jesus is the Christ” is the same person who loves Jesus, God’s “child.” Jesus is sometimes called God’s “son” in the fourth gospel, most notably in the purpose statement at 20:30–31 (also 3:16; 8:34–36). But it is difficult to see where the word gegennēmenon (“the one born,” GK 1164) would fit into Johannine Christology. The fourth gospel has no birth story, which would give the term a literal meaning, and almost suggests that Jesus came directly from heaven (Jn 1:1–4). On the other hand, John typically uses cognates of gennaō to describe Christian conversion. It seems more likely that “his child” in this context refers to other believers (Brown, 535–36; Culpepper, 99). While 1 John 4:21 follows the logic of “the lesser to the greater,” 5:1 follows the opposite principle—“the greater to the lesser.” Because the parent is greater than the child, one who loves the parent should logically love the child as well. In the present context, this means that those who truly love God will both accept Jesus as the Christ and love other believers.[3]

5:1 / The opening verse of chapter 5 does not begin a new topic, but it continues the theme of the inseparability of love for God and for God’s children among those who claim to be Christians. That the Elder is speaking of love among Christians, and not of the broader concern of love for neighbor, is evident in the confessional language of v. 1: Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ.

This description of the Christian as a believer in Jesus as the Christ is very Johannine (John 11:27; 20:31; cf. 7:30–31; 10:24–25). We have seen it previously in the summary of Johannine faith in 3:23a: “to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ,” in the Spirit-inspired confession, “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh” (4:2), and in the community’s affirmation that “Jesus is the Son of God” (4:15; 5:5; cf. 2:23). Further, it is implied in the opponents’ denial that Jesus is the Christ (2:22) and in the refusal of the “spirit of antichrist” to “acknowledge Jesus” (4:3).

To believe that Jesus is the Christ is to believe that the one who came in the flesh (John 1:14), the fully human Jesus, is also the divine Son of God (John 20:31), the one who came from heaven (John 13:3; 16:28) as Revealer (John 1:18) and Redeemer (John 3:16–17). The Elder’s opponents do not accept this Christology.

Those who do accept and confess it are born of God. This description of the community as God’s children or born of God appeared earlier in 2:29–3:2 and 3:9–10 (cf. 4:4, 6). It serves to differentiate the true Johannine Christians from the children of the devil (3:10; cf. John 8:44), who have seceded (1 John 2:19).

The Elder uses of the concept of born of God as a way of showing why it is only logical to love both one’s brother and God. The author’s point depends on the sense of three forms of the verb gennaō in this verse. First, believers in Jesus are described as born of God (ek tou theou gegennētai, perf, pass.; lit., “has been begotten of God”). Next, God is “the one who begat” (ton gennēsanta, aor. act.). Finally, the expression, his child, is actually “the one who has been begotten of him” (ton gegennēmenon ex autou; perf. pass.). The Elder’s point, then, repeats the theme of 4:21 in different words: since every believer has been begotten of God, those who authentically love the one who begat (God) also love the one who has been begotten (one’s brother or sister in Christ). It would not make any sense to do otherwise, to claim to love the father while refusing to love his children. Yet this is precisely what the schismatics do. What Jesus said about husband and wife may also be said of love for God and for one’s fellow believer, “What God has joined together, let man not separate” (Mark 10:9).[4]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2007). 1, 2, 3 John (pp. 177–181). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] Boice, J. M. (2004). The Epistles of John: an expositional commentary (pp. 124–125). 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. 488–489). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] Johnson, T. F. (2011). 1, 2, and 3 John (pp. 119–120). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.


Your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

1 Corinthians 2:5

When we study the New Testament record, we see plainly that Christ’s conflict was with the theological rationalists of His day.

John’s gospel record is actually a long, inspired, passionately outpoured account trying to save us from evangelical rationalism—the doctrine that says the text is enough.

Divine revelation is the ground upon which we stand. The Bible is the book of God, and I stand for it with all my heart; but before I can be saved, there must be illumination, penitence, renewal, inward deliverance.

In our Christendom, we have tried to ease many people into the kingdom but they have never been renewed within their own beings. The Apostle Paul told the Corinthians that their faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God! There is a difference.

We must insist that conversion to Christ is a miraculous act of God by the Holy Spirit—it must be wrought in the Spirit. There must be an inward illumination!

