Daily Archives: January 9, 2019

January 9 The Faithfulness of God

Scripture Reading: Psalm 102

Key Verses: Hebrews 13:5–6

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

At times in our spiritual walk we feel as though all of heaven is shut up before us. We find ourselves wondering whether God has forgotten us or we have done something to disappoint Him. But nothing we do surprises God. He is omniscient and perfectly in tune with our every thought.

God has chosen to love you, even in sin, with an unconditional love. His love is based not on your performance but on His grace. You could never in your own strength perform up to God’s standards. He loves you just as much when you stumble and fall as He does when you closely follow Him. This is not an excuse for sin but an opportunity to learn to love Him better.

Along the pathway of faith each of us can expect to face times of trials and difficulty when it appears that God is distant and removed from us. Yet we walk not by sight but in the reality of the promise that He will never leave or forsake us (Heb. 13:5–6). Faith always looks beyond the immediate to the eternal.

The times you feel God is doing nothing in your life are usually the very times He is doing His greatest work. Be of good courage; He may simply have you protected under the cover of His hand while He works out the necessary details for your advancement. Trust Him, and you will find Him faithful.

Almighty God, even when I feel You have forgotten me, You are still there. Thank You for Your unconditional love. I know You love me just as much when I stumble and fall as when I follow closely. Thank You for the great work You are doing in my life.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 10). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

SBC Prez: God Says We Need to Shut Up About the Reformation — Pulpit & Pen

[Reformation Charlotte] The Reformation was our defining moment as Protestants. It’s who we are, it’s our history. It was the moment the gospel was recovered from the grips of the apostasy of the Roman Catholic religion and made available to the common man. It was the wellspring of good theology of which we rest our knowledge of God on. Apart from the Scriptures itself, the Reformation gave birth to the greatest understanding of Jesus Christ and his saving gospel of grace that history has ever seen.

Remember the days of old;
consider the years of many generations;
ask your father, and he will show you,
your elders, and they will tell you.
When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance,
when he divided mankind,
he fixed the borders of the peoples
according to the number of the sons of God.

Deuteronomy 32:7-8

However, at the Cross Conference a few days ago, JD Greear, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of the multi-campus Summit megachurch in North Carolina, declares that God says we need to “shut up about the Reformation” because He is “not a God of the past.”

Basically what God says through Amos is if you’ll let me put it in colloquial language, “will you shut up about Gilgal and Beersheba?” I’m sick and tired of hearing about those places because I’m not a God who moved in the past. I’m a God who wants to move today in your present. I almost think, I’m on dangerous ground here…I almost think that God is saying to us “shut up about the Reformation.”

However, at the Cross Conference a few days ago, JD Greear, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of the multi-campus Summit megachurch in North Carolina, declares that God says we need to “shut up about the Reformation” because He is “not a God of the past.”

Basically what God says through Amos is if you’ll let me put it in colloquial language, “will you shut up about Gilgal and Beersheba?” I’m sick and tired of hearing about those places because I’m not a God who moved in the past. I’m a God who wants to move today in your present. I almost think, I’m on dangerous ground here…I almost think that God is saying to us “shut up about the Reformation.”

For your viewing pleasure, here is a link to the entire sermon.

[Editor’s Note: Over-all, this reeks of the Acts 29-ism of Greear’s homeboys. By the way, Greear is wrong on God’s name being defined simply as “I am.” יהוה, or Yahweh, is an omni tempered verb meaning that it could be rendered, I was that I was, I was that I am, I was that I will be, etc as well as the more traditional I am that I am or I will be what I will be. Also, I would remind Greear that God is the “One who was, and is, and is to come” (Revelation 1:8). Either way, it is safe to say – as we’ve reported before – Greear is definitely not Reformed and not a Calvinist]

via SBC Prez: God Says We Need to Shut Up About the Reformation — Pulpit & Pen

‘Good Evening,’ Says President Trump, Drawing Immediate Flurry Of Fact Checks — The Babylon Bee

WASHINGTON, D.C.—As President Trump began addressing the nation Tuesday evening, he said, “Good evening” to the camera, drawing an immediate flurry of fact checks from publications all across the country.

The New York Times pointed out that the meaning of the phrase was vague and that Trump could have meant any one of several things by the statement. Finally, they concluded that since Trump stubbornly insists on existing in our plane of reality, the statement that the evening was “good” in any way couldn’t possibly be true:

CNN, meanwhile, fact-checked the concept of “good” altogether. “Hold it right there,” one anchor said, pausing the broadcast to interject his comments. “What is this hateful, absolute, objective idea of good that Trump’s talking about here? Correct me if I’m wrong, Brian, but it seems to me that Trump is advocating for a national religion and the execution of all Muslims with this statement.”

“This is a very grave day in America,” he added solemnly. “We rate this statement ‘Pants on Fire.'”

Fox News rated the statement as a “mixture” of truth and falsehood, since with Trump in the White House, “it’s actually a GREAT evening!”

via ‘Good Evening,’ Says President Trump, Drawing Immediate Flurry Of Fact Checks — The Babylon Bee

Midweek Apologetics Hit & Misc: Into the Spider-Verse!

Source: Midweek Apologetics Hit & Misc: Into the Spider-Verse!

Alexander: Pelosi’s MSM “Wrap-Up Smear” Collusion Against Trump

It’s all about leftists’ unquenchable thirst for statist power, and for them, Americans outside the Beltway are just collateral damage in their quest.

Mark Alexander

“The known propensity of a democracy is to licentiousness which the ambitious call, and ignorant believe to be liberty.” —Fisher Ames (1788)

Just before the November midterm election, in which the Trump administration’s extraordinary record of achievement couldn’t prevail over the Democrats’ “Hate Trump” campaign, the Democrat Party and its Leftmedia propagandists repeatedly denounced Donald Trump for suggesting that the most blatantly biased elements of the mainstream media were the “enemy of the people.”

According to Trump, in his brash rhetorical style: “There is great anger in our country caused in part by inaccurate, and even fraudulent, reporting of the news. The Fake News Media, the true Enemy of the People, must stop the open & obvious hostility & report the news accurately & fairly. That will do much to put out the flame of Anger and Outrage and we will then be able to bring all sides together in Peace and Harmony. Fake News Must End!”

When Trump says “fake news” is the “enemy of the people,” he clearly means the enemy of Liberty, which has sustained our Republic — and, ironically, freedom of the press — since our nation’s inception.

A case in point would be the Leftmedia’s response to his remarks this week regarding the humanitarian and security crisis on our southern border. Many of the Demo public-relations outlets debated whether they would even broadcast Trump’s first Oval Office speech.

Trump first referred to the mainstream media’s insidious and fallacious reporting a week after his inauguration in January of 2017, when he opined, “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”

But Leftmedia protagonists and their ideological conscripts have no idea what Trump — and grassroots Americans living outside the Beltway — mean when they assert that the media’s erroneous and prejudiced news coverage is the enemy of Liberty and, by extension, the enemy of the people.

Regarding Trump’s MSM callout, distinguished journalist Brit Hume observed, “I don’t think the press is the enemy of the people, but I do think the mainstream media have proven themselves to be the enemy of Trump. … There has been more bad and biased reporting such as I have never seen in the 50 years I have been in this business.”

For the record, The Washington Post has never in its history endorsed a Republican for president, and the last time a Republican was endorsed by The New York Times was 1956.

And regarding the Times, according to Jill Abramson (its executive editor from 2011 to 2014), that rag has become “unmistakably anti-Trump.” In her upcoming book, Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts, Abramson slams the NYT’s unapologetic leftist bias. She writes, “Though [Dean] Baquet [her successor and current executive editor] said publicly he didn’t want the Times to be the opposition party, his news pages were unmistakably anti-Trump. Some headlines contained raw opinion, as did some of the stories that were labeled as news analysis.”

Indeed, the Times and The Washington Post have become leftist tabloids, the latter as the ideological megaphone of its billionaire socialist owner, Jeff Bezos, one of this era’s leading “Archenemies of Liberty.” But the print media is moderate compared to CNN and the cable collective’s dezinformatsia campaign against Trump.

Media bias is nothing new, but in concert with the Democrat Party’s most vociferous gang of socialist deniers and the ability to reach virtually every American 24/7/365, that bias is a more formidable threat to Liberty than at any time in our history.

Remarkably, the Democrats’ strategy for mastering that threat was inadvertently outlined by then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi a month after Trump took office — but received little attention at the time.

In a March 2017 interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Pelosi described what she said were smear tactics against Barack Obama. According to Pelosi: “It’s called a wrap-up smear. You make up something. Then you have the press write about it. And then you say, ‘Everybody is writing about this charge.’ It’s a tool of an [authoritarian regime] to just have you always be talking about what you want them to be talking about.”

The problem with Pelosi’s explanation is that even those with the most rudimentary brainstem activity know that Republicans can’t “have the press write about” whatever they dictate, and then use that as bona fide to make their point. That tactic belongs exclusively to the Democrats, whom the media have long favored.

In June, during a House Minority Leader Weekly Briefing recorded by C-SPAN, Pelosi went into more detail about the “wrap-up smear” strategy:

“It’s a diversionary tactic. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. You demonize, and then you — we call it the wrap-up smear. You want to talk about politics? It’s called the wrap-up smear. You smear somebody with falsehoods and all the rest, and then you merchandise it, and then you write it, and they’ll say, ‘See, it’s reported in the press that this, this, and this,’ so they have that validation that the press reported the smear, and then it’s called a wrap-up smear. ‘Now I’m going to merchandise the press’s report on the smear that we made.’ It’s a tactic.”

Again, she ludicrously claimed that Republicans actually control the Demo/MSM media machine, but the phrase she used to describe tactical political deflection originates with her.

Pelosi’s corrupt collusion tactics with the mainstream media amount to a gross betrayal of the First Amendment. The resulting perversion of the power of the press completely erodes the historic role it was intended to fill, providing a balanced and truthful check against political corruption. But most of the media has now hitched its wagon to that corruption.

Pelosi’s “wrap-up smear” was precisely the prescription that former FBI Director James Comey followed when orchestrating his fake-news press leaks to Leftmedia outlets in order to ensure that, by his own admission, a special prosecutor was appointed to investigate Russian collusion within the Trump campaign.

Comey’s sole objective was to set Trump up for a takedown.

As we now know, the fake Russian dossier Comey used to initiate the investigation against Trump was funded by the Clinton campaign and her Democrat Party cohorts about the same time that they were conspiring to rig the Democrat primary against upstart Clinton opponent Bernie Sanders.

And the Demos’ Leftmedia talkingheads and news pulpers have devoted endless amounts of their collective airtime since Trump’s election to the collusion conspiracy and the resulting Trump investigation by Comey’s old friend, now-Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller.

More recently, the Left used the same “wrap-up smear” strategy in a vile attempt to turn public opinion against the nomination of now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. California Demo Sen. Dianne Feinstein scripted the smear, providing her Leftmedia outlets with a salacious story with which to begin shaping public opinion. And those suffering from the most chronic cases of Trump Derangement Syndrome and toxic femininity — the female voters who represent the Democrats’ largest voter bloc — bought it hook, line, and sinker.

Feinstein’s smear almost worked, but Justice Kavanaugh withstood the storm and called the smear exactly was it was.

Donald Trump, however, may not fare so well against the perpetual smears being leveled at him.

Now that Pelosi, the embodiment of the congressional “Trump Resistance Collective, is speaker of the House, she will, as I predicted, undertake impeachment proceedings against Trump.

The resulting discord will likely result in the recession that Democrats are secretly hoping for ahead of the 2020 elections. If their plan works, job and income prospects for tens of millions of American workers will fall victim to a politically induced recession.

As Pelosi took the gavel, Trump warned, “As I have stated many times, if the Democrats take over … there will be disruption to the Financial Markets. We won the Senate, they won the House. Things will settle down. They only want to impeach me because they know they can’t win in 2020, too much success!”

Bottom line: It’s all about leftists’ unquenchable thirst for statist power. And for them, Americans outside the Beltway are just collateral damage in their quest.

As symbols of the fakest fake news of 2018, several of our conservative media friends have provided us with their top picks.

The Washington Examiner compiled a list of the worst journalism moments. The Media Research Center collected the most ridiculous cases of Trump Derangement Syndrome. Shockingly, The Washington Post ate one of its own, exposing CNN’s Journalist of the Year for the anti-Trump hack he was. National Review offered a good perspective on why people believe fake news. Townhall has a list of the most awesome fake news. And The Daily Caller offers its estimate of the most egregious fake news of 2018.

And, of course, having continuously challenged the Leftmedia’s assault on Liberty, we offer a video collection of some of the most mortifying media moments of the past year.

During his Second Inaugural Address, Thomas Jefferson shared this remarkably prescient observation of a malignant media that had plagued his first term: “During the course of administration, and in order to disturb it, the artillery of the press has been leveled against us, charged with whatsoever its licentiousness could devise or dare. These abuses of an institution so important to freedom and science are deeply to be regretted, inasmuch as they tend to lessen its usefulness and to sap its safety.”

That artillery was, and remains now more than ever, the enemy of Liberty and, by extension, the Enemy of the People.

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

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

Gallup Reports That American Trust in Clergy Is At an All Time Low — The Wartburg Watch

Who ya gonna trust?


Image by Ryan Ashton

Most Christian leadership is exercised by people who do not know how to develop healthy, intimate relationships and have opted for power and control instead. Many Christian empire-builders have been people unable to give and receive love. Henri Nouwen

____________

The Christian Post reported that Americans’ trust in honesty, ethics of clergy hits all-time low in Gallup ranking of professions.

“The public’s views of the honesty and ethics of the clergy continue to decline after the Catholic Church was rocked again this year by more abuse scandals,” Gallup noted in its observations.

One of the biggest scandals occurred in August when a Pennsylvania grand jury released a 1,300-page report, revealing that at least 301 priests had abused over 1,000 children in the past several decades. What is more, it was found that many of the perpetrators were protected by the church’s hierarchy and moved to other churches.

The Christian Post noted both Protestant sand Catholics have been affected by scandals.

Sexual abuse claims, involving both children and adults, have rocked churches across the U.S., South America and Europe this year, affecting both Protestant and Catholic congregations.

This reflects itself in the stats. My prediction is that Protestant positive perception of clergy honesty and ethics will continue to decline as more sexual abuse become known.

In the Gallup poll, 48 percent of Protestants rated clergy positively, compared to only 31 percent of Catholics.

