Daily Archives: June 2, 2018

June 2: Transformers

2 Chronicles 4:1–6:11; Titus 1:5–9; Psalm 92:1–93:5

Some people are like spectators in their faith communities—they simply watch while others interact, serve, and reach out. But Paul’s instructions to Titus about overseers show us that communities need people who will do more than just show up.

“For it is necessary for the overseer to be blameless as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not violent, not greedy for dishonest gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, prudent, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast to the faithful message according to the teaching” (Titus 1:7–9).

Titus was counteracting the harm false teachers had caused in the Cretan community (Titus 1:11). He needed the leaders’ assistance to succeed. At first, Paul describes this type of leader as someone who doesn’t commit certain actions—anger, desire for personal gain, drunkenness, or violence. But Paul also realized that leaders did need to take certain positive actions—showing hospitality, loving what is good, and holding fast to the gospel. Only by avoiding some behaviors and embracing others could they transform the community by being instruments of change.

There will be periods in our lives when we’ll need to humbly accept the help of others. But there are also times for action, and our motives will be just as important as our conduct.

The believers on Crete needed to be molded and shaped for godliness. Likewise, we need God’s word and His Spirit to provide us with wisdom not only to respond, but to do so with the right action—showing hospitality, loving what is good, and being committed to the good news of Jesus Christ. Then, as transformed people, we can be used to advance His kingdom.

How is God prompting you to be used in your church community? How can you respond?

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.

President Trump Weekly Address – Over 300 Nominations Still Waiting for Confirmation… — The Last Refuge

President Trump uses the weekly address to point out the scale of obstructionism within the Democrat party:

via President Trump Weekly Address – Over 300 Nominations Still Waiting for Confirmation… — The Last Refuge

June 2 Receiving the Word

“This you know, my beloved brethren. But let every one be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Therefore putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:19–21).

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True believers receive God’s Word.

The key word in today’s passage is “receive” (James 1:21). Believers are to receive God’s Word. That’s what distinguishes them from unbelievers. Jesus said to a group of religious unbelievers, “Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. … He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God” (John 8:43, 47).

“Hear” in those verses doesn’t refer to hearing with the ear only. Jesus’ audience heard in that sense—even to the point of wanting to kill Him for what He said (v. 59); but they didn’t receive and obey His words. By rejecting the truth, they proved themselves to be children of the Devil, who is “the father of lies” (v. 44).

Peter called God’s Word the “imperishable,” “living,” and “abiding” seed that brings salvation (1 Peter 1:23). But receiving God’s Word isn’t limited to salvation alone. As a Christian, you have the Word implanted within you. Now you must nurture it by removing any weeds of filthiness and wickedness so it can produce the fruit of righteousness. That isn’t a one-time effort but a lifestyle of confession, looking into God’s Word, desiring His message, and longing to obey it. That doesn’t mean you’ll be sinlessly perfect, but your life will be marked by ever-increasing spiritual maturity and obedience to the Word. When you are disobedient, you should feel an enormous tension in your spirit until you repent and make things right.

Are you hearing and receiving God’s Word in that way? Do those who know you best see you as a person whose life is governed by Biblical principles? Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine” (John 8:31). Receive His truth, and abide in it continually!

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Ask the Lord to keep you sensitive to His Word in every situation you face today.

For Further Study: Read 1 Thessalonians 2:13–14, noting the Thessalonians’ response to God’s Word.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 166). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

FBI Spying On Trump Started In London, Earlier Than Thought, New Texts Implicate Obama White House

A new report from John Solomon of The Hill ties together several loose threads floating around over the genesis of the FBI/DOJ espionage operation against the Trump campaign, who was involved in the “setup” of campaign aides, and how text messages between FBI employees suggest that the Obama White House was not only aware of the operation – but possibly directing it.

Source: FBI Spying On Trump Started In London, Earlier Than Thought, New Texts Implicate Obama White House

‘The best interests of the people’: Ex-US top spy Clapper justifies election interference

Fret not, people of the over 80 countries where the US has interfered in elections – it was done in your “best interests,” according to former head of US Intelligence James Clapper.

Source: ‘The best interests of the people’: Ex-US top spy Clapper justifies election interference

POTUS Trump Slams DOJ and Special Counsel After His Lawyers’ 20-Page Confidential Memo to Mueller Leaks to NY Times — The Gateway Pundit

On Saturday, The New York Times published a confidential memo written by Trump’s lawyers to Mueller dated January 29, 2018.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers hand-delivered a 20-page confidential letter to Mr. Mueller in January. The letter was a response to his request that Mr. Trump agree to be questioned about allegations that he committed obstruction of justice. The lawyers argued that Mr. Mueller does not need to talk to the president and laid out a series of claims that foreshadow a potential fight over a subpoena, were the special counsel to try to force the president to testify.

The Times obtained a copy of the letter as well as an earlier one sent to Mr. Mueller in June 2017, a month after he was appointed, which argues that “there is no statutory or constitutional basis for any obstruction charge” based on Mr. Trump’s firing of James B. Comey as F.B.I. director.

The intro of the letter via the NY Times:

Gentlemen:

This letter will address the recent request by your office for an interview with the President and our discussions with you concerning the same on November 21, 2017, and January 8, 2018.