Lord, I pray for my family, neighbors, and friends who do not yet know You. Illumine their hearts and minds by Your Holy Spirit.[1]

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

40 Days to the Cross: Week One – Friday

Confession: Psalm 130:1–4

Out of the depths I call to you, O Yahweh.

“O Lord, hear my voice.

Let your ears be attentive

to the voice of my supplications.

If you, O Yah, should keep track of iniquities,

O Lord, who could stand?

But with you is forgiveness,

so that you may be feared.”

Reading: Mark 10:13–16

And they were bringing young children to him so that he could touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant, and said to them, “Let the young children come to me. Do not forbid them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly I say to you, whoever does not welcome the kingdom of God like a young child will never enter into it.” And after taking them into his arms, he blessed them, placing his hands on them.


When our Lord blessed the little children, He was making His last journey to Jerusalem. It was thus a farewell blessing which He gave to the little ones. It reminds us that among His parting words to His disciples, before He was taken up, we find the tender charge, “Feed my lambs” (John 21:15). The ruling passion was strong upon the great Shepherd of Israel, who “will gather the lambs in his arm[s], and he will carry them in his bosom” (Isa 40:11); and it was fitting that while He was making His farewell journey, He should bestow His gracious benediction upon the children.

Beloved, our Lord Jesus Christ is not here among us in person; but we know where He is, and we know that He is clothed with all power in heaven and in earth to bless His people. Let us then draw near to Him this day. Let us seek His touch in the form of fellowship and ask the aid of His intercession.

—Charles H. Spurgeon

As a Little Child


Jesus says we must welcome in the kingdom of God like a child. What areas of your life are marked by self-sufficiency? Is your posture like that of a child—totally relient on God and receptive to Him?[1]

[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

February 23 The Result of Gentleness

Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.—Matt. 5:5

God rewards the gentle with His own joy and gladness. But more specifically, He allows such saints to “inherit the earth.” In the future the Father will completely reclaim earth, and believers will rule it with Him. Because only believers are truly gentle, Jesus could confidently proclaim “they shall inherit the earth.”

“Inherit” denotes the receiving of one’s allotted portion and correlates perfectly with Psalm 37:11—“the humble will inherit the land.” We sometimes wonder why the godless seem to prosper while the godly suffer, but God assures us that He will ultimately make things right (cf. Ps. 37:10). We must trust the Lord and obey His will in these matters. He will settle everything in the right way at the right time. Meanwhile, we can trust His promise that we, as those who are gentle, will inherit the earth. This promise also reminds us that our place in Christ’s kingdom is forever secure (cf. 1 Cor. 3:21–23).

The promise of a future inheritance also gives us hope and happiness for the present. More than a century ago George MacDonald wrote, “We cannot see the world as God means it in the future, save as our souls are characterized by meekness. In meekness we are its only inheritors. Meekness alone makes the spiritual retina pure to receive God’s things as they are, mingling with them neither imperfection nor impurity.”


Yes, it often seems as though everyone “inherits the earth” but us mild-mannered believers. But what truly makes life enjoyable on the earth? And why do the curt and the coarsest among us not really get to experience its simple pleasures?[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 62). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

February 23 Why God Answers Prayer

Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do,that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

John 14:13

Why does God answer prayer? The last part of today’s verse gives the answer: He answers prayer for His sake as well as ours. He does it to put Himself on display. Understanding this concept increases our confidence in prayer: we can know God will answer because it is an opportunity for Him to receive glory. We will grow spiritually as we interact with God through prayer and see His power on display.

The context of John 14:13 shows that the disciples were greatly distressed because Jesus told them He would be leaving. The disciples had relied on Jesus for so long that they feared being without Him. He had provided all their resources. He was their beloved friend and their spiritual, theological, and economic resource. He was their future as well as their present. They panicked at the thought of His leaving, but He left them and us the promise of John 14:13—whatever we need and ask for in His name, He will do.[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 66). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

February 23, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

Mary on the other hand”) meditates on the meaning of it all (cf. v. 51; cf. also Ge 37:11). Unlike her response in ch. 1 that includes a lengthy prophetic speech (vv. 46–55), the events that are unfolding are moving beyond Mary’s ability to comprehend (cf. Mary F. Foskett, A Virgin Conceived [Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 2002], 135).[1]

19. But Mary continued to treasure up all these things, mulling them over in her mind. Cf. verse 51. Mary was treasuring, carefully storing away, all these things; such things as the following: what an angel had told Joseph, what Gabriel had told her, what her experience had been upon arriving in Bethlehem, what the shepherds had reported with respect to voices of angels, etc. “She was putting them all together in her heart” (thus literally), though in such a case as the present (because of “mulling over”) English idiom would probably substitute “mind” for “heart.”