According to Gallup, the public perception of clergy has experienced a steady decline since 2012.

Gallup has measured Americans’ views of the clergy’s honesty and ethics 34 times beginning in 1977, and this year’s 37% very high/high rating is the lowest to date. Although the overall average positive rating is 54%, it has consistently fallen below that level since 2009. The historical high of 67% occurred in 1985.

Positive views of the honesty and ethics of the clergy dropped in 2002 amid a sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church, and although positive ratings rebounded somewhat in the next few years, they fell to 50% in 2009 and have been steadily declining since 2012.

Gallup claims that the continued revelations of Catholic clergy abuse is contributing to the continued decline.

The public’s views of the honesty and ethics of the clergy continue to decline after the U.S. Catholic Church was rocked again this year by more abuse scandals.

An analysis by Gallup’s Jeffrey Jones in Effects of Year’s Scandals Evident in Honesty and Ethics Ratings seems to indicate that the decline of Catholic perceptions of clergy was more precipitous than that of Protestant perceptions.

Catholic respondents give slightly lower average ratings to clergy, 50%, than do Protestants, 57%. An analysis of past data shows that the Catholic priest sexual-abuse scandal appears to have dragged down Catholics’ ratings of clergy’s honesty and ethics more than it has those of Protestants. In 1997, Protestants (62%) and Catholics (64%) gave similar ratings that were above the overall average of 59%, whereas now Catholics’ ratings of the clergy are below the overall average and noticeably lower than Protestants’ ratings.

Sadly, those without any religious affiliation have especially negative perceptions of clergy. I believe that this will have a negative impact on churches and groups which focus on outreach to the religiously unaffiliated. I would keep an eye on the baptismal rates in evangelical churches. If this trend continues, I would expect the baptism and conversion rates to continue to fall.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the current ratings of clergy are especially negative among those who have no religious affiliation. Just 30% of this group rates religious leaders’ ethics highly.

I believe that churches will need to respond to the increasing public perception of dishonest and ethically challenged church leaders. The good men and women will be affected by the dishonest ones. How to change this perception will be a yeoman’s task.

On the other hand…

Guess which profession ranks the highest in perception of honesty and ethics? According to Gallup Nurses Again Outpace Other Professions for Honesty, Ethics. Just to remind you, Dee is a nurse…

via Gallup Reports That American Trust in Clergy Is At an All Time Low —

Internet Explodes with Memes and Jokes After Schumer and Pelosi Offer Staged Rebuttal

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) unwittingly launched a myriad of memes and jokes on social media platforms on Tuesday night and beyond after the two delivered an awkwardly staged rebuttal to President Donald Trump’s first Oval Office address.

The major media networks carried both Trump’s speech and the Democrats’ rebuttal during prime-time slots Tuesday evening.

The speeches occurred amid a partial government shutdown, which resulted from Democrats’ refusal to give Trump the $5 billion in border wall funding he demanded.

The president called for ending the “humanitarian crisis” at the border and urged Democrats to provide wall funding and reopen the government.

But Pelosi and Schumer refused to back down in their joint rebuttals.

“Much of what we have heard from President Trump throughout this senseless shutdown has been full of misinformation and even malice,” Pelosi claimed. “The president has chosen fear.”

Schumer said, “The symbol of America should be the Statue of Liberty, not a 30-foot wall,” as he urged Trump to “re-open the government and we can work to resolve our differences over border security.”

But many social media users felt that the two Democratic leaders positioned themselves awkwardly and stiffly as they stood close together in front of a tiny podium before a conspicuous row of American flags.

The staging drew comparisons to everything ranging from the creepy twins in “The Shining” movie to the iconic “American Gothic” painting to a disapproving mom and dad lecturing their disobedient children.

MSNBC anchor Brian Williams said Tuesday that “this Chuck and Nancy visual tonight launched 1,000 memes while they were still talking.”

“There was an ‘American Gothic’ meme, there was a ‘Your mother and I are very upset you stayed out so late’ meme,” Williams added. “But this visual from tonight goes down in the pantheon.”

Democratic strategist James Carville told Williams, “I don’t think they wanted to do it. I don’t think they should’ve done it … I’ve been more excited about colonoscopies than he was giving his speech tonight. [Schumer] didn’t want to be there!”

YourVoice America host Bill Mitchell tweeted, “I would like to apologize to clowns, wood, dead people and the twins from ‘The Shining’ for comparing Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to them tonight.”

Twitter user neontaster tweeted an image of the farmer and his wife’s faces in the “American Gothic” painting swapped out with Schumer’s and Pelosi’s faces.

Some noted that Schumer and Pelosi should not have been staring at the teleprompter and camera at the same time while the other person was speaking.

Schumer, in particular, appeared to be glaring at the camera as Pelosi spoke.

Related: Trump Offered ‘Sober’ and ‘Serious’ Speech, Yet Dems Don’t ‘Give a Damn’ About Border Crisis

“TV tip for Schumer and Pelosi — When on a two shot, look at the person talking, not at the camera. Gives impression of hostage tape,” conservative communications strategist Emily Miller tweeted. “I’m sure Chuck and Nancy have been on TV as much as I have. How do they not know to look at the speaker? … The other TV tip reason Chuck and Nancy seemed weird to viewers is they were both reading along the TelePrompTer as the other spoke. They weren’t reacting to the other’s message. Thus the dead in the eyes appearance.”

Cleveland.com reporter Seth Richardson tweeted, “If you played a drinking game where you had to drink every time Pelosi and Schumer blinked during this speech, you would be very sober at the end.”

Fox News host Greg Gutfeld tweeted, “Chuck and Nancy look like they’re selling me a reverse mortgage.”

Fox Business Network host Trish Regan tweeted, “Chuck and Nancy… giving new meaning to a ‘deer in the headlights.’ Yikes.”

Fox New contributor and TownHall editor Guy Benson tweeted, “When you think you can sneak into the house after staying out too late, but Mom & Dad are up waiting for you in the living room.”

Daily Wire editor-in-chief and conservative commentator Ben Shapiro tweeted, “The special effects for the undead are so lifelike these days! Wow!”

Check out the rebuttal in the video below:

Source: Internet Explodes with Memes and Jokes After Schumer and Pelosi Offer Staged Rebuttal

January 9 Your Greatest Desire

Scripture reading: Matthew 16:13–19

Key verse: John 6:48

I am the bread of life.

Part of the disciples’ training was practical application. Jesus would teach, then He would bring the lesson to life through a parable or a real-life experience. By walking on water, He demonstrated supernatural abilities. Withdrawing to be alone with His heavenly Father, He portrayed His devotion and set an example for His disciples to do the same.

A good example was the feeding of the four thousand; they were hungry and Jesus fed them. It was His way of teaching that He was the “bread of life” (John 6:48). Peter was so overwhelmed by all he had witnessed, he made the following confession, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16).

Jesus came to point men to God. He also came to identify personally with each one of us. The people prayed that Jesus was the One who would set Israel free from years of Roman oppression. They didn’t understand His greatest desire was to restore the love for God that man had lost.

What is your greatest desire? Is it to know God’s love and affection? During the Transfiguration, Peter was so overcome with emotion, he could only whisper his heart’s desire: “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles” (Mark 9:5). Jesus was much more than flesh and bone; He was God, and all Peter wanted was to be found hidden in His love.

Dear God, my greatest desire is to know Your love and affection. Reveal Yourself to me in a new and greater dimension.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 10). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

A Comprehensive Round-Up Of The Best ‘Chuck And Nancy’ Memes — The Federalist

‘Chuck and Nancy’ gave the Internet plenty to talk about in their response to President Trump’s immigration address on Tuesday.

You hate to see it. They never really stood a chance. The urge to meme is too powerful a force. At this point, Twitter’s collective mockery of the bizarrely staged Chuck Schumer-Nancy Pelosi response to President Trump’s Oval Office address is so savage it borders on cruelty.

But that’s okay. It’s worth it. Memes always are. Here’s a selection of our favorites from Tuesday’s historic pile-on:

Have you been in an accident with someone who didn’t have insurance? Our law firm can help. Call today. pic.twitter.com/MvrNZPALRk

— Gary Legum (@GaryLegum) January 9, 2019

Your father and I aren’t angry with you, just … disappointed. pic.twitter.com/RZKC6SxkFe

— jon gabriel (@exjon) January 9, 2019

Your mother and I love you very much but you’re just going to have to stay in jail overnight. pic.twitter.com/gVir3sjAqO

— Brian J. White (@talkwordy) January 9, 2019

When it’s 6:01am and Country Kitchen Buffet still hasn’t opened their doors pic.twitter.com/4bh52yfaX1

— Comfortably Smug (@ComfortablySmug) January 9, 2019

“It’s one banana Michael what could it cost 10 dollars?” pic.twitter.com/cmeEbRlfty

— Nick Lauritsen (@nick_lauritsen) January 9, 2019

D minuses will NOT get you in to Barnard, Colette https://t.co/YmTZqMiDgq

— Ben Domenech (@bdomenech) January 9, 2019

I can’t be the only one that sees this pic.twitter.com/CvpCjnnEPu

— Cabot Phillips (@cabot_phillips) January 9, 2019

pic.twitter.com/TnQzTD3q3O

— neontaster (@neontaster) January 9, 2019

pic.twitter.com/EjHzvdT511

— Cameron Gray (@Cameron_Gray) January 9, 2019

I think she’s the hostage, but I’m not sure. pic.twitter.com/zEZdrxJjH2

— Tim Carney (@TPCarney) January 9, 2019

when your parents find your juul pic.twitter.com/V30gILLQQl

— John Kroencke (@johnkroencke) January 9, 2019

pic.twitter.com/HTjtFmKid2

— Tall Daniel (@ItsDanSheehan) January 9, 2019

Little did we know that Creed Braton and Lucile Bluth were the most ambitious crossover event in history this whole time. pic.twitter.com/2LtDylgghV

— Grant Addison (@jgrantaddison) January 9, 2019

When The Mule is playing but it’s her turn to pick the movie and you know you’re sitting through The Favourite. pic.twitter.com/rXUhSz4AWT

— Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) January 9, 2019

All they had to do is not look crazy…. pic.twitter.com/SKqZFl4Q8J

— EducatédHillbilly™ (@RobProvince) January 9, 2019

When the HOA cannot approve your gazebo. pic.twitter.com/OzRf02H9vB

— pourmecoffee (@pourmecoffee) January 9, 2019

pic.twitter.com/0ntPhjNUGA

— derek schwartz (@derek_mafs) January 9, 2019

I sub in Creed from The Office pic.twitter.com/Arc8NZDcSU

— Dusty (@DustinGiebel) January 9, 2019

pic.twitter.com/MFao7u4rqj

— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) January 9, 2019

pic.twitter.com/a44x3LXOcK

— Logan Dobson (@LoganDobson) January 9, 2019

We’ve all been grounded for the weekend. Also, we should pick up our room. This isn’t a hotel. pic.twitter.com/9TxAc54HyO

— Karen Tumulty (@ktumulty) January 9, 2019

pic.twitter.com/cOrYoPdgbx

— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) January 9, 2019

In conclusion, let us remember the immortal words of Schumer himself, who said just last week, “Enough with memes.”

via A Comprehensive Round-Up Of The Best ‘Chuck And Nancy’ Memes — The Federalist

Eternal Suffering — Zwinglius Redivivus

HOTTINGER: “Eternal (death) is the eternal condemnation of the impious after this life in hell—where separated from God’s blessed communion, in company with the devil and his angels, they will be subjected to infinite tortures in soul and body alike and will be tortured steadily and eternally”  — Heinrich Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics.

via Eternal Suffering — Zwinglius Redivivus

J.D. Greear Needs to Stop Talking About Church History and the Bible — Zwinglius Redivivus

He’s an embarrassment.  Besides leading his church to abandon worship (so families could worship themselves) a couple of Sunday’s back, he’s now blathered on about the Reformation.

… at the Cross Conference a few days ago, JD Greear, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of the multi-campus Summit megachurch in North Carolina, declares that God says we need to “shut up about the Reformation” because He is “not a God of the past.”

Greear probably doesn’t know it but every single thing mentioned in the Bible happened in the past.  The ignorant git continues, more ignorantly-

Basically what God says through Amos is if you’ll let me put it in colloquial language, “will you shut up about Gilgal and Beersheba?” I’m sick and tired of hearing about those places because I’m not a God who moved in the past. I’m a God who wants to move today in your present. I almost think, I’m on dangerous ground here…I almost think that God is saying to us “shut up about the Reformation.”

That’s not what Amos is about at all.  Neither is God saying we should shut up about the Reformation.

The only thing that the selection of Greear to head the SBC proves is that voters at the annual meeting don’t care a thing about a leader’s theological sense or biblical understanding: it’s just a popularity contest.  Greear is the pastor of a big church with ‘multiple campuses’ not because he’s a theologian (he isn’t) nor because he’s a biblical scholar (he clearly isn’t) but instead simply because he’s a showman.  A farce.

Greear, to borrow a phrase from Paul, should ‘keep silent in the church’.

via J.D. Greear Needs to Stop Talking About Church History and the Bible — Zwinglius Redivivus

Lauren Daigle Rebrands Image as Non-Christian Artist — Pulpit & Pen

 

Lauren Daigle writhes seductively with her midriff exposed in her Christian music videos, while singing about Jesus in tones that make you wonder if he’s her boyfriend. The Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) industry and its fans love it, as they look for a genre as close to godlessness as possible while still occasionally eluding to Jesus. It sells.

However, when CCM artists hit “the big time” they go secular. It happens over and over and over again. Jessica Simpson started out as an aspiring CCM star, before becoming a serial marrier whose fornicative sexual exploits were detailed by an ex-lover in Playboy Magazine. Bands like Jars of Clay, Switchfoot, Skillet, POD, and Amy Grant all tried crossover careers. Lecrae found mainstream success and has moved on to rap thuggery with some pretty ungodly secular artists, calling himself an “artist who is a Christian, rather than a Christian artist.”

The opposite is also true. Burned out secular stars go CCM (or Southern Gospel). The reason for this is simple; CCM is a “softer market” and it’s easier to become a star in that genre than in the public at large. It serves for many as an express lane to wider popularity, and most CCM artists – at least according to former CCM artists – aren’t even Christians.

There’s been no shortage of former CCM artists who have admitted that they aren’t believers and most of their peers in CCM aren’t believers. The industry is about making music and money, not glorifying God. This is something Steve Camp pointed out in his 1997 107 Theses.

