Daily Archives: December 24, 2018


Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

—1 John 2:15

We are all in process of becoming. We have already moved from what we were to what we are, and we are now moving toward what we shall be….

Not only are we all in the process of becoming, we are becoming what we love. We are to a large degree the sum of our loves and we will of moral necessity grow into the image of what we love most; for love is among other things a creative affinity; it changes and molds and shapes and transforms. It is without doubt the most powerful agent affecting human nature next to the direct action of the Holy Spirit of God within the soul.

What we love is therefore not a small matter to be lightly shrugged off; rather it is of present, critical and everlasting importance. It is prophetic of our future. It tells us what we shall be, and so predicts accurately our eternal destiny….

This furnishes in part (but only in part) a rational explanation for the first and greatest commandment: “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matthew 22:37).

To become like God is and must be the supreme goal of all moral creatures. This is the reason for their creation, the end apart from which no excuse can be found for their existence. GTM195-197

Lord, wean me from unworthy loves, and give me a pure, full love for You, that I might become like You. Amen. [1]

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

The Longest Bull Market In History Is Over – S&P Enters Bear Market | Zero Hedge

The S&P crashed below its bear market level of 2352.7 – the lowest since April 2017 – ending the longest bull market in history

This is the worst December for the S&P 500 since The Great Depression (and there are still a few more days left)…

Risk aversion is now extreme; even though the Street may point to a ‘less dovish’ FOMC and concerns about a U.S. government shutdown as possible reasons for the selloff, the apparent lack of positive drivers and headlines has curbed risk appetite,” Nomura strategist Masanari Takada wrote in a note.

“While sentiment looks to be skewed towards fear, most market participants seem to be looking for a plausible excuse to sell.”

Steve Mnuchin epicly failed to calm the market over the weekend…

As Michael O’Rourke, JonesTrading’s chief market strategist, said:

…nothing says don’t panic like saying ‘I’m calling the plunge protection team tomorrow.’ I honestly think that’s the type of event that’s going to startle markets and create more panic and fear when it’s meant to create confidence.”

And sure enough, the plunge protection team’s best efforts utterly failed to stem the tide…


A bloodbath…


As waves of selling hit the market… (very notable for such a normally quiet day – volume was almost double the recent average)


S&P volume set to be almost triple that of the past 9 pre-Christmas sessions




Bank stocks suffered…


And just the mention of the word ‘liquidity’ sent bank credit risk soaring…

Even the supposed safe-haven stocks were pummelled… The S&P 500 utilities index drops as much as 4.6% intraday, most since August 2011, amid the broader market rout and continued threat of higher interest rates in 2019.


And along with stocks, the dollar was dumped wholesale…


And credit markets were monkeyhammered…to their widest since Brexit


Bonds were bid (with 30Y back below 3.00% intraday)…


And inflation breakevens were clubbed like a baby seal…


Yuan strengthened…


Cryptos soared since Friday, with Ethereum up 36% and Bitcoin back above $4,000…


Despite the dollar weakness, crude prices collapsed further as PMs rallied…


Gold soared (in dollars) on the day…


Breaking above its 200DMA…


And gold in yuan broke out of its channel…


WTI tumbled to almost a $43 handle…


Finally, since The Fed hiked rates and Powell didn’t back down on auto-pilot, the S&P is down 8%, the dollar is down over 1%, and gold and the long bond are up around 1%…

And,@IvanOnTech provides a little context for just how bad this bloodbath is…

This is not ICOs, this is NASDAQ % drop from ATHs. Scam? GOPRO -95% FIT -92% LC -91% SNAP -83% P -80% ZNGA -77% HIVE -73% TRUE -66% TWTR -63% SONO -60% DBX -57% Z -57% PS -50% FTCH -49% PSTG -48% SPOT -48% BOX -46% DOCU -45% SVMK -45% FB -42%”

And the odds of a rate hike in 2020 are now the same as the odds of rate-cut…

— Read on www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-12-24/longest-bull-market-history-over-sp-enters-bear-market

James MacDonald Finds Cover in Charismaticism Amidst Controversy — Pulpit & Pen

Like his friend and fellow scandalized pastor, Mark Driscoll, James MacDonald is largely unwelcome anywhere in evangelicalism except for the dark, seedy corners of charismaticism.

Charismatics, modern practitioners of the ancient heresy of Montanism (also known as the “New Prophecy Heresy”), deny the sufficiency of Scripture by insisting that God continues to speak outside the Holy Bible, giving the Apostolic Sign Gifts to those who are not apostles. There is no place so evidently devoid of the Holy Spirit and His authentic Spiritual gifts than modern day charismaticism. Devoid of discernment (a gift of the Holy Spirit), charismatic circles serve as a cesspool for every kind of scandalized, unwanted, and unqualified peddler of spiritual goods known to man.

James MacDonald has largely become persona non grata in evangelicalism. Already having been canned from leadership (except for preaching) at his Harvest Bible Chapel, with the implosion of his church planting empire, with the repeated embezzlement or misuse of funds, with his own elders turning against him, with revelations of him violently stabbing photos of rival pastors, and with his lawsuits against journalists, MacDonald has had to cancel events at major conferences.

Last week, MacDonald was forced to cancel his speaking gig at the Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference, the denomination he joined after his own empire began to crumble. Most publications have turned on MacDonald and are reporting his misdeeds, such as suing journalists for being journalists which doesn’t really endear one to the press.

However, since Driscoll’s kingdom fell into scandal, MacDonald has found cover among charismatics who will accept just about anybody into their fold. Utterly devoid of the Holy Spirit, who convicts of sin, charismatics will embrace anyone despite their sin, scandal or lack of repentance.

While MacDonald has had damning pieces written about him in WorldMag, the Christian Post, the Chicago Daily Herald, and many other publications, there are a few publications that are not only ignoring the negative press but who are publishing MacDonald’s editorials as an expert on something other than being disqualified from ministry.

MacDonald’s work has increasingly been highlighted at Charisma News and his articles have been appearing there more frequently. Driscoll, who was once more Calvinistic than Charismatic, went full-blown Charismatic after the days of Mars Hill’s self-destruction. Charisma Media, the parent corp of Charisma Mag, is now publishing Driscoll’s latetst book. After being guilty of plagiariasm in his previous books, who else would publish it but charismatics?

There is nothing that will make someone a more committed charismatic than being disqualified from ministry. Charismaticism serves as a City of Refuge for disgraced and scandalized pastors of every stripe.

Rather than be upset that charismatic believers, devoid of the Holy Spirit, seem to have no spiritual standards, we should be pleased that Driscoll and MacDonald are exactly where they belong…right next to Michael Brown, Jim Bakker, Jennifer LeClaire, and Sneaky Squid Spirits.

James MacDonald Finds Cover in Charismaticism Amidst Controversy — Pulpit & Pen

Gloria In Excelsis Deo — The Last Refuge

Glory to God in the highest, the Greater Doxology, is the song the angels sang at Christ’s birth. Perhaps no other song, no other phrase, so greatly expresses the joy of the moment.

I love all the children in this video. One of my favorite memories of Christmases past is that of our sons placing baby Jesus in the manger after coming home from Midnight Mass.

Our nativity always had an empty manger until Christmas, as a way to help our sons remember and anticipate the birth of our savior. Now we still follow that tradition and have a grandchild place Jesus in the manger.

May all hearts be opened as the moment we celebrate, remember, treasure, and rejoice in comes closer.  May we unite in this ancient call to our God as we celebrate His gift to all mankind.

Gloria In Excelsis Deo — The Last Refuge

112 Years Ago Today, “O Holy Night” First Song Broadcast Over Radio Waves — Pulpit & Pen

What was the first sound to go out over radio waves? It was the sound of “O Holy Night,” the Christmas hymn, being played on a violin.

On December 24, 1906, the first radio broadcast was made over what was then brand new technology. Reginald Fessenden was a Canadian-born inventor who did most of his work in the United States. He built a system of wireless transmission using amplitude modulation (AM).

During that first broadcast over radio, Fessden also played the Christian song, Adore and be Still by Gounod, and finished by a closing Scripture, Luke 2:14, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will.” Some accounts recall Handel’s song, Ombra mai fu, being played as well.

Radio is widely regarded as the single greatest and most influential medium in the history of the world, even more so than television and – believe it or not – even the Internet. Radio certainly deserves the award for longest lasting non-written medium. No other medium besides print – which is quickly dying before our eyes – has so largely impacted human civilization as has radio.

From AM to FM, short-wave to even pirate, various forms of radio communication has connected the world, combined continents, reached into fascist regimes, spread democracy and most importantly, spread the gospel. Walls and censors cannot stop it. Long distances cannot readily impede it. It is a form of communication that truly was, and continues to be, revolutionary.

Two millennia ago, the Son of God came into the world and was born in a stable and laid in a manger. Three astronomers pursued him from the East to welcome him (they made it late) and that night, but that night, the only welcome party to Christ were a few lowly shepherds who were tending their sheep by night.

The angels came to those lowly shepherds and and sang the words of Luke 2:14. Few heard it that night. It was a humbling way for the Christ child to enter the world.

However, the news of this baby’s birth would grow throughout the world, and continue to expand, well after that baby’s eventually death and resurrection.

How sweet is it, how surreal, that the first sound going out over the greatest form of broadcast media in world history, would be heralding the birth of this newborn king?

O holy night! the stars are brightly shining;
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope – the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees!
O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

112 Years Ago Today, “O Holy Night” First Song Broadcast Over Radio Waves — Pulpit & Pen

12/24/2018 — Wretched


•Pastor Mike Fabarez explains why you can celebrate this Christmas season
•Did Jesus celebrate man-made holidays?
•Why the biblical census is good news for you today
•Merry Christmas from REO Speedwagon
•Can I love sin and hate that I love sin?

Download Now (right click and save)

12/24/2018 — Wretched

At Christmas, Remember the Christ-Child was NOT an Illegal Immigrant — Pulpit & Pen

Jews have traditionally been called, “Olive Skinned.”

It is common, at Christmas time, for globalists to repeat the narrative that the Christ-child was an illegal refugee. The desire to end the nation-state would betray their hope for individual liberty and civil rights, as such things are not guaranteed in their international communitarian utopian hope. However, it’s our goal as polemicists to set-right their twisting of Scripture.

Was Jesus really an illegal alien and “refugee?”

Jesus and his family went on a midnight flight to Egypt, at the warning of an angel, because of Herod’s mass infanticide.