Aside from the nativity narrative Scripture tells us little about Mary’s development in faith. Nevertheless, such passages as John 2:5; Acts 1:14 show that she became a worshiper of the One to whom, with respect to his human nature, she had given birth. Her prayerful “putting together” of the things she had experienced, seen, and heard, was blessed by God and in course of time produced the result he had determined from eternity. To be sure, on Mary’s part there were missteps along the way, but the end was victory.[2]

[1] Liefeld, W. L., & Pao, D. W. (2007). Luke. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, p. 80). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke (Vol. 11, p. 158). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.


In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

—Genesis 1:1

I am positively sure after many years of observation and prayer that the basis of all of our trouble today, in religious circles, is that our God is too small.

When he says magnify the Lord, he doesn’t mean that you are to make God big, but you are to see Him big. When we take a telescope and look at a star, we don’t make the star bigger, we only see it big. Likewise you cannot make God bigger, but you are only to see Him bigger….

What is the most important verse in the Bible? It is not the one you think it is: “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8). Nor is it the other one you think it is: John 3:16, “For God so loved the world….”The most important verse in the Bible is this one: “In the beginning God…” (Genesis 1:1). That is the most important verse, because that is where everything must begin. God is the mountain out of which everything springs, and He is the foundation upon which everything rests. God is all in all. SAT036-037

Lord, I fall to my knees in worship before the God who is all in all, the great Creator and Foundation upon which everything rests. May I see you bigger today, I pray. Amen.[1]

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

February 23 God’s Wrath

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.”

Romans 1:18


God hates sin and will judge unrepentant sinners.

We now come to a topic that is perhaps unpleasant to discuss, but it is essential if we are to have a right understanding of God: His wrath. The idea of a wrathful God goes against the wishful thinking of fallen human nature. Even much evangelism today speaks only of the joys and blessings of salvation without mentioning that those who are without God are under His wrath (Eph. 2:3).

God’s attributes are balanced in divine perfection. If He had no righteous anger, He would not be God, just as He would not be God without His gracious love. He perfectly loves righteousness and perfectly hates evil (Ps. 45:7).

But God’s wrath isn’t like ours. The Greek word used for God’s wrath in the New Testament refers to a settled, determined indignation. God does not “fly off the handle,” whereas we tend to be emotional and uncontrolled in our anger.

Many times God expressed His wrath to sinful mankind in past ages. He destroyed all mankind except Noah and his family in the great Flood (Gen. 6–7). He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for their sins (Gen. 18–19). The Lord told unfaithful Israel, “Behold, My anger and My wrath will be poured out on this place, on man and on beast and on the trees of the field and on the fruit of the ground; and it will burn and not be quenched” (Jer. 7:20).

Some people today foolishly think the God of the Old Testament was a God of wrath and the New Testament God was a God of love, but His wrath is just as clearly taught in the New Testament. Jesus says, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36). In the end–times Jesus will return “dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thess. 1:8). God is the same God, and He will always hate sin.


Suggestions for Prayer: Praise God for His righteous hatred of sin.

For Further Study: Read more about God’s wrath in Romans 1:18–2:16. What specifically causes His wrath? ✧ How does He display His wrath to the unrighteous?[1]

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

February 22 Daily Help

THERE is no loss in being a Christian, and making God the first object; but make anything else your goal, and with all your running, should you run ever so well, you shall fall short of the mark; or if you gain it, you shall fall uncrowned, unhonored to the earth. “My soul, wait thou only upon God.”

He that serves God in body, soul, and spirit, to the utmost of his power, finds new power given to him hour by hour, for God opens to him fresh springs.