Daigle recently writhed seductively on Ellen’s program, and then claimed she didn’t know enough about the Bible to say whether or not homosexuality was a sin (Andy Stanley is her pastor, so that makes sense). In spite of that, Charisma News, comedian John Crist, and many others have come out to support her as a well-meaning but innocently ignorant believer.

Now, Daigle says that she’s not really a Christian star after all. She is repositioning herself as a mainstream star, predictibly.

According to Reformation Charlotte, “Amid the controversy in her celebrity life, she’s now facing the reality of the consequences of her influence. She was recently interviewed on 104.3 MYFM where she was asked if she considered herself to be a “Christian artist.”

I feel like those labels get put on you by other people…I was reading articles, I read them here in there, and one of them said Christian artist and the other ones said just artist. But I think part of me is just an artist because it encompasses everything. That’s kind of how I see myself.

You can watch the video below.

Christians, stop falling for the CCM industry.

via Lauren Daigle Rebrands Image as Non-Christian Artist — Pulpit & Pen

Will the LGBTQ Progressive Agenda Capture the UMC in February 2019? — Juicy Ecumenism

By Lee Cary and Philip McLarty

Rev. Dr. Lee D. Cary served 25 years as a United Methodist pastor in Northern Illinois and North Texas. He holds a Masters in Theology (’74) and a Doctor of Sacred Theology (’79) from the UMC’s Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois.

Rev. Dr. Philip W. McLarty has served 24 years as a UMC pastor, and 22 years as a pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA). He holds a Masters in Theology (’74) and a Doctor of Ministry (’81) from the UMC’s Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, Texas. Today, as a retired Presbyterian minister, he pastors two United Methodist congregations in rural Arkansas.      

UM Voices contributors represent only themselves and not IRD/UMAction.

 

The LGBTQ agenda driving the United Methodist Church (UMC) debate concerning human sexuality is based on political religion and stems from identity politics. Human sexuality is not a theological debate.

The Church reacts to political pressure, just like other venues of American culture. When a politically-driven ideology defines Church doctrine, the result can assume the patina of a state religion. And, if that happens next February at a special UMC meeting in St. Louis, it could implode the denomination.

The history of Protestant denominations is full of theological debates that led to schisms. One such debate, that came to a head in the early 20th Century, led to the founding of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (1936), and, later, the Bible Presbyterian Church (1938). Here’s a brief review of that saga.  

 

Early 20th Century Debate of Modernism vs. Confessional Calvinism

The strife back then within the Presbyterian Church was mainly between Modernism and Confessional Calvinism.

Writing as a Modernist, Shailer Mathews, Dean of the University of Chicago Divinity School, wrote this in his 1924 book entitled The Faith of Modernism:

The issue between Modernism and Confessionalism is not one of mere theology. It is rather a struggle between two types of mind, two attitudes toward culture, and, in consequence, two conceptions as to how Christianity can help us live…[T]he use of scientific, historical, social method in understanding and applying evangelical Christianity to the needs of living persons is Modernism.” (pp. 18-19)

Who were the Modernists? In his book of over a thousand pages chronicling the decline of the Presbyterian Church, Crossed Fingers: How the Liberals Captured the Presbyterian Church, Gary North wrote:

The reason why the term ‘modernist’ has been applied by historians to religious figures as well as to contemporary political activists and cultural innovators is that theological modernists shared Progressivism’s faith…It was faith in Darwinian evolution, historical relativism, progress through science, the benevolent State, and the benefits of getting one’s hands on other people’s money–through political force, deception, or both.” (Preface, xxxv)

Writing for the Presbyterian Confessional Traditionalists, Princeton Seminary’s New Testament Professor J. Gresham Machen referred to Modernism as theological “Liberalism” in his 1923 book Christianity and Liberalism:    

“There is a profound difference, then, in the attitude assumed by modern liberalism and by Christianity toward Jesus the Lord. Liberalism regards Him as an Example and Guide; Christianity, as a Savior: liberalism makes Him an example for faith; Christianity, the object of faith…If Jesus was only what the liberal historians suppose that He was, then trust in Him would be out of place…liberalism regards Jesus as the fairest flower of humanity; Christianity regards Him as a supernatural Person.” (p. 82)

The debate from 1900-1936 pitted an established orthodoxy, based on the authority of the Scripture, against the Modernist understanding of mankind’s evolving word as authority. It was a well-documented and clearly-articulated theological debate.

 

The Early 21st Century Human Sexuality Debate in Today’s UMC

The LBGTQ movement’s push to change the UMC’s position on homosexuality and same sex marriage escalated at recent General Conferences. Feeling that they were at an impasse, a narrow majority of delegates approved formation of a 32-member, church-wide Commission on the Way Forward tasked to find a solution to the disagreement. (In the mid-1920’s, the Presbyterians appointed “The Commission of Fifteen” to address their own internal unrest.)

This led to the showdown scheduled for February 23-26, 2019, in St. Louis, Missouri.

Advocates of the One Church Plan are labeled “Progressives.”  Those opposing the Progressives are “Traditionalists.”  Those favoring The Connectional Church Plan are unlabeled.

When questioned by email as to what it means to be “Progressive” in the context of this debate, a spokesperson for United Methodist Communications wrote:

“[W]ithin American Protestantism…the term ‘progressive’ or ‘progressives’ describe those who work for change to improve the lives of persons who have been oppressed or excluded within church structures and in the wider world—often joining with others who share similar political, economic, or social views, even when religious views may vary dramatically. Progressives within various religious groups have ‘kept up the fight’ for women’s rights, for civil rights for all people, for the environment, for the rights of indigenous peoples, and for LGBTQIA+ rights.” 

This explanation takes a page out of the LGBTQ Playbook, and suggests that the official communication outlet of the UMC has assigned the moral high ground to the One Church Plan and its advocates. That position mirrors the stated opinion of a majority of the Council of Bishops.

In 2013, the LGBTQ agenda influenced the Boy Scouts of America to lift its restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation. The organization subsequently permitted gay adults to be Scout leaders.

In 2015, the LGBTQ agenda influenced the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges by redefining marriage to include same-sex couples.

Since the late 19th Century, the American Progressive Movement has captured, or made significant inroads into, the academy, media, civil government, entertainment, advertising, professional sports, and organized religion. The current crisis in the UMC is among several, recent, Progressive inroads into the Church.

In June 2015, the Presbyterian Church (USA) amended its Book of Order to open the door to same-sex marriages, stating:

“Marriage is a gift God has given to all humankind for the wellbeing of the entire human family. Marriage involves a unique commitment between two people, traditionally a man and a woman, to love and support each other for the rest of their lives. The sacrificial love that unites the couple sustains them as faithful and responsible members of the church and the wider community.” 

(Note the shift away from normatively teaching that marriage IS between a man and a woman.)

As of 2018, the Episcopal Church stripped its bishops of the authority to prohibit any priest in their respective dioceses from conducting same-sex marriage ceremonies. In response, the Rt. Rev. Bishop William Love of the Albany Diocese, wrote a long Pastoral Letter explaining why he refused to abide by the new provision. In “To the People of God in the Diocese of Albany and throughout the World” he wrote this:

“The Episcopal Church and Western Society have been hijacked by the ‘Gay Rights Agenda’ which is very well organized, very strategic, very well financed, and very powerful.”

The question is: Will the United Methodist Church be next?

via Will the LGBTQ Progressive Agenda Capture the UMC in February 2019? — Juicy Ecumenism

Dutch Pastors face possible criminal investigation for signing the Nashville Statement — Denny Burk

Last month, over 250 Dutch pastors and church leaders went public with their endorsement of the Nashville Statement. At least one member of the Dutch parliament also endorsed the statement. Even though they simply meant to reaffirm what Christianity has always taught for its entire 2,000-year history, the statement has been met with fierce opposition in the Netherlands.

Over the last several days, the public outcry against these leaders for their Christian convictions has been ferocious. Politicians and celebrities have publicly denounced them. The Hague, which is recognized as the international center for law and justice, flew a rainbow flag in protest of the Nashville Statement. And now, the country’s public prosecution service is “examining the statement to see if there [is] any basis for a criminal investigation,” according to a Dutch news site. The news report cites Article 1 of the Dutch constitution as possible grounds for the investigation, which states that “discrimination on the grounds of religion, belief, political opinion, race or sex or on any other grounds whatsoever shall not be permitted.”

Yesterday, I did an interview with a TV News program in the Netherlands about the Nashville Statement (my part begins at 2:42, see below). The interviewer’s line of questioning reflects the general hostility that these pastors have been experiencing. It also reflects a basic misunderstanding about what the Nashville Statement is. For that reason, I clarified once again that the Nashville Statement is a church document, not a political document. It advocates for no candidate or public policy. Nor is it an evangelistic tract. It simply seeks to confess what the Christian church has always believed about sexuality.

But what the church believes about sexuality is precisely what is being contested today and what is so incomprehensible to secular people in the West. Much of my interview was edited out of the final version that you see above. In one exchange which is not included above, the interviewer asked if I believed in a “free society.” His question implied that Christian teaching about sexual morality is somehow at odds with free societies. He did not seem to recognize the irony of such a query. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to him that the outcry in the Netherlands threatens religious freedom, not sexual freedom.

I appreciate the opportunity to appear on this news program. They genuinely wanted to understand the aims and purposes of the Nashville Statement, and I think we made some headway on that front. That is more than I can say about the media’s response to the statement’s release in the U.S. a year and a half ago. Even though the Nashville Statement was widely covered in national media, not a single news outlet–secular, Christian, or otherwise–interviewed me about the statement. They interviewed our critics but failed to interview the people who spearheaded the effort. Consequently, a distorted narrative about the aims and purposes of the statement went unchallenged in many news reports.

I have been in touch with some of the Dutch signatories of the Nashville Statement. I am grateful for these men and their courageous stand for biblical teaching. Pray for these pastors. They did not anticipate this kind of opposition to what is essentially a confessional statement. But now they are being called to stand in the face of severe headwinds from the wider culture. They are also facing a potential criminal investigation from the country’s public prosecution service. Hopefully, this effort to criminalize Christian teaching will come to nothing, but we should nevertheless pray for these pastors until it does.

via Dutch Pastors face possible criminal investigation for signing the Nashville Statement — Denny Burk

Holding NY State Budget Hostage, Cuomo Won’t Sign Without Expanding Abortion — Pulpit & Pen

[Life News] New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo vowed to protect and expand abortion access for women in the state, promising Monday to nix a state budget that doesn’t include looser abortion laws.

Cuomo, a Democrat, promised to add abortion protections to the state constitution and vowed to reject a budget that doesn’t include expanded abortion access while speaking at Barnard College in New York City. Members of the state legislature and abortion advocates attended the event, CBS News reported.

“We have led the way on women’s rights like no other state, period,” Cuomo said, according to CBS.

Abortion is legal up until 24 weeks in pregnancy in the state. Cuomo seeks to pass the Reproductive Health Act, which will provide exceptions for circumstances where a woman’s health is at risk or where a baby will be born with a fatal fetal abnormality. The legislation also seeks to allow nurse practitioners, physicians’ assistants and qualified health care professionals to provide abortions.

The governor is also looking to pass a bill requiring insurance companies to provide free contraceptive care, The New York Times reported Monday.

Cuomo vowed Monday not to sign the state’s budget plan in April unless both bills are included. He also demanded that the bills’ provisions be codified into the state constitution, according to The NYT.

Former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also spoke at the event.

“Advancing the rights of women and girls is the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” Clinton said, TheNYT reported. “It continues to be the fight of our lifetime.”

[Editor’s Note: This article was written by Grace Carr and originally published at Life News]

via Holding NY State Budget Hostage, Cuomo Won’t Sign Without Expanding Abortion — Pulpit & Pen

Christian University Uses MLK Day to Promote Transgender Rights — Pulpit & Pen

Martin Luther King denied the deity of Christ, the virgin birth, the resurrection of Christ, and the inerrancy of Scripture. On top of that, Luther was a sex-trafficking bisexual and whoremonger. Usually, when Christians – like the ELRC and The Gospel Coalition – promote this lost man it’s because of his contributions to racial equality. One university – affiliated with the United Methodist Church – will use MLK Day this year to promote Luther’s contributions to sexual immorality.

The llinois Wesleyan University will celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. day with a gender identity “teach-in” on January 21. The university is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and it will have two primary speakers, Charlene Carruthers – a “black, queer feminist community organizer” – and an LGBT activist named Dave Bentlin, who is president of Prairie Pride Coalition.

The event will end with a “session on gender identity and human rights” led by the IWU Pride Alliance. The theme of the event, according to a university news release, is “gender and social justice.” In other words, it sounds like the agenda of The Gospel Coalition, the ERLC, and 9Marx. Frankly, it sounds like the agenda of at least three speakers at this year’s Shepherd’s Conference.

According to Campus Reform…

Carruthers, who received IWU’s Outstanding Young Alumna Award in 2017, authored the book Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements, which was released in August.

“Drawing on Black intellectual and grassroots organizing traditions, including the Haitian Revolution, the U.S. civil rights movement, and LGBTQ rights and feminist movements, Unapologetic challenges all of us engaged in the social justice struggle to make the movement for Black liberation more radical, more queer, and more feminist,” a description of the book on Carruthers’ website reads.

Last year, in 2018, Florida State University used MLK Day as a reason to invite a member of the Communist Party to address the students and promote “civil rights.”

[Editor’s Note: HT Campus Reform]

via Christian University Uses MLK Day to Promote Transgender Rights — Pulpit & Pen

Collegiate Christian “Urbana Conference” Apologizes for Christianity — Pulpit & Pen

With more than ten thousand young people gathered at a conference sponsored by InterVarsity, true Christianity was replaced with the Social Gospel and an apology video was given on behalf of Christianity for all the world’s ills.

Lauding the secularist #MeToo movement and its pseudo-religious version, the #ChurchToo movement, the narrator goes on to attack other historic Christians, claiming “we have silenced their hopes for justice.”

The video blames Martin Luther King for the Holocaust (seriously) and Christian theologians for apartheid in South Africa.

“We cloaked evil in spiritual language. Our theology helped birth segregation, subjegation and genocide,” the author claimed.

She goes on to blame Christians for the Rwandan genocide.

The narrator then blames Christians for the persecution of indigenous peoples (who shed blood and died to evangelize them, like David Brainerd).

She also complains about Canadian Christians educating Native populations (how dare they), before blaming Christian churches for geonocide in Uganda.

You can watch the video below.

