Daily Archives: February 27, 2018

February 27 Attaining Spiritual Stability

“… strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience” (Col. 1:11).

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God always empowers you to do what He commands you to do.

An alarming number of Christians seem to lack spiritual stability. Many are “carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” (Eph. 4:14). Others lack moral purity. Many are driven by their emotions rather than sound thinking. Increasingly, therapists and psychologists are replacing pastors and Biblical teachers as the heroes of the faith. While we still proclaim a sovereign, all-powerful God, our conduct often belies our creed.

Despite our inconsistencies, the power for spiritual stability is ours in Christ as we allow the knowledge of His will to control our lives. Paul describes the working of that power in Colossians 1:11. There the Greek words translated “strengthened” and “power” speak of inherent power that gives one the ability to do something.

The phrase “according to” indicates that the power for spiritual stability is proportional to God’s abundant supply—and that supply is inexhaustible! The literal Greek says you are being “empowered with all power according to the might of His glory.” That thought is akin to Philippians 2:12–13, where Paul says that the power for working out your salvation comes from God, “who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

In Colossians 1:11 the result of God’s enabling is “the attaining of all steadfastness and patience.” “Steadfastness” speaks of endurance regarding people; “patience” speaks of endurance regarding things or circumstances. When you are steadfast and patient, you are spiritually stable. Your responses are Biblical, thoughtful, and calculated—not worldly, emotional, or uncontrolled. You bear up under trials because you understand God’s purposes and trust His promises.

Paul said, “Be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might” (Eph. 6:10). That is possible when you trust God and rely on the infinite power that is yours in Christ.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Perhaps you know someone who is struggling with spiritual instability. Pray for him or her, and ask God to use you as a source of encouragement.

For Further Study: Psalm 18 is a psalm of victory that David wrote after God delivered him from Saul. Read it, then answer these questions: ✧ What characteristics of God did David mention? ✧ How might those characteristics apply to situations you are facing?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 70). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

The Model and Power of Christian Unity

The model and power of Christian unity is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ. The principal we must follow is to not consider our advantages, position, or gifts as something for our glory but as assets to serve others.

Read more of The post The Model and Power of Christian Unity appeared first on The Master’s Seminary.

Barna Update | Americans Feel Good About Counseling

Millions of Americans face mental illness each year. Yet the stigma surrounding mental health and therapy persists, despite the fact that Americans—especially Christians—who see a counselor have overwhelmingly positive experiences with the practice. In a new study, Barna looks at how Americans feel about and engage with counseling.

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The Many Face of Legalism


A number of years ago, I defined legalism as, “an attempt to win God’s favor apart from the finished and sufficient work of Christ on behalf of sinners.” This is a doctrinal legalism which undermines the gospel. There also exists a practical legalism that is often ignored or misunderstood—a legal root that is at the heart of every one of our sins (1 Corinthians 15:56). Legalism exists in every heart, and most of the time it’s a subtle way of talking about God and how He relates to His people. Doctrinal legalism distorts the gospel, and practical legalism stands in the way of our communion with God and with one another. Some forms of legalism are more obvious than others, but there are at least five types of legalism to note:

1. Legal-Works

The rich young ruler (Mark 10:17-22) assumed he could “inherit eternal life” by law keeping, and even assumed that he had done so when Jesus presented him with the second table of the law. “Teacher,” he said, “all these I have kept from my youth” (10:20). The question of what he must do to inherit eternal life, albeit understandable, possesses, in his mind, a necessity to work for his salvation. He did not understand the free grace of God in Jesus Christ. If salvation is based upon work, each man will look to himself and determine that he’s good…

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FEBRUARY 27 TEST YOUR CONDUCT: WHAT ARE YOUR MOTIVES?

But ye denied the Holy One…And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead;…

ACTS 3:14, 15

The test by which all conduct must finally be judged is motive.

As water cannot rise higher than its source, so the moral quality in an act can never be higher than the motive that inspires it. For this reason, no act that arises from an evil motive can be good, even though some good may appear to come out of it.

Every deed done out of anger or spite, for instance, will be found at last to have been done for the enemy and against the Kingdom of God!

In this matter of motive, as in so many other things, the Pharisees afford us clear examples.

They remain the world’s most dismal religious failures, not because of doctrinal error nor because they were careless or lukewarm, nor because they were outwardly persons of dissolute life.

Their whole trouble lay in the quality of their religious motives. They prayed, but they prayed to be heard of men. They gave generously to the service of the temple, but they sometimes did it to escape their duty toward their parents, and this was an evil. They judged sin and stood against it when found in others, but this they did from self-righteousness and hardness of heart. That this is not a small matter may be gathered from the fact that those orthodox and proper religionists went on in their blindness until at last they crucified the Lord of glory with no inkling of the gravity of their crime![1]


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

February 27, 2018 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

BLOOMBERG

The White House has set the date for the first state visit of President Donald Trump’s administration. Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says Trump will be hosting French President Emmanuel Macron on April 24. Trump was the first U.S. president in decades to close his first year in office without welcoming a fellow world leader for a state visit.

New Jersey’s Democratic-controlled Assembly is moving forward with plans to toughen the state’s gun-safety laws in the wake of the Feb. 14 shooting at a Florida high school that killed 17 people. The Assembly Judiciary Committee will consider seven bills on Feb. 28 that would approve personalized handguns, which have technology that allow use only by owners; require firearms to be seized when a mental-health professional determines the owner poses a threat; and authorize restraining orders and seizure warrants for gun violence. Other measures would require background checks for private gun sales; codify justifiable need for concealed carry permits; prohibit the possession of ammunition capable of penetrating body armor; and reduce the maximum capacity of ammunition magazines.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the central bank can continue gradually raising interest rates as the outlook for growth remains strong, and the recent bout of financial volatility shouldn’t weigh on the U.S. economy.

A growing number of crypto startups are adding former regulators and other government authorities to their payrolls, a practice that could help them head off or prepare for stricter rules. Ventures have snapped up ex-prosecutors, national security officials and at least one former senior diplomat — all of whom may prove handy as nations decide whether to embrace or outlaw digital money.

The DxtER, designed to resemble the diagnostic tool from Star Trek, can identify 34 illnesses, including diabetes, atrial fibrillation, and pneumonia, using a suite of Bluetooth sensors connected to a tablet.

AP Top Stories

John Dean, one of the leading figures in the scandal that ended the presidency of Richard M. Nixon, said Donald Trump could be nearing his own Watergate moment. Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates pleaded guilty last week to conspiracy against the United States and lying to the Special Counsel’s Office and the FBI. He also agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller.

Russia said on Monday it would establish an evacuation corridor and implement a five-hour daily truce to allow people to leave Syria’s eastern Ghouta, after a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding a 30-day ceasefire across the entire country.

Leaders of the two largest Christian denominations in Jerusalem on Monday said the Church of the Holy Sepulcher will remain closed indefinitely to protest an Israeli attempt to tax their properties in the holy city, shuttering one of Jerusalem’s most venerable and popular holy sites.

Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 of their classmates and staff members were killed, returned Sunday to gather their belongings thrown down in panic during the school shooting nearly two weeks ago.

Former President Barack Obama is not planning to attend memorial services for the late evangelist Rev. Billy Graham this week. Former President George W. Bush is paying his respects to Graham, known as the pastor to presidents, Monday afternoon at his library in North Carolina. Former President Bill Clinton will visit Tuesday to honor Graham’s memory. President Donald Trump is expected to attend Graham’s funeral Friday in North Carolina after the preacher lies in honor at the U.S. Capitol this week.

A transgender recruit has signed a contract to join the U.S. military for the first time since a federal court ruled late last year that the military would have to accept openly transgender people.

A fire broke out in the overhead storage of a Chinese passenger jet moments before it was scheduled to take off. The fire was thought to have been triggered by a power bank that was being carried in the bag, reports said. The owner was taken away by police for questioning.

New orders for U.S.-made capital goods fell for a second straight month in January and shipments barely rose, pointing to a slowdown in business spending on equipment after robust growth in 2017.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has sold all but one bitcoin he owns after scammers apparently stole seven of the cryptocurrency units him through simple credit card fraud. The Woz said he lost about $74,000 worth of them in a fraudulent sale. Somebody bought them from me online through a credit card and they canceled the credit card payment.

BBC

Women in Syria have been sexually exploited by men delivering aid on behalf of the UN and international charities, the BBC has learned. Aid workers said the men would trade food and lifts for sexual favors.

At least 14 people have died after a powerful 7.5-magnitude earthquake caused landslides in a remote region of Papua New Guinea (PNG), officials said.

A US federal court has ruled to protect gay employees in the workplace. The Manhattan court overruled prior decisions that said the opposite, saying “legal doctrine evolves”. The ruling was made after an openly gay skydiving instructor was fired for admitting his sexuality.

Women in Ghana have been warned against a growing trend for taking pills during pregnancy to lighten the skin of their unborn babies while they are still in the womb. Medical experts say these illegal drugs can cause birth defects, including damage to limbs and internal organs.

WND

A Christian students’ club at Harvard University has been placed on “administrative probation” for a year for following Christian ethics. The stunning attack on faith was documented by the Crimson, which said the office of Student Life punished the Harvard College Faith and Action after members pressured a female member of its leadership team to resign after she decided to date a woman.


The Briefing — Tuesday, February 27, 2018

1) Ideological cleansing on campus: Harvard forces Christian ministry to choose between Christian convictions and continued ministry on campus

Harvard Crimson (Caroline S. Engelmayer and Michael E. Xie) –
HCFA Must Cut Ties to ‘Parent Ministry’ to Regain Recognition

Harvard Crimson (Caroline S. Engelmayer and Luke Vrotsos) –
Some Students Praise HCFA Probation, Others Urge Sympathy

2) In redefining Title VII, courts once again use the powers of legal coercion to establish a new morality in the United States

Washington Post (Matt Zapotosky) –
Employers can’t discriminate based on sexual orientation, court says, dealing loss to Trump administration

Vox (German Lopez) –
This court ruling could help change the scope of gay rights in America

3) Chinese President to become ‘Emperor for Life’ in further concentration of power by Communist Party

New York Times (Steven Lee Myers) –
With Xi’s Power Grab, China Joins New Era of Strongmen


February 27, 2018
JOAN SWIRSKY — Imagine a guy in his mid-thirties walking on a beach in Hawaii and seeing an object that actually looked like the genie lamp he read about in his childhood – – the kind of lamp he could rub until a genie popped out and granted his most fervent wish. Being a pretty ordinary guy – – you know, the kind who hung out smoking pot, who slacked off in school, who didn’t get the girl and actually hated and was jealous of the guys who did – – he asked for power…. (more)

February 25, 2018
WORLDNETDAILY — House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes is blaming former President Obama for being in cahoots with Russia for eight years and setting the stage for orchestrating a conspiracy theory of collusion between Moscow and Donald Trump during the 2016 election…. (more)

February 25, 2018
NEWSMAX — Russia’s 2016 election meddling campaign was designed to “amplify” discord among Americans, their president, and with Congress, and their execution was “cheap and effective,” according to a former FBI special agent in N.Y.’s cyber division…. (more)

February 25, 2018

ROBERT KNIGHT — In 1953 in Chattanooga, Tenn., the Rev. Billy Graham saw that his crusade audience was segregated in roped-off sections. He personally tore the barriers down. Over the next six decades, he preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ to more than 200 million people in 185 countries. Without giving an inch of theological ground, he adjusted his message to the moment, for example, dropping the name “crusade” for his rallies so as not to offend Muslims that he was trying to reach for Christ…. (more)


February 25, 2018

NEWSMAX — Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik said it was “outrageous” if reports were confirmed that four Broward County sheriff’s deputies failed to enter the Parkland, Florida, high school during a February 14 shooting that claimed 17 lives. “It’s outrageous. I’ve never heard anything like this before,” Kerik told Newsmax on Saturday…. (more)


February 25, 2018
WASHINGTON TIMES — The National Rifle Association on Sunday morning said the “headline” in the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting is the failure of the FBI and local law enforcement to do something about alleged gunman Nikolas Cruz before he carried out his massacre…. (more)

February 25, 2018
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — Republican state lawmakers in Florida are calling for Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel to be suspended for what they believe is “incompetence and neglect of duty” after it came to light the agency failed to address multiple warnings about the suspected gunman in the shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school…. (more)

February 25, 2018

NEWSMAX — President Donald Trump Saturday afternoon tweeted his support for arming educators, saying that doing so would mean “shootings will not happen again.”… (more)


February 25, 2018
NEWSMAX — House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who was a victim of gun violence last June, endorsed President Donald Trump’s proposal to arm teachers on school campuses across the United States. “As long as they are properly trained, that should be their prerogative,” the Louisiana Republican said during a visit to a local charter school on Friday. “If they don’t want to, they shouldn’t have to. But if they want to, they ought to have that right.”… (more)

February 25, 2018
WASHINGTON TIMES — Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student David Hogg came to the defense of the armed resource officer who never entered the Parkland, Florida school where 17 people were killed in a mass shooting, asking, “Who wants to go down the barrel of an AR-15, even with a Glock?” In an interview Saturday on MSNBC, Mr. Hogg insisted that the officer, Scot Peterson, “just like every other police officer out there at heart – – is a good person.”… (more)

February 25, 2018

NEWSMAX — A Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School senior said Sunday he doesn’t completely blame law enforcement for missteps surrounding Feb. 14 mass shooter gunman Nikolas Cruz – but thinks the NRA’s response shows it’s “broken.”… (more)


February 25, 2018
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — Andrew Pollack, the father of Meadow Pollack who was killed during the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting, ripped into the media for its fixation on gun control rather than discussing policies that specifically address school safety…. (more)

February 23, 2018

WASHINGTON TIMES — President Trump said Friday that gun-free school zones don’t protect students, as he renewed his call to arm more qualified teachers and other school employees. “When we declare our schools to be gun-free zones, it just puts our students in far more danger,” Mr. Trump said at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. “Well-trained gun-adept teachers and coaches and people that work in those buildings who were in the Marines for 20 years … should be able to carry concealed firearms. It’s time to make our schools a much harder target for attackers.”… (more)


February 23, 2018

WORLDNETDAILY — A teen survivor of the Florida school shooting believes armed U.S. teachers and veterans can protect America’s school kids from would-be killers – – an idea proposed by action star Chuck Norris five years ago – – but the student said CNN blocked his effort to discuss the issue in a town-hall event this week…. (more)


February 23, 2018

MSNBC — MS Douglas High teacher Felicia Burgin, who was in the building where the shooting took place, said she believes officer Scot Peterson she doesn’t believe officer Scot Peterson would have been able to save any lives during the shooting. Instead, she says she believes he’s being used as a scapegoat to distract from the larger conversation about guns…. (more)


February 23, 2018
SELWYN DUKE — Unlike after other mass school shootings, the movement from Parkland to propaganda has had tremendous lasting power. The tragedy’s wake has seen sustained news coverage and energized anti-Second Amendment protests, ostensibly due to organic “student activism.” Yet post-shooting leftist anti-gun appeals and young students willing to facilitate them are nothing new. What is new is that the Democrats just recently suffered a devastating political one-two punch…. (more)

February 23, 2018
CNN — Ex-FBI and Former CIA counterterrorism agent Phil Mudd breaks down as he tries to offer his analysis of the shooting Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida…. (more)

February 23, 2018

NEWSMAX — Four Broward County Sheriff’s deputies did not enter the building at Marjory Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida, while the students, faculty and administrators were inside under fire from a gunman last week, CNN reported Friday…. (more)


February 23, 2018
ART MOORE — The U.S. Embassy in Israel will officially move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May as Israel celebrates its 70th Independence Day, the State Department said Friday. Steven Goldstein, undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, said that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson approved a security plan Thursday evening for “a facility” in Jerusalem…. (more)

February 23, 2018
WASHINGTON TIMES — Is Caitlyn Jenner a woman? A growing body of research from scientists, philosophers and feminists says no. The latest contribution to the debate is “When Harry Became Sally,” a just-released book by Heritage Foundation senior research fellow Ryan T. Anderson, who critiques the transgender movement on the grounds of metaphysics, medicine and public policy…. (more)

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)


Mid-Day Snapshot

Feb. 27, 2018

Dems: Hey, Let’s Ban All Semi-Automatics

Their gun-grabbing efforts are nothing new, though this one goes pretty far for a campaign issue.

