Daily Archives: December 28, 2018

DECEMBER 28 BORED IN HEAVEN

And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.

—Revelation 4:8

I have been at funerals where the presiding minister preached the deceased right into heaven. Yet the earthly life of the departed plainly said that he or she would be bored to tears in a heavenly environment of continuous praise and adoration of God.

This is personal opinion, but I do not think death is going to transform our attitudes and disposition. If in this life we are not really comfortable talking or singing about heaven, I doubt that death will transform us into enthusiasts. If the worship and adoration of God are tedious now, they will be tedious after the hour of death. I do not know that God is going to force any of us into His heaven. I doubt that He will say to any of us, “You were never interested in worshiping Me while you were on earth, but in heaven I am going to make that your greatest interest and your ceaseless occupation!”

Controversial? Perhaps. But I am trying to stir you up, to encourage you to delight in a life of praise and spiritual victory! JIV067-068

May my worship on earth prepare me for the enthusiastic celebration that will be heaven. May I learn to delight in a life of praise. Amen. [1]


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

December 28 Daily Help

NOTHING can satisfy the entire man but the Lord’s love, and the Lord’s own self. To embrace our Lord Jesus, to dwell in His love, and be fully assured of union with Him—this is all in all. Dear reader, you need not try other forms of life in order to see whether they are better than the Christian’s: if you roam the world around, you will see no sights like a sight of the Saviour’s face; if you could have all the comforts of life, if you lost your Saviour, you would be wretched; but if you win Christ, you would find it a paradise; should you live in obscurity, or die with famine, you will yet be satisfied with favor, and full of the goodness of the Lord.[1]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 366). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

Record High Say Religion Can’t Answer Life’s Problems, Poll Shows

An overwhelming majority of Americans say religion is important in their lives, although a record high says religion does not have the answers for life’s problems, according to a new Gallup poll.

The survey released Dec. 24, shows 72 percent of Americans say religion is important in their lives, including 51 percent who say it’s “very important.” But that latter number is near the historic low of 49 percent, recorded in 2015. When the question was asked first in 1952, 75 percent of Americans said religion was “very important.”

“Although these finding … show that religion is still very important to a slim majority, they provide further evidence of the long-term decline in the importance of religion in Americans’ lives,” Gallup’s Megan Brenan wrote.

Only 46 percent of Americans say religion can “answer all or most of today’s problems” — another record low and the first time the number has dipped below 50 percent. A record high — 39 percent — say it cannot. Among those who attend church at least once a week, 81 percent say religion can answer all or most problems.

“The public is now more closely divided than ever before in its views of religion as the answer to what ails society,” Brenan wrote.

Source: Record High Say Religion Can’t Answer Life’s Problems, Poll Shows

3 Identities of the Christian Man — Founders Ministries

What is a Christian?

In spite of the New Testament’s clarity, if you were to ask a dozen self-identified evangelicals about their Christian identity, you’d get a dozen, mystifying, disparate answers.

Some would reject the label “Christian” in favor of a deconstructed term like “Jesus-follower” with presumably less cultural baggage. Some would add a slew of denominational or confessional labels, while those on the opposite side of the spectrum would add the obligatory “spiritual but not religious.” Others might even classify themselves with monikers like “born again” or “daughter of the King.”

The biblical identity of the Christian goes deeper than the labels that fall in and out of vogue. At root, we are in Christ. Our old, sinful, hell-deserving self is counted dead with Christ on the cross, and our new selves are counted as righteous before God and raised with him (2 Corinthians 5:14-15, Colossians 3:1-3). Oceans of ink have been spilled on explicating these concepts alone.

But more specifically, where does this leave the Christian man?

Most of the popular identifiers reflect, together with our romantic praise choruses, the heavily emotive, feminized state of evangelical subculture. We live in a cultural moment in which a phrase like “You’re worth it” works as well for the next Christian conference as for L’Oréal. This pattern of cognitivist, self-affirming spirituality, by its own nature, appeals only to a certain segment of the population and thus accounts for the conspicuous statistical underrepresentation of men in the average evangelical congregation.

Men in particular must recover a formulation of Christian identity that is not only biblical and practical but sufficiently masculine. Christian men need convenient handles with which to grasp the enormity of their identity in Christ.

Conveniently, the Apostle John gives us three. In 1 John 2:12-14, believers are addressed by three familial terms that carry of significant application for men.

1. You are children

“I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake… I write to you, children, because you know the Father” (vv. 12-14, ESV).

Our rebirth into the family of God is the genesis of our new identity.

  • “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)
  • “Jesus answered him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.’” (John 3:3)
  • “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him… For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” (1 John 5:1, 4)

In regeneration, we receive a new nature with godward affections, enabling us to cast ourselves upon Christ and receive forgiveness of sin. The train of new birth, faith, justification, and adoption stampedes into the believer’s life in rapid succession. Our entrance into God’s family as children is the key that unlocks the rest of the Christian life.

In his first epistle, John employs this metaphor twice in parallel construction to emphasize two realities: (1) the believer’s cleansing pardon from sin and (2) his newfound relationship of intimacy with God the Father.

Though John is speaking to all believers, the application of these points is particularly relevant to men.

You may feel hardened. You have regrets. You raise children who reflect all your foibles and sins as a mirror. You recall your upbringing, only to find yourself simultaneously resenting your father and becoming more like him. But in Christ, your natural, hereditary record of sin is expunged and your guilt is decisively removed. You are freed to live above the accusing voice of your inner demons.

Now, your father—the figure who shapes you, models manhood, and passes on to you his very own nature—is the supreme, loving, all-powerful God of the universe, not just another flawed male. This Father calls you by his own name, looks you in the eye, and is present.

Christian men must begin to build their self-conception on their status as sons of God.

Of course, that is not to say that we are mere juveniles.

2. You are fathers

“I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning… I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning“ (vv. 13-14).

To be a child of God is, in part, to be a passive recipient of God’s grace and paternal affection. But Christian men are also to be fathers—active workers in other’ lives, not merely in the physical sense but in the sense that their firsthand knowledge of God qualifies them to influence others.

The Reformation Study Bible explains in its comment on 2:12–14: “[T]he recipients of the letter… are ‘fathers’ because their knowledge of God in Jesus Christ qualifies them to hand this knowledge down to future generations.” This comports with John’s use of filial metaphors throughout his epistles, such as in 3 John 4: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children (the recipients of his ministry) are walking in the truth” (emphasis added). In 1 John, the apostle himself fills the role of a spiritual father, passing along his personal testimony of Christ for the joy and maturity of his beloved audience (vv. 1-5). The Apostle Paul also employs this language with the Corinthians: “I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (1 Corinthians 4:15b).

Just as with mature manhood comes the longing to impart to a son the wisdom, skills, and values gained along one’s journey, so with Christian manhood comes the desire to plant a spiritual legacy in others. In our youth, God graciously adopts us into his family and gives us a new name; in our maturity, we call others to receive that same adoption, and we cultivate a new generation as his namesake.

Such paternal oversight, in a small way, reflects God’s paternal ownership of us. In disciple-making, we sacrifice ourselves, taking on a measure of responsibility for the eternal welfare of others.

Spiritual fatherhood is also a sign and seal of our right standing with God. In making disciples, we prove to the world and ourselves that we indeed possess the faith we profess, shaping others into the image of Christ even as we ourselves are being shaped. We assure ourselves that we are more than idle consumers of spiritual blessings but also real contributors—an investment which, like physical parenting, pays rich dividends. We do not need to wait until we “arrive” on a certain plane of piety before we can invest in the next spiritual generation. We have something worth giving now because we know God.

And not only do we raise others to fight; we’re engaged on the frontlines ourselves.

3. You are young men

“I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one… I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one” (1 John 2:13, 14).