The ideal Christian is one who has been made alive with a life which he lives for God.[1]

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 57). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

February 22, 2018 Evening Verse Of The Day

Teaching Skill

holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. (1:9)

All of the qualifications Paul has mentioned so far (vv. 6–8) have to do with spiritual character and attitudes, with the kind of person a faithful elder is called to be. In verse 9 he deals with the primary ministry of a faithful elder, namely, that of teacher, what a faithful elder is called to do. Throughout the pastoral epistles (1 & 2 Timothy, and Titus), the apostle repeatedly emphasizes the critical importance of elders, or overseers, carefully and consistently preaching, teaching, and guarding God’s truth.

Preaching and teaching are much alike in content and are distinguished primarily by the nature of presentation. Preaching is the public proclamation of the truth, intended primarily to move the will of the hearers to respond. Teaching is directed more at causing the mind to understand. Preaching involves admonition and exhortation, whereas teaching involves illumination and explanation. Often the two functions overlap and are indistinguishable, as they are in many passages of Paul’s letters, as well as in other parts of the New Testament. All good preaching has elements of explanation, and all good teaching includes some exhortation. Some elders clearly have only one of the gifts, where as others just as clearly have both. Though different in some ways, however, both gifts are crucial to the church and have the common purpose of disseminating God’s Word.

Because preaching and teaching of Scripture are spiritual gifts, bestowed sovereignly on servants of God through the Holy Spirit (Rom. 12:7; 1 Cor. 12:28), and because pastors must be “able to teach” (1 Tim. 3:2; 2 Tim. 2:24), it clearly follows that every elder is so gifted in some way and so commissioned by the Holy Spirit. The sine qua non of ministry is preaching and teaching. Giftedness in this area varies, of course, just as the other spiritual gifts vary in degree from believer to believer. But Scripture is unambiguous that every true elder is divinely equipped to preach and teach God’s Word.

As already noted, “elders who rule well [should] be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching” (1 Tim. 5:17). Paul’s qualifying phrase “especially those” indicates that, although every elder ought to “work hard at preaching and teaching,” some of them do not. From the context, it seems obvious that some elders in the early church fell short in this regard. “Work hard” translates kopiaō, which carries the idea of diligent effort, of toiling with maximum self-sacrifice in order to fully accomplish a task, to the point of exhaustion if necessary. It has as much to do with the quality of the work as with the quantity. It is important to understand, however, that this quality has nothing to do with the size or influence of a pastor’s congregation. Nor is it determined by natural ability or spiritual giftedness. A pastor with limited capabilities who works devotedly without reserve is just as worthy of double honor as an equally hardworking pastor with much greater endowments.

the necessary foundation

holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, (1:9a)

The foundation for effective teaching of the Word is the pastor’s own understanding of and obedience to that revelation. He must be unwaveringly loyal to Scripture.

Antechō (holding fast) means “to strongly cling or adhere to something or someone.” Speaking of spiritual allegiance, Jesus said, “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to [antechō] one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Luke 16:13; cf. Matt. 6:24). God’s preachers and teachers are to cling to the faithful word with fervent devotion and unflagging diligence.

Word translates logos, which refers to the expression of a concept, thought, or truth. It is frequently used of the revealed truth and will of God. Speaking of the enemies of God, Jesus said, “They have done this in order that the word may be fulfilled that is written in their Law, ‘They hated Me without a cause’ ” (John 15:25). Paul spoke of God’s “word of promise” to Abraham: “At this time I will come, and Sarah shall have a son” (Rom. 9:9) and of His judgment: “The Lord will execute His word upon the earth, thoroughly and quickly” (v. 28).

Logos is often used as a synonym for Scripture, the written Word of God. Jesus accused the Pharisees of “invalidating the word of God by [their] tradition which [they had] handed down” (Mark 7:13). To unbelieving Jews in Jerusalem, our Lord clearly identified the Word of God with Scripture, saying, “Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?” (John 10:34–36, emphasis added).

In the prologue to the book of Revelation, John spoke of himself as one “who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:2; cf. v. 9; cf. 1 Thess. 1:8; 2 Thess. 3:1). In the prologue to his gospel, the same apostle speaks of Jesus as the living Word of God: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.… And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1–4, 14; cf. 1 John 1:1; Rev. 19:13).

Paul spoke of Scripture as “the treasure which [had] been entrusted to” Timothy (2 Tim. 1:14) and as “the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God,” he continues, “and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:15–17). Paul commended the Ephesian elders to “the word of [God’s] grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32). Peter called Scripture “the pure milk of the word,” by which believers “grow in respect to salvation” (1 Pet. 2:2).