The Foundation

“Laws that forbid the carrying of arms … disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes.” —Cesare Beccaria


News – 2/27/2018

Iran says Damascus suburbs assault to continue as fighting rages
Iran said pro-Damascus forces would press ahead with attacks on an insurgent enclave near the Syrian capital, as ground fighting raged on there in defiance of a U.N. resolution demanding a 30-day truce across the country.

EU Sees ‘Eye to Eye’ With Arab League on ‘Palestine’ and Jerusalem
The European Union (EU) sees “eye to eye” with the Arab League regarding the establishment of a Palestinian state and making part of Jerusalem its capital, EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini said on Monday.

Canada’s Conservatives Pledge to Recognize Jerusalem When in Power
“Canada’s Conservatives led by Andrew Scheer will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital when we form government in 2019,” the party wrote in a statement on its website. “Canada’s Conservatives recognize the obvious fact that Israel, like every other sovereign nation, has a right to determine where its capital is located.”

Shin Bet foils ISIS-inspired attack on Temple Mount
Arab citizens of Israel plotted to open fire in one of the holiest sites in the world. Three Arab citizens from the village of Um el-Fahm were indicted on Monday for plotting a terrorist attack on the Temple Mount in the name of Islamic State, the Shin Bet security agency announced.

Erdogan tells 6-year-old girl she’ll be honored if martyred
Erdogan called the girl, who was wearing a military-style outfit and a maroon beret, on stage. “We have our maroon berets here. But maroon berets never cry! She has a Turkish flag in her pocket, too. If she is martyred, they will lay a flag on her, God willing!” “She is ready for everything, isn’t she?” he asserted, to which the little girl, sobbing, responded with an emphatic “Yes!”

Trump’s tough talk nudges Europe into eyeing new Iran deal
After Europe is given ‘last chance’ by US president to fix ‘terrible flaws’ in nuclear agreement, leaders consider framing completely new arrangement, but seek White House assurances that new terms will not be overhauled in future.

Start Packing: ‘Mega Aliyah’ Fair Coming to NYC
The event, which has grown to accommodate nearly 2,000 people, follows the recent announcement by Nefesh B’Nefesh that in 2017 it assisted just under 4,000 North American Olim fulfill their Aliyah dreams. With three additional large Aliyah Fairs planned for March 2018 in Los Angeles, Montreal and Toronto, the organization hopes to inspire and empower even more North American Jews to make Aliyah.

China’s Xi to Assume Greater Dictatorial Power
China’s Communist Party on Sunday moved closer to reinstituting the personality cult-like leadership under Mao Zedong by ending term limits for current supreme leader Xi Jinping. The party announced Sunday the Chinese constitution will do away with the two, five-year term limit on Xi, the party secretary general, paving the way for him to become president for life. The state-run Xinhua news agency said the requirement for China’s president and vice president to serve no more than two consecutive terms was removed from the constitution

Saudi King Replaces Top Officials, Appoints Woman, in Major Shake-Up
Tamadar bint Yousef al-Ramah was appointed the deputy minister of labor and social development, a rare senior government post for a woman in the conservative kingdom.

Meet The California Special Agents Who Are “Coming For Your Guns”
Let’s get serious. They all want to take your guns. Why? Two reasons. First, it takes power from the citizenry. Liberals love that. Second, gun rights are important to normal Americans because the fact we maintain arms means we are not mere subjects. We are citizens, with the power to defend our freedom. Liberals hate that we have that dignity; taking our guns would humiliate us, and show us who is boss.

EU foreign policy chief warns U.S. on ‘false steps’ to Israeli-Palestinian peace
European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini appeared to warn the US against putting forward its peace plan at this time, saying in Brussels on Monday that “given the region, any false step can be very dangerous.” …Mogherini said both the EU and Arab League ministers “have dealt with the conflict long enough around our common table to know what can fly and what cannot fly, and we believe it is wise to consider…avoiding any false steps.”

Britain may join U.S. strikes against Syria if chemical weapon use proven
Britain would consider joining US military strikes against the Syrian government if there is evidence chemical weapons are being used against civilians, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on Tuesday. Johnson said he hoped Britain and other Western nations would not stand by in the event of a chemical attack, voicing support for limited strikes if there is “incontrovertible evidence” of the Syrian’s government involvement.

Syria war: Shelling and strikes despite Eastern Ghouta ‘pause’
Fighting has continued in the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta area in Syria, despite a five-hour “pause” ordered by the government’s ally Russia. Activists said the government carried out a number air and artillery strikes, while state media accused rebels of shelling a “humanitarian corridor” meant to allow civilians to leave. As a result, there were no UN aid deliveries or medical evacuations.

Diesel ban approved for German cities to cut pollution
German cities will be allowed to ban older diesel vehicles from some areas following a landmark court ruling. The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig said the cities of Stuttgart and Duesseldorf could legally ban more older, more polluting diesel cars from zones worst affected by pollution. Both the government and the car industry have opposed the bans, which set a precedent for the whole country.

Syria conflict: Women ‘sexually exploited in return for aid’
Women in Syria have been sexually exploited by men delivering aid on behalf of the UN and international charities, the BBC has learned. Aid workers said the men would trade food and lifts for sexual favours. Despite warnings about the abuse three years ago, a new report shows it is continuing in the south of the country.

UK weather: Heavy snow causes UK-wide disruption
Heavy snowfall is hitting parts of the UK, causing road and rail disruption. Police say driving conditions are treacherous in places as a band of wintry weather and very low temperatures sweeps westwards. Hundreds of trains are cancelled, many schools are shut and forecasters say some rural communities may be cut off.

More storms threaten sodden central U.S., where at least 70 rivers are in flood stage
A new storm is expected to bring additional weather misery this week to areas struggling to recover from a relentless series of weekend storms and tornadoes. On Tuesday, downpours and gusty thunderstorms will drench areas from central Texas to central Arkansas and southern Tennessee, AccuWeather said. The new weather system will further soak sodden areas through Thursday, weather.com meteorologist Chris Dolce said.

More Americans now support a universal basic income
Political philosopher and economist Karl Widerquist, an associate professor at Georgetown University in Qatar, remembers a poll from 10 years ago that showed just 12 percent of Americans approved of a universal basic income. That’s changed — and quickly. Today, 48 percent of Americans support it, according to a new Northeastern University/Gallup survey of more than 3,000 U.S. adults.

Barack Obama’s ‘Secret’ Speech Leaks — And He’s More Delusional Than Ever
Details of former President Barack Obama’s ‘secret,’ speech on sports policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology leaked Monday.

Sheriff Scott Israel Linked To Terror-Supporting Islamic Groups!
…Shocking footage has been released of Sheriff Israel, arabic-speaking deputies in tow, speaking to the radical Islamic interest group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and being praised for all the work he’s done for local Muslims in Broward County.

UN Chief Calls for World Governments to Disarm Nuclear Weapons
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on world governments for a new global effort to get rid of nuclear weapons.

8 Incredible Technologies Used by the IDF
The very first of the ten fundamental of the Israel Defense Forces is the defense of the state, its citizens and its residents. In order to achieve this goal, the IDF utilizes a vast array of modern tools, a few of them so new, it’s hard to believe they exist. Today we invite you to take a look at some of the amazing equipment that assists the soldiers of the IDF at fulfilling their missions. Sit back and find out more about eight incredible technologies used by the IDF.

SILENCE! Twitter, YouTube scrubbing all content and banning all users who question the official (false) narrative on the Florida school shooting
A few years from now, looking back on why Twitter collapsed and YouTube was abandoned by every intelligent person, we’ll remember what these totalitarian tech giants did in February, 2018. Starting a few days ago, both Twitter and YouTube began scrubbing all videos and tweets that don’t follow the “official narrative” on the Florida school shooting.

This ‘Catholic’ University Deemed The Words ‘Husband’ And ‘Wife’ Too Triggering
Aside from Thomas Aquinas College and Christendom College, most Catholic universities in the United States have become a shell of their former glorious selves. From Notre Dame to Georgetown, the Catholic identity has been jettisoned in favor of modern liberalism.

Meet The California Special Agents Who Are “Coming For Your Guns”
…As The Washington Post reports today, there is a group of California cops whose sole job is just that – confiscating your guns. A broad, bald Tennessean, Special Agent Sam Richardson runs a six-person team of California Justice Department agents who are coming for your guns, but only if you no longer have the legal authority to own one in this state that has tightened firearm laws in increments over the years.

Parkland First Responder: I was Told to Stand Down, ‘I could have saved lives’
A first responder to the Parkland school shooting claims he was told to stand down and not enter the building to recover victims, which he believes would have saved lives.

Kansas GOP Drops Bombshell Transgender Resolution
The transgender movement is about so much more than equality-it’s about limiting religious liberty and preventing parents from making choices about their own children! One of the ways the left most resembles the master propagandists of great totalitarian governments like China, North Korea, and the Soviet Union is their masterful denial of reality.

Surveillance Camera Footage from Inside Schools Found Streaming Online 
Live footage from improperly configured surveillance cameras is currently being streamed online, exposing numerous U.K. schools in the process.


Headlines – 2/27/2018

EU, Arab League affirm Jerusalem must be joint capital

EU, Arab League FMs meet in bid to revive Mideast peace process

EU foreign policy chief warns U.S. on ‘false steps’ to Israeli-Palestinian peace

Commentary: Abbas dumps Trump for the United Nations

Israeli, Palestinian students reach elusive peace deal in simulation

Two Arab Israelis charged with plotting IS-inspired attack on Temple Mount

Palestinians becoming more extreme in their positions

Minister claims Israel warned 30 countries about specific terror plots in 2017

Poland’s chief rabbi implores Jewish leaders not to boycott his country over Holocaust law

Poles who saved Jews in Holocaust urge dialogue with Israel amid spat

‘Polocaust’ museum would antagonize Jews, Polish government minister says

Anti-Semitic incidents in 2017 more than double the US total from 2015, ADL says

Supreme Court judge decries ‘leadership crisis’ amid Netanyahu probes

Tax chief: Israel has become world’s laxest tax haven

Leader: Rise in global gas prices drove Egyptian deal

UN chief: ‘Stop this hell on earth’ in Syria

Britain may join US strikes against Syria if chemical weapon use proven

Russia rejects allegations pro-Assad forces behind Syria chlorine attack

Syria conflict: Putin orders Eastern Ghouta ‘humanitarian pause’

Russia orders five-hour daily truce in Syria’s eastern Ghouta

Report: Russia’s Ministry of Defense plans evacuations from Syria’s Ghouta

Strikes on east Syria’s last ISIS pocket kill 25 civilians

Turkey’s Erdogan criticised for telling tearful young girl dressed as soldier she would ‘die a martyr’

UAE launches ‘Operation Decisive Sword’ targeting al-Qaeda in Yemen

Russia blocks UN resolution citing Iran for arming Yemen rebels

Citing sanctions violation, Russia uses veto to protect Iran at UN

Haley slams Human Rights Council for inviting Iran rights abuser to speak at UN

Iran dismisses Trump’s ‘worthless’ conditions for renewing nuke deal

Iran talks 2.0: Trump battles Europe on the nuclear deal

US opens tough Saudi nuke talks in shadow of Iran deal

Saudi king sacks military chiefs in major shake-up

Saudi military leaders replaced amid stalemated war in Yemen

Saudi king replaces top officials, appoints woman, in major shake-up

Afghan Taliban renew call for dialogue with US to end war

US Air Force Chief Warns of Space War ‘in a Matter of Years’

UN chief preparing new push towards ending nuclear weapons

White House officials are reportedly tired of hearing about a ‘bloody nose’ strike against North Korea

Trump: US would like talks with Pyongyang but ‘we’ll see what happens’

North Korea wants dialogue with US without preconditions

Trump should not ignore Xi’s power grab in China

China drowns out critics of lifetime Xi presidency

The Google Assistant is going global

Humans to become guinea pigs in experiments of AI robots in future

How Companies Scour Our Digital Lives for Clues to Our Health

Self-Proclaimed Inventor of Bitcoin Accused of Swindling $5 Billion in Cryptocurrency

More Americans now support a universal basic income

Dow rallies nearly 400 points, major averages down just 3% from all-time highs

Rising mortgage rates hit new home sales hard, an ominous sign for builders

Delta tried to find a middle ground on gun control – only to discover there wasn’t one

Georgia Officials Threaten Delta: Restore NRA Ties or Lose Pending Tax Breaks

Renewing Call To Arm Teachers, Trump Tells Governors The NRA Is ‘On Our Side’

Trump promises to play the hero to all sides on gun issues

Warren Buffett: Don’t think Berkshire should say we’re not going to do business with people who own guns

FedEx under fire for NRA discounts as activists, Florida students press boycott; company says no changing coming

Florida Gun Show sees ‘record number’ of attendees amid gun control debate

Shooter could have faced charges before massacre – had cops done their job, experts say

In blow to Trump, Supreme Court won’t hear appeal of DACA ruling

Lawsuit: 100,000 noncitizens registered to vote in Pennsylvania

Israeli scientists complete mock Mars mission in Negev desert

Exxon Shuts Papua New Guinea Output to Inspect Quake Damage

6.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Mendi, Papua New Guinea

6.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Airbuaya, Indonesia

6.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Mendi, Papua New Guinea

5.7 magnitude earthquake hits near Mendi, Papua New Guinea

5.6 magnitude earthquake hits near Mendi, Papua New Guinea

5.5 magnitude earthquake hits near Isangel, Vanuatu

5.5 magnitude earthquake hits near Porgera, Papua New Guinea

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Mendi, Papua New Guinea

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Mendi, Papua New Guinea

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Porgera, Papua New Guinea

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Porgera, Papua New Guinea

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Mendi, Papua New Guinea

Popocateptl volcano in Mexico erupts to 21,000ft

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 17,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 17,000ft

Mayon volcano in the Philippines erupts to 11,000ft

Drastic Arctic warm event stuns scientists, as record-breaking temperatures reach the North Pole

‘Wacky’ Weather Makes Arctic Warmer Than Parts of Europe

‘Beast from the East’ sweeps across Europe as Arctic warming brings freak weather