“Young men” are marked by vitality, fervor, and drive. We draw our identity from Christ, the divine warrior whose crushing victory promised in Eden was fulfilled when he came to destroy the works of the devil (Genesis 3:15, 1 John 3:8). In Christ, we too overcome the evil one who holds the entire fallen cosmos in his sway (5:5, 19), joining our commander-in-chief in stomping the serpent’s head into the dust (Romans 16:20). Our victory against our ancient celestial enemy is already a done deal because of Christ (note v. 14: “you have overcome the evil one”).

We are victors, not victims. We are more than conquerors, not merely the conquered. Our standing in Christ strengthens us to crucify our tendency to pout, sulk, and bemoan the wrongs done to us. We annihilate self-pity and fight for joy, holiness, and self-discipline with all the grit of one whose very bones are indwelt by God Almighty. Day by day, we pommel our blood-bought bodies to win the prize (1 Corinthians 6:20, 9:27).

Note also verse 14: we are strong. We are not just wanderers a in some spiritual journey of self-discovery, just “trying to figure out life” with the rest of the lost masses. We have more to offer the world than dainty Socratic dialogues over spirituality in coffee shops, devoid of any real conviction; we preach Christ and him crucified to the dying and damnable. We are soldiers drafted into a cosmic battle for truth and honor by the God whose decree writes reality itself. We don’t just deconstruct; we build.

Conclusion

If the state of the culture both within and without the church proves anything, it’s that we need mature, fighting, manly Christian men. While John’s metaphors, of course, have vast spiritual import for believers young and old, male and female, the implications for men should not be lost on us. We must lay aside our cultural baggage and recover the biblical foundation on which to build a masculine, Christ-centered self-conception.

What is a Christian man? More than a product of his environment, a struggling sojourner, or a religious conversation partner. He is a son of God, a spiritual father, and a fierce fighter.

via 3 Identities of the Christian Man — Founders Ministries

Angela Merkel: Nation States Must “Give Up Sovereignty” To New World Order

Submitted by Tapainfo.com

Nation states must today be prepared to give up their sovereignty”, according to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who told an audience in Berlin that sovereign nation states must not listen to the will of their citizens when it comes to questions of immigration, borders, or even sovereignty.

No this wasn’t something Adolf Hitler said many decades ago, this is what German Chancellor Angela Merkel told attendants at an event by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Berlin. Merkel has announced she won’t seek re-election in 2021 and it is clear she is attempting to push the globalist agenda to its disturbing conclusion before she stands down.

In an orderly fashion of course,” Merkel joked, attempting to lighten the mood. But Merkel has always had a tin ear for comedy and she soon launched into a dark speech condemning those in her own party who think Germany should have listened to the will of its citizens and refused to sign the controversial UN migration pact:

There were [politicians] who believed that they could decide when these agreements are no longer valid because they are representing The People”.

[But] the people are individuals who are living in a country, they are not a group who define themselves as the [German] people,” she stressed.

Merkel has previously accused critics of the UN Global Compact for Safe and Orderly Migration of not being patriotic, saying “That is not patriotism, because patriotism is when you include others in German interests and accept win-win situations”.

Her words echo recent comments by the deeply unpopular French President Emmanuel Macron who stated in a Remembrance Day speech that “patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism [because] nationalism is treason.”

The French president’s words were deeply unpopular with the French population and his approval rating nosedived even further after the comments.

Macron, whose lack of leadership is proving unable to deal with growing protests in France, told the Bundestag that France and Germany should be at the center of the emerging New World Order.

The Franco-German couple [has]the obligation not to let the world slip into chaos and to guide it on the road to peace”.

Europe must be stronger… and win more sovereignty,” he went on to demand, just like Merkel, that EU member states surrender national sovereignty to Brussels over “foreign affairs, migration, and development” as well as giving “an increasing part of our budgets and even fiscal resources”.

Source: Angela Merkel: Nation States Must “Give Up Sovereignty” To New World Order

THE BIBLICAL VIEW ON RACES: How Evolution Leads To Racism And Why God Created Different Races PART 2 — These Christian Times

This video contrasts the secular and biblical views on the origin of races. Topics include: secular views on race, biblical views on race, origin of skin color, human adaptability, Darwin and racism, scientific racism, melanin and skin color, and others.

via THE BIBLICAL VIEW ON RACES: How Evolution Leads To Racism And Why God Created Different Races PART 2 — These Christian Times

THE BIBLICAL VIEW ON RACES: How Evolution Leads To Racism And Why God Created Different Races PART 1 — These Christian Times

This video contrasts the secular and biblical views on the origin of races. Topics include: secular views on race, biblical views on race, origin of skin color, human adaptability, Darwin and racism, scientific racism, melanin and skin color, and others.

 

via THE BIBLICAL VIEW ON RACES: How Evolution Leads To Racism And Why God Created Different Races PART 1 — These Christian Times

Top 10 progressive endorsements of child abuse in 2018

There’s a lengthy, sordid history of the damage children suffer because of “progressive” values and policies. In 2018, the harm went beyond passive side effects.

The left is now brazenly cheering over the corruption, pain and heartbreak of children – and sometimes, their deaths.

What can be done? We must work within all lawful means possible to stop this evil. Here are some of the year’s worst examples, although this article could go on and on:

10. Colleges are now recommending 4-year-olds engage in sexual activity. Yes, some UC Santa Barbara academics have advanced the idea that preschoolers should engage in “sexual play.” Hopefully, law enforcement officials are checking these folks’ laptops for child porn links and will issue the proper indictments.

9. Sixth graders in Washington state were asked as a class if any of them questioned their gender identity. One girl at Sequim Middle School relates the indoctrination session here. Kids were also encouraged to go online privately to research “gay, lesbian bisexual and transgender” groups. This is a segment of the highly controversial F.L.A.S.H. curriculum and just one of many examples where activist teachers use children as sexual-agenda guinea pigs, unless parents call a halt.

And secret plans to fast-track gender-confused students through “transition,” even without parental knowledge, are surfacing all over the country. Here’s the Santa Ana, California, schools’ confidential form to be completed for such a student (drafted by the extreme group, Gender Spectrum) with questions like, “Who will be the student’s ‘go-to-adult’ on campus?”

Whatever happened to … parents?

8. “Get ready for Desmond, this trailblazing 11-year-old drag kid …” This is how ABC’s “Good Morning America” host introduced a confused boy dressed as an adult female, who then suggestively pranced down a model runway. Thankfully, many of the comments on this YouTube excerpt expressed sane reactions, like, “This is child abuse!”

And Desmond also recently performed at a Brooklyn adult bar for homosexuals. That incident resulted ( thankfully) in some acknowledged disapproval by liberals. Maybe there’s still hope for protecting these kids.

7. The Thanksgiving Macy’s parade tried to normalize teen lesbianism to the millions of children in its television audience, with a female-female kiss introduced enthusiastically by NBC announcers and cheered by parade bystanders. What God calls an “abomination” was applauded as two female performers, portraying teens, enacted a scene from the Broadway play, “The Prom,” which laments the objections of school officials over a girl’s female prom date.

6. More teens can’t receive counseling to overcome homosexual feelings, even if caused by sexual abuse. Change therapy bans were enacted in the states of Washington, Hawaii, Delaware, Maryland and New Hampshire in 2018, along with numerous cities.

Yet this counseling is highly effective for many people. Christians know from Scripture (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) and personal testimonies that God will help people leave the sins of homosexuality and gender rebellion behind.

Last summer, a radical California bill, AB 2943, thankfully was dropped but is likely to be reintroduced in 2019. It aimed to broaden the ban on therapy to adults using a consumer fraud platform and would penalize any person or media communicating that change is possible, if fees are exchanged. In California, what would a victim of molestation do to address unchosen, sinful feelings?

5. A liberal federal judge in Chicago dismissed a suit against doctors who performed female genital mutilation on little girls. District Judge Bernard Friedman said, “Congress overstepped its bounds” in outlawing the practice.