Of course, in reality, Christians freed the slaves. Christians evangelized the heathen. Christians in the First World stopped the genocide in the Third World Africa. Christians defeated Hitler and emptied the concentration camps. Christians empowered women by honoring and protecting them in the home rather than as forcing them into the jobplace to be mistreated as sex-objects (thanks a lot, feminism).

Western Christianity brought the world the Lockean concept of individual liberty and civil rights. So you’re welcome, haters.

[Editor’s Note: All of these major conferences have one thing in common; social justice and demolishing the “power structure.” If you don’t think these groups are all financially motivated by the same globalist and leftist donors, you are out of your mind. This is coordinated. Pay attention.]

via Collegiate Christian “Urbana Conference” Apologizes for Christianity — Pulpit & Pen

January 9, 2019 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

The Proper Service: Exercising Our Gifts

And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. (12:6–8)

No gift or ability, spiritual or otherwise, is of value if it is not used. I read the account of a retired farmer in a small prairie town in Saskatchewan, Canada, who owns a large collection of rare and valuable violins. It is highly unlikely that anyone will play those marvelous instruments as long as they are simply stored, protected, and admired. But in the hands of accomplished musicians, those violins could be making beautiful music to inspire and bless countless thousands of hearers.

It is infinitely more tragic that many Christians keep their spiritual gifts stored, rather than using them to serve the Lord who gave them the gifts.

It has been remarked that American mothers often preserve their children’s first shoes in bronze, perhaps to represent freedom and independence, whereas many Japanese mothers preserve a small part of the child’s umbilical cord, to represent dependence and loyalty. Dependence and loyalty beautifully describe the interrelationship the Lord desires for the members of His Body, the church.

The spiritual gifts mentioned in the New Testament, primarily in Romans 12 and in 1 Corinthians 12, fall into three categories: sign, speaking, and serving. Before the New Testament was written, men had no standard for judging the truthfulness of someone who preached, taught, or witnessed in the name of Christ. The sign gifts authenticated the teaching of the apostles—which was the measure of all other teaching—and therefore ceased after the apostles died, probably even earlier. “The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance,” Paul explained to the Corinthian church, “by signs and wonders and miracles” (2 Cor. 12:12). The writer of Hebrews gives further revelation about the purpose of these special gifts: “After [the gospel] was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will” (Heb. 2:3–4). Even during Jesus’ earthly ministry, the apostles “went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed” (Mark 16:20).

First Corinthians was written about a.d. 54 and Romans some four years later. It is important to note that none of the sign gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:9–10—namely, the gifts of healing, miracles, speaking in tongues, and interpreting tongues—is found in Romans 12. The other two New Testament passages that mention spiritual gifts (Eph. 4:7, 11; 1 Pet. 4:10–11) were written several years after Romans and, like that epistle, make no mention of sign gifts. Peter specifically mentions the categories of speaking and serving gifts (“whoever speaks” and “whoever serves,” v. 11) but neither the category nor an example of the sign gifts.

It seems evident, therefore, that Paul did not mention the sign gifts in Romans because their place in the church was already coming to an end. They belonged to a unique era in the church’s life and would have no permanent place in its ongoing ministry. It is significant, therefore, that the seven gifts mentioned in Romans 12:6–8 are all within the categories of speaking and serving.

It is also important to note that in 1 Corinthians 12, Paul uses the term pneumatikos (v. 1, lit., “spirituals”) to describe the specific divinely bestowed gifts mentioned in verses 8–10. He explains that “there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit” (v. 4), and that “the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills” (v. 11).

But in Romans 12, the apostle uses the term charisma (gifts), which is from charis (grace). In First Corinthians, Paul emphasizes the nature and authority of the gifts—spiritual endowments empowered by the Holy Spirit. In Romans he simply emphasizes their source—the grace of God.

Paul introduces this list of gifts by referring back to the unity in diversity he has just pointed out in verses 4–5. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly. Differ relates to the diversity, and grace to the unity. Under God’s sovereign grace, which all believers share, we have gifts that differ according to the specific ways in which He individually endows us. Just as verse 3 does not refer to saving faith, verse 6 does not refer to saving grace. Paul is speaking to those who already have trusted in Christ and become children of God. To His children, the apostle explains, “God has allotted to each a measure of faith” (v. 3) and has bestowed on them gifts that differ according to the grace given to each one. Grace is God’s favor, unmerited kindness on His part, which is the only source of all spiritual enablements. They are not earned or deserved, or they would not be by grace. And the grace is sovereign, in that God alone makes the choice as to what gift each of His children receives. Each believer, therefore, is to exercise his gifts accordingly.

Paul next lists some categories of giftedness as examples.

prophecy

if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; (12:6b)

The first spiritual gift in this list is prophecy. Some interpreters believe this was a special revelatory gift that belonged only to the apostles, and, like the sign gifts, ceased after those men died. While it certainly had a revelatory aspect during Old Testament and apostolic times, it was not limited to revelation. It was exercised when there was public proclamation of divine truth, old or new. In 1 Corinthians 12:10 it is linked with sign gifts, supernatural and revelatory. Here it is linked with speaking and serving gifts, leading to the conclusion that it had both revelatory and non-revelatory aspects. The Old Testament or New Testament prophet (or apostle) might speak direct revelation, but could and did also declare what had been revealed previously. The gift of prophecy does not pertain to the content but rather to the means of proclamation. In our day, it is active enablement to proclaim God’s Word already written in Scripture. Paul gives no distinction to this gift among the other six, which are clearly ongoing gifts in the church, thus not limiting it to revelation.

Prophēteia (prophecy) has the literal meaning of speaking forth, with no connotation of prediction or other supernatural or mystical significance. The gift of prophecy is simply the gift of preaching, of proclaiming the Word of God. God used many Old and New Testament prophets to foretell future events, but that was never an indispensable part of prophetic ministry. Paul gives perhaps the best definition of the prophetic gift in 1 Corinthians: “One who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation” (1 Cor. 14:3). Peter’s admonition also applies to that gift: “Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God; … so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever” (1 Pet. 4:11).

When God called Moses to deliver Israel out of Egypt, Moses gave the excuse, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since Thou hast spoken to Thy servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue” (Ex. 4:10). Although angered at Moses’ lack of trust, God said, “Is there not your brother Aaron the Levite? I know that he speaks fluently.… You are to speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I, even I, will be with your mouth and his mouth, and I will teach you what you are to do” (vv. 14–15).

The gift of prophecy is the gift of being God’s public spokesman, primarily to God’s own people—to instruct, admonish, warn, rebuke, correct, challenge, comfort, and encourage. God also uses His prophets to reach unbelievers. “If all prophesy,” Paul explained to the Corinthians, “and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you” (1 Cor. 14:24–25).

God used certain prophets at certain times to give new revelation and to predict future events, but He has used and continues to use all of His prophets to speak His truth in His behalf. They are God’s instruments for proclaiming and making relevant His Word to His world. John Calvin said that, by prophesying, he understood not the gift of foretelling the future but of interpreting Scripture, so that a prophet is an interpreter of God’s will.

In his commentary on this text, Calvin wrote:

I prefer to follow those who extend this word wider, even to the peculiar gift of revelation, by which any one skillfully and wisely performed the office of an interpreter in explaining the will of God. Hence prophecy at this day in the Christian Church is hardly anything else than the right understanding of the Scripture, and the peculiar faculty of explaining it, inasmuch as all the ancient prophecies and the oracles of God have been completed in Christ and in his gospel. For in this sense it is taken by Paul when he says, “I wish that you spoke in tongues, but rather that ye prophecy,” (1 Cor. 14:5:) “In part we know and in part we prophecy,” (1 Cor. 13:9). And it does not appear that Paul intended here to mention those miraculous graces by which Christ at first rendered illustrious his gospel; but, on the contrary, we find he refers only to ordinary gifts, such as were to continue perpetually in the Church. (Calvin’s Commentaries, v. xix, “Romans” [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1991], p. 460)

In sixteenth-century Switzerland, pastors in Zurich came together every week for what they called “prophesying.” They shared exegetical, expositional, and practical insights they had gleaned from Scripture that helped them more effectively minister to their people in that day.

The book of Acts speaks of many prophets besides the apostles. Agabus, part of a group of prophets (the others are unnamed) from Jerusalem, predicted a famine that would plague Judea during the reign of Emperor Claudius (Acts 11:27–28) and later foretold Paul’s arrest and imprisonment (21:10–11). “Judas and Silas,” on the other hand, “also being prophets themselves,” gave no predictions or new revelation but simply “encouraged and strengthened the brethren with a lengthy message” after Paul and Barnabas had delivered the letter from the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:32; cf. vv. 22–31). (For a fuller discussion of prophecy, see the relevant section on 12:10 in the author’s commentary on 1 Corinthians in this series [Chicago: Moody Press, 1984].)

Whatever the form his message may take, the prophet is to minister it according to the proportion of his faith. Because the Greek includes the definite article, faith may here refer to the faith, that is, the full gospel message. In that case, according to the proportion of his faith would relate objectively to the prophet’s being careful to preach in accordance with the gospel revealed through the apostles—“the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). It could also relate subjectively to the believer’s personal understanding and insight concerning the gospel—to his speaking according to the individual proportion of … faith that God has sovereignly assigned to him for the operation of his gift.

Whether it relates to revelation, prediction, declaration, instruction, encouragement, or anything else, all prophecy was always to proclaim the Word of God and exalt the Son of God, because “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10). Paul’s specific charge to Timothy applies to all proclaimers of God’s Word, including prophets: “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Tim. 4:2).

service

if service, in his serving; (12:7a)

The second spiritual gift is that of service, a general term for ministry. Service translates diakonia, from which we also get deacon and deaconess—those who serve. The first deacons in the early church were “men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom” who were placed in charge of providing food for the widows in order to free the apostles to devote themselves “to prayer, and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:3–4).

Service is a simple, straightforward gift that is broad in its application. It seems to carry a meaning similar to that of the gift of helps mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:28, although a different Greek term (antilēpsis) is used there. This gift certainly applies beyond the offices of deacon and deaconess and is the idea in Paul’s charge to the Ephesian elders to “help the weak” (Acts 20:35). The gift of service is manifested in every sort of practical help that Christians can give one another in Jesus’ name.

teaching

or he who teaches, in his teaching; (12:7b)

The third spiritual gift is that of teaching. Again, the meaning is simple and straightforward. Didaskōn (teaches) refers to the act of teaching, and didaskalia (teaching) can refer to what is taught as well as to the act of teaching it. Both of those meanings are appropriate to this gift.

The Christian who teaches is divinely gifted with special ability to interpret and present God’s truth understandably. The primary difference between teaching and prophesying is not in content but in the distinction between the ability to proclaim and the ability to give systematic and regular instruction in God’s Word. The gift of teaching could apply to a teacher in seminary, Christian college, Sunday school, or any other place, elementary or advanced, where God’s truth is taught. The earliest church was characterized by regular teaching (Acts 2:42). The Great Commission includes the command, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, … teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matt. 28:19–20). Paul’s spiritual gift included features of both preaching and teaching (2 Tim. 1:11).

Later in the epistle just cited, Paul charged Timothy: “And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2). Barnabas had that gift and ministered it in Antioch beside Paul, where they were “teaching and preaching, with many others also, the word of the Lord” (Acts 15:35). Likewise “a certain Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, … had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus” (Acts 18:24–25).

Jesus, of course, was both the supreme Preacher and supreme Teacher. Even after His resurrection, He continued to teach. When He joined the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, “beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.… And they said to one another, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?’ ” (Luke 24:27, 32). Both diermēneuō (“explained,” v. 27) and dianoigō (“explaining,” lit. “opening up,” v. 32) are synonyms of didaskōn (teaches) and didaskalia (teaching) in Romans 12:7.

Regular, systematic teaching of the Word of God is the primary function of the pastor-teacher. As an elder, he is required “to teach” (1 Tim. 3:2) and to hold “fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict” (Titus 1:9). Above all, Paul entreated Timothy, “pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching” (1 Tim. 4:16). Pastors are not the only ones the Lord calls and empowers to teach. But if a pastor’s ministry is to be judged, among other things, on the soundness of his teaching—as the passages just cited indicate—then it seems reasonable to assume that, in some measure, he should have the gift of teaching.

exhortation

or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; (12:8a)

As with the previous three gifts, the connotation of exhortation is broad. Both the verb parakaleō (exhorts) and the noun paraklēsis (exhortation) are compounds of the same two Greek words (para and kaleō) and have the literal meaning of calling someone to one’s side. They are closely related to paraklētos (advocate, comforter, helper), a title Jesus used both of Himself (“Helper,” John 14:16) and of the Holy Spirit (“another Helper”; John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7). In 1 John 2:1, this word is translated “Advocate,” referring to Jesus Christ.

The gift of exhortation, therefore, encompasses the ideas of advising, pleading, encouraging, warning, strengthening, and comforting. At one time the gift may be used to persuade a believer to turn from a sin or bad habit and at a later time to encourage that same person to maintain his corrected behavior. The gift may be used to admonish the church as a whole to obedience to the Word. Like the gift of showing mercy (see below), exhortation may be exercised in comforting a brother or sister in the Lord who is facing trouble or is suffering physically or emotionally. One who exhorts may also be used of God to encourage and undergird a weak believer who is facing a difficult trial or persistent temptation. Sometimes he may use his gift simply to walk beside a friend who is grieving, discouraged, frustrated, or depressed, to give help in whatever way is needed. This gift may be exercised in helping someone carry a burden that is too heavy to bear alone.

Paul and Barnabas were exercising the ministry of exhortation when “they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God’ ” (Acts 14:21–22). This ministry is reflected in Paul’s charge to Timothy to “reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Tim. 4:2).

It is the ministry of exhortation of which the writer of Hebrews speaks as he admonishes believers to “consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near” (Heb. 10:24–25). The sentiment that motivates this gift is also exhibited in the beautiful benediction with which that epistle closes: “Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen” (13:20–21).

In summary, it might be said that, just as prophecy proclaims the truth and teaching systematizes and explains the truth, exhortation calls believers to obey and follow the truth, to live as Christians are supposed to live—consistent with God’s revealed will. In many servants of Christ, all of these abilities are uniquely and beautifully blended.

giving

he who gives, with liberality; (12:8b)

The fifth category of giftedness is that of giving. The usual Greek verb for giving is didōmi, but the word here is the intensified metadidōmi, which carries the additional meanings of sharing and imparting that which is one’s own. The one who exercises this gift gives sacrificially of himself.