Rome blanketed by rare snow as Arctic storm sets seasonal records

Rome, which had only seen snow once in the last 33 years, just got hit with a rare ‘Beast from the East’ storm – even priests at the Vatican came out to play

More storms threaten sodden central U.S., where at least 70 rivers are in flood stage

More Than A Dozen Landslides Wreak Havoc Across Pittsburgh Area

Norway to spend $12.7M in upgrades to ‘doomsday’ seed vault

20 states sue to kill Obamacare, citing Trump’s mandate repeal

New guidelines for pediatricians recommend screening teens for depression

A CDC researcher left work sick two weeks ago – then vanished

Missing CDC scientist’s father: There were some concerning messages before his disappearance

Superbugs set to kill more than cancer, Jeremy Hunt warns, with a fifth of antibiotic prescriptions needless

Flu drug designed to kill the virus in a day approved in Japan

FDA Expanding Research Ops to Better Fight the Opioid Epidemic

‘National disgrace’: Community fights back as California overrun by homelessness, human waste, needles

Tattoo Artist Covers Body With Black Ink, Including Eyeballs and Inside of His Mouth

Defense attorneys hint at blaming acne drug to defend Longmont teen charged with murder

This man streams his own murder on Facebook in North Carolina town

Kids Use Tech So Much They Can’t Hold A Pencil Anymore, Doctors Say

No, it’s not just you, everybody is exhausted. And no, it’s not getting better

Ivanka Trump scolds NBC News for ‘inappropriate’ question about her father’s sex misconduct accusers

Ivanka Trump says she believes father’s denials of sexual misconduct

1 in 4 young people has been sexted, study finds

First transgender recruit joins U.S. military, Pentagon confirms

Ga. Senate Passes Bill Exempting Faith-Based Adoption Agencies From Working With Gay Couples

UMC Lead Bishop Tells Both Sides of Homosexuality Debate to Be Open to ‘Changing One’s Mind’ to Avoid Schism

Catholic Church Considers Married Priests to Ease Amazon Clergy Shortage

President Trump, Congress Order Extraordinary Honors for Rev. Billy Graham

Billy Graham’s daughter says she hopes his death will ‘shake the church’

Mike Oppenheimer – The Deteriorating effect of Apostasy

J.D. Hall – Post-Modernity And Accusations of Lying

Apostle Jeff Jansen Teaches the Kenotic Christ Heresy

Re-Establishing the Tabernacle of David… in Australia

Presbyterian Minister Writes New Book to Make the “Christian Argument for Abortion”

Teen said Modesto pastor abused her. Church ‘swept it under the rug

Baptist Youth Pastor Accused of Sexually Assaulting 15 Year old Girl

Christian Displays Removed From Elementary School Classroom Following Atheist Complaint

Arizona Senate Passes Bill to Allow Teachers to Post ‘God Enriches’ in Classrooms

Harvard Places Christian Group on Probation for Asking Bible Study Leader in Same-Sex Relationship to Resign

Washington State Bill Would Force Christian Businesses to Pay for Health Care Plans That Cover Abortion

Mike Ratliff – Paying the cost of discipleship

Interaction with One Caller Sums Up the Problems with Dr. Michael Brown

Prophetic Rabbit Mugs To Engage God – Lana Vawser

Paula White to Join David Taylor, Vicki Yohe at Massive Cancer-Healing Crusade

Tennessee man flips car five times after letting ‘Jesus take the wheel’

Southern Baptist Seminary Holds MLK and Malcom X “Read-In” Event

SBC Gives DC Baptist Convention 90 Days to Sever Ties With Church Led by Lesbian Pastors

Gothardism – Former members of Duggar family church speak out

R.G. Stair – Victim’s parents arrested in sex assault case against South Carolina preacher

Two S. Carolina churches vandalized with derogatory comments about Billy Graham

Meet Australia’s first transgender priest

Christians in India Experience ‘Most Traumatic’ Persecution in 10 Years

Israel – After Holy Sepulchre locked, bill allowing seizure of former church land shelved

Rare snowfall blankets Rome…

Posted: 26 Feb 2018 10:53 AM PST

Rare snowfall blankets Rome…The Arctic storm dubbed the “Beast from the East” set record temperatures across much of Europe on Monday and brought a rare snowstorm to Rome, paralyzing the city and giving its residents an unusual chance to ski, sled and build snowmen in its famous parks and piazzas.  Rome’s train, plane and bus services were crippled and Italy’s civil protection agency even mobilized the army to help clear slush-covered streets as a city used to mild winters was covered by a thick blanket of snow.

“Beautiful, beautiful!” marveled Roman resident Ginevra Sciurpa, who donned a fur hat and thick scarf to brave the unusual cold. “Even though I’m not a child anymore, the enthusiasm for the snow is still the same. It is always beautiful, and above all I didn’t have to go to work.” Elsewhere, the storm set dangerously low temperatures: Meteorologists in Germany reported a record low for this winter of -27 C (-16.6 F) on the Zugspitze mountain in the Alps. Moscow, as well, recorded its coldest night this winter, with the mercury dipping to nearly -20 C (-4 F) on Sunday night. READ MORE

School District Demands Church Remove Cross From Sanctuary

Posted: 26 Feb 2018 10:38 AM PST

School District Demands Church Remove Cross From SanctuaryA Texas school district will no longer hold its graduation ceremonies at one of the largest megachurches in the nation after the church refused to remove a cross from the sanctuary.  For more than a decade, the McKinney School District held graduation ceremonies for three of its high schools in the massive sanctuary of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano.  But that tradition ended abruptly after a group of

atheists, agnostics and free-thinkers complained about a public school system using a building that belongs to a Christian church.  “It was our refusal to remove the cross from view that created this cowardly decision,” Pastor Jack Graham wrote on Twitter. “It appears religious freedom is under attack at the McKinney Public Schools.”  Graham said they are disappointed in the district’s decision, but the congregation does not have any regrets in refusing to remove the cross.  “We are not ashamed this happened because we would not consent to remove or cover our cross,” he said. READ MORE

Will Catholics Go to Heaven?

Posted: 26 Feb 2018 10:29 AM PST

Will Catholics Go to Heaven?Will Catholics go to Heaven?  Bethlehem College & Seminary chancellor and DesiringGod founder John Piper answers this question. In a podcast posted to the DesiringGod website on Wednesday, a listener named Jimmy asked Piper if a recently deceased friend of his who was Catholic would go to Heaven. “He was a great man, a good friend, a mentor to many young men like myself, and a devout Roman Catholic,” said Jimmy. “Will I see my friend in Heaven?

Or do his theological views make this impossible? Can I rightfully experience Paul’s ‘sorrowful, yet always rejoicing’ mantra, or was my friend merely a devoted husband, a wonderful friend, and a good man? In other words, do you believe devout Roman Catholics can be genuine Christians?” Piper began his response by noting the theological issues he has with the Catholic Church, specifically concerns over how the Church views Scripture, the Virgin Mary, baptism, indulgences, the doctrine of justification, transubstantiation, and purgatory. READ MORE

Is a Great Revival Coming to America?

Posted: 26 Feb 2018 10:18 AM PST

Is a Great Revival Coming to America?(By Michael Brown) For the last several years, there has been an increasing cry for a fresh move of God in our country, for a new spiritual awakening. Is it coming? Are the days of revival near? Could we see America shaken by the Word and the Spirit?  In my recent book Saving a Sick America, I shared my deep and fervent hope that another great awakening could be at hand, something that could rock our nation from coast to coast. So, I’m certainly not one to say, “It’s too late for America!”

And the Lord knows how desperately we need revival. In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that, without a national awakening, in just one generation America could collapse into spiritual anarchy. So, the question is not, “Do we need revival?” nor is the question, “Is God willing to send revival?” Instead, the question is, “Do we really want revival? Will we welcome a divine visitation if it came?” Or, to ask the question even more pointedly, “As God’s people, do we really want Him to visit us afresh, or are we content to remain in our compromised spiritual state?” READ MORE

Thousands of fish die mysteriously in Argentina

Posted: 26 Feb 2018 10:14 AM PST

Thousands of fish die mysteriously in ArgentinaWhat killed so many fish in Argentina? Residents of Santa Rosa were left baffled after discovering thousands of dead fish had washed ashore overnight. The strange scene took place along the banks of the city and had some people worried that the fish had perished due to some kind of pollution. An official

examination of the dead fish determined that the animals had actually died of natural causes. High temperatures would have reduced the oxygenation of the lagoon to the point that it became uninhabitable for the poor fish. But how did all the other types of fish manage to survive those extreme water conditions? READ MORE

SIGN OF WAR? River in Lebanon turns blood red

Posted: 26 Feb 2018 10:09 AM PST

SIGN OF WAR? River in Lebanon turns blood redAuthorities say likely cause of discoloration was red dye spilled into the water. Some alarm was noted in Lebanon over the weekend when photos shared on social media showed a river in the country’s east had turned crimson red. Footage of the river Bardawni in the city of Zahle quickly went viral, prompting government officials to investigate.

Authorities said the likely cause of the water’s discoloration was red dye spilled into the river by a local place of business. The environment ministry said it would “take the maximum action against anyone who appears in the investigation, causing this pollution or contributing to it.” READ MORE

Swarm of 16 earthquakes rattles San Francisco Bay Area after series of 60 earthquakes hit the Danville area last week

Posted: 26 Feb 2018 10:02 AM PST

Swarm of 16 earthquakes rattles San Francisco Bay Area after series of 60 earthquakes hit the Danville area last weekSeveral magnitude 2 and 3 earthquakes rumbled through the San Francisco Bay Area on Friday. It’s the latest seismic activity to add to a swarm of 60 earthquakes greater than magnitude 1 to hit the Danville area in the past week. The largest in the sequence, a magnitude 3.6 earthquake, came at 12:19 p.m. Friday. The U.S. Geological Survey received reports from more than 1,000 people who said they felt the quake, extending from the East Bay and into San Francisco. The quake was quite shallow, less than a

third of a mile under the surface of the earth. A magnitude 2.8 aftershock was felt two minutes later. San Francisco has been shaken by a series of small earthquakes over 24 hours in California – the US state where a ‘Big One’ could happen at any moment. Friday’s seismic sequence began at 2:32 a.m., with a magnitude 2.7 temblor, followed by a magnitude 2.8 earthquake less than an hour later. A magnitude 3.3 earthquake hit at 5:28 a.m. The BART train service delayed trains after the magnitude 3 earthquakes Friday as a safety precaution. READ MORE


Stocks, Bonds, and Derivatives – Three Ways to Lose

From Tulips to South Seas, from Dot Coms to Houses – all financial bubbles (manias) have something in common. Assets rise gently, largely unnoticed by the general public. As the easy money is made and prices rise above historical norms, bubble assets become more popular within the mainstream. Then they become overvalued as their prices rise way above “intrinsic value, and when the mania finally matures, overvalued grows to extremely overvalued (i.e., a financial bubble). Then, at some point in time and some price level, the market exhausts itself and collapses back to and often below it’s starting point. These collapses tend to be sudden, out of the blue, violent, and usually happen without any obvious cause or reason. What was made during the boom gets lost in the bust – and sometimes much more, especially if leverage was involved. The more extreme the bubble, the more extreme the collapse – as we saw in 1929, 2000, and 2007/2008.

The hundred-trillion-dollar global bond market (far and away the largest in world history) is very vulnerable to a domino-type collapse – very possibly starting in Europe or China and then going global in as little as 48 hours. Bonds are headed for the tank. Governments are bankrupt and will never repay their debts – or they will repay them with worthless printed paper money à la Weimar Germany or Zimbabwe. Corporations will not have sufficient earning power to pay the interest on their bonds, and rapidly rising interest rates (from today’s 5,000-year interest rate lows) will ultimately render bonds worthless.

Even more vulnerable than this global bond bubble is the highly leveraged (i.e., up to 1,000-to-one leverage), gargantuan global derivatives market – which originated on Wall Street early in the last decade, and from which the 2007/2008 financial meltdown sprang. An accident in either of these two global financial mega-bubbles (which, like the coming earthquake along the San Andreas fault, is totally predictable as an event that will occur at some indeterminate point in the future) will take down the entire global financial system in a matter of a few days and trigger the biggest depression since the 1930s – probably far bigger. Global war is likely to follow shortly thereafter.

Derivatives are a highly leveraged (i.e., up to 1,000-to-one) innovation of Wall Street and the big US banks. The global derivatives bubble (Warren Buffett calls derivatives “financial weapons of mass destruction”) exceeds $500 trillion dollars. Credit default derivatives were what triggered the financial crisis of 2007-2009 that almost imploded the whole global financial system. Today that bubble is far larger and more vulnerable than 10 years ago.

(Excerpt from McAlvany Intelligence Advisor, June 2017)


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Watch: Ronald Reagan’s Stance on Gun Control Is What Every American Needs to Hear

President Ronald Reagan spoke the words almost 35 years ago, but they could have been part of an argument yesterday. Because with the gun control movement galvanized by the Valentine’s Day massacre in Parkland, Florida, gun grabbers are trying to use the blood of innocent victims to open another front in their war on constitutional…

The post Watch: Ronald Reagan’s Stance on Gun Control Is What Every American Needs to Hear appeared first on Conservative Tribune.

Academia’s Assault on Reason

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In academia, reason and its concomitants—objective truth, fact, and knowledge—are under fire courtesy of the postmodern leftists that dominant the professoriate.

From whence springs this animus against the classical ideal of liberal learning?

The initial impetus, it seems clear, was animus against the theocentric worldview—Christianity—within which the University came to be.

By the lights of the classical ideal of a liberal arts education, the essential mission of any institution of higher learning is the facilitation of the disinterested pursuit of Truth.  Universities existed for the sake of cultivating within students the excellences of head and heart, the intellectual and moral virtues.

Notice, this traditional understanding relies upon an assumption that was taken for granted for much of the history of Western civilization, the assumption that between ontology and virtue—metaphysics and ethics, ultimate reality and moral goodness—there exists an indissoluble bond.

Western Man’s affirmation of the ontology-morality connection was most prominently embodied in what is widely known as “the Great Chain of Being.” The latter, endorsed by the ancients and medieval thinkers alike, is the idea that there are degrees of reality or being, and that the more reality a thing possesses, the more goodness it possesses.

Plato’s “Two Worlds” theory is the most robust illustration from the ancient world of this metaphysical vision.  For Plato, reality is divided into two orders of existence. On the one hand, there’s the world of such “Universals” or “Forms” as Truth, Beauty, Justice, and, most importantly, “the Good.”  On the other hand, there is our world, the world of “particulars,” a world comprised of the many individual perceptible things that we see, hear, taste, touch, and smell from moment to moment.

The Universals are most real, for this perishable world of particulars depends upon it. The Universals are also, hence, superior to this fleeting world of ours.

Christian thinkers, represented by the likes of Saint Augustine, preserved the Great Chain but made God the apex of all being. For Christians, God is most fundamentally real and, thus, maximally good.

Within the framework of the Great Chain, then, reality is of objective valueIt is not subjective or otherwise “socially constructed.” Reality is a hierarchical unity.  And Truth, the object of knowledge, is not comprised of propositions.  Truth is being, the highest being.  In Christian thought, Truth is a Person (or, more specifically, three Persons in One).