FGM is the barbaric practice of cutting a little girl’s genitals, usually around age 9 or 10 and is common among Muslims and tribal groups in Africa, India, Indonesia and elsewhere. Although illegal in many states, it’s quietly done anyway by immigrant groups in the U.S. and an estimated 500,000 girls are at risk.

So, let’s understand this – it’s a “cultural practice” when 9-year-old girls’ genitals are surgically mutilated without their consent. But it’s “consumer fraud” (under the California proposal) if teens or adults engage voluntarily in talk therapy about homosexual attractions or gender confusion following sexual molestation.

This is how liberals think. Or fail to do so.

4. More clinics opened in children’s hospitals to facilitate body mutilation of confused minors. The quackery of childhood gender “transition” treatment continues to gallop through mainstream medicine without valid research to support its benefits, while ample evidence of its harm piles up.

3. There’s a dramatic increase in the number of teens who claim a “gay, lesbian, bisexual” or “questioning” identity. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 15 percent of American teens in a massive survey now embrace sinful, immoral behavior – and the CDC joins extremist groups in believing “support” is the best response to these kids, who report far higher risk-taking behaviors and adverse childhood experiences than their heterosexual-identifying peers. Coincidence, or cause?

2. A movement called “Shout Your Abortion” is gaining popularity, with Oprah as one of its champions. With 60 million unborn human beings as victims, too many deluded women fail to see the hypocrisy of the #MeToo outcry over their own violated human rights while embracing #ChildDestruction.

1. Satan’s army is coming out of the closet as witches openly cast spells against conservatives, Christians and pro-lifers. At one Ohio abortion clinic, apostate ministers held a “sacred blessing” ceremony inside the facility on Nov. 9. Pro-life demonstrators gathered outside, despite sorcerers openly hexing them. Later, a bizarre YouTube video surfaced of what happened inside at that “blessing.” A post-abortive mom sang a song she believed came from the spirit of the baby she chose to sacrifice.

One cannot overstate the moral spiritual depravity reflected in this celebration of a child’s death.

There is good news, however. Ohio passed the “Heartbeat Bill,” outlawing an abortion if a beating heart is detected (even though Gov. Kasich vetoed it). Kentucky just introduced similar legislation, and there are “heartbeat” bills in several other states as well as Congress.

So, Americans do still have a heart for children. In 2019, let’s start to show it again.

Source: Top 10 progressive endorsements of child abuse in 2018

Brannon Howse: December 27, 2018

download (size: 21 MB )
Topic: Russia moves two supersonic nuclear jets to an island in the Caribbean controlled by Venezuela. Brannon has warned for some time that Venezuela with the presence of Iran and Russia could become a situation as America saw during the Cuban missile crisis and now that appears to becoming more of a reality. Topic: Hear audio of Dr. Peter Pry from our national security conference in which he talks about the Vostok military exercise from the summer of 2018 in which Russia practiced a nuclear attack on America. Topic: Yesterday Russia tested the Poseidon unmanned automated drone submarine. This submarine can travel intercontinental distances and defeat the anti-submarine defenses of the U.S. military. This Russian, unmanned sub can carry a 100-megaton warhead. Listen as Dr. Pry tells us about this sub from our November 2018 national security briefing. Topic: 13 stats have red flag laws and the Democrats are looking to make this a federal law. Learn how the false accusation of a family member or neighbor could cause the government to confiscate your guns. Topic: We take your calls.

Source: Brannon Howse: December 27, 2018

Sorry, Bethel Music, But God’s Love Just Isn’t ‘Reckless’ — The Federalist

“Reckless Love,” written by Cory Asbury, Caleb Culver, and Ran Jackson and published in 2017 by Bethel Music, has quickly become a favorite worship song in non-denominational and evangelical churches. Every time we sing it in service, I omit one word: “reckless.”

The song has many solid lines that beautifully convey how God sustains us and watches over us, even acknowledging that God had a plan for our lives before we were born. Consider the first verse: “Before I spoke a word, you were singing over me/you have been so so good to me/ before I took a breath, you breathed your life in me/ you have been so so kind to me.”

As far as modern worship music goes, which tends to be theologically shallow and repetitive, that’s some deep theology. But then we get to the first part of the chorus, from which the song gets its name: “Oh the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God/ it chases me down/fights til I’m found/ leaves the ninety-nine.”

According to the OxfordDictionaries.com, reckless means: “Heedless of danger or the consequences of one’s actions; rash or impetuous.” I challenge anyone to find one instance in scripture where any member of the Trinity is described as reckless, rash, or impetuous. I certainly haven’t, because it is antithetical to God’s character.

Yet every week, millions of Christians are singing about how reckless God’s love is. Let that sink in. Ashbury said in an interview, “We’re not saying that God himself is reckless. He’s not crazy. We are however saying that the way He loves is in many regards quite so.” This makes no sense. If God is not reckless, then neither can any individual attribute of God be reckless.

The Sheep Parables Don’t Show Recklessness

But you might come back to me and say the parables of the 99 sheep referenced in the song provide an adequate basis for declaring that God is reckless. However, a closer examination of these two slightly different parables (they are told to different audiences at different times and places), especially of their context, reveals that’s not the case.

Here is the parable in Luke 15:3-7, told to the Pharisees who were grumbling about how Jesus was eating with sinners:

So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. (ESV)

Here’s Matthew 18:12-14. In the verses preceding this parable, Jesus teaching his disciples to humble themselves and not to cause others to sin, especially “little ones:”

What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my[a] Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. (ESV)

In both of these parables, Jesus is using the image of a rich shepherd (99 is a huge flock) who, despite his great wealth of sheep, leaves them to search for the sheep that “wanders away” or is “lost.” Common sense says that’s a foolish move that, if one didn’t know the context and the shepherd, might be construed as reckless.

But notice how he asked the disciples, “What do you think?” and “Does he not…?” as if, based on Jesus’ prior teaching, the disciples are to understand that of course the straying lamb is precious to him and therefore must be retrieved. In other words, to the world, this behavior is foolish, but to those who follow Jesus, it should make perfect sense.

These parables describe the heart of God, a heart dedicated to bringing in all the lost sheep he has called into his fold. The shepherd does not put any of the 99 in danger by going after the one. “This is the will of Him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day” (John 6:39).

Thus, Jesus, the shepherd, can in no way be regarded as reckless. He has a plan that not only protects his flock, but retrieves the one who goes astray. That is what we should seek to understand from this passage and praise in song, not a concept as pedestrian and completely human as “reckless love.”

God Is the Ultimate in Thinking Ahead, Ya’ll

God is overwhelmingly described in Scripture as sovereign and omnipotent, working everything out according to his purpose. God had a plan from the very beginning that involved the Son becoming flesh, dying for human sins, rising again, sending the Holy Spirit to indwell believers, and ultimately coming back to judge the world and make all things new (Heb. 2:8-9; Eph 1:11; Acts 2:23; John 14:26; Acts 17:31; Rev. 21:4-5).

When God sent a flood to wipe out evil from the face of the earth, giving Noah careful, specific instructions on how to build an ark to survive it, that was God loving and saving Noah and his family in a completely non-reckless way.

When Joseph, who became a powerful ruler under Pharaoh in Egypt, addressed his repentant brothers who had tried to kill him, he said, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive.” That was God designing history to protect a people he set his love on in a completely non-reckless way (Genesis 50:20).

This Song Is Teaching Christians Lies

Trusting their leadership, congregants assume that the doctrine of the music in their church is sound and then riff off it. The result a lot of sub-biblical “inspirational” writing like this: “God’s love for us is reckless. He loves us unconditionally and without fear of rejection. His love is not self-serving. He puts us first. He loves us without fear of consequences. The way He loves us is quite simply reckless” (emphasis original).

This is what happens when worship lyrics are not put under the light of the scriptures, and in fact substitute for it.

God’s salvation plan was never risky or reckless, and all throughout the gospels, Jesus explains that he knows exactly how he is going to be received.