13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Matthew 2:13-15

However, Egypt was a part of the Roman empire. This was essentially like Jesus fleeing from Ohio to Indiana. No sovereign boundaries were crossed, and they certainly weren’t crossed illegally.

The Roman province of Egypt was established three decades before Christ’s birth after Octavian defeated Marc Antony and annexed the Ptolemaic Kingdom.

“Aegyptus,” labeled here, was Egypt.

Octavian, who brought Egypt into the empire, would become “Caesar Augustus,” the very same Caesar who issued a decree that the “whole world should be taxed” as recorded in Acts 2.

In other words, the same emperor over Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth and his region of Galilee was the same emperor over Egypt. Jesus fled the jurisdiction of Herod, but not Augustus. Again, this is more akin to the Duke boys leaving Hazzard county than Pedro jumping the Texas border. International boundaries of sovereign nation-states were simply not at play, and the comparison between illegal immigrants and the Christ-child are simply incongruous.

Historically, travel between Roman provinces was incredibly liberal. The frequent free travel between Roman provinces is made famous in the phrase, “All roads lead to Rome.” While the Romans would be horrendously harsh to the vandals or Barbarians seeking to invade from the outside, free travel from within the empire was the modus operandi.

Jesus was, however, a refugee of political persecution (Herod cared more about Jesus as King than Jesus as Lord) fleeing from genocide and infanticide. There is no doubting that Jesus left the Nazareth zipcode to flee Herod.

Regarding this fact, if we are to compare the Christ-child to pregnant border-jumpers from South or Central America, we should ask the question as to exactly what regime is wiping out a generation of infants. Is it Mexico? Honduras? Who’s murdering the babies out there?

If there is a nation out there butchering their infants (besides America, through Planned Parenthood), we should rightly warn them, then invade them, then depose them. That would be a far more humane option than allowing mobs of their young, single men to invade our borders and leave behind their sicker, weaker, elderly, or female companions in the kill-zone back home.

Of course, the only thing people are fleeing south of the American border is poverty and the occasional act of random violence, and we have plenty of that of our own. Violent crime rates in Chicago or other highly gun-controlled American cities are considerably worse than most of Mexico and almost identical to places like Mexico City. American cities like Los Angeles, New Orleans, Houston, Dallas, St. Louis, Buffalo, Baltimore, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia are considerably worse than the average Mexican zipcode. And immigrants from Mexico aren’t winding up in the rural countryside, but in major American cities – out of the frying pan and into the skillet. Again, the situation is not comparable to the Christ-child fleeing a regionalized Adolf Hitler.

Jesus’ parents weren’t pursuing a life in Egypt to collect foodstamps, government housing, and free medical care. They were escaping a first century Holocaust.

Jesus’ parents weren’t refugees in a foreign nation, but lawful visitors and legal residents of a different province in their empire.

Worship the one this Christmas who was born as a babe and laid in a manger, but don’t let him be used for the purpose of liberal propaganda.

At Christmas, Remember the Christ-Child was NOT an Illegal Immigrant — Pulpit & Pen

December 24 Christ’s Perfect Timing

When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son.

Galatians 4:4


The first Christmas was perfectly timed. Galatians 4:4–5 says, “When the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law.” What was “the fullness of the time”? God’s sovereign timing. He ordered world events so everything was ready for Christ’s coming and the subsequent outreach of the apostles.

Looking back at the early church, we are amazed at how quickly the gospel spread in less than a century. The sovereign hand of God is clearly evident. Christ’s advent could not have been timed more propitiously.[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 385). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

December 24, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

The Saints’ Guarantee

(Jude 24–25)

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (24–25)

All of the doctrines of salvation are absolutely essential and profoundly precious to the redeemed. But the doctrine of eternal security, more accurately known as the perseverance of the saints, stands out as the most marvelous of them all. The glory of the other aspects of salvation—such as justification, regeneration, conversion, and adoption—could not be fully appreciated if salvation were not forever. Without the assurance and confidence of eternal security, the Christian life would give way to doubt, worry, and fear as believers wondered if the other doctrines were permanent. And the thought of giving up everything to follow Christ would hardly seem worth the cost if all might be lost in the end (cf. Luke 9:23–25). Yet, because of the doctrine of eternal security, we as believers can rest assured that nothing can rob us of that saving faith that will ultimately produce an “eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17).

If it were up to us alone to maintain our salvation, we would surely lose it. As those who still struggle with sin (1 John 1:8–10; cf. Rom. 7:15–23; 1 Cor. 1:11; 5:1; 11:18; James 1:14–15; 4:1–3), we would repeatedly forfeit our righteous standing before God. Even the apostle Paul acknowledged his continuing battle against the flesh, exclaiming, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (Rom. 7:24). He recognized that he could neither gain nor maintain salvation through his own self-righteous efforts (Phil. 3:4–14).

Thankfully, true salvation is not based on our works as believers, but rather the work of Christ. It is His righteousness that covers those who trust in Him (Phil. 3:9; 2 Peter 1:1). We need not worry about keeping, or losing, our salvation because it is not based on our deeds. Instead, it is based on the unchanging person of Jesus Christ (cf. Heb. 13:8). The plan (Rom. 8:29–30), promise (Heb. 10:23), power (Rom. 1:16), and provision (2 Cor. 5:21) from God Himself guarantees our eternal destiny.

The doctrine of the perseverance of the saints (that true believers persevere in faith in the gospel to the end because the Father has granted them an unfailing faith) connects inseparably with the other doctrines of salvation. For instance, it is intimately tied to the doctrine of election (v. 1; Eph. 1:11; 1 Thess. 5:24; cf. 1 Peter 1:4–5)—God makes sure that those He chooses for eternal life will never lose it (John 10:28–29; 1 Cor. 1:8–9; Phil. 1:6). It is also eternally linked to the doctrine of justification (Rom. 5:1, 9; 8:30), by which Jesus Christ has fully paid sin’s penalty for believers (1 Peter 2:24; cf. 2 Cor. 5:21) so that there is no basis on which they can be condemned (Rom. 8:1, 33–35). And it connects inseparably to the doctrines of sanctification (2 Thess. 2:13) and glorification (Heb. 2:10)—the Holy Spirit seals believers and sanctifies them (2 Cor. 1:21–22; Eph. 1:13–14), thereby certifying that all will be brought to glory (cf. Heb. 10:14–15). If we—who by faith embrace the gospel—could lose our salvation, then each of these other doctrines would be severely undermined.

As he brings his letter to a close, Jude underscores God’s preserving work in salvation by means of a doxology, a word of praise to God. In so doing, Jude is in keeping with biblical precedent. Each of the five books of Psalms, for example, concludes with a doxology (41:13; 72:18–19; 89:52; 106:48; 150). The New Testament also records many other doxologies (e.g., Luke 2:13–14; 19:35–38; Rom. 11:36; 16:27; Eph. 1:3; 3:20–21; Phil. 4:20; 1 Peter 5:11; 2 Peter 3:18; Rev. 1:6), all of which focus on the glory and grace of God. They are always outbursts of praise for the greatness of salvation and the promised blessings of eternal life in heaven. For instance, Paul concluded his letter to the Romans with this doxology:

Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen. (16:25–27; cf. Gal. 1:3–5; 1 Tim. 1:17; 2 Tim. 4:18)

In contrast to his warnings regarding apostasy, Jude’s doxology brings comfort and encouragement, reminding believers of the faithfulness and power of God. It negates fear (cf. Ps. 27:1; Prov. 1:33; John 14:27), brings joy (cf. Isa. 35:10; Matt. 5:12a; Rom. 15:13), and stimulates hope for the future (cf. Rom. 12:12; Eph. 4:4; Titus 1:2; 1 Peter 1:3). And it does this by emphasizing two crucial things that the Lord will do for us His saints: preserve our salvation and present us blameless before His glorious throne.

The Lord Preserves the Saints

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, (24a)

Because God is perfectly faithful, supremely powerful, and infinitely loving, He will not allow His children to fall away from saving faith or defect from the gospel so as to be lost again in their sins. Not only is He willing to preserve believers (Rom. 8:28; Eph. 1:9–11; cf. John 17:20–23), He is also able to preserve them to the end.

During His earthly ministry, Jesus taught definitively that God sovereignly secures all who believe:

All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 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. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.… No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:37–40, 44; cf. 10:28–29; 1 Peter 1:3–5)

Scripture is filled with many other testimonies to God’s promise and power to preserve His people. In another New Testament doxology, Paul exulted to the Ephesians, “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen” (Eph. 3:20–21; cf. 2 Cor. 9:8). And the author of Hebrews, speaking of Jesus, echoes, “Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25; cf. 5:7).

Humanly speaking, the path to heaven has always been perilous (cf. Acts 14:22; 2 Cor. 6:4–10; 11:23–30; Heb. 11:32–40; Rev. 12:10–11), full of dangers from Satan and his apostate agents (Luke 22:31; Eph. 6:11–17; 1 Thess. 2:18; 3:5; 1 Peter 5:8–9; cf. Job 1:12–19; 2:6–7; Matt. 4:1–11). But, from God’s perspective, the path to heaven is absolutely safe, not because believers are able to preserve themselves, but because God is able to keep them.

To keep is the translation of a military word (phulassō) meaning “to guard,” or “to watch over.” God is at His post, standing guard over believers to ensure their safety (Ps. 12:7; Prov. 3:26; 1 Cor. 1:8–9) during any assault from the enemy (cf. 1 John 5:18). He is the One who keeps them from stumbling into apostasy. As Jesus the Good Shepherd told His listeners:

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. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (John 10:27–29)

The Lord Jesus again entrusted His followers into the hands of His Father in His High Priestly Prayer recorded in John 17 (cf. vv. 9, 11, 15). In verses 24 and 26 (nkjv), He prayed,

Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.… And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.

The Son’s infinite love for the Father ensures that He will keep those whom the Father has given Him. And vice versa, the Father’s infinite love for the Son makes certain that He will protect those whom He has given to the Son. Thus the believer is secured by both the Father and the Son.

Salvation is also guaranteed by the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul underscored this truth while writing to the Ephesians. After emphasizing the doctrine of election, that God chose His own solely on the basis of His good pleasure (1:3–12), Paul added:

In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. (vv. 13–14, nkjv)

In the same way that an ancient seal served as both a secure guarantee and a mark of ownership, the Holy Spirit is given to believers as divine proof of salvation. The work of the Spirit in the lives of His people confirms that they have truly been regenerated (Titus 3:3–8; cf. Gal. 5:21–22). As Paul noted elsewhere, “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom. 8:16). Having been adopted into God’s family, believers are assured by the indwelling Holy Spirit Himself that they will never be disowned.