When asked by the multitudes what they should do to “bring forth fruits in keeping with repentance,” John the Baptist replied, “Let the man who has two tunics share [metadidōi] with him who has none; and let him who has food do likewise (Luke 3:8, 11).

In the opening of his letter to Rome, Paul expressed his desire to “impart [metadidōi] some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established” (Rom. 1:11). And in his letter to Ephesus he makes clear that, whether or not a believer has the gift of giving, he is to have the spirit of generosity that characterizes this gift. Every Christian should “labor, performing with his own hands what is good, in order that he may have something to share [metadidōi] with him who has need” (Eph. 4:28). It seems certain that Paul had elements of such generosity in his gift. And nowhere is it reflected more than in his service to the saints at Thessalonica. After having ministered to them for a relatively short time, he could say with perfect humility and sincerity that the gospel that he, Sylvanus, and Timothy brought them “did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake” (1 Thess. 1:5; cf. 1:1). “Having thus a fond affection for you,” he continued a few verses later, “we were well-pleased to impart [metadidōi] to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us” (2:8).

Liberality translates haplotēs, which has the root meaning of singleness and came to connote simplicity (as in the kjv), singlemindedness, openheartedness, and then generosity. It carries the idea of sincere, heartfelt giving that is untainted by affectation or ulterior motive. The Christian who gives with liberality gives of himself, not for himself. He does not give for thanks or recognition, but for the sake of the one who receives his help and for the glory of the Lord.

Those who give with liberality are the opposite of those who “sound a trumpet before [themselves], as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honored by men” (Matt. 6:2). Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead by God for lying to the Holy Spirit, and behind their lie was the selfish desire to hold back for themselves some of the proceeds from the sale of their property (Acts 5:1–10). In that tragic instance, failing to give with liberality cost the lives of the givers.

Ananias and Sapphira were exceptions in the early church, which was characterized by those who voluntarily possessed “all things in common; and [who] began selling their property and possessions, and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need” (Acts 2:44–45). Because the inns could not begin to house all the Jews who came to Jerusalem at the feast of Pentecost, most of them stayed in homes of fellow Jews. But those who trusted in Christ immediately became unwelcome. Many wanted to stay within the community of believers in Jerusalem but had no place to stay. Some had difficulty buying food to eat. In that crisis, Christians who had the means spontaneously shared their homes, their food, and their money with fellow believers in need.

Many years later, the churches of Macedonia had an abundance of believers who exercised the gift of giving to its fullest. “In a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality,” Paul said. “For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability they gave of their own accord, begging us with much entreaty for the favor of participation in the support of the saints, and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God” (2 Cor. 8:2–5). They gave with great liberality, believing that sowing bountifully meant reaping bountifully (2 Cor. 9:6).

leadership

he who leads, with diligence; (12:8c)

Leads is from proistēmi, which has the basic meaning of “standing before” others and, hence, the idea of leadership. In the New Testament it is never used of governmental rulers but of headship in the family (1 Tim. 3:4, 5, 12) and in the church (1 Tim. 5:17). In 1 Corinthians 12:28, Paul refers to the same gift by a different name, “administrations” (kubernēsis), which means “to guide.” In Acts 27:11 and Revelation 18:17, it is used of a pilot or helmsman, the person who steers, or leads, a ship.

Although it is not limited to those offices, the gift of church leadership clearly belongs to elders, deacons, and deaconesses. It is significant that Paul makes no mention of leaders in his first letter to Corinth. Lack of a functioning leadership would help explain its serious moral and spiritual problems, which certainly would have been exacerbated by that deficiency. “Free-for-all” democracy amounts to anarchy and is disastrous in any society, including the church. The absence of leaders results in everyone doing what is “right in his own eyes,” as the Israelites did under the judges (Judg. 17:6; 21:25; cf. Deut. 12:8).

Effective leadership must be done with diligence, with earnestness and zeal. Spoudē (diligence) can also carry the idea of haste (see Mark 6:25; Luke 1:39). Proper leadership therefore precludes procrastination and idleness. Whether it is possessed by church officers or by members who direct such things as Sunday school, the youth group, the nursery, or a building program, the gift of leadership is to be exercised with carefulness, constancy, and consistency.

showing mercy

he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. (12:8d)

The seventh and last spiritual category mentioned here is that of showing mercy. Eleeō (shows mercy) carries the joint idea of actively demonstrating sympathy for someone else and of having the necessary resources to successfully comfort and strengthen that person.

The gifted Christian who shows mercy is divinely endowed with special sensitivity to suffering and sorrow, with the ability to notice misery and distress that may go unnoticed by others, and with the desire and means to help alleviate such afflictions. This gift involves much more than sympathetic feeling. It is feeling put into action. The Christian with this gift always finds a way to express his feelings of concern in practical help. He shows his mercy by what he says to and what he does for the one in need.

The believer who shows mercy may exercise his gift in hospital visitation, jail ministry, or in service to the homeless, the poor, the handicapped, the suffering, and the sorrowing. This gift is closely related to that of exhortation, and it is not uncommon for believers to have a measure of both.

This enablement is not to be ministered grudgingly or merely out of a sense of duty, but with cheerfulness. As everyone knows who has had a time of suffering or special need, the attitude of a fellow believer can make the difference between his being a help or a hindrance. The counsel of Job’s friends only drove him into deeper despair.

“He who despises his neighbor sins,” the writer of Proverbs tells us, “but happy is he who is gracious to the poor” (Prov. 14:21); and “He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who is gracious to the needy honors Him” (Prov. 14:31). The key word in those verses is gracious. The genuine helper always serves with gracious cheerfulness, and is never condescending or patronizing.

Reading from the book of Isaiah, Jesus testified of Himself that “the Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18–19). The very Son of God in His incarnation showed great mercy with gracious cheerfulness.

Would that all Christians with this gift not only would minister it cheerfully but also regularly and consistently. There would be far fewer needy who have to depend on a godless, impersonal government or social agency. And if Christ’s people patterned their lives after His gracious example, far more people would hear and respond to the saving gospel that meets their deepest need.

In regard to that gift and every other, believers should “kindle afresh the gift of God which is in [them]” (2 Tim. 1:6).

The prolific Puritan John Owen wrote that spiritual gifts are that without which the church cannot subsist in the world, nor can believers be useful to one another and the rest of mankind to the glory of Christ as they ought to be. They are the powers of the world to come, those effectual operations of the power of Christ whereby His kingdom was erected and is preserved (see The Holy Spirit [Grand Rapids: Kregel, n.d.]).

Although we obviously must pay attention to our gift, we can never faithfully exercise it by focusing on the gift itself. They can be used fully of the Lord only as “with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, [we] are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18). We can serve Christ only as we become like Christ, and we can exercise the Spirit’s gifts only as we present ourselves as living sacrifices and submit to His continuing transformation and sanctification of our lives.

A. B. Simpson’s beautiful hymn expresses what the true attitude about our spiritual gifts and all the rest of our lives should be:

Once it was the blessing,

Now it is the Lord.

Once it was the feeling,

Now it is His Word.

Once His gifts I wanted,

Now the Giver alone.

Once I sought healing,

Now Himself alone.[1]


God’s Gifts to Christ’s Body

Romans 12:6–8

We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

In the last study we began to look at the doctrine of the church as it is presented to us under the image of Christ’s body. This is a very rich image, and we saw two things it teaches. First, it teaches what it is to be a member of the church. To be a church member means to be a part of Christ’s body, and this means that a person who is a member of the church must be joined to him. It is not a question of merely belonging to an organization, though that is also important in its place. It means to be united to Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit so that we are no longer in Adam but “in Jesus.” It is a spiritual reality.

The second thing we have seen about the church presented under the image of Christ’s body is that it is a unity. That is, there is only one church just as there is only one body. You can no more have multiple churches than you can have multiple Christs or a multiple Godhead.

But the image of the church as Christ’s body also signifies something else, and that is diversity in unity. It is what Paul is chiefly talking about in Romans 12, for he has just written, “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (vv. 4–5). Paul calls the parts of the body “members.” We are those members. So the image teaches that Christians have different gifts and are to function differently from others in the use of these gifts, while nevertheless being a part of the body and contributing to the body’s unity.

Diversity of Gifts

Different gifts! It is hard for many of us to recognize this and accept it, because we are always wanting other Christians to be like us and function like us, or be cogs in our machine rather than contributing to another Christian’s work. Paul knew Christians who had this trouble too, but he tells everyone that we must accept this diversity if the church is to function as it should.

This was important to Paul. Charismata, the word translated gifts, occurs seventeen times in the New Testament; sixteen of those occurrences are in Paul’s writings.

Charismata is based on the word grace (charis) and actually means “a grace gift.” It is something given to the people of God by God or, as can also be said, by Jesus Christ. Since grace is God’s unmerited favor, the word indicates that spiritual gifts are dispensed by God according to his pleasure and that the gifts will differ. Every Christian has at least one gift, like the people who received talents in Christ’s parables. Moreover, since these are given by God, they are to be used for his glory and according to his plans rather than to enhance our own glory or further our plans. This is where the thrust toward unity comes in. Each member of the body is to work toward the well-being of the whole so that when one member does well all the others do well and when one member suffers the entire body suffers.

Another way of saying this is to say that we not only belong to Christ, we also belong to one another. John Murray says of Christians, “They have property in one another and therefore in one another’s gifts and graces.” It would be correct to add that you, as a Christian, have a right to the gifts the other members of the body have been given, and they have a right to your gift. You cheat them if you do not use it, and you are poorer if you do not depend on them.

Exercising the Gifts

What these spiritual gifts are is not easy to say, because every time there is a listing of the gifts in the New Testament—five times in all (Rom. 12:6–8, 1 Cor. 12:8–10 and 28–30, Eph. 4:11, 1 Peter 4:11)—the specific items differ. Ephesians 4:11 seems to give the most basic list: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor/teachers. This is the way 1 Corinthians 12:28–30 starts too, but then it moves from what seems to be offices in the church to specific functions like working miracles, healing, helping, administering, speaking in tongues, and interpreting tongues. Romans 12:6–8 has a bit of both. First Peter 4:11 has only service and speaking, but these two items are categories into which other gifts fit.

Nineteen gifts are mentioned in these five lists, but the number is not absolute. Different words may describe the same gift, as with serving and helping, and there are probably gifts that could be mentioned but are not. Seven gifts are mentioned in Romans 12:

  1. Prophesying. The first is prophesying. In 1 Corinthians 12:28 and Ephesians 4:11 this gift comes immediately after and is closely linked to the gift of “apostles.” There were no apostles in the church at Rome at this time, so Paul does not mention apostles in the Romans list.

In our day the word prophesy retains only a shade of its former meaning, “foretelling the future.” In the Old and New Testaments a prophet is one who speaks the words of God. The Greek word for prophet literally means “one who stood in front of another person and spoke for him.” An example is the relationship between Moses and his brother Aaron. Moses was unwilling to accept God’s call to go to Egypt, stand before Pharaoh, and demand that he let Israel go, because, as he said, “I have never been eloquent” (Exod. 4:10). God answered that he would send Aaron to speak for him. “You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth.… He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him” (vv. 15–16). Later this is explained by these words: “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet” (Exod. 7:1).

This is the sense in which Abraham is called a prophet in Genesis 20:7, because God spoke to him and he spoke God’s words to other people. It is the same in the New Testament (Luke 7:26–28, John 4:19; cf. Matt. 10:41; 13:57; Luke 4:24). There seem to have been quite a few such prophets in the early church, so much so that Paul devotes nearly the whole of 1 Corinthians 14 to discussing the gift of prophecy and the gift of tongues, which is closely linked to it. From this and other passages it would seem that the prophets were men who spoke under the immediate influence of the Holy Spirit to communicate a doctrine, remind people of a duty, or give a warning (cf. Acts 21:10–14).

Charles Hodge expresses it this way in his commentary on Romans: “The point of distinction between them [prophets] and the apostles, considered as religious teachers, appears to have been that the inspiration of the apostles was abiding, they were the infallible and authoritative messengers of Christ; whereas the inspiration of the prophets was occasional and transient. The latter differed from the teachers (didaskaloi), inasmuch as these were not necessarily inspired, but taught to others what they themselves had learned from the Scriptures or from inspired men.”

The gift of prophecy in this sense, like the gift of apostleship, is something that is no longer with the church since, having the completed Old and New Testaments, we no longer need it. The Bible is for us the recorded testimony of these inspired men.

The really fascinating item in this mention of prophecy is the attached phrase “let him use it in proportion to his faith.” The word translated proportion is the word analogia (analogue or analogy), which has given expositors the important hermeneutical principle known as the analogy of faith. This is the only place where these words occur in the Bible, but they have been seen to teach what is usually described as the need to compare one Scripture with another so that a passage that is clearly understood throws light on one less clear. From this principle derive the additional guidelines of a necessary unity and noncontradiction in the Bible.

There is some doubt as to whether this is exactly what is meant here. But whatever Paul means, he is implying some control of or limitation on the prophet. The last words of the phrase are literally “the faith” (not “his faith,” as in the niv). So if “the analogy of the faith” is meant, it would mean that even the prophet is bound by prior revelation. He is not to propound anything contrary to “the faith” that has already been delivered to the saints. We remember that in Galatians 1:8, Paul applied this test to both the apostles and angels, insisting that even they have to conform to the standard of right doctrine: “Even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!”

If this does not refer to the analogy of faith and means only that the prophet is to speak in accordance with the measure of his own personal faith, it still implies a limitation, because the prophet is not to go beyond what God has given him to speak. So here is a contemporary application. If that was true of the ancient prophets, how much more true ought it to be of Bible teachers today. Anyone who is called to teach must be rigidly disciplined so as not to go beyond what God has actually revealed in Scripture. Our task is to expound the whole counsels, but only the whole counsels of God.

  1. Serving. The next spiritual gift is serving. This Greek word is sometimes also translated ministry and applied to the “ministry [that is, teaching] of the word [of God]” (cf. Acts 6:4). But since teaching is mentioned next we should probably think of ministry more broadly here, that is, as embracing all kinds of ministry for the sake of Christ.

What is important to note is that the Greek word diakonian is the root of our word deacon. So what is being spoken of here is a diaconal, or service, ministry. Does this refer to the specific office of a deacon or deaconess in the church, as in Acts 6:1–6? Yes, but not only that. In the church all are called to serve others, though some are given this gift in special measure in order to lead others in the work. We need to remember that even Jesus was a deacon in that, as he said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28).