The idea that God is “bankrupting heaven,” smothering his love all over the place without regard to how it’s received and “laying his heart on the line,” as Ashbury said, is just not biblical. God takes no risks because a God who is all-powerful and all-knowing by nature cannot take risks. God’s salvation plan was never risky or reckless, and all throughout the gospels, Jesus explains that he knows exactly how he is going to be received by the world and what will happen to him (John 10:25-28).

I know the term “reckless love” is catchy and might prick the ears of people submersed in a culture that craves “crazy love,” but God’s love is purpose-driven and perfectly considered—the opposite of reckless. As unpopular a truth as it is, it’s designed for God’s glory and to further his own ends. We are gracious recipients of God’s grace; as Matt Chandler put it in this very excellent sermon, “Yes, God is for you,” but ultimately, “God is for God.” That is a humbling truth.

The fact that God has saved you personally and deliberately (John 6:37-45; Romans 8:16), despite your total unworthiness, is what should bring you to tears, not this notion that God is splashing his “childlike” and “ridiculous” love all over (again, Ashbury is way off the mark) and just hoping someone reciprocates it, deeply wounded every time he is rejected.

God’s Ways Are Not Ours

To sing of God’s “reckless love” is to downplay his omnipotence and sovereignty in favor of a weaker, more vulnerable and “approachable” version of him. All too often, worship lyrics map the attributes of man onto God instead of promoting a more biblical understanding of him. We seek to package his attributes in concepts we are already familiar with, instead of acquainting ourselves with the God who reveals himself through the scriptures. We bring God down to our level, instead of seeking to understand him on his own terms.

Songs have tremendous power to influence our thought.

As worshippers, we are obligated to ask ourselves: do the words coming out of my mouth, which are supposed to guide us in worshipping God for who he really is, accurately reflect God’s character? If they don’t, then how can we be worshipping in “spirit and truth” (John 4:24)?

There are many other worship songs that don’t ascribe purely unbiblical attributes to God. If the rest of this song really does help the congregation worship in earnest, might it at least be possible to substitute a different word for “reckless,” like “wondrous” or “awesome?”

Songs have tremendous power to influence our thought. We are vulnerable and emotional during worship, trusting the people leading us through the set, so church leaders must be careful stewards of the lyrics they present to the flock. If a particular lyric is promoting a less biblical understanding of God’s character, as “reckless love” clearly is, then it needs to be corrected. Sheer popularity cannot override that imperative.

Copyright © 2018 The Federalist, a wholly independent division of FDRLST Media, All Rights Reserved.

via Sorry, Bethel Music, But God’s Love Just Isn’t ‘Reckless’ — The Federalist

Thirty Days of Jesus Redux: Postlude 2, Like the Sun

The End Time

By Elizabeth Prata

Christmas means baby Jesus. Everybody loves the baby. The swaddling clothes (so cute!) the manger (awww, really?), the Wise Man (distinguished solemnity). It is a tremendous story. It is THE story of all of history. God Himself came in flesh, incarnated solely to grow, live a perfect life, and die.

The baby grew up. He ascended to the Father, sat down, and reigns from heaven. He is coming again, as I wrote yesterday. When He comes again it will not be as a baby all swaddled and cooing. His incarnation continues, as it will forever, but today we look at Jesus as He is now. He is kingly, powerful. He is GOD.

Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with…

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December 28 The Author of Our Salvation

“It was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings” (Heb. 2:10).

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Through His death, Christ became the perfect leader for His people.

As we look at what Christ has done, we must never forget that He was fulfilling the sovereign plan of God. The writer of Hebrews tells us it was “fitting” in God’s sight for Christ to bring “many sons to glory.” That means that everything God did through Christ was consistent with His character.

The cross was a masterpiece of God’s wisdom. It displayed His holiness in His hatred of sin. It was consistent with His power—Christ endured in a few hours what it would take an eternity to expend on sinners (and even then, sinners couldn’t atone for their own evil). The cross also displayed God’s love for mankind. And Christ’s death on the cross agreed with God’s grace because it was substitutionary.

To bring “many sons to glory,” God had “to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.” The Greek word translated “author” (archēgos) means “pioneer” or “leader.” It was commonly used of a pioneer who blazed a trail for others to follow. The archēgos never stood at the rear giving orders; he was always out front blazing the trail. As the supreme archēgos, Christ has gone before us—He is our trailblazer.

Life seems most anxious and dreadful when death is near. That’s a trail we cannot travel by ourselves. But the author of our salvation says, “Because I live, you shall live also” (John 14:19). Only the perfect pioneer could lead us out of the domain of death and into the presence of the Father. All you have to do is put your hand in His nail-scarred hand and He will lead you from one side of death to the other. Then you can say with the Apostle Paul, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:55).

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Praise God for all His attributes—specifically for each one displayed in Christ’s death for you.

For Further Study: Read Hebrews 5:8–9 and 1 Peter 2:19–25. How do those verses expand on Hebrews 2:10?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 375). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

Humiliation and Exaltation — Ligonier Ministries Blog

It just hangs there. It dangles as if it were simply an afterthought attached to the second chapter of Genesis. But we know there are no afterthoughts in the mind and inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Thus, we look at this passage to give us a clue about our condition prior to the misery of sin. Chapter 2, verse 25, reads, “They were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” This tells us that before sin came into the world, there was no shame. There was no embarrassment. The experience of humiliation was completely unknown and foreign to the human race. However, along with the first experience of sin came the awful burden of the weight of personal shame and embarrassment. Shame and embarrassment are feelings and experiences that occur to us in various degrees. The worst kind of shame, the most dreadful form of embarrassment, is that which results in utter and complete humiliation. Humiliation brings with it not merely the reddened face of embarrassment but also the sense of despair as we lose our dignity and our reputations are cast into ruin.

Yet it was precisely into this domain of shame and humiliation that our Savior came voluntarily in the incarnation. The popular hymn, “Ivory Palaces,” depicts this descent from glory—the Son of Man’s voluntary departure from the ivory palace that is His eternal dwelling place. He chose willingly to make Himself of no reputation, to become a man and a servant, obedient even unto death. It is this humiliation that Christ willingly accepted for Himself, which stands at the beginning of the entire progress that He travels on His road to glory and to His final exaltation. The progress, as the New Testament traces it, is one that moves from humiliation in the birth of Jesus to His exaltation in His resurrection, ascension, and return.

The quality of exaltation is the exact opposite, a strong antithesis, to the quality of humiliation. In exaltation, dignity is not only restored, but it is crowned with the glory that only God can bestow. And so when we look at the biblical theme of the exaltation of Jesus, we look at the way in which the Father rewards His Son and declares His glory to the whole creation.

We are told that no one ascends into heaven except the One who descends from heaven, and we are also told that in baptism, we are given the mark and the sign of our participation with Jesus in both His humiliation and His exaltation. The promise of participating in the exaltation of Christ is given to every believer—but there is a catch. There is a warning, and that warning is clear: unless we are willing to participate in the humiliation of Jesus, we would have no reason to expect ever to participate in His exaltation. But that is the crown that is set before us, that we, who have no right to everlasting glory and honor, will nevertheless receive it because of what has been achieved in our stead by our perfect Redeemer.

In 1990, I wrote a book entitled The Glory of Christ. The writing of that book was one of the most thrilling experiences I’ve ever had in writing. My task on that occasion was to demonstrate that while there is a general progression from humiliation to exaltation in the life and ministry of Jesus, this progression does not run in an unbroken line that moves uninterrupted from humiliation to exaltation. Rather, the book explains that even in Jesus’ general progress from humiliation to exaltation, in His worst moments of humiliation, there are interjections by the grace of God, wherein the Son’s glory is also manifest.