In several places in his writings, the apostle Paul also emphasized that salvation is a gift based solely on God’s grace through Christ’s death. It is not based on human good works, but rather on God’s working alone. In Romans 5:8–11, Paul wrote:

But 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. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

Before God saved them, believers were the enemies of God (Eph. 2:1–3). There was nothing good in them that made them worthy of His love (cf. Rom. 3:10–19). Thus it was only by His infinite grace and according to His perfect plan (cf. Rom. 8:28–30) that salvation was ever even offered to them. Ephesians 2:8–9 reiterates this reality: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Salvation is truly a free gift from God. It could not possibly be earned by human works or self-righteousness (cf. Titus 3:1–8). By the same token, it cannot be kept by human effort. The eternal security of the believer rests upon the same infinite sacrifice that brought salvation in the first place—the death of Jesus Christ (cf. Heb. 7:27). Because Christians did nothing to earn salvation, they can do nothing to lose it; they were saved by the loving power of God, and they remain saved by that same power. With this in mind, Paul joyously exclaimed,

For 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)

Nothing, including personal acts of sin, can separate the true believer from his or her Savior.

Other passages in the New Testament also affirm this doctrine to be true:

You are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall also confirm you in the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Cor. 1:7–9)

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Eph. 4:30)

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. (Phil. 1:6)

May the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. (1 Thess. 5:23–24)

In light of the biblical evidence, one author asks,

Is it conceivable that in spite of all this, [Christians] may still fall away and be lost? Is it possible for God to predestine us to holiness, and yet we do not become holy? Can He adopt us as children and then disown us? Can He give us a guarantee of salvation and then renege on His promise? Is the human will so strong as to overcome divine power? Surely not! What more does God need to say to assure us that He will uphold us to the end? (David Clotfelter, Sinners in the Hands of a Good God [Chicago: Moody, 2004], 176)

Even the apostle Peter, who was continually prone to failure (such as denying Christ three times), never suggested that salvation could be lost. Instead, when he penned his first epistle, Peter recognized God’s power as that which preserved salvation:

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)

At the end of this same epistle, he returned to the theme of perseverance, writing, “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you” (5:10).

The magnitude of that promise is overwhelming. God Himself perfects, confirms, strengthens, and establishes us who are His children. Though His purposes for the future involve some pain in the present, He will nevertheless give us grace to endure and persevere in faith. Even while the enemy attacks us personally, God simultaneously perfects us. He Himself is doing it. He will accomplish His purposes in us, bringing us to wholeness, setting us on solid ground, making us strong, and establishing us on a firm foundation.

To be sure, the doctrine of eternal security does not mean that people can live in patterns of unrepentant sin and still be assured of heaven. Eternal security is not a license for sin (cf. Rom. 6:1). For that matter, we who truly believe would never view it as such—since we have been given a new nature (cf. 2 Peter 1:4) that loves to obey our Master (John 14:15). Those who make a profession of faith, but then fall away into lifestyles of sin, reveal that their profession was never really genuine (cf. 1 John 2:19). But for those of us whose faith is real, the security of salvation is a joyous certainty indeed.

The Lord Presents the Saints

and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (24b–25)

A hallmark of genuine saving faith is that it endures to the end (Matt. 24:13). To make you stand translates the verb histēmi, which more precisely in this context means “to set,” “to present,” “to confirm,” or “to establish.” At present, believers stand in grace (Rom. 5:1–4), but in the future they will also stand in glory (Col. 3:4; 1 Peter 5:10).

For fallen men to stand in the presence of God’s glory should produce sheer terror. Isaiah pronounced a curse on himself (Isa. 6:5). Ezekiel fell over like a dead person (Ezek. 1:28). Peter, James, and John experienced overwhelming fear on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:5–7; Luke 9:32–34). The apostle John fainted as one who was dead when he saw the vision of the risen and glorious Christ (Rev. 1:17). Having come face-to-face with God’s glorious presence, each of these men instantly felt the full weight of his sinfulness (cf. Luke 5:8). Each fell to the ground, overwhelmed by his own sense of unworthiness.

To stand in God’s glorious presence, believers must be blameless. Revelation 21:27 makes it clear that unrepentant sinners will not enter the glory of heaven: “Nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into [the heavenly Jerusalem], but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (cf. 22:14–15). Amōmos (blameless) means “faultless,” and it is used here to describe the sinless state that believers will one day enjoy. The New Testament also uses the term to refer to the purity of sacrifices (Heb. 9:14, “without blemish”; cf. 1 Peter 1:19). Although believers, as those of us to whom God has imputed Christ’s righteousness, are now positionally blameless (Rom. 4:6–8; 1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 5:21; Titus 3:7), we are still in our fleshly, sinful bodies. We are yet awaiting the resurrection, when we will receive our new glorified bodies (cf. John 5:25; 11:24–25; 1 Cor. 15:21–23, 42–44; 2 Cor. 5:1; Phil. 3:21). In heaven we will experience not only an absence of sin but also a presence of perfect holiness (1 Thess. 3:13; cf. Rev. 21:22–22:5). All our faculties will be emancipated from evil and fully devoted to the righteous worship of God forever and ever (cf. Rev. 4:6–11; 5:11–14; 19:6).

As saints in glory, we will know nothing of the fear and trauma that characterized being in God’s presence on earth (see the aforementioned examples). Instead we will experience great joy, which will characterize every aspect of our heavenly life (cf. Rev. 7:16–17). This joy refers primarily to the divine joy (cf. Luke 15:7, 10; Zeph. 3:17) of the Father and the Son over our fellowship with other believers—a joy in which the redeemed will share for all eternity. Thus all believers will dwell with God in perfect love and holy delight forever and ever.

There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it [the New Earth], and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever. (Rev. 22:3–5)

As he ended his epistle, Jude offered praise for the present salvation and future glorification of believers: to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Only God … through Jesus Christ can accomplish the work of a Savior. As a result, Jude reserved the highest praise for the Son. Glory summarizes all the divine attributes in their powerful radiance (cf. Ex. 33:22); majesty signifies the absolute reign of the Father (cf. Heb. 1:3; 8:1) and the Son (cf. 2 Peter 1:16); dominion refers to the extent of His might and active rule over all (cf. Ps. 66:7); and authority denotes Christ’s supreme right and privilege to do as He wills (cf. Acts 2:33–35; Phil. 2:9–11). This divine supremacy over everything in the universe encompasses all eternity (cf. Rev. 1:8): before all time (eternity past), now (the present age), and forever (eternity future).

Because He is all powerful, and because His glorious name is at stake, God’s promise to preserve us His saints and to one day present us blameless before His throne can be trusted without reservation. To doubt the reality of that promise is to doubt God Himself. But to embrace it is to find ceaseless joy and never-ending comfort. In the words of Charles Spurgeon:

When I heard it said that the Lord would keep His people right to the end,—that Christ had said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of My hand,” I must confess that the doctrine of the final preservation of the saints was a bait that my soul could not resist. I thought it was a sort of life insurance—an insurance of my character, an insurance of my soul, an insurance of my eternal destiny. I knew that I could not keep myself, but if Christ promised to keep me, then I should be safe for ever; and I longed and prayed to find Christ, because I knew that, if I found Him, He would not give me a temporary and trumpery salvation, such as some preach, but eternal life which could never be lost, the living and incorruptible seed which liveth and abideth for ever, for no one and nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (C. H. Spurgeon, from “Danger, Safety, Gratitude,” sermon no. 3,074, preached January 8,1874, The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit [reprint, Pasadena, Tex.: Pilgrim Publications, 1978], 54:24)[1]

Tribute to the One Who “Keeps” (24–25)


Having called forth past examples of divine judgment and exhorted the faithful to realize their part in being a disciplined community, Jude concludes by offering an exalted tribute to the One who preserves them. This is done in the form of a doxology, a “proclaiming of glory.” Several basic patterns of speech to God tend to emerge from the OT: petition, praise, and thanksgiving. Hymnic material that offers praise and glorification of God can assume the form of any of these. The origin of doxology is owing to a distinctly Jewish matrix. The early Christian doxology, in style and content, resembled that of the Jewish synagogue and was not infrequently accompanied by an eschatological deliverance call. Normally framed in the third person (as in Jude 24—to de dynamenōphylaxai …), the doxology functioned to proclaim God’s praise (“To him who is able …”) as well as to affirm his eternality (“before all ages, now and forevermore.”


24 The epistle concludes with a benediction praising God for his attributes that express themselves in his power to preserve the saints. This doxological benediction reiterates in the active voice what the author stated in his salutation through the passive voice: his readers are called, loved, and kept by God. The introduction and conclusion of the letter thus form a rhetorical inclusio by opening and closing with the same theme: the saints are kept by the power of God. The conclusion follows a series of eight exhortations to the faithful that are to serve as antidotes to apostasy in the light of the previous condemnations (so Marshall, 166). The saints are to remember, build themselves up, pray, keep themselves, anticipate, convince, save, and have mercy (vv. 17–23).

The rhetorical effect of the doxology, following the rather brief but rapid-fire hortatory section, is deliberate. After all has been humanly done to safeguard against the cancer of apostasy, it is the power of Almighty God our Savior mediated through Jesus Christ that is “able to keep you from falling.” Exploiting a prominent catchword in the epistle, the author uses a strengthened form of “preserve”—phylassō (GK 5875)—to describe divine action: God is able, literally, to “guard [safely] as a prison.” Moreover, he is able not only to safeguard the saints against falling but even cause them to stand “before [God’s] glorious presence without fault and with great joy.” In the end, then, it is not mere persistence or the great investment of human energy that is ultimately responsible for the saints’ salvation; rather, it is the saving and keeping power of God.

25 It is to this God our Savior alone that the following attributes are ascribed—glory, majesty, power, and authority. The cumulative force of these resources is the surpassing might of the one who called us (cf. v. 1). With precise calculation, Jude employs the language of sovereignty. The saints need not be shaken by the sobering instances of God’s judgment in history if, in fact, they have a genuine desire to be established in the faith.