So let’s do it! That is what the text says. In the case of prophecy, we are told that the prophet is to prophesy according to the “analogy” of faith or “in proportion to his faith.” That is a qualification or directive. That is not the case here. Here the text just says, “If it is serving, let him serve.” In other words, just do it!

In Charles Colson’s book The Body, there are three quotations that stress service. William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, said to his missionaries to India: “Go to the Indian as a brother, which indeed you are, and show the love which none can doubt you feel … eat, drink and dress and live by his side. Speak his language, share his sorrow.”

Count Zinzendorf, the founder of the Moravians, told his missionaries: “Do not lord it over the unbelievers but simply live among them; preach not theology but the crucified Christ.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “The church is herself only when she exists for humanity.… She must take her part in the social life of the world, not lording it over men, but helping and serving them. She must tell men, whatever their calling, what it means to live in Christ, to live for others.” In Life Together, a study of the meaning of Christian fellowship, Bonhoeffer has a whole chapter stressing the ministry of Christians to other Christians. It is, he says, a ministry of holding one’s tongue, meekness, listening, helping, bearing burdens, yes, and also speaking the truth when it is needed. Each of us has a service ministry to perform, because each of us is called to be like Jesus Christ. Where can you serve? Where can you serve that you are not serving now?

  1. Teaching. In one way or another, by one word or another, this gift occurs in each of the five New Testament lists. It is a critical gift, of course, the more so today since the gifts of apostleship and prophecy have ceased. I am sure that many have this gift. Ray Stedman says that in his opinion probably a third of all Christians have it and should be using it. If you know anything about Jesus and the gospel, you should teach what you know, formally if you have the opportunity but also informally by a casual word or testimony. You will be surprised what you are able to teach others.

I am a pastor. This is the preeminent gift of pastors, and this leads me to say to pastors that, having been called to teach, they must teach. No one has the opportunity a pastor has for carefully studying and faithfully expounding the Bible. What is more, if he does not do it, then in most churches it will not be done at all. Teaching is hard work, because we must learn ourselves before we teach. But what better calling can one have? So get on with it, and be faithful in it, if that is your gift. I notice that Paul handles his admonition here exactly as he handled it when he spoke of serving earlier, and as he will speak of encouraging later. No fuss. No fanfare. Just do it.

  1. Encouraging. Encouragement has become a rather weak word for us, usually meaning little more than giving someone a slap on the back and saying “Good job” or “Well done.” When we study the use of this word in the Bible, however, we find it is much more than this. The Greek word appears 107 times in the New Testament, and it is translated by such additional, powerful verbs as beseech, comfort, desire, pray, entreat, and console. It is the same word used of the Holy Spirit and his ministry in John 14–16. The New International Version translates it as Counselor (in John 14:15, 26; 15:26; 16:7), but the Greek is paraklêtos, which literally means “one who is called in alongside another to help out.” Counselor is a synonym for lawyer, and it is worth noting that the precise Latin translation of paraklêtos is advocatus, which also means “one who is called alongside of,” and that advocate is also a synonym for lawyer. If we put this thought into our passage, we get something like “Let the person who has the gift of getting alongside another person to help him or her, really do it. Let him stand by his friend and really help him.”

What a tremendous need we have for those who are like that. Many people are hurting, but there are not many helping, because we are all so absorbed in ourselves and our own private affairs. We are living in a narcissistic age, another “Me Decade.”

Exhortation was the gift of Barnabas, who traveled with Paul. In Acts 4:36 we are told that his real name was Joseph but that he was named Barnabas because Barnabas means “Son of Encouragement,” and that is what he was. We may remember how he stood by John Mark to help him when Paul refused to take Mark along on one of his missionary journeys because he had deserted them earlier. Barnabas got alongside Mark, lifted him up, and reestablished him as a useful servant of Christ, which Paul acknowledged later (2 Tim. 4:11).

  1. Contributing to the needs of others. John Calvin and some of the earlier commentators thought that this gift referred to an official church office—that is, to the diaconate that is particularly entrusted with this task. But there is no need to limit this to some official position, and most modern scholars do not. The deciding element seems to be Paul’s teaching that those who have this gift are to give “generously.” That is an appropriate thing to say if the person involved is giving out of his or her own funds. But the deacons administer the church’s funds, and if this refers to deacons, it would be more appropriate to tell them to give carefully, judiciously, or prayerfully, realizing that it is other people’s money they are handling.

Are you generous with what you have been given? Some people are so poor it is hard to imagine how they could give anything. But statistics tell us that it is the poor who are most generous in terms of proportionate giving. The very rich are the least generous. Do you have enough to eat, clothes to wear, a place to live, even money in the bank? Then think how you can best be generous with those who are needy or have nothing.

  1. Leadership. It is interesting that Paul includes leadership in his list of Christian gifts. The word actually means government or good administration, and it includes the task of management. This is an important quality to look for in elders, since they need to “manage,” or “take care of God’s church” (1 Tim. 3:5).

The excellent Swiss commentator F. Godet points out how important this must have been in the early church, when so many of the institutions we take for granted were lacking:

Think of the numerous works of private charity which believers then had to found and maintain! Pagan society had neither hospitals nor orphanages, free schools or refuges [rescue missions], like those of our day. The church impelled by the instinct of Christian charity, had to introduce all these institutions into the world; hence no doubt, in every community, spontaneous gatherings of devout men and women who, like our present Christian committees, took up one or other of these needful objects, and had of course at their head directors charged with the responsibility of the work. Such are the persons certainly whom the apostle has in view in our passage.

I am not sure that this is exactly what Paul had in mind when he wrote this. But it is certainly one way this gift functions in the church, and it points to a similar and continuing need today. All the organizations we have require management. Those who manage well deserve honor.

  1. Showing mercy. The final gift is showing mercy, and Paul’s point is that this should be done cheerfully, not begrudgingly. The Greek word is hilarotêti, which gives us our word hilarious. How much we need a cheerful, hilarious spirit in the church! Too often our faces are grim and there is no spirit of joy to be found anywhere.

You and the Gift God Has Given

I close with a paragraph from Ray Stedman, who has written on spiritual gifts in a more helpful way than anyone I know. He asks in his study of Romans 12, “Who are you anyway?” It is a good question for us to ask. Stedman answers:

I am a son of God among the sons of men. I am equipped with the power of God to labor today. In the very work given me today God will be with me, doing it through me. I am gifted with special abilities to help people in various areas, and I don’t have to wait until Sunday to use these gifts. I can use them anywhere. I can exercise the gift God has given me as soon as I find out what it is, by taking note of my desires and by asking others what they see in me and by trying out various things. I am going to set myself to the lifelong task of keeping that gift busy.

Paul told Timothy, “Fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you” (2 Tim. 1:6). That is exactly what you should do. You have a gift. The rest of the body needs it. You will be accountable for what you do with it. Use it so that one day you will hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness” (Matt. 25:21, 23).[2]


6. Having gifts, &c. Paul speaks not now simply of cherishing among ourselves brotherly love, but commends humility, which is the best moderator of our whole life. Every one desires to have so much himself, so as not to need any help from others; but the bond of mutual communication is this, that no one has sufficient for himself, but is constrained to borrow from others. I admit then that the society of the godly cannot exist, except when each one is content with his own measure, and imparts to others the gifts which he has received, and allows himself by turns to be assisted by the gifts of others.

But Paul especially intended to beat down the pride which he knew to be innate in men; and that no one might be dissatisfied that all things have not been bestowed on him, he reminds us that according to the wise counsel of God every one has his own portion given to him; for it is necessary to the common benefit of the body that no one should be furnished with fulness of gifts, lest he should heedlessly despise his brethren. Here then we have the main design which the Apostle had in view, that all things do not meet in all, but that the gifts of God are so distributed that each has a limited portion, and that each ought to be so attentive in imparting his own gifts to the edification of the Church, that no one, by leaving his own function, may trespass on that of another. By this most beautiful order, and as it were symmetry, is the safety of the Church indeed preserved; that is, when every one imparts to all in common what he has received from the Lord, in such a way as not to impede others. He who inverts this order fights with God, by whose ordinance it is appointed; for the difference of gifts proceeds not from the will of man, but because it has pleased the Lord to distribute his grace in this manner.

Whether prophecy, &c. By now bringing forward some examples, he shows how every one in his place, or as it were in occupying his station, ought to be engaged. For all gifts have their own defined limits, and to depart from them is to mar the gifts themselves. But the passage appears somewhat confused; we may yet arrange it in this manner, “Let him who has prophecy, test it by the analogy of faith; let him in the ministry discharge it in teaching,” &c. They who will keep this end in view, will rightly preserve themselves within their own limits.

But this passage is variously understood. There are those who consider that by prophecy is meant the gift of predicting, which prevailed at the commencement of the gospel in the Church; as the Lord then designed in every way to commend the dignity and excellency of his Church; and they think that what is added, according to the analogy of faith, is to be applied to all the clauses. But I prefer to follow those who extend this word wider, even to the peculiar gift of revelation, by which any one skilfully and wisely performed the office of an interpreter in explaining the will of God. Hence prophecy at this day in the Christian Church is hardly anything else than the right understanding of the Scripture, and the peculiar faculty of explaining it, inasmuch as all the ancient prophecies and all the oracles of God have been completed in Christ and in his gospel. For in this sense it is taken by Paul when he says, “I wish that you spoke in tongues, but rather that ye prophesy,” (1 Cor. 14:5;) “In part we know and in part we prophesy,” (1 Cor. 13:9.) And it does not appear that Paul intended here to mention those miraculous graces by which Christ at first rendered illustrious his gospel; but, on the contrary, we find that he refers only to ordinary gifts, such as were to continue perpetually in the Church.

Nor does it seem to me a solid objection, that the Apostle to no purpose laid this injunction on those who, having the Spirit of God, could not call Christ an anathema; for he testifies in another place that the spirit of the Prophets is subject to the Prophets; and he bids the first speaker to be silent, if anything were revealed to him who was sitting-down, (1 Cor. 14:32;) and it was for the same reason it may be that he gave this admonition to those who prophesied in the Church, that is, that they were to conform their prophecies to the rule of faith, lest in anything they should deviate from the right line. By faith he means the first principles of religion, and whatever doctrine is not found to correspond with these is here condemned as false.

As to the other clauses there is less difficulty. Let him who is ordained a minister, he says, execute his office in ministering; nor let him think, that he has been admitted into that degree for himself, but for others; as though he had said, “Let him fulfil his office by ministering faithfully, that he may answer to his name.” So also he immediately adds with regard to teachers; for by the word teaching, he recommends sound edification, according to this import,—“Let him who excels in teaching know that the end is, that the Church may be really instructed; and let him study this one thing, that he may render the Church more informed by his teaching:” for a teacher is he who forms and builds the Church by the word of truth. Let him also who excels in the gift of exhorting, have this in view, to render his exhortation effectual.

But these offices have much affinity and even connection; not however that they were not different. No one indeed could exhort, except by doctrine: yet he who teaches is not therefore endued with the qualification to exhort. But no one prophesies or teaches or exhorts, without at the same time ministering. But it is enough if we preserve that distinction which we find to be in God’s gifts, and which we know to be adapted to produce order in the Church.

8. Or he who gives, let him do so in simplicity, &c. From the former clauses we have clearly seen, that he teaches us here the legitimate use of God’s gifts. By the μεταδιδούντοις, the givers, of whom he speaks here, he did not understand those who gave of their own property, but the deacons, who presided in dispensing the public charities of the Church; and by the ἐλεούντοις, those who showed mercy, he meant the widows, and other ministers, who were appointed to take care of the sick, according to the custom of the ancient Church: for there were two different offices,—to provide necessaries for the poor, and to attend to their condition. But to the first he recommends simplicity, so that without fraud or respect of persons they were faithfully to administer what was entrusted to them. He required the services of the other party to be rendered with cheerfulness, lest by their peevishness (which often happens) they marred the favour conferred by them. For as nothing gives more solace to the sick or to any one otherwise distressed, than to see men cheerful and prompt in assisting them; so to observe sadness in the countenance of those by whom assistance is given, makes them to feel themselves despised.

Though he rightly calls those προϊστάμενους, presidents, to whom was committed the government of the Church, (and they were the elders, who presided over and ruled others and exercised discipline;) yet what he says of these may be extended universally to all kinds of governors: for no small solicitude is required from those who provide for the safety of all, and no small diligence is needful for them who ought to watch day and night for the wellbeing of the whole community. Yet the state of things at that time proves that Paul does not speak of all kinds of rulers, for there were then no pious magistrates; but of the elders who were the correctors of morals.[3]


6 The “different gifts” are not gifts in the natural realm but those functions made possible by a specific enablement of the Holy Spirit granted to believers (cf. E. E. Ellis, “ ‘Spiritual’ Gifts in the Pauline Community,” NTS 20 [1973–74]: 128–44). The gifts do not contradict what God has bestowed in the natural order, and though they may even build on the natural gift, they must not be confused with the latter.

Variety in the gifts should be understood from the standpoint of the needs of the Christian community, which are many, as well as from the desirability of giving every believer a share in ministry. With his eye still on the danger of pride, Paul reminds his readers that these new capacities for service are not native to those who exercise them but come from divine grace. Every time he delves into this subject he is careful to make this clear (1 Co 12:6; Eph 4:7; cf. 1 Pe 4:10).

Though Paul has spoken of different gifts, he does not proceed to give anything like an exhaustive list (cf. 1 Co 12:28). He seems more intent on emphasizing the need for exercising the gifts and for exercising them in the right way—“in proportion to his faith.” He uses this expression only in connection with prophesying, but there is no reason to suppose it is not intended to apply to the other items as well.

What is meant by “in proportion to his faith”? Theologians have tended to favor the translation “according to the analogy of the faith” (transliterating the Greek word analogia [GK 381] and stressing the definite article before “faith”). On this construction is built the Reformed principle that all parts of Scripture must be interpreted in conformity to the rest. This is a valid principle but hardly germane to this context. Another view understands the phrase as referring to the hearers rather than to those prophesying, so that, in framing the messages given to them, those who speak should consider the stage of development attained by their audience. This view, too, may have merit, but against it is the fact that in this passage it is not spiritual gifts that are being treated for the edification of the hearers, as in 1 Corinthians 14, but the proprieties that should govern those who use the gifts.