For example, when we consider the nativity of Jesus, it is easy to focus our attention on the sheer impoverishment that went with His being born in a stable and in a place where He was unwelcome in the resident hotel or inn. There was an overwhelming sense of debasement in the lowliness of His birth. Yet, at the very moment that our Lord entered humanity in these debasing circumstances, just a short distance away the heavens broke out with the glory of God shining before the eyes of the shepherds with the announcement of His birth as the King.

Even when He goes to the cross, in the worst moments of His humiliation, there still remains a hint of His triumph over evil, where His body is not thrown into the garbage dump outside of Jerusalem; rather, following the prophetic prediction of Isaiah, chapter 53, Jesus’ body was tenderly laid to rest in the tomb of a wealthy man. His death was ignominious, but His burial was one that was a great honor in ancient terms. His body was adorned with the sweetest spices and most costly perfumes, and He was given the burial plot of honor. Therefore, God, in the midst of the suffering of His obedient servant, would not allow His holy One to see corruption.

And throughout the pages of Scripture, we see these glimpses here and there, breaking through the veil and the cloak of Jesus’ humanity, piercing the armor of the humiliation and debasement that was His lot during His earthly sojourn. These moments, or glimpses, of glory should be for the Christian a foretaste of what lies ahead, not only for the ultimate exaltation of Jesus in the consummation of His kingdom, but also a taste for us of heaven itself, as we become the heirs and joint-heirs of Jesus. Jesus’ final lot, His destiny, His legacy, promised and guaranteed by the Father, is glory, and that glory He shares with all who put their trust in Him.

In common language, the terms exaltation and humiliation stand as polar opposites. One of the most magnificent glories of God’s revealed truth and most poignant ironies is that in the cross of Christ these two polar opposites merge and are reconciled. In His humiliation, we find our exaltation. Our shame is replaced by His glory. The songwriter had it right when he wrote, “My sinful self, my only shame, my glory, all the cross.”

This post was originally published in Tabletalk magazine.

via Humiliation and Exaltation — Ligonier Ministries Blog

12/28/18 Yahweh the Warrior — ChuckLawless.com

READING: Exodus 14:13-14, 23-25

“Yahweh is fighting for them against Egypt!”

Exodus 14:25

We so urgently need one of the truths of today’s reading that I’m repeating this devotion from 2016: in all our battles, God is the Warrior who fights for us. Indeed, He sometimes intentionally leads us into battles we cannot win so He can be our warrior — and He alone will get the glory among the nations.

See these truths clearly in the words of Moses as the Hebrews stood on the brink of the Red Sea with the Egyptian army pursuing them: “But Moses said to the people, ‘Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and see the Lord’s salvation He will provide for you today; for the Egyptians you see today, you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you must be quiet’” (Exo. 14:13-14).

The plan seems strange, actually. The people of God were to stand firmly, remain quiet, and let the Lord fight for them. They were to trust that the God who led them from Egypt would continue to lead them — with an army behind them and a sea still in front of them.

Here’s what catches my attention. God divided the sea, led His people across, and then collapsed the drowning waters on the pursuing army. When the Lord threw the Egyptians into chaos, their words revealed that they were learning about the power of the Hebrew God over against their own perceived gods: “He caused their chariot wheels to swerve and made them drive with difficulty. “Let’s get away from Israel,” the Egyptians said, “because Yahweh is fighting for them against Egypt!” (Exo. 14:25).

So, the pattern looks like this — God led His people to an impossible place. He fought for them. The Egyptians saw His power.  God got the glory. His people then sang His praises: “The Lord is a warrior; Yahweh is His name” (Exo. 15:3). The nations learned of God’s glory because He led His people into a battle He had to fight for them.

Our problem is that we fight our own battles first and turn to God only when we have to. Whenever God is our fallback position rather than our first option, we’ve already lost the battle.

ACTION STEPS: 

  • Make sure your first response in spiritual battle is to turn to God rather than to your own options.
  • Ask God to lead you to the place where He alone must be your warrior. That’s scary, I know, but He will get the glory.

PRAYER: “Father, I praise You that You are the divine warrior. Forgive me when I fight my own battles before turning to You.”

TOMORROW’S READING:  Luke 24

12/28/18 Yahweh the Warrior — ChuckLawless.com

December 28, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

The Nature of God

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. (1:5)

The message, preached by John and the other apostles, was one they heard from Him [Jesus] and announce[d] to their audience. As God in human flesh (John 1:1–4, 18; Titus 2:13; Heb. 1:8; 1 John 5:20; cf. John 4:26; 8:24, 28, 58; 18:5), Jesus Christ is the perfect source of revelation regarding the nature and character of God. The apostle earlier recorded Jesus’ statement, “God is spirit” (John 4:24); here in his first letter he declared, God is Light and later would affirm, “God is love” (4:8).

The description of God as Light captures the essence of His nature and is foundational to the rest of the epistle. However, unlike the straightforward expressions “God is spirit” (meaning that God is immaterial in form; compare John 4:24 with Luke 24:39) and “God is love” (meaning that the persons of the Trinity love one another and mankind; cf. 3:17; 4:7, 16; Mic. 7:18; Zeph. 3:17; John 5:42; 15:10; Rom. 5:5, 8; 8:39; Eph. 2:4; Titus 3:4), the idea that God is Light (cf. Ps. 78:14; Isa. 60:19–20; John 1:9; 3:19; 8:12; 9:5; 12:46; Acts 9:3; Rev. 21:23) is more complex.

Throughout the Scriptures, God and His glory are often described in terms of light. For example, during the exodus God appeared to the Israelites in the form of light:

The Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people. (Ex. 13:21–22; cf. 40:34–38; 1 Kings 8:11)

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai after meeting with the Lord, his face glowed with a reflection of God’s light (Ex. 34:29–35; cf. 2 Cor. 3:7–8). In Psalm 104:1–2, the psalmist says, “Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, You are very great; You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering Yourself with light as with a cloak, stretching out heaven like a tent curtain” (cf. 1 Tim. 6:14–16). Not only is God light in His essence, but He also is the source of the believer’s light (Ps. 27:1; John 1:9; 12:36).

At the transfiguration, when Jesus gave the three apostles a glimpse of His full glory, He manifested Himself as light: “He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light” (Matt. 17:2). Second Corinthians 4:4–6 summarizes well the importance of God as light and its role in a Christian’s life:

The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (cf. Matt. 5:14–16; Eph. 5:8–10; Phil. 2:15; Col. 1:12–13; 1 Peter 2:9)

Although the foregoing passages describe the significance of divine light, they do not define it. However, Psalm 36:9 does: “For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light” (cf. 1 Peter 2:9). Here the psalmist employed a Hebrew parallelism, using two statements to say the same thing. He equates light and life—God is light in the sense that He is life, and He is the source and sustainer of both physical and spiritual life.

John expressed that truth in the prologue to his gospel:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:1–13; cf. 2:23–3:21; Col. 1:15–17)

“I am the Light of the world,” Jesus declared; “he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12; cf. 12:45–46). God, the source of true light, bestows it on believers in the form of eternal life through His Son, who was the light incarnate.

Scripture reveals two fundamental principles that flow from the foundational truth that God is light. First, light represents the truth of God, as embodied in His Word. The psalmist wrote these familiar words: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.… The unfolding of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” (Ps. 119:105, 130; cf. Prov. 6:23; 2 Peter 1:19). The light and life of God are inherently connected to and characterized by truth.

Second, Scripture also links light with virtue and moral conduct. The apostle Paul instructed the Ephesians, “You were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth)” (Eph. 5:8–9; cf. Isa. 5:20; Rom. 13:12; 1 Thess. 5:5–6).

Those two essential properties of divine light and life are crucial in distinguishing genuine faith from a counterfeit claim. If one professes to possess the Light and to dwell in it—to have received eternal life—he will show evidence of spiritual life by his devotion both to truth and to righteousness, as John writes later in this letter:

The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (2:9–11; cf. Matt. 5:16; 25:34–40; Luke 1:6; 11:28; Rom. 6:17; 16:19; Phil. 1:11; Titus 2:7; James 2:14–20)

If truth and righteousness are absent from one’s life, that person, no matter what he or she says, does not possess eternal life (Matt. 7:17–18, 21–23; 25:41–46). They cannot belong to God, because in Him there is no darkness at all. God is absolutely perfect in truth and holiness (Ex. 15:11; 1 Sam. 2:2; Pss. 22:3; 48:10; 71:19; 98:2; Isa. 6:3; Rev. 4:8; 15:4). Obviously, believers fall far short of that perfection, but they manifest a godlike desire for and continual striving toward heavenly truth and righteousness (cf. Phil. 3:7–16).[1]


God is Light (v. 5)

None of the other biblical writers tells us so much about what God really is as does the apostle John. All of them tell what he does. Some describe the glory that surrounds him. But John tells what God is in his true nature. He does this in three striking definitions: God is spirit (John 4:24), God is light (1 John 1:5), and God is love (1 John 4:8). It is a characteristic of these three definitions that the predicates occur without the definite article. We are told, then, not that God is the Spirit, the light, and the love or even, in all probability, a spirit, a light, and a love, but rather spirit, light, and love themselves. In this we have the broadest and most comprehensive definition of God that can probably be devised in human language.

The Positive Statement

John’s definition of God is stated both positively and negatively, but he offers the positive statement first: God is light. This statement carries the reader into a world of imagery that is as old as religion and that would have been quite familiar and agreeable both to John’s readers and to his opponents.

It is found in the Old Testament, for instance. David writes in one psalm, “The Lord is my light and my salvation” (Ps. 27:1). Another psalm declares, “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light” (Ps. 36:9). In Psalm 104 we read, “You are clothed with splendor and majesty. He wraps himself in light as with a garment” (vv. 1–2). Isaiah wrote concerning God’s plan for the Messiah, “I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth” (Isa. 49:6). In each of these verses light seems strikingly appropriate as an image of God, for it points to God as the true source of revelation, intelligence, stability, ubiquity, excellence, vision, and growth. It is the nature of light that it is visible and that it makes other things visible. So also is it God’s nature to make himself known.

In biblical thought two special ideas are associated with light, however. First, the image generally has ethical overtones. That is, it is a symbol of holiness or purity as well as of intelligence, vision, growth, and other realities. This is apparent several times in John’s Gospel, as when John declares Jesus to be “the light of men” (John 1:4), or later, when he says, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). Clearly this use of the imagery would not be so agreeable to John’s opponents, particularly when he challenges Christians to “walk” or “abide” in the light, as he does later.

These ethical or moral overtones are of great importance. Is God righteous? Then the lives of Christians should be known for being righteous. If he is holy, we should be holy. Indeed, says John, if anyone claims to know God while yet living a sinful life, he is either deceiving himself or lying.

The second unique characteristic of the biblical use of light is in applying it to Jesus; that is, in applying it to the historical Jesus in exactly the same way that it is applied to God. In a much lesser sense, those who follow Christ are said to be “children of light” or even “light” itself (John 12:36; Matt. 5:14), but this is not true for them in the same sense that it is true for Jesus. They are kindled lights, as Jesus said John the Baptist was (John 5:35). But Jesus is light in the same sense that God is light. He is holy and the source of all good. In his Gospel John tells us that Jesus is the one who reveals the world’s darkness and is victorious over it (John 1:4–5).

How is it that John received the message that “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all”? Is it not in this: namely, that Jesus is also the light and that he revealed himself to John? Commentators have pointed out that we do not have any explicit teaching of Jesus in the New Testament to the effect that God is light. But we have very little direct teaching of Jesus about the Father at all. Why? Clearly because he is himself the revelation of the Father. “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father,” he told Philip. In this as in the other Johannine literature, it is therefore not simply the revelation of God expressed in propositional statements but the revelation of God in Christ that is presented to us. Nothing, then, must detract from Christ. Rather, it is he who was seen and heard and touched who must be fully proclaimed.

The Negative Statement

It is a characteristic of this letter that John frequently accompanies a positive statement of some truth with a negative statement designed to reinforce it, here reinforcing the claim that God is light by the longer phrase “in him there is no darkness at all.” This is an important principle in the biblical concept of truth, indeed of any truth properly understood. A statement that does not imply corresponding negations is not a true statement. Rather, it is a meaningless one. If “A” is true, then something else must be false; or else, “A” is meaningless. John knew this, of course. Consequently, when he says that God is light, he immediately denies that God is darkness. God is good; hence, God is not bad. God is holy; so he is not sinful. Men may mix the two, as in many of the Eastern religions, in which all things, good and bad, unite in the One. But this is not John’s teaching, nor that of the Bible as a whole. In this outlook God emerges as that which is totally holy and therefore as that which is totally opposed to all that is sinful and false. It follows from this that men must be holy if they are to have fellowship with him, as John now shows.[2]


5. This then is the message, or promise. I do not disapprove of the rendering of the old interpreter, “This is the annunciation,” or message; for though ἐπαγγελία means for the most part a promise, yet, as John speaks here generally of the testimony before mentioned, the context seems to require the other meaning, except you were to give this explanation, “The promise which we bring to you, includes this, or has this condition annexed to it.” Thus, the meaning of the Apostle would become evident to us. For his object here was not to include the whole doctrine of the Gospel, but to shew that if we desire to enjoy Christ and his blessings, it is required of us to be conformed to God in righteousness and holiness. Paul says the same thing in the second chapter of the Epistle to Titus, “Appeared has the saving grace of God to all, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we may live soberly and righteously and holily in this world;” except that here he says metaphorically, that we are to walk in the light, because God is light.

But he calls God light, and says that he is in the light; such expressions are not to be too strictly taken. Why Satan is called the prince of darkness is sufficiently evident. When, therefore, God on the other hand is called the Father of light, and also light, we first understand that there is nothing in him but what is bright, pure, and unalloyed; and, secondly, that he makes all things so manifest by his brightness, that he suffers nothing vicious or perverted, no spots or filth, no hypocrisy or fraud, to lie hid. Then the sum of what is said is, that since there is no union between light and darkness, there is a separation between us and God as long as we walk in darkness; and that the fellowship which he mentions, cannot exist except we also become pure and holy.

In him is no darkness at all. This mode of speaking is commonly used by John, to amplify what he has affirmed by a contrary negation. Then, the meaning is, that God is such a light, that no darkness belongs to him. It hence follows, that he hates an evil conscience, pollution, and wickedness, and everything that pertains to darkness.[3]


5 John opens the first series of tests with a foundational principle: “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” This being the case, those whose lives are filled with darkness cannot be in fellowship with God. The means by which one identifies a life full of darkness are indicated in vv. 6–10.

John assumes that this theological principle (“God is light”) cannot be denied because it comes “from him,” apparently the living Jesus of whom John is a witness. The statement “God is light” is introduced in the Greek text by hoti, which would seem to indicate that John is directly quoting something Jesus said (“God is light”). But no such statement appears in the fourth gospel, and although the Johannine Jesus refers to himself as “light” on several occasions (Jn 3:19; 8:12; 9:5; 12:35, 46; see also 1:4–5), he never speaks of God in this way. This apparent discrepancy has led many scholars to suggest that the hoti introducing “God is light” indicates indirect discourse (“we declare to you that God is light”), meaning that the statement in some way summarizes Jesus’ teaching about God’s moral nature (so NIV, NAB, NEB, NRSV, NKJV). Some scholars who take this view, noting the above references to Jesus as “the light” in John’s gospel, suggest that John is not referring to Jesus’ verbal teaching, but to the actions of Jesus that revealed God as light to the world. From this perspective, “God is light” summarizes “what they learned [about God] from Jesus from observation of his life” (Johnson, 29). This would be consistent with John’s insistence that he proclaims what he has “seen” Jesus do (1 Jn 1:1–3). Other scholars who take this view suggest that John has combined a number of traditional statements and concepts into a composite saying (so Brown, 227–29; Rensberger, 51). This is a reasonable proposition, especially since the Johannine tradition seems to have been preserved primarily in the form of the oral testimony of teachers in the community at this time. In such a setting, it would be easy for John to summarize several ideas from the accepted Jesus tradition into one creedal statement supporting his argument.

While the above solutions are reasonable, the formula that introduces “God is light” suggests that John thinks of the statement as a saying of Jesus. He refers to it as the “message” (angelia, GK 32) that “we heard from him,” and he uses anangellō (GK 334; “we declare”) to describe his current proclamation of the same message “to you.” While John has previously insisted that he saw and touched the Life (1:1–3), the terms in 1:5 all refer to hearing and speaking, even though it would be more logical to refer to “seeing” that “God is light.” In this context it seems most likely that the hoti at 1:5 indicates direct discourse (“And this is the message we heard from him and declare to you: ‘God is Light.’ ”). In support of this conclusion it should be noted that, while the fourth gospel gives no evidence that Jesus spoke of God as “light,” the underlying structure of the argument at 1 John 1:5–10 is formally similar to passages in the fourth gospel where Jesus is attempting to prove a point. In any case, even if John has combined several traditional sayings or motifs into one creed, he seems to be presenting the statement here from the platform of his authoritative witness to Jesus.[4]


1:5 / God is light. This is both a theological and a moral statement, i.e., it describes the essential nature of God, as well as God’s character in relation to humanity. Later (4:8, 16) the Elder will affirm that God is love. Here, though, the emphasis is first upon the character of God as good, pure, and holy. Light implies integrity, truthfulness, and authenticity. It is also the nature of light to shine, to manifest itself, to reveal, and this God has done in him who is the light of the world (John 3:19; 8:12; 9:5).

The author claims that this understanding of God is what Jesus taught; it is the message (angelia) which the first generation heard from him and now declares (anangellō; the same verb is translated as proclaim in vv. 2–3) to those who follow. It is also what they learned from observation of his life (John 14:9: “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father”).

The last part of the verse strongly affirms, as if in bold contrast to an unspoken claim to the contrary, that there is absolutely no darkness in God. Light and darkness are favorite antithetical concepts in the Johannine writings (John 1:4–5; 3:19–21; 8:12; 12:35–36, 46; 1 John 2:8–11; cf. Rev. 21:24 and 22:5). Darkness stands for evil, sin, and impurity. It implies deceit, falseness, and inauthenticity. Light and darkness are ultimately incompatible, and, while in all human character and behavior there is gray, in God there is nothing unworthy, undependable, or morally ambiguous. God is light.[5]


The content of the message (verse 5)

God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. The positive is characteristically reinforced by an equally strong negative which might be translated absolutely literally ‘and darkness, in him, no, not any at all!’ The two are utterly incompatible. What does light suggest to us? Minds taught by Scripture go back to Genesis 1:3: ‘And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.’ Here is the earliest expression of the nature and will of the Creator. His words execute his purposes; both words and actions together reveal his character. The God who creates begins with light, as the primary expression of his own eternal being. And from this everything else grows. Without that light there would be no plant or animal life; no growth, no activity, no beauty would be possible. All creation owes not only its existence, but its sustenance, to the God who is light, and the Christ who declared himself to be the light of the world (Jn. 8:12; Col. 1:16–17). Not surprisingly, light became a frequent symbol of God’s presence in the Old Testament, finding one of its clearest expressions in the exodus, when Israel experienced that ‘the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night’ (Ex. 13:21). This function, as a source of illumination and guidance, probably lies behind John’s emphasis here on walking in the light as an essential of Christian discipleship.

The other major significance of God as light in Scripture is as a picture of his perfect moral righteousness, his flawless holiness. John’s thought here is paralleled by Paul’s assertion in 1 Timothy 6:16 that God ‘lives in unapproachable light’. His ‘otherness’ is demonstrated by the prophet Habakkuk’s conviction, ‘Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong’ (Hab. 1:13). A foundation stone of right Christian believing and living, then, is that intellectually, morally and spiritually God is light, unsullied and undiluted. It speaks of holiness and purity, of truth and integrity; but also of illumination and guidance, warmth and comfort. As Faber has so beautifully expressed it:

My God, how wonderful thou art,

Thy majesty how bright,

How beautiful thy mercy-seat,

In depths of burning light!

How wonderful, how beautiful

The sight of thee must be,

Thine endless wisdom, boundless power,

And aweful purity!

Such light scatters all our darkness. It is the truth against which all other claims must be tested. For it is the nature of light to penetrate everywhere unless it is deliberately shut out. The light reveals the reality, and while it dispels darkness, it also exposes what the darkness would hide. The point is well made in one of C. S. Lewis’s insights when he comments that we believe the sun has risen not because we see it, but because by it we see everything else. There are no twilight zones in God. If we interpret this verse theologically, John is saying, ‘God is truth and error can have no place with him’; if ethically, he is saying, ‘God is good and evil can have no place beside him.’

We are now in a position to see the personal implications of claiming to be in relationship with such a God. Clearly there can be no higher human privilege than to have fellowship with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. That is why John is writing the letter and that is why we are given life, for ‘the chief end of man is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.’ But it makes a nonsense of this possibility to imagine that we can live some sort of compromise existence, with one foot as it were walking in the light with God, and the other remaining in the darkness of the world. One of the first lessons of messing about in boats is that it is impossible to exist for long with one foot in the boat and the other on the river bank. The spiritual ‘splits’ are equally impossible! To illustrate this, John now proceeds to examine and demolish three false claims which were current in his day and which are still prevalent in our own. The first of these will occupy our attention for the rest of this section.[6]


God Is Light

John has introduced his letter by proclaiming the message that Jesus Christ, who is the Word of life, has appeared and that the readers may have fellowship with the Father and the Son, Jesus Christ. John continues to expand the content of that message and explains that fellowship includes light and truth.

5. This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.

  • “This is the message.” John skillfully uses the order of words in the Greek to emphasize his point. Although we are able to convey the emphasis in English only with the translation this is the message, John puts the stress on the verb is to convey the sense exists: “There exists this message.” He discloses not only the importance of the message but also its timeless significance. This message, therefore, has not been subject to change and modification, because it did not originate with John or with any other apostle or writer.
  • “The message we have heard from him.” John implies that God originated the message delivered by Jesus Christ. John writes, “We have heard [it] from him.” This is the third time John uses the construction we have heard (see also vv. 1, 3). The apostles heard the message from the lips of Jesus; they also knew it from the pages of the Old Testament. Hence David writes, “In your light we see light” (Ps. 36:9). God revealed himself to his people through the prophets (compare Isa. 49:6; 2 Peter 1:19).
  • “We … declare to you.” What did Jesus teach the apostles during his earthly ministry? John sums it up in one sentence. “We … declare to you: God is light; in him is no darkness at all.” John and the other apostles received this declaration from Jesus with the command to make it known. The message is not merely for information; it is a command. That is, God speaks and man must listen obediently.
  • “God is light.” John formulates short statements that describe God’s nature. In other places he says, “God is spirit” (John 4:24) and “God is love” (1 John 4:16). Here, in verse 5, he reveals God’s essence in a short statement of three words: “God is light.” God is not a light among many other lights; he is not a light-bearer; God does not have light as one of his characteristics, but he is light; and although he created light (Gen. 1:3), he himself is uncreated light. Moreover, the light of God is visible in Jesus, who said, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). In the Nicene Creed, the church confesses Jesus Christ as

God of God, Light of Light.

In Jesus we see God’s eternal light. From the moment of his birth to the time of his resurrection, the life of Jesus was filled with God’s light. “Jesus was completely and absolutely transparent with the Light of God.” And whoever has seen Jesus has seen the Father (John 14:9).

