Daily Archives: August 1, 2018

August 1: Connecting the Stories

Isaiah 1:1–2:5; Luke 1:1–38; Job 1:1–12

The connections between the Testaments aren’t readily apparent, but a closer reading—empowered by the Spirit—can reveal them. Such is the case with the connections among Isaiah, Luke, and Job. The authors of each of these books begin by introducing a person, and then they invite us into the story.

“There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job. That man was blameless and upright and God-fearing and turning away from evil. And seven sons and three daughters were born to him” (Job 1:1–2).

“The vision of Isaiah son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. Hear, heavens, and listen, earth, for Yahweh has spoken: ‘I reared children and I brought them up, but they rebelled against me’ ” (Isa 1:1–2).

“Since many have attempted to compile an account concerning the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as those who were eyewitnesses and servants of the word from the beginning passed on to us, it seemed best to me also—because I have followed all things carefully from the beginning—to write them down in orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty concerning the things about which you were taught” (Luke 1:1–4). Although these three introductions represent a simple pattern repeated among the books, only later do we see the deeper parallels. Isaiah draws on the thematic framework of Job: People need an advocate—someone righteous to stand between themselves and God—because all people are unworthy (Job 9; compare Isa 49:1–3; 52:13–53:12). We then find that Luke draws upon Isaiah’s framework: He identifies this advocate as a savior who will suffer on behalf of God’s people (the Suffering Servant; Luke 4:22–30; compare Isa 52:14–15; 53:3).

The narratives in these books quickly lead us in directions we don’t expect, and as we begin to feel the tension and disorientation of the characters, the focus of each shifts to the savior at the center of God’s work in the world. In the midst of the pain these stories record, we see God working out something great—something beautiful. The world will be saved through one man: Jesus, God’s Son. This Suffering Servant will pay the price for the sins of us all. No matter the time, the place, or the people, God’s work in the world reflects and builds on itself to accomplish His great purpose of salvation.

How does your story fit in the story of God’s saving work? What part do you play? How will your story be told?

John D. Barry[1]

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

August 1 The Antidote for Sin

“Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Cor. 16:14).


The more you love God, the less you will sin.

Scripture and personal experience teach us that sin always has its consequences. When you harbor unconfessed sin, you dishonor God and forfeit the blessings and joy He desires for you. Prolonged sin might even bring His chastening through pain or illness.

That’s what happened to Corinthian believers who partook of the Lord’s Table in a sinful manner (1 Cor. 11:27–30). Paul warned the rest of the congregation to take careful spiritual inventory of themselves to avoid incurring a similar punishment. In chapter 13 he reveals the root of their problem, saying in effect, “Some of you are physically ill because you’re sinning. Start loving God and one another as you should and your ailments will disappear.”

Love is the antidote for sin. When a Pharisee asked Jesus which of the commandments was greatest, Jesus replied, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:37–40). If you love the Lord and your fellow men, you won’t sin against them. That’s why Paul said, “He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,’ and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; love therefore is the fulfillment of the law” (Rom. 13:8–10).

Love is your highest calling and the greatest contribution you can make to others. But it’s possible to neglect it or misunderstand its characteristics. That’s why we’re going to spend this month exploring true love and how it functions. As we do, pray that your love for God and others will increase each day.


Suggestions for Prayer:  Ask God for a greater capacity to love Him, then demonstrate your love by obeying His Word.

For Further Study: Read 1 Corinthians 13, noting the characteristics of love.[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 226). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

Stunning Video: More Evidence Man Vying to Be First Muslim Governor is Part of “Stealth Jihad” — Julie Roys

Last year, I reported that Abdul El-Sayed, the man vying to be the nation’s first Muslim governor, may be part of “stealth jihad.” El-Sayed has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and his father-in-law is a former president and board member of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). El-Sayed also embraces Shariah Law.

Now, less than a week before Michigan’s Democratic gubernatorial primary, investigative reporter Laura Loomer has released a stunning video with even more disturbing information.

In the video, key El-Sayed supporter and “de-facto campaign manager,” Linda Sarsour, praises her “mentor” Siraj Wahhaj and asks him to support El-Sayed’s candidacy. Wahhaj is a former vice-president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) who wants Shariah law instated with punishments like stoning for adultery and cutting off hands for stealing. What’s also shocking is that Wahhaj was identified by U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White as one of several “unindicted persons” who may have been “co-conspirators” in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

Sarsour, who’s also the co-founder of the Women’s March and supporter of the terrorist group Hamas, made these comments about a year ago at the 54thAnnual ISNA Convention.

Rather than distancing himself from Sarsour after her shocking statements, El-Sayed embraced her. In fact, about a month after Sarsour spoke at the convention, El-Sayed posted a picture of himself with Sarsour on Facebook saying he was “honored to have her support.”

Someone else who is supporting El-Sayed is 2016 Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders. Sanders will be coming to Michigan just two days before the August 7 primary to campaign for El-Sayed.

In the past, Sarsour has called El-Sayed “our younger version of Bernie.” Certainly El-Sayed shares some of Sanders political objectives like opening borders. He also may share Sanders’ intolerance for Christians. But Sanders is stunningly naive if thinks El-Sayed is merely a progressive Democrat.

As I said in my last post, El-Sayed is likely merely posing as a progressive Democrat to win office. The stated strategy of the Muslim Brotherhood is to penetrate and destroy Western civilization from within – “‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their (own) hands.” Let’s hope Michigan voters realize this before it’s too late.

via Stunning Video: More Evidence Man Vying to Be First Muslim Governor is Part of “Stealth Jihad” — Julie Roys


The things that thou hast heard…commit thou to faithful men.

2 Timothy 2:2

I realize that faithfulness is not a very dramatic subject and that many among us in the Christian faith would like to do something with more dash and more flair than just being faithful. While some are just concerned about getting their picture in the paper, I thank God for every loyal and faithful Christian who has only one recognition in mind, and that is to hear their Lord say in that Great Day to come: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant…enter thou into the joy of thy lord!” (Matthew 25:21).

It is plain truth that faithfulness and goodness are at the root of much of the consistent fruit bearing among the witnessing children of God! Throughout the Bible the Lord has always placed a great premium on the faithfulness of those who love Him and serve Him.

Noah was faithful in his day. Abraham was faithful in his day. Moses was faithful in his day. And what do we need to say about the faithfulness of our Savior, Jesus Christ? The devil was there with his lies. The world threatened Him all around. But Christ was faithful to His Father and to us!

Are we willing to learn from the Holy Spirit how to be faithful and loving, unselfish and Christlike?

Lord, great is Your faithfulness! I pray that You will enable me to be marked by faithfulness in my walk with You—just like Noah, Abraham, and Moses.[1]

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

“We should be unfaithful to ourselves if we should ever lose sight of the danger to our liberties if anything partial or extraneous should infect the purity of our free, fair, virtuous, and independent elections.” —John Adams (1797)

Their feigned concern over Russian election meddling is a bid to bolster opposition against Trump.

“The Patriot Post ( https://patriotpost.us/subscribe )”

South Korean Pastor Arrested for Allegedly Subjecting 400 Congregants to Ritual Beatings to Appease God

A controversial South Korean megachurch pastor was reportedly arrested last week and charged with foreign exchange exploitation, assault and confinement, specifically over accusations that she stranded 400 followers in Fiji and subjected them to ritual beatings years ago.

Source: South Korean Pastor Arrested for Allegedly Subjecting 400 Congregants to Ritual Beatings to Appease God

Hey, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez! Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro has a clue for you!

The American Thinker As the Democratic Party’s “it girl,” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, sings the praises of socialism, what’s going down in Venezuela’s 20-year socialist “sea of happiness” kind of tells a different story. Here’s what happened yesterday : The post Hey, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez!

Source: Hey, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez! Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro has a clue for you!

As It Turns Out, Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Was Created In The George Soros Puppet Factory — Now The End Begins

New details have emerged revealing that George Soros helped prop-up Democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s political career in an attempt to put 400 Bernie Sanders-like politicians in Congress.

Well, that didn’t take long. As the fake news media has been gushing and fawning over rising star Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, pushing hard the ‘she came out of nowhere!’ narrative, it turns out that she in fact did come from somewhere. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, political candidate, was created inside the walls of  The Media Consortium, one of the crown jewels of the George Soros empire.

“A Manchurian candidate is a person, especially a politician, being used as a puppet by an enemy power. The term is commonly used to indicate disloyalty or corruption, whether intentional or unintentional.” Dictionary.com

A quick peek at The Media Consortium’s membership roster reveals all sorts of interesting, Far Left groups like The Young Turks, The Progressive, Worker’s Independence News, Dissent Magazine and dozens of other hardcore Socialist organizations. Many of these groups, who combined receive millions in funding from George Soros, were told from the highest levels of the Soros regime to promote Ocasio-Cortez, and she has publicly acknowledged their role in her success.

So the rags-to-riches story of the working class ‘hero bartender’ who breaks upon the national stage is really the latest Manchurian Candidate from the political puppet master, George Soros. Soros spent many millions to create this illusion of  ‘voice of the people‘ Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who rises from the working class to be a star on the political stage.

FROM THE DAILY CALLER: A former organizer for Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign, Ocasio-Cortez’s under-dog win in the Democratic primary was undoubtedly helped by online actors. The New York Times writes that she was able to defeat her opponent, who greatly outspent her, due to her online presence. In an interview with progressive digital media outlet “The Young Turks,” a member of a Soros-funded network of far-left publications called The Media Consortium, Ocasio-Cortez also admits that their coverage helped her win. Members linked to Soros-funded digital media asked Ocasio-Cortez, a former organizer for Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign, to run for office — guaranteeing favorable coverage by a media network that reaches almost 300 million people monthly. READ MORE

Who is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

She is the latest weapon in George Soros relentless pursuit of controlling American democracy through infiltration and subterfuge, that’s who she is. 

Every month, reporters, writers and bloggers at the many outlets George Soros funds easily reach more than 330 million people around the globe.

FROM THE MEDIA RESEARCH CENTER: Books, newspapers, radio stations, TV stations, websites and cutting edge videos. The pieces of the George Soros media empire are as diverse as the nations of the world and just as widespread. From nakedly partisan left-wing media like Think Progress, the blog for the Center for American Progress, and a TV show on MSNBC, to the supposedly impartial National Public Radio, Soros has impact on the flow of information worldwide.

It gives him incredible influence. Every month, reporters, writers and bloggers at the many outlets he funds easily reach more than 330 million people around the globe. The U.S. Census estimates the population of the entire United States to be just less than 310 million.

That’s roughly the entire population of the United States with the population of Australia thrown in for good measure – every single month. This information is part of an upcoming report by the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute which has been looking into George Soros and his influence on the media.