Pastors, therefore, are to love the faithful word of God, respect it, study it, believe it, and obey it. It is their spiritual nourishment. They are to be “constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine” (1 Tim. 4:6). That involves more than mere commitment to the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, essential as that is. It is commitment to the authority and sufficiency of God’s Word as the only source of moral and spiritual truth.

An elder’s spiritual leadership in the church is not built on his natural abilities, his education, his common sense, or his human wisdom. It is built on his knowledge and understanding of Scripture, his holding fast the faithful word, and on his submission to the Holy Spirit’s applying the truths of that word in his heart and life. A man who is not himself holding fast to God’s faithful word and committed to live it is not prepared to preach it or teach it. The truth of the Word must be woven into the very fabric of his thinking and living. Like the apostles in the early church, spiritually effective pastors must devote themselves “to prayer, and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4).

It is through the Word that an elder grows in knowledge and understanding of the character of God, the will and purpose of God, the power and glory of God, the love and mercy of God, the principles and the promises of God. It is through the Word that he comes to understand justification, sanctification, and glorification. It is through the Word that he comes to understand the enemy and his powers of darkness, and his own helplessness, even as a pastor, to resist and overcome sin apart from God. It is through the Word that he comes to understand the nature and the purpose of the church and his own role of ministry in the church. All this he teaches his people.

It is failure in the area of holding fast the faithful word that is largely responsible for the superficial, self-elevating preaching and teaching in many evangelical churches. Here is the real culprit in the weak, shallow, insipid “sermonettes for Christianettes” that are such common church fare today. Here is the real villain that has led so many to be converted to what they consider relevancy and therefore to preach a pampering psychology or become stand-up comics, storytellers, clever speechmakers or entertainers who turn churches into what John Piper in his most excellent book The Supremacy of God in Preaching has called “the slapstick of evangelical worship” ([Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990], p. 21).

Timothy had been “constantly nourished on the words of the faith” and had followed “the sound doctrine” that he learned in Scripture (1 Tim. 4:6). Based on that preparation, he was to prescribe and teach these things” (v. 11), “show [himself] an example of those who believe” (v. 12), “give attentionto the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching” (v. 13), “not neglect the spiritual gift within [him], which was bestowed upon [him] through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery” (v. 14), “take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to all” (v. 15), “pay close attention to [himself] and to [his] teaching,” and “persevere in these things” (v. 16). The nine emphasized verbs in verses 11–16 all translate Greek imperatives. (As indicated by italics in the nasb, the predicate adjective “absorbed,” v. 15, is not in the Greek text but is implied.) Paul was not giving Timothy suggestions or simply personal advice, but divinely revealed apostolic orders.

Later in that letter Paul said, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching” (1 Tim. 5:17). Preaching and teaching are the primary responsibilities of elders. Timothy was to “teach and preach these principles” that Paul laid out (1 Tim. 6:2), to “instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God,” and to “instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share” (vv. 17–18).

The apostle spoke of himself as “a preacher and an apostle and a teacher,” (2 Tim. 1:11; cf. v. 8); and he charged Timothy: “Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.… And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses [that is, his apostolic teaching of divinely revealed truths], these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (vv. 13–14; 2:2). Timothy was to carefully safeguard and uphold the things he had been taught and then was to teach them to other elders, who, in turn, would teach them to still other elders, and so on. That is the Lord’s plan for teaching and preaching in His church.

Paul went on to remind Timothy, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching,” as well as “for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). It is God’s Word, under the guidance and illumination of the Holy Spirit, that makes “the man of God”—the spiritual leader, in particular the pastor-teacher—“adequate, equipped for every good work” (v. 17. He is divinely commissioned to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (4:2). He is to “speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1).

This duty to Scripture is in accord with the teaching (didaskalia), which refers to the content of that which is taught, to doctrine, divinely revealed truth.

Believers in the early church “were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42). After God’s revelation was completed through their teaching, it was recorded in what we now know as the New Testament. That truth is absolutely trustworthy and sufficient. It is not to be redacted, edited, updated, or modified.

the necessary duty

that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. (1:9b)

Because he personally knows deeply and is exclusively loyal to God’s Word, the pastor becomes qualified, under the direction and power of the Holy Spirit, to exercise his gift of preaching and teaching that Word in the church.