The most satisfactory explanation is that “faith” retains the subjective force it has in v. 3 and that the whole phrase has the same thrust as “measure of faith” there. Prophets are not to be governed by their emotions (1 Co 14:32) or by their love of speaking (1 Co 14:30) but by total dependence on the Spirit of God.

Paul does not give a definition of “prophesying” here, but if we are to judge from the earlier reference in 1 Corinthians 14:3, 31, the nature of the gift is not primarily prediction but the communication of revealed truth that will both convict and build up the hearers. This gift is prominent in the other listings of gifts (1 Co 12:28; Eph 4:11), where prophets are second only to apostles in the enumeration. That Paul says nothing of apostles in the Romans passage may be a hint that no apostle, Peter included, had anything to do with the founding of the Roman church (see Introduction p. 21).

7 “Serving” is such a broad term that some difficulty attaches to the effort to pin it down. The Greek diakonia (GK 1355) is sometimes used of the ministry of the word to unbelievers (Ac 6:4; 2 Co 5:18), but the gifts in this passage in Romans seem intentionally restricted in their exercise to the body of Christ. (It may be significant that there is no mention of evangelists here, as there is in Eph 4:11.) Despite its place between prophesying and teaching, the narrower meaning of service as “ministration to the material needs of believers” is probable here. The REB translates the word as “administration,” perhaps hinting that the term should be taken as referring to the supervision of the giving of aid to the needy, which was specifically the province of the deacons (cf. NJB, “practical service”). Even so, it should be recognized that others also could engage in a variety of helpful ministries addressing the needs of the saints (1 Co 16:15). In fact, Paul inserts in the midst of a catalog of restricted terms dealing with gifts this very broad designation—“those able to help others” (antilēmpseis, GK 516; 1 Co 12:28).

The gift of “teaching” (didaskō and didaskalia, GK 1438, 1436) is mentioned next. It differed from prophesying in that it was not characterized by ecstatic utterance as the vehicle for revelation given by the Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 14:6 teaching is paired with knowledge, whereas prophecy is coupled with revelation. Probably the aim in teaching was to give help in the area of Christian living rather than formal instruction in doctrine, even though it must be granted that the latter is needed as a foundation for the former. Indeed the very structure of Romans attests this. Paul himself gives a notable example of teaching in vv. 9–21. In the latter part of this section his considerable use of the OT suggests that early Christian teachers were largely dependent on it for their instruction.

8 The Greek paraklēsis (GK 4155) has a variety of meanings. Only the context can indicate whether the most suitable rendering is “encourage” (so NIV) or “exhortation” (so NASB). They are closely related. In Acts 15:31, encouragement is certainly the idea conveyed. But in 1 Timothy 4:13, exhortation is clearly involved, evidently in application of the OT as it was read in the assembly during worship (cf. Ac 13:15). Assuredly, some encouragement could be included, but exhortation seems to be the dominant meaning here.

“Contributing to the needs of others” has to do with spontaneous private benevolence (cf. 1 Jn 3:17–18). This is evidently not intended as a repetition of “serving” (v. 7), and this favors the view that the latter activity belongs to the public distribution of aid by the church to its needy. The only doubt concerning this interpretation resides in the words en haplotēti (GK 605). The NIV has “generously” (NASB, “with liberality”; NRSV, “in generosity”), a possible translation but hardly as likely as “with simplicity” (so KJV; cf. REB, “without grudging”)—i.e., with singleness of heart, free of mixed motives, without regret (over having given so much). That wrong motivation could enter into giving is shown by the account of the sin of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5.

“Leadership” (ho proïstamenos, GK 4613) is the translation of a word that means “to stand before” others, so the idea of governing derives readily from it. The need is for one to carry out one’s ministry “diligently” (en spoudē, GK 5082). Even in church life some people are tempted to enjoy the office rather than use it as an avenue for service. A few interpreters, doubtless influenced by the items immediately preceding and following, favor the meaning of “giving aid,” “furnishing care,” etc., and this is possible. However, the exercise of leadership is the more common in NT usage (1 Th 5:12; 1 Ti 3:4–5; 5:17). “Diligently” fits well in either case.

“Showing mercy” does not pertain to the area of forgiveness or sparing judgment. It has to do with ministering to the sick and needy. This is to be done “cheerfully” (hilarotēti, GK 2660) in a spontaneous manner that will convey blessing rather than engender self-pity.

Stuhlmacher, 193, draws the following appropriate conclusion concerning this section: The body of Christ can “flourish only when every individual member and group within the church remains mindful of the good of all, and thus sets aside individual interests for the sake of the common life and witness.”[4]


12:6–8 / In verse 6 Paul turns abruptly from the whole (the body) to its parts (the gifts). Grace not only saves and sanctifies sinners, it also equips them with gifts for ministry in the body. The word for gift (charisma, v. 6), in fact, is but a different form in Greek of the word for “grace” (charis). Charisma (gifts) is rare in Greek literature outside and prior to the writings of Paul, but it is especially characteristic of Paul in the nt. Spiritual gifts are the enactments or eventualizing of grace through human agency. Paul draws a corollary between faith and spiritual gifts. According to verse 1 faith must express itself concretely through our bodies; here in verses 6ff. grace expresses itself concretely in the church. Like parts of the human body, the gifts of the Spirit differ, though more according to purpose than value. In addition to discussing the various gifts, the following verses suggest a structure to administer such gifts through church order and government.

The gifts mentioned here, as well as in 1 Corinthians 12:27–31, are representative rather than exhaustive. Some gifts appear to be natural talents strengthened by the Spirit, whereas others are unique abilities following conversion. They are and remain gifts, however. True to their name, they are spiritual endowments for ministry within Christ’s body; they are not our possessions or status-builders.

Prophecy stands at the head of the list. Paul devoted an entire chapter to prophecy in 1 Corinthians 14 and regards it as a decisive gift because of its close relationship to the proclamation of the word. Prophecy may suggest to our ears the predicting of future events, and it often entailed this element, but it primarily concerns offering guidance from the Spirit or God’s word for the church in particular circumstances. Seven examples of early Christian prophecy can be found in Revelation 2–3. Its decisive element is that of spiritual or supernatural insight into the meaning of God’s will. Genuine prophecy naturally corresponds to other manifestations of the Spirit. That seems to be the force of the corollary, let him use prophecy in proportion to his faith (v. 6). The Greek actually reads, “in proportion to the faith”—the idea being that spiritual gifts (in this case spiritual utterances) must correspond to the rule of faith as proclaimed by the apostles and believed, confessed, and taught in the churches.

The second gift, serving, is in Greek diakonia (from which “deacon” is derived). Literally meaning “to wait on tables,” diakonia encompasses a wide variety of common labors, though “indicating very personally the service rendered to another” (Beyer, TDNT, vol. 2, p. 81). How interesting that this gift would precede the prestigious gift of teaching. It is not often that table waiters are ranked above theology professors! This undoubtedly is due to the remembrance of Jesus himself who exalted service of others over self; “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:42–45; also John 13:1–20). From the beginning Jesus’ example of humility challenged the church to “consider others better than yourselves” (Phil. 2:1–11). The gospel thus consists of an indivisible unity of word and deed, faith and life, a unity which finds expression in the first two gifts, prophecy and serving.

A third gift is teaching. The prophet interprets the gospel according to the Spirit’s direction in given circumstances, but the teacher, through knowledge of and reflection on the revelation of God, instructs the church in “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27, rsv). Dunn notes, “That Paul recognizes the importance of both [prophecy and teaching], but prizes prophecy the more highly, needs to be remembered: teaching preserves continuity, but prophecy gives life; with teaching a community will not die, but without prophecy it will not live” (Romans 9–16, p. 729).

A further gift includes encouraging or exhortation (v. 8). This term literally depicts someone who is called alongside another as a helping companion. It should not be overlooked, and it is not coincidental, that the Gospel of John later calls the Holy Spirit, Paraclete (Gk. paraklētos), which picks up on this image. “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth” (John 14:16–17, 26; 15:26; 16:7).

Verse 8 concludes with virtues rather than offices. The gift of giving is to be practiced generously, by which Paul intends the spirit of giving rather than the thing given. The Greek word for generously carries the idea of freedom and “single-mindedness,” without second thoughts, ulterior motives, or divided allegiances. Likewise, leaders are to govern diligently. The Greek word might be translated “with haste,” i.e., not begrudgingly, but readily and eagerly. By ministering cheerfully the servant of God liberates those whom he or she serves.

Four of the seven gifts in verses 6–8 relate to what the church traditionally has called the diaconate. Faced with burgeoning social ills and suffering, with a gospel which is increasingly marginalized, ministries of the diaconate afford the church numerous opportunities to reach “the least of these,” i.e., those who for whatever reason no longer hear the gospel from the church. In so doing the church bears witness to the world that Jesus “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”[5]


12:6–8. The good, pleasing, and perfect will of God for the church is unity based on the contributions of its diverse members. Here Paul presents a sampling of the different ways members of the body of Christ are gifted for service and ministry in the church. He returns to the point made in verse 3 where Paul mentioned “the grace given me.” Here he expands that dynamic to the grace given us. Just as Paul was gifted as an apostle, so every member is gifted in some way to serve and build up the body of Christ. Gifts (charisma, sing., charismata, pl.) originate in grace (charis), which means they are freely bestowed according to the good pleasure of the giver, the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:11). Grace-gifts are manifestations of the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit—he not only gives the gifts “just as he determines” (1 Cor. 12:11) but he also empowers their use “for the common good” (1 Cor. 12:7).

To the detriment of the church, “discussions” over spiritual gifts have resulted in Corinthian-like carnality in the church. How ironic that the very instruments given to manifest and encourage the unity of the body of Christ should so divide it! In Romans, Paul’s point is not to correct abuses of the gifts but to teach on their primary purpose—to meet needs in the body of Christ and to build up the body in preparation for the accomplishment of its God-given mission.

Paul’s statement that we have different gifts, according to the grace given us is amplified in 1 Corinthians: “God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be” (1 Cor. 12:18). And what are the parts? It appears from the New Testament that Paul’s penchant for list-making is not for the purpose of exhaustiveness as much as for illustration. For example, his lists for the qualifications of church elders are not the same in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. And he only gives qualifications for deacons to Timothy, not to Titus. Does this mean that the elders in Ephesus where Timothy was had different qualifications than those on the island of Crete where Titus was? And did the church on Crete not need deacons because Paul did not mention them?

Not at all. This question falls into the same category as the “exception” concerning divorce as taught by Jesus. Matthew records Jesus’ words concerning an exception to the “no divorce” statute (Matt. 19:9) whereas Mark (10:1–12) and Luke (16:18) do not. Does this mean that a different standard concerning divorce existed for Matthew’s Jewish readers than for Luke’s Gentile readers or Mark’s Roman readers? A final example is the list of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22–23). Does the Holy Spirit manifest himself in only the nine ways mentioned in Galatians?

Lists of spiritual gifts should be afforded the same fluidity of interpretation and allowance for human dynamics in the process of the inspiration of Scripture that is required to accommodate the alleged “inconsistencies” in the above examples. The gifts of the Spirit are mentioned in four places in Scripture. A comparison of the gifts mentioned in each passage will illustrate the point that, even by combining all four lists, the intent of Scripture is not to arrive at an airtight list. Rather, the lists indicate some of the ways the Holy Spirit manifests the grace of God in the church:

Romans 12:6–8

 

1 Corinthians 12:8–11; 28–31

 

Ephesians 4:11

 

1 Peter 4:10–11

 

Prophecy

 

Prophecy

 

Prophecy

 

 

 

Service

 

 

 

 

 

Service

 

Teaching

 

Teaching

 

Pastor-Teacher (same as teacher?)

 

Speaker (same as teacher?)

 

Encouraging

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giving

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leadership

 

Administration (same as leadership?)

 

 

 

 

 

Showing mercy

 

Helping others (same as mercy?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wisdom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knowledge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Healing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miraculous powers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Distinguishing between spirits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tongues

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interpreting tongues

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apostle

 

Apostle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evangelists

 

 

 

From these four lists, it is obvious that there is not one single list of the gifts of the Spirit—or at least one that we have in our possession. But since three of the lists are from Paul, and given that his general topic was the same in all three instances of his discussions of gifts (the unity and building up of the body of Christ), it would seem that if a codified list were to have been given, he would have done so.

The implication of a fluid approach to the matter of spiritual gifts is to reflect on Jesus’ words in John 3:8: “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.” While Jesus’ specific application in that context was to the new birth through the Spirit, the insight into the ministry of the Spirit is helpful regarding spiritual gifts. We know that everyone has been gifted by God, but we probably should not be dogmatic in asserting whether with one or more than one charisma. Nor should we be dogmatic about whether any or all gifts are permanent as a rule, or whether or not gifts may be given to believers according to the need of the moment. Many believers give testimony of having been aware of an unusual anointing by the Holy Spirit to meet a need in the church on a temporary basis. Was that an anointing or a gifting?

We probably should not yield to our Occidental tendencies to isolate Oriental matters into categories. The Hebrew culture was much more serendipitous than ours. “Going with the flow” was the norm. We should incorporate into our understanding the clear teaching that the Holy Spirit has gifted us and expects us to use our gifts for the building up of the body of Christ—and then be prepared to be surprised by the Spirit if and when he dispenses grace “as he determines” (1 Cor. 12:11).

The gifts Paul mentions in Romans are presented in such a way as to make them self-explanatory. It is as if Paul is answering questions from those new to the idea of spiritual gifts: “Paul, what should I do if I am a prophet?” Prophesy!—but only by faith. “What if my gift is serving?” Then serve! “What about teaching?” Teach! “Encouraging?” Encourage someone! “Giving to others?” Give generously! “Leading?” Start leading! “Showing mercy?” Stop frowning—people who need mercy also need good cheer! In other words, the implication seems to be that we are not to wait around for instructions or for a mystical move of the Spirit in order to minister to the body of Christ. We are to do that which is obvious to us and which we feel compelled and capable of doing.

That last phrase—“which we feel … capable of doing”—will raise the question of the confusion of natural talents with spiritual gifts. Teachers on this topic often insist on drawing a firm line of demarcation between the two, suggesting that a person’s natural gifts (in the area of church life and social dimensions) should not be considered when assessing spiritual gifts. This is not a biblical distinction; Paul never addresses the issue. He himself was an up-and-coming leader in Judaism on the basis of natural talent, displaying apostolic propensities as he traveled from city to city tearing down the church. Then he met Christ, was born again, and graced by the Holy Spirit as an apostle, after which he continued going from city to city only then to build up the church, not tear it down.