Just counting 13 prominent operations of the 180 media organizations he has funded equals 332 million people each month. Included in that total are big players like NPR, which received $1.8 million from Soros, as well as the little known Project Syndicate and Public News Service, both of which also claim to reach millions of readers.

And that’s really just the beginning. That tally takes into account only a few of the bigger Soros-funded media operations. Many numbers simply aren’t available.”Democracy Now!” – “a daily TV/radio news program, hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez” – is known for its left-wing take on global news. Its vitriol ranges from attacks on Blackwater founder Erik Prince and supporters of Andrew Breitbart (whom it calls ‘Electronic Brownshirts’), to claims the U.S. is opposed to Arab democracy. Just that one Soros-funded operation is heard “on over 900 stations, pioneering the largest community media collaboration in the United States.” But it posts no formal audience numbers. Phone calls to “Democracy Now!” were not returned. READ MORE

via As It Turns Out, Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Was Created In The George Soros Puppet Factory — Now The End Begins

Nobody Can Score At Least 10/15 In This Tricky Jesus Test — ChurchLeaders

100 college students were given this 15-question test and no one got at least 10/15 correctly. Can you? The post Nobody Can Score At Least 10/15 In This Tricky Jesus Test appeared first on ChurchLeaders.

via Nobody Can Score At Least 10/15 In This Tricky Jesus Test — ChurchLeaders

Alexander: Trump Derangement Syndrome, Version 2.0

Therapists Rebrand ‘Trump Derangement Syndrome’

Trump’s election and his subsequent bombardment of the status quo resulted in an epidemic of cognitive dissonance on the Left.

Mark Alexander

“To restore … harmony … to render us again one people acting as one nation should be the object of every man really a patriot.” —Thomas Jefferson (1801)

It’s official!

Psychotherapists have adopted a diagnostic name for what we in the real world refer to as “Trump Derangement Syndrome” (TDR). They have now rebranded TDR version 2.0 as “Trump Anxiety Disorder” (TAD). While that may be a nicer diagnostic tag for a new counseling revenue stream, the word “derangement” is a much more accurate description of the extreme cognitive dissonance TAD references.

The pop culture Urban Dictionary defines Trump Derangement Syndrome as “a mental condition in which a person has been driven effectively insane due to their dislike of Donald Trump, to the point at which they will abandon all logic and reason. Symptoms for this condition can be very diverse, ranging from hysterical outbursts to a complete mental break.”

Given the benefit (or detriment) of holding several graduate degrees, including one in psychology, I would suggest that the increasing frequency and intensity of hysterics associated with TDR is greatly exacerbated by the unmitigated, constant consumption of hateful Demo/MSM propaganda, 24/7/365. The result is a mass movement of those so intent on undermining Trump that they are now far off the reality reservation and utterly obsessed with defeating peace and prosperity.

Punctuating all the rhetoric spewed by MSM prognosticators are the endless pharmaceutical advertisements claiming to alleviate every muscle twitch or rash, all of which now have a diagnosis. Add to that growing list the official Trump Anxiety Disorder and there are plenty of anti-anxiety and anti-depressants sold as “treatment.”

As for the new “kinder, gentler” TAD diagnosis, therapist Elisabeth LaMotte of the Washington, DC-based Counseling and Psychotherapy Center, says that among her clients there is a “collective anxiety” that has been elevating since the election of Donald Trump. According to LaMotte, “There is a fear of the world ending. It’s very disorienting and constantly unsettling.”

This is the direct consequence of dwelling in the Leftmedia echo chambers mentioned above.

Recognition of the newly redefined TAD pathology was first described in a report last year from psychiatrists at Harvard Medical School and Yale School of Medicine, in which Jennifer Panning distinguished between general anxiety disorders and TAD because “symptoms were specific to the election of Trump and the resultant unpredictable sociopolitical climate.”

But the underlying TAD symptoms long predate the election of Trump, as I described in “The Pathology of the Left” more than a decade ago. In that assessment I noted what, in the broadest of terms, constitutes the difference between contemporary liberals and conservatives: “Liberals tend to be dependents while conservatives tend to be self-reliant. This is a reflection of their respective emotional constitutions.”

In other words, leftists tend to be far more insecure than conservatives, and thus, when constantly infused with Leftmedia negatives, act out the resulting anxiety in an array of dissociative behaviors.

By all objective measures, most Americans, and our nation in general, are better off under Trump administration policies than they were before Trump’s election. For example, this week brings the latest good news that wages and benefits are growing at the fastest rate in a decade.

Since you are an advocate for Liberty versus a proponent of leftist statism, you already recognize this trend toward making America great again. But for those unfortunate souls who bought into the altered political reality of Barack Obama, his assumed successor Hillary Clinton, and all the recycled MSM talkinghead chatter that followed her defeat, most of them are deeply afflicted with TAD manifestations.

In the last two years, the Socialist Democrats have radicalized the once-noble Democrat Party and weaponized their rhetoric — the result being that many of their “triggered” constituents have become increasingly unhinged.

A few years ago I characterized the difference between liberals and conservatives with two contrasting columns: “You Might Be a Liberal If…” and “You Might Be A Conservative If…” But so far to the left have Democrat protagonists gone that the word “liberal” must now be replaced with “leftist.”

Dennis Prager described the Democrat devolution, noting that in the last year he has watched “my fellow Americans and virtually all of the mainstream media descend further and further into irrational and immoral hysteria — regularly calling the president of the United States and all of his supporters Nazis, white supremacists and the like; harassing Republicans where they eat, shop and live; ending family ties and lifelong friendships with people who support the president; declaring their opposition to Trump and the Republican Party the ‘Resistance,’ as if they were American reincarnations of the French who fought real Nazis in World War II; and so on…”

So radicalized have leftist Democrats become that political observer Dan Greenfield notes the future of the Democrat Party isn’t just socialist; it’s crazy: “Tweak a normal person’s sense of outrage and they’re moved. Keep doing it a bunch of times and you can enlist them in a movement. Do it every 5 seconds and you drive them as crazy as rats in a Skinner Box.”

Evidence of that slide into the crazy abyss is the recent election of socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, now the darling of Bernie Sanders’s nescient adolescent neophytes.

Among many regrettable results from this systemic radicalization is that many Demo constituents have become disenfranchised from the notion of American exceptionalism. Fewer Democrats report that they are proud to be America.

Driving the craziness, in part, is Trump’s protuberant communication style — his confrontational and often putative remarks.

Fact is, the day Trump arrived in DC, he dropped a bomb on the status quo in Congress and its special interests. He dropped a bomb on the regulatory behemoths and their bureaucratic bottlenecks. He dropped a bomb on the trade and national security institutions and alliances that failed miserably over the previous eight years. And he dropped a bomb on all the pundits and mainstream media outlets.

After 30 years of institutional negligence and political neglect of grassroots Americans, Trump, despite his sometimes offensive style (or lack thereof), stepped in to make Obama’s “hope and change” mantra a reality.

But Trump’s election and his subsequent bombardment of the status quo has resulted in a lot of social and cultural post-traumatic stress for leftists, which is constantly antagonized by mainstream and social media outlets.

To be fair, last year I strongly condemned Donald Trump’s propensity to “say stupid s—t” and to be careless, if not outright reckless, with his unscripted comments and social media feeds. While the frequency of his absurd remarks has somewhat abated, he still tends to completely overshadow his agenda successes with such remarks, which causes me and many other conservatives considerable heartburn.

Recall that political observer Salena Zito advised of his blustering comments that Americans should “take him seriously, but not literally.” However, some of his remarks are so literally absurd that it is too much to ask that even his most ardent supporters take him seriously in those instances.

Fortunately, the Trump administration record demonstrates much more accurately Trump’s many successes, though, unfortunately, they are often overshadowed by his careless words. The net result is a lot of heartburn for even his closest allies, particularly in a political year when the Senate and House have major obstacles to maintaining majorities.

A Pew Research report defines the current divide between Left and Right. The longevity comparison study asked Americans if they perceived that things are better for the current generation than past generations.

The study found that 41% of respondents indicated that life is worse today, while 37% say better. Those results, predictably, fall very much along partisan lines, with Republicans more optimistic than Democrats.

All of this belies a very real derangement disorder epidemic on the Left, and it will take so much more than happy pills to bring its sufferers back to reality.

Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis Pro Deo et Libertate — 1776

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August 1, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

The Illustrative Parable

Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy. Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world. Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. (16:20–22)

The solemn phrase amēn amēn (truly, truly) underscores the importance of what the Lord was about to say to the disciples (cf. v. 23; 1:51; 3:3, 5, 11; 5:19, 24, 25; 6:26, 32, 47, 53; 8:34, 51, 58; 10:1, 7; 12:24; 13:16, 20, 21, 38; 14:12; 21:18). Jesus’ followers would soon weep and lament over His death (cf. 20:11; Luke 24:17–21) but the world, the Jewish leaders, and the apostate nation which had so bitterly opposed Him would rejoice.

But Christ’s enemies’ joy over His death would be short-lived. The Jewish leaders had mockingly promised to believe in Jesus if He came down from the cross (Matt. 27:42). But when He did the far greater miracle of rising from the dead, they refused to believe. Instead, they hastily concocted a scheme to cover up the resurrection, bribing the soldiers to spread the lie that Jesus’ body had been stolen while they were sleeping (Matt. 28:11–15). Then the Jewish leaders tried desperately, but futilely, to suppress the apostles from preaching the resurrection (Acts 4:1–21; 5:17–18, 27–42).

While the world’s joy over Christ’s death would turn to dismay, just the opposite would be the case with the disciples. Your grief, Jesus assured them, will be turned into joy. The Lord was not saying that the event causing their sorrow would be replaced by an event producing joy but rather that the same event (the cross) that caused their mourning would be the cause of their joy. The dark shadows of sorrow and grief cast by the cross fled before the brilliant, glorious light of the resurrection and the coming of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4–47). That light also caused the disciples to view the cross in its proper perspective, making it an unending source of joy for them (cf. v. 22; Acts 13:52). As Paul exulted, “But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14). The cross is foundational to all Christian joy, because it is the basis of redemption.

A vivid example of an event that initially causes pain but ultimately brings joy is childbirth. The reality that a woman … in labor … has pain stems from the Edenic curse that God pronounced on Eve in the aftermath of the fall. Genesis 3:16 records that “to the woman [God] said, ‘I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, in pain you shall bring forth children’ ” (cf. Ps. 48:6; Isa. 13:8; 21:3; 26:17; Jer. 4:31; 6:24; 22:23; 49:24; 50:43; Mic. 4:9–10; 1 Thess. 5:3). Yet after a woman gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish she has been through. The intense anguish and suffering of labor in giving birth fades in the face of the consuming joy that a child has been born into the world.

In the same way though the disciples would have grief in the short-term, they could take comfort in the Lord’s promise, I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice. In verses 16 and 19 Jesus spoke of the disciples seeing Him; here He told them that He will see them. His knowledge of believers is more important than and foundational to their knowledge of Him. “You have come to know God,” Paul wrote, “or rather to be known by God” (Gal. 4:9). The reality that no one will take the disciples’ joy away from them indicates that more than just seeing Jesus after the resurrection is in view, since that lasted only forty days. The Lord’s reference, as noted above, is to the coming of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost to permanently indwell them. The disciples’ Spirit-produced joy (Gal. 5:22; cf. Rom. 14:17; 1 Thess. 1:6) would be permanent. Nothing can undo the work of grace wrought in believers’ lives through the power of the cross.[1]

Joy in the Morning

John 16:16–22

“In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.”

Some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.”

Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.”

Are you one of those people who always wakes up in the morning with a smile on your face and a buoyant spirit in your heart? I am not. So I confess that when I come to a verse like Psalm 30:5—“Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning”—I have to understand it in poetical terms. It is worth trying to do this, however, for the idea of joy after a nighttime of sorrow is an important biblical theme. We have it in the passage we come to now: “I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.”

In general terms, we understand what this means. It means that for a Christian, sorrow endures for just a time and then is replaced by a joy that no one can take from us. Unfortunately, when we study the entire passage more specifically, we soon find that there is some uncertainty as to what Jesus is referring. The first part of this passage speaks about “a little while” when the disciples will not see him and then “a little while” after which they will see him. But because this has several possible applications, it is probable that having read that passage we find ourselves in the position of the disciples, who said, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying” (v. 18).

As I look at these words I suspect that this ambiguity is intentional. It is not that the Lord is vague in his teaching, of course. He makes things as clear as he can possibly make them. It is rather that by means of such ambiguity he suggests more than one meaning. Here the Lord is talking about a little while when he will not be seen, a time marked by sorrow, and then after that space of time, another time in which he will be seen again and which will therefore be joyful. This apparently deliberate ambiguity suggests three different levels of interpretation. First, it can refer to Jesus’ death and the days of his entombment, during which time he was not seen, and then the resurrection that follows with its renewed sight of him. Second, it can indicate the periods before and after Pentecost, for now, because of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, we see him in a spiritual way that was not possible previously. That is suggested by the tie-in of these verses with those preceding. Finally, it may describe the church age, this short time in which we do not see Christ with our physical eyes, but after which, when the Lord will return in glory, we will see him face-to-face and have earth’s sorrows transmuted into eternal joy.

I would like to take each of those meanings, show how it is supported by the context, and trace its importance.

Death and Resurrection

First of all, then, these verses refer to the death and resurrection of Jesus. This is the first and most obvious interpretation simply because Christ is here speaking to his disciples, trying to comfort them on the eve of his arrest and separation from them. They are going to sorrow, but he wishes to show them that very soon, following his resurrection, they will again be joyful.

Jesus has already talked along those lines. For example, in John 13 the Lord had been talking about his glorification, saying, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him” (v. 31). This refers to his exaltation to heaven by his crucifixion, death, resurrection, and ascension. But it is immediately followed by the words: “I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come” (v. 33). Peter understood this “little while” to be imminent even though he did not comprehend much more than that, for he asked, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later” (v. 36).

When we take the passage in this sense, we recognize that this was precisely the experience of these early disciples. Jesus was their friend. They loved him with a love that had grown intense because of his love for them and fellowship with them over the three-year period of his ministry. Then, although he had tried to prepare them for it, he was suddenly taken from them and crucified. They were plunged into despondency and near disillusionment.

There were multiple reasons for their great sorrow. First, they sorrowed because of their personal loss. They were warmly attached to him, and he was gone—gone forever, so they thought. Since they had left all to follow him and since he had become their all in place of what they had lost (and much more besides), they were left with a vacuum in their lives. This was comparable to the kind of sorrow we have at the death of one greatly loved. Yet it was far more intense, because in this case it was the Lord of glory, Jesus Christ, who was removed.

Second, they sorrowed additionally because of the world’s attitude to Christ’s crucifixion. The Lord alludes to this in John 16:20, saying, “You will weep and mourn while the world rejoices.” In other words, the sorrow of the disciples would be intensified because the world, far from sorrowing at the loss of Jesus, actually rejoiced that he was now out of their way and would no longer be a bother to them. As the disciples sorrowed during this interim they knew that the scribes and Pharisees, those who represent the spirit of the world, were actually rubbing their hands in glee. They were saying, “At last we’ve gotten rid of him; we won’t have him exposing us anymore. Things will get back to normal.” The sorrow of the disciples was intensified because of that.

Third, their sorrow during those days must have been particularly acute because of their disappointments. Every time we catch a glimpse into what they were thinking about during this interim we are impressed with how disappointed they were. There is the story of the Emmaus disciples. They were on their way home. The Lord appeared to them on the way and asked why they were downcast. They told him about Jesus, explaining how he had been crucified by the leaders of the people. Then they uttered what is certainly one of the most poignant lines in Scripture, “But we had hoped he was the one who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21). They had put so much of their hope in him and he had been taken away from them. Their hopes had been crushed.

Disappointment explains the attitude of Thomas, who said, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it” (John 20:25). It was not that Thomas was particularly disbelieving. None of the other disciples believed either until they had seen Christ. It was only after he appeared that they had come to faith. But Thomas, in a bitterness born of acute disappointment, said, “You’re not going to overcome my grief by some mystical story of a resurrection. I’m the one, let’s not forget, who said, ‘If he goes up to Jerusalem, he will die; if we go with him, we must be prepared to die also.’ I warned you about it. He died. So don’t try to put me off with fairy tales.” It was disappointment that made him speak that way.

The disciples experienced acute sorrow because of their loss, the joy of the world, and disappointments. But then came the resurrection, and their sorrow was changed into joy. It was not that their sorrow was followed by joy, that joy came afterward but what was sorrow still remained. No, the sorrow was itself changed into joy so that what had been the cause of their sorrow before was now in equal measure joyous. Before the resurrection the death of Christ appeared to be a total tragedy. It was meaningless to the disciples because they did not understand that this was God’s atonement for the sin of the world. It was only the death of one they deeply loved. But when Jesus rose from the dead they understood that the cross was not a tragedy but a triumph. Did you ever notice as you have read the New Testament that the cross of Christ is never referred to in a tone of sorrow? It is true that when the disciples tell about their own feelings during the three days between the crucifixion and the resurrection, as they do in the Gospels, they reflect in a historical way that they sorrowed then. But afterward whenever they wrote about the cross they spoke of it not as a cause for sorrow but as a cause for joy. Paul even speaks of the cross as his “glory” (Gal. 6:14). If there were nothing but the crucifixion, glorious as that might be, we would not understand it and it would be a cause of sorrow for us. But having had a resurrection, having known that the One who was crucified and buried rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures, as the Bible itself tells us, we rejoice in that the cross is now seen to be a victory.

This incidentally, is why Lent should not have the extraordinary and exaggerated character that it does in some circles. For some it becomes a kind of mock funeral for Christ in which they try to work themselves into a depressed state leading up to Good Friday. That is all artificial. There is nothing genuine about it. For Jesus is living, not dead; and although we must remember the cross and its agony, we remember it as that great act that procured our salvation, and we rejoice in it.

Spiritual Sight

Second, we must refer these verses to Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit for the church age. This is not reading something into the passage, because it is suggested to us by the context. In the first part of this chapter the Lord has been talking about the Holy Spirit. He has talked about the ministry of the Holy Spirit, first, to the world—bringing some to faith in Christ, convicting them of sin and of righteousness and of judgment (vv. 7–11)—and then, second, also to the apostles in a special sense so that they might become vehicles of the New Testament revelation as they remembered, understood, interpreted, and recorded what Jesus had done (vv. 12–15). The verses end by saying that when the Holy Spirit comes he is not going to speak of himself but rather is going to speak of Jesus and make him known. Then, immediately following that and in the same context, the Lord begins to speak of the little while when we will not see him and then the little while after which we will see him. In this context we, therefore naturally think of the church age in which the Holy Spirit makes the Lord Jesus Christ visible to Christian people, not physically but spiritually, as he reveals the Lord to us in the pages of the Word of God.

Someone will perhaps say at this point, “But I do not see the Lord Jesus Christ even in a spiritual way. There are times when he is far from me. I would like to see him, to feel him close, but I am afraid that the Lord seems far away. He seems to be locked in a previous age of history.” If that is the case, then you have to approach the Lord in the only way he can be found in this age, that is, through a study of the Word. This is really the burden of the passage as I understand it.

Moreover, there is a second part to that, for it is not enough that we just come to the Scriptures in a certain academic way and study them, important as that may be. Rather, as we find the Lord presented to us in the Scriptures, there must be that personal interaction with him that brings us face-to-face with his holiness and causes us to turn from sin in order that we might go his way.

I am sure that this is what the author of Hebrews had in mind when, in the twelfth chapter, he talks about our “looking to Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.” Hebrews 11 is the great chapter on faith. You would think that by the time the author had come to the end of that chapter, having cited the great heroes of faith of the Old Testament, he would have stopped, taken a deep breath, and perhaps gone on to something entirely different. But that is not the way he was thinking. Rather, he thinks of a present application according to which we, like those previous heroes, should turn from sin and pursue that which is set before us by Jesus: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and say down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:1–2).

If being aware of Jesus is to turn sorrow into joy in the present age, it must be based, first, upon a study of the Scriptures, and second, upon a deliberate turning from anything that would hinder discipleship. It is turning from sin in order that we might press on to what is ahead.

When we talk along those lines it is almost impossible not to think also of that chapter in Philippians in which the apostle Paul says almost the same thing in giving his testimony. He has already said in the third chapter what it meant for him to become a Christian. It meant to have come to know Christ. Now he expresses his desire to know him even better: “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowshiip of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (3:10). He concludes that section by saying, “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (3:13–14).

Our Blessed Hope

Third, there is also a sense in which this applies to the Second Coming. Even with the vision of Christ through the Holy Spirit in this age there is still often great cause for sorrow, because we have disappointments, personal loss, and sin; and that keeps us from God. But it is not permanent. Jesus is coming. It is only a little while. Then sorrow will be turned into joy. We tend to think that the return of Jesus Christ is delayed—it is because we are locked in time—but that is why that phrase “a little while” is so important. It seems to us at times, as it always seems to skeptics, that “everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:4). But this phrase says that the present state is only temporary. It is short, and after it is over all present sorrows will be turned into joy. The phrase “a little while” is mentioned seven times just in this one passage.

There is an obvious progression here. First, there is the revelation of the Lord at the time of the resurrection, a revelation that went beyond anything that the disciples had previously known. Second, there is the revelation of Jesus to his people during this age. This is even better. Jesus said, “It is for your good that I go away. Unless I go away the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7). Finally, there is that perfect revelation of Jesus when he returns in his glory at the end of time. If the progression applies in that historical sense, it should also apply to our own personal relationship to and knowledge of Jesus. We should know him better this year than we did last year, and better next year than this year. That is what we should desire. Let us see that it is fulfilled as, by the grace of God, we study the Bible and seek to enter into a full knowledge of our Lord.[2]

In a Little While

John 16:16–22

“A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” (John 16:16)

One of the most helpful things to know about biblical eschatology is that the Bible organizes history in two ages: “this present age” and “the age to come.” The present age is one in which mankind lives in rebellion to God, God’s Messiah is opposed, and God’s people are frustrated by persecution, hardship, and disappointment. This is why the apostle Paul described it as “the present evil age” (Gal. 1:4), and why John said that this present world “lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). The hope of God’s people lies not in this world, or this age of the world, but in the age and world to come. Jesus taught that everyone who leaves family and comfort to follow him will receive “in the age to come eternal life” (Mark 10:30).

It is clear that Jesus’ disciples believed that the age to come had arrived in his ministry. In important ways, their belief was correct. Jesus began his ministry, proclaiming, “The kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15), which is another way of speaking about “the age to come.” His miracles involved an inbreaking of heaven’s healing and liberating power. Through his teaching, Jesus was able to say, “The kingdom of God is in the midst of you” (Luke 17:21).

We can see why the disciples, governed by this expectation, were so dismayed at Jesus’ teaching in this Farewell Discourse about going away from them. Now he added, “You will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice” (John 16:20). It is no wonder that “some of his disciples said to one another, ‘What is this that he says to us?’ ” (16:17). If the Messiah had come, why would there still be sorrow, if only for “a little while”?

Jesus answered the disciples’ perplexity by explaining how the Bible’s two-age eschatology would be mirrored in his own experience. “A little while, and you will see me no longer,” he said, “and again a little while, and you will see me” (John 16:16). The disciples wondered what this meant: “they were saying, ‘What does he mean by “a little while”? We do not know what he is talking about’ ” (16:18). Jesus’ reply explained how he and they would first suffer through the cross, but how this sorrow would give way to salvation joy after a little while: “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy” (16:19–20). This same pattern defines our situation as believers, for a little while longing for Jesus’ coming and again in a little while rejoicing when he has returned to take us into heaven.

In a Little While: Sorrow at the Cross

There is some debate among scholars as to Jesus’ reference in this passage. Some, like John Calvin, think that Jesus refers to his bodily absence after ascending into heaven, followed by his coming at Pentecost, when he would dwell in the disciples by faith. This is possible, since so much of this Farewell Discourse deals with Christ’s sending of the Holy Spirit. Others, such as Augustine, believe that Jesus speaks of the church age followed by Christ’s second coming. It is most natural, however, to take Jesus’ “in a little while” as referring to his crucifixion on the next day, since this dramatic event was immediately before them. Jesus was preparing the disciples for what they would experience literally within hours: “A little while, and you will see me no longer” (John 16:16).

Jesus said that his death would occasion weeping and lamenting. It is indeed not difficult to see why the disciples would be staggered by what was about to happen. First was the terrible injustice and horror of the crucifixion. For three years, the disciples had known Jesus to be the master of every circumstance, more than equal to the threats and plots of the religious leaders. But after his arrest later that evening, they would witness the shocking injustice of his mock trial, when Jesus stood mutely while falsely charged with blasphemy (Matt. 26:57–65). Jesus was handed over to Pilate, who had him scourged with whips, beaten by pitiless soldiers, and presented in mockery before the people (John 19:1–3). When Pilate then declared Jesus innocent, the Jews called out regarding the long-awaited Messiah, “Let him be crucified!” (Matt. 27:15–23). Charles Spurgeon writes: “Might not angels wish to weep in sympathy with him? Who can forebear to sorrow when Jesus stands insulted by menials, reviled by abjects, forsaken by his friends, blasphemed by his foes? It was enough to make a man’s heart break to see the Lamb of God so roughly handled.”

Most shocking of all were the horrors of the crucifixion itself. Jesus’ arms and legs were nailed in torment to the wooden beams, and then he was lifted up in shameful condemnation. The Gospel records do not dwell on the details of his physical agony, but simply state Jesus’ awful torment. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” he cried (Matt. 27:46). How much of this the disciples witnessed we are not told, but the very least of these scenes must have broken their hearts.

Looking back on Calvary today, we, too, can feel sorrow and lament for Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion. Moreover, we can only continue to lament Jesus’ treatment by this world. We hear his name spat out as a curse. We sorrow for the casual disregard of his claims on mankind, and we mourn for hard-hearted contempt of the truth and righteousness for which Jesus lived and died.

The fact of the cross was not the only reason for sorrow: second, the cause of Jesus’ crucifixion should also break our hearts. Why should God’s perfect Son suffer and die? The answer is that Jesus was crucified because of our sins. Spurgeon cries: “The sword which pierced his heart through and through was forged by our offences: the vengeance was due for sins which we had committed, and justice exacted its rights at his hands.” The chief reason why Christians do not accuse the Jews or malign the Roman soldiers for their role in Jesus’ death is that we are overcome with grief for our own primary role in the crucifixion of God’s Son. What a horror it is to awaken to the reality that my sins caused Jesus Christ to suffer and die!

The disciples would also sorrow because of the loss that Jesus’ removal would mean for them. All through the Farewell Discourse, they express alarm over this prospect. Peter earlier asked, “Lord, where are you going?” adding, “Lord, why can I not follow you now?” (John 13:36–37). This shows that for all their failings, the disciples loved Jesus, and the thought of being parted from him grieved them. They had left all to follow Jesus, and his absence would leave a void in their lives. Christians today feel some of this anguish. As we learn of Jesus in the Bible and as his grace grows in our lives, we love Jesus more and more. He is with us powerfully by the Holy Spirit, yet we long to see him face-to-face. Our hearts yearn for fuller communion with the Lord when we have passed through death to him or he has returned in glory to us. For all the joy we have as believers, for this “little while” our hearts are sorrowful over Jesus’ bodily absence from earth.

A fourth reason for the disciples’ sorrow was given by Jesus: “you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice” (John 16:20). How galling it was for the Pharisees and scribes to stand gloating over Jesus’ sufferings! Matthew recorded their mocking words: “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.… He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross” (Matt. 27:40–42). James Montgomery Boice observes, “The world, far from sorrowing at the loss of Jesus, actually rejoiced that he was now out of their way and would no longer be a bother to them.” So it remains today that people are glad for Jesus not to be in the world, preferring his crucifixion to his righteous reign.

Fifth, the disciples would sorrow because of their disappointment over Jesus’ apparent failure in establishing God’s reign and salvation. We gain insight into this disappointment through the words of the Emmaus road disciples: “we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21). Many Christians today are likewise disappointed over the frustration often involved with serving Jesus in this world, and sometimes the apparent failure of gospel ministry. It seems that the more devoted we are to the cause of Christ and the spread of the gospel, the more difficult our lives are and the more disappointment we experience.

Again in a Little While: Joy in the Morning

There are Christians who seem to think that the grief and apparent failure involved with the cross of Christ is a kind of scandal on Christianity. Such people struggle over the failure, frustration, and suffering that believers experience through following Christ in this present world. But Jesus did not look on the cross as his defeat—for all the sorrow and grief that it entailed first for him and then for us—but rather as the instrument of his victory. It was true that in “a little while” he would be taken from the disciples and they would weep and lament while the world rejoiced. But it would also be true that “again [in] a little while” they would see Jesus, and then, he said, “your sorrow will turn into joy” (John 16:19–20). Jesus refers to his triumphant resurrection from the grave. David sang, “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Ps. 30:5). So it would be for the disciples and then also for all who trust in Christ in this present world. “A little while, and you will see me no longer,” Jesus said; “and again a little while, and you will see me” (John 16:16).

Notice that Jesus did not say that our sorrow would be compensated by a subsequent joy or even that our sorrow would be replaced by joy. Rather, he said, “You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy” (John 16:20). In this way, the resurrection does not do away with the crucifixion. Rather, it turns the sorrow of the cross into our joy and glory. This is why, when the apostles wrote in the Epistles regarding Christ’s atoning death, they always expressed themselves with wonder, praise, and joy. It is not that they no longer felt the anguish of what Jesus suffered, but rather that the resurrection had transformed the very despair of the cross into delight.

This is why Christians today speak with unashamed happiness over the suffering death of Jesus and why true gospel churches rejoice in the cross, never ceasing to speak of Christ’s death to redeem us from our sin and singing lusty songs of joy about the shedding of Christ’s blood. This is why the apostle Paul resolved to preach nothing that was not centered on the cross (1 Cor. 2:2), and exclaimed, “Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal. 6:14). This is why Peter exulted in the “precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:19). This is why the apostle John quoted the worship-song of heaven, with its joyful refrain to Jesus: “Worthy are you …, for you were slain” (Rev. 5:9). Far from undoing the cross, putting away the cross, or negating the cross, Jesus’ resurrection has transformed the grief of Jesus’ death into everlasting salvation joy.

Just as there were five causes for sorrow in Jesus’ death, there are five reasons for great joy in his resurrection. First, by this means God the Father overturned the unjust verdict of mankind and publicly vindicated his Son before all history. After being indwelt by the Holy Spirit, Peter explained to the people of Jerusalem:

The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. But you denied the Holy and Righteous One …, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. (Acts 3:13–15)

With what joy did the disciples greet the resurrection of Jesus, falling at his feet to worship him (Matt. 28:9)! Paul wrote that in the resurrection and ascension, “God has highly exalted him,” and when Jesus returns in glory, how great will our joy be when “every tongue confess[es] that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil. 2:9, 11).

Second, we rejoice greatly in the resurrection because it proved God’s acceptance of the redemption achieved by Christ’s atoning death. Yes, it grieves us to realize that our sins nailed Jesus to the cross. But this very grief is transformed into joy when the resurrected Christ declares our guilt removed forever and God’s justice satisfied once for all. Jesus did not regret dying for our sins. Hebrews 12:2 makes the remarkable statement that Jesus “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame.” His joy was nothing less than knowing that his blood would redeem his people from the curse and power of death. Spurgeon writes: “Heartily do we lament our sin, but we do not lament that Christ has put it away nor lament the death by which he put it away; rather do our hearts rejoice in all his atoning agonies, and glory at every mention of that death by which he has reconciled us unto God.… It is a joy to think that he has taken on himself our personal sin and carried it right away.”

Third, after “a little while” the resurrection restored Christ’s personal presence to the disciples. They grieved in his absence, but rejoiced in his restoration. Here is where Christians rejoice in the Spirit’s coming at Pentecost, for while we do not have Jesus’ bodily presence, we do have his Spirit dwelling within us. We therefore do not gaze on the Scriptures as a dead page, but with the Emmaus disciples after Jesus had taught them, we exclaim over the burning of our hearts through the Word of Christ (Luke 24:32). In yet a little while longer, our faith in Christ will give way to sight, transformed into so great a joy that we cannot begin to imagine it now. Job, who suffered so greatly in this present evil age, rejoiced at this mere thought:

For I know that my Redeemer lives,

and at the last he will stand upon the earth.

And after my skin has been thus destroyed,

yet in my flesh I shall see God,

whom I shall see for myself,

and my eyes shall behold, and not another.

My heart faints within me! (Job 19:25–27)

So great will be that transforming sight of Jesus in glory that, according to John, it will perfect our sanctification in glory: “we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).

Fourth, the disciples grieved for the world’s rejoicing over Christ’s death, but now in the light of his resurrection we rejoice in the conversion of many people from all over this same wicked world. The disciples would see many of the very men who conspired in Jesus’ murder come to saving faith (see Acts 6:7), and even the chief of his persecutors would be won by the power of the risen Lord and, as Paul the apostle, would preach salvation grace to the very ends of the ancient world.

This is why the fifth cause of our grief in the cross has also been transformed into resurrection joy. Do we minister in weakness? Do we experience frustration and apparent failure? Do we ourselves fail to live up to our creed? The sad answer to all these is yes. The remedy for our disappointment as failed believers is the resurrection power of Christ, which transforms it all into joy. Paul thus writes that “we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Cor. 4:7). Jesus showed the apostle that his resurrection power was great enough to overturn the greatest sorrow. When Paul prayed for his thorn to be removed, Jesus answered: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” No longer sorrowful, Paul rejoiced: “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (12:9).

The Transforming Joy of New Life

To make his point clear to the disciples, Jesus concluded this promise of transforming joy with an illustration: “When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:21–22).

Jesus often referred to the coming cross as the arrival of his “hour” (John 2:4; 7:30; 8:20; 12:23; etc.). Here he compares his hour to the arrival of birth pains to a pregnant woman. Like an expectant mother, Jesus had been nurturing this defining act all through the years of his ministry, frequently speaking of it to the disciples. Long beforehand he had said, “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised,” he had told the disciples (Luke 9:22). Now would come the crisis of suffering, not merely for him but for his disciples as well, and it would be dreadful beyond their fears. For “a little while,” Christ and his people would suffer death and apparent defeat in the cross.

The resurrection changed this sorrow into great joy, just as the sound of a crying baby drives all thoughts of pain from its mother’s heart. “When she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world” (John 16:21). It was through struggle that the joy was born, even as the birth ends even an awareness of the labor. In like manner, Jesus said, “I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice” (16:22).

This illustration supplies us with valuable applications from Jesus’ teaching. What was Jesus’ pastoral purpose in telling this to the disciples, and through John to us? First, Jesus reminds us not to be overthrown when our faith exacts a price in this present evil age. Just as Jesus foretold the necessity of his own death, he clearly told us about the cross that we must bear, not to atone for sin but to follow him in a world that hates his gospel. “If anyone would come after me,” Jesus said, “let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Yet however greatly the cross might press down on our shoulder, we are strengthened to persevere by knowing that in “a little while” Christ will receive us into eternal glory. There, God “will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4). As the beloved hymn tells us, “The sands of time are sinking” and “the dawn of heaven breaks.” Realizing this, we can sing:

I have borne scorn and hatred, I have borne wrong and shame,

Earth’s proud ones have reproach’d me, for Christ’s thrice-blessed name.

Dark, dark hath been the midnight, but dayspring is at hand,

And glory, glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

Second, we should realize that it is by our experience of the cross and through it the resurrection power that Christians most closely fellowship with Jesus in this life. In his memorable passage of Philippians 3:8–11, Paul spoke of his reliance on Christ’s righteousness for his justification, despising any merits or attainments of his own. He added that, having been justified through faith alone, he then desired to know greater fellowship with Christ by taking up his cross: “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” Embracing the cross in our rejection of worldliness and sin, we know fellowship with Christ in this world through his resurrection life. In this way, though we are certainly too weak in ourselves, we receive Christ’s resurrection power to lead godly lives that are useful to the gospel. Another hymn expresses our resolve:

I take, O cross, thy shadow for my abiding place;

I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of his face;

Content to let the world go by, to know no gain nor loss;

My sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross.

Finally, Jesus wanted his disciples to know, on the eve of his crucifixion, that their sorrows in this present evil age, the grief of his cross, would last for only “a little while.” Yet how different is the joy that comes through the cross by the resurrection. “You have sorrow now,” Jesus said, “but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:22). Knowing this, Jesus calls his followers to persevere by his power.

The joy we receive through the sin-atoning death of Jesus and his glorious resurrection power is a joy that will never end. The sorrow of the cross, so real and painful now, belongs only to this present evil age. But resurrection joy, which comes to us in the wonder of the new birth, will have no end. Which of the two, therefore, should have the greater power over our hearts: worldly sorrow or resurrection joy? Which should govern our daily thoughts and attitudes as we face the circumstances of this present evil age? Which should the world see reflected in our lives? Should we be overcome by the bitterness of this world, or overwhelmed by the joy of resurrection grace?

In this present age, for a little while, we have tears, sadness, disappointment, frustration, and even anguish. “In the world,” Jesus will conclude, “you will have tribulation.” But by his resurrection life, which shone through the empty tomb and reigns in the hearts of those who look to him in faith, Jesus says, “Take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Is this not sufficient cause, is not the resurrection a sufficient power, for us to live now with joy, praise, and wonder with lives energized for the glory of Christ?[3]

20 Following the solemn amēn amēn (NIV, “I tell you the truth”), Jesus contrasts the disciples’ distress with the rejoicing of the world. “You [hymeis is emphatic] will weep and mourn” but “the world shall rejoice” (KJV). Weeping and mourning (klaiō, GK 3081, is used in John only in connection with death: 11:31, 33; 20:11, 13, 15) combine the deep sorrow connected with death and the outward expression of that sorrow. Loud wailing was a regular part of the death and burial ritual in the Near East.

We are reminded of the scene from Revelation 11 when after the death of the two witnesses, “the inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts” (Rev 11:10). Whenever the prophetic voice is for the moment silenced, the enemies of God rejoice. It would seem that the “little while” of John 16:16 represents every period of time during which the world appears to have overcome God’s redemptive work in the world (e.g., the three days Jesus was in the grave, as well as the entire period leading up to Jesus’ victorious return).

The sorrow the disciples will experience when Jesus is taken away will be difficult to bear but it will not be permanent: “You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.” The crucifixion was a shocking experience for those who had left everything to follow Jesus. He had been their constant companion, and they had come to rely on him for all their needs. Suddenly he would be gone and their vision for the future shattered. Not yet understanding what rising from the dead would mean, they remained bewildered and afraid. How different it would have been if they had actually believed the promise of Jesus that their grief would be turned into joy. It is significant that Jesus does not speak of sorrow being replaced by joy but of sorrow being transformed into joy.[4]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2008). John 12–21 (pp. 216–218). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] Boice, J. M. (2005). The Gospel of John: an expositional commentary (pp. 1221–1226). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Phillips, R. D. (2014). John. (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.) (1st ed., Vol. 2, pp. 353–362). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.

[4] Mounce, R. H. (2007). John. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, pp. 592–593). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

August 1, 2018 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)


President Donald Trump on Wednesday called on U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to end federal criminal investigation of whether his presidential campaign cooperated with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Facebook said on Tuesday it had identified a new coordinated political influence campaign to mislead its users and sow dissension among voters ahead of November’s U.S. congressional elections.

Vice President Mike Pence vowed on Tuesday to protect domestic elections from foreign interference, hours after Facebook said it had identified a new effort to use its site to influence November’s U.S. congressional elections.

Thieves have stolen two crowns and an orb from the Swedish royal family’s collection, making off in a motorboat after the heist.

More than 50 boxes handed over by North Korea to the United States last week appear to hold human remains from the 1950-1953 Korean War and are likely American, according to an initial forensic analysis, a U.S. official said on Wednesday.

England’s Freemasons are to admit women to their secretive society – but only if they were previously male masons.

The U.S. Treasury said on Wednesday it will introduce a new benchmark 2-month bill starting in October 2018 and also increase the size of its debt auctions in the coming months. The measures are to deal with a rising budget deficit and fill gaps left by the Federal Reserve continuing to reduce its massive bond portfolio.

A U.S. judge on Tuesday blocked the planned release of 3-D printed gun blueprints hours before they were set to hit the internet, siding with states that sued to halt publication of designs to make weapons that security screening may not detect.

AP Top Stories

A plane crash in the northwest Mexican state of Durango on Tuesday left at least 85 people injured, two critically, according to officials. There were no reported deaths.

President Donald Trump’s White House moved Monday to revoke the visas of Nicaraguan officials over what it called the “state-sanctioned” violence against protesters in recent months.

Heavy clashes erupted Tuesday between Syrian regime forces and Islamic State group jihadists cornered in a pocket of southern Daraa province, state media and a monitor said.

A war monitoring group says Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters seized 36 women and children during simultaneous attacks on the southeastern province of Sweida last week. The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Monday that 20 women and 16 children were seized from al-Shobki village in Sweida during the Wednesday attacks.

Some 23,000 Nicaraguans have sought refuge protection in neighboring Costa Rica since deadly political unrest erupted in April.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Imran Khan on Monday to congratulate him on his party’s victory in the Pakistan general election, with both men discussing regional peace.

Yemen’s Huthi rebels announced a two-week pause in Red Sea operations, after attacks against Saudi tankers last week prompted Riyadh to suspend oil shipments through a key waterway.

Rare general-level talks between the two Koreas ended with no agreement, but the top delegates said they had a meaningful discussion on easing their countries’ decades-long military standoff.

More than 150 Islamic State fighters surrendered in Afghanistan on Wednesday, Afghan officials said, a move which they and the Taliban hailed as the end of the extremist group in the northern part of the country.

Oil prices are likely to hold fairly steady this year and next as increased output from OPEC and the U.S. meets growing demand led by Asia and helps to offset supply disruptions from Iran and elsewhere, a Reuter’s poll showed on Tuesday.


Australian researchers say for the first time an entire city has been protected from viral disease dengue. Captive-bred mosquitoes with a naturally occurring bacteria were released in the city of Townsville, where they mated with local mosquitoes. By spreading the bacteria Wolbachia, which hinders dengue transmission, the city has been dengue-free since 2014. Researchers from Monash University also believe their work could stop mosquito-borne diseases Zika and malaria.

Government workers in a borough of Alaska have turned to typewriters to do their jobs, after ransomware infected their computer systems. A spokeswoman for Matanuska-Susitna said the malware had encrypted its email server, internal systems and disaster recovery servers.

The US embassy in London is auctioning off unwanted items following its relocation this year to a $1bn new facility in Battersea. Among the goods up for grabs: a set of vacuum cleaners all in need of repair, a used car and 1,200 toilet paper rolls.

The US is considering 25% tariffs on $200bn of Chinese goods, much higher than the 10% it previously indicated it might impose, reports said.


A Russian national or any other noncitizen can easily influence a U.S. election by simply registering to vote in California.

CO – A warning written in chalk on a state highway last week threatened Gilpin County residents with intentionally set fires.

Denmark is the world’s happiest country… and Minnesota is America’s happiest state. Minnesota scored the highest with South Dakota, Colorado, Utah, and North Dakota rounding out the top five. The least happy states were Louisiana, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Alabama, and Mississippi, respectively.

News – 8/1/2018

Gluttons Beware
Religions do not regard gluttony (from the Latin word for “gulping down”) as a virtue. According to the list compiled by the great Middle Ages Jewish scholar and physician Maimonides (the Rambam), of the 613 commandments that Jews must observe, excessive eating or drinking is prohibited (and is listed as #169). Christianity too regards overindulgence at the dinner table as a transgression and even one of the Seven Deadly Sins. The obesity epidemic in the Western World, including the U.S. and to a lesser extent Israel, shows that there are too many gluttons, and greedy eaters are suffering from chronic diseases from heart attacks and strokes to diabetes and kidney failure as a result.

Electromagnetic properties of the Great Pyramid: First multipole resonances and energy concentration
In this paper, we use another modern approach and consider the Great Pyramid as a physical object that could have resonant properties when interacting with external electromagnetic waves of the radio frequency range with the corresponding wavelength λ from 200 m to 600 m. We show that the observed resonant properties open the way to control the propagation and concentration of electromagnetic energy in the Pyramid’s vicinity in this spectral range.

Stem cells to be transplanted into brains of Parkinson’s patients in world-first trials
When it comes to Parkinson’s, the hope is that iPSCs can be coaxed into what are known as dopaminergic progenitors, neurons that then generate the dopamine neurotransmitter. And trials last year at Kyoto University returned some promising results, with iSPC-derived neurons transplanted into diseased monkey brains resulting in significant improvements over a two-year period.

Burning Man Recreating Mount Sinai for Idolatry
Thousands of people wearing bizarre costumes dance around a huge burning effigy that represents Celtic human sacrifice. Scattered around the pentagon-shaped camp are various makeshift temples to pagan gods. Moving through the crowds is a huge seven headed serpent. No, this is not science fiction or even a pagan festival held in some far-off land. This is the annual ten-day Burning Man Festival that will be held in the Nevada desert in three weeks.

Report: Iran Increased Persecution of Christians in July
The Iranian government’s persecution of Christians increased over the past month, according to information gathered by the nonprofit International Christian Concern.

Allen West: ‘Pursuit of Happiness’ Means Equal Opportunity, Not Equal Outcomes
Retired Army Lt. Col. Allen West, a senior fellow with the Media Research Center and a former congressman, told the National Conservative Student Conference Tuesday that they will not be successful in life if they whine, insulate themselves from the reality of the world, and fear taking risks. He also stressed that the “pursuit of happiness” in the Constitution means equality of opportunity, not equal outcomes, the latter an ideology pushed by socialists, such as New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Mars makes closest approach to Earth in 15 years
Earth’s neighboring planet, Mars, is closer than it has been in the past 15 years, offering unusually bright views of the Red Planet’s auburn hues. “The Red Planet and Earth haven’t been this close since 2003, and won’t be again until 2035,” NASA said. Astronomers around the world trained their telescopes on the sky on July 31, when the Red Planet was 35.8 million miles (57.6 million kilometers) away.

No end in sight for Australia’s destructive drought
“I have been here all my life, and this drought is feeling like it will be around a while,” says a despairing Whitney, whose property near the town of Gunnedah is on the Liverpool Plains, a usually fertile area now withered having received the lowest average rainfall in nearly 30 years.

Iran’s parliament summons Rouhani as economy falters under U.S. pressures
Iranian lawmakers want Rouhani to explain why, after more than two years of signing a nuclear deal, Iranian banks still only have limited access to global financial services.

Russia Convinces Iran to Back Away From Israel Border, But is It Enough?
Speaking to the Sputnik news agency, Lavrentyev said that Iranian forces would withdraw to a distance of 85 kilometers (nearly 53 miles) from the Israeli border on the Golan Heights, and that Jerusalem has accepted this compromise.

Theresa May fires BREXIT WARNING to Macron: Stop blocking or FRANCE will lose jobs
THERESA May is set to urge President Emmanuel Macron to adopt a difference stance on Brexit or risk France losings jobs by impeding the flow of finance from London to Europe.

Russian envoy: Israel agrees to removal of Iranian troops 85km from Golan
Russia and Israel have reached an agreement to remove Iranian forces at least 85 kilometers from Israel’s Golan Heights border, Russian Presidential Special Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentyev told the Sputnik news agency on Wednesday. “As we took into account the Israeli concerns, we managed to attain the pullout of Iranian units 85 kilometers [some 53 miles] from the Israeli [-Syrian] border,” Lavrentyev said.

Iran’s parliament summons Rouhani as economy falters under U.S. pressures
Iranian lawmakers have given President Hassan Rouhani one month to appear before parliament to answer questions on his government’s handling of Iran’s economic struggles, state media reported on Wednesday. It is the first time parliament has summoned Rouhani, who is under pressure from hardline rivals to change his cabinet following a deterioration in relations with the United States and Iran’s growing economic difficulties.

Mexico’s Popocatépetl volcano spews ash high into the sky
One of Mexico’s most active volcanoes has sent a huge ash plume into the sky, the country’s centre of disaster monitoring has reported. Overnight video taken by the centre shows ash and incandescent material shooting from the Popocatépetl volcano 2,000m (6,500ft) into the air. People have been warned to avoid the area inside the 12km security radius surrounding its crater.

Venezuela’s president admits economy has failed
Under-fire Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro admitted his economic model has “failed” in the wake of food and medicine shortages and public service paralysis, such as Tuesday’s power failure that affected 80 percent of Caracas. “The production models we’ve tried so far have failed and the responsibility is ours, mine and yours,” Maduro told his ruling PSUV party congress…

China vows retaliation if Trump slaps 25 percent tariff on $200 billion of Chinese imports
China said on Wednesday that “blackmail” wouldn’t work and that it would hit back if the United States takes further steps hindering trade, as the Trump administration considers slapping a 25 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. The proposal would increase the potential tariff rate from 10 percent the administration had initially put forward on July 10 for that wave of duties in a bid to pressure Beijing into making trade concessions…

U.S. judge halts 3-D printed gun blueprints hours before planned release
A U.S. judge on Tuesday blocked the planned release of 3-D printed gun blueprints hours before they were set to hit the internet, siding with states that sued to halt publication of designs to make weapons that security screening may not detect. U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik in Seattle said the blueprints’ publication could cause irreparable harm to U.S. citizens.

Historians are questioning if Jesus ever existed at all
…historians and bloggers are now increasingly questioning whether the man called Jesus actually existed at all. He may be no more a historical figure than Hercules or Oedipus.

A Week of Earthquakes, Eclipses, and Other Divine Signs in Israel
…Several rabbis are pointing to last week’s rare lunar eclipse and continued earthquakes as a divine pre-Messianic wake-up call. In fact, it isn’t only the rabbis. Even Arab sources are labeling the recent earthquakes as part of the end-of-days conflict centered around Jerusalem.

Large Hadron Collider Accelerates Whole Atoms for the First Time
The Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland can often be found colliding particles together at nearly the speed of light, but recently it has begun colliding a new type of particle for the first time: atoms. In a test run on July 25, scientists at the LHC accelerated lead atoms with a single electron and maintained the beam for multiple hours, creating an opportunity for future experiments with these types of particles.

Worst Red Tide In More Than a Decade Leaves Droves of Animals Dead on Southwest Florida Beaches
The worst red tide event in more than a decade has left droves of dead animals, including an “unprecedented” number of sea turtles, on Southwest Florida beaches.

Planet Fitness Loses Locker Room Case
A Michigan appeals court has ruled in favor of a former Planet Fitness customer who argued that her rights under Michigan’s consumer protection law were violated when the club did not disclose its unwritten policy and canceled her membership because she complained about a man in the women’s locker room.

Did Jeff Sessions Just Let Slip That the DOJ’s New Religious Liberty Task Force Will Target the Left-Wing Smear Group the SPLC?
On Monday morning, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new Religious Liberty Task Force in the Department of Justice (DOJ) to defend religious freedom as laid out in last October’s memorandum. In his remarks, Sessions referenced the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as a threat to religious liberty, suggesting the new task force may investigate or target the left-wing smear group.

Ocasio-Cortez Campaigns With Sharia Compliant Gubernatorial Candidate
…Big League Politics contributor Laura Loomer was in Michigan for one of the gubernatorial candidate’s events, where she confronted the candidate. She asked El-Sayed if his Sharia-compliant Islamic faith comports with his progressive agenda, and why voters should vote for a man whose religion calls for the deaths of Jews and Christians.

Spanish Police Warn 50,000 Migrants Waiting in Morocco to Invade Spain
Police sources are warning that 50,000 illegal migrants from sub-Saharan Africa are waiting in Morocco to invade Spain.

New York Times Takes Aim At Bible, Says Book Of Leviticus Used To Contain Pro-Homosexual Verses In ‘Earlier Texts’
There is no other group of people more apt to destroy your confidence in the Holy Bible, than that gaggle of textual critics known as bible scholars. They don’t believe that God has preserved His word, they don’t believe in its authority, and they have no compunctions about revising history to suit their agendas.

Hell on Earth: California Engulfed in Wildfires as Crews Battle Inferno
Awesome scenes of destruction are pouring out of California, where several wildfires have burned through tens of thousands of acres, compelling the governor to declare a state of emergency.

Women In England Are Illegally Taking Abortion Pills At Home. Here’s Why | The Daily Caller
Women in England are illegally having abortions at home so they don’t have to travel long distances for the procedure at a clinic or hospital.

WATCH THE IDIOCY: BBC Reverses Boy And Girl’s Names And Clothes To Test Adults For ‘Gender-Stereotyping’
The BBC , in an attempt to take gender confusion to the next level, issued a video with the hashtag #NoMore Boys&Girls, in which a little girl toddler was dressed in boy’s clothes and given a boy’s name, while a little boy toddler was clothed in a dress and given a girl’s name. The tweet accompanying the video read, “Are you sure you don’t gender stereotype children?”

‘National Disgrace’ – UK Home Office Rejects Syrian Christians, Refugee Intake 100 Percent Muslim
When it comes to taking in refugees from different nationalities and religions, the U.K.’s Home Office has been a little bit tipsy on the side of pro-Islam, accepting 100 percent of Muslim applicants and zero — that’s right, zero — of Christians.

Dementia now striking people in their 40s as mercury from vaccines causes slow, degenerative brain damage
These diseases have reached levels that are “almost epidemic,” the researchers said, and they reached them so quickly that environmental factors must be largely to blame.

State of Emergency Declared After Cancer-Causing Toxins Found in Drinking Water
High levels of Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) were discovered in Kalamazoo County, Michigan tap water, according to a report by Mlive.com.

18 -Year-Old Mahad Aziz Rips Eyes Out of 74-Year-Old Rochester Man and Busts Out His Teeth
18-year-old Mahad Aziz was arrested Friday after ripping the eyes out of a 74-year-old man in Rochester, Minnesota. Aziz ripped out the elderly man’s eyes with his hands. Officers could not find the man’s eyes in his apartment after the attack.Most of the victim’s teeth were also knocked out.

Headlines – 8/1/2018

70 House Democrats urge Trump administration to restore Gaza aid funding

The US may retaliate against Palestinians leading a major UN group, expert warns

PA slams American ambassador’s ‘provocative’ visits to settlements

Comment: Was the peace process doomed to failure from the start?

IDF head to Druze soldiers fuming at nation-state law: Keep politics out of army

Rivlin said to vow he will sign nation-state law in Arabic

Expert Warns of Negative Consequences for Israel From Assad’s Takeover of Border Area

Russian envoy: Deal reached to keep Iran 85 km from Israeli-Syria border

UN plans talks with Iran, Russia, Turkey on Syria constitutional panel

Trump says Iran talks may be ‘pretty soon’ but also might not happen

IRNA: Senior Iranian MP says it’s not a good time for Iran-US talks

Head of Revolutionary Guards says Iranian president will never meet Trump

Senior Iranian cleric says Tehran should consider Trump’s sit-down offer

Israel says it’s unfazed by specter of US-Iran summit, but anxiety brews

US assures Israel no change in Iran policy after Trump offers talks

Iran’s Rouhani calls US withdrawal from nuclear deal ‘illegal’

UN experts say Iran might want to help end war in Yemen

Turkish court rejects US pastor’s appeal

Pakistan’s Likely New Leader Could Complicate Afghan Peace Talks

Gunmen storm government building in Afghanistan, take dozens hostage

Seven soldiers, four extremists killed in clash in Algeria

North Korea only provided one dog tag with possible US remains

US says it expects N.Korea to uphold promise to give up nuclear arms

EU slaps sanctions on six Russian groups over Crimea bridge

Forget Collusion. Conspiracy’s the Watchword in Mueller’s Filings

Facebook finds ‘sophisticated’ efforts to disrupt elections

Facebook bans pages aimed at US election interference

Pence condemns Russian election interference

Noncitizens across U.S. find it easy to register to vote, cast ballots

Trump in Florida: ‘The Time Has Come for Photo ID’ for Voting

Trump keeps shutdown threat alive, demands border wall funding this year

Trump renews government shutdown threat, says it’s ‘very small price to pay’ for border security

As Trump’s tariffs start to bite, China pledges it’ll keep its economy stable

‘Calexit’ supporters revamp campaign with plan to convert half of California into ‘autonomous Native American nation’

Venezuela’s president admits economy has failed

Mars Is At Its Closest to Earth Since 2003 Today! It Won’t Be Closer Until 2287

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits near Iwaki, Japan

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Volcano, Hawaii

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 30,000ft

Popocateptl volcano in Mexico erupts to 27,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 18,000ft

Copahue volcano in Chile erupts to 12,000ft

Tropical Depression Jongdari Expected to Restrengthen and Track Toward Shanghai Friday After Last Week’s Weird Path Across Japan

Tropical Storm Hector Forms in the Eastern Pacific

Nearly 120,000 displaced in Myanmar floods

Fish in hospital as rains kill 80 in north India

Arctic Circle hits 32C (90F) as Europe heatwave nears record temperatures

California blazes tax budgets, firefighters: ‘Fatigue is starting to set in’

Wildfire Ravages California; Bethel Church, Victims Say ‘God’s Got Us’

Lebanon’s cannabis farmers fear going legal may hit profits

Women In England Are Illegally Taking Abortion Pills At Home

Man legally changes gender to get cheaper car insurance: report

Senate Bill To Require Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity Data By 2030 Census

Police on alert for violence as Jerusalem prepares for largest-ever Pride Parade

Complaint filed after Israeli news site column calls for killing gays

Judge issues temporary restraining order stopping release of 3D-printed gun

White House supports existing law, says 3D guns are already illegal

Mexico’s Murder Rate Hits Highest Level in Decades

France bans smartphones, tablets in schools: report

Time Flies: U.S. Adults Now Spend Nearly Half a Day Interacting with Media

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August 1 The Apostles Marvel at Jesus’ Power

The men were amazed, and said, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”—Matt. 8:27

There are no realities more overwhelming than a glimpse of God’s glory or the sense of His presence. Such occurrences make it impossible not to be utterly dumbfounded before Him.

The disciples realized after Christ stilled the storm that He indeed was God standing in their boat with them. Peter displayed the same reaction of awe and terror when he briefly walked on water after his Lord did. A storm surged up and caused Peter to panic. When Jesus rescued the disciple and calmed the storm, all the disciples in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!” (Matt. 14:33; cf. vv. 28–32). That is simply the proper reaction any believer should have when getting a firsthand glimpse of the Lord’s power in this world.

God’s servants in Scripture had far more astounding earthly encounters with His magnificence than we ever will, but their examples are instructive. Daniel, for example, after beholding the Almighty, remarked, “No strength was left in me, for my natural color turned to a deathly pallor” (Dan. 10:8; cf. Isa. 6:1, 5). When the risen Christ halted Paul (Saul of Tarsus) on his way to Damascus, “he fell to the ground” (Acts 9:4).

Our daily dependence on God and sense of His presence should be no less important for us than for the prophets and apostles of old. Isaac Watts’ lyrics capture this concept well:

On thee each moment we depend,

If Thou withdraw we die.

O may we ne’er that God offend,

Who is forever nigh.


Pause long enough to marvel at the glory of your ever-present God. Put your feelings of awe into words of worship.[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 222). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

Why Americans Go (and Don’t Go) to Religious Services

Many cite practical or personal reasons, rather than lack of belief, for staying home

(Photo by Exkalibur/Getty Images)

In recent years, the percentage of U.S. adults who say they regularly attend religious services has been declining, while the share of Americans who attend only a few times a year, seldom or never has been growing. A new Pew Research Center survey finds that the main reason people regularly go to church, synagogue, mosque or another house of worship is an obvious one: to feel closer to God. But the things that keep people away from religious services are more complicated.

Source: Why Americans Go (and Don’t Go) to Religious Services

The Progressive Philosophy of Culture and Worship — Religious Affections Ministries: Conservative Christianity, Worship, Culture, Aesthetics, Classical Education, Homeschooling, Family

One of our primary objectives at Religious Affections Ministries is to carefully articulate a biblical conservative philosophy of Christianity. We try to primarily focus on what we are for rather than simply what we are against.

However, it is helpful at times to examine opposing views, which helps to contrast views we consider in error with what we’re advocating.

The opposing position to a conservative philosophy of culture is what we might call a “progressive” philosophy.1 Such a philosophy suggests that, instead of beginning with some notion of universals we wish to conserve in determining our posture toward culture, especially in our worship, the church’s foundational missional impulse requires prioritizing contextualization in the contemporary culture. This philosophy denies any universal meaning in cultural forms, and thus all forms of culture are equally valid; the only criterion for discerning what forms to use in worship is their propositional content and the relevance of the cultural form to the people in the congregation.

Likely the most thorough articulation of such a philosophy remains Harold Best’s 1995 Music Through the Eyes of Faith, a book that remains the most frequently cited by contemporary authors and speakers2 defending what Best called cultural “pluralism.”3 Best places a hard distinction between truth and beauty; truth, he argues, “transcends time, culture, and human invention.” Beauty, on the other hand “is a simple quality which has degrees”; in other words, standards of beauty differ from one culture to another, or even between different kinds of things.4 He explicitly claims that “there is no such thing as absolute beauty” and “no such thing as centralized perfection.”5 Based on this fundamental philosophy, Best insists that “art and especially music are morally relative and inherently incapable of articulating, for want of a better term, truth speech. They are essentially neutral in their ability to express belief, creed, moral and ethical exactitudes, or even worldview.”6

Best’s pluralistic philosophy is the default position of most in evangelicalism today, including those writing and speaking on topics of culture, worship, and music. This philosophy rejects the idea of universal standards and makes cultural choices for worship rather on what is indigenous or authentic to a particular people group. For example, Constance Cherry argues, “For it to be authentic, musical style must arise from within the community as a true expression of its culture, not borrowed from another culture.”7 Like Best, Bob Kauflin claims that cultural pluralism in worship “communicates God’s heart for all generations, cultures, and races.”8 They deny any universal principles or meaning in cultural forms, such as Robin Harris, who insists “Music may be a universal phenomenon, found in virtually every culture around the world. But it is definitely not a universal language!”9

A fundamental assumption beneath this practice of contextualization is the belief that content and form have no intrinsic connection and are therefore easily separable. These conservative evangelicals admirably repudiated emergent leaders who argued that both content and form must be contextualized; they insist that since God’s Word is inspired and inerrant, God’s truth transcends culture and must be preserved intact. But since they consider culture as entirely neutral in itself, the form in which Christians communicate truth is fully fluid. This is seen in David Hesselgrave and Edward Rommen’s distinction between cultural contextualization that is “true to . . . indigenous culture” and theological contextualization that is “true to . . . the authority of Scripture.”10 Ethnodoxologist Ron Man argues for applying this perspective to cultural choices for worship, claiming, “It is a reasonable assumption that the virtual silence of the New Testament writers on the matters of form and style for worship means that the Lord intends for us to have considerable latitude and flexibility in these areas.”11 Therefore, Christians must defend the unchanging theology of Scripture, while the contextualized cultural forms through which that theology is expressed remains relative.

Proponents of each of this philosophical posture do share much in common with conservative advocates like us, distinguishing them from theological liberals, for example.

First, both philosophies affirm the inspiration, inerrancy, and absolute authority of Holy Scripture. Second, both philosophies affirm the absolute nature of truth and morality as rooted in God’s nature and expressed in his Word. Third, both philosophies affirm the necessity that corporate worship should be rich with doctrine, Scripture, and expository preaching. They both reject the “attractional model” of worship popularized by the church marketing movement, which softens doctrine, minimizes Scripture, and seeks to meet “felt needs” in the preaching. When comparing worship services that result from applying each philosophy, one might expect to find in both a deep respect for Scripture, songs with doctrinally rich lyrics, and similar preaching based on careful exegesis. Contrary to some extremes and caricatures, both philosophies even agree that cultural forms in worship will change over time and differ to some degree between groups in different cultures.

However, although these philosophies share some similarities, fairly significant differences emerge, especially when observing the cultural and aesthetic elements of worship. First, each philosophy begins from a different starting point. In determining what kinds of cultural forms a church might use, the conservative philosophy begins with absolute principles and the assumption that Scripture regulates even aesthetic factors, while the progressive philosophy begins with the prevailing culture with the assumption that culture and aesthetics are relative. Second, the driving goal of the conservative philosophy is that cultural forms chosen to express truth and facilitate worship be biblically faithful, while the aim of the progressive philosophy is that they be culturally intelligible. Third, when assessing meaning in cultural forms, such as music, conservatives determine meaning primarily based on its relationship to universals, with secondary consideration given to conventional associations within a certain cultural context, while progressives almost exclusively determine meaning based on individual or cultural factors, largely denying universal standards or meaning. Finally, while the progressive philosophy sees truth, morality, and beauty as separate ideas, the first two absolute and the latter relative, the conservative philosophy considers all three to be interwoven strands of a single cord. For the progressive, form and content are easily separable; for the conservative, meanings is found in the union of form and content.

Scott Aniol

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is Chair of the Worship Ministry Department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.


  1. I struggled with what term to use here. Technically, I could have used “liberal,” “pluralist,” “missional,” or even just “evangelical.” []
  2. For example, see Barry Liesch, The New Worship: Straight Talk on Music and the Church, Expanded (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2001); Bob Kauflin, Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2008); Mike Cosper, Rhythms of Grace: How the Church’s Worship Tells the Story of the Gospel (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2013); Matt Boswell, ed., Doxology and Theology: How the Gospel Forms the Worship Leader (Nashville: B&H Publishing, 2013); Bob Kauflin, True Worshipers: Seeking What Matters to God (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2015); Constance M. Cherry, The Music Architect: Blueprints for Engaging Worshipers in Song (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2016). []
  3. Harold Best, Music Through the Eyes of Faith (San Francisco: Harper, 1993), 63–85. []
  4. Best, 42. []
  5. Harold Best, Think: Worship Conference – General Session 6 Part 2, accessed July 25, 2018, http://equip.sbts.edu/event/conferences/think-worship-conference-general-session-7-part-2. []
  6. Best, Music Through the Eyes of Faith, 42. []
  7. Cherry, The Music Architect, 183. []
  8. Kauflin, Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God, 105. []
  9. Robin P. Harris, “The Great Misconception: Why Music Is Not a Universal Language,” in Worship and Mission for the Global Church: An Ethnodoxology Handbook, ed. James R Krabill et al. (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2013), 89. []
  10. David J. Hesselgrave and Edward Rommen, Contextualization: Meanings, Methods, and Models (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2003), 55. []
  11. Ron Man, “The Bridge: Worship Between Bible and Culture,” in Worship and Mission for the Global Church (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2013), 17–18. []

via The Progressive Philosophy of Culture and Worship — Religious Affections Ministries: Conservative Christianity, Worship, Culture, Aesthetics, Classical Education, Homeschooling, Family

6 Warning Signs Of A Bad Pastor And Spiritual Abuse — The Blazing Center

Over the last year, I’ve read a number of books about incredible, powerful, visionary people who achieved incredible things, only to have everything fall apart due to their own self-destruction.

I’ve read sobering stories of bad pastors/spiritual abusers (Jimmy Bakker), deceitful startup founders (Elizabeth Holmes), and obsessive athletes (Tiger Woods). I’ve also witnessed the profoundly destructive power of bad pastors and spiritual abuse first hand.

What struck me as I read these books was that in both the “secular” world and the church, destructive leadership tends to look the same. In other words, the same things that caused Jimmy Bakker to implode also led to the downfall of Elizabeth Holmes and her company “Theranos” (once valued at $1 billion).

And Tiger Woods, though not necessarily a “leader” in the same sense as a pastor or CEO, imploded for many of the same reasons.

More and more, it’s critically important to be able to identify dangerous, destructive pastors BEFORE everything falls apart. Few things cause Christians to become disillusioned more than being ripped to pieces by a really bad pastor. Few things do more to sully the name of Jesus more than abusive spiritual leaders.

Here are six bright red warning signs.

via 6 Warning Signs Of A Bad Pastor And Spiritual Abuse — The Blazing Center

God-pleasers, Man-pleasers, Preachers, and People — Daily Devotions

In Paul’s opening words to his Galatian friends, he makes the following declaration:

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.    (Galatians 1:10)

It is clear from studying sacred Scripture, reading church fathers, observing contemporary brothers, and engaging in personal introspection, that a constant temptation and tendency for all church leaders is for them to be men-pleasers rather than pleasers of God. Churches are filled with sinful  ministers, preachers, elders, and teachers who are:

  • Overly interested in making a good showing in the flesh
  • Overly interested in gaining a following for themselves
  • Overly interested in obtaining money or wealth
  • Overly interested in putting on a good show
  • More interested in their visible reputation than their inner character
  • More interested in their pet doctrines and rules than those of God
  • More interested in displaying tolerance than in declaring truth
  • Prone to distort God’s free Gospel by adding works of God’s Law
  • Prone to troubling God’s friends by threatening their approved souls

And why are church leaders so prone to wander and harm those following their teaching and leadership?

  • Sometimes, it is because they are ignorant of God’s truths.
  • At all times, it is because they are more interested in popularity, power, position, pleasure, and profitability than in serving their people properly and worshiping their God faithfully. They are man-pleasers consumed most with pleasing men. They are man-pleasers consumed with pleasing themselves more than anyone else. They are not passionate enough about serving their Lord who chose them, redeemed them, regenerated them, filled them, instructed them, gifted them, and specially called them to deliver his truth.

Therefore, what should be done with this information? Friends in the pew and friends in the pulpit, it is time for us all to repent and supplicate.


Congregation members … Please repent of any pressure you have put on your minister to do anything other than proclaim God’s truths. He is not your man; he is God’s man. He is not to tickle your ears; he is to be faithful to God’s Word and God’s Spirit. Please repent of your judging his style of communication. Please repent of your harsh opinions and negative reactions when he uses God’s Words to step on your toes or expose your spiritual nakedness. I urge you to repent of your insistence that he put on a better show. Please repent of your encouragement to stroke your ego and make you feel better about yourself. Then, you need to repent of your unfounded and errabt conclusion that your minister is a licentious “Antinomian” because he refuses to add God’s-Law-Works to God’s-Gospel-Promise. Brothers and sisters, please repent, and then while you are on your knees please supplicate for your sorely tempted and often falling teacher. This is true, even when you cease to put temporal pressure on him, the world, the flesh, and the devil will not relent. The unholy trinity are seeking to influence and adjust your minister’s doctrine and message. Congregation member, repent of your sins and supplicate for your minister. He is always a half-step away from being a false teacher. He is always on the verge of teaching wrongly the truths of God. Pray for your man. Pray that he will be rightly informed, freshly touched, and Spiritually emboldened. Pray that he will have eyes for Jesus’ only. Then, he will be of greater benefit for you and yours. Repent and supplicate!

Pastor, elder, shepherd, and teacher… It is time for us to repent and supplicate again. It is true, our teaching transgressions are blasphemous, traitorous, and accursed. “Anathema!” is that screamed by the Holy Judge. He deserves better than this, and we deserve a hotter hell for standing in his house, in his pulpit, behind his Word, and proclaiming a false message. However, it is not my intent to end this devotional blog by slaying each another with God’s Law. Fellow ministers, preachers, elders, and teachers, though our imperfect teaching and leadership deserves the “anathema” of God, Jesus died for all our ministerial transgressions. All of them are covered by his all-sufficient atonement. Fellow shepherds, we too are recipients of Christ’s grace and peace. Therefore, he is not going to condemn and damn us for our preaching sins of yesterday, today, or tomorrow. We are free from this burden. How can this be? It is because the Father has already crucified the Greatest Preacher Ever for our sinful sermons, lessons, deveotionals, and leadership woes. Yes, our poor shepherding is horrible. Yes, our preaching and teaching sins are going to cause problems for us and ours. Yes, there are horrible consequences that flow from being a man-pleaser. Yes, we all deserve the fires of hell. Yes, we need to wail, mourn, and call upon the Lord. However, let us comfort our weary souls with this Gospel truth — Jesus paid it all, and he did so for his elect in the pews and in the pulpit. This weekend, it will be time again for us to get in the Word and preach God’s message to those under our charge. However, today, it is time for us to preach the Gospel afresh to ourselves. Then, after our remembering, repenting, and recovering, let us offer forth prayers of supplication for ourselves and our brothers. May God help us better love him and our neighbors by being more like Christ who dwells within. May God help us be more interested in pleasing Him than in pleasing ourselves or any other man.


Friends, if you wish to pray for your pastor and let him know you are doing so, why not send him a copy of this blog and let him know how you are holding him up in prayer. A word of encouragement from a man goes a long way.

via God-pleasers, Man-pleasers, Preachers, and People — Daily Devotions


O the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

ROMANS 11:33

Christian theology teaches that God in His essential nature is both inscrutable and ineffable. By simple definition this means that He is incapable of being searched into or understood, and that He cannot tell forth or utter what He is.

This inability lies not in God but in the limitations of our creaturehood: “Why inquirest thou after my name, for it is secret?”

Only God knows God in any final meaning of the word know: “Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.”

God in His essential Being is unique in the only sense that word will bear. That is, there is nothing like Him in the universe. What He is cannot be conceived by the mind because He is “altogether other” than anything with which we have had experience before. The mind has no material with which to start. No man has ever entertained a thought which can be said to describe God in any but the vaguest and most imperfect sense. Where God is known at all it must be otherwise than by our creature-reason.

In a famed treatise on the Trinity written in the third century, Novatian said: “Every possible statement that can be made about God expresses some possession or virtue of God, rather than God Himself. The conception of God as He is can only be grasped in one way—by thinking of Him as a Being whose attributes and greatness are beyond our powers of understanding, or even of thought.”[1]

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

August 1 The Great Choice

Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.

Joshua 24:15

The Sermon on the Mount presents us with the most crucial of spiritual choices. Its ethical truths bless those who believe and obey Christ but judge those who reject Him.

The spiritual choice, which you must not ignore or postpone, concerns the way of salvation. There is one true way to be right with God, and there are many false ways. It is wrong to say that all roads lead to heaven—only one does. You must reject all of the works–oriented ways people have devised to reach heaven and embrace the one way God Himself has provided—faith in His saving grace as displayed in the atoning death of His Son (Acts 4:12; 1 Tim. 2:5–6).[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 234). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.