Positively, the pastor is to exhort believers in sound doctrine. He is to strengthen God’s people in their knowledge of and obedience to the Word. Parakaleō (to exhort) means “to urge, beseech, and encourage.” Literally, it means “to call alongside of” for the purpose of giving strength and help. The term was used of defense counsel in a court of law, the advocate who pleaded the cause of the accused.

In the Upper Room discourse, Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as “another Helper [paraklētos],” or Advocate, who would stand beside the Twelve after Jesus ascended to His Father. This “Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things,” the Lord promised, “and [will] bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14:16, 26; cf. 15:26; 16:7; cf. 1 John 2:1). That promise was fulfilled in a unique way in regard to the apostles, who authoritatively taught and established God’s New Testament Word. But every pastor who is genuinely called by the Lord is to become able … to exhort in sound doctrine.

Sound translates hugiainō, from which we derive the English hygienic. It has the basic meaning of being healthy and wholesome, referring to that which protects and preserves life. In his preaching and teaching, it should be the pastor’s sole objective to enlighten his congregation in doctrine that protects and preserves their spiritual health. It is an awesome and demanding task, and for that reason James warns, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment” (James 3:1). Speaking to those under the pastor’s care, the writer of Hebrews says, “Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account” (Heb. 13:17). No reasonable, sensible Christian man would presume to take the role of pastor-teacher on himself without the Lord’s calling. Nor would he attempt, when divinely called, to fulfill that calling by preaching and teaching whatever ideas might come to his own mind. He will preach and teach nothing but sound doctrine.

It is for that reason that preaching and teaching must be expositional, setting forth as clearly, systematically, and completely as possible the truths of God’s Word and only those truths. Like Ezra, the faithful pastor will “set his heart to study the law of the Lord, and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances” (Ezra 7:10). Like Apollos, he will be “mighty in the Scriptures” (Acts 18:24). The pastor who recognizes that Scripture alone is inerrant and is our sole, complete, and sufficient authority knows exactly what he is called to preach and teach. He will “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Tim. 4:2). He will “fully carry out the preaching of the word of God” (Col. 1:25). That is the commission of every preacher and teacher.

Contrary to what is offered in much popular preaching today, the Bible is not a resource for truth but is the divinely revealed source of truth. It is not a supplementary text but the only text. Its truths are not optional but mandatory. The pastor’s purpose is not to make Scripture relevant to his people but to enable them to understand doctrine, which becomes the foundation of their spiritual living. The Bible is “user friendly” to those who humbly submit to its profound truth.

Sinners will be intolerant of the uncomfortable truths. That is to be expected. On the other hand, they will want to hear comfortable lies. They may seek what is sensational, entertaining, ego-building, non-threatening, and popular. But what we preach is dictated by God, not by the crowds we face. Psychiatrist and Christian writer John White has penned some compelling words that need to be heard:

Until about fifteen years ago psychology was seen by most Christians as hostile to the gospel.

[But today] let someone who professes the name of Jesus baptize secular psychology and present it as something compatible with Scripture truth, and most Christians are happy to swallow theological hemlock in the form of psychological insights.

Over the past fifteen years there has been a tendency for churches to place increasing reliance on trained pastoral counselors.… To me it seems to suggest weakness or indifference to expository preaching within evangelical churches.… Why do we have to turn to the human sciences at all? Why? Because for years we have failed to expound the whole Scripture. Because from our weakened exposition and our superficial topical talks we have produced a generation of Christian sheep having no shepherd. And now we are damning ourselves more deeply than ever by our recourse to the wisdom of the world.

What I do as a psychiatrist and what my psychologist colleagues do in their research or their counseling is of infinitely less value to distressed Christians than what God says in his Word. But pastoral shepherds, like the sheep they guide, are following (if I may change my metaphor for a moment) a new Pied Piper of Hamelin who is leading them into the dark caves of humanistic hedonism.