Paul was compelled to lead both before and after his conversion. Following his example, we should not be so quick to put a new believer on hold in ministry until it becomes clear what his or her spiritual gifts are. Who is to say that the Holy Spirit would not sanctify a carnal or profane ability and use it in the church? Plenty of mundane and profane objects in the Old Testament (knives, pots, pans, building materials, people) were sanctified (set apart and declared holy) for use by the Lord. Natural talents could fall into that same category. (See this chapter’s “Deeper Discoveries” for notes on the gifts mentioned by Paul in Romans.)

The bottom line of Paul’s move from sacrifice to a healthy body of Christ is, “Do what God has gifted you to do. Sacrifice your own likes, dislikes, preferences, and partisan positions for the sake of the one who had mercy on you.”[6]


6–8. Moreover, having different gifts, according to the grace given us, if (a person’s gift is) prophesying, (then let him exercise it) in accordance with the standard of faith; or if (it is rendering) practical service, then let him use it in (rendering) such practical service; or if one is a teacher, (let him exercise his gift) in teaching; or, if one is an exhorter (let him use his gift) in exhorting. Let him who contributes to the needs of others (do so) without ulterior motive. Let him who exercises leadership (do so) with diligence. Let him who shows mercy (do so) with cheerfulness.

Notes on This Summary of Gifts and Functions

  1. It is marked by abbreviated style. The words implied but not expressed are numerous. See N.T.C. on John, Vol. I, p. 206, on Abbreviated Expression.
  2. Paul is describing seven “gifts,” distributed among individuals or groups of individuals who, making use of these gifts, exercise the corresponding functions.
  3. The seven functions are:
  4. prophesying
  5. rendering practical service
  6. teaching
  7. exhorting
  8. contributing to the needs of people
  9. exercising leadership
  10. showing mercy.
  11. Among commentators there is considerable difference of opinion with respect to the meaning of some of these functions.
  12. Somewhat similar lists are found in 1 Cor. 12:8–10, where nine functions are mentioned; in 1 Cor. 12:28, 29 which mentions eight; and in Eph. 4:11 which lists four (as some see it five, but see N.T.C. on Ephesians, p. 197).
  13. It is clear that Paul believes that not only ministers, elders, and deacons have gifts, but every believer has one or more divinely bestowed gifts or endowments. The apostle shows how these charismata should be used to benefit the church and, in fact, men in general.

Note “according to the grace given us.” No one has the right to boast about his gift. Each member should bear in mind that his ability to serve others is a product of God’s grace, his love for the undeserving.

  • Prophesying

So very important did Paul consider the gift and function of prophesying that both in 1 Cor. 12:28 and in Eph. 4:11 he mentions it immediately after that of the apostolate.

The question has been asked, “How is it that here in Romans 12, where Paul is describing how persons endowed with various gifts should conduct themselves in the performance of their respective duties, there is no mention at all of the function of an apostle?” Some answer: “This proves that no apostle had anything whatsoever to do with the founding of that church or with its early history.” But such an argument is surely basing too much on too little. See also above, p. 19. Even the statement, “Paul is silent on the matter of telling another apostle how to conduct himself because it would have been very improper for one apostle to lay down the law for another apostle,” is not absolutely true, as Gal. 2:11 f. proves, though in normal circumstances it is probably correct. What is true is that Paul had already alluded to his own apostolic office (in 12:3), and also that at this particular time there was no apostle in Rome. If there had been one, would his name not have been included in the list of greetings found in chapter 16?

Returning to the subject of the importance Paul attaches to the gift of prophecy, it is to be noted that in 1 Cor. 14:1 those addressed are told, “… eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.” In verse 39 of that same chapter the writer adds, “Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy.”

One important reason for attaching such a high value to prophesying must have been that the message of the true prophet was the product not of his own intuition or even of his own study and research but of special revelation. The prophet received his message directly from the Holy Spirit (Acts 11:27, 28; note, “and through the Spirit predicted”). So also in Acts 21:11 Agabus, one of these prophets—there were others, both men and women (Acts 13:1; 21:9)—is quoted as follows, “The Holy Spirit says, In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt …” (21:11).

Another reason why on Paul’s list of spiritual gifts prophesying ranked so high was its comprehensive content. It was by no means restricted to the utterance of a prediction now and then. It included edification, exhortation, consolation, and instruction (1 Cor. 14:3, 31).

However, not everyone who presented himself as a prophet was necessarily a genuine prophet. Not everything a “prophet” said was necessarily true. So in addition to supplying the church with prophets, God also saw to it that there were people who were able to distinguish between the true prophet and the false (1 Cor. 12:10; 14:29) and between truth and falsehood. In line with this, here in Rom. 12:6 Paul writes, “If (a person’s gift is) prophesying, (then let him exercise it) in accordance with the standard of faith.” Here some interpreters interpret the word “faith” in the objective sense, as if the apostle was referring to God’s revealed truth, the gospel. Others, however, accept the subjective sense, and view the word “faith” as indicating trust in God and in his promises.

Since just a moment ago (in verse 3) Paul has used this word in the latter sense, which, in the present connection, yields an excellent meaning, we need look no farther. The prophet must say nothing that is in conflict with his faith in Christ. For example, he might be tempted, for selfish reasons, to make startling statements which he himself did not believe. He is warned not to do so. He must be and remain God’s mouth to the people.

  • Rendering Practical Service

The apostle uses the word diakonia, that is, practical service, ministry. Cf. 1 Cor. 12:5; Eph. 4:12. This service or ministry can be of various kinds. In the story concerning Martha and Mary (Luke 10:40) it amounted to whatever work was necessary in preparing a meal. “The diakonia” of the word is mentioned in Acts 6:4; that of reconciliation in 2 Cor. 5:18. Since in the present connection Paul is enumerating various functions pertaining to church life, it is natural here to connect the term with that particular type of work which we too ascribe to the diaconate, that is, to the office performed by the deacons. Accordingly, Paul is encouraging those who are qualified for this type of work to accept the opportunity to do so.

It may well be rather difficult for us to estimate the importance the apostle attached to the work of the deacon, the Church’s ministry of mercy. We should bear in mind, however, that in the days of the apostle many believers were anything but wealthy. Some were slaves or freedmen. In fact, in this very epistle to the Romans (15:25) the apostle states the reason why he cannot travel straight to Rome but must first visit the saints in Jerusalem. Elsewhere he says, “I came to Jerusalem to bring my people gifts for the poor” (Acts 24:17). See also 1 Cor. 1:26 f., 16:1 f., 2 Cor. 8:1 f. It is worthy of special attention that the very man who insisted on purity in doctrine was at least equally interested in the cause of showing generosity in aiding the poor. In 2 Cor. 8:7, 8 he most strikingly connects the “grace” of giving to supply the needs of the poor with a central doctrine of the Christian religion, namely, that of Christ’s voluntary humiliation in the interest of sinners. He says:

“But just as you excel in everything … see that you also excel in this grace (of giving) … For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, that you through his poverty might become rich.”

So also today the diaconate is no less important than the eldership. The cause of Christ is served equally by each. In each the love of Christ is reflected.

  • Teaching

The prophet received his message by direct revelation. The teacher derived his knowledge from the study of the Old Testament and of the teaching of Jesus, in whatever form this was accessible to him. Since direct revelations do not always occur, and besides, since the deposit of divine revelation found in Scripture—which, in Paul’s day meant in the Old Testament—is of abiding and very important significance, it is clear that also for the teacher there is a very definite and important place in the life of the church. So, “if one is a teacher (let him exercise his gift) in teaching.”

  • Exhorting

Acts 13:15 shows that in the synagogue, after a portion of the law and of the Prophets had been read, the rulers of the synagogue invited Paul and Barnabas to speak a word of exhortation. Such was the custom in those days. Here, in Rom. 12, those who have been blessed with the talent of exhorting are urged to make use of it for the benefit of all. Today the minister of the gospel is—at least should be—adequately equipped to take care of both teaching and exhorting. He not only teaches doctrine but also shows how doctrine should be applied to life so that all may be edified and encouraged. Among the laity, too, there may be excellent teachers and/or exhorters.

  • Contributing to the Needs of People

Paul writes, “Let him who contributes to the needs of others (do so) without ulterior motive.”

The reasons why Paul devoted so much attention to pointing out the importance of the ministry of mercy (namely, great need and example of Christ) have been given. See above, under b. So here, at first glance, we seem to detect a repetition of point b. Nevertheless, there is a difference. The diaconate has to do with the cause of church benevolence. By means of the deacons the entire church, functioning as a unit, engages in this important work. More, however, is needed. In addition to collective there must also be private benevolence. Let those who are able to function in this capacity by all means do so! Since the Lord has blessed them so abundantly let them, in turn, be a blessing to others.

But in so doing they must be sure to contribute “without ulterior motive.” Here the giving with ulterior motive, denounced by Malachi (1:13, 14), immediately occurs to the mind, and so does that of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1 f.). True givers are those who give wholeheartedly, all the while remembering what they themselves have received from their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

  • Exercising Leadership

There are those who believe that by placing f. between e. and g., both of which are, in a sense, concerned with benevolence, Paul, in f., must be referring to people who are in charge of church benevolence. However, e. does not seem to have anything to do with the diaconate, and g. does not necessarily refer to what is commonly meant by benevolence.

Besides, in other passages where the same word for leadership occurs as the one used here in Rom. 12:8 the reference is to overseers, elders (1 Thess. 5:12; 1 Tim. 3:4; 5:17). And even when one makes due allowance for the fact that it is not the apostle’s intention to list every spiritual gift and function of church members, would it not seem strange if he were to include in his summary the ministry of the deacons, as he does (see point b.), but completely to omit from it that of the presbyters? With respect to their age and dignity these men were called presbyters or elders; with respect to the nature of their task they were called overseers or superintendents. Because a heavy burden rested on the shoulders of these men, and the temptation to shirk their responsibility was great, they are admonished to exercise their leadership “with diligence.”

  • Showing Mercy

The sick, dying, and bereaved are in need of visits by someone who knows how to impart genuine Christian sympathy and understanding, someone who shows mercy with cheerfulness. “For as nothing gives more solace to the sick or to anyone otherwise distressed, than to see those cheerful and prompt in assisting them, so to observe sadness in the countenance of those by whom assistance is given makes them feel themselves despised” (John Calvin on this passage). I would only add to this that a brief, cheering visit by a wise and sympathetic fellow-member, who is willing to help in every possible way, is certainly of far more benefit than the almost endless recital of all the horrendous details of the operation recently performed on the caller, namely, Mr. Sad. Truly, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Prov. 17:22). This holds both for the patient and the visitor.[7]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans (Vol. 2, pp. 167–178). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Boice, J. M. (1991–). Romans: The New Humanity (Vol. 4, pp. 1581–1588). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

[3] Calvin, J., & Owen, J. (2010). Commentary on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans (pp. 459–463). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[4] Harrison, E. F., & Hagner, D. A. (2008). Romans. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, pp. 186–188). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[5] Edwards, J. R. (2011). Romans (pp. 287–289). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[6] Boa, K., & Kruidenier, W. (2000). Romans (Vol. 6, pp. 370–373). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[7] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (Vol. 12–13, pp. 408–413). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

January 9, 2019 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

REUTERS

President Donald Trump urged Congress in a televised speech on Tuesday to give him $5.7 billion this year to help build a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico but stopped short of declaring a national emergency to pay for the barrier with military funds.

President Donald Trump is still considering a possible declaration of a national emergency in order to circumvent Congress and build a wall along the southern border with Mexico, the White House said on Wednesday.

The Trump administration said on Tuesday it would keep providing food assistance to poor Americans in February despite a partial U.S. government shutdown, but warned it had no solution in place for March if the funding shortfall continues.

Joshua Tree National Park in California will be closed at least temporarily so that staffers can grapple with sanitation and maintenance issues that have mushroomed during the partial government shutdown, officials said on Tuesday.

President Trump said he has ordered a halt to federal emergency funds for California to fight wildfires and manage its forests unless officials in the western U.S. state can “get their act together.”

A Cambodian court jailed a man on Wednesday for three years for insulting the king in Facebook posts, the second known conviction under a new lese majeste law enacted last year, which rights groups fear could be used to stifle dissent.

The body of an Afghan government employee who also worked as a part-time journalist in western Afghanistan’s Farah region has been found, three days after he was kidnapped by Taliban militants, local officials said on Wednesday.

Chinese and U.S. teams ended trade talks in Beijing on Wednesday that lasted longer than expected and officials said details will be released soon, raising hopes an all-out trade war that could badly disrupt the global economy can be avoided.

U.S. sanctions are putting unprecedented pressure on Iranians while “first class idiots” are running Washington’s policy, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday.

AP Top Stories

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has asked the Security Council to approve the deployment of up to 75 observers to Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah for six months to monitor a ceasefire and redeployment of forces by the warring parties.

The EU hit Iran’s intelligence services with sanctions Tuesday after accusing Tehran of being behind plots to assassinate regime opponents on Dutch, Danish and French soil.

Over five million Catholics are expected to join one of the world’s biggest annual religious gatherings in the Philippines amid President Rodrigo Duterte’s heightened attacks on the Catholic Church.

The Afghan Taliban said on Tuesday they had called off peace talks with U.S. officials in Qatar this week due to an “agenda disagreement”, especially over the involvement of Afghan officials as well as a possible ceasefire and prisoner exchange.

The United States imposed sanctions Tuesday on seven Venezuelans, including the owner of news network Globovision, for allegedly plundering billions of dollars from the crisis-hit country through black-market currency exchanges.

The Egyptian border crossing was closed for Palestinians seeking to leave Gaza on Tuesday, a border official said, as infighting between Palestinian factions increases.

The Mexican government has pledged to put guards at some 370 illegal crossing points along the country’s southern border with Guatemala.

The Russian Orthodox patriarch has warned that the popularity of smartphones is paving the way for the coming of the Antichrist.

Russian military police have begun patrolling around the Syrian city of Manbij, a spokesman said Tuesday, moving into an area once held by US-backed Kurdish forces.

Bell kicked off the official opening day of CES 2019 by showing off the full-scale design of the Bell Nexus, an air taxi of the not-so-distant future. Believe it or not, flying cars are right around the corner — not in the form of personal, family vehicles but rather as a ridesharing option.

The U.S. Navy, without fanfare or notice, tested a new weapon last summer that could revolutionize surface warfare. The hyper velocity projectile (HVP) is a Mach 3 shell fired from existing guns on cