Daily Archives: December 15, 2018

Be a true worshipper of our Lord

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

1 Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him. 3 Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, *said, 5 “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?” 6 Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into…

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DECEMBER 15 WHERE IS THE AWE?

But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend.

—Isaiah 41:8

Yes, Abraham was lying face down in humility and reverence, overcome with awe in this encounter with God. He knew that he was surrounded by the world’s greatest mystery. The presence of this One who fills all things was pressing in upon him, rising above him, defeating him, taking away his natural self-confidence. God was overwhelming him and yet inviting and calling him, pleading with him and promising him a great future as a friend of God!

This is God’s way and God’s plan. This is God!

As we examine the nature of believing faith in our day, we find ourselves asking, “Where is the mystery? Where is the reverence, the awe, the true fear of God among us?” MMG021-022

Where, indeed, Oh Lord, is the awe and fear of Your power? Restore it to Your people and bring us to our knees before You, we pray. Amen. [1]


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

When Christmas Doesn’t Feel Merry — Biblical Woman

It’s the most wonderful time of the year With the kids jingle belling And everyone telling you be of good cheer It’s the most wonderful time of the year

It’s the hap-happiest season of all With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings When friends come to call It’s the hap-happiest season of all {1}

or it doesn’t feel that way.

I glance up from the kitchen table and spy the Christmas tree across the room. It’s been a ROUGH day. I’m discouraged by how my sinful tendencies and the frailty of life impact my family at this time of year.

I’ve never heard anyone say it, but have felt it profoundly: “I (sometimes) just don’t feel Christmas-y.” This feeling can mean so many things: I’m not feeling the emotions that are supposed to go along with this holiday. I don’t feel worthy to participate in the celebrations and gifts. I hurt, but Christmas doesn’t have room for my pain with the bright lights and happy songs.

There’ll be parties for hosting Marshmallows for toasting And caroling out in the snow

It’s the most wonderful time of the year There’ll be much mistltoeing And hearts will be glowing When loved ones are near It’s the most wonderful time of the year {1}

Maybe your heart aches, too. We miss loved ones. We struggle under the weight of sin, carrying the guilt around like a blanket. Maybe the engagement ring we’ve been hoping for (and the young man to go with it) still hasn’t shown up. Our arms are still empty and our heart cries out for a baby. Maybe our marriage is struggling; there isn’t “peace on earth” in our home.

Maybe we or someone we love has been given a disability or debilitating illness. This could be our first year without a parent, spouse, or child because of death or relational collapse. Maybe a history of abuse, injury, or trauma colors over the bright lights of mirth. MAYBE it’s “just” hormones leaving you feeling grumpy and not in the mood for lights, tinsel, and Christmas cookies.

My dear Sister, I have no idea the trials or struggles that you face this year as we put up decorations, consume copious amounts of sugar, and choose the perfect present. But I want you to know you are not alone, and you are not outcast because you don’t feel “Merry and Bright.”

Christmas is especially for the heart that doesn’t feel joyful. 

Our ache dims the glitter and glamor allowing the light of the Savior to shine through. Suffering allows us to feel our need for the Savior in fresh ways. When I don’t feel worthy of the specialness and gifts that come in the holiday season, the truth of the Gospel becomes more real.

I desperately need my Savior.

O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel

that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear. {2}

The celebration of Jesus’ birth is beautiful, because He is beautiful. My weakness, frailty, and woundedness cannot harm the message of the season. Instead it allows me to feel again the wonder of Emmanuel, God with us. I am not worthy of His gift. Nothing in me brought about Christmas, and nothing in me gives the holiday its splendor.

O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer Our spirits by Thine advent here;

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, And death’s dark shadows put to flight. {3}

In those moments where I don’t feel Christmas-y, God has given me hope. My joy and affection for Him can grow stronger in this time of year, even if I feel ostracized from the merriment that is “supposed” to be the daily experience.

I want to share a few practical thoughts with you:

Accept the reality of brokenness.

Our ache in this season stems from the brokenness. We feel the weight of fractured relationships, abuse, trauma, death, loss, uncertainty, illness, caregiver overload and exhaustion. We live in a sin-scarred world.

A natural tendency is to gloss over suffering and sin, hoping a coating of royal-icing and glitter will distract us from the pain underneath. We think that if we distract ourselves with Hallmark movies and caroling, maybe we won’t feel the ache deep in our hearts. Maybe we’ll be able to enjoy the festivities without having to look beneath the surface.

My Sister, stop – at least for a moment. Look at your pain and your suffering (no matter how “trivial”) directly. Call it what it is. Recognize that we were created for paradise. Our souls know this. We long for it intensely, especially when refrains of “peace on earth, goodwill toward men” drift through the air.

Remember: The Gospel starts at the beginning, in the Fall (Genesis 2-3), when everything unraveled in an instant, tearing away true life from the souls of Adam and Eve (and thereby all of us). Yet, in that moment, God answered, promising a Messiah, a Savior would come to reorder the world, and to create everything anew (Gen 3:15).

To bask in the richness of the Gospel this Christmas, allow yourself to acknowledge the sin-scared-ness of the world and your own soul – don’t gloss over the pain throwing tinsel and glitter till it shines.

Allow yourself grieve.

We are created for beautiful perfection and harmony. Our bodies long for an Eden we cannot create. Grieve with me the groaning of creation as it waits (Rom 8:22). Give yourself permission to let yourself feel the pain.

Take time away from the hustle and bustle to let yourself grieve the things you’ve lost (whether expectations, dreams, hopes, or persons). You don’t have to live there all season, but let yourself feel it. Mourn the effects of sin throughout all of life and the sin in your life.