In our conversation of January 8, your office identified the following topics as areas you desired to address with the President in order to complete your investigation on the subjects of alleged collusion and obstruction of justice:

  1. Former National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn — information regarding his contacts with Ambassador Kislyak about sanctions during the transition process;
  2. Lt. Gen. Flynn’s communications with Vice President Michael Pence regarding those contacts;
  3. Lt. Gen. Flynn’s interview with the FBI regarding the same;
  4. Then-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates coming to the White House to discuss same;
  5. The President’s meeting on February 14, 2017, with then-Director James Comey;
  6. Any other relevant information regarding former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn;
  7. The President’s awareness of and reaction to investigations by the FBI, the House and the Senate into possible collusion;
  8. The President’s reaction to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusal from the Russia investigation;
  9. The President’s reaction to Former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony on March 20, 2017, before the House Intelligence Committee;
  10. Information related to conversations with intelligence officials generally regarding ongoing investigations;
  11. Information regarding who the President had had conversations with concerning Mr. Comey’s performance;
  12. Whether or not Mr. Comey’s May 3, 2017, testimony lead to his termination;
  13. Information regarding communications with Ambassador Kislyak, Minister Lavrov, and Lester Holt;
  14. The President’s reaction to the appointment of Robert Mueller as Special Counsel;
  15. The President’s interaction with Attorney General Sessions as it relates to the appointment of Special Counsel; and,
  16. The statement of July 8, 2017, concerning Donald Trump, Jr.’s meeting in Trump Tower.

It is our understanding that the reason behind the request for the interview is to allow the Special Counsel’s office to complete its report. After reviewing the list of topics you presented, it is abundantly clear to the undersigned that all of the answers to your inquiries are contained in the exhibits and testimony that have already been voluntarily provided to you by the White House and witnesses, all of which clearly show that there was no collusion with Russia, and that no FBI investigation was or even could have been obstructed.

President Trump fired off a tweet shortly after the New York Times published the confidential memo from his lawyers.

Trump asked if the DOJ or the Office of Special Counsel leaked his lawyers’ letters to the New York Times.

Trump tweeted: There was No Collusion with Russia (except by the Democrats). When will this very expensive Witch Hunt Hoax ever end? So bad for our Country. Is the Special Counsel/Justice Department leaking my lawyers letters to the Fake News Media? Should be looking at Dems corruption instead?

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

There was No Collusion with Russia (except by the Democrats). When will this very expensive Witch Hunt Hoax ever end? So bad for our Country. Is the Special Counsel/Justice Department leaking my lawyers letters to the Fake News Media? Should be looking at Dems corruption instead?

Mueller’s witch hunt has cost taxpayers over $17 million to date. Leaks about the Russia witch hunt have plagued President Trump the entire year Mueller has been conducting his unconstitutional witch hunt.

Of course, this is all by design to undermine President Trump.

via POTUS Trump Slams DOJ and Special Counsel After His Lawyers’ 20-Page Confidential Memo to Mueller Leaks to NY Times — The Gateway Pundit

UMC hosts Ramadan dinner for scores of Muslims

Hundreds of congregants at the United Methodist Church’s (UMC) largest megachurch in the United States celebrated Islam last week by hosting a Ramadan dinner to “demonstrate the love of Christ” to the Muslim community.

Source: UMC hosts Ramadan dinner for scores of Muslims

Bombshell Report: Obama Admin Attempted To Take Over FBI’s Investigation into Trump

‘Who were the informants working for, who were they reporting to and why has the (Department of Justice) and FBI gone to such great lengths to hide these contacts?’

Source: Bombshell Report: Obama Admin Attempted To Take Over FBI’s Investigation into Trump

JUNE 2 HIS CROSS IS MY CROSS

The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.

Romans 5:15

To take Jesus Christ into your life without reservation is to accept His friends as your friends and to know that His enemies will be your enemies! It means that we accept His rejection as our rejection. We knowingly accept His cross as our cross.

If you then find yourself in an area where Christ has no friends, you will be friendless—except for the one Friend who will stick closer than a brother. I made up my mind a long time ago. Those who declare themselves enemies of Jesus Christ must look upon me as their enemy, and I ask no quarter from them! And if they are friends of Christ, they are my friends—and I do not care what color they are or what denomination they belong to.

If the preachers would faithfully tell the people what it actually means to receive Christ and obey Him and live for Him, we would have fewer converts backsliding and foundering.

Preachers who are not faithful one day will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and answer to a faithful Savior why they betrayed His people in this way!

Lord, I pray that You will send encouragement to Your children today who live and/or serve in an area where Christ is not formally welcome.[1]


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

Andy Stanley: The Virgin Birth is of No Importance – Charles Stanley Should Ban His Son From Preaching at His Church

Absolute Truth from the Word of God

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3: 16-17).  (Emphasis added)

I bolded “All Scripture” to stress to the reader how critically important it is for the child of God to trust every Word of Scripture – Genesis to Revelation.

Andy Stanley teaches his church members that the “whole” Word of God is not inerrant.  It is called “Spot inerrancy.”  So some of the Bible is infallible but not all of it.  REALLY?

So, which portions of Scripture are we to take as infallible?  Oh, Andy makes sure that he points his church members to the Scriptures they can trust.  Does this remind you of someone?

“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field…

View original post 686 more words

Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry – soaking, declaring and spinning into delusion — Christian Research Network

Rick Becker exposes the occult practices that are going on inside Bethel Church in Redding CA through its School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM), or as students like to call it “Christian Hogwarts.” Becker shows the ways in which undiscerning “Christians,” especially the younger generation, are being deceived by wolves in sheep’s clothing who are looked up to, some even idolized, because of their celebrity status.  Two highly esteemed Bethel Church celebs are Bethel’s Senior Wizard Pastor and so-called “apostle” Bill Johnson, and Senior Associate Wizard Leader and one of BSSM’s founders Kris Vallotton. And let’s not forget the hugely popular Jesus Culture band that was birthed at Bethel.