Finally, praise is due this Almighty Savior “before all ages, now and forevermore.” Although throughout the epistle Jude draws on the language and imagery of Jewish apocalyptic familiar to intertestamental literature, in his concluding doxology he aligns himself with a decidedly OT prophetic view of history, i.e., the past, the present, and the future are all seen as working toward the consummation of the divine purpose.[2]

Doxology (Jude 24–25)

24 / Jude ends his letter with a great ascription of praise. Having bidden his readers “to keep (tērein) themselves in God’s love” (v. 21), Jude balances that thought with the assurance that for his part God is able to keep (phylassein) you from falling into the sins of the false teachers. It is a reminder that in facing temptation the believer must depend not on personal, inner strength but on the power of God. Jude’s two different Greek verbs, while synonyms (and both rightly translated “keep”), have a slightly different emphasis: tērein means “to have watchful care,” while phylassein is “to stand guard,” implying custody and protection. So the dual thought is that it is the believer’s duty to keep him or herself in God’s love by maintaining a steady gaze upon God; it is God’s responsibility to do the active protecting from evil attack, however open or insidious that onslaught may be.

God is able to keep believers from falling. The Greek is more exactly translated “without stumbling.” It does not necessarily imply falling flat on one’s face. God can keep us from lesser as well as greater temptations. The grace of divine strength and ability is available for those who will draw upon it (1 Cor. 10:13).

On a more positive note, God can make us, frail and liable to sin as we are, fit to stand in his glorious presence without fault, amōmos. The Greek word is a sacrificial term and applied in the ot to perfect animals suitable to be offered on the altar to God (Exod. 29:38; Lev. 1:3; 3:1). God can do still more. He can bring us into his presence, not with the fear and shame that would be appropriate to our characters, but with great joy, his great joy as well as ours. God’s supreme object is to make the church of believers fit to be presented to himself (Eph. 5:27) as a sacrificial offering, “through” the actual perfect sacrifice of “Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Pet. 1:19). The same thought is in Eph. 1:4; Col. 1:22; 1 Thess. 3:13.

25 / He is our only God. The expression reflects Israel’s creed “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deut. 6:4). While the further descriptive term our Savior is one that the nt more usually applies to Jesus Christ, Jude is not alone in speaking of God as Savior (see Luke 1:47; 1 Tim. 1:1; 2:3; 4:10; Titus 1:3; 2:10; 3:4). What follows is not a prayer (which would make nonsense of before all ages) but a declaration of praise: be [not in the Greek] glory, majesty, power, and authority. The four terms describe God’s attributes. Glory is the essential radiance of divine light; the word for power means dominion, the absolute control God has over his world, which ensures his ultimate triumph over all opposition from whatever source; transcendent majesty is applied only to the Father (Heb. 1:3; 8:1); authority expresses his sovereign ability to do all that is necessary to met human needs (delegated to the risen Christ, Matt. 28:18).

The expression before all ages, now, and forevermore is the best words can do to cover the past, the present, and the future (cf. Heb. 13:8), and thus it further emphasizes God’s total and complete charge of all. The final Amen is the Hebrew affirmation “So be it!” and it has from the earliest days of the church regularly concluded prayers and doxologies.[3]

Contending for the faith: the salvation we share

Jude 24–25

The closing words of Jude’s letter are probably the best known. Many people who say and sing this ‘magnificent doxology’ do so without having travelled the route we have travelled, through Jude’s concern for his church. It does make sense as a glorious song in its own right, but put into the context of Jude’s argument2 it leaps into more dramatic life. Jude is closing his letter as he began, with a prayer (cf. verses 1–2), and he is still dwelling on the same thoughts. We saw that the statements and concerns there (that we are ‘called’, ‘loved’ and ‘kept’, and that we might know ‘mercy’, ‘peace’ and ‘love’) point us to our future hope. In this closing section, we see how God leads us to that hope; he is able to keep us from falling and to present us before his glorious presence. Jude’s letter was intended to prepare us for a long road, and now we look to our journey’s end as we prepare to meet our Saviour.

  1. He is able to keep you from falling (24a)

Jude says that God is able. He is thus introducing two parallel actions of God—one negative (he is able to keep you from something) and one positive (he is able … to present you to someone). The little word able slightly plays down the magnificent power Jude attributes to God in this verse. God is exercising great power on our behalf.

As marathons become more popular, we are getting used to seeing amateur fun-runners cross the line exhausted and hurting, but exhilarated at having covered so much distance without falling by the way. Having seen what Jude has taught about the dangers that surround even the most ordinary Christian, it is a massive reassurance to discover that God is able to keep us from falling. Jude has written about the Israelites dying in the desert, angels losing their positions of authority and the cities of the plain being swept from their beautiful setting. All these ‘serve as an example’ to us (verse 7). We have seen Cain, Balaam and Korah abusing their privileged knowledge about God, and Jude’s opponents ‘have been destroyed’ already in the aftermath of that rebellion (verse 11). Such people in our churches inevitably influence us, and we wonder if we will ever manage to reach the finishing-tape in a race where so many seem to fall along the way. Marathon runners who fall suffer physical injury, but we, if we fall, lose the very prize of salvation.

Jude’s reassurance is that God will ‘guard you so that you are exempt from stumbling and never trip or make a false step.’ We will never fall over our own feet, nor will someone else be able to wrong-foot us. He has urged us to take pains to ‘keep’ ourselves ‘in God’s love’ (verse 21), and now he gives us God’s promise to match that obedience: he will keep us from falling. As Jude’s readers face the challenge of living with the constant pressure to stumble coming even from within the church and among the church’s leaders, what a great relief to know that night or day ‘He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep’!6

  1. He is able to present you before his presence (24b)

In the Christian marathon, everyone who crosses the line is a winner. The prize is that God brings us before his glorious presence. This slightly odd phrase is probably a respectful way for a Jewish writer to talk about the glorious God himself in his ‘moral splendour’.9 This is the final judgment scene, where God’s glory is displayed in all its aweful purity: ‘the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ’. The prophet Malachi had imagined that heavenly courtroom scene and asked, ‘Who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears?’11 The correct answer is that no-one is able to stand on the basis of the lives we have lived. Yet Jude has seen that a wonderful transformation will have occurred, enabling Christians to face that holiness without flinching.

Jude says that God will be able to present us before his presence without fault. That is a most amazing statement. In the tabernacle and temple worship, anything that was presented to God had to be without fault: the bulls, rams, lambs, and all the other offerings had to be perfect. In one comprehensive command, God told Moses: ‘When any of you brings an offering to the Lord, bring as your offering an animal from either the herd or the flock. If the offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he is to offer a male without defect.’ The Israelites had to learn that not only their sacrificial animals had to be faultless; so did they. David saw this with great clarity. ‘Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous.’ Taken to its logical limit, that would mean that no-one could dwell in the presence of the holy God. That was one of the hard lessons that Israel had to learn from the exile in Babylon.15 No-one could produce ‘the integrity and moral purity which is what [God] really demands from his worshippers’.

Jesus Christ’s death changes that, for he died a sacrificial death as ‘a lamb without blemish or defect’. The writer to the Hebrews grasped the magnificent difference which that makes. ‘The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!’18 It is not surprising, then, that New Testament writers such as Jude use Old Testament sacrificial words to describe the ultimate purity of Christians, for they will share the wonderful purity of Christ.

Jude’s ‘dear friends’ (verses 3, 17, 20) belonged to a church which had prominent members who were ‘blemishes’ (12) and whose sins were like clothing ‘stained by corrupted flesh’ (23). Perhaps they felt contaminated by being near such people, and worried that some guilt might rub off. Jude holds out to all of them the amazing words that were said to Joshua the high priest, ‘See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you.’ That scene will surely be characterized by wonderful, exuberant, great joy on the part of ourselves, the angels22 and even Jesus Christ himself.

  1. Hallelujah! What a Saviour! (25)

Jude begins to close his letter by bringing together exhilarating words of praise which overflow into one another, and which he probably does not intend us to disentangle too analytically. He wants us to respond with praise to a God whose magnificent dominion is unchallengeable for ever. It cannot be challenged because he has glory, majesty, power and authority. Glory (doxa) is the public, visible and acclaimed presence of God, the glory of Sinai, in the tabernacle and the temple, which left at the time of the exile. It was again seen on earth only in the face of the Lord Jesus, where the apostles had ‘seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth’. We will see it only when he brings us before his glorious presence for ever. His majesty is his ‘awful transcendence’, his eternal right to rule. His power underlines his unique claim to his throne (the word it translates, kratos, is only ever used of God himself and his work), and he acts in that power when he uses his authority.

Jude’s timescale is breathtaking too, for he spins us back before the creation of our universe and says that God had this unimaginable power before all ages; despite the apparent godlessness of our world, he has it now, and nothing will ever replace him for evermore.

Jude seems to be echoing the delighted praise of David:

Praise be to you, O Lord,

God of our father Israel,

from everlasting to everlasting.

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power

and the glory and the majesty and the splendour,

for everything in heaven and earth is yours.

Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom;

you are exalted as head over all.

Wealth and honour come from you;

you are the ruler of all things.

In your hands are strength and power

to exalt and give strength to all.

Now, our God, we give you thanks,

and praise your glorious name.

There is, however, a new element in Jude’s praise which David could barely see in the distance. All the praise and acknowledgment are offered to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. This elevates Jesus to the highest place, for ‘words could hardly express more clearly Jude’s belief in the pre-existence and eternity of Christ’.

This wonderful heaping up of praise is due to God for one great reason, the reason that has shone through Jude’s letter from start to finish, and the only beam of bright light that can offer any glimmer of hope to those who live in a world with a grim present and an even grimmer future under God’s judgment. The reason is that he is the only God our Saviour. He is the only God there is, which rules out the delusions that Jude’s opponents were spreading. In addition, he acts towards us as Saviour. It is such a small word, and has been so abused and trivialized in much Christian thinking and praise. But when the mighty day of God comes, more terrible than we can imagine—when we see for the first time who it is we rebel against; how perfect his standards are; how ghastly our sin is; how seriously he meant all the Old Testament warnings of judgment on the grumbling Israelites, the mutinous angels, and Sodom and Gomorrah—then we shall see with fear and wonder what a mighty work the cross of Christ was, and is, and shall be for ever. The fact that God himself has acted on our behalf to rescue us from a judgment which we so thoroughly deserve means that the heavens will echo for ever with our shout of praise: Amen.[4]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2005). 2 Peter and Jude (pp. 205–213). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] Charles, D. J. (2006). Jude. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, pp. 568–569). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Hillyer, N. (2011). 1 and 2 Peter, Jude (pp. 267–268). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Lucas, R. C., & Green, C. (1995). The message of 2 Peter & Jude: the promise of His coming (pp. 230–234). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Nasdaq breaks 9-year support, new bear trend starting? — Kimble Charting Solutions

Tech is doing something this month that it hasn’t done in 9-years, which could be sending an important message to the broad markets. This chart from Investors.com and Marketsmith looks at the Nasdaq 100 ETF (QQQ) on a monthly basis since inception. We applied Fibonacci levels to the 2000 highs and 2003 lows, which highlights…

via Nasdaq breaks 9-year support, new bear trend starting? — Kimble Charting Solutions

Did the early church invent the divinity of Jesus over a long period of time?