Embrace repentance.

I already feel so weighed down at times with “mom guilt” (“wife guilt,” “good Christian girl guilt,” “the I-should guilt”) being told I’m doing anything more wrong seems like a crushing blow. I don’t want to look my idolatry and sin in the face and speak its name aloud. So, I struggle with repentance and being reminded of my sin.

Yet, our experience of joy depends upon our humble, willing repentance of the tiny (and large) idols plaguing our every-moment. Our hearts need to repent, because the woman who is forgiven much, can then love Jesus much (Luke 7:47). If we keep our sin in secret and do not expose it to the light (Eph 5:8-14), our heart’s desire for the Lord will grow stagnant and stale. God absolutely delights in saving and sanctifying sinners – fortunately, that is exactly what we are! (1 Timothy 1:15; 2:4)

Rejoice!

Lastly, rejoice! The words for joy/rejoicing, in the Psalms, signify a shout and a delight focused on God’s works or attributes {4}. The process of rejoicing means we choose to fix our affections on the truth of Gospel riches, not our fallible feelings. Therefore, your lack of feeling Christmas-y will not itself dampen the depth of the Gospel experience in Your life. The Holy Spirit will meet you where you are. Ask the Spirit to remind you of a Scripture you can grasp onto. Memorize it, meditate upon His richness so you can rejoice in Him.

God is working in us the hope of Glory, increased by our recognition of the brokenness surrounding our earthly home. As we wait in the already-not-yet of the Gospel promises, while mourning the effects of sin, we can find honest gladness in the Jesus. Thereby, rejoice! Even when tears stream down our faces, and our hearts long for all things to be made new! {5}

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel. {2}

Endnotes:{1} “The Most Wonderful TIme of the Year.” Songwriters: Eddie Pola and George Wyle, © Demi Music Corp. D/B/A Lichelle Music Company (1963)

{2} “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” (Representative Text) Latin Title: “Veni, veni Emmanuel.” Translator: John Mason Neale (1851). © Public Domain. ( https://hymnary.org/text/o_come_o_come_emmanuel_and_ransom )

{3} “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” (Baptist Hymnal 1991 #76)

{4} Examples of the Hebrew words for joy/rejoicing from Psalms (not exhaustive): Samach : “joy, happiness”Renanah: “shout(ofjoy)” Sason : “Jubilation”

Roa’ : “Raise a war-cry, shout out” Siys: “Gladness, delight”(Source: Ludwig Koehler et al., The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994–2000).)

{5} Being able to feel multiple feelings at once is a sign of significant emotional maturity, not insincerity (Dan B. Allender, The Wounded Heart. NavPress (1990), p.133). Jesus was both the most joyful man (Psalm 16:8-11; Prov 8:30-31; John 16:20-22; Heb 12:2) while “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3, ESV).

via When Christmas Doesn’t Feel Merry — Biblical Woman

Another good reason to develop discernment

The End Time

By Elizabeth Prata

We’ve been commissioned by Jesus to share His Gospel with everybody and make disciples with those who convert. (Matthew 28:16-20).

And we do. But… There are some people, especially those close to us, who refuse to hear it, but we keep trying, for the sake of their eternal souls.

On the other hand we are told,

Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. (Matthew 7:6).

How do we know when to stop sharing the Gospel with someone who refuses?  How many times do we share it? After all, we are supposed to forgive seventy-seven times. (Matthew 18:20-22). Do we share it that many times with the reluctant hearer? How do we know when to leave the peson who refuses aside? This is hard to do when it’s your…

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Is There More Than One Way to Interpret Scripture? — Growing 4 LifeGrowing 4 Life

A few weeks ago, a friend asked me this question: How do I respond to those who say we can interpret scripture however we want? She had been talking with someone and they had claimed that there are many interpretations to scripture and people just interpret the Bible however they want to make it fit with their viewpoint. While the second half of that sentence is true (people try to make the Bible say whatever they want), it is the first part of this sentence that I want to examine today: Is there more than one interpretation?

This is a great battle in Christendom today because almost all false Gospels rely on the answer to this question being yes. If we desire to stick to the traditional view of the Word, we will often have to deal with people saying to us: Well, that’s your interpretation.

So let’s take a look at this so that, hopefully, we will be a little more prepared the next time someone makes a statement like this.

If you write a letter to someone, does it have one meaning? Or are there several?

When you were in high school or college, did your teacher claim that there was more than one interpretation of the Iliad and the Odyssey? Or Shakespeare? To any other literary source?

They did not. Because there isn’t.

While there may be principles and applications that we can find under the surface of any written work, there is never a completely different meaning.

But for some reason, people use an argument they would never use for any other written work. If we remember that the Holy Bible is God’s very word, inspired and inerrant, then we can understand their need to have more than one interpretation. For this is how a rebellious man can do a work-around and still call himself a Christian.

And we can see—as we have seen in the past few years—that the Bible can be twisted to mean anything anyone wants if we disregard the normal approaches to understanding written documents.

2 Timothy 2:15 counsels us to correctly handle the Word of Truth. This then would lead us to the understanding that there is a right and a wrong way to interpret scripture.

John MacArthur puts it this way in regards to scripture interpretation: “You can be right and I can be wrong or I can be right and you can be wrong or we can both be wrong. But we can’t both be right.”

Exactly.

We have a grave responsibility to use proper hermeneutics to figure out what each passage’s proper interpretation is. (Hermeneutics is the study of the principles and methods of interpreting the text of the Bible.)

I am almost finished with Roy Zuck’s Basic Bible Interpretation (one of the resources I will recommend below) and he says this:

“Interpreting the Bible is one of the most important issues facing Christians today. It lies behind what we believe, how we live, how we get on together, and what we have to offer the world.”