  • “In him there is no darkness at all.” Light is positive, darkness is negative. In his writings, John habitually contrasts opposites, including light and darkness, truth and falsehood, love and hate, right and wrong, life and death, faith and unbelief. He writes, “In [God] there is no darkness at all.” Using the emphatic negative, John stresses the positive. God and darkness are diametrically opposed. Anyone who has fellowship with God cannot be in darkness. He is in the light, glory, truth, holiness, and purity of God.[7]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2007). 1, 2, 3 John (pp. 22–25). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] Boice, J. M. (2004). The Epistles of John: an expositional commentary (pp. 28–30). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Calvin, J., & Owen, J. (2010). Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles (pp. 162–163). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[4] Thatcher, T. (2006). 1 John. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, pp. 429–430). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[5] Johnson, T. F. (2011). 1, 2, and 3 John (pp. 28–29). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[6] Jackman, D. (1988). The message of John’s letters: living in the love of God (pp. 27–29). Leicester, England; Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[7] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of James and the Epistles of John (Vol. 14, pp. 241–242). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

December 28 Principles of the Dragnet, Part 2

So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous.—Matt. 13:49

One way that God’s angels serve Him in the judgment is as instruments of separation and execution of final sentence (cf. Matt. 24:31; 25:31–32; Rev. 14:19; 15:5–16:21). This separation will be from among all the living and the dead of humanity from all time—“those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment” (John 5:29).

During His earthly ministry, Jesus repeatedly warned about the horrors of hell (Matt. 10:28; 25:41; Luke 16:23) and pled with people to avoid such a terrible fate by fleeing to Him for salvation. Even though life will seem normal, our Lord predicts that one day the righteous and unrighteous will part ways:

For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left. (Matt. 24:37–41)

God does not want any sinner to perish (Ezek. 18:23; 2 Peter 3:9). Jesus wept over Jerusalem because its people would not turn to Him (Luke 19:41)—He does not desire anyone to experience hell.

ASK YOURSELF

 

One way you see the distinction between the world and the church is how quickly the serene atmosphere of Christmas devolves into the bawdy recklessness of New Year’s Eve plans. Why are so many people content to treat Christianity like a part-time occupation?[1]

 


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 371). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

December 28: Unity

Jeremiah 52:1–34; Romans 14:13–15:7; Proverbs 29:1–27

Paul calls us to refrain from judging others (Rom 14:3). That’s easy enough to do when the people in our communities are the people we’d want to have over for dinner. What happens when those in our community don’t value (or disvalue) the things we value (or disvalue)?

“Now may the God of patient endurance and of encouragement grant you to be in agreement with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that with one mind you may glorify with one mouth the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore accept one another, just as Christ also has accepted you, to the glory of God” (Rom 15:5–7).

In this portion of his letter, Paul asks the Roman believers to stretch themselves. For the Roman believers, judgment might have centered on the issue of eating the meat of unclean animals or the observance of Jewish holidays. Paul asks them to withhold judgment of one another because only God has that right (Rom 14:10). He also asks them not to “be a cause for stumbling or a temptation” for people who genuinely struggle with things from which others feel free.

It’s easy to be in agreement when we’re in community with people of similar personalities, hobbies, and backgrounds. But when we need to be in agreement with someone who disagrees with the way we work out our faith, we feel inconvenienced. Here, Paul states that we not only need to be mindful; we need to be accepting. We can do so for one reason: “Christ also has accepted you” (Rom 15:7). We were reconciled to God while we were still His enemies (Rom 5:10). The great Peacemaker calls us to seek relationship with others because of His work. And His love puts our inconvenience in a whole new light.

How are you seeking unity in Christ with those who don’t reflect the things you do (or don’t) value?

Rebecca Van Noord[1]


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

DECEMBER 27 SINFUL MEN MAY NOW BECOME ONE WITH GOD

Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature….

2 PETER 1:4

Here is the whole final message of the New Testament: Through the atonement in Jesus’ blood sinful men may now become one with God!

Deity indwelling men! That is Christianity in its fullest effectuation, and even those greater glories of the world to come will be in essence but a greater and more perfect experience of the soul’s union with God. Deity indwelling men! That, I say, is Christianity and no man has experienced rightly the power of Christian belief until he has known this for himself as a living reality.

Everything else is preliminary to this! Incarnation, atonement, justification, regeneration; what are these but acts of God preparatory to the work of invading and the act of indwelling the redeemed human soul? Man who moved out of the heart of God now moves back into the heart of God by redemption!

God who moved out of the heart of man because of sin now enters again His ancient dwelling to drive out His enemies and once more make the place of His feet glorious!

That visible fire on the day of Pentecost had for the Church a deep and tender significance, for it told to all ages that they upon whose heads it sat were men and women apart. The mark of the fire was the sign of divinity; they who received it were forever a peculiar people, sons and daughters of the Flame.[1]


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

December 27, 2018 Evening Verse Of The Day

Faithful Friends

And let our people also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, that they may not be unfruitful. All who are with me greet you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. (3:14–15)

In closing, Paul gives a last word on faithful friends. Like Titus and the other elders on Crete, the people among whom they ministered were also [to] learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs.

It is not possible for a pastor, or even a team of pastors in a large church, to meet all of the many pressing needs of a congregation. Not only is there not enough time for one man to do it all, but other believers in the church invariably have spiritual gifts and abilities that the pastor does not have, by which certain good deeds can be accomplished and certain pressing needs of fellow believers can be met.

Beyond that, a harmonious, loving, and serving church also will be a beacon to the world, attracting unbelievers to the light of salvation through trust in Christ.

Paul’s final word for faithful friends is love for others in the faith. His final word to faithful friends is Grace be with you all.[1]


14. And let ours also learn to excel in good works. That the Cretans, on whom he lays this burden, may not complain of being loaded with the expense, he reminds them that they must not be unfruitful, and that therefore they must be warmly exhorted to be zealous in good works. But of this mode of expression we have already spoken. Whether, therefore, he enjoins them to excel in good works, or to assign the highest rank to good works, he means that it is useful for them to have an opportunity afforded for exercising liberality, that they may not “be unfruitful” on this ground, that there is no opportunity, or that it is not demanded by necessity. What follows has been already explained in the other Epistles.[2]


14 Finally (kai, “also,” linking vv. 13 and 14, is not translated in the NIV), Paul reminds Titus one last time of the importance of believers’ “doing what is good” (cf. v. 8; “our people” may be in distinction to the followers of the false teachers) so as not to be a burden to anyone (cf. Ro 1:13; 15:28; 2 Th 3:12–13).[3]


3:14 / The probability that Zenas and Apollos were the bearers of this letter is further supported by this unexpected intrusion into these final, personal greetings. Having mentioned their names and Titus’ need to assist them, Paul is also reminded of their destination and is thus prompted to give the Cretan believers themselves a final parting word: Our people too (there is an untranslated kai, “also, too,” in the text) must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good (cf. v. 8). The infinitive phrase, to devote themselves to doing what is good, is an exact repetition from verse 8. This is the recurring theme of the entire letter (1:16; 2:7, 14; 3:1, 8). In this instance the “good works” are qualified as for the purpose of providing for daily necessities (lit., “necessary needs”). Consequently, this final word lifts the concern above those attitudinal and behavioral “deeds” that stand basically in contrast to the arguments and quarrels of the false teachers.

It remains uncertain whether to provide for daily necessities reflects their need to work so as to supply their own everyday needs (so niv, neb, jb, nab) or to help with the “urgent needs” (Kelly) of others (rsv, gnb, et al.). The context, of both verse 8 and verse 13, suggests the latter as the better alternative. The final purpose of such good deeds is that they may … not live unproductive lives (cf. Kelly, “otherwise they will be good for nothing”). Fruitful Christians are so as they minister to the needs of others.[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1996). Titus (pp. 168–169). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentaries on the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon (pp. 343–344). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[3] Köstenberger, A. (2006). Titus. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 625). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] Fee, G. D. (2011). 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (p. 215). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.