The Christian doctrine of the Trinity The Christian doctrine of the Trinity

How early is the doctrine of the divinity of Jesus?

When I answer this question, I only want to use the earliest, most reliable sources – so I can defend them on historical grounds using the standard rules of historiography.

The 4 sources that I would use are as follows:

  • The early creed in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, and 1 Corinthians 1
  • A passage in Philippians 2
  • Two passages from Mark, the earliest gospel
  • A passage from Q, which is an early source of Matthew and Luke

So let’s see the passages.

1 Corinthians

I’ve written before about the early creed in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, which skeptical scholars date to 1-3 years after the death of Jesus, for a variety of reasons I covered in the previous post. Here’s the creed which definitely makes Jesus out to be more than an ordinary man. Ordinary…

View original post 1,330 more words

44 Warhawk Democrats Voted to Approve $675 Billion for US War Machine — Only One Voted to Secure US Border – Think About That! — The Gateway Pundit


On August 23, 2018, The US Senate voted for a $675 billion appropriations bill to fund the unlimited war projects.

The warhawk Democrats carried the majority.

The vote was 85-7 led by Democrat Senators.

44 Democrats voted for the bill.
41 Republicans voted for the bill.
0 Democrats voted against the bill.
6 Republicans voted against the bill.
1 Socialist Bernie Sanders voted against the bill.
3 Democrats did not vote.
5 Republicans did not vote.

These SAME DEMOCRATS voted 47-1 on Friday to block funding of border security in the latest spending bill.

These same Democrats attacked President Trump for withdrawing US troops from Syria — after their mission was accomplished.

It appears we have a new party of warmongers!

44 Warhawk Democrats Voted to Approve $675 Billion for US War Machine — Only One Voted to Secure US Border – Think About That! — The Gateway Pundit

December 24 A Call to Worship

“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”

Philippians 2:10–11


All rational beings will acknowledge Christ as Lord.

Philippians 2:10–11 affirms that the whole intelligent universe is called to worship Christ. They are specified as those “in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth” (v. 10). “Those who are in heaven” consist of two groups: God’s holy angels and the spirits of the redeemed believers (who await the resurrection of their bodies). Those who are in Heaven already acknowledge that Jesus is Lord. Throughout their time in Heaven they’ve been worshiping the Lord of glory.

Those … on earth” (v. 10) also consist of two groups: the obedient and the disobedient. The obedient refers to us. By God’s grace, we have submitted to Christ as Lord and Savior (cf. Rom. 10:9). The disobedient will also bow before Jesus Christ—by compulsion (cf. 2 Thess. 1:7–9). When Jesus returns to subdue the earth, He will remove the wicked from the earth, cast them into Hell, and establish His kingdom.

Under the earth” (Phil. 2:10) refers to Hell, the place of eternal punishment, which is occupied by all the damned—both demons and unsaved people. They will also acknowledge the lordship of Christ—not by enjoying His reign, but by bearing the unending expression of His wrath.

Jesus Christ is Lord of the universe. Therefore, “every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (v. 11). To confess means “to acknowledge,” “affirm,” or “agree.” By “every tongue” Paul didn’t mean every physical tongue in every mouth but every language. Another way to express the idea is to say that all rational beings will acknowledge His lordship.

History is moving toward the day when Jesus will be acknowledged by all as the supreme ruler of the universe. He already sits in that seat of power but has not yet brought the universe fully under His authority. We live in days of grace, during which He brings men and women to acknowledge Him as Lord willingly rather than by force. Rejoice that He still provides that opportunity.


Suggestions for Prayer: Pray for lost relatives and friends to submit to Christ willingly.

For Further Study: In Psalm 2:12, what warning does the Lord give?[1]

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

Christmas Eve Verse of The Day — For to Us a Child Is Born (Isaiah 9:6-7)

6  For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7  Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Is 9:6–7). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

6–7 The introductory conjunction “for” is important here. All these wonderful events must have an adequate cause. The word “child” is in a position of emphasis. The first person plural “us” suggests a link with 7:14 (see mg. there), and the reader is probably meant to see the connection, for as far as the reader is concerned, Isaiah is acting as a teacher. Just as his theme of the Branch of the Lord (see comment on 4:2) becomes more and more explicitly messianic, so it is with the motif of the child. If the child of 7:14–16 (see extended comment there) typifies the ultimate divine Christ, the child of these verses is that Christ.

It is true that monarchs of the Near East often received exaggerated adulation from their subjects, especially at their enthronement and at subsequent kingdom renewal ceremonies. This is not Mesopotamia, however, but Judah, and Hebrew prophecy was founded on truth, not on flattery. The OT prophets did not hesitate to speak stern words of judgment to their political overlords (cf., e.g., 1 Sa 12:7–12; 1 Ki 21:20–24). To speak to monarchs words that could not be taken at their face value was hardly consistent with their calling.

The passage does not necessarily imply that the child is to be a boy-king. In fact, Isaiah may not have regarded that as a blessing (cf. 3:4, 12). The context says much about children, so the child is spoken of in terms of his birth. The tenderness of the child also suggests a comparison with the defeat of Midian’s army by Gideon’s small band of men (Jdg 6–7), a comparison reinforced by the dual reference to the shoulder (cf. v. 4).

It seems likely that the prophet intends us to understand that the child has four names, not five (cf. v. 6, text and mg.). The first two suggest divine wisdom and power (cf. 11:2; 1 Co 1:24), for the word translated “wonderful” has overtones of deity and the phrase “Mighty God” must be given its “plain meaning” (Widyapranawa, in loc.) because of its unambiguous application to Israel’s Lord in 10:21. Incidentally, as Murray Harris (Jesus as God: The New Testament Use of Theos in Reference to Jesus [Grand Rapids: Baker 1992], 257, n. 7) points out, this could affect our understanding of 7:14, making “God with us” the most likely translation of Immanuel: “If Isaiah 7:1–9:7 is considered a closely integrated unit containing the prophetic message to Judah … Isaiah 7:14 could be interpreted in the light of 9:6.”

The last two names set forth the ends this child accomplishes by the exercise of these attributes—his fatherly care of his people and the bringing of peace with all of its attendant blessings. In context this quartet of names comes to its climax with “Prince of Peace,” as a glance at vv. 4–5 makes clear. Its implications are spelled out in v. 7.

P. D. Wegner, 140–215, deals at some length with the interpretation of the names within the context of his study of the passage as a whole, and he concludes that the names describe Yahweh rather than the child and that they are designed, like Isaiah’s own name (“Yahweh is salvation”) to point beyond the child to God. But the possession of four (or five) names of this type by one child is unique in the Old Testament. Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz is only a partial parallel, for none of the four elements of the name is a designation of God. These names, therefore, suggest the uniqueness of the person who bears them.

It is important to note that although the first three names can certainly designate God himself, this is hardly true of the last of them. In fact, as Wegner notes, the noun translated “prince” is always used of human leaders (1 Sa 2:8; 1 Ki 1:19; Jer 26:11). If this name applies to the king, then surely the other three also must, so that the four names taken together point to one who is both fully divine and truly human. The New Testament surely tells us who he is!

The word “increase” combined with the phrase “his [i.e., David’s] kingdom” suggest that the prophecy has in view much more than a particularly great king of Judah (cf. 1 Sa 7:12–16). David’s kingdom went well beyond this; its boundary extended far beyond the traditional “Dan to Beersheba” limits of Canaan proper (1 Sa 8). The language of this verse—with its picture of peace with righteousness—is reminiscent of a pre-Davidic ruler of Jerusalem: Melchizedek (Ge 14:18; cf. Heb 7:2). The harmonious linking of peace and righteousness occurs again, with more detailed exposition, in Isaiah 11:1–9.

Since the beginning of ch. 7, the prophet has made amazing disclosures in the name of the Lord. These come to a great climax here. The reader is likely to echo the wondering awe of the mother of this child and cry out, “How will this be?” (Lk 1:34). The prophet anticipated such a question in the closing sentence of this oracle. In fact, both the advent of the Messiah and the blessing of his people, the remnant of Israel, are guaranteed by “the zeal of the Lord Almighty” (cf. 37:32).[1]

9:6–7. The joys described in vv. 1–5 are grounded in the birth of a child within the Davidic line. The child’s birth will bring deliverance, and the titles bestowed upon him are impressive. The first given is that of Wonderful Counselor. The word Wonderful (extraordinary to the point of being miraculous) is not meant in the colloquial usage of contemporary society. Rather it refers to the supernatural work of God. A good example is its usage in Jdg 13:15–21, wherein the angel of the Lord does a “wonderful” thing (v. 18) and ascends to heaven in the flame of Manoah’s sacrifice (v. 20).

The title of Counselor does not carry the same sense as the modern English word, which is often associated with a therapist or social worker. Instead, the word means “one who advises, who serves as a consultant to help and lead others.” The title here must be construed as denoting this child’s capacity to guide the people of the nation, particularly with reference to military endeavors. Though the child’s guidance of the nation would not be limited to warfare, it does suggest that his skill in making decisions for the nation exhibits a divine or miraculous character that would not be possible through simply human devices (Smith, Isaiah 1–39, 240). The word “wonderful” stands in epexegetical construct to “counselor,” and could be translated “a wonder of a counselor” or “a wonder-counselor.”

The second title, Mighty God, is repeated in Is 10:21 and applied to God Himself. Although the Hebrew word for Mighty can refer to a valiant warrior, this close usage to 10:21 seems to indicate a reference to deity. The word means “valiant military hero” or “champion.” Similar phrases are also used in Dt 10:17 and Jr 32:18 with reference to God. Oswalt notes, “This king will have God’s true might about him,” being so powerful so as to be able to absorb all evil and defeat it (Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah, Chapters 1–39, 247).

The child is also called Eternal Father. Filial relationships, such as father and son, were emphasized in the ancient Near East. The king was generally the son in such relationships and the deity the father (John H. Walton, et al., IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament [Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2000], 518). Kings, however, also claimed to be the “father” of those they ruled (Oswalt, Isaiah 1–39, 247). The notion of a human king as father of his people is not foreign to the OT. Note, for instance, 1Sm 24:12 in which David calls Saul his father. But this one is not merely the royal father of His people. The adjective Eternal speaks to the idea of one who is forever or eternal. He is the “Father of eternity,” indicating that He is the author or creator of time. The child born here is not to be confused with the Father in the triune Godhead. Rather, the Son of God is the creator of time, the author of eternity.

The final title given to the child is Prince of Peace. This child will have a reign characterized by peace. There will be no more war under this king. Instead, the child will usher in an era of rest from conflict that is noted in 2Sm 7:10–11.

Some have suggested that these titles are merely a theophoric name, a name that embeds God’s name in a human name. Hence, “Isaiah” (“The Lord saves”) is theophoric, but does not indicate that Isaiah is deity. If this is so here, then the child is not necessarily deity, but rather a royal human figure with a long name, similar to Maher-shalal-hash-baz (“Swift is the booty, fast is the prey,” Is 8:1), containing names of deity. They translate this as “A wonderful counselor is the Mighty God, the eternal Father is the Prince of Peace.”

This explanation is unlikely for three reasons. (1) The name in 8:3 is dependent on 8:1 and is not parallel syntactically to 9:6. All the words in 9:6 are substantives that do not have subjects and predicates. (2) Titles such as this one frequently reflect the nature of the person (cf. 2Sm 12:24–25; Is 1:26; Hs 1:10). (3) Frequently, the verb “call” with a name indicates the nature of the one named, either by a play on words (cf. Gn 5:29) or direct meaning (cf. Is 1:26). Hence, this usage in v. 6 indicates that the names are related to the nature of the child born. Robert Reymond is correct in stating that there is no reason, “except dogmatic prejudice,” to prohibit the conclusion that Isaiah meant nothing other than unabridged deity here (Robert L. Reymond, Jesus, Divine Messiah: The OT Witness [Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications. 1990], 51).

The child will fulfill the promise of the Davidic covenant (cf. 2Sm 7:12–16), and establish the messianic kingdom through justice and righteousness. This kingdom will not be the outworking of a king with human wisdom and power. The child will rule with the wisdom, power, and peace of God. The final statement in v. 7 notes that the Lord will accomplish all that has been described. Isaiah again underscores that trust in the Lord is the key to receiving the promised blessing.[2]

6. For unto us a child is born. Isaiah now argues from the design, to show why this deliverance ought to be preferred to the rest of God’s benefits, namely, because not only will God bring back the people from captivity, but he will place Christ on his royal throne, that under him supreme and everlasting happiness may be enjoyed. Thus he affirms that the kindness of God will not be temporary, for it includes the whole of that intermediate period during which the Church was preserved till the coming of Christ. Nor is it wonderful if the Prophet makes a sudden transition from the return of the ancient people to the full restoration of the Church, which took place many centuries afterwards; for in our observations on chapter 7:14, we have remarked, that there being no other way that God is reconciled to us than through the Mediator, all the promises are founded on him; and that on this account it is customary with the Prophets, whenever they wish to encourage the hearts of believers by good hope, to bring this forward as a pledge or earnest. To this must be added, that the return from the captivity in Babylon was the commencement of the renovation of the Church, which was completed when Christ appeared; and consequently there is no absurdity in an uninterrupted succession. Justly, therefore, does Isaiah teach that they ought not to confine their attention to the present benefit, but should consider the end, and refer everything to it. “This is your highest happiness, that you have been rescued from death, not only that you may live in the land of Canaan, but that you may arrive at the kingdom of God.”

Hence we learn that we ought not to swallow up the benefits which we receive from God, so as instantly to forget them, but should raise our minds to Christ, otherwise the advantage will be small, and the joy will be transitory; because they will not lead us to taste the sweetness of a Father’s love, unless we keep in remembrance the free election of God, which is ratified in Christ. In short, the Prophet does not wish that this people should be wholly occupied with the joy occasioned by the outward and short-lived freedom which they had obtained, but that they should look at the end, that is, at the preservation of the Church, till Christ, the only Redeemer, should appear; for he ought to be the ground and perfection of all our joy.

A child is born. The Jews impudently torture this passage, for they interpret it as relating to Hezekiah, though he had been born before this prediction was uttered. But he speaks of it as something new and unexpected; and it is even a promise, intended to arouse believers to the expectation of a future event; and therefore there can be no hesitation in concluding that he describes a child that was afterwards to be born.

He is called the Son of God. Although in the Hebrew language the word son, I admit, has a wide acceptation, yet that is when something is added to it. Every man is the son of his father: those who are a hundred years old are called (Is. 65:20) the sons of a hundred years; wicked men are called the sons of wickedness; those who are blessed are called the sons of blessing; and Isaiah called a fruitful hill the son of fatness. (Is. 5:1.) But son, without any addition, can mean none else than the Son of God; and it is now ascribed to Christ, by way of eminence, (κατʼ ἐξοχὴν,) in order to inform us, that by this striking mark he is distinguished from the rest of mankind. Nor can it be doubted that Isaiah referred to that well-known prediction, which was in the mouth of every person, I will be his Father, and he shall be my Son, (2 Sam. 7:14,) as it is afterwards repeated, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. (Ps. 2:7.) Had it not been commonly and generally known that the Messiah would be the Son of God, it would have been foolish and unmeaning for Isaiah simply to call him the Son. Accordingly, this title is derived from the former prediction, from which the Apostle reasons, that the excellence of Christ exalts him above all the angels. (Heb. 1:5.)

Now, though in the person of a child Christ might have a mean appearance, still the designation of Son points out his high rank. Yet I do not deny that he might have been called the Son of David, but it is more natural to apply it to him as God. The titles which follow are still less applicable to Hezekiah. I shall soon give an ample refutation of the sophistry by which the Jews attempt to evade this passage. Let them slander as they may, the matter is sufficient plain to all who will calmly and soberly examine it.

A Son hath been given to us. There is weight in what he now adds, that this Son was given to the people, in order to inform the Jews that their salvation and that of the whole Church is contained in the person of Christ. And this giving is one of the chief articles of our faith; for it would have been of little avail to us, that Christ was born, if he had not likewise been our own. What this child will be, and what is his rank, he declares in the following statements.

And the government hath been laid upon his shoulder. To suppose, as some do, that this is an allusion to the cross of Christ is manifestly childish. Christ carried the cross on his shoulders, (John 19:17,) and by the cross he gained a splendid triumph over the prince of this world. (John 14:30.) But as the government is here said to have been laid on his shoulders in the same sense in which we shall see that the key of the house of David was laid on the shoulders of Eliakim, (Is. 22:22,) we need not go far to seek ingenious expositions. Yet I agree with those who think that there is an indirect contrast between the government which the Redeemer bore on his shoulders and the staff of the shoulder which was just now mentioned; for it agrees well, and is not liable to any objections. He therefore shows that the Messiah will be different from indolent kings, who leave off business and cares, and live at their ease; for he will be able to bear the burden. Thus he asserts the superiority and grandeur of his government, because by his own power Christ will obtain homage to himself, and he will discharge his office, not only with the tips of his fingers, but with his full strength.

And his name shall be called. Though יקרא, (yĭkrā,) he shall call, be an active verb, I have not hesitated to translate it in a passive sense; for the meaning is the same as if he had made use of the plural number, they shall call. We have a French idiom that resembles it, on appellera, literally, one shall call, that is, he shall be called. The Jews apply it to God, and read it continously, he shall call his name Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. But it is very evident that this proceeds from a desire, or rather from a licentious eagerness, to obscure the glory of Christ; for if they had not laboured with excessive keenness to rob him of his Godhead, the passage would run on very smoothly as interpreted by our divines. Besides, what necessity was there for ascribing to God those attributes, if the Prophet meant nothing more than that God gave a name to Messiah? For the attributes which are usually ascribed to God are either perpetual or accommodated to the case in hand, neither of which suppositions can here be admitted. Again, it would have been an interruption of the regular order to insert the name of God in the midst of various titles, but it ought to have run thus, the mighty God, Wonderful, Counsellor, shall call. Now, I do not see how the name יועצ (yōgnētz) can be applied absolutely to God, for it belongs to counsellors who attend kings or other persons. If any obstinate wrangler shall contend for the notion of the Rabbins, he will show nothing but his own impudence. Let us follow the plain and natural meaning.

Wonderful. It ought to be observed that those titles are not foreign to the subject, but are adapted to the case in hand, for the Prophet describes what Christ will show himself to be towards believers. He does not speak of Christ’s mysterious essence, but applauds his excellencies, which we perceive and experience by faith. This ought to be the more carefully considered, because the greater part of men are satisfied with his mere name, and do not observe his power and energy, though that ought to be chiefly regarded.

By the first title he arouses the minds of the godly to earnest attention, that they may expect from Christ something more excellent than what we see in the ordinary course of God’s works, as if he had said, that in Christ are hidden the invaluable treasures of wonderful things. (Col. 2:3.) And, indeed, the redemption which he has brought surpasses even the creation of the world. It amounts to this, that the grace of God, which will be exhibited in Christ, exceeds all miracles.

Counsellor. The reason of this second title is, that the Redeemer will come endowed with absolute wisdom. Now, let us remember what I have just noticed, that the Prophet does not here reason about the hidden essence of Christ, but about the power which he displays towards us. It is not, therefore, because he knows all his Father’s secrets that the Prophet calls him Counsellor, but rather because, proceeding from the bosom of the Father, (John 1:18,) he is in every respect the highest and most perfect teacher. In like manner we are not permitted to get wisdom but from his Gospel, and this contributes also to the praise of the Gospel, for it contains the perfect wisdom of God, as Paul frequently shows. (1 Cor. 1:24, 30; Eph. 1:17; Col. 1:9.) All that is necessary for salvation is opened up by Christ in such a manner, and explained with such familiarity, that he addresses the disciples no longer as servants but as friends. (John 15:14, 15.)