A few of us who are deeply involved in the human sciences feel like voices crying in a godless wilderness of humanism, while the churches turn to humanistic psychology as a substitute for the gospel of God’s grace. (Flirting with the Word [Wheaton, Ill.: Harold Shaw, 1982), pp. 114–17)

About that same problem, John Stott writes,

Expository preaching is a most exacting discipline. Perhaps that is why it is so rare. Only those will undertake it who are prepared to follow the example of the apostles and say, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the Word of God to serve tables.… We will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word” (Acts 6:2, 4). The systematic preaching of the Word is impossible without the systematic study of it. It will not be enough to skim through a few verses in daily Bible reading, nor to study a passage only when we have to preach from it. No. We must daily soak ourselves in the Scriptures. We must not just study, as through a microscope, the linguistic minutiae of a few verses, but take our telescope and scan the wide expanses of God’s Word, assimilating its grand theme of divine sovereignty in the redemption of mankind. “It is blessed,” wrote C. H. Spurgeon, “to eat into the very soul of the Bible until, at last, you come to talk in Scriptural language, and your spirit is flavoured with the words of the Lord, so that your blood is Bibline and the very essence of the Bible flows from you.” (The Preacher’s Portrait [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1961], pp. 30–31)

The second duty of the pastor who teaches faithfully is negative. Not only is he to exhort believers in sound doctrine but he is also to refute those—especially those within the church—who contradict healthy, life-protecting, life-preserving doctrine.

Pastors have an obligation to God to give their people an understanding of the truth that will create the discernment necessary to protect them from the ubiquitous error that incessantly assaults them. Antilegō (to refute) means literally “to speak against.” The Lord’s preachers and teachers are to be polemicists against unsound doctrine that goes under the guise of biblical truth. Not long after Paul himself ministered in Crete, “many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision,” were causing trouble and confusion in the churches there (Titus 1:10). They were not to be ignored, much less tolerated, but were to “be silenced because they [were] upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach, for the sake of sordid gain” (v. 11). They were particularly dangerous because they arose from within the congregations. “They profess to know God,” Paul said, “but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed” (v. 16).

Even the spiritually mature church at Ephesus was not immune to false teaching. “I know that after my departure,” Paul warned elders from that church, “savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:29–30).

Although false teachers in the church exist under many guises, they all, in one way or another, contradict biblical truth. They are the enemies of sound doctrine and therefore of God and His people. Simply to accept Scripture as the inerrant Word of God does not protect against its being misunderstood or even perverted. To give certain personal insights and decisions of church councils equal authority beside Scripture is to contradict God’s Word—just as surely as is denying the deity of Christ or the historicity of His resurrection. The final warning of Scripture is: “I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book” (Rev. 22:18–19, emphasis added).

The dual role of the godly preacher and teacher is to proclaim and to defend God’s Word. In the eyes of the world and, tragically, in the eyes of many genuine but untaught believers, to denounce false doctrine, especially if that doctrine is given under the guise of evangelicalism, is to be unloving, judgmental, and divisive. But compromising Scripture in order to make it more palatable and acceptable—whether to believers or to unbelievers—is not “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). It is speaking falsehood and is the farthest thing from godly love. It is a subtle, deceptive, and dangerous way to contradict God’s own Word. The faithful pastor must have no part in it. He himself tolerates, and he teaches his people to tolerate, only sound doctrine.[1]

9 Paul concludes the list with an overall doctrinal qualification (cf. 1 Ti 3:2, 9). The overseer must “hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught.” This will enable him to “encourage [parakaleō, GK 4151; see, e.g., 1 Ti 6:2; 2 Ti 4:2; Tit 2:15] others by sound doctrine [see 1 Ti 1:10; 2 Ti 4:3; cf. 1 Ti 6:3; 2 Ti 1:13] and refute [elenchō, GK 1794; cf. 1:13; 2:15; 1 Ti 5:20; 2 Ti 4:2] those who oppose [antilegō, GK 515; cf. 2:9; Ro 10:21] it.” Since the NT was still in the process of being written, “trustworthy message” (pistou logou, GK 4412, 3364) probably refers to apostolic teaching conveyed by way of oral proclamation (cf. 1 Ti 5:17).[2]

1:9 / Finally, and significantly, the list of qualifications concludes in the form of a duty. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, which repeats his need to be absolutely devoted to the gospel (cf. 1 Tim. 3:9 about the deacons). He must be so, however, not just for himself but so that he will be able to fulfill his twofold task of exhorting/encouraging the faithful and confuting the opponents of the gospel.

It should be noted that these are exactly the tasks enjoined on Timothy in 1 Timothy (cf. 2 Tim. 4:2). Here, even though Titus is to lead the way (see disc. on 1:13), these tasks are to be entrusted to the elders/overseers. The church leader, for that is surely what elders are, must be able to encourage (better, “exhort”; cf. 1 Tim. 4:13; 5:1; 6:2) others by sound doctrine (see disc. on 1 Tim. 1:10). He must also be able to refute (or “convict”; cf. 1 Tim. 5:20; 2 Tim. 3:16; 4:2) those who oppose it. This final qualification will lead directly to the next section of the letter.[3]

Elders must be blameless in their doctrinal orthodoxy (1:9)

With verse 9 the apostle moves on, in regard to qualifications for the pastorate, from their home and family, and their character and conduct, to their necessary grasp of the truth. Presbyters must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught … (9a). This message (logos, being a word from God) is characterized in two ways. First, it is reliable (pistos). It is trustworthy because it is true, and it is true because it is the word of the God who never lies (2). Secondly, it is (literally) ‘according to the didachē’, that is, consonant with ‘the teaching’, namely that of the apostles. This was already an identifiable body of instruction, which in Romans Paul called both ‘the form of teaching to which you were entrusted’20 and ‘the teaching you have learned’, and which in the Pastorals is termed interchangeably the teaching (cf. 9, 2:1), ‘the faith’ (13), ‘the truth’ (14), and ‘the deposit’.25 It has now been bequeathed to us in the New Testament.

This reliable, apostolic teaching candidates for the pastorate are to hold firmly and never let go. Why so? Because they will need it in their teaching ministry. And what form will their teaching take? It will have two complementary aspects, namely to encourage others by (rsv ‘give instruction in’) sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it (9b). To ‘refute’ people is not just to contradict them, but actually to overthrow them in argument. But neither of these ministries (instructing and refuting) will be possible unless the pastors concerned maintain their firm hold on the sure word of the apostles.

It is clear from this that presbyter-bishops are called essentially to a teaching ministry, which necessitates both a gift for teaching (didaktikos) and loyalty to ‘the teaching’, that is, of the apostles (the didachē, 9). Only if they are didaktikos in communicating the didachē will they be able both to instruct and exhort people in the truth and to expose, contradict and confound error. The negative aspect of this teaching ministry is particularly unfashionable today. But if our Lord Jesus and his apostles did it, warning of false teachers and denouncing them, we must not draw back from it ourselves. Widespread failure to do it may well be a major cause of the doctrinal confusion which prevails in so many churches today.

Calvin clearly understood the double nature of our teaching ministry. Here is part of his comment on verse 9:

A pastor needs two voices, one for gathering the sheep and the other for driving away wolves and thieves. The Scripture supplies him with the means for doing both, and he who has been rightly instructed in it will be able both to rule those who are teachable and to refute the enemies of the truth. Paul notes this double use of the Scripture when he says that he should be able both to exhort and to convict the gainsayers.

Having given an ideal picture of true elders in their threefold blamelessness (5–9), Paul now by contrast describes the false teachers (10–16).[4]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1996). Titus (pp. 43–52). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Köstenberger, A. (2006). Titus. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 608). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Fee, G. D. (2011). 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (p. 175). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Stott, J. R. W. (1996). Guard the truth: the message of 1 Timothy & Titus (pp. 178–179). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

February 22: The Light of the World

Leviticus 12:1–13:59; John 8:12–30; Song of Solomon 6:11–13

“I am the light of the world! The one who follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). While some of Jesus’ “I am” statements confused the Jews, the “following the light” imagery would have been familiar. God had led the Israelites out of Egypt and through the wilderness with a pillar of fire so they could walk at night (Exod 13:21). They couldn’t deflect or misunderstand this claim.

Jesus used this imagery to show the Jews that He offers clarity and meaning in a dark world. He offers life, grace, and spiritual awakening to those who are lost in the darkness. But the Pharisees couldn’t comprehend the light; they misinterpreted Jesus’ claims and fumbled around in the darkness and the details (John 8:19, 22, 25, 27).

When we’ve elevated ourselves in the darkness, it’s hard to humble ourselves in the light.

Even when we have inklings that tell us there is a better way, we don’t want to sacrifice our own pride. We prefer to be contrary and comfortable—to dwell on the details and exert our own opinions. But if we never call out the darkness, we’ll never experience the flooding of light.

Are you calling out the darkness in and around you?

Rebecca Van Noord[1]

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