The repudiation of reason and truth as masks is a repudiation of the Christian suppositions that have underwritten Western civilization for most of its lifespan.

Karl Marx, with his “dialectical materialism” that reduced both the theistic claims of Christianity and all appeals to reason to the function of an historically-specific, dominant mode of the means of economic production, was the first to recognize that the assault against objective reason and that against Christianity are one and the same.  Yet Friedrich Nietzsche, with his infamous declaration that “God is dead,” made the link between the two explicit.

In Book III of Joyful Wisdom, Nietzsche proclaims God’s death and laments that “for millenniums yet” people will have to “overcome his shadow!” He was not in doubt as to the implications of a Godless universe.  “The general character of the world…is to all eternity chaos; not by the absence of necessity, but in the sense of the absence of order, structure, form, beauty, wisdom, and whatever else our aesthetic humanities are called.” The universe “is altogether unaffected by our aesthetic and moral judgments” and “it…knows no law,” for “there is no one who commands, no one who obeys, no one who transgresses.”

One of the “four errors” in which “Man has been reared” is his belief that whatever “tables of values” he happened to devise at any given moment “are eternal and unconditioned [.]”  The ideas of “humanity, humaneness, and ‘human dignity’” are “deducted” from this “error” and the others.

It is not coincidental that Nietzsche immediately follows his declaration concerning the morally, aesthetically, and theologically-neutral character of the cosmos as he conceives it with his attack on knowledge and even logic.

“Throughout immense stretches of time,” he writes, “the intellect produced nothing but errors [.]”  Admittedly, some of these errors “proved to be useful and preservative of the species,” but they remain, nevertheless, “erroneous articles of faith” that, today, “are almost the property and stock of the human species [.]”

And what are these falsehoods? They are the notions of “enduring things,” “equal things,” “substances, bodies [.]”  They as well include the ideas “that a thing is what it appears, that our will is free,” and “that what is good for me is also good absolutely.” It was until much later in time, Nietzsche continues, that this traditional conception of “truth made its appearance as the most impotent form of knowledge.” Reason is not “generally…an entirely free and self-originating activity” but, rather, “the force of the impulses in cognition [.]”

As for logic, it “originated in men’s heads…out of the illogical [.]” Nietzsche summarizes his position: “The course of logical thought and reasoning in our modern brain corresponds to a process and struggle in impulses, which singly and in themselves are all very illogical and unjust [.]”  Humans “experience usually only the result of the struggle, so rapidly and secretly does this primitive mechanism now operate in us.”

In the 20th century, the French existentialist, atheist philosopher Jean Paul Sartre approvingly quoted Dostoyevski’s famous claim that “If God did not exist, everything would be permitted.” Sartre regarded this proposition as existentialism’s “starting point.”  Without God, “man” is “abandoned,” “for he cannot find anything to rely on—neither within nor without.  Neither within him nor without does he find anything [objective moral standards] to cling to.”

Gone with God is “the possibility of finding value in an intelligible,” “any a priori Good,” for there is “no infinite and perfect consciousness to think of it.”

Sartre is convinced that if God does not exist, then neither does human nature.  His point is that “since there is no God to conceive it, there is no human nature.”

The assault against reason is, in the last analysis, an assault against the historical Christian consciousness of Western civilization.  In a future essay, we shall see that for the contemporary postmodern academic left, this attack is an attack on white people, and white heterosexual Christian men (or “males”) in particular.

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February 27, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

Dust and Glory

Genesis 2:7

The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

Alexander Pope was not being particularly biblical when he wrote, “The chief study of mankind is man.” He was not even being original, for the obligation to “know thyself” was an axiom of Greek thought thousands of years before him. Still, Pope was expressing an obligation felt by most men and women in nearly every age of history. We want to know who or what we are, why we are here, and where we are going.

Unfortunately, it is impossible for us to answer these questions apart from the biblical revelation. The reason is that we see parts of the answer, but only parts, and are therefore constantly distorting the picture. Zoologists, like Desmond Morris, who calls man “the naked ape,” tells us that man is essentially an animal. Karl Marx says that the essence of man is in his labor, what he does. Existentialists tell us that man is essentially volitional. That is, his uniqueness is found in his will. Hugh Hefner tells us that we are sensuous creatures and are therefore to be understood largely in terms of our passions or sexual performance. Common today is the view that man is essentially a machine, a large computer. At the Carnegie Mellon Institute in Pittsburgh there is a research project in which scientists are asking whether there is any essential difference between a human being and a computer. Each of these attempts to define man has elements of truth. But in the final analysis each fails because it is reductionistic. It sees part of the picture, but it lacks a comprehensive view of the whole. Consequently, in this age as in previous ages of human history man is “his own most vexing problem,” as Reinhold Niebuhr reminds us.

What are we to do? The only wise course is to ask who we are from God. When we do that we find that there is no profounder statement of who we are than Genesis 2:7.

Formed from the Dust

The profundity of this verse is that it describes man as a combination of what is low and what is high. On the one hand, he is described as being formed from the dust of the ground—an image of lowness though not of evil, as the Greeks thought, for even the dust is made by God and is good because he made it. On the other hand, man has been breathed into by God—an image of glory. It is man’s unique role to combine both dust and glory.

Dust is one of the most fascinating images of Scripture, and a study of it amply repays the time invested. It is a symbol of that which is of little worth, of low or humble origin. We see this in a number of passages. For instance, when Abraham is pleading with God over Sodom and wishes to emphasize his own littleness to engage in such pleading, he says, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty?” (Gen. 18:27). Or again, Hannah, in praising God for hearing her request for a son, says, “He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap” (1 Sam. 2:8; cf. Ps. 113:7). On one occasion God reminds King Baasha of Israel that it was he who lifted him “up from the dust” and made him “leader of my people Israel” (1 Kings 16:2). But because he did not obey or honor God, God removed him and brought him down to the dust again. Dust is used as a symbol of the total defeat of one’s enemies (“the king of Aram had destroyed the rest and made them like the dust at threshing time,” 2 Kings 13:7; cf. Ps. 18:42; 72:9). It is a sign of mourning (“Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the Lord, remaining there till evening. The elders of Israel did the same, and sprinkled dust on their heads,” Josh. 7:6; cf. Job 2:12; 16:15; Lam. 2:10; 3:29; Ezek. 27:30; Micah 1:10; Rev. 18:19). Job used the word twenty-two times to speak of the littleness of man in his misery. In a classic passage near the end of his book, this suffering saint declares, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5–6).

We repeat that dust is not evil, nor is it nothing. But it is “next to nothing,” as Matthew Henry notes. He adds that man “was not made of gold-dust, powder of pearl, or diamond dust, but common dust, dust of the ground.” In describing man as being formed from the dust Moses undoubtedly wished to stress man’s humble origin and show that he can aspire to glory only by the grace of God, who made him.

There is something else to be noted about dust: it is a symbol of frustration. The greatest example is the frustration of Satan whose curse, related in Genesis 3:14, was in part that “you will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.” This passage does not mean that snakes literally eat dust, nor does it imply that the author of the passage thought so. Dust in the mouth is a figure of defeat and humiliation.

Before his fall Satan was an intelligent and extremely powerful being, chief of all angels. Somewhere along the line—we do not know when or how—this supremely intelligent creature conceived a most unintelligent thought, namely, that he could get along without God. He said, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High” (Isa. 14:13–14). He rebelled. But God brought him down from the lofty heights of his own sinful imaginations, and instead of finding himself in heaven replacing God he found himself a fugitive in God’s universe. In God’s initial judgment on Satan the fallen cherub had his first taste of dust.

He had another Eden. No doubt, after having suffered God’s instantaneous judgment on himself for his sin, Satan thought that Adam and Eve would experience the same—if only he could get them likewise to rebel against their Creator. So Satan tempted first Eve, then through her, Adam. Satan got them to sin. But instead of the immediate judgment he expected he found God coming graciously to clothe the first man and woman in skins taken from the first animal sacrifices and heard God promising an eventual and full deliverance by him who was to crush the head of Satan (Gen. 3:15).

Satan’s most bitter mouthful of dust was at the cross of Christ when he, who undoubtedly engineered Christ’s death, thinking thereby to strike back at God, found to his dismay that he had unwittingly been instrumental in furthering God’s great plan of redemption. Certainly God was correct when he said, “You will eat dust all the days of your life.” Satan ate dust then. He will always eat it. For even in Isaiah’s great description of earth’s golden age it is said, “The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent’s food” (Isa. 65:25).

In his discussion of the frustrations of Satan (and of others who follow in his path of rebellion), Donald Grey Barnhouse refers to a cartoon published in the London Star during World War II. The forces of Germany were at their farthest point of advance. Axis armies were in the foothills of the Caucasus mountains. Rommel’s troops were standing within the borders of Egypt. Rommel boasted that he would be in Cairo in two weeks. But then the Russian power began to stir, and the armies under Montgomery began that victorious march across Egypt that was to result in the total defeat of the German forces in North Africa. This cartoon showed Hitler standing on tiptoe on a heap of skulls, reaching into the sky where his fingers were just barely missing a cloud in the shape of the word “Victory.” The caption said, “It is always just out of reach.” So it is for Satan, and for all who think they can succeed in their rebellion against the true God.

The third truth symbolized by dust is death, which for unbelievers is the ultimate frustration (cf. Eccles. 3:19–21). It appears in Genesis. In the same judgments in which it is said of Satan, “You will eat dust all the days of your life,” it is said of man, “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return” (Gen. 3:19). This thought was often on Job’s mind. He said in his misery, “I will soon lie down in the dust; you will search for me, but I will be no more” (Job 7:21; cf. 17:16; 20:11; 21:26). It is spoken prophetically of Christ: “My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death” (Ps. 22:15; cf. v. 29).

This image speaks of increasing despair: from littleness to frustration to death. But it is not so for believers. Although we are formed from the dust, we remember that it is God who has formed us and who “remembers that we are dust” (Ps. 103:14). True it is, as the psalm goes on to say, “As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone …” (vv. 15–16). But it is also true, as the psalm adds, “From everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts” (vv. 17–18). The author of Psalm 119 declares, “I am laid low in the dust.” But he adds, “preserve my life according to your word” (v. 25).

The Breath of Life

The reason why it is possible for men to call on God for renewal or even to remember that God remembers their origin is that they are more than dust. They are also spirit, which Genesis 2:7 indicates by saying that after God had formed man from the dust of the ground, he continued his work by breathing “into his nostrils the breath of life.” This is man’s glory.

To appreciate this verse fully we must recognize the close connection between God’s Spirit and the word for “breath.” It comes from the fact that in nearly all ancient languages, particularly Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, the words for spirit and breath are identical. In Latin the word for spirit or breath is spiritus, which has obviously given us our word “spirit.” But spiritus also means breath, as we recognize in many of our Latin derivatives. Spiritus has given us: aspire, conspire, inspire, perspire, and expire. They all refer to different ways of using one’s breath. When men aspire, they take a deep breath and try harder. When they conspire, they put their heads together and breathe in and out with one another. A man is inspired when another man (or God) blows some of his breath into him. A person perspires by breathing out through the skin. When we expire, we breathe out for the last time. We die.

In Greek, the language in which the New Testament is written, the corresponding word is pneuma. It refers to breath also. This word is harder for English-speaking people to pronounce than the Latin word spiritus because of the initial two consonants, pn, so we do not have so many words based on it. Nevertheless, we have pneumatic and pneumonia. The first word refers to any tool that is air operated, like a pneumatic drill. The second refers to a disease of the breath box or lungs.

Finally, just as the Latin and Greek words for “spirit” refer to breath, wind, or air, so also does the Hebrew word. This word is ruach, which you cannot even say properly without exhaling. Ruach! It is the sound of a breath. When we understand this, we have some sense of the poetry of the opening verses of the Bible in which the creative Spirit of God blows over the waters like a troubling wind. No one English version can capture both ideas—the ideas of wind and spirit—but the New English Bible at least suggests the idea of the wind, with a reference to God’s Spirit preserved in a footnote. The New English Bible declares: “In the beginning of creation, when God made heaven and earth, the earth was without form and void, with darkness over the face of the abyss, and a mighty wind that swept over the surface of the waters” (Gen. 1:1–2).

It is this word that occurs in Genesis 2:7 with the implication, readily seen by any Hebrew reader, that man was specially created by God’s breathing some of his own breath into him. Man has a special relationship to God by virtue of the divine spirit. Hence, although like the animals in certain respects, he is also above them and is to excel them in his love of and obedience to the Creator.

We know to our sorrow that man did not excel the animals in fulfilling this high destiny. He rebelled against God and thereby sadly effaced the image of God that had been given to him. Now, though retaining vestiges of that former glory, he is nevertheless thoroughly depraved in the sense that he can do no good acceptable to God, can no longer understand spiritual truth unless aided by the Holy Spirit, and cannot seek the true God against whom he has rebelled. That is why Paul writes of man in his fallen state, saying, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one” (Rom. 3:10–12).

Fortunately, this is not the whole story. Although man cannot seek God, God does seek man and even recreates him according to the pattern originally set in Genesis. It is what Jesus spoke about to Nicodemus when he told that leader of Israel, “You must be born again” (John 3:7). Nicodemus did not understand Christ’s meaning. So Jesus explained that the birth he was referring to was a birth from above by means of God’s Spirit: “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit” (vv. 5–6). Jesus was saying, not that a man must be born again of his mother (which is what Nicodemus first thought), but that he must be born again of God—just as Adam was born of God originally (cf. Luke 3:37). Flesh gives birth to flesh, fallen man to fallen man. But God gives new life now through his Spirit, breathing into us as he once breathed into Adam. Without that necessary rebirth or recreation a person “cannot see the kingdom of God.”

A Living Being

Genesis 2:7 adds one final thought. As a result of God’s forming man from the dust of the ground and breathing some of his own breath into him, man became a “living being.” The phrase translated “a living being” (actually, “living soul”) in Genesis 2:7 is also used in Genesis 1:24 of the animals. But as a result of the particulars of man’s creation given in the second chapter, a distinction is undoubtedly implied. Man is not only alive. He knows he is alive. Even more important, he knows from whom that life has come and of his duties to the God who breathed his own breath into him.

Man also knows that he depends on God for physical life and that he must come to him for spiritual life, as Jesus indicated. Isaiah teaches the physical dependence of man on God in a fascinating verse. It plays on the idea of man’s breath by saying, “Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?” (Isa. 2:22). We might paraphrase Isaiah’s command by saying, “Why trust in man who is able to take only one noseful of breath at a time? Trust God, whose breath is inexhaustible.” The breath of God in us may be our glory, but it is still received by us only one breath at a time. We breathe in. We hold our breath. We breathe out. But then we must breathe in again, or die. Nothing could better characterize our utter dependence on God.

And what if God should withhold his breath? Job answers by saying, “If it were his intention and he withdrew his spirit and breath, all mankind would perish together and man would return to the dust” (Job 34:14–15). So does the psalmist: “When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust” (Ps. 104:29).