Interpreting the Bible correctly is key.

So how can we be sure that we interpret the Bible correctly? What are the steps? First, there are some qualifications for us:

  1. We must be regenerated. We read in I Corinthians 2:14 that the natural man cannot understand the things of God. So in order to interpret and study scripture correctly, we must be saved. Not only does God open our spiritual eyes upon our salvation but it is also at this time that we are indwelled by the Holy Spirit. He is our Helper in all things, including scripture interpretation (John 14:26).
  2. We must be humble. If we come to the scriptures with a proud heart we will severely limit our capability in understanding God’s Word (Proverbs 16:5). A proud heart leads to an unwillingness to surrender our will to the Father’s. Instead, we find ourselves looking for scripture to promote our ideas and our agendas. This has led to many a wrong interpretation.
  3. We must be reverent and sober-minded. If we have a lackadaisical and careless attitude towards the Holy Word of God (2 Timothy 3:15) we will have the same attitude in interpreting it.
  4. We must be willing to obey all that we read. Ahhh. So now we get to the heart of the matter. We must be willing to obey. If we take a look at almost any twisting of God’s Word or false system that uses Bible verses, what do we see? We will always see obedience to only part of God’s Word. Usually, the parts that elevate, bless, or otherwise make their lives easier. The parts that are hard, that are negative, or that require one to look and be different than the world are soundly ignored. Scripture can only be interpreted correctly if we are willing to obey it in full. (Psalm 119:1-16)
  5. We must approach the scriptures with sound judgment and reason. We must seek to be objective rather than subjective. We must try, as best we can, to come without prejudice or preconceived notions.
  6. We must pray. We must ask the Lord to give us insight and lead us to the correct understanding of what we are studying. We must recognize that, in and of ourselves, we are helpless and hopeless. We need His help and guidance for all things.

Now that we know how we should personally approach the scripture, let’s take a brief look at the best way to interpret the scripture—

  1. It should be interpreted literally. This means that it should be interpreted in its most natural form. If you pick up a letter from a friend, you are not looking for hidden meanings or allegories. You are reading it and taking it for what it means.
  2. It should be interpreted in context. This means we take some time to study the entire passage, we determine the author and who they were writing to, we find out why they were writing to that group or individual. We must study the verses surrounding the favorite verse. We must find out all we can about the context of the passage. It is only after studying these things and understanding the context that we can then look for principles to apply to our own lives.
  3. It should be interpreted with regard to its historical understanding. In the recent years, we have so many “new interpretations”. Tossing tradition and rules out the window has led to a completely different kind of Christianity. But Paul makes it clear that we should pay attention to what has been historically taught when he writes this in 2 Thessalonians 2:15: Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.

Dividing God’s Word rightly takes work. I believe whole-heartedly that much of the error and heresy we see in the church today is due in great part to people not being willing to learn the Word for themselves. I find myself talking to more and more people who want to base their interpretation of scripture on how they feel (I just can’t believe in a God who…) or on what they have been taught by a teacher (But my teacher says…)

Whenever these two things become our guidelines we are in grave danger. Feelings have their place, after all they were created by God. They are not evil. And teachers can be most helpful to us. They can make us think and they can open our eyes. But we must, in a mature and objective manner, take responsibility for our own learning of the scriptures. We must leave milk behind us and feed on meat, always growing in our knowledge of the Word (Hebrews 5:13).

I hope that this has been helpful. There is so much that could be said regarding this subject and I feel like I have been woefully inadequate in what I have written here–like I barely scratched the surface. I will add some resource links below for those of you who would like to study this subject in a deeper way.

 

HELPFUL RESOURCES:

Principles of Interpretation by Pastor Dean Good

Got Questions: What is Biblical Hermeneutics?

Basic Bible Interpretation by Roy B. Zuck

via Is There More Than One Way to Interpret Scripture? — Growing 4 LifeGrowing 4 Life

President Trump Gives Shout Out to Bill Kristol and Weekly Standard — After Its Collapse — The Gateway Pundit

It appears our president is not a huge Bill Kristol fan?

President Trump gave a shout out to The Weekly Standard after it shuttered its doors on Friday.

It’s not the first time President Trump has attacked Bill Kristol and the Weekly Standard.

“He’s a real lightweight.”

The Weekly Standard did not like Donald Trump.

The Weekly Standard did not like Donald Trump supporters

The Weekly Standard shut its doors on Friday.

via President Trump Gives Shout Out to Bill Kristol and Weekly Standard — After Its Collapse — The Gateway Pundit

Republican Bill Kristol Bet His Whole Career On Hating Donald Trump, Now His Weekly Standard Magazine Is Bankrupt And Closing After 23 Years — Now The End Begins

 

The Weekly Standard, the magazine that espouses traditional conservatism and which has remained deeply critical of President Donald Trump, will shutter after 23 years, its owner Clarity Media Group announced Friday morning. The magazine will publish its final issue on December 17.

One by one they have all fallen in the path of the oncoming Trump Train. Donald Trump beat out 16 seasoned Republican candidates, defied the Hillary Clinton machine, and mocked the entire fake news media that had assembled against him to take him down. Bill Kristol, editor of the Conservative Weekly Standard magazine, was one of those Republicans who decided to assist the Liberals in taking down Trump. His plan, only two years old, has not aged well at all.

A Washington staple for almost a quarter century, the Weekly Standard magazine featuring the opinions of thought leader Bill Kristol, seemed rock solid. Kristol a frequent guest on the political talk shows and very well respected. Then in 2016, Kristol decided that Donald Trump didn’t deserve to be the president of the United States, and made it his mission to stop him. But in the end, it was Bill Kristol who got stopped.

Kristol was a darling of the fake news Liberal-bias talk shows like ABC, MSNBC, CNN, Morning Joe and all the others. They loved have on a Republican of his stature who was happy to bash Trump and make endless predictions about his coming demise. But all of Kristol’s predictions, all of them, ended in brilliant failure, and now his magazine has as well.

The Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine critical of Trump, to shutter after 23 years

FROM FAKE NEWS CNN: The announcement came after the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Stephen Hayes, met privately with Ryan McKibben, the chief executive and chairman of Clarity Media Group, a media holding company owned by billionaire Philip Anschutz.

“For more than twenty years The Weekly Standard has provided a valued and important perspective on political, literary and cultural issues of the day,” McKibben said in a press release. “The magazine has been home to some of the industry’s most dedicated and talented staff and I thank them for their hard work and contributions, not just to the publication, but the field of journalism.”

As for Trump, Bill Kristol seemed almost in denial over his rise. Between July 2015 and late January 2016, Kristol declared at least 11 times by a New York magazine count, that Trump had peaked. “You’ve been wrong, the Republican establishment has been wrong!” an exasperated MSNBC host Joe Scarborough barked at him in October after one such prediction. But Kristol was unmoved. “Sticking with my prediction,” he tweeted less than two months later. “Trump will win no caucuses or primaries, and will run behind Ron Paul 2012 in IA and NH.” Two months after that, Trump won the New Hampshire primary and began his steamroll over his 16 GOP rivals. source

Employees were told at an all staff meeting, which CNN obtained an audio recording of, that they would be paid through the end of the year, and that afterward they would receive severance which would range in scale depending on factors like seniority. To receive severance, however, employees would need to sign a strict non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreement.

“I know it’s an emotional day, but I want to tell you don’t get on social media and attack anybody because it will put your severance in jeopardy,” McKibben told employees in the meeting.

Employees were also told to clear out their desks by the end of the day. People familiar with the matter said that the email addresses of employees were already in the process of being shut off.
When employees raised questions during Friday’s meeting, McKibben told them, “I’m not going to take questions. This isn’t a press conference.”

The closing of the magazine represents a broader shift in conservative media. Outlets on the right that are critical of Trump have lost influence or changed their tone, while media organizations on the right supportive of the President have flourished. READ MORE

via Republican Bill Kristol Bet His Whole Career On Hating Donald Trump, Now His Weekly Standard Magazine Is Bankrupt And Closing After 23 Years — Now The End Begins

FBI Releases Heavily Redacted Russia Dossier Document Comey Used to Brief Trump, Obama — The Gateway Pundit

Dossier author Christopher Steele

Late Friday night, the FBI released a heavily redacted Christopher Steele document that James Comey used to brief then-President elect Donald Trump and former President Obama.

The document, first obtained by Politico through a FOIA lawsuit, shows the FBI describing Steele as an “FBI source” who was working for “private clients,” which is a flat out lie being that he was working for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the DNC.

Republicans have long argued that the FBI relied heavily, if not solely on Christopher Steele’s uncorroborated Russia dossier to launch an investigation into the Trump campaign and went to great lengths to conceal it was funded by Hillary and the DNC — The FBI even hid this information from the FISA judges.

The 2-page document further proves Republicans have been right all along.

On January 6th, 2017, just days before Buzzfeed would publish the 35-page Russia dossier in full, James Comey traveled to the Trump Tower to brief then-President elect Donald Trump on the Steele dossier and he hid the fact that Hillary Clinton and the DNC paid for the fraudulent document.

Comey lied to Trump’s face and told him not to worry about the dossier and only disclosed the salacious parts in the document claiming Trump had a wild night with prostitutes in Moscow — Comey told Trump he was not under investigation. Comey said this after the dossier had already been used to obtain the initial FISA warrant on Carter Page.

The two-page heavily redacted memo labeled “Annex A” does not identify Christopher Steele and keeps his name redacted:

“An FBI source [redacted] volunteered highly politically sensitive information [redacted] on Russian influence efforts aimed at the US presidential election,”

“The source is an executive of a private business intelligence firm and a former employee of a friendly intelligence service who has been compensated for previous reporting over the past three years. The source maintains and collects information from a layered network of identified and unidentified subsources, some of which has been corroborated in the past. The source collected this information on behalf of private clients and was not compensated for it by the FBI.”

“The source’s reporting appears to have been acquired by multiple Western press organizations starting in October.”

So who were these unidentified sources that Christopher Steele used?

The FISA warrant applications only disclosed that Christopher Steele was working for a person who opposed Donald Trump, there was no information given to identify Steele was being paid by Hillary Clinton, Fusion GPS or the DNC.

Steele was officially fired by the FBI on November 1st of 2016 over his contacts with the media which violated protocol for “confidential human sources,” however, Steele continued to provide intel through DOJ official Bruce Ohr who was acting as a backchannel.

Watch: In February, Jay Sekulow talks about a secret meeting Comey had with Susan Rice, Barack Obama and Sally Yates ONE DAY before he briefed Trump on the dossier.

Screenshot of FBI document — Page One:

Page two is completely redacted:

via FBI Releases Heavily Redacted Russia Dossier Document Comey Used to Brief Trump, Obama — The Gateway Pundit

December 15 God with Us

For there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.

Luke 1:45

Isaiah 7:14 says, “The Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” That virgin’s name was Mary.

The name Immanuel, however, is the key to this verse—and the heart of the Christmas story. It is a Hebrew name that means literally, “God with us.” It is a promise of incarnate deity, a prophecy that God Himself would appear as a human infant, Immanuel, “God with us.” This baby who was to be born would be God Himself in human form.

If we could condense all the truths of Christmas into only three words, these would be the words: “God with us.” We tend to focus our attention at Christmas on the infancy of Christ. The greater truth of the holiday is His deity. More astonishing than a baby in the manger is the truth that this promised baby is the omnipotent Creator of the heavens and the earth![1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 376). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

December 15, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

General Reassurance

I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake. (2:12)

John knew that the people to whom he was writing were believers and that their sins had been forgiven. In this verse, and in the verses that follow, the apostle said “I am writing to you” or “I have written to you” six times, in order to emphatically state that his message was limited to his readers, the ones who truly were part of God’s family.

The word translated little children (teknia) means “born ones,” speaking of offspring in a general sense without regard for age. It is commonly used in the New Testament to describe believers as the children of God (John 13:33; 1 John 2:1, 28; 3:7, 18; 4:4; 5:21; cf. Gal. 4:19, 28). By using this term, the apostle was addressing all who were true offspring of God, at any level of spiritual maturity. His focus was on all who mourned over their sinful condition (Matt. 5:4), trusted Jesus Christ as their only Lord and Savior (Acts 16:31), had their lives transformed by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5), lived in obedience to God’s Word (Rom. 6:17), and showed sincere love for one another (1 Peter 1:22).

Only two spiritual families exist from God’s perspective: children of God and children of Satan (cf. John 8:39–44). God’s children do not love Satan’s family or give their allegiance to the world he controls (cf. 1 John 2:15). Instead, they grow (though not all at the same rate or with equal consistency) in their love for the Lord, a love that will manifest itself in heartfelt obedience and service (cf. John 14:15).

The New Testament plainly states that all believers, no matter where they are on the spiritual growth continuum, have been forgiven of all their sins (1:7; Matt. 26:28; Luke 1:77; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 26:18; Col. 1:14; 2:13–14). In fact, this truth is foundational to the evangelistic mission of the church. Jesus told His apostles “that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations” (Luke 24:47). Peter declared to Cornelius and his companions, “Of Him [Christ] all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins” (Acts 10:43; cf. 13:38–39). Paul attested: “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7; cf. 4:32; 1 John 1:7; 3:5). Of course, this great reality of the forgiveness of sins was not new in the New Testament, but was firmly rooted in Old Testament teaching (cf. Pss. 32:1–2; 86:5; 103:12; 130:3–4; Isa. 1:18–19; 43:25; 44:22).

John concluded this sentence with the reminder that God grants forgiveness to believers, not because of their own worthiness or merit, but for His name’s sake. That expression refers to God’s glory (cf. Deut. 28:58; Neh. 9:5; Ps. 8:1; Isa. 42:8; 48:11), which is the overarching reason for everything He does (cf. Pss. 19:1; 25:11; 57:5; 79:8–9; 93:1; 104:31; 106:7–8; 109:21; 111:3; 113:4; 145:5, 12; Isa. 6:3; 48:9; Jer. 14:7–9; Hab. 2:14; Rom. 1:5). God forgives sinners because it pleases Him to glorify His name by manifesting His superabundant grace, mercy, and power. As those who have been given the gift of forgiveness, believers will forever praise and magnify God (cf. 2 Cor. 4:15; Rev. 5:11–13). Still, while on earth, they are at different stages of growth, with distinguishing characteristics.[1]


12 The first of John’s five slogans/sayings, addressed to his “children,” recalls the theme of 1:9–2:2: “your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.” Because this is clearly a comment on the salvific work of Jesus, and because it refers to Jesus in the third person, John is most likely citing a community slogan rather than a saying of Jesus (some have suggested this slogan is cited from an ancient baptismal formula; so Brown, 302–3, 320–21; Culpepper, 35; Rensberger, 71–72).

While 1-2-3 John and the fourth gospel have surprisingly little to say about forgiveness (cf. Jn 20:23; 1 Jn 1:9–2:2), the “name” of Jesus is an important point of Johannine thought. Jesus’ “name” represents his divine identity and power, so that “belief in his name” means acceptance of John’s claim that Jesus came from God (Jn 1:12; 3:18; 1 Jn 3:23; 5:13). Those who act in Jesus’ name enjoy various benefits, including the expectation that the Father will answer their prayers (Jn 16:23–26), the hope of eternal life (Jn 20:31), and (here at 1 Jn 2:12) forgiveness of sins. Marshall, 139, notes that John may be reminding his readers of the forgiveness they received when they first accepted the name of Jesus at conversion. The perfect tense of aphiēmi (GK 918; NIV, “your sins have been forgiven”) focuses on the continuing effect of a past event (Johnson, 49). The experience of forgiveness should motivate them to remain faithful.[2]


2:12 / The decisive fact which the Elder here wants to underscore for his readers is that their sins have been forgiven. The past has been taken care of; they have been cleansed. Forgiven is in the perfect tense, implying an act begun at a specific point in the past (conversion) and whose effects continue on into the present (they stand forgiven). This forgiveness is renewed on a daily basis by confession (1:9).

Forgiveness is based on his name. It is on account of his name that the community enjoys its victory over sin. In 1:7 and 2:1–2 the writer states the christological foundation of forgiveness: “the blood of Jesus … purifies us from all sin” and “Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, … is the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” The name of Jesus is also the object of the believer’s faith in 3:23 and 5:13. It is by faith in his name (who he is and what he has done) that we are forgiven and have eternal life.[3]


12. Little children. This is still a general declaration, for he does not address those only of a tender age, but by little children he means men of all ages, as in the first verse, and also hereafter. I say this, because interpreters have incorrectly applied the term to children. But John, when he speaks of children, calls them παιδία, a word expressive of age; but here, as a spiritual father, he calls the old as well as the young, τεκνία. He will, indeed, presently address special words to different ages; yet they are mistaken who think that he begins to do so here. But, on the contaray, lest the preceding exhortation should obscure the free remission of sins, he again inculcates the doctrine which peculiarly belongs to faith, in order that the foundation may with certainty be always retained, that salvation is laid up for us in Christ alone.

Holiness of life ought indeed to be urged, the fear of God ought to be carefully enjoined, men ought to be sharply goaded to repentance, newness of life, together with its fruits, ought to be commended; but still we ought ever to take heed, lest the doctrine of faith be smothered,—that doctrine which teaches that Christ is the only author of salvation and of all blessings; on the contrary, such moderation ought to be presented, that faith may ever retain its own primacy. This is the rule prescribed to us by John: having faithfully spoken of good works, lest he should seem to give them more importance than he ought to have done, he carefully calls us back to contemplate the grace of Christ.

Your sins are forgiven you. Without this assurance, religion would not be otherwise than fading and shadowy; nay, they who pass by the free remission of sins, and dwell on other things, build without a foundation. John in the meantime intimates, that nothing is more suitable to stimulate men to fear God than when they are rightly taught what blessing Christ has brought to them, as Paul does, when he beseeches by the bowels of God’s mercies. (Phil. 2:1.)

It hence appears how wicked is the calumny of the Papists, who pretend that the desire of doing what is right is frozen, when that is extolled which alone renders us obedient children to God. For the Apostle takes this as the ground of his exhortation, that we know that God is so benevolent to us as not to impute to us our sins.

For his name’s sake. The material cause is mentioned, lest we should seek other means to reconcile us to God. For it would not be sufficient to know that God forgives us our sins, except we came directly to Christ, and to that price which he paid on the cross for us. And this ought the more to be observed, because we see that by the craft of Satan, and by the wicked fictions of men, this way is obstructed; for foolish men attempt to pacify God by various satisfactions, and devise innumerable kinds of expiations for the purpose of redeeming themselves. For as many means of deserving pardon we intrude on God, by so many obstacles are we prevented from approaching him. Hence John, not satisfied with stating simply the doctrine, that God remits to us our sins, expressly adds, that he is propitious to us from a regard to Christ, in order that he might exclude all other reasons. We also, that we may enjoy this blessing, must pass by and forget all other names, and rely only on the name of Christ.[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2007). 1, 2, 3 John (pp. 72–73). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] Thatcher, T. (2006). 1 John. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 444). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Johnson, T. F. (2011). 1, 2, and 3 John (p. 49). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Calvin, J., & Owen, J. (2010). Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles (pp. 181–183). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Top Weekly Stories from ChristianNews.net for 12/15/2018

Teen Who ‘Snapped,’ Killed Parents While Struggling With Gender Identity Is Sentenced   Dec 09, 2018 07:58 pm

AUGUSTA, Maine (Associated Press) — A teenager who told authorities he “snapped” and killed his parents while struggling with gender identity and acceptance was sentenced Tuesday to 40 years in prison. Andrew Balcer, who was 17 at the time of the fatal stabbings, asked for forgiveness from his remaining family members, many of whom had called for the maximum…

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Elder of Chinese Church Pens Letter in Hiding as Over 100 Members Detained: ‘We Are in the Hands of the Lord’   Dec 12, 2018 09:19 pm

CHENGDU — An elder of Early Rain Covenant Church penned a handwritten letter providing spiritual exhortation and guidance on how the church should proceed in the middle of persecution as over 100 members, including pastors, elders and deacons, were detained on Sunday by Chinese police. “Beloved brothers and sisters, do you have joy?” asked Li Yingqiang. “Are you…

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Virginia Teacher Fired After Declining to Use Masculine Pronouns for Girl Who Identifies as Boy   Dec 09, 2018 08:08 am

Photo Credit: Screenshot WTKR WEST POINT, Va. — A high school teacher in Virginia was fired on Thursday for declining to use masculine pronouns for a female student who identifies as a boy. The termination, despite the launch of a petition in support of the teacher and a large turnout at a public hearing, resulted in a student walkout in protest the following…

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City Recreation Dept. Cancels Trip to Ark Encounter After Atheist Group Asserts Visit Is ‘Unconstitutional’   Dec 10, 2018 08:48 pm

CHARLESTON, Ill. — The Charleston Department of Parks and Recreation in Illinois has reportedly cancelled an upcoming trip to Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter and Creation Museum after receiving a letter from the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) asserting that the public offering is unconstitutional. The trip was scheduled for Sept. 30 – Oct. 4,…

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More Than 100 Sichuan House Church Members Arrested   Dec 10, 2018 07:08 pm

(International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that more than 100 members and leaders of Early Rain Covenant Church in China’s Sichuan province have been arrested. The arrests took place on Dec. 9 after local authorities raided the homes of many church members. According to a statement from the church, beginning at 6:00…

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Backlash Ensues After Minnesota State University Professor Tweets God ‘Impregnated’ Mary Without ‘Consent’   Dec 09, 2018 06:09 pm

MANKATO, Minn. — A professor at Minnesota State University tweeted this past week that the story of the virgin birth is about God impregnating a teenager without her consent, generating pushback from hundreds of commenters. “The virgin birth story is about an all-knowing, all-powerful deity impregnating a human teen. There is no definition of consent that would…

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Democratic Politician Arrested for Disciplining 7-Year-Old by Spanking Facing Up to 6 Months in Jail if Convicted   Dec 14, 2018 01:42 pm

(Yahoo News) — A Democratic assemblyman in California was arrested Monday on suspicion of child cruelty after allegedly spanking his daughter. On Wednesday, he claimed that he had only done so as a means of punishment. In an interview with the Fresno Bee, lawmaker Joaquin Arambula spoke about an incident at home Sunday night that led him to spank his…

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Roberts, Kavanaugh Join Liberal Supreme Court Justices in Rejection of Planned Parenthood Defunding Cases   Dec 10, 2018 05:37 pm

Photo Credit: Joe Ravi/Wikipedia WASHINGTON — U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and newly-appointed Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined the liberal judges on the nation’s highest court on Monday to turn down appeals from two states challenging lower court rulings striking down efforts to defund Planned Parenthood’s participation in state Medicaid…

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Indiana Teen Facing Homicide, Feticide Charges After Killing Girlfriend for Not Aborting Their Child   Dec 11, 2018 04:49 pm

MISHAWAKA, Ind. — A high school football player in Indiana is facing homicide and feticide charges after killing his girlfriend out of anger that she let the pregnancy proceed until it was too late to obtain an abortion. Aaron Trejo, 16, was arrested on Sunday in the death of Breana Rouhselang, 17, who was a former cheerleader, softball player manager for the…

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Eight-Year-Old Not Permitted to Tell Classmates About Biblical Account of Daniel in Show-and-Tell   Dec 13, 2018 12:54 pm

Photo Credit: John Harris Pe/FreeImages.com ARLINGTON, Va. — A father in Virginia says that his son was stopped from speaking last week as he took his Bible to school for show-and-tell to share with his classmates about what he had been reading in the book of Daniel. In the article, “Preferred Gender Pronouns Required in Virginia’s Public Schools. The Bible?…

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Weekend Snapshot · Dec. 15, 2018 — Top Stories This Week

The Oval Office Wall Brawl

Shutdown theater returns over a couple of billion dollars and border security.

Waves of Bogus Asylum Seekers Overwhelm Immigration System

The Trump administration is working to address this very real crisis.

Trump’s Campaign-Finance Problems

DOJ announces agreement with National Inquirer to admit that it paid hush money to protect Trump.

Challenging the Bureaucratic State

The Supreme Court has an opportunity to rein in the power of executive agencies.

Bankrupting the Boy Scouts of America

Due to escalating legal costs for sex abuse, the BSA board is considering bankruptcy.

New Jersey Turns Law-Abiding Citizens Into Felons

A new Garden State law makes felons of formerly law-abiding gun owners.

The Long Road to Energy Independence

For the first time in 75 years, the U.S. is a net exporter of oil. That’s great news.

Thought Police Target ‘Homophobic’ Athletes

Famous people who don’t fall in line with the homosexual agenda will be punished.

Google’s BIG Lie: ‘Without Political Bias’

The search giant’s CEO claims there’s nothing to see here. History says he’s wrong.

The Mueller/Comey/Clinton Collusion to Take Down Trump

The claim of campaign-finance violations will fuel the Democrats’ relentless hounding of Trump over the next two years, as it fits with their “stolen election” narrative and is fodder for faux impeachment charges.

Climatologist Rebuts Rising Sea Level Narrative

Not that you’ll hear about it from the press, which is preoccupied with alarm.

SCOTUS Stumbles in Refusal to Review Abortion Funding

Two conservative justices join the Court’s leftists regarding Medicaid funding of Planned Parenthood.

Quote Of The Week

“Brexit is to Britain like the Wall is to America. The people want it but they keep electing people who don’t want it. Governments not representing the will of the people. Why? They know what’s best for you, you don’t.” —Chuck Woolery

Dow Theory Concerns? Transportation Stocks Make New Lows — Kimble Charting Solutions

The bull market is experiencing its first real test since the 2014/2015 stock market correction. Volatility is high and key sectors are heading lower. One such sector is the Transportation Sector(NYSEARCA: IYT) and select stocks. The age-old Dow Theory call for the Industrials and Transports to lead the market (and confirm each others moves). Currently, both are…

via Dow Theory Concerns? Transportation Stocks Make New Lows — Kimble Charting Solutions

A Closer Look at the Virgin Birth

THINKAPOLOGETICS.COM

Introduction

From a traditional perspective, the virgin birth has always been one of the essentials of the Christian faith. Jesus was not born in sin and he had no sin nature (Hebrews 7:26).  For those that hold to the doctrine of original sin, given the sin nature is passed down from generation to generation through the father (Romans 5:12, 17, 19), the virgin birth thwarted the transmission of the sin nature and allowed  for the incarnation. So the virgin birth is important to both the deity and humanity of Jesus.

The First Messianic Promise

It is after the fall of man has taken place that God makes the first messianic promise:

“God said ‘And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Gen. 3:15)

The messianic interpretation of Gen 3:15 is recorded…

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The toughest mission field

The End Time

By Elizabeth Prata

Charles Spurgeon’s morning devotional for December 15 was about the decision that Ruth and Orpah made with Naomi. Spurgeon wrote,

BOTH of them had an affection for Naomi, and therefore set out with her upon her return to the land of Judah. But the hour of test came; Naomi most unselfishly set before each of them the trials which awaited them, and bade them if they cared for ease and comfort to return to their Moabitish friends.

At first both of them declared that they would cast in their lot with the Lord’s people; but upon still further consideration Orpah with much grief and a respectful kiss left her mother in law, and her people, and her God, and went back to her idolatrous friends, while Ruth with all her heart gave herself up to the God of her mother in law. It is one thing to…

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How Not to Be a Heretic this Christmas — Christian Research Network

“Reviewing these heresies pertaining to the person of Christ is not meant to scare you from thinking deeply about Jesus. In fact, you should saturate yourself with Scripture in order to think rightly about the person of Christ this Christmas (and year round!). What we have to understand is that a Jesus who is not fully God and not fully man could never rescue us from our sins.”

(Allen Nelson IV – Things Above)  The great hymn writer Charles Wesley once wrote:

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; Hail th’incarnate Deity, Pleased with us in flesh to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel. (source)

This is a most beautiful and theologically rich line, but it’s not without some historical controversy. I’m referring to how we understand the person of Jesus. In these few words, Wesely has articulated the orthodox view: Jesus is the incarnate Deity. He is the 2nd Person of the Trinity pleased with us in flesh to dwell. He is God with us. In song, this is an articulation of what theologians call the hypostatic union – that Jesus is 100% God and 100% man, two distinct natures in one person.

Admittedly, this is a bit more mindblowing than we give it credit for the one time a year we sing Christmas songs. In fact, I might make a plug here on the necessity of preaching and teaching on this truth more than just around Christmas time. Both the full divinity and full humanity of Jesus is essential to the Christian faith. If we diminish either we produce a view of Jesus that is both less than Scriptural and less than saving. Furthermore, this hypostatic union takes place in the womb of Mary. Jesus did not take on flesh during His birth but at conception!

Historical Heresies

Historically then, there have been about 5 major errors associated with Jesus becoming man. There are more than these 5 (see Nestorianism for example), but these are what I’m calling the “main” errors we must watch out for. Don’t be a heretic for Christmas (or any time of the year). As a life goal, seek to never have some sort of view of Jesus named after you as it will probably result in someone writing a negative blog post about you in the future.  Here we go:   View article →

via How Not to Be a Heretic this Christmas — Christian Research Network

What Sola Scriptura Is Not (Or: Sola Scriptura ≠ Biblicism)

The Reformed Reader

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The Reformation teaching of sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) does not mean that the Christian alone reads the Bible alone and interprets it alone.  Sola Scriptura does not at all mean we should be lone rangers when studying, interpreting, and applying God’s Word. Nor does sola Scriptura mean we must only use the KJV or one single translation of the Bible.  A proper understanding of sola Scriptura doesn’t lead to fundamentalist or biblicist views on secondary or tertiary matters.

What is more, historically speaking we probably shouldn’t use Luther on trial at Worms as an illustration of what sola Scriptura means unless we give it a fuller contextual explanation.  The Diet of Worms wasn’t at all “Luther alone and his Bible alone against the Roman Catholic Church.”

Here’s how Richard Muller describes it.

“…It is…entirely anachronistic to view the sola scriptura of Luther and his contemporaries as a declaration that all of…

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Drag Performance In Luther Seminary’s Chapel — Christian Research Network

“[T]he ELCA is doing the work of Satan by encouraging sin and not helping people turn from these destructive lifestyles and desires.” 

(Dan Skogen – Exposing the ELCA)  Do you think God approves of a man, dressed in drag, “singing” a provocative song in a chapel, on the chancel, next to the altar? Well, that is exactly what happened recently at an ELCA seminary chapel, a school charged with raising up pastors who will be shepherds to ELCA members. The school is Luther Seminary, a seminary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) located in St. Paul, MN.

Luther Seminary is the largest pastor-producing seminary in the ELCA. 

Below is Anders Nelson, the seminary student who was allowed to give this drag performance, who will soon be ordained in the ELCA, and his Facebook posts about the event.

Why is this allowed? It is because the ELCA has turned its back on God’s Word. They walk in opposition to it. The liberal elites in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America have taken over the synods, churchwide offices in Chicago, colleges and seminaries. They are producing clones of themselves: people who think, act, speak, and believe as they do. This is a problem. And when it happens in seminaries, the problem is exacerbated. Students become pastors who disseminate throughout the United States to lead and preach to congregations, passing on to them what they were taught. This is a past, present and future problem, and it is getting worse every year.    View article →

via Drag Performance In Luther Seminary’s Chapel — Christian Research Network

December 15 Christ’s Coronation and Intercession

“God highly exalted Him.”

Philippians 2:9

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Christ is the Sovereign of the universe and a faithful High Priest.

Christ was exalted not only in His resurrection and ascension, but also in His coronation. Mark 16:19 says, “When the Lord Jesus had spoken to [the apostles], He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.” In Scripture the right hand is a symbol of power and authority. What is the extent of Christ’s authority? Ephesians 1:20–22 says, “[God] seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church.” Christ is the Sovereign of the universe.

Besides His coronation, Christ is exalted in His intercession for believers. He stands before the Father as the High Priest of His people. His first act was to send the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33). Our sympathetic High Priest “has been tempted in all things as we are” (Heb. 4:15), and “He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for [us]” (7:25). Christ’s intercessory work grants us faith, repentance, and forgiveness (see Heb. 4–9).

Puritan minister Thomas Watson said, “Had you a friend at court, who, when you were questioned for delinquency or debt, should plead with the judge for you, and bring you off your troubles, would you not love that friend? How often does Satan put in his bills against us in the court! Now Christ is at the judge’s hand; he sits at his Father’s right hand, ever to plead for us, and to make our peace with God. Oh, how should our hearts be fired with love to Christ!”

How intense is your love for Jesus Christ, our faithful Advocate?

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Suggestions for Prayer: “Draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that [you] may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). Pray for a fresh appreciation of this today.

For Further Study: What do 2 Corinthians 5:21 and Hebrews 2:17 say about Christ as our High Priest?[1]


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