Daily Archives: December 1, 2018

EChurch@Wartburg 12/1/18 | The Wartburg Watch 2018

Christmas Prayer by St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)

Let Your goodness Lord appear to us, that we
made in your image, conform ourselves to it.
In our own strength
we cannot imitate Your majesty, power, and wonder
nor is it fitting for us to try.
But Your mercy reaches from the heavens
through the clouds to the earth below.
You have come to us as a small child,
but you have brought us the greatest of all gifts,
the gift of eternal love
Caress us with Your tiny hands,
embrace us with Your tiny arms
and pierce our hearts with Your soft, sweet cries.

A thousand people came together to record this lovely song, “Gloria”

Nativity Prayer by St. Augustine of Hippo, (AD 354-440)

Let the just rejoice,
for their justifier is born.
Let the sick and infirm rejoice,
For their saviour is born.
Let the captives rejoice,
For their Redeemer is born.
Let slaves rejoice,
for their Master is born.
Let free men rejoice,
For their Liberator is born.
Let All Christians rejoice,
For Jesus Christ is born.

This is a Christmas favorite picked by TWW readers. Unless you are a awesome singer (I’m not), this is one to enjoy by listening.

Scripture: Luke 1:26-38 NIV

I love this account which records the words of Mary, a woman, in Scripture. I must say she managed all of this with great composure and faith. God chose a woman to bring forth the greatest gift for all men and women.

 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[b] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

Do you know who Jeff VanVonderen is? He is one of the two authors of the book I always recommend on spiritual abuse. The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse: Recognizing and Escaping Spiritual Manipulation and False Spiritual Authority Within the Church. He was a guest preacher at Emmanuel Enid and I didn’t want our readers to miss out on this.

We live in a world that promotes, even idolizes individual performance. Even we Christians often use our performance and other people’s assessments of our performance to measure our personal worth and identity, but what the gospel teaches is completely different. The gospel says, “You can’t do anything, and don’t need to do anything to earn it. It’s a gift.” This doesn’t make sense in our world, but this is the “foolishness of the gospel that makes foolish the wisdom of the world.” It truly is too-good-to-be-true, but it is! link


Jeff VanVonderen: Too Good To Be True from Emmanuel Enid on Vimeo.

You may want to stand up and dance to this version by Pentatonix.

Christmas Benediction link

Let us go from this place proclaiming that we have seen the glory of God
Believing that there is a light that shines in the darkness
Which the darkness shall not overcome
And may the love of the Creator
The joy of the Spirit
And the peace of the Christ-child
Be with you this Christmas, and evermore

via EChurch@Wartburg 12/1/18 —


So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

—Genesis 1:27

I believe there is good sound reasoning back of all this. I believe that He created man out of no external necessity. I believe it was an internal necessity. God, being the God He was and is, and being infinitely perfect and infinitely beautiful and infinitely glorious and infinitely admirable and infinitely loving, out of His own inward necessity had to have some creature that was capable of admiring Him and loving Him and knowing Him. So God made man in His own image; in the image and likeness of God made He him; and He made him as near to being like Himself as it was possible for the creature to be like the Creator. The most godlike thing in the universe is the soul of man.

The reason God made man in His image was that he might appreciate God and admire and adore and worship; so that God might not be a picture, so to speak, hanging in a gallery with nobody looking at Him. He might not be a flower that no one could smell; He might not be a star that no one could see. God made somebody to smell that flower, the lily of the valley. He wanted someone to see that glorious image. He wanted someone to see the star, so He made us and in making us made us to worship Him. WMJ003

Lord, I can’t completely comprehend how or why You created me in Your image, as much like You as a creature could be. But I’ll respond today with admiration for Your creation and with worship for my Creator. Amen. [1]

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

Saturday Sampler: November 25 — December 1 — The Outspoken TULIP

Maybe Mike Ratliff doesn’t say anything remarkably novel in his blog post, Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? for Possessing the Treasure, but his point really can’t be overstated. Current trends in evangelicalism must never eclipse the authority of the Bible.

Be honest: reading the Bible every day can get tiring. Thankfully, Ryan Higginbottom of  Knowable Word thinks of several ways that Reading the Bible for the Ten Thousandth Time can regain its freshness.

In response to the latest ridiculous Twitter pronouncement by Rachel Held Evans, Nick Batzig posts Jesus and Racial Bias in Reformation 21. I like the way Nick appeals to normative hermeneutics in order to demonstrate proper understanding of a Scriptural text.

A friend whom I highly respect has raised legitimate questions about the methods John Chau used in his evangelistic efforts to minister to an unreached tribe off the coast of India. Although I don’t wish to dismiss her concerns, Jordan Standridge’s 10 Lessons From The Death of John Chau makes extremely important points that all Christians absolutely must consider. You’ll find his article in The Cripplegate.

Check out Parking Space 23 for John Chester’s Reprise: So You Think You Are a Red Letter Christian? Even those of us who claim to believe the entire Bible has uniform authority might find his article to be a little convicting.

I appreciate the thoughtfully written John Allen Chau’s death stuns, angers, and perplexes the world, which Elizabeth Prata posts on The End Time. She evaluates the situation honestly, doing her best to cover all angles of the story. I especially love the hope she expresses as she closes this essay.

Leslie A insists that There’s More to Christianity Than Doing Good Works in an article for Growing 4 Life. Beginning with her brother’s interesting observation on the inoffensive nature of social justice, she discusses the mission we have as Christians — including the ramifications of carrying out that mission.

Think Catholicism has more in common with Protestant denominations than differences? Pope Francis would have you think so! Leonardo De Chirico of The Vatican Files chronicles the pope’s life-long devotion to Mary in 156. She is My Mamá — Pope Francis and Mary to show that the pontiff refuses to separate Christ from Mary.

via Saturday Sampler: November 25 — December 1 — The Outspoken TULIP

December 1 The Measure of Spiritual Maturity

In this I rejoice, yes; and will rejoice.

Philippians 1:18

A believer’s spiritual maturity can be measured by what it takes to steal his joy. Joy is a fruit of a Spirit–controlled life (Gal. 5:22). We are to rejoice always (Phil. 4:4; 1 Thess. 5:16). In all circumstances the Holy Spirit produces joy, so there ought not to be any time when we are not rejoicing in some way.

Change, confusion, trials, attacks, unmet desires, conflict, and strained relationships can throw us off balance and rob us of our joy if we’re not careful. It’s then we should cry out like the psalmist, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation” (Ps. 51:12).

Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33), and the apostle James said, “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (James 1:2). God has His own profound purpose in our afflictions, but He never takes away our joy. To maintain our joy we must adopt God’s perspective regarding our trials. When we yield to the working of His Spirit in our lives, our difficulties will not overwhelm us.[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 362). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

Russian Foreign Ministry on Syria, Ukraine and Britain

by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.orgHome – Stephen Lendman)

Years of diplomatic conflict resolution efforts in Syria produced no breakthroughs. Washington and its imperial partners want endless war and regime change, not peace.

The latest Astana round was no more successful than earlier ones, despite Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova (MZ below) putting on a brave face about it.

Two-and-a-half months after Turkey agreed with Russia on establishing a demilitarized zone in Idlib province, Erdogan continues supporting terrorists he swore to oppose.

His forces illegally occupy northern Syrian territory along Turkey’s border, wanting it annexed, ignoring calls by Damascus to cease aggression in the country. He’s a key reason why conflict resolution remains unattainable.

Days earlier, Russia’s Defense Ministry reported on US-supported al-Nusra terrorists firing mortar rounds with toxic chlorine at Aleppo civilians, over 100 harmed, including women and children.

MZ explained that Russia “repeatedly warned that the terrorists were preparing to stage chemical weapons provocations in Idlib, including provocations involving the so-called White Helmets.”

“In the past, their efforts were aimed at provoking the US-led coalition into launching all-out strikes against Syrian government forces. And now, as we see it, their goal is different.”

“They want to thwart the implementation of the Russian-Turkish memorandum, to disrupt cooperation in the Astana format, including between Russia and Turkey.”

They’re US proxy foot soldiers, MZ failed to explain, serving its imperial interests. Washington and its allies want Damascus blamed for crimes committed by jihadists against Syrian civilians.

The Obama regime and now Trump want war, not peace. MZ came close to explaining it, saying the US she falsely calls Russia’s “partner” has its “own plans for Syria…show(ing) little concern for efforts to achieve a political peace settlement in that country. This is evident from US actions on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River that evoke growing concern in Russia and elsewhere.”

“The US military is basically safeguarding a quasi-state entity, which they established with the help of separatist-minded Kurdish activists in northeastern Syria.”

“Last week, again, they continued to establish US observation posts along the Syrian-Turkish border in the vicinity of Tel Abyad and Ayn Al-Arab (Kobani).”

“It is hard to imagine how these steps show a commitment to Syrian unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity – things that have repeatedly been declared by the United States in international and bilateral documents, and passed with its involvement. In principle, it is impossible to say that these actions conform to international law.”

Hardliners in charge of Washington’s geopolitical agenda are the mortal enemy of world peace, stability, Russia, China, Iran, and other sovereign independent countries.

Following Obama’s February 2014 coup in Ukraine, Nazi-infested putschists replaced democratic governance. The US colonized the country, gaining another imperial trophy, installing the puppet Poroshenko regime in power.

He’s “playing with fire” over the days earlier Black Sea/Kerch Strait incident, said MZ, imposing martial law, threatening Russia.

The ugly scheme was almost surely orchestrated by Trump regime hardliners, likely together with their Russophobic UK counterparts.

It’s part of ongoing Russia bashing, falsely blaming it for all sorts of things unjustifiably, pretexts for imposing illegal sanctions and using other tough tactics, risking eventual East/West confrontation.

MZ: “Under the pretext of standing up to (nonexistent) ‘Russian aggression,’

(Poroshenko) imposed severe restrictions on the main constitutional freedoms of Ukrainian citizens, including a ban on the freedom of speech, the freedom of assembly, and the freedom of movement.”

“Now the Kiev authorities, if they so wish, can make the population surrender just about anything, from personal property to documents.”

“The Ukrainian military and law-enforcers are granted exceptional powers, up to using force without trial or investigation, which in itself is a serious threat fraught with the civil conflict spreading to the rest of the country’s territory.”

“We warn the Western sponsors of the Kiev regime about the extreme danger of President Petro Poroshenko’s artifice. In a desperate attempt to retain power, he is dragging his country into yet another gamble fraught with disastrous consequences for Ukraine itself and European security as a whole.”

Russophobia in Britain rages out-of-control, Theresa May hardliners as ruthless and reckless as their US counterparts.

Her regime’s new chief of general staff general Mark Carleton-Smith called Russia a greater threat to UK national security than ISIS or al-Qaeda. Britain supports these and likeminded jihadists in cahoots with Washington and their imperial partners.

MZ called Carleton-Smith’s remarks “delusion(al) (and) dangerous,” adding: The (US/UK-orchestrated Skripal false flag incident last March falsely blamed on Russia) “is at the forefront of the anti-Russian information campaign unleashed by Great Britain against our country this year.”

“The key questions remain open. Where are the Skripals? What’s going on with them? Are they alive? Are they in the UK? Have they been taken somewhere? What condition are they in? Are they together or have they been separated? Who is working with them?”

The scheme to falsely blame Russia for what happened unravelled months ago, along with most every other incident wrongfully blamed on the Kremlin.

US and UK hardliners are unacceptably tough on Russia. When will Putin respond in kind, giving them a taste of their own medicine – the only language they understand!

Source: Russian Foreign Ministry on Syria, Ukraine and Britain

Worldview and Apologetics in the News for December 1, 2018

Michael Behe’s Darwin Devolves Topples Foundational Claim of Evolutionary Theory

Why Atheists Are Not as Rational as Some Like to Think

Atheist Memes: Would Science Survive Past Christianity?

Was Jim Carrey Right About the Christian Right?

‘God, I Don’t Want to Die’: Friend Explains the True Reason Behind John Allen Chau’s Fatal Trip to Remote Indian Island

‘My Family Found Me Convulsing’: Pastor Jeff Durbin Recounts Horrifying Seizure Ordeal

Archaeological discovery: Stone weight mentioned in Bible found in Jerusalem

Elon Musk thinks humans will have to merge with machines to overcome their ‘existential threat’

The New York Times Reveals Painful Truths about Transgender Lives

Christian Bible teacher with same-sex attraction releases new book on ‘Holy Sexuality,’ witnessing to LGBT community

Ring of Roman Governor Pontius Pilate Who Crucified Jesus Found in Herodion Site in West Bank

Science vs. Darwinism

Two More Women Accuse Neil deGrasse Tyson of Sexual Misconduct

Courage and Godspeed,

You can find our last edition here.

Source: Worldview and Apologetics in the News

Trump hints at the scandal about to blow

There is big news ahead, and President Trump teased it yesterday from Argentina via Twitter.  Politics has become a game of narratives, something well understood by both President Trump and his enemies in the media-Democrat establishment.  For more than two years, the professionals of the cultural and media establishment have worked assiduously to create an objectively false narrative, with no evidence whatsoever, that Vladimir Putin actually changed the count of votes to hand Trump the presidency, making his victory illegitimate.  Most Democrats actually believe this now and have in earlier polls as well.

But as I keep reminding our readers, President Trump was the most successful reality television producer in the history of the medium, and he understands a story arc well, as events that can be programmed unfold.  That must be kept in mind in understanding this enigmatic tweet that came from the president half a world away, in Argentina for meetings with the leaders of the 20 biggest economies in the world.

Watch @seanhannity on @FoxNews NOW. Enjoy!

Here is the short (barely over a minute) segment on Hannity last night to which the president referred:

John Solomon has a smile on his face as he reveals that two prosecutors working for John Huber, the Salt Lake City U.S. attorney tasked by then-A.G. Sessions with investigating corruption beyond what the Mueller team is handling, “reached out” to a whistleblower from the Clinton Foundation.

Fox News Channel screen grab via YouTube.

The Clinton Foundation scandal is, as President Trump would say, yuuuuge.  I am told by a knowledgeable source that the official that John Solomon cites “knows where the bodies are buried.”

Of course, the news that another whistleblower who came forward with information and documents on the Uranium One scandal, Dennis Nathan Cain, was raided by a team of FBI agents who spent six hours rummaging through his home raises some alarming possibilities.  Sundance of Conservative Tree House comments:

If the reporting of the raid by the Daily Caller is accurate; and given the nature of the timing for that raid; and accepting the at risk elements within the whistleblower case extended beyond Hillary Clinton to Robert Mueller; and noting how the SSCI was the recipient of the information/evidence as transmitted by Michael Horowitz; there is a solid appearance of the DOJ maneuvering to cover-up the underlying DOJ/FBI corruption by seizing -and controlling- all of the evidence.

[Additionally, in the background are the fingerprints of the self-serving quid-pro-quo between DOJ and SSCI] Just sayin’…

If that apparent cover-up perspective is accurate, then so too is THIS.

A cover-up just seems so implausible, because the activity is just so brutally obvious.

How is this level of blatant disregard possible?  Seriously, I really don’t know.  Perhaps these DOJ and FBI officials are genuinely inside a bubble and don’t know the level of information that exists outside DC…. or, maybe they just feel so above the law they simply don’t care.  I don’t understand it either; but it’s happening – regardless.

The expression “high drama” is inadequate to express the nature of the infighting underway, mostly hidden from the public, but occasionally visible through public events and releases.  The revelations set to come next week may open a new chapter in the story arc of Trump versus the bipartisan establishment.

Correction: The Huber team assistant U.S. attorneys reached out to the whistleblower, not vice versa, as erroneously reported at first.

Source: Trump hints at the scandal about to blow

Weekend Snapshot — Top Stories This Week for 12/01/2018

An ‘Independent Judiciary’ Reality Check

Chief Justice John Roberts’s assertion that we have an “independent judiciary” lacks credibility.

The MSM’s ‘Collusion’ Reality TV Show

Does Michael Cohen’s lying prove Trump colluded with Russia? Not even close.

Leftmedia Peddles Fake News on Migrant Mob

An image is worth a thousand words — especially to evoke a desired emotional response.

Declining U.S. Life Expectancy Reflects Cultural Depravity

“We are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable.”

Social Media-itis

Decreasing social media usage can reduce feelings of depression and loneliness.

The Second Class Second Amendment?

It’s past time for the Supreme Court to stop side-stepping any and all questions about gun rights.

What to Make of the Latest Dire Climate Report

The Fourth National Climate Assessment blames humans for destruction ahead.

So What Is the ‘First Step’?

The Senate can make a real difference with some significant reforms to criminal justice.

Democrats Outraged at Betrayal by Black Men, White Women

The party is still practically trying to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act.

New Study Proves Myth of Gender ‘Wage’ Gap

Yet the MSM ignores the fact that personal choice is the leading cause of the gap.

Ukraine: Red Storm Rising … Again

Putin’s renewed aggression is a familiar pattern of his bolstering support at home.

‘1984’ — on Steroids

Privacy is dead. It’s death is best described as a homicide committed by tech titans.

The Many Factors Driving GM’s Cuts

The bailed-out company is encumbered by union costs and products people don’t want.

White Leftists Dumb Down Language for Minorities

Researchers find a “competence downshift” based upon biased assumptions about minorities.

Quote Of The Week

“If I tried to run past a Chinese border patrol agent and got myself pepper sprayed in the process (or worse), would anyone in the world feel sorry for me? Or would they all blame me for being so dumb and reckless as to attempt to bum-rush the Chinese border?” —Matt Walsh

Top Weekly Stories from ChristianNews.net for 12/01/2018

‘Good Morning America’ Promotes 11-Year-Old Drag Child ‘Desmond Is Amazing’   Nov 24, 2018 05:31 pm

NEW YORK — ABC’s television show “Good Morning America” recently featured an 11-year-old “drag kid,” applauding the child as “inspiring” and with an “amazing story.” Some viewers are disappointed with the show’s endorsement and have expressed concern about the ramifications of allowing little boys to dress like girls for fun. Desmond Napoles, who goes by the…

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Hillsong UK Removes London Carols Promo Video Depicting Wise Men Visiting Baby Jesus in Tavern   Nov 25, 2018 05:39 pm

Event webpage screenshot A Hillsong branch in the United Kingdom has removed from YouTube a promotional video for its annual Christmas musical that depicted the wise men arriving at a Bethlehem inn to see the baby Jesus, and upon entering, finding an environment with much drinking and dancing just feet from the Christ child. The “three kings” video promoted…

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Annual Report Citing America’s ‘Most Sinful Cities’ Released: Vegas, Los Angeles, New York Top List   Nov 27, 2018 01:53 pm

WalletHub has released its annual “Most Sinful Cities in America” report, which ranks American cities by their bad behavior, including lust, greed, laziness, vanity, excesses and vices, jealousy, anger and hatred. Las Vegas, Nevada topped the list again this year, but WalletHub noted that sin infects the entire country. “Las Vegas isn’t the only ‘Sin City’ in…

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Massachusetts Democrats Pass Resolution Claiming Using Religious Views for Public Policy ‘Threatening Entire Planet’   Nov 26, 2018 08:55 am

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Democratic Party has approved a resolution acknowledging nonreligious Americans, also known as “nones,” and stating that those who have used their “religious views to justify public policy” are “threatening not only the United States, but the entire planet.” According to the American Humanist Association (AHA), the resolution was passed…

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Feminists Release Commentaries on Bible Passages to ‘Emancipate’ Women From ‘Lingering Patriarchal Readings’   Nov 28, 2018 10:35 pm

GENEVA — A group of 20 female theologians from around the world have released a book of commentaries about Scriptures that pertain to women in an effort to tackle what they call “the lingering patriarchal readings that have justified numerous restrictions and bans on women.” “Une Bible des Femmes,” or “The Women’s Bible”, was published in October, but just…

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‘Slide, Baby, Slide’: ‘Fellowship’ Celebrates Anniversary With Club-Like Dance Parties, Spins ‘Tootsee Roll,’ ‘Uptown Funk’   Nov 29, 2018 06:00 pm

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Christian-identifying church in Tennessee that is a part of the Acts 29 Network recently celebrated their 15th anniversary with offerings that included revelrous, club-like dance parties as the audience bounced, jumped and swayed to secular hits like 69 Boyz’ “Tootsee Roll” and Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” spun by its young adults pastor—videos…

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Louisiana Pastor’s Wife Dies After Being Run Over in Carjacking; Assailant Still on the Loose   Nov 30, 2018 08:56 pm

NEW ORLEANS, La. — A pastor’s wife in Louisiana was killed this week after a carjacker stole her vehicle and then ran over her as he drove away. “I miss my wife,” David Plessy, who leads Crossover Christian Fellowship in New Orleans, told local television station WWL-TV. “She is the most beautiful, honest, caring, strong, funniest, loveliest person that I’ve…

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Hindu Extremist Mob Tries to Burn Pastor Alive in Odisha State, India   Nov 26, 2018 01:36 pm

HYDERABAD, India (Morning Star News) – Pastor John Lakra was taking his 18-month-old baby to the hospital for emergency treatment in Odisha state, India when hundreds of Hindu extremists surrounded his car. The pastor, his wife and their three children were on the way to the hospital in Sundargarh at about 7 p.m. on Oct. 23 when the mob began hurling stones at…

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Rape Victim Targeted by Abortion Activists for Speaking Out for Life   Nov 26, 2018 11:08 am

(The Christian Institute) — A woman who shared her powerful testimony about being raped and choosing life for her unborn child has been targeted online by abortion activists. Jennifer Christie was raped while on a business trip. She became pregnant in 2014 and gave birth to a son. Despite her traumatic experience, she appeared on a pro-life video, speaking…

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Chinese Unregistered Church Interrupted by Authorities: Video   Nov 24, 2018 11:33 pm

XUZHOU, Jiangsu — A video posted to social media shows Chinese authorities interrupting a church gathering and members trying to reason with police. The incident occurred on Nov. 18 in Xuzhou at an assembly simply known as Xuzhou Church. The short video clip shows a woman singing at a podium while police stand just feet from her. Church members speak to the…

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#AllLivesMatter? Then Why Do We Only Hear About the Lives of Jocks, Movie Stars, and Politicians? — Zwinglius Redivivus

And why does the news only report the passing of that sort?

It’s quite sad for the deceased and their family. Maybe one day the lives of people who aren’t athletes or politicians or movie stars will matter as much.

Today is not that day. So let’s stop pretending that #AllLivesMatter when they clearly and obviously don’t.

via #AllLivesMatter? Then Why Do We Only Hear About the Lives of Jocks, Movie Stars, and Politicians? — Zwinglius Redivivus

When Archaeology is Dumbed Down and Sensationalized, This is the Result: Megan Fox — Zwinglius Redivivus

Megan Fox is returning to the small screen with her new Travel Channel docu-series, Legends of the Lost With Megan Fox. The four-episode show will the Hollywood starlet embarking on a journey across the four corners of the globe to unearth some of the greatest mysteries of history.

Instead of watching what is sure to be rubbish, take Aren Maeir’s MOOC and learn what archaeology really is and really does.

via When Archaeology is Dumbed Down and Sensationalized, This is the Result: Megan Fox — Zwinglius Redivivus

A new sacred music site from Ken Myers — Religious Affections Ministries: Conservative Christianity, Worship, Culture, Aesthetics, Classical Education, Homeschooling, Family

This looks like it will be a very helpful resource: Cantica sacra – exploring the rich legacy of sacred singing


via A new sacred music site from Ken Myers — Religious Affections Ministries: Conservative Christianity, Worship, Culture, Aesthetics, Classical Education, Homeschooling, Family

Know the Truth, Grow in Christ: Sermons, Videos, Blogs – David Fiorazo — David Fiorazo

These sermons and messages were shared at various churches, others are topical articles and video commentary. As we learn to love the Word of God more, are we pursuing a deeper relationship with Christ in prayer, worship, fellowship, and especially the study of His Word? Biblical teaching is the most important aspect of a church. Truth is revealed throughout Scripture, and faith comes by hearing the Word. I hope to encourage your heart, strengthen your faith, and increase your passion for the Lord Jesus and defense of the Gospel.

The Trinitarian Controversy, the Deity of Jesus Christ and the Great Hymn –Extensive study notes and commentary

If Jesus Christ is God and if the Bible is inspired – literally “God-breathed” by the Holy Spirit – then everything Jesus said and taught is true. In that case, Christians had better understand what the Scriptures say about Him and obey his teachings. We know and believe Jesus Christ is both Savior and Lord, and our faith is based upon not only His finished work on the cross, but on His divinity and humanity. “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,” Col. 2:9

Do Not Be Deceived, Church: Wake Up and Watch Out! – sermon notes, blog

Christian friend, this is an urgent message for these dangerous, deceptive days in which we live. Be encouraged to seek first the kingdom of God, know the truth, and cultivate an eternal perspective! Don’t conform to culture, and understand that at every point the liberal movement is in opposition to biblical Christian teachings.

What Would Jesus Say to Lukewarm Churches in America Today?

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER: Is your life bearing fruit for the Lord Jesus Christ? Are we passionate about God, spiritual things? Who or what is our first love? Do we love this world more than we love Gods Word? Are we prepared for persecution when it comes? If Jesus rebuked many of the early churches for straying, leaving their first love, putting up with false doctrine, or for being lukewarm, how could we, American Christians, think He wouldn’t harshly warn and correct many of our churches today?

Jude: Defend the Faith, Warn the Church – Bible Study notes with Scriptures

The book of Jude (“Judah” in Hebrew) was written just thirty-five years or so after Jesus Christ ascended to Heaven. Jude was a half-brother of the Lord Jesus and a brand new convert and yet, he warned disciples to contend for the faith. Charles Spurgeon once said, “Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between what is right and wrong. It is knowing the difference between right and almost right.”

The God of Israel, America, and History?– transcript of this 4 minute video

Never before in history has a nation or people been dispersed throughout the world and then centuries later, returned to their homeland from the north, south, east, and west (Isaiah 43:5-6). This year, 2018, marks the seventieth anniversary of Israel becoming a state; the nation was not “created” in 1948. Israel was miraculously re-gathered according to Bible prophecy.

The God of Israel, the Prince of Peace, the Hope of the World (2016 sermon)

The Bible teaches that Christ Himself is our peace, and also instructs us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. And yet we know a coalition of hostile nations currently surrounds Israel. Things just may get worse before they get better, but how America treats Israel is critically important. Jesus is the Truth, and truth (doctrine) divides people. We also know God is sovereign over all events, leaders, nations, and His kingdom rules over all.

Worldview Matters: Truth or Coexist & Consequences 

Can all religions “coexist”? What if Jesus is right that He is the Way to God? After thousands of years of attacks, opposition, and scrutiny by critics − warfare that no other work has ever seen − the Bible has withstood the onslaught, has gained credibility, and the Christian faith has continued to thrive throughout the world. Why? Because it’s true! No other written work has the power to convict people of their sin, the ability to change human nature, and offers a permanent solution to man’s greatest problem: mortality.

Oh brother! Beyonce Mass: ‘Our Mother Who Art In Heaven’?

What is ‘church’? When you use worldly means to give people what they want rather than what they need spiritually, please call it something else because you’re not worshiping the one true God. Christians are to be set apart from the world, not blend in. Jesus said if we love the things of this world, God the Father’s love is not in us (1 John 2:15). Trying to attract sinners with gimmicks and entertainment is not biblical. Let’s get back to the basics (Acts 2:42).

Israel, God’s Sovereignty, and Prophetic World History: Sermon Audio

God “changes times and seasons; He removes kings and raises up others (Dan. 2:21).” His faithfulness encourages us because we can trust that He will make good on the remaining predictions regarding the return of Christ and the End Times. The Lord seems to be setting the stage for His return like never before. “And the LORD will be king over all the earth; in that day the LORD will be the only one, and His name the only one (Zech. 14:9).”

The Case for Christ – Historical Evidence, His Resurrection, Fulfilled Prophecy

When is enough evidence enough evidence? The Bible is a masterpiece combining thousands of years of historical events, written by at least 40 different authors on three different continents, over a span of 1,500 years! Hundreds of prophecies have been fulfilled. Historical, prophetic, and archaeological evidence – not to mention hundreds of eye-witnesses – confirm the resurrection of Jesus Christ!

When Churches Entertain Rather Than Worship – video transcript w/links

‘Worshiptainment’ is not biblical! Countless churches have lost focus and have gotten off track. We have lost our reverence for a holy God, and practically abandoned the once-solid foundation of the teaching of Scripture which is the primary purpose of the church! Too many conferences and church services today barely resemble the early church and biblical worship, let alone point to Jesus Christ. This is embarrassing. A.W. Tozer once said, “The church that can’t worship must be entertained. And men who can’t lead a church to worship must provide the entertainment. That is why we have the great evangelical heresy here today–the heresy of religious entertainment.”

Four Part Video Series on ACTS, chapters 1-2

Sermons from 2016 (includes introduction to book of ACTS)

Message 1: the Proof of the Resurrection, Message 2: the Powerful Gift of the Holy Spirit, Message 3: the Promise of Salvation & Birth of the Church, and Message 4: Repent and Return to God – the Impact of early Christians

Jesus Rebukes the Pharisees: Arguing with God, the Final Authority – Matthew 22

*Matthew 22 is a mix of parables Jesus spoke against the Jews who rejected Him, the failed attempts of the Pharisees and Sadducees to trap Him, and some of Jesus’ strongest words of condemnation that He ever spoke while He walked the earth. The most educated, religious and political leaders in Jerusalem were too proud to receive Jesus and in turn, rejected the God they professed to believe in.

But Wait – Aren’t You Judging Me for Making a Judgment? – blog

The phrase ‘Judge ye not’ (Matt. 7) is perhaps one of the most misunderstood and misapplied biblical concepts. Rarely does anyone want to confront sin, and rarely does a sinner want to be confronted. This presents a problem. Rather than address sin invading the church, we open the door to even more compromise by accommodating immoral behavior because we don’t want to offend anyone. But is this what Jesus taught?


Not Ashamed of the Gospel

Infecting Christianity: Where Did the Emergent Church ‘Emerge’ From?

Creation Vs Evolution – Worldview War

Then the End Will Come: The Importance of Bible Prophecy

Redefining Truth – book Introduction

The Cost of Our Silence (top seller) – full introduction

via Know the Truth, Grow in Christ: Sermons, Videos, Blogs – David Fiorazo — David Fiorazo

Brian Houston awarded honorary doctorate while still under police investigation — Christian Research Network

“While the legal noose is tightening around Brian Houston’s neck and the media reports have been damning in recent weeks, this smoke-screen of self-aggrandizing, self-congratulating sideshow is attempting to make it appear that all is well with Brian Houston and Hillsong Church.”

(JD Hall – Pulpit & Pen)  While investigators are closing in on Brian Houston for Hillsong’s cover-up of their pedophilia scandal, and as Houston blamed the victim for “tempting” the perpetrator, he has awarded himself an honorary doctorate degree. 

The Hillsong Church Facebook page posted only hours ago photographs of Brian Houston receiving an honorary degree from Alphacrucis College.

The photo opportunity and ceremony may momentarily take the spotlight off of Australia’s largest evangelical “church” and one of the quickest growing religious organizations in the world. A closer introspection, however, demonstrates that the publicity stunt is no more real or accurate than Brian Houston’s sworn testimony to the Royal Commission on child sex abuse.

While another individual handed the honorary doctorate to Houston, it was really Brian Houston himself that is responsible for being bequeathed such an honor…ultimately by himself or at least by institutions Hillsong is in partnership with.  View article →


Hillsong Church Founder Brian Houston Accused Of Not Doing Enough To Expose His Pedophile Father’s Crimes

Brian Houston awarded honorary doctorate while still under police investigation — Christian Research Network

Do you have time to read literature books? No? Here are some tips

The End Time

By Elizabeth Prata

I love to read. I’ve always been a reader. It became my profession, both as an elementary school teacher and then a journalist. I love connecting people with print.

Reading has been my friend all my life. This age-old activity provided an escape from difficult family situations. It offered never-ending, free entertainment. It informed and inspired.

When I was graciously saved by the grace and blood of Jesus, (2004) I added theological books to my reading pile, and of course I now read the Bible. There is so much to read, and not enough time!

As I’ve aged however, my eyes grow tired at night, and my energy flags. Admittedly, it’s become easier to sit there like a lump in front of the TV after my evening tasks are done. The pile of books grows ever more towering and my desire to read rises ever more lofty…

View original post 760 more words

December 1, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

The Joy of Anticipation

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (1:6)

A fourth element of joy is anticipation. Nothing can encourage a Christian so much as the knowledge that, despite life’s uncertainties and difficulties, and no matter how many spiritual defeats there may be long the way, one day he will be made perfect.

Confident translates peithō, which here means to be persuaded of and have confidence in. Paul’s confidence was much more than human hope; it was the absolute confidence that comes from knowing and believing God’s promise that He [God] who began a good work in him will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Salvation is wholly God’s work, and for that reason its completion is as certain as if it were already accomplished.

Began is from enarchomai, a compound verb meaning “to begin in.” It is used only twice in the New Testament, both times in reference to salvation. Paul rebuked certain believers in the Galatian churches who believed that they could finish in their own power what God had divinely begun in their lives solely by the power of His Holy Spirit. “Are you so foolish?” he asked rhetorically. “Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:3). In the present text the apostle, in effect, responds to that same question, assuring the Philippians that their salvation is solely a gracious work of God. God requires faith for salvation, but faith is not a meritorious work. Salvation is by the power of God in response to faith; and, as already noted, faith itself is God’s work, divinely initiated and divinely accomplished (Eph. 2:8–9). Although Lydia, the first convert in what would become the church at Philippi, believed the gospel of Christ, Luke made it clear that “the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul” (Acts 16:14).

Later in the present epistle, Paul emphasized that “to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,” and “it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil. 1:29; 2:13). “As many as received Him [Christ],” John declared, “to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). When “the apostles and the brethren who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God” through the witness of Peter, “those who were circumcised took issue with him,” believing that the gospel was only for Jews or Jewish converts. But after they heard Peter’s report, “they quieted down and glorified God, saying, ‘Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life’ ” (Acts 11:1–2, 18). “In the exercise of His will,” James wrote, “He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures” (James 1:18).

As noted earlier, salvation is solely by God’s grace. God “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him” (Eph. 1:4). God chose all believers before time, long before they could possibly choose Him; and apart from His choice of them, they could not choose Him (John 6:44). It has always been true, in every age and circumstance, that only “as many as had been appointed to eternal life [have] believed” (Acts 13:48). Paul clearly expressed that truth in Romans 5:8–10:

God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

Later in that epistle Paul gave a parallel to Philippians 1:6, noting that “those whom [God] foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified” (Rom. 8:29–30). All the chosen will be glorified. God will finish what He has begun.

Every aspect of salvation is by God’s sovereign will and choice. Paul wrote to the Ephesians that:

God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. (Eph. 2:4–8; cf. Titus 3:4–6; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:2–3)

It is the Lord who begins the work of salvation, and it is the Lord, through His Holy Spirit, who will perfect it. To the Galatians Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20). Epiteleō (to perfect) is a compound, formed by the preposition epi and the verb teleō (“to complete”) to give the intensified meaning of “fully completed.” Paul was absolutely certain that God will fully complete His work of salvation in the Philippians. There is no possibility of failure or of partial fulfillment.

The eschatological expression the day of Christ Jesus does not refer to what both the Old and New Testaments prophesy as the final Day of the Lord, the time of God’s judgment on the sinful world. The Day of the Lord is described by Paul in 1 Thessalonians:

For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief. (5:2–4; for more information on the Day of the Lord, see Isa. 13:6–22; Joel 1:15; 2:11; Acts 2:20; 2 Thess. 1:10, “that day”; 2 Peter 3:10, and Revelation 1–11, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary [Chicago: Moody, 1999], 199–201)

Also an eschatological expression, the day of Christ Jesus, on the other hand, clearly refers to the time when believers will be glorified, when their salvation will be completed and made perfect (1 Cor. 3:10–15; 2 Cor. 5:10). It is the same as “the day of Christ” that Paul mentions several times later in Philippians, the day for which Christians should be prepared by living sincerely and blamelessly (1:10) and by “holding fast the word of life” (2:16). In his first letter to the Corinthian church, the apostle called it “the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:8), and in his second letter to them he called it “the day of our Lord Jesus” (2 Cor. 1:14). In each instance, the personal names Jesus or Christ are given (rather than Lord), and in each instance the reference is to the time when believers will fully share the Lord’s perfect righteousness, when “Christ is formed in [them]” (Gal. 4:19), and “[they] also will be revealed with Him in glory” (Col. 3:4).

Believers are “predestined to become conformed to the image of [God’s] Son” (Rom. 8:29), because “just as [they] have borne the image of the earthy, [they] will also bear the image of the heavenly, … [and] in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, … [they] will be changed.… For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Cor. 15:49, 52–53). “We know that when [Christ] appears,” John wrote, “we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2). Peter wrote: “When the Chief Shepherd appears, [we] will receive the unfading crown of glory” (1 Peter 5:4). Although a believer living in unrepentant sin may be delivered temporarily to Satan for discipline, “his spirit [will] be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor. 5:5). The day of Christ Jesus is the time of perfection and glorification, when the glorious manifestation of the children of God will finally come (Rom. 8:18–19, 23).

When God saves, He saves completely and eternally. In promissory covenant terms, to be justified is to be sanctified and glorified. There is no such thing as experiencing one of those aspects of salvation without the other two. Each is an integral and necessary part of the whole continuum of salvation. For God to begin salvation in a person’s life is an irrevocable guarantee of His completing it. As William Hendriksen has observed, “God … is not like men. Men conduct experiments, but God carries out a plan. God never does anything by halves” (Philippians, 55).

The Lord said of David: “I will not break off My lovingkindness from him, nor deal falsely in My faithfulness” (Ps. 89:33; cf. v. 20). Jesus gives every believer the absolute promise that “all that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.… This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day” (John 6:37, 39). Later He reiterated that promise, saying, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:27–28). Paul declared, “I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38–39). The apostle wrote to Timothy that “the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, ‘The Lord knows those who are His’ ” (2 Tim. 2:19; cf. John 10:14). Peter exulted:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3–5; cf. Jude 24)

It is easy for believers to become discouraged when they focus on their problems and imperfections (and those of other believers). Those sins should not be ignored or minimized; but neither should they be allowed to overshadow the marvelous reality of the future perfection of the church and of every individual believer, as God’s Word guarantees so frequently and clearly. Remembering that glorious truth removes the debilitating pressure of doubt and fosters triumphant joy, gratitude, and anticipation. In so doing, it also frees God’s people to live more abundantly and fruitfully.

The nineteenth-century commentator F. B. Meyer wrote,

We go into the artist’s studio and find there unfinished pictures covering large canvases, and suggesting great designs, but which have been left, either because the genius was not competent to complete the work, or because paralysis laid the hand low in death; but as we go into God’s great workshop we find nothing that bears the mark of haste or insufficiency of power to finish, and we are sure that the work which His grace has begun, the arm of His strength will complete. (The Epistle to the Philippians [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1952], 28)

God has no unfinished works. The God who saves is the God who justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies. The God who begins is the God who completes. During His incarnation, the Lord gave this absolute and unambiguous assurance, which is a source of joy to all those who will ever trust in Him: “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37).[1]

God Finishes What He Starts

Philippians 1:6

… being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:6 is perhaps one of the three greatest verses in the Bible that teach the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, the doctrine that no one whom God has brought to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ will ever be lost.

People lack perseverance. People start things and drop them. As men and women, you and I are always beginning things that we never actually find time to finish. But God is not like that. God never starts anything that he does not finish. God perseveres. Has God begun something in your life? Have you been born again by the Spirit of God? Then you need not fear that you will ever be lost. Your confidence should not be in yourself, neither in your faith nor in your spiritual successes in earlier days, but in God. It is he who calls us as Christians, he who leads us on in the Christian life, and he who most certainly will lead us home.

A Biblical Truth

The two passages that I regard, along with Philippians 1:6, as being the greatest expression of this theme in the entire Bible are John 10:27–28 and Romans 8:38–39. In John 10:27–28, Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” In Romans 8:38–39, Paul assures his readers, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The doctrine of the perseverance of the saints is also found in less formal statements in literally dozens of other passages. David writes in Psalm 138:8, “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me.” Hebrews 10:14 says, “By one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” The Lord spoke to Jeremiah saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jer. 31:3). We read in 2 Corinthians 4:8–9, 14, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed … because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence.”

The doctrine is also suggested by the images that are applied to believers throughout the Bible. The saints are compared to trees that do not wither (Ps. 1:3), to the great cedars of Lebanon that flourish from year to year like the redwoods of California (Ps. 92:12), to a house built upon a rock (Matt. 7:24), to Mount Zion that cannot be moved (Ps. 125:1). These passages teach that the one who has been born again by God will never be lost. God never abandons his plans. God never begins a work that he does not finish.

All of God

There are many people who do not like this teaching because they like to think human beings are responsible for their own salvation. They prefer to believe that we can be accepted by God on the basis of our good works or the use of the sacraments, and that our final salvation depends more or less on how faithful or persevering we can be. This is not biblical, and it is contradicted by every moment of the Christian’s experience with God.

It is contradicted by our experience with God during the first moments of our salvation. People do not seek God; they reject him. If we are saved, it is only because God comes to us first in grace. Paul wrote to the Romans that no human being will ever be justified in God’s sight by his own good works, for all works (no matter how good they may seem in man’s sight) fall short of God’s standard of righteousness. Moreover, human beings do not seek him. Paul writes, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God” (Rom. 3:10–11). This is true of all of us. I am like that, and so are you. You do not even begin to meet God’s standard of righteousness, and you do not know it unless God reveals your failure to you. You do not understand his standard. You do not seek the One who can help you. Still God comes to you, opens your eyes, gives you the faith to believe, and draws you to himself.

Do you know what C. S. Lewis said about his conversion? Lewis was a brilliant British scholar who was also a thoroughgoing agnostic. Yet God sought him and found him. In his autobiography, Surprised by Joy, Lewis described his conversion like this: “In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed; perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all of England. I did not see what is now the most shining and obvious thing: the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape.”

Eternity magazine once published an interesting article called “Encounter with Light,” telling of a young atheistic student who had heard of C. S. Lewis and began corresponding with him. As this student unburdened himself of his doubts and questionings to the famous scholar, Lewis responded very simply: “I think you are already in the meshes of the net. The Holy Spirit is after you; I doubt if you’ll get away.” Not long afterward, the atheistic student, pursued by God for so long, finally surrendered. He had found, as C. S. Lewis himself had found, that salvation is of God. He ran, but God successfully pursued him.

Did you seek God? Of course you didn’t. You resisted him, and he had to beat down your resistance until you yielded to him like a vanquished enemy. If in the struggle there was ever a moment you seemed to seek him, it was only because he was there beforehand moving you to do it.

I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew

He moved my soul to seek Him, seeking me;

It was not I that found, O Savior true;

No, I was found of Thee.

So it is. Salvation is always of God. We love because he enables us to do so.

Now what is true of the first moments of our salvation is true of it all. Before you were even a gleam in the eye of your earthly father, you were beloved in the eye of your heavenly Father. He who knew all about you even before you were born, chose you and saved you, and he did so in order that one day he might make you like the Lord Jesus Christ in love, knowledge, holiness, and all his other perfections. That is why Paul can say of salvation, focusing every phrase upon God, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified” (Rom. 8:29–30).

Did you ever stop to wonder why God saves people in this way? The answer is given in the Bible. God has saved us in this way so that no one might boast in his presence. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8–9). God will have no one in heaven boasting about how he or she got there. He will not let you say, “Well, I must admit that God did most of it. I was far from him, and he called me. But there were five crises in my life in which I really showed my nettle and hung on tight. I’m really here because of my faith.”

This is human thinking, but God will have none of it. No one will be in heaven except saved sinners, those who deserve hell, and they will be there because salvation is entirely of God.

God never begins a thing that he does not intend to finish. And when he does it, God does it all!—in spite of our foolishness, in spite of our running away, in spite of ourselves! We are brought to safety, not by our own efforts or our own devices but solely by the faithfulness of our heavenly Father.

God’s Purpose

Everything that I have said thus far has been an encouragement for Christians, but there is a somber side to it as well. If you are a Christian, God has not saved you just to save you. He has saved you for a purpose. Paul says, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).

Did you ever think of this verse in that light? Not like this: “Oh, everything will be all right for me because God will certainly keep me secure until I finally get to heaven.” But rather, “I know that God Almighty saved me for a purpose and he will keep on whittling away at me until he accomplishes it in me, whether I want him to or not.” This is a somber thought, but it is certainly what the verse teaches.

Look at the verse again more closely. Paul says that God is determined to do a good work in us. What is that good work? The answer is not spelled out too clearly in Philippians 1:6, but it is spelled out very clearly in Romans 8:29. You know Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” But do you know the next verse? It tells what that purpose is: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

Think of it: God is so delighted with Jesus Christ that he has called millions of sinful human beings to himself in order that Jesus might reproduce himself in them and that this universe might be populated with millions of Christs. This does not mean that we will become divine. We will still be his creation, the fruit of his fingers, but we will be like him. That is the point. We will show forth his character; we will be conformed to the image of Christ.

This will mean that our growth in the character of Christ will be accompanied by growth in the knowledge of our own sinfulness. There are those who think sanctification means becoming aware of how perfect we are becoming. But those people are hypocrites and they discredit the faith. Sanctification means discovering how sinful we are and learning to turn to Jesus for hourly forgiveness and cleansing.

It is something like formal education. Take a student in high school who has just had a basic introduction to English literature. He has read Macbeth and Julius Caesar; he has read a few modern short stories and some modern plays—Shaw’s Pygmalion and others. He thinks that he has a pretty good grasp of English literature. After all, he has read the best of it, and the rest is probably not worth reading anyhow. But then he goes to college where he takes a more advanced course. He learns that he did not really know Shakespeare so well after all. In addition to the other tragedies, there are also the history plays where Shakespeare’s theories of kingship are most clearly seen, and the comedies that reveal another side of his outlook on life altogether, the realm of fantasy and nature, of Puck and Ariel and Falstaff. The student begins to realize how ignorant he is. And he goes on to learn not only what Shakespeare wrote but to master Shakespeare’s background—the Holinshead Chronicles, Boethius, Chaucer, Boccaccio—and he learns to do this for other writers and other disciplines. The search is unending.

That is the way we are to go on in Christian living. When we are first born again we think we are not too bad. We say to ourselves, “After all, I believed, didn’t I? That puts me head and shoulders above those who do not believe.” But as we live with Christ we begin to see how sinful and ignorant we really are. Instead of saying, “Oh, I’m pretty good,” we say, “I’m pretty sinful.” Eventually we say, “I’m a sinful person indeed; I am the chief of sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15). That’s sanctification. Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse used to say, “There is no Christian listening to my voice who will think as well of himself five years from now as he does this morning.” That is true because God’s purposes will not be thwarted, even in the sanctification of Christians.

Leaning on God

The purpose of this process is to teach us to rely on God. God does not take great pleasure in forcing us to develop low opinions of ourselves, but he knows that we will never rely on him until we realize that we cannot rely on ourselves.

When I was in grade school, I spent a number of summers at a Christian camp in Canada. One summer I spent several hours watching one of the campers learn to climb a telephone pole. This boy was one of these campers who partially pay for their vacation by working; and since the camp needed more adequate wiring, he had the job of stringing the wires. For that he had to learn to climb a pole.

The secret of climbing a telephone pole is to learn to lean back, allowing your weight to rest on the broad leather belt that encircles yourself and the pole, allowing your spikes to dig into the pole at a broad angle. Climbing a pole is easy—as long as you lean back. Of course, if you fail to lean back and pull yourself toward the pole, then your spikes will not dig in and you’ll slip. It isn’t very pleasant to slip because the pole is covered with splinters that easily dig into your body.

At first my friend would not lean at all, and as a result he never got off the ground. The spikes simply would not go into the wood. It was frustrating. After a while he learned to lean back a bit and got started, but as soon as he was a few feet off the ground he became afraid and pulled himself close to the pole. Down he would go with a bump, getting covered with splinters in the process. This practice went on until he learned that he had to lean fully into the belt that held him. When he learned this, he began to climb.

It is the same in the Christian life. God wants you to climb. This is his purpose in saving you. He wants you to rise to Christ’s own stature. What is more, he is going to insist on it. He is going to teach you to climb by resting on him. There will be times when you think that you can hold on better by grasping the pole than by leaning on the belt, and when you do you will slip spiritually and God will let you get covered with splinters. He will do it because he knows that that is the only way you will learn to trust him, and to trust him is the only way to climb. What is more, he will keep at you; he will not let you quit. “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (v. 6).

Perhaps you are saying, “But that is unreasonable. God can’t work like that. It must depend on me.” But it is the way God works, and you will find it out sooner or later in your Christian life. Perhaps you are saying that you will run your own life, pick your own goals, choose your own purposes. Well, then, God may have to break you until you learn that he is determined to accomplish his purposes in you.

Perhaps, instead, you will be willing to learn to rely on him, growing in grace as he molds you into the image of Christ. If this is so, then for you Philippians 1:6 will become a blessed truth rather than a bitter lesson.[2]

6 The opposite of joy is not gloom but despair, the incapacity to trust in any new and good future. Paul rejoices because he is “confident” of what God’s future holds (see 1:25; 2:24). His confidence does not derive from the sterling qualities of the Philippians or from his ability to write a stirring letter, which would only be a “confidence in the flesh” (3:3–4). It derives instead from the character and faithfulness of God, who finishes what he starts and does not leave his people in the lurch to fend for themselves (cf. 1 Th 5:23–24). Despite his imprisonment, Paul remains confident that the divine grace working in them, as manifested in their gift to him, and their continuing “partnership in the gospel” will culminate as God intends when they stand together before Christ on the day of his return.

“Good work” may be an allusion to their generosity in supporting Paul’s mission endeavor. Paul uses it in 2 Corinthians 9:8 in connection with the charity for the Jerusalem saints and attests that it is kindled by God’s grace (2 Co 8:1–4; 9:14), glorifies God (2 Co 9:13), and inspires many thanksgivings to God (2 Co 9:11–12). Their “good work,” he assures them in 4:19, will be abundantly repaid by God.

Paul takes over the “day of the Lord” concept—a standard feature in OT prophetic texts for the moment when God will completely and decisively establish his reign—and transforms it into the “day of Jesus Christ” (see also 1:10; 2:16; 1 Co 1:8; 3:13; 5:5; 2 Co 1:14; 1 Th 5:2, 4; 2 Th 2:2; 2 Ti 1:12, 18; 4:8). He ties it to the parousia of the risen Lord, when Christ will right all wrongs, bring judgment, and put all things under his feet.[3]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2001). Philippians (pp. 26–30). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Boice, J. M. (2000). Philippians: an expositional commentary (pp. 33–38). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Garland, D. E. (2006). Philippians. In T. Longman III (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 193). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

December 1 The Incarnation of Christ

“Although [Christ] existed in the form of God, [He] did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond–servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Philippians 2:6–8


Christ is the perfect example of humility.

In his book Miracles, English scholar C.S. Lewis used this analogy to describe the incarnation of Christ:

One may think of a diver, first reducing himself to nakedness, then glancing in mid–air, then gone with a splash, vanished, rushing down through green and warm water into black and cold water, down through increasing pressure into the death–like region of ooze and slime and old decay; then up again, back to colour and light, his lungs almost bursting, till suddenly he breaks surface again, holding in his hand the dripping, precious thing that he went down to recover. He and it are both coloured now that they have come up into the light: down below, where it lay colourless in the dark, he lost his colour, too.

That was how Lewis illustrated the Incarnation, the central miracle of Christianity, which is also addressed in Philippians 2:5–8. In those verses Jesus is shown to be the perfect model of humility—the perfect illustration of Paul’s instructions in verses 3–4. He did nothing out of selfishness or conceit but regarded others as more important than Himself.

We are to imitate Christ’s perfect example of humility. James 4:10 says, “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” What about your life? Does it demonstrate a Christlike humility that God will delight to honor by exaltation?


Suggestions for Prayer: Thank the Lord for Christ, whose life exemplifies the perfect pattern of humility for you to follow. ✧ Think of areas in your life where you are especially prone to exalt yourself at the expense of others. ✧ Acknowledge your sin to God and ask Him to help you be humble in those areas.

For Further Study: Read Isaiah 14:12–17 and Ezekiel 28:12–19, which tell of Lucifer’s fall from his exalted position in the presence of God. Write down ways his attitude is opposite Christ’s in Philippians 2:5–8.[1]

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