I give two closing verses. There is a verse in 1 Corinthians that, by its contrast between the first Adam in his littleness and Christ in his greatness, summarizes most of what this study has been saying. Paul writes, “So it is written: ‘The first man Adam became a living being’ [a clear reference to our text in Genesis]; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit” (1 Cor. 15:45). What does Paul mean? Simply this: Adam existed by breathing in, and the breath he breathed in was from God. He could not sustain himself. Christ, on the other hand, is the One who breathes out, for he is “life-giving spirit.” We are to live physically and spiritually only as we turn to and are united to him.

The last verse is in the form of a concluding challenge, particularly to any who are not yet Christ’s. It comes from the little-known Book of Ecclesiastes: “Remember him [that is, remember God]—before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well, and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it” (Eccles. 12:6–7). It is the preacher’s way of saying “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2).

When death comes it is too late. Now, while you still have life, come to him who is able to give eternal life, and find yourself accepted in the Savior.[1]


7 At first glance the description of the creation of humankind is significantly different from that of ch. 1. In ch. 2 the man is made (“fashioned”) “from the dust of the ground” rather than (created) “in the image of God,” as in ch. 1. No two descriptions could be more dissimilar. However, we should not overlook the fact that the topic of the “creation of the man” in ch. 2 is not limited merely to v. 7. In fact, the topic of the creation of the man and the woman is the focus of the entire second chapter. What the author had stated as a simple fact in ch. 1 (human beings, as male and female, were created in God’s likeness) is explained and developed throughout the narrative of ch. 2. We cannot contrast the depiction of the creation of humankind in ch. 1 with only one verse in ch. 2; we must compare it to the narrative in the whole of the chapter.

The first point the author is intent on making is that human beings, though special creatures made in God’s image, are nevertheless creatures, like the other creatures God made. Man did not begin as a “heavenly creature”; he was made of the “dust [ʿāpār] of the ground.” In light of the special attention given to the creation of humankind in ch. 1, the emphasis in ch. 2 on their “creatureliness” is not without importance. The notion that the origin of humankind might somehow be drawn from a divine source is consciously excluded by this narrative. Man’s origin is the dust of the ground.

One can also see in this picture of man’s origin an anticipation of humankind’s destiny after the fall, when they would return to the “dust” (ʿāpār, “soil,” 3:19). In creation man arose out of the dust, but in the fall human beings return to the dust. The author thereby pictures the true nature of the contrast between the work of God and the work of humankind.

Chapter 2 makes a further contribution to our understanding of humankind’s creation in God’s image. This is seen in the author’s depiction of the land and the garden prepared for humankind’s habitation. The description of the garden of Eden deliberately foreshadows the tabernacle as it is described later in the Pentateuch. The garden, like the tabernacle, was the place where humankind could enjoy the fellowship and presence of God.[2]


2:7 / Like a potter, God formed(yatsar)man(’adam)from the dust of the ground(’adamah). There is a wordplay between “man” and “ground.” “Ground” represents red soil (from the root ’-d-m, “red”). Whether it indicates that the man’s skin was copper-colored is difficult to determine. Furthermore, ’adam is particularly hard to translate, for it is used for all humans as well as for the name of the first man. Versions vary widely in rendering ’adam as Adam or man. The kjv renders it Adam eighteen times out of the thirty-four occurrences, but the niv translates it Adam only four times (2:20; 3:17, 20, 21), emphasizing the representative role of the first human. Agreeing with this interpretation, this commentary renders ’adam as “man” until the woman has the name Eve (3:20); then Adam is used. Thereby the representative role of the first man and the first woman is kept in the foreground throughout the narrative.

God then breathed into the man’s nostrils the breath of life, and he became a living being(nepesh khayyah). The latter phrase classifies humans as members of the animal world (2:19), while “breath” establishes that humans continually and uniquely depend on God for their life force (Job 27:3). Whenever God takes the breath away, that person dies (Ps. 104:29–30).[3]


[1] Boice, J. M. (1998). Genesis: an expositional commentary (pp. 115–121). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[2] Sailhamer, J. H. (2008). Genesis. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Genesis–Leviticus (Revised Edition) (Vol. 1, pp. 74–75). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Hartley, J. E. (2012). Genesis. (W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston, Eds.) (p. 59). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

FEBRUARY 27 THE END OF THE AGE

All these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be?

2 Peter 3:11

Everywhere around us we are experiencing a great new wave of humanity’s interest in spiritism and devil worship. I must take this as one of the signs that God’s age of grace and mercy is approaching the end point. It tells us that the time may be near when God proclaims: “I have seen enough of mankind’s sin and rebellion. It is time for the trumpets of judgment to sound!”

If we are willing to add the appeals from the book of Revelation to the weight of the other Scriptures, we discover God saying to us that the earth on which we live is not self-explanatory and certainly not self-sufficient.

Although the earth on which we spin is largely populated by a rebel race, it had a divine origin. Now God is about to enforce His claim upon it and judge those who are usurpers. He is saying that there is another and better world, another kingdom, that is always keeping an eye on the world we inhabit!

Lord, help me to be sensitive to the spiritual realm that coexists with the physical world. Thank You that You are still on the throne of this universe and that You are the One who holds all things together.[1]


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

40 Days to the Cross: Week Two – Tuesday

Confession: Psalm 6:5–7

For there is no remembrance of you in death.

In Sheol, who will give thanks to you?

I am weary with my groaning;

I flood my bed every night.

With my tears I drench my couch.

My eye wastes away because of vexation;

it grows old because of all my oppressors.

Reading: Mark 10:46–52

And they came to Jericho. And as he was setting out from Jericho along with his disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar, Bartimaeus the son of Timaeus, was sitting beside the road. And when he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And many people warned him that he should be quiet. But he was crying out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man and said to him, “Have courage! Get up! He is calling you.” And he threw off his cloak, jumped up, and came to Jesus. And Jesus answered him and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabboni, that I may regain my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Go, your faith has healed you.” And immediately he regained his sight and began to follow him on the road.

Reflection

O most kind, most loving Lord, whom I now desire to receive with devotion. You know the weakness and the necessity which I suffer, in what great evils and vices I am involved, how often I am depressed, tempted, defiled, and troubled.

To you I come for help; to you I pray for comfort and relief. I speak to Him who knows all things, to whom my whole inner life is manifest, and who alone can perfectly comfort and help me.

You know what good things I am most in need of and how poor I am in virtue. Behold, I stand before you, poor and naked, asking your grace and imploring your mercy.

Feed your hungry beggar. Inflame my coldness with the fire of your love. Enlighten my blindness with the brightness of your presence. Turn all earthly things to bitterness for me, all grievance and adversity to patience, all lowly creation to contempt and oblivion. Raise my heart to you in heaven, and suffer me not to wander on earth. From this moment to all eternity do you alone grow sweet to me, for you alone are my food and drink, my love and my joy, my sweetness and my total good.

Let your presence wholly inflame me. Consume and transform me into yourself, that I may become one spirit with you by the grace of inward union and by the melting power of your ardent love.

Suffer me not to go from you fasting and thirsty, but deal with me mercifully as you have so often and so wonderfully dealt with your saints.

What wonder if I were completely inflamed by you to die to myself, since you are the fire ever burning and never dying, a love purifying the heart and enlightening the understanding.

—Thomas à Kempis

The Imitation of Christ

Response

Instead of “going on his way,” Bartimaeus followed after Jesus. What is your response to Christ’s intervention in your life? After reflecting on this, spend time praying Thomas à Kempis’ prayer.[1]


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

February 27 Spiritual Hunger’s Second Object—Sanctification

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.—Matt. 5:6

For the Christian, the object of hungering and thirsting is growth in sanctification, which is a crucial mark of the genuine believer. No one who follows Christ attains complete sanctification until heaven, and to claim otherwise would be the height of presumption. Thus saints in this life always need to strive for more holiness, which will be seen in their lives through obedience to the Word. Paul prayed that the Philippian believers might “abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that [they] may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ” (Phil. 1:9–10).

The Greek grammar Matthew used in quoting Jesus indicates that righteousness is the unqualified and unlimited object of “hunger and thirst.” Our Lord is describing people who earnestly desire all the righteousness there is (cf. Matt. 5:48; 1 Peter 1:15–16).

In the original text the definite article appears before “righteousness,” which means that Jesus is not speaking of just any general righteousness, but the righteousness—the true one that comes from God. In fact, it is the Father’s very own righteousness that the Son also possesses.

Because we as believers cannot possibly have our longing for godliness satisfied during our earthly lives, we must continually hunger and thirst until the glorious day when we receive the complete clothing of Jesus Christ’s righteousness.

ASK YOURSELF

Not on Sunday morning but on Tuesday afternoon, on Thursday morning, on Friday night in front of the television—are you hungering for “all the righteousness there is”? Does the call of Christ’s holiness register at off times of day?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 66). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

February 27 Applying the Principles

Grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.

Ephesians 4:15

Spiritual growth is simply a matter of applying scriptural principles, but there are many who believe only spiritual giants experience a great increase in faith.

I have read about mystics who knelt and prayed for eight to ten hours, wearing holes in the wood floors. I have read about Robert Murray McCheyne, who would soil the pages of his Bible and the wood of his pulpit with great floods of tears. And I have read Power Through Prayer by E. M. Bounds, who spent countless hours in prayer. As I learned about these people, all I could think of was that I could never reach that level. But God uses each of us in different ways.

Spiritual growth is not some mystical achievement for a select few on a higher spiritual plane. Rather, it is simply a matter of glorifying God by confessing sin, trusting Him, bearing fruit, praising Him, obeying and proclaiming His Word, praying, and leading others to Christ. Those are the qualities every Christian needs in order to mature. When you focus on them, the Spirit of God will change you into the image of Christ, from one level of glory to the next.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 70). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

February 27, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

21:43–45 So the Lord gave Israel all the land. This sums up God’s fulfillment of His covenant promise to give Abraham’s people the Land (Ge 12:7; Jos 1:2, 5–9). God also kept His Word in giving the people rest (Dt 12:9, 10). In a valid sense, the Canaanites were in check, under military conquest as God had pledged (Jos 1:5), not posing an immediate threat. Not every enemy had been driven out, however, leaving some to stir up trouble later. But God’s people failed to exercise their responsibility and possess their land to the full degree in various areas.[1]


21:43–45 Just as the account of the taking of the land drew to a close with generalizing summaries (10:40–42; 11:16–23), so the account of the dividing of the land ends with a summary section. It picks up on key motifs such as “land,” “rest,” and “victory” as the Lord’s “gifts” (see esp. ch. 1; the word “rest” occurs also in 11:23 and 14:15, but the Hb. terminology is different). As seen later in Joshua, this section should be understood as a broad summary statement emphasizing the Lord’s decisive action on behalf of Israel, rather than as a comprehensive assertion that all of Israel’s enemies had been eradicated from the land. Although Israel did, in fact, take possession of the land and settled there (21:43), much work still remained to be done (see 23:5). But the key point is that the Lord has been utterly true to his good promises: none has failed, and all came to pass (21:45; the word “all” occurs six times in the Hb. text of vv. 43–45; see also 23:14).[2]


Attributes of God: Faithfulness

Joshua 21:43–45

For more on God’s faithfulness see:

Ex. 3:1–22

Deut. 7:9–11

Judg. 2:1–23

Hos. 2:16–23

Mic. 7:18–20

2 Thess. 3:1–5

This passage draws attention to a major purpose of the book of Joshua—to declare God’s faithfulness. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is true to his promises. He promised to Abraham both the land of Canaan and many descendants in order to form a “great nation” (Gen. 12:1–2, 7; 15:18; 17:8; 18:18), and he fulfilled both of these promises in the generations that followed Joshua in the Promised Land. God also promised to curse those who cursed Abraham (Gen. 12:3), and thus his faithfulness to Israel included the removal of the Canaanites (Josh. 21:44).

God’s faithfulness brings safety and rest (v. 44), manifested in acts of love and care for his people. Psalm 136 captures this well in its refrain: “His steadfast love endures forever.” God’s steadfast love allowed his people to settle the Promised Land, where for a time they had peace on every side after God secured victory over their enemies. Sadly, Israel was not always faithful (Joshua 7; 9) and allowed some Canaanites to remain in the land (13:1–7; 15:63; 16:10; 17:12). They failed to take possession of all the Lord gave them.

Nevertheless, “Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass” (21:45), because he is faithful. He is not erratic and unpredictable like the ancient Near Eastern pantheon, or even like his people. He is a steadfast God who accomplishes the work he promises to do.

Theology for Life—Unlike us, God is altogether trustworthy. We can depend on him and his promises for all of time and eternity.[3]


21:43–45 This doxology forms a fitting conclusion to the second main division of the book (chs. 13–21), reminding Israel of the faithfulness of their God. This passage has been called “the theological heart of the Book of Joshua.” In a sense, v. 43 summarizes chs. 13–21, v. 44 summarizes chs. 1–12, and v. 45 states the main theme of the entire book. In every situation God had demonstrated Himself faithful and sufficient. In spite of the power of the Egyptians, the size, number, and technology of the Canaanites, and the stubbornness and foolishness of His people, God was fulfilling His promises. He continues to do so for the Christian as well, for whom there will be a final, complete, and eternal victory and rest (cf. Phil. 4:13; 2 Thess. 1:6–10).[4]


21:43–45 With the distribution and settlement of the land of Canaan the Lord’s promise to the patriarchs was fulfilled (Gn 12:7; 15:7, 18–21). Although Canaanites continued to reside among the Israelites in some places, the land as a whole was firmly under their control. Several passages assert total triumph over the Canaanites (e.g., Jos 10:40–42; 11:16–23; 12:7–24; 18:1; 23:1), while others note that their removal was incomplete (13:2–6; 15:63; 16:10; 17:12–13, 16–18; 23:4–5, 7, 12–13). These statements are not mutually contradictory; rather, the narrative gives a realistic picture of the conditions of the occupation. The conquest of Canaan did not require that every individual Canaanite be removed or annihilated; displacement of the Canaanites was a process that went on over a period of time (23:4–5). It was still the case that God had faithfully fulfilled His promise to Israel.[5]


21:43–45 This glorious conclusion to these two chapters and to the entire section (chs. 13–21) celebrates the fact that all came to pass exactly as God promised. What has been visible all along is now said plainly—the God of Israel is a promise-keeping God, who gave Israel the land in accordance with the promises He had made with its ancestors, including Moses and the patriarchs. And in addition to giving them the land, He also granted them rest.[6]


43–45 As seen earlier, hyperbolic summaries are not unusual (11:16–23). The conclusion to chapter 21 provides an overstated synopsis of the events related to the conquest: (1) all the land is in Israel’s possession; (2) all her enemies have been given into her hands; and (3) all of Yahweh’s promises have been fulfilled. Israel has gloriously received what was promised to her forefathers centuries earlier (Ge 12:1–3; 15:18–21; 22:17–18; 24:7; 26:3; 50:24; Nu 11:12; 14:16, 23; Dt 1:8, 35; 6:10). The Lord gave rest to his people from their enemies round about (e.g., Dt 12:9–10; Jos 1:13, 15; 22:4; 23:1). Not one word from all of Yahweh’s good promises have failed.

But in reality, much work remained to be done, since the Canaanites could not be dislodged from the land (e.g., 13:1–7; 15:63; 16:10; 17:12–13). So, why do we find a discrepancy between the final summary and historical reality? Perhaps the author wishes to contrast Yahweh’s faithfulness in accomplishing all he had promised and the unfaithfulness of Israel in failing to accomplish the entire mission.