The mighty God. אל (El) is one of the names of God, though derived from strength, so that it is sometimes added as an attribute. But here it is evidently a proper name, because Isaiah is not satisfied with it, and in addition to it employs the adjective גבור, (gibbōr,) which means strong. And indeed if Christ had not been God, it would have been unlawful to glory in him; for it is written, Cursed be he that trusteth in man. (Jer. 17:5.) We must, therefore, meet with the majesty of God in him, so that there truly dwells in him that which cannot without sacrilege be attributed to a creature.

He is, therefore, called the mighty God, for the same reason that he was formerly called Immanuel. (Isa. 7:14.) For if we find in Christ nothing but the flesh and nature of man, our glorying will be foolish and vain, and our hope will rest on an uncertain and insecure foundation; but if he shows himself to be to us God and the mighty God, we may now rely on him with safety. With good reason does he call him strong or mighty, because our contest is with the devil, death, and sin, (Eph. 6:12,) enemies too powerful and strong, by whom we would be immediately vanquished, if the strength of Christ had not rendered us invincible. Thus we learn from this title that there is in Christ abundance of protection for defending our salvation, so that we desire nothing beyond him; for he is God, who is pleased to show himself strong on our behalf. This application may be regarded as the key to this and similar passages, leading us to distinguish between Christ’s mysterious essence and the power by which he hath revealed himself to us.

The father of the age. The Greek translator has added μέλλοντος, future; and, in my opinion, the translation is correct, for it denotes eternity, unless it be thought better to view it as denoting “perpetual duration,” or “an endless succession of ages,” lest any one should improperly limit it to the heavenly life, which is still hidden from us. (Col. 3:3) True, the Prophet includes it, and even declares that Christ will come, in order to bestow immortality on his people; but as believers, even in this world, pass from death to life, (John 5:24; 1 John 3:14,) this world is embraced by the eternal condition of the Church.

The name Father is put for Author, because Christ preserves the existence of his Church through all ages, and bestows immortality on the body and on the individual members. Hence we conclude how transitory our condition is, apart from him; for, granting that we were to live for a very long period after the ordinary manner of men, what after all will be the value of our long life? We ought, therefore, to elevate our minds to that blessed and everlasting life, which as yet we see not, but which we possess by hope and faith. (Rom. 8:25)

The Prince of Peace. This is the last title, and the Prophet declares by it that the coming of Christ will be the cause of full and perfect happiness, or, at least, of calm and blessed safety. In the Hebrew language peace often signifies prosperity, for of all blessings not one is better or more desirable than peace. The general meaning is, that all who submit to the dominion of Christ will lead a quiet and blessed life in obedience to him. Hence it follows that life, without this King, is restless and miserable.

But we must also take into consideration the nature of this peace. It is the same with that of the kingdom, for it resides chiefly in the consciences; otherwise we must be engaged in incessant conflicts and liable to daily attacks. Not only, therefore, does he promise outward peace, but that peace by which we return to a state of favour with God, who were formerly at enmity with him. Justified by faith, says Paul, we have peace with God. (Rom. 5:1) Now, when Christ shall have brought composure to our minds, the same spiritual peace will hold the highest place in our hearts, (Philip. 4:7; Col. 3:15,) so that we will patiently endure every kind of adversity, and from the same fountain will likewise flow outward prosperity, which is nothing else than the effect of the blessing of God.

Now, to apply this for our own instruction, whenever any distrust arises, and all means of escape are taken away from us, whenever, in short, it appears to us that everything is in a ruinous condition, let us recall to our remembrance that Christ is called Wonderful, because he has inconceivable methods of assisting us, and because his power is far beyond what we are able to conceive. When we need counsel, let us remember that he is the Counsellor. When we need strength, let us remember that he is Mighty and Strong. When new terrors spring up suddenly every instant, and when many deaths threaten us from various quarters, let us rely on that eternity of which he is with good reason called the Father, and by the same comfort let us learn to soothe all temporal distresses. When we are inwardly tossed by various tempests, and when Satan attempts to disturb our consciences, let us remember that Christ is The Prince of Peace, and that it is easy for him quickly to allay all our uneasy feelings. Thus will these titles confirm us more and more in the faith of Christ, and fortify us against Satan and against hell itself.

7. To the increase of the government there will be no end. He begins to explain and confirm what he had formerly said, that Christ is The Prince of Peace, by saying that his government is extended to every age, and is perpetual; that there will be no end to the government or to peace. This was also repeated by Daniel, who predicts that his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. (Dan. 7:27) Gabriel also alluded to it when he carried the message to the virgin; and he gave the true exposition of this passage, for it cannot be understood to refer to any other than to Christ. He shall reign, says he, over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end. (Luke 1:33) We see that the mightiest governments of this world, as if they had been built on a slippery foundation, (Ps. 73:18,) are unexpectedly overturned and suddenly fall. How fickle and changeable all the kingdoms under heaven are, we learn from history and from daily examples. This government alone is unchangeable and eternal.

Now, this continuance, of which Isaiah now speaks, consists of two parts. It belongs both to time and to quality. Though the kingdom of Christ is in such a condition that it appears as if it were about to perish at every moment, yet God not only protects and defends it, but also extends its boundaries far and wide, and then preserves and carries it forward in uninterrupted progression to eternity. We ought firmly to believe this, that the frequency of those shocks by which the Church is shaken may not weaken our faith, when we learn that, amidst the mad outcry and violent attacks of enemies, the kingdom of Christ stands firm through the invincible power of God, so that, though the whole world should oppose and resist, it will remain through all ages. We must not judge of its stability from the present appearances of things, but from the promise, which assures us of its continuance and of its constant increase.

And to the peace. To the government he adds the eternity of the peace, for the one cannot be separated from the other. It is impossible that Christ should be King without also keeping his people in calm and blessed peace, and enriching them with every blessing. But as they are daily exposed to innumerable vexations, endure fierce attacks, and are tossed and perplexed by fears and anxieties, they ought to cultivate that peace of Christ, which holds the highest place in their hearts, (Phil. 4:7; Col. 3:15,) that they may remain unhurt, and may even retain their composure amidst the destruction of the whole world.

In the word לסרבה, (lĕmarbēh,) contrary to the usual manner of writing, there is the close form of ם (mem). Some think that it denotes the slavery by which the Jewish people should be oppressed till the coming of Christ. Others think that that nation, on account of its treachery, was excluded by this mark from having any share in this kingdom. I do not find fault with these views. Indeed, we can hardly assert that the Prophet wrote it in this manner; but yet, since this is the form in which it has come into our hands, and since the Rabbins were so close observers of the minutest portion of a letter, we cannot avoid thinking that this was not rashly done. And if we admit that the Prophet intentionally wrote it in this manner, I think that it conveyed this useful instruction, that believers should not imagine that the splendour of Christ’s kingdom would consist in outward pomp, or cherish vain hopes of worldly triumphs, but should only expect, amidst various calamities, an unseen extension of the kingdom, because it had been promised.

Upon the throne of David. A promise having been made to David that the Redeemer would spring from his seed, (2 Sam. 7:12, 13,) and his kingdom having been nothing else than an imago or faint shadow of that more perfect and truly blessed state which God had determined to establish by the hand of his Son, the Prophets, in order to remind the people of that remarkable miracle, usually call Christ the Son of David. (Jer. 23:5, and 33:15) Though the name of such a holy and upright king was justly beloved and revered, yet believers esteemed more highly the promised restoration to full salvation, and even among the most ignorant persons that prediction was universally remembered, and its truth and authenticity were considered to be clear and undoubted. I shall collect but a few of the passages in which the Prophets promise to an afflicted people restoration in the person of David or of his Son. (Jer. 30:9; Ezek. 34:23; 37:24; Hos. 3:5) Sometimes they foretell that David, who was already dead, would be king. In like manner Isaiah, in this passage, intimates that he brings forward nothing that is new, but only reminds them of that which God had formerly promised about the perpetuity of the kingdom. Indirectly also he insinuates what Amoz more plainly states, that Christ will again raise up the throne which for some time had been fallen. (Amos 9:11)

To order it, and to establish it with judgment and with righteousness. He describes the quality of the kingdom, but by a comparison drawn from earthly governments; for he says that Christ will be a King, to order and establish his kingdom with judgment and with righteousness. These are the means by which earthly governments prosper and take deep roots; but those which are only administered by fear and violence cannot be lasting. Since, therefore, justice is the best guardian of kingdoms and governments, and since the happiness of the whole of the people depends on it, by this clause Isaiah shows that the kingdom of Christ will be the model of the best kind of government.

Judgment and righteousness do not here relate to outward affairs of state. We must observe the analogy between the kingdom of Christ and its qualities; for, being spiritual, it is established by the power of the Holy Spirit. In a word, all these things must be viewed as referring to the inner man, that is, when we are regenerated by God to true righteousness. Outward righteousness indeed follows afterwards, but it must be preceded by that renovation of the mind and heart. We are not Christ’s, therefore, unless we follow what is good and just, and bear on our hearts the impress of that righteousness which hath been sealed by the Holy Spirit.

Henceforth even for ever. This must be understood, I think, to refer to the perpetuity of righteousness and doctrine rather than of the kingdom, lest we should imagine that his laws resemble the statutes of kings and princes, which are in force for three days, or for a short period, and are continually renewed, and soon become old again, but that we may know that their obligation is everlasting; for they have been established, as Zecharias says, that we may serve him in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life. (Luke 1:74, 75) As Christ’s kingdom is everlasting, because he dieth no more, (Rom. 6:9,) so it follows that righteousness and judgment will be everlasting, for they cannot be changed by any length of time.

The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. By zeal I understand that ardent desire which God will display in preserving his Church, by removing all difficulties and obstructions which might otherwise have hindered its redemption. When we engage in any difficult undertaking, our earnestness, and the warmth of our feelings, overcome the difficulties which present themselves to baffle or retard our attempts. In like manner Isaiah shows that God is inflamed with an uncommon and extraordinary desire to promote the salvation of the Church, so that if believers cannot measure by their own capacity what he has just now promised, still they ought not to cease to entertain confident hope, for the manner of it is wonderful and inconceivable. In short, he intimates that God will come with no light or slow arm to redeem his Church, for he will be all on flame with amazing love of believers, and anxiety about their salvation.[3]

[1] Grogan, G. W. (2008). Isaiah. In T. Longman III, Garland David E. (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Proverbs–Isaiah (Revised Edition) (Vol. 6, pp. 528–529). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Rydelnik, M. A., & Spencer, J. (2014). Isaiah. In The moody bible commentary (pp. 1024–1025). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[3] Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (Vol. 1, pp. 306–317). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

December 24 Daily Help

OUR heavenly Father often draws us with the cords of love. How slowly do we respond to his gentle impulses! He draws us to exercise a more simple faith in him; but we have not yet attained to Abraham’s confidence; we do not leave our worldly cares with God. Our meagre faith brings leanness into our souls; we do not open our hearts wide, though God has promised to fill them. Does he not this day draw us to trust him? Can we not hear him say, “Come, my child, and trust me. The veil is rent; enter into my presence, I am worthy of thy fullest confidence; cast thy cares on me. Shake thyself from the dust of thy cares, and put on thy beautiful garments of joy.”[1]

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 362). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

Is Christmas the Signature Holiday of Christianity?