Now that we’ve offered some additional background on the aforementioned Christian Hogwarts, let’s go to Rick Becker’s report over at Famine In The Land:

Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry is a risky business.  Students are “taught” how to heal, and are encouraged to “take risks” which really means to ignore the boundaries clearly laid out in scripture.  BSSM is simply a school of ‘simony’ that is producing thousands of severely deluded ‘revivalists’ who believe that they are a part of a mighty end time army that will usher in the kingdom of God.  Two of our previous posts exposed their false teachings and methodology:

The fruits of Bethel church – ashamed of the gospel, flirting with the occult. Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry – Normalizing Mysticism.

In this post we continue to expose the delusion in operation at the BSSM.

In 2016, BSSM asked research group Eido “to conduct a wide scale research report“objectively discovering and celebrating the corporate testimony of these graduates; as well as providing the information Bethel needs to grow in excellence as they pursue global revival.”  The Eido report was compiled by two statisticians who are former students of the BSSM.  The report is largely complimentary, and claims that as a result of the graduates ministry 50 000 people were healed in 2017 as well as “several dead raisings.”  No medical records were mentioned or made available.  The report does however include some negative observations from graduates.  One of the questions they asked past students was: “What could BSSM have done better to prepare you for life after graduation?” Two of the answers are telling:

1. “there could be more talks from people who work in the secular world and can describe what it is like to be a revivalist without using any jargon. I [have] never said ‘bam, take it’ since graduating” The question is why is there the need to say “bam, take it” in the first place?  What does “bam” actually do, and how does one “take” whatever “bam” produces?  Did Jesus or the apostles resort to a “bam, take it” ministry?  The “bam” probably comes from a false prophet who is endorsed by Bill Johnson – Todd Bentley.

Outside of the Bethel bubble is a real world that needs the gospel, not the tricks and trades of the Bethel machinery.

2. “I think I felt like I was told YOU’RE AN AWESOME AMAZING WORLD CHANGER LEADER and then I got thrown into the real World like a fish out of water. Ministry life and real world life are very different. And I was very disillusioned. I knew I was AMAZING but that didn’t translate into society as a whole.” Surely the point of any type of Christian instruction is to reveal the greatness of God, not self?  Bethelites are under a spiritual delusion.  Outside of their environment are people who are not bamboozled by gold dust, feathers and fog.  Stretching legs may fool some people, but the average person, even if unsaved, still has common sense.

Students at the BSSM receive lots of encouragement, but is it biblical, or simply an ego building exercise?  More comments from graduates of the BSSM in the Eidos survey: “I was told by a good amount of people during school that I was meant to do great things, but now that I don’t have those voices always reminding me”, said one struggling graduate. “Not being believed in or seen the way that I was at Bethel. There I felt so big, here I feel so insignificant and unseen” added another.”

TAKING RISKS

This BSSM School Planting article, “Developing a Risk-Taking Culture”  reveals Bethel’s disdain for scripture, and their desire to experiment in signs and wonders.

BSSM: “Developing a supernatural lifestyle requires risk….Set the tone for your school’s culture by communicating that it is okay for your students to fail when they are trying new things.” I thought BSSM was a school of “supernatural” ministry?  On the day of Pentecost, the disciples “began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.”  Acts 2:3. There was no trial and error, no risk taking involved.  They were not trying something new – God gave a new gift.  The miracle was that they spoke in languages that they had not learned: “And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language.  And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?  And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?” Acts 2:6-8

BSSM: “While teaching on words of knowledge, ask students to get a word of knowledge (e.g. his/her favorite toy growing up, last four digits of his/her phone number, parent’s name, etc.) for the student sitting to their right. Ask students who got the word of knowledge correct to raise their hands. Celebrate their breakthrough! Ask the students who got the word of knowledge wrong to raise their hands. Tell these students to look around the room and notice they are not the only ones who got it wrong. Celebrate their effort and remind them it’s ok they didn’t get it right the first time. Encourage them to keep trying as it will help them develop discernment.”

How is guessing the favorite toy of the person next to you glorify and point to God?  How does it edify the body of Christ?  A necromancer or psychic could name the favorite toy.  Where is the miraculous if we can simply thumb suck names and numbers until we get close?  We covered the topic of supernatural knowledge in this article: The new breed of crafty evangelists.

BSSM: “While teaching students on how to heal the sick, share your personal journey with them on how you grew in understanding healing, the breakthroughs you saw, the disappointments you experienced”

Gifts are taught?  It should be so obvious to anyone who has has a bible that gifts cannot be taught, and that not everyone has the same gift.   “All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” 1 Corinthians 12:11.

You don’t have to be a cessationist to know that Bethel blatantly ignores scripture!  If healing can be taught, why have Bill and Beni Johnson required surgery, and why are they still wearing glasses?  Why are the hospitals in Redding still in business?

Sometimes “taking risks” involves baiting people.  This is from the  BSSM School Planting facebook page:

“ACTIVATION // White Board: This is from our friends @ilssm_uk ! Take a whiteboard and have your students write down words of knowledge. Take the whiteboard out on the street and watch as people find themselves on the whiteboard and are touched by the Lord!” View article →

via Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry – soaking, declaring and spinning into delusion — Christian Research Network

June 2, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

We Know That We All Have Knowledge

Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him. (8:1–3)

Things sacrificed to idols is one word in Greek and can be translated simply as “idol sacrifices.” The sacrifices were food offerings, symbolically presented in worship to the god in whose temple they were given. The particular issue was that of eating food that had been offered in those sacrifices.

The Greeks and Romans were polytheistic, worshiping many gods. They had a god, or a group of gods, for every circumstance, every need, and every activity of any consequence. They had a god of war, a goddess of love, a god of travel, a goddess of justice, and on and on. They were also polydemonistic, believing in many evil spirits. They believed the air was filled with evil spirits of all sorts.

Giving food sacrifices, which were usually meat, was of great importance in regard to both of those beliefs. It was believed that the evil spirits were constantly trying to invade human beings and that the easiest way to do that was to attach themselves to food before it was eaten. The only way the spirits could be removed from food was through its being sacrificed to a god. The sacrifice therefore served two purposes; it gained the favor of the god and cleansed the meat from demonic contamination.

Idol offerings were divided into three parts. One part was burned on an altar as the sacrifice proper. The second part was given as payment to the priests who served at the temple, and the remaining part was kept by the offerer. Because of the large number of offerings, the priests were not able to eat all of their portion, and they sold in the marketplace what they did not need. That meat was highly valued because it was cleansed of evil spirits, and was thus the meat served at feasts and to guests.

The eating of meat offered to idols therefore had the same two associations for Christians, especially for those who had grown up in that religious atmosphere. The meat was associated with pagan gods and goddesses, having been part of an offering to them, and it was associated with the superstition that it had once been contaminated by evil spirits.

It was almost impossible for a believer who had any personal contact with Gentiles to avoid facing the question of eating idol sacrifices. Most social occasions, including weddings, involved pagan worship of some sort, and a great many of the festivities were held in temples. Idol food was always served. If a relative was getting married, or a long-time friend was giving a banquet, a Christian either had to make excuses for not attending—which he could not do indefinitely—or he had to eat food that he knew had been part of an idol offering.

Some sensitive Gentile believers refused to buy such meat because it brought back memories of their previous pagan lives or because those who saw them buy it might think they had reverted to paganism. Also many believers, both Gentile and Jewish, were reluctant to eat at the homes of pagan Gentiles—and even of some Christian Gentiles—because they were afraid of being served that meat. Such food could only be doubly unclean according to Jewish dietary law—from which many Jewish Christians found it hard to separate themselves.

On the other hand, some Christians were not bothered. To them, meat was meat. They knew pagan deities did not really exist and that evil spirits did not contaminate food. They were mature, well-grounded in God’s truth, and their consciences were clear in the matter. That group gave Paul the three reasons for freely exercising their liberty.

Paul’s responses to the reasons were directed to that group of more mature believers. But his responses centered on the other group. He told the mature believers not to focus on their liberty but on the spiritual welfare of those who were less mature. He was saying, “Don’t look at your freedom; look at their need. Your own freedom should be limited by your love for fellow believers. If you love them as God calls you to love, you will not use your liberty in any way that will offend, confuse, or weaken their faith.”

The first reason that had been given for exercising freedom is summarized by Paul: we know that we all have knowledge. The statement was true but egotistical. It reflected a feeling of superiority. The believers who made the claim were not suggesting they were omniscient, but that they had more than enough knowledge and understanding of God’s Word to know that pagan gods and idols were not real and that food sacrificed to them was still just food. They knew that eating the food could not contaminate them spiritually, that it had no affect on their Christian lives. They felt totally free to eat whatever they wanted, no matter what others thought.

But they are reminded that knowledge makes arrogant. Those believers were mature in knowledge, but were not mature in love. Love edifies, or builds up others; and that edification they did not have. They were solid in doctrine but weak in love. They were strong in self-love but weak in brotherly love.

Of all the apostles, Paul is least likely to be charged with belittling doctrine, the knowledge of God’s Word. He was the theologian’s theologian. “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction,” he tells the Romans (15:4). He prayed that the Colossian believers might “be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col. 1:9) and encouraged them to be “renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created [them]” (3:10). In the long list of ways in which his ministry was commended, Paul includes “knowledge” and “the word of truth” (2 Cor. 6:4–10). In that same letter he commends the Corinthians themselves for their “faith and utterance and knowledge” (8:7). Numerous times the apostle tells those to whom he is writing that he did not want them to be ignorant about certain truths (Rom. 1:13; 11:25; 1 Cor. 10:1; 12:1; 2 Cor. 1:8; 1 Thess. 4:13).

Knowledge of God’s Word is extremely important. It is impossible to believe or obey what is not known. The Lord told Israel, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest” (Hos. 4:6). Among other things, God is “He who teaches man knowledge” (Ps. 94:10). The Bible places no premium on ignorance.

But knowledge, even of God’s Word, is not enough. It is essential but not sufficient. By itself knowledge makes arrogant. To have love but no knowledge is unfortunate; but to have knowledge and no love is equally tragic.

Among the many spiritual problems of the Corinthian Christians was arrogance, a word Paul uses six times in relation to them. They were proud and self-satisfied. They had knowledge without love. As they are reminded several chapters later, a person who has all sorts of abilities and virtues but has no love is “nothing,” and “love does not brag and is not arrogant” (1 Cor. 13:1–4).

Knowledge that idols were not real and that idol food was not spiritually corrupted was right knowledge and helpful knowledge. But by itself it turned inward those who had it. They saw the truth as it applied to them and nothing else. They were insensitive as to how it might apply to those who did not “have this knowledge” (1 Cor. 8:7). Flaunting the liberty of this knowledge could seriously offend other believers. And as Jesus said, it would be better to be drowned than to offend another child of God (Matt. 18:6–14).

The truly well-rounded Christian thinks and acts in two ways: conceptually and relationally. He has the ability to understand biblical truths and the ability to relate them to people, to himself, and to others. He has knowledge plus love, because love is the medium through which truth is to be communicated. “Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ” (Eph. 4:15). Knowledge by itself brings arrogance, not maturity.

Division in the church may be caused by problems of behavior as well as problems of doctrine. When some believers insist on exercising their liberty without regard for the feelings and standards of fellow believers, the church is weakened and frequently divided.

Love edifies, and the knowledgeable believer without the edification of love is not as mature as he is inclined to think. If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know. The unloving orthodox are arrogant but not edified. They have right knowledge but not right understanding.

The truly edified person has some idea of what he has yet to learn. Someone has defined knowledge as “the process of passing from the unconscious state of ignorance to the conscious state of ignorance.” Ignorance does not know that it does not know. True knowledge does not know and knows it.

But if anyone loves God, he is known by Him. It is impossible to know God and not love Him. Loving God is the most important evidence of a right relationship to Him. Without love for God, made possible by His love for us (1 John 4:19), we can have no right knowledge of Him, because we will not have a right relation to Him. The only ones who know God and are known by Him are those who have a love relationship with Him (John 14:21). Knowledge is important, immensely important. But, as everything else, without love it is nothing. Loving and being loved by God is everything. Paul here implies that if one is loved by God and loves God, he will also love other believers, whom God loves (1 John 5:1).

Love is the key to behavior. Knowing what is not forbidden is not enough. When we “do not merely look out for [our] own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4), we are on the road to mature, loving Christian behavior.

Love sets the limits of Christian liberty.[1]


1 Paul begins this section with peri de (“now about”), a phrase that most scholars see as part of Paul’s stock response to the letter that the Corinthians have sent to him asking for his advice on certain issues (see Overview, 7:1–40). The word translated “food sacrificed to idols” (eidōlothytos, GK 1628) appears to have been a Greek word coined in Christian circles in the first century precisely because of concern over the issue of how to handle food that had been offered to idols. In a society filled with idols and pagan temples, what should a Christian do?

Paul’s first comment is, “We know that we all possess knowledge.” As with his first peri de in 7:1, so here too he appears to begin with a quotation from the letter written to him. Whatever was happening in Corinth related to the eidōlothyta (see below), at least some in Corinth were justifying their position by claiming a certain knowledge (gnōsis, GK 1194), presumably the knowledge that idols, in fact, were only things of human manufacture and did not represent any true reality (v. 4). Paul grants the fact that believers can champion this knowledge, but such knowledge can easily lead to pride and arrogance—an issue he has already dealt with at several points in this letter (see 1:29, 31; 3:21; 4:6, 18, 19; 5:2, 6).

What is far more important than having knowledge is “love,” especially the issue of whether this love is being exercised in building up one another as believers. The verb for “builds up” (oikodomeō, GK 3868; NIV, “is constructive”) is repeated as Paul begins to summarize this entire discussion in 10:23, and it is an important principle to follow in the exercise of spiritual gifts, especially prophecy, which God has given to edify and build up the church (14:3, 5, 12, 26; cf. 12:7). It is also significant to Paul that “love … is not proud [or “puffed up”]” (13:4; the same word as in 8:1).[2]


8:1 / As the opening words show, Paul is again responding to an issue brought to his attention by the Corinthians. The niv presents Paul’s introduction of the issues and then moves to state the Corinthians’ position after punctuating with a colon. The nrsv goes further in suggesting that Paul is probably quoting the Corinthians’ own position, perhaps from their letter to him, by placing quotation marks around “all of us possess knowledge.” One may speculatively reconstruct the imaginary conversation Paul presents this way:

Paul:

Now about the food sacrificed to idols:

Corinthians:

We know that we all possess knowledge.

Paul:

Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.

We have already explored Paul’s response to and critique of the Corinthians’ insistence on and preoccupation with knowledge and wisdom in the commentary on earlier chapters of this letter. At present, Paul’s critique of the Corinthians’ declaration follows in his sharp contrast between knowledge and love. Paul recognized the preferable character of love at 4:21, and in 13:1–14:1 he will elaborate the ultimate importance of love as the hallmark of Christian character and community. For now, he makes a play on the imagery of “increase” by saying that knowledge puffs up, but love builds up in order to expose the difference between that which yields arrogance or pride and that which produces positive, constructive results.[3]


8:1. Paul plainly stated another topic about which the Corinthians had questioned him (the formula now about indicates a response; see also 7:1, 25; 12:1; 16:1, 12): food sacrificed to idols. In the Greek culture of Paul’s day, families often participated in religious sacrifices, offering sacrificial animals in pagan temples. In many rituals only part of the meat was burned. The priest and the family making the sacrifice took the rest. This consecrated meat was taken home and eaten, or sold in the marketplace.

The Jerusalem council had forbidden Christians to eat these foods (Acts 15:29). Yet, controversy still existed in the Corinthian church over whether believers could participate in these meals or eat the consecrated meat sold in the market. This particular chapter deals primarily with meals actually eaten in idols’ temples. Given the famines in Greece at the time, the Corinthians’ interest was probably more than a casual inquiry.

It is likely that Paul first quoted the Corinthians themselves, perhaps from their earlier letter to him. We all possess knowledge, they have said to Paul. Verse 4 indicates the content of their knowledge: they knew idols were nothing and that there is only one God. But not everyone understood these truths. Therefore, Paul warned the knowledgeable ones that knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Paul forbade arrogance in his other writings and in this letter and set up edification of the church as a high goal (Rom. 15:2; Eph. 4:29). In effect, the apostle asserted the superiority of love over knowledge because the latter so often leads to sin if not handled carefully.

In making this comment, the apostle did not reject the importance of sound doctrine and knowledge of the things of Christ. He asserted that knowledge is not a good thing in and of itself. Knowledge can result in humility and love, but often it produces unsympathetic arrogance. In a word, knowledge—even of holy things—is not all that Christians must pursue.[4]


8:1 Now concerning the food offered to idols, we know that “we all have knowledge.” Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.

  • “Now concerning the food offered to idols.” With the first two words of this text (see 7:1, 25; 12:1; 16:1, 12), Paul turns to the next question in the letter he had received from the Corinthians. The expression food offered to idols is a direct reminder of the Jerusalem Council’s instructions to Gentile Christians: to abstain from food that had been sacrificed to idols (Acts 15:29; 21:25; Rev. 2:14, 20). By implication, the Gentile Christians were debating whether the injunction was comprehensive or flexible.

We expect that Jewish Christians consumed only kosher food, yet they were free to eat with Gentile Christians (Gal. 2:11–14). And then there was also the brother with a weak conscience (vv. 7–13), who was at a loss to know what to do. In short, the issue of food that had been offered to idols was hotly debated in the Corinthian church. And Paul at this juncture in his epistle devotes much time and effort to the sensitive question of Christian liberty in relation to food that was eaten in a Jewish-Gentile setting (10:14–33).

  • “We know that ‘we all have knowledge.’ ” Scholars agree that the last part of this sentence is a quotation taken from the letter which the Corinthians had sent to Paul. Throughout this epistle, Paul repeatedly employs the verb to know in his debate with the Corinthians (see, for example, 1:16; 3:16; 6:2, 3; 8:1, 4). The Christians in Corinth had been boasting about their knowledge. Notice that they do not say: “We have knowledge.” Instead, they assert that all the Christians in the Corinthian community and elsewhere possess knowledge.

Even though Paul fails to explain the term knowledge, we deduce a few facts from the context. The Corinthians believed that idols were nothing and that God is one (v. 4). Thus, they knew that this one God is Father, and that the one Lord is Jesus Christ (v. 6). Paul soberly reminds them that not everyone knows this (v. 7). However, if the Corinthians exalt knowledge, Paul has something to say to them.

  • “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” In an earlier context in which he commended the readers for having this treasure (1:5), Paul had already spoken about knowledge. But now Paul suggests that knowledge leads to arrogance, which should be absent from a Christian lifestyle (v. 11; 13:2). A Christian must begin with love. He is able to build his spiritual life only on the foundation of love. Knowledge without love puffs up. Love itself is never arrogant (13:4) but is always constructive. By implication, knowledge that is subordinate to love becomes useful.[5]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1984). 1 Corinthians (pp. 190–193). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Verbrugge, V. D. (2008). 1 Corinthians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, pp. 329–330). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Soards, M. L. (2011). 1 Corinthians (p. 171). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Pratt, R. L., Jr. (2000). I & II Corinthians (Vol. 7, p. 134). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[5] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the First Epistle to the Corinthians (Vol. 18, pp. 262–263). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

June 2 Jesus and Fasting

Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.—Matt. 6:16

The Greek word for “fast” literally means not to eat, to abstain from food. But by the time of Christ, fasting had been perverted and twisted beyond what was scriptural and sincere. Fasting had become a ritual to gain merit with God and attention before men—it was largely a hypocritical religious show.

Many Pharisees fasted twice a week (Luke 18:12), usually on the second and fifth days of the week. They picked those days supposedly because on them Moses received the tablets of Law from God on Mount Sinai. But they also happened to be the two major Jewish market days, when cities and towns were crowded with farmers, merchants, and shoppers, where public fasting would have the largest audiences.

Those wanting to call attention to their fasting would “put on a gloomy face” and “neglect their appearance in order to be seen fasting by men.” They would wear old clothes, sometimes purposely torn and soiled, mess up their hair, cover themselves with dirt and ashes, and even use makeup to look pale and sickly.

But this kind of fasting is a sham and mockery. Those whom Jesus condemned for fasting “in order to be seen by men” were pretentiously self-righteous. God was of little concern in their motives or their thinking, and so He had no part in their reward. The reward they wanted was recognition by men, and that’s what they got.

ASK YOURSELF

Are you sometimes guilty of feeling superior to others by the faithful way you observe various spiritual disciplines and religious expectations? What do these prideful feelings and comparisons take away from the purity of your times with God? How do they complicate your worship?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 162). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

WaPo: President Trump Tells Aides He Wants Leaker-Liar James Comey “Investigated and Charged” — The Gateway Pundit

The Washington Post reported on the highly anticipated Inspector General report on the FBI Clinton email faux investigation.

A couple of lines stood out in the WaPo report.

The Washington Post admitted the use of a spy inside the Trump campaign could be problematic for Democrats. Ya think?

Most recently, after Trump demanded the Justice Department investigate possible political spying on his campaign, the department again turned to Horowitz, asking him to expand his review of the Page investigation to encompass the president’s request. Trump’s demand stemmed from the FBI’s use of a confidential source in the Russia investigation. The source interacted with three Trump advisers during the campaign, although it remains unclear to what extent the bureau directed those interactions.

And then the WaPo says President Trump wants fired leaker James Comey “investigated and charged.”

Trump also has repeatedly mused to associates and aides in the Oval Office about Comey being investigated and charged.

Josh Dawsey

@jdawsey1

Trump has told a number of aides recently that he wants Comey investigated & charged. POTUS and allies are ramped up for release of an exhaustive inspector general report on the former FBI head’s conduct. Could be another cudgel against probe. w/@mattzap: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/as-justice-dept-inspector-general-moves-from-clinton-email-to-russia-and-trump-he-risks-becoming-a-political-weapon/2018/06/01/a9dbb112-636e-11e8-a69c-b944de66d9e7_story.html?utm_term=.f6ed307553ad 

As Justice Dept. inspector general moves from Clinton email to Russia and Trump, he risks becoming…

Those who know Michael E. Horowitz say his findings will be thorough and nonpartisan. That doesn’t mean politicians won’t take advantage of them.

washingtonpost.com

The Washington Post reported:

Those who know Horowitz say his findings will be as nonpartisan as they are thorough. But his work is almost certain to be weaponized by President Trump against federal law enforcement, and some question whether it will quell the tension gripping Washington.

“He’s going to be unflappable, he’s going to be apolitical, he’s going to call it like he sees it,” said Mary Jo White, a former U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York who supervised Horowitz when he worked there.

She added: “I think the public should have a very high degree of confidence in whatever he finds. Now, that’s a different question than, ‘How will it be received?’ ”…

…But more recently, the president has seemed to see the efficacy in using Horowitz’s findings to advance his line of attacks. After an inspector general report faulted former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe for misleading investigators about his role in a media disclosure, Trump tweeted, “DOJ just issued the McCabe report – which is a total disaster. He LIED! LIED! LIED! McCabe was totally controlled by Comey – McCabe is Comey!! No collusion, all made up by this den of thieves and lowlifes!”

Even before the report, Trump had been a frequent critic of McCabe. The former No. 2 FBI official has claimed the president’s attacks are meant to undermine the FBI and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is leading the Russia investigation. The D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office is exploring whether McCabe should be charged with a crime.

Trump also has repeatedly mused to associates and aides in the Oval Office about Comey being investigated and charged, particularly amid the heat of his book tour, according to administration officials and advisers.

One of Trump’s lawyers, Rudolph W. Giuliani, said this week that the forthcoming Clinton email report could be a boon for the president — justifying his firing of Comey, and undercutting that as a piece of Mueller’s probe into whether the president obstructed justice. Giuliani said Horowitz is “not a guy who is known to play politics,” and his report “could lay out an overwhelming case.”

via WaPo: President Trump Tells Aides He Wants Leaker-Liar James Comey “Investigated and Charged” — The Gateway Pundit

The Truth About The Employment Numbers – Nearly 102 Million Working Age Americans Do Not Have A Job Right Now

Don’t get too excited about the “good employment numbers” that you are hearing about from the mainstream media.  The truth is that they actually aren’t very good at all.  For years, the federal government has been taking numbers out of one category and putting them into another category and calling it “progress”, and in this article we will break down exactly what has been happening.  We are being told that the U.S. unemployment rate has fallen to “3.8 percent”, which is supposedly the lowest that it has been “in nearly 50 years”.  If these were honest numbers that would be great news.  But these are not honest numbers…

Let’s take this one step at a time, and we are going to use the Federal Reserve’s own numbers.

According to the Fed, there were 6,065,000 working age Americans unemployed in May.

That would be an excellent number if it was an honest number.  But of course that number does not tell the whole story.

We also have to factor in the other category of working age Americans that are not currently employed.  They are not considered to be “officially unemployed” because they are considered to be “not in the labor force”.

According to the Federal Reserve, 95,915,000 working age Americans were “not in the labor force” in May.

That is an all-time record high, and this is how the federal government has been making the employment numbers look so good.  The number of Americans that are “officially unemployed” keeps going down, and the number of Americans “not in the labor force” keeps going up.

When you add 6,065,000 and 95,915,000 together, you come up with a grand total of 101,980,000 working age Americans that do not have a job right now.

So we essentially have 102 million working age Americans that are not employed, and that is the same level that we had four years ago.

And back during the peak of the last recession, the number of working age Americans without a job never surpassed the 100 million mark.

That means that there are more working age Americans without a job right now than there was at any point during the last recession.

All of those economic optimists out there should chew on that number for a while.

According to John Williams of shadowstats.com, if honest numbers were being used our unemployment rate would be somewhere around 21 percent at the moment.  That is a slight improvement from the 22 percent level that we were at not too long ago, but it is not nearly good enough.

So please don’t try to convince me that the U.S. economy is “doing well” until we can get the number of working age Americans without a job under 100 million.

Meanwhile, Americans continue to spend far more money than they are making. In fact, Americans have now been spending more than they are making for 28 months in a row.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

For the 28th month in a row, YoY growth in spending has outpaced incomes, sending the savings rate back down to just 2.8, the lowest since the debt-funded holiday spending spree of December 2017, and just shy of record lows.

Spending YoY is the highest since April 2017:

Adjusted for inflation, real consumption rose 0.4%, double the median projection of 0.2%. The Commerce Department said spending for gasoline and other energy goods, as well as household utilities, were leading contributors to the monthly increase in real outlays. Real durable goods spending, rose 0.3% after a 1.9% increase in the prior month; nondurable goods advanced 0.4% for a second month. Outlays on services, adjusted for inflation, rose 0.4% after a 0.3% gain in prior month.

Obviously this is not sustainable.

And in the final analysis, there is really nothing sustainable about our current economic situation.  We are in the terminal phase of the greatest debt bubble that humanity has ever seen, and there are an increasing number of indications that the party is about to come to a very abrupt end.

We have never recovered from the last recession, and all of our long-term financial imbalances have continued to get even worse.  For the moment, much of the country is enjoying a debt-fueled standard of living that they do not deserve, and most of them have absolutely no idea that there is no way that this state of affairs can continue for much longer.

As individuals, we simply cannot consume far more than we produce indefinitely, and the same thing is true for our nation as a whole.

Time is running out, but most Americans are completely oblivious to this very simple basic fact.

Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

Source: The Truth About The Employment Numbers – Nearly 102 Million Working Age Americans Do Not Have A Job Right Now

State Dept. Recognizes LGBT Month While White House Doesn’t

President Trump declined to officially recognize June as LGBTQ Pride Month, marking the second year in a row that he has done so.

Trump issued a series of proclamations for June, including Great Outdoors Month, National Ocean Month, National Homeownership Month and African-American Music Appreciation Month.

But, unlike under former President Obama, the White House did not formally acknowledge the month as Pride Month. Former President Bill Clinton was the first to recognize it, but former President George W. Bush did not.

Source: State Dept. Recognizes LGBT Month While White House Doesn’t

Evangelicalism and the Sickness of Western Culture Part 2 — What Went Wrong

“America is untethered from reality,” said Kurt Anderson. “We have passed through the looking glass and down the rabbit hole,” and the nation “has mutated into Fantasyland,” Anderson wrote in The Atlantic. (September 2017)

What has gone wrong?

In Part 1 of this series we noted that the health of culture is directly linked to the health of the Church within the culture.

For good or bad, civilizations “have always been religious,” wrote Christopher Dawson in The Historic Reality of Christian Culture. Social order historically has depended on “human institutions… firmly anchored by faith and law to the realities of the higher world.” The type and quality of the religion is of utmost important. North Korea’s cult of Kim produces a far different outcome from that of William Wilberforce, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, or Mother Teresa.

Christianity, said Dawson, has been the “soul” of Western civilization.

Thus, if America and other western nations have suffered breakdown, judgment must begin at the “household of God,” as the Apostle Peter wrote, and we stressed in Part 1.

Back in 1984 Frances Schaeffer was fretting over the “disaster” of evangelicalism. He wondered if evangelicals understood what “the battle is about in the area of culture and ideas.” Schaeffer noted the shift in the consensus of Western culture “from one that was largely Christian” to one “growing from the Enlightenment,” and antithetical “to Christian truth at every point.”

The “disaster” was “the failure of the evangelical world to stand for truth as truth.” Evangelicals had accommodated themselves to the Zeitgeist, the “spirit of the age,” thought Schaeffer.

The problem is cumulative. We have come now to the point where, in the words of contemporary evangelist Beth Moore, evangelical Christianity is in “humiliating need of reform.” (The Christian Post March 27, 2018)

What kind of “reform” do we need?

Consider seven malignancies (among many) that I believe are infecting contemporary evangelicalism and metastasizing throughout the culture:

Read more: Evangelicalism and the Sickness of Western Culture Part 2 — What Went Wrong

Evangelicalism and the Sickness of Western Culture Part 1 — Where Healing Begins

Contemporary Western culture is critically ill.

This is the frequent lament of many evangelical Christians—including myself.

But it’s time to face a hard fact: What’s wrong with American (and Western) culture results from what’s wrong with many churches and Christian movements within it.

The focus here is on evangelicalism for three reasons: we are often the most outspoken regarding the ills of culture; we seek to base our worldview on the Bible, and have passion for the application of biblical values in society; we have enough influence remaining to have tilted the voting balance in a presidential election.

But what if we are actually contributing to the problem?

Christopher Dawson wrote that Christianity is the soul of Western civilization. In a human, the “soul” is the psuche, or “psyche,” according to the Greek New Testament. It is the organ of self-awareness and identity, thought, emotion, and volition.

In a living person, if the mind gets confused, emotional instability takes over, and erratic, destructive choices become the pattern. Such symptoms suggest the individual is having a nervous breakdown, or going insane.

Western culture is having a breakdown because the Western “soul” is losing its equilibrium. Consider just three symptoms of many currently evident among churches, Christian organizations and movements in one big chunk of the West, the United States:

  • Schizophrenia—A strange coalition ranging from dispensational Southern Baptists to health-wealth Pentecostals and Charismatics gathers periodically in the Oval Office—viewed by some as almost a civil “holy of holies”—while another group of evangelicals assembles at one of the monumental institutions of evangelicalism—Wheaton—to discuss their distress about “evangelicals in the age of Trump.” When a president becomes the point of definition for what a true evangelical—or any biblical Christian—is or is not, the diagnosis is grim indeed.
  • Paranoia—Some liberal churches seem to view Donald Trump as the “Beast” of Revelation. Meanwhile, some conservative Christians appear to equate Hillary Clinton with Revelation’s “Scarlet Woman.” Many Christians walk in constant dread when God has called us to be givers of light and hope midst the gloom.
  • Irrationality—Even the Catholics are showing signs of soul-sickness with the scandal of clergy sexual abuse, and now the emergent pope leading the Catholic Church into postmodern theological ambiguity. Irish voters celebrate their new-found right to deprive their unborn children of their right-to-life in a country once called “staunchly Catholic.”

But before we evangelical Christians judge the culture and other parts of the Body of Christ, we must first assess ourselves. The Bible we take as our infallible authority is in-our-face blunt: “it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God.” (1 Peter 4:17)

Read more