Reflection

The prominent place given to the description of each tribe’s inheritance highlights the theological significance of the material. Yahweh had covenanted with Abraham and Moses to provide a homeland for his people; the promise is now fulfilled. Israel is home! Nomadic life has ended and sedentary life is beginning. Priests can fulfill their obligations in permanent cultic sites; judges can perform their duties in stable locations; society can establish roots and prepare the ground for the next generation. But, as Israel quickly discovers, the blessings of land ownership come with challenges. The enemy is never far away, and the temptation to create alliances for the sake of temporary peace is often appealing. Israel is exhorted to serve Yahweh with all her heart, mind, and strength in the land God has given her. In this land, she must be a testimony to all the nations of the world. Her responsibility is great!

In many ways, the Christian journey reflects that of Israel. God has provided a temporary home for his people here on earth. The journey is both challenging and rewarding. Life is filled with ups and downs, twists and turns, peaks and valleys, defeats and victories. There are times of celebration and times of mourning. And the enemy is never far away. Temptation to compromise integrity, faithfulness, justice, and righteousness faces Christians on a daily basis. Our responsibility is great! God has called us to be faithful witnesses of his love and mercy to a lost world, until we reach our permanent homeland in heaven.[7]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Jos 21:43–45). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[2] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 426). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] Crossway. (2017). ESV Systematic Theology Study Bible: Notes (p. 267). Wheaton, IL: Crossway.

[4] Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Jos 21:43–45). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[5] Kaiser Jr., W. C. (2007). Is the Old Testament Trustworthy? In T. Cabal, C. O. Brand, E. R. Clendenen, P. Copan, & J. P. Moreland (Eds.), The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (p. 355). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

[6] The NKJV Study Bible. (2007). (Jos 21:43–45). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[7] Dallaire, H. M. (2012). Joshua. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Numbers–Ruth (Revised Edition) (Vol. 2, pp. 1021–1022). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

FEBRUARY 27 THE COMMON MAN AND THE COMMON GOD

I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works. And men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts: and I will declare thy greatness.

—Psalm 145:5-6

We also seem to have gotten away from the concept of majesty altogether. This is the age of the common man and along with the common man has come the common god….

The modern Christian has lost a sense of worship along with the concept of majesty, and of course, reverence as well. He has lost his ability to withdraw inwardly and commune in the secret place with God in the shrine of his own hidden spirit. It is this that makes Christianity, and we have all but lost it. Added numbers, yes, but lost fear. Multiplied schools, yes, but lost awareness of the invisible. Tons of literature being poured out, of course, but no consciousness of the divine Presence. Better communication, certainly, but nothing to communicate. Evangelistic organizations, yes, but the concept of majesty and worship and reverence has almost left us. AOG180-181

Oh, God, restore to Your Church a sense of majesty, worship and reverence that sends us to our secret closets in awe. Amen.[1]


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

February 27 God’s Glory

“The heavens are telling of the glory of God, and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.”

Psalm 19:1

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God’s glory is the radiance of all He is.

In Isaiah’s vision of Heaven, angels called out, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isa. 6:3). What exactly is the glory of God? It encompasses all that He is, the radiance of His attri
butes and divine nature.

Moses said to God, “I pray Thee, show me Thy glory!” (Ex. 33:18), and the Lord answered, “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” (v. 19). Moses was not allowed to see God’s face, which is the essence of His being: “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” (v.20). But Moses was allowed to see God’s back, which represents the afterglow of His glory.

Perhaps God’s afterglow is like the radiance of the sun. We only see the light that comes off the sun. If we got too close to it, we would be consumed. If the sun is so brilliant, what must God be like? His glory seen in creation is only a dim reflection of His character.

God displayed His glory many times in Scripture. He represented Himself as a great white cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night as He led Israel through the wilderness (Ex. 13:21). After the Tabernacle was built, “the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” (Ex. 40:34). Years later, He filled the temple in a similar way (1 Kings 8:10–11). This manifestation of God’s glory served as the focal point of worship for Israel.

God takes His glory very seriously. He said, “I will not give My glory to another” (Isa. 42:8). We must not steal God’s glory by becoming proud and taking credit for the good things He has done. Instead of taking God’s glory, say with David, “I will give thanks to Thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and will glorify Thy name forever” (Ps. 86:12).

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Suggestions for Prayer: Praise God for His glory and majesty.

For Further Study: Read Daniel 4, the story of a powerful man who did not give God the glory. What characterized Nebuchadnezzar in verses 30 and 37?[1]


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

February 26 Daily Help

IT is marvellous that the men who most of all rail at faith, are remarkable for credulity. Not caring to have God in their hearts, forsaking the living fountain, they have hewn out to themselves cisterns which are broken, and hold no water. Oh, that we may each of us be more wise, that we may not forsake the good old path, nor leave the way that God hath prepared for us. What wonder we should travel amongst thorns and briars, and rend our own flesh, or worse than that, fall among dark mountains, and be lost among the chasms thereof, if we despise the guidance of our unerring Father.[1]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 61). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

February 26, 2018 Evening Verse Of The Day

Remember Your Salvation

But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that being justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (3:4–7)

As the apostle moves to his third reminder, the transitional conjunction But turns the emphasis from remembering our former condition of lostness to the equally important need to remember our present condition of salvation. Again, Paul lists seven categories (as in both previous points), this time the seven aspects of salvation that are revealed in the single sentence that comprises verses 4–7.

In this short passage Paul sweeps across the glorious truths of salvation, every facet of which is sovereignly initiated and empowered by God alone. There are doctrines here that could be studied and pondered for months without mining all their truth.

We are now radically different from the way we once were, and from the way the unsaved still are, solely because of God’s kindness, His love, His mercy, His washing of regeneration, His renewing by the Holy Spirit, His Son Jesus Christ our Savior, and His grace.

Among other things, remembering our salvation should motivate us to keep in mind that the only reason we are different now is that He saved us. When we are bombarded by our ungodly culture—by ungodly media, ungodly educators, ungodly politicians, ungodly entertainers and sports figures, ungodly books and magazines, ungodly neighbors and co-workers, and even by ungodly friends and relatives—we should focus above all else on the sovereign grace of God, who delivered each one of us from that life purely by His own will and for His own glory and not because of anything desirable or worthy that was in us. It is God “who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4), who does not wish “for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9), and who “so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life, … that the world should be saved through Him” (John 3:16–17).

Every aspect of salvation is from God and from God alone. First, we should remember that we were saved by the kindness of God our Savior.Chrēstotēs (kindness) connotes genuine goodness and generosity of heart. Our salvation from sin and lostness and death issued wholly from God’s kindness, His loving, benevolent, and entirely gracious concern to draw us to Himself and redeem us from sin forever.

It is God’s nature to be kind to the lost. “Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return,”

Jesus commanded; “and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men” (Luke 6:35, emphasis added). God is kinder still to His children, those who are saved. In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul declared, “God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:4–7, emphasis added).

Paul again refers to God as Savior, the central title for both God the Father and for Christ the Son and the theme of this letter (see also 1:3, 4; 2:10, 11, 13; 3:6). Near the beginning of his letter to believers in Rome, the apostle asked rhetorically, “Do you think lightly of the riches of His [God’s] kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4; cf. 11:22). It is the sovereign kindness of God that initiates repentance, the first step in salvation.

Second, we should remember that we were saved by God’s uninfluenced and unearned love for mankind, a phrase that translates the compound Greek noun philanthrōpia, from which the English philanthropy is derived. It is composed of phileō (“to have affection for”) and anthrōpos (“man,” or mankind) and refers to compassion, especially the eagerness to deliver someone from pain, trouble, or danger. It involves more than mere emotion and always finds a way to express itself in some form of helpfulness.

In the last two chapters of Acts, Luke records two instances of unsaved Gentiles showing philanthrōpia. Before Paul boarded ship to be taken as a prisoner to Rome, the centurion “Julius treated Paul with consideration [philanthrōpia] and allowed him to go to his friends and receive care” (Acts 27:3). After the shipwreck off the coast of Malta, Paul and all the others on board managed to safely reach shore, just as God had promised (27:22–26). Luke then reports that “the natives showed us extraordinary kindness [philanthrōpia]; for because of the rain that had set in and because of the cold, they kindled a fire and received us all” (28:2).

The Old Testament speaks often of the Lord’s loving kindness, which never ceases or fails (Lam. 3:22). David declared, “Thou, O Lord, art a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness and truth” (Ps. 86:15; cf. 145:8). Another psalmist proclaimed, “He has made His wonders to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and compassionate” (Ps. 111:4).

In the present passage, kindness and love for mankind are virtually synonymous. The two words together, especially in the context of these four verses, reflect the even deeper agapē love that God has for-fallen mankind. The best known and most beloved passage that expresses God’s agapē love is “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Because of God’s great and compassionate love for mankind, He delivers sinners from the oppression and fatal danger of their iniquity.

It was through the incarnation of Jesus Christ that God’s sovereign kindness and love for mankind appeared, at which time His grace also appeared (Titus 2:11). “God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:4–6). All believers can exult with Paul: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20; cf. Rev. 1:5).

John Calvin wrote that, although God

testifies his goodness and love to all, yet we know it by faith only, when he declares himself to be our Father in Christ. Before Paul was called to the faith of Christ, he enjoyed innumerable gifts of God, which might have given him a taste of God’s fatherly kindness; he had been educated, from his infancy, in the doctrine of the law; yet he wanders in darkness, so as not to perceive the goodness of God, till the Spirit enlightened his mind, and till Christ came forth as the witness and pledge of the grace of God the Father, from which, but for him, we are all excluded. Thus he means that the kindness of God is not revealed and known but by the light of faith.

Third, we should remember that we did not save ourselves by self-effort or any other means, but that God saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy.

Saved is from sōzō, which, although it is sometimes used in the New Testament of physical, temporal deliverance (see, e.g., Matt. 8:25; John 12:27), is most often used of spiritual salvation. Those words have always been cherished by those who have beensaved. Our salvation is the most important and precious thing about us, to which nothing else can begin to compare. Biblical Christianity is a saving religion, and salvation has always been the central theme of Christian songs and hymns.

In the negative sense, salvation relates to our deliverance from the penalty of sin, that is, from divine wrath, spiritual death, and hell. Still again, we are pointed to that beloved text in the gospel of John. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,” the Son Himself declared, “that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved [sōzō] through Him” (John 3:16–17).

In the positive sense, salvation grants us the privilege “to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4), to be made “alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:5), to be delivered “from the domain of darkness, and transferred … to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col. 1:13), and to have “the hope of eternal life” (Titus 1:2).

After Pentecost, “the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). In words that may have been part of an early church creed, Paul wrote, “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15). The purpose of the incarnation was to accomplish the sacrifice that would save lost sinners, among whom we all were once numbered (Eph. 2:5).

The Savior did not redeem us because of anything that we were, or could ever be, in ourselves. Ephesians 2:8–9 makes it clear: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast” (Eph. 2:8–9). No deeds, even those done in relative righteousness, could have earned or merited our salvation. We made no contribution to God’s sovereign and gracious work of salvation. We did not deserve deliverance from sin and death. We did not deserve to be born again, recreated in the very image of our Lord. We did not deserve to become God’s children and joint heirs with His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. We did not deserve the promise of everlasting life, which we will spend in heaven in the continual presence of God.

We were rather saved according to His mercy. Mercy is from eleos, which refers to the outward manifestation of pity and assumes need on the part of those who receive it and sufficient resources to meet the need on the part of those who show it. In some ways, mercy is similar to grace, which Paul mentions in verse 7. But whereas grace relates to guilt, mercy relates to affliction. Whereas grace relates to the state of the sinner before God the judge, mercy relates to the condition of the sinner in his sin. Whereas grace judicially forgives the offender for his wrongdoing, mercy compassionately helps him recover.

Fourth, we should remember that we were saved by God’s mercifully deciding to grant the washing of regeneration. When we were saved, we were cleansed of our sin, the decay and filth that is produced by spiritual deadness. Speaking of that truth in his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul explains that we were cleansed “by the washing of water with the word” (Eph. 5:26). James declares that, “In the exercise of His will He [God] brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we might be, as it were, the first fruits among His creatures” (James 1:18). Peter reminds us that we “have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Pet. 1:23).

Palingenesia (regeneration) carries the idea of receiving new life, of being born again, or born from above. Jesus told the inquiring Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5; cf. Eph. 5:26). In his first letter, the apostle John repeatedly speaks of the marvelous truth of the new birth. We are assured that, “If [we] know that He [Christ] is righteous, [we also] know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him” (1 John 2:29). Conversely, we also are assured that “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (3:9; cf. 5:18). We are assured that “everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (4:7) and that “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” (5:1).

Fifth, we should remember that our salvation came through our renewing by the Holy Spirit. This phrase moves to the next logical step: the effect, or result, of regeneration—namely, the new life that emerges from the new birth. In Romans 8:2, Paul reveals that “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” The Holy Spirit, working through the Word, empowers our new life in Christ. “If any man is in Christ,” the apostle explains in his second letter to the church in Corinth, “he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor. 5:17). That is the Spirit’s work of sanctification (cf. 1 Pet. 1:2). He begins moving the believer up the ladder of glory from one level to the next (cf. 2 Cor. 3:18).

The Father not only saved us through His Holy Spirit, but He poured out His Spirit upon us richly and without measure when we were born again (cf. Acts 2:38–39; 1 Cor. 12:7, 11, 13). The Lord “is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power [of His Holy Spirit] that works within us” (Eph. 3:20). Because of that available power in us, we are commanded to “be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). The Holy Spirit gives us spiritual life, sustains our spiritual life, empowers our spiritual life, and guarantees that our spiritual life will become eternal life, because He is the seal, or guarantee, of eternal life (Eph. 1:13–14).

Sixth, in order to prevent feelings of hostility toward the corrupters of our society, we should remember that we were saved only by the substitutionary and atoning sacrifice of God’s Son, Jesus Christ our Savior, which God, by His eternal decree, made efficacious for us before we were even born. His death in our place and for us is the means, and the only means, of our salvation. In his sermon at Pentecost, Peter declared to the assembled Jews that, although Jesus was put to death by their own ungodly leaders, He nevertheless was sovereignly “delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23). And the death that He died in God’s plan was a death in which He bore all the sins of all who would ever believe.

The seventh aspect of sovereign salvation is equally from God alone. We should remember that we were saved by God’s grace, as Paul has already alluded to in verse 5. In his second letter to Timothy, the apostle explains in more detail that God “has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity” (2 Tim. 1:9; cf. Rom. 4:2–8; 9:11; Eph. 2:8–9).

Paul is not here using justified in its narrow, forensic sense of God’s declaring believers righteous based on the merits of Jesus Christ that are applied on their behalf (see, e.g., Rom. 4:6–8; cf. 3:24, 26; Gal. 2:7). He is rather using justified in its broad, more general sense as a synonym for salvation. Even John Calvin, a stickler for the narrow, precise definition of justification, recognized that in this passage it refers to salvation in general. He says, “What does he mean by the word justified? The context seems to demand that its meaning shall be extended further than to the imputation of righteousness.”

Paul used his own life as proof that salvation is based entirely on the gracious merit and work of Christ. “If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more,” he testifies:

[I was] circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith. (Phil. 3:4–9)

Because Jesus paid the price for our sins, they are graciously removed; justice is fully satisfied; and God’s kindness, love, mercy, regeneration, renewing, and grace are therefore enabled to act. Grace gives us what we do not and cannot deserve. We do not deserve to be forgiven, to have our sins removed, to have Christ’s own righteousness imputed to us, to be given heavenly citizenship, to be justified, sanctified, and one day glorified in the very presence of our gracious Savior and Lord. The bottom line is stated in the three words: He saved us!

That divine saving grace provides another amazing benefit to undeserving sinners: By faith they are made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. As Paul declares more fully in his Roman letter, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him” (Rom. 8:16–17). Peter exults: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven” (1 Pet. 1:3–4).[1]


God’s saving work

(3:3–8)

Five times in the Pastoral Epistles—1 Tim. 1:15; 3:1; 4:8, 9; 2 Tim. 2:11–13; Titus 3:4–8—Paul gives us what he calls a ‘trustworthy’ or ‘faithful’ saying. These appear to have been well known among the early Christians, and each receives Paul’s apostolic endorsement. Here in Titus 3:4–8 we have the last and longest of them—a saying that celebrates God’s saving work in his people’s lives.

If you were to make a list of New Testament passages that illustrate how greatly God in salvation has blessed his people, you would certainly want to include this one and might well put it near the top. Paul tells us here that notwithstanding our great sinfulness (v. 3) we have been the objects of God’s kindness, love, mercy, and grace (vv. 4, 5, 7). And the fruit of it is rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, justification, and the hope of eternal life (vv. 5–7).

Before we come to the details there is an important question we need to ask. Why does Paul say these things at this point in his letter? The answer is found in verse 8 where Paul writes to Titus, ‘I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good.’ There is a lifestyle that he wants believers to embrace, one that is characterized by good works. And it is in order to motivate us to do those good works that he reminds us of God’s saving work in our lives. The passage fits in, therefore, with what is evidently one of Paul’s major concerns in the letter as a whole, namely, the promoting of godly living.

The great things God has given us

The three words in verse 5 that the NIV gives us twice over, ‘he saved us’, are the key words in the passage. They tell us what this ‘trustworthy saying’ is principally about—God’s saving work in our lives. But what does it all mean? What does God actually do when he saves us? Paul identifies three things that are given to us.

A new beginning

Many would love to make fresh start. They are not happy with the way their lives have gone, with the things they have experienced and done. If only they could begin again! In a very real way when God saves us he gives us that very thing. Paul speaks in verse 5 about ‘rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit’. It is the language of new beginning. From this point onward a whole new life begins—a life of faith, penitence, love, and obedience.

This is no exaggeration. There is nothing superficial about the Spirit’s renewing activity at the outset of our Christian lives. One writer has described it as an ‘all-pervasive moral transformation changing the whole man in heart, disposition, inclination, desire, motive, interest, ambition and purpose’. The Scriptures bear that out. It is what God promised through the prophet Ezekiel when he said, ‘A new heart … will I give you and a new spirit will I put within you’ (Ezek. 36:26). And further, ‘I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws’ (Ezek. 36:27). We are radically changed when the Spirit renews us. The whole of our nature is affected for good. And the change inevitably shows itself in the way that we live.

Of course, as every Christian knows, to renew is not to perfect. We still carry around with us a heart that is sinful, and, because of that to devote ourselves to doing what is good (v. 8) can sometimes be a struggle. But through the Spirit a transformation has begun. And that transformation always makes itself visible in the adoption of a lifestyle that is pleasing to God.

A new standing

According to verse 7, God in saving us has not only renewed us. He has also ‘justified’ us ‘by his grace’. It is the language of a new standing or legal status.

Imagine you are a defendant in a court of law—the man or woman accused. The evidence has all been sifted; the jury has finished its deliberations; and now the critical moment for the verdict to be announced has come. Guilty or not guilty? ‘Not guilty!’

Whenever such a thing happens the defendant, to use Paul’s word in verse 7, has been justified. It is a legal word and means to find and declare that in the eyes of the law the person accused is innocent and therefore free to leave the court.

It is this amazing thing that God does when he saves sinners. He justifies them. In spite of all the sins of which they are justly chargeable he is now able to regard and treat them as righteous in his sight. He forgives their sins, frees them from the condemnation they deserve, and makes them heirs of eternal life.

From other passages of Scripture—most notably Paul’s letters to the Romans and the Galatians—we learn in detail how God can do such a thing righteously. We learn that it is wholly on account of Christ. It is because of his perfectly obedient life and his sacrificial death that God can justly forgive and treat as righteous those who believe in him.

Here in Titus, however, it is simply the fact of our justification that is stressed. We have a new standing! Right up to the moment God saved us we stood guilty and condemned. But now our standing in his sight is altogether different. Through Christ our sins have all been pardoned. A perfect righteousness has been credited to our account. God can justly regard and treat us now as if we had perfectly kept his law. And he both does and will!

A new future

It is said of the Old Testament character Enoch that ‘he walked with God’ (Gen. 5:24). The same may be said of every Christian. In giving us a new beginning and a new standing, God has brought us into a very close relationship with himself. We have peace with him because he has justified us (Rom. 5:1), and we have a heart for him because he has renewed us. The fruit of it is that we walk with him.

It is the language of intimacy, friendship, companionship. We are no longer separated from God as we were before our sins were dealt with. There has been reconciliation and reunion. We now go through life together, because he is with us all the time. As we do so we talk with each other. We talk to God in prayer; he talks with us through the Scriptures. Furthermore, as we journey on in his company we try to serve him, do his will, and bring glory to his name. That is Christian life for us!

And the great thing is that this life with God is going to go on for ever and ever. It is eternal. Having been ‘justified by his grace’, verse 7, we have ‘become heirs having the hope of eternal life’. What a contrast this new future presents to the one that we had before God saved us! That was as dark as can be imagined. We were on our way to hell. But now we have the prospect of eternal life. We have become heirs to it. We are going to walk with God always—in the unending enjoyment of his friendship and love.

In seeking to attract sinners to Christ, preachers will often speak about the privileges that Christians enjoy. They have every warrant to do so. In saving us God has given us a new beginning, a new standing, and a new future. Our privileges are great indeed!

What moves God to give these things

There is more to this trustworthy saying than an enumeration of God’s good gifts to us. We also learn what moves God to give them.

Firstly, and negatively, it is ‘not because of righteous things’ that we have done (v. 5). Think about what we sometimes do with young children. Their toys are scattered all over the room, and we tell them to pick them up and tidy them away. We know of course that they will not be able to do it perfectly. But we want them to make the attempt. And when they have done it we are happy to do the rest.

There are many who seem to think that that is how God acts. They make an effort to clean up their lives and keep God’s commandments in the hope that he will deem that to be enough. But God does not save us in that way. He does not take note of what we do, feel pleased with us, and then reward us by doing the rest. It is ‘not because of righteous things’ that we have done!

This is a note that the New Testament strikes frequently. In Ephesians 2, for example, Paul reminds his readers that ‘by grace you have been saved … not by works, so that no one can boast’ (vv. 8, 9). In Romans 3 the same apostle writes, ‘we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law’ (v. 28). The point is made again in Galatians where Paul states that ‘a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ’ (2:16). And in a personal note in Philippians Paul says that his desire is ‘to gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ’ (3:9). The good things we have been given have not in any way been earned by us.

What was it then that did move God to give them? Four words stand out as we read through the passage—kindness, love, mercy, and grace. It was ‘when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared’ that he saved us (v. 4). It was ‘not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy’ (v. 5). It was ‘by his grace’ that he justified us (v. 7).

These words of course have their own distinct meanings. Mercy, for example, takes account of our helplessness and points us to God’s pitying, compassionate heart. Grace has reference to our undeservingness and again speaks of God’s pitying, compassionate heart. What a thoroughly wretched state we were in! We were ‘foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another’ (v. 3). Nevertheless we were the objects of God’s love. And it was that that moved him to save us.

A godly lifestyle

There is an important principle that we see illustrated in various parts of the New Testament: great blessings place us under great obligations. Take, for instance, Romans 12:1: ‘Therefore, I urge, you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.’ For eleven chapters Paul has been writing about God’s mercy to us in salvation. And now, at the beginning of chapter 12, he turns to the obligation this mercy has placed us under and urges us to offer ourselves to God.

We have another example at the beginning of Philippians 2: ‘If you have any encouragement from being united to Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose’ (vv. 1, 2). Paul is reminding us of our blessings—our union with Christ, our comfort from his love, our fellowship with the Spirit, our experience of God’s tenderness and compassion—and is indicating what our response to these blessings should be. We should be like-minded; we should have the same love; we should be one in spirit and purpose.

Then there is our present passage. Why dwell at such length on the great things God has done in his love and kindness? The answer, as we noted at the beginning, is found in verse 8: ‘I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works’. God’s mercy calls us to a lifestyle characterized by good works. It obliges us to devotedly do what is good. And it is in order to motivate us to fulfil this obligation that Paul has spoken of the things that he has.

Doing good is a very broad-ranging thing. It ultimately takes in the whole will of God for us. It means being all that God wants us to be whether as husbands or wives, parents or children, brothers and sisters in the Lord, neighbours, colleagues, employers, workers, citizens, or friends. The apostle himself has given us some of the details in the course of chapter 2. And our abiding concern should be to take these details and out of thankfulness to God for what he has done for us to seek in a devoted way to fulfil them.

For Further Study

  1. In his first letter John has a great deal to say about the new beginning we have experienced through rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. Read through the letter, noting the relevant verses, and see from them just how radical a change in us the Spirit has wrought. What, according to John, are the elements of that change?
  1. With many contemporary challenges to the doctrine of justification by faith, it is important to be clear about what justification means. Look up Deuteronomy 25:1 and Proverbs 17:15 where justification is clearly a legal term and has to with a judicial pronouncement. How, in the light of these texts can God righteously justify the ungodly (Rom. 4:5)?

To Think About and Discuss

  1. In the light of the radical change that takes place at the beginning of the Christian life, what are we to think about (and perhaps say to) the person who professes to have been born again and yet gives no evidence of being any different from a non-Christian?
  1. What is it about our fallen human nature that makes it necessary for the New Testament so repeatedly to emphasize that our salvation is by grace and not by works?
  1. Paul seeks to motivate us to good works by reminding us of God’s grace in salvation. In what other ways does the New Testament encourage us to do good works? What especially motivates you?
  1. Make a list of ways in which you think you could make more of an impact in your life through the practice of good works[2]

3:5 / What God did, “when” his “kindness and love” for mankind appeared, was to save us. This is the main subject and verb of the whole sentence. The rest of the sentence gives the basis (his mercy), the what (rebirth, renewal, justified), the means (by the Holy Spirit, “by his [Christ’s] grace”), and the goal (the hope of eternal life) of salvation.

The basis of salvation is expressed in thoroughly Pauline terms. It was not because of any righteous things we had done (cf. Eph. 2:8–9; Phil. 3:9; 2 Tim. 1:9), emphasized in this way here (and not in terms of “works of Law”—found only in Romans and Galatians) because of his frequent appeal for good deeds in this letter (1:16; 2:7, 14; 3:1, 8, 14). On the contrary, “ ‘tis mercy all, immense and free.” As throughout the ot, salvation is God’s prior action, based entirely on his mercy (cf. 1 Tim. 1:12–16). Paul more often uses “grace” for this idea (but see Rom. 11:30–32); here, God in mercy … saved us (v. 5) “by [Christ’s] grace” (v. 7).

The what of salvation is expressed in three metaphors: rebirth and renewal in this verse and justification in verse 7. Between them they condense the twofold aspect of Christian conversion: (1) a new (renewed, restored) relationship with God—the positional aspect—expressed by “justification” and (2) a radical change in one’s inner being—the regenerational aspect—expressed in new birth (palingenesia, “regeneration”) and renewal (anakainōsis). In this sentence the aspect of re-creation is mentioned first, with emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit, who accomplished it through washing us. This latter expression is seen by the niv (and more clearly in gnb), probably correctly so, as a metaphor for spiritual “cleansing,” although perhaps also alluding to baptism.

The niv, however, as with many translations, is quite ambiguous as to the intent of a very difficult phrase, which literally reads: “through the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” For this collection of genitives (“of” phrases) there have basically been three positions (with various modifications within each):

(1) That washing refers to conversion (or baptism) and renewal to the coming of the Spirit, with both words dependent on through and referring to two distinct realities. Thus: “through the ‘washing’ found in rebirth and through the renewal that comes with the gift of the Spirit.” These two realities are variously seen as conversion and confirmation (the traditional view) or conversion and baptism in the Spirit (a Holiness-Pentecostal view). But there are some distinct disadvantages to this interpretation, including the fact that the words rebirth and renewal are nearly synonymous metaphors and that such an intent seems to need a repeated through in order to make it clear.

(2) That washing refers solely to baptism and as such controls both genitives, “regeneration and renewal,” which are effected at baptism by the Holy Spirit. Thus: “through the regenerating and renewing work of baptism effected by the Holy Spirit.” This is the more common interpretation, which in turn elicits considerable discussion over the meaning of baptism in Paul and in this passage. The two words “regeneration and renewal” can be seen either as synonyms (“the washing of regeneration and renewal, effected by the Holy Spirit”) or as one phrase explaining the other (“the washing of regeneration, that is, the renewal of the Holy Spirit”). Although this view is certainly to be preferred in terms of its understanding of the middle terms, “regeneration and renewal,” it tends to put more emphasis on baptism than the full context warrants.

(3) That washing probably alludes to baptism but is in fact a metaphor for spiritual cleansing and not a synonym for baptism itself, the emphasis in the entire phrase being on the cleansing, regenerative work of the Holy Spirit. Thus: “through the ‘washing’ by the Holy Spirit that brings rebirth and renewal.” This is probably the view of the niv (since it does not repeat “the” before renewal); in any case, it seems most likely to be Paul’s own intent. It is fully in keeping with Pauline theology that the Holy Spirit is the absolute prerequisite of Christian existence (e.g., 1 Cor. 2:6–16; Rom. 6–8), and it seems confirmed by the emphases in the sentence itself (see disc. on v. 6).

Of the middle terms, rebirth is found frequently in Hellenism and Hellenistic Judaism for a whole variety of “rebirths”—of deities in the mystery cults (e.g., Plutarch, Isis and Osiris 35), of the Jewish homeland (Jos., Antiquities 11.66), of the reincarnation of souls (e.g., Plutarch, On the Eating of Flesh 1, 2), and of initiates into the mystery cults (see note). One might compare the eschatological “regeneration of all things” mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 19:28. The idea here, of course, reflects Paul’s “death, burial, new life” metaphor found in Romans 6:4–14. The term renewal occurs only in Paul (cf. Rom. 12:2), and later Christian literature dependent on Paul, in all of Greek literature. The idea is reflected elsewhere in Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:14–17. Thus the two words are twin metaphors for the same spiritual reality—the re-creating work of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life.[3]


Ingredients of salvation (3:3–8)

Paul now spells out the theological reason why we can expect Christians to have a social conscience and to behave responsibly in public life. The logic is seen in the pronouns: ‘Remind them to be conscientious and considerate citizens, because [gar is unaccountably omitted by niv] we were ourselves once anti-social, but he (God) saved and changed us.’ That is, the only reason we dare instruct others in social ethics is that we know what we were once like ourselves, that God nevertheless saved us, and that he can therefore transform other people too. It is not enough to affirm that the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men (2:11); we must be able to say that he saved us (3:5), even he saved me. It is not just history which raises our expectations; it is experience. Without a personal experience of salvation we lack the right, the incentive and the confidence to teach social ethics to others.

So Paul now gives a condensed but comprehensive account of salvation. Verses 4–7 are a single long sentence, which he may have taken from an early Christian creed.

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, 5he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour, 7so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

The whole sentence hinges upon the main verb he saved us (5). It is perhaps the fullest statement of salvation in the New Testament. Yet whenever the phraseology of salvation is dropped into a conversation today, people’s reactions are predictable. They will either blush, frown, snigger, or even laugh, as if it were a huge joke. Thus the devil, whose ambition is to destroy, not to save, succeeds in trivializing the most serious question we could ever ask ourselves or put to anybody else. For Christianity is essentially a religion of salvation. To prove this, it is enough to quote two biblical assertions: ‘the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world’ and ‘the Son of man came to seek and to save what was lost’.11So we have to come to terms with the concept of ‘salvation’, and one of the best ways is to study verses 3–8 of Titus 3. For here Paul isolates six ingredients of salvation—its need (why it is necessary), its source (where it originates), its ground (what it rests on), its means (how it comes to us), its goal (what it leads to) and its evidence (how it proves itself).

  • The need of salvation

In verse 3 the apostle supplies an unsavoury picture of the state and conduct of unregenerate people. In doing so, he discloses what we ourselves used to be like. Moreover, this is not an exaggeration, but ‘the very exact image of human life without grace’. It is perhaps best grasped as four couplets.

First, at one time we too were foolish, disobedient. In other words, we were both mentally and morally depraved. We lacked sense (anoētos) and sensibility (apeithēs). This is elaborated in the next pair.

Secondly, we were deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. Both verbs are passive in form, and so indicate that we were the victims of evil forces we could not control. We were not ‘foolish’ only, but deceived. We were not ‘disobedient’ only, but enslaved. Doubtless Paul is alluding to the Evil One, that arch-deceiver who blinds people’s minds and that arch-tyrant who also takes people captive.14 We were his dupes and his slaves.

Thirdly, we lived in malice and envy, which are very ugly twins. For malice is wishing people evil, while envy is resenting and coveting their good. Both disrupt human relationships.

Fourthly, we were being hated and hating one another. That is, the hostility which we experienced in our relationships was reciprocal.

Thus a deliberate antithesis seems to be developed between the kind of people Christians should be (1, 2) and the kind of people we once were (3). It is a contrast between submissiveness and foolishness, between obedience and disobedience, between a readiness to do good and an enslavement by evil, between kindness and peaceableness on the one hand and malice and envy on the other, between being humble and gentle and being hateful and hating.

How is it possible to get out of the one mindset and lifestyle into the other, and to exchange addiction for freedom? The answer is given in verse 5: he saved us, he rescued us from our former bondage and changed us into new people. The New Testament loves to dwell on this transformation, which salvation entails, by using the formula ‘once we were … but now we are …’

  • The source of salvation

If we were truly deceived and enslaved, one thing is obvious: we could not save ourselves. Yet the possibility of self-salvation is one of the major delusions of New Age philosophy. It teaches that salvation comes not from without (someone else coming to our rescue) but from within (as we discover ourselves and our own resources). So ‘look into yourself’, Shirley MacLaine urges us, ‘explore yourself’, for ‘all the answers are within yourself’. And in her subsequent book, which is revealingly entitled Going Within, she writes that ‘the New Age is all about self-responsibility’, i.e. taking responsibility for everything that happens, since ‘the only source is ourselves’.

But Paul teaches a different source of salvation. With verse 4 he turns from us in our depravity to ‘God our Saviour’ (1:3; 2:10; 3:4), from our hatred of one another to his amazing love for us. Paul traces our salvation right back to its source in the love of God. But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared (4), that is, in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus, he saved us. Then at the end of verse 5 Paul mentions God’s ‘mercy’ and in verse 7 his justifying ‘grace’. These are four tremendous words. God’s ‘kindness’ (chrēstotēs) is shown even to ‘the ungrateful and wicked’; his ‘love’ (philanthrōpia) is his concern for the whole human race; his ‘mercy’ (eleos) is extended to the helpless who cannot save themselves; and his ‘grace’ (charis) reaches out to the guilty and undeserving.

Thus salvation originated in the heart of God. It is because of his kindness, love, mercy and grace that he intervened on our behalf, he took the initiative, he came after us, and he rescued us from our hopeless predicament.

  • The ground of salvation

Granted that God’s love is the source or spring from which salvation flows, what is the ground on which it rests? On what moral basis can God forgive sinners? It is true that in explicit terms this question is neither asked nor answered in Titus 3. Yet it is implicit in the antithesis of verse 4, which declares that he (God) saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. Not our righteousness but his mercy is the ground of our salvation. This sharp contrast between the false and the true way of salvation is hammered home in the New Testament by constant repetition.

God does not save us because of his mercy alone, however, but because of what his mercy led him to do in the sending of his Son. His attribute of mercy is indeed the source of our salvation; his deed of mercy in Christ is its ground. This is implied in Paul’s previous statement that the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared (4). For this saving ‘appearance’ clearly refers to the historical event of Christ’s coming to save, as in 2:11 and 2 Timothy 1:10. Further, although there is no specific allusion to the cross, this must have been in Paul’s mind, since twice elsewhere in the Pastorals he affirms that Christ ‘gave himself’ for our redemption (2:14; 1 Tim. 2:6). The ground of our salvation, therefore, is not our works of righteousness but his work of mercy in the cross.

  • The means of salvation

In order to clarify what the main verb is, on which this long sentence depends, the niv repeats it in verse 5 (he saved us … he saved us …), although it occurs only once in the Greek text. On the one hand, he saved us … because of his mercy, that is, because of his merciful deed (the ground of our salvation); on the other, he saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit (the means of our salvation). Here is a composite expression containing four nouns—washing, rebirth, renewal and the Holy Spirit. What do they mean?

Washing (loutron) is almost certainly a reference to water baptism. All the early church fathers took it in this way. This does not mean that they (or Paul) taught baptismal regeneration, any more than Ananias did when he said to Saul of Tarsus, ‘Get up, be baptised and wash your sin away, calling on his name.’21 Most Protestant churches think of baptism as ‘an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace’, namely of the washing away of sins, and of new birth by the Holy Spirit. But they do not confuse the sign (baptism) with the thing signified (salvation).

The next two nouns (rebirth and renewal) are variously understood. ‘Rebirth’ translates palingenesia, which Jesus used of the final renewal of all things, and which the Stoics used for the periodical restoration of the world, in which they believed. Here, however, the new birth envisaged is individual (like the ‘new creation’ of 2 Cor. 5:17) rather than cosmic. It speaks of a radical new beginning, since ‘God has not repaired us, but has made us all new’. The other noun, ‘renewal’, translates anakainōsis. It may be synonymous with ‘rebirth’, the repetition being used for rhetorical effect. Or it may refer to the process of moral renovation or transformation which follows the new birth.

The Holy Spirit is of course the agent through whom we are reborn and renewed, and whom God poured out on us generouslythrough Jesus Christ our Saviour (6b). The use of both the verb ‘pour out’ (ekcheō) and the aorist tense suggests that the reference is to the effusion of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, and the statement that he was poured out on us denotes our personal share in the Pentecostal gift.

The question which perplexes all commentators is how these four nouns, which have been called a ‘string of genitives’, are meant to be related to one another. The av deliberately places a comma in the middle of them and translates: ‘by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost’. The value of this rendering is that it distinguishes between the outward washing of baptism and the inward renewal of the Holy Spirit. But it also has the disadvantage of separating the Holy Spirit from the regeneration he brings about.

So other versions delete the comma and understand the expression as a single, complex phrase, not least because none of the nouns is preceded by the definite article. It could then be paraphrased that ‘God saved us through a rebirth and renewal which were outwardly dramatized in our baptism but inwardly effected by the Holy Spirit’. Or, reversing the order, ‘God generously poured the Holy Spirit upon us; this outpoured Spirit has inwardly regenerated and renewed us (or has regenerated us and is renewing us); and all this was outwardly and visibly signified and sealed to us in our baptism.’

Salvation means more than an inward rebirth and renewal, however. It also includes having been justified by his grace (7). We must decisively reject the rsv and jb version, which says that God saved us through rebirth ‘so that we might be justified by his grace’. For justification is emphatically not the result, still less the object, of our regeneration. These two works of God are rather parallel and concurrent. Salvation includes both. Justification means that God declares us righteous through the sin-bearing death of his Son; regeneration means that he makes us righteous through the indwelling power of his Spirit. So we must never confuse justification and regeneration, our new status and our new birth. Nor should we ever attempt to separate them. For God always does both together. He never justifies people without at the same time regenerating them, and he never regenerates them without justifying them. The work of Christ in justification and the work of the Spirit in regeneration are simultaneous.

  • The goal of salvation

God saved us, Paul wrote, … so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life (7). All those whom God has justified and regenerated become his heirs, because he has saved us for this purpose. We are ‘heirs of God and coheirs with Christ’. And as his nominated heirs we cherish the sure expectation that one day we will receive our full inheritance in heaven, namely ‘eternal life’, an unclouded fellowship with God. During the present age, although we have received a foretaste of eternal life, the fullness of life is the object of our hope, and we are its ‘heirs-in-hope’.27 Yet our hope is secure because it rests on God’s promise (1:2).

This is a trustworthy saying (8a), Paul adds. We have seen that the Pastorals contain five ‘trustworthy sayings’ (pithy statements which Paul endorses). This is the only one in Titus. In three of them the formula almost certainly relates to what follows. But here in Titus (as probably in 1 Tim. 4:9), it seems rather to refer back to what precedes it, that is, to Paul’s ‘glowing statement’ of salvation. Whether it covers the whole of verses 3–7 or less, commentators differ. Though a longer ‘trustworthy saying’ than the others, it is still a concise, single-sentence utterance. And Paul endorses it. It is true, he says; it may be trusted.

  • The evidence of salvation

Although the ‘trustworthy saying’ formula seems to have concluded Paul’s exposition of salvation, he has not yet finished the topic. He will not leave it without underlining the indispensable necessity of good works in those who profess to have been saved. And I want you to stress these things (that is, the essential ingredients of salvation), so that those who have trusted in God (and so have been saved by faith) may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good (8b).

What kind of good deeds does the apostle have in mind? Because the verb translated ‘to devote themselves’ (proïstēmi) can have the almost technical sense ‘to practise a profession’, the rsv margin translates it ‘to enter honourable occupations’, and the reb margin ‘to engage in honest employment’. But the context does not require, or even encourage, this meaning. The reference seems to be a more general one to good works of righteousness and love. Although Paul has made it plain in verse 5 that God has not saved us ‘because of righteous things we had done’, he nevertheless now insists that believers must devote themselves to good works. Good works are not the ground of salvation, but they are its necessary fruit and evidence. It is in this way that these things are excellent and profitable for everyone (8c).

The necessity of good works has been noted by several commentators as a major topic of the Pastorals. Robert Karris, for example, has called it ‘the author’s basic message’. But it is Gordon Fee who has drawn particular attention to it, not so much in the Pastorals in general, as in Titus in particular. ‘The dominant theme in Titus … is good works … that is, exemplary Christian behaviour, and that for the sake of outsiders’ and ‘in contrast to the false teachers’. It is ‘the recurring theme of the entire letter’.

The expression ‘good works’ (kala erga) occurs fourteen times in the Pastorals. Paul seems to emphasize five points. First, the very purpose of Christ’s death was to purify for himself a people who would be enthusiastic for good works (Tit. 2:14). Secondly, although good works can never be the basis of salvation (Tit. 2:5; 2 Tim. 1:9), they are its essential evidence (Tit. 3:8, 14). Thirdly, it is therefore to be expected that all Christians will be ‘equipped’ and ‘ready’ to do good works, women seeking this special adornment34 and rich people accepting this special responsibility. Fourthly, since pastoral oversight is itself a good work,36 all Christian leaders should be conspicuous for the good works they do. Widows should not be registered unless they have a reputation for good works,38 and every pastor should be a model of good works (Tit. 2:7). All this is in contrast to the false teachers who ‘claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him’ (Tit. 1:16). Fifthly, it is above all by good works that the gospel is adorned and so commended to outsiders (Tit. 2:9–10).

We are now in a position to summarize the six essential ingredients of salvation. Its need is our sin, guilt and slavery; its source is God’s gracious loving-kindness; its ground is not our merit but God’s mercy in the cross; its means is the regenerating and renewing work of the Holy Spirit, signified in baptism; its goal is our final inheritance of eternal life; and its evidence is our diligent practice of good works.

We note what a balanced and comprehensive account of salvation this is. For here are the three persons of the Trinity together engaged in securing our salvation: the love of God the Father who took the initiative; the death of God the Son in whom God’s grace and mercy appeared; and the inward work of God the Holy Spirit by whom we are reborn and renewed.

Here too are the three tenses of salvation. The past is justification and regeneration. The present is a new life of good works in the power of the Spirit. The future is the inheritance of eternal life which will one day be ours.

Once we have grasped the all-embracing character of this salvation, reductionist accounts of it will never satisfy us. We shall rather determine both to explore and experience for ourselves the fullness of God’s salvation and to share with other people the same fullness, refusing to acquiesce, whether for ourselves or others, in any form of truncated or trivialized gospel.[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1996). Titus (pp. 150–156). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Campbell, D. (2007). Opening up Titus (pp. 97–106). Leominster: Day One Publications.

[3] Fee, G. D. (2011). 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (pp. 203–205). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Stott, J. R. W. (1996). Guard the truth: the message of 1 Timothy & Titus (pp. 200–208). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

February 26: Patiently Waiting

Leviticus 20:1–22:33; John 9:35–41; Song of Solomon 8:1–5

Delayed gratification is a foreign concept to our natural instincts. Our culture doesn’t encourage patience or contentment; we would prefer to have our desires met the moment they arise.

The woman in Song of Solomon tells us that she is delighted in her beloved. She praises his attributes and tells of the wonders of their love. But throughout the poem, at seemingly random moments, she also warns the daughters of Jerusalem about love: “I adjure you … do not arouse or awaken love until it pleases!” (Song 8:4).

This is not the first time she has “adjured” them to wait and have patience: the same refrain is found elsewhere in the poem, and it acts like an oath (Song 2:7; 3:5). Although the elevated poetry glories in love, delight, and fulfillment, it also warns about immediate gratification. The woman urges us not to force love. It is something that must be anticipated and protected, not enjoyed before it’s time.

It doesn’t feel natural to wait and anticipate, but in many ways, staying faithful and being hopeful characterizes our faith. Waiting doesn’t mean we’re not bold or risk-takers. It means we’re faithful to God—we’re waiting for things to happen in His time. We know God has something planned for us that is beyond our expectations.

How are you patiently waiting and anticipating?

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.