As wonderful as the Incarnation is, it is the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ which is the focus of Christianity.

Let me start be wishing all of you a Merry Christmas, even those few of you who do not celebrate it — and I am referring to those Christians who consider Christmas to be unbiblical in origin.

Supposedly, Christmas goes back to the Roman festival of Saturnalia, though it actually goes back further. The Puritans of New England considered the feast to be pagan and distracting, and made it illegal for a while.

[I]n 1659 the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony made it a criminal offense to publicly celebrate the holiday and declared that “whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by forbearing of labor, feasting, or any other way” was subject to a 5-shilling fine. — History — When Massachusetts Banned Christmas

What is more interesting is that the tradition of adding lights to the Christmas tree was supposedly started by Martin Luther, which strikes one as rather inconsistent, considering that Luther is considered the founder of Sola Scriptura Protestantism, which is technically opposed to man-made religious traditions.

Martin Luther… began the tradition of adorning the tree with lit candles. — Reformation Tours

To Luther’s credit, however, he shifted the date from December 6th (a celebration of a saint) to December 25th, in order to focus on Christ.

It was the “saint” in St. Nicholas that so bothered Martin Luther — he felt that focusing on this saint as the giver of gifts took the focus off Jesus Christ, the true giver of all gifts…

Before Luther’s efforts, most European Christians exchanged gifts on December 6th, St. Nicholas Day. After the Reformation, however, the traditional family gift day was changed to December 25th, the day of Jesus’s birth, to commemorate the Christ Child, from whom all gifts and blessings flow. — Reformation Tours

I have seen the arguments by date setters, historians, strict Christians, and even by some unreliable cults that Christmas should not be celebrated at all. While it is true that Jesus was not born on December 25th, the Scripture does record an angel’s chorus singing, and from this it could be deduced that the celebration of His birthday is not unbiblical, even if our dating is off.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host

praising God and saying:

“Glory to God in the highest,

And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” — Luke 2:13-14 (NKJV)

So in spite of all of the naysayers who would try to convince you otherwise, I wish you a joyous holiday, but with a caveat that many ignore.

Christmas is not the signature holiday of Christianity, nor should it be. As wonderful as the Incarnation is, it is the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ which is the focus of Christianity.

One can argue whether Christ died on a Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday, but it is his atoning death that is important, and it is His Resurrection which sealed its validity.

Had Christ not lived perfectly under the Old Covenant (on our behalf), then the Old Covenant could not have been replaced with the New Covenant. Had He not died, there would have been no atonement nor reconciliation.

…He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. — Colossians 2:13-14 (NIV)

But he was wounded because of our transgressions, He was crushed because of our iniquities: The chastisement of our welfare was upon him, And with his stripes we were healed. Isaiah 53:5 (Jewish Publication Society — 1917)

Had Christ sinned himself, then he would have been subject to death for his own sins, instead our ours, and would not have resurrected. Hence, it is His Resurrection which seals the whole process as valid, and is our guarantee.

I am not saying that Christmas is wrong. I am not a 17th century Puritan. Rather, Good Friday (or Thursday, Wednesday?!) and Resurrection Sunday (Easter) are more important.

As a holiday, Christmas is nice, but the latter is essential. Without the Resurrection, Christmas would not be celebrated.  And notice that I treat the Crucifixion and Resurrection as if they were one, which they are. If Christ did not Resurrect, then His Crucifixion would have meant nothing.

And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.

— 1 Cor 15:14 (NKJV)

A sad consequence of this overemphasis is the disconnection of Christianity from its Jewish roots. The Last Supper — there are debates whether it was a Passover Seder or a preparation meal — was certainly in anticipation of the Passover sacrifice that would be made the next day in Jerusalem.

Had Christian culture emphasized the Crucifixion and Resurrection more than Christmas, it is possible that a large part of erroneous replacement theology (the belief that the church has totally replaced the Jewish people) might not have taken hold, with all its deadly consequences.

Jews have no doubt that the signal center of Jewish life is Passover. Had Christianity’s emphasis been properly directed, the connection between Jesus’s death and the Jewish Passover would be readily apparent to ourselves and to our Jewish friends.

For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. — 1 Cor 5:7 (NKJV)

So enjoy the Christmas season, and sing some carols, but remember that our culture overemphasizes the wrong holiday. I am not opposed to the giving of Christmas gifts or its celebration. I just think that it is overemphasized.

Mike Konrad is the pen name of an American who wishes he had availed himself more fully of the opportunity to learn Spanish better in high school, lo those many decades ago.  He runs a website about the Arab community in South America.

Source: Is Christmas the Signature Holiday of Christianity?

The War on Christmas

One of the fashionable memes of the season offered by our more educated elite is the mocking of “the war on Christmas.”  In their view, Christmas faces little meaningful social constraint and the metaphor of ‘war’ is the furthest description from the soft Christian world evident in current social practices, and the gentle correction of “Happy Holidays” to respect the many reasons for the season is pressed into conversations.

Initially, Christmas is in many respects an un-Happy Holiday.  The advent of Jesus takes place in desperate times that continue to accurately signify the human condition:  violence, desperation, and misery.  Mary and Joseph are unmarried — yet Mary is pregnant and an embodied offense to cultural norms.  The government compels them to make a long journey to Bethlehem as part of a political census.  They cannot find lodging and Jesus is born in the ‘mean estate.’  King Herod unleashes an unholy slaughter of male children that creates great mourning.  Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus escape to the origins of Hebrew slavery:  Egypt.  The good news given to the shepherds is the beginning of a staggering counter-symbolism against the powerful and elite who have so consistently ruled humanity with barbaric ruthlessness.  Jesus’ story is always the story of an underdog overcoming the worst and most stubborn habits of humanity.

Two millennia later, this rhetorical insurgency is still crashing against the hard realities of global brutality.  In India, more than 8,000 women were compelled to be burned alive with their deceased husbands as part of cultural tradition this past year.  In Pakistan, Islamic supremacists continue to exact deadly violence against anyone professing to be Christian.  Asia Bibi continues to be denied refuge from the deadly plans against her, plotted by those who say they know God best.  In Egypt, where Jesus and his family fled in the original Christmas story, dozens of Coptic Christians have been killed in bombings of their churches by the Muslim Brotherhood.  Forgotten in Burma are the Karen Christians who, like their Muslim counterparts, bear the brunt of a Buddhist supremacist military aiming to erase them from the nation.   Christians in China face an escalating violent suppression from the Communist government.  An incredible wave of arrests and church building destruction is unleashed by this statist supremacist movement.

When Paul was put to death by the Roman government, there was the same detached certitude about the persecution and killing of the innocent that would surely allow the powerful to prevail for the thousands of “civilized” years leading to that moment.  But Paul’s teaching about Jesus would indeed begin to overturn these ‘deaths as text’ and carve out the liveliest of human political alternatives to genocide as law.  Billions of followers later, the struggle continues.

While the American repudiation of Christianity is not nearly as harsh, it remains in its own way disturbing and dangerous to human life.  American intellectuals passively applaud the growing population of ‘nones’ who have no religious affiliation and the corresponding decline in Christian affiliation seen primarily in cities and collegiately educated populations.  With this philosophical war on Christianity in America, young people are experiencing a 30% increase in suicides since 1999 and a deadly opioid epidemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans as more and more stare into the spiritual pit of meaningless lives.  The peril is apparent to red state America observing three consecutive declines in annual life expectancy in the United States.  That kind of deadly decline has not happened in nearly 100 years.  Drug overdose and suicide are two of the primary drivers of the death road Americans finds themselves upon.  Many of the highest death rates are in places such as Kentucky where a “war on coal” has destroyed the working lives of the communities there.  Secular doctrines such as the separation of ‘Christian Church’ and State are used as a bulldozer — to use Scalia’s apt description — to push Christianity out of public space.  When Dylan Roof went into a Bible Study in Charleston, he had killing as his purpose:  “Roof researched and scouted the church full of innocent people, whom he targeted for their vulnerability and “to magnify and incite violence in others.”

A further account of Dylan Roof’s further explanation is provided by New Yorker magazine:

“Roof can be seen in the background, sitting in the Bible circle. “He was there for forty-five minutes to an hour,” Sanders continued. “We stood up and shut our eyes to say a prayer.” When she heard the first shots, she assumed that the noise stemmed from a problem with a new elevator that was being installed, but then she looked at the defendant. “I screamed, ‘He has a gun!’ ” she said. “By then, he had already shot Reverend Pinckney.”

Roof began firing randomly. At one point, he paused to ask Polly Sheppard, a seventy-two-year-old retired nurse, if he had shot her yet. “My son rised up to get the attention off Miss Polly, even though he had already got shot,” Sanders told the jury. “He stood up and said, ‘Why are you doing this?’ She continued, “The defendant, over there with his head hanging down, refusing to look at me right now, told my son, ‘I have to do this, because you’re raping our women and y’all taking over the world.’ ”

Secular anthropologist E.O. Wilson in his 2012 book, The Social Conquest of the Earth, documents the deadly tie that binds humanity together — killing.  This is the darkness pouring out of the human heart that Christmas rises against with piercing light.  Perhaps death is not humanity’s last word on politics.  Though Christmas day in 2018 will likely be celebrated in the same deadly terms offered by Cherif Chekatt in France who shouted “Allahu Akbar,” as he killed, Christmas is still a holiday from human hate.  If our lives are wrapped in warm yet peaceful distractions this season, we can consider ourselves blessed by the advent of Christmas within the cruelty of human experience.

Ben Voth is an associate professor and director of debate at Southern Methodist University and author of three award-winning books on how to fix problems like those noted here:  The Rhetoric of Genocide:  Death as a Text (2014), Social Fragmentation and the Decline of Democracy (2017), and James Farmer Jr.:  The Great Debater.   

Source: The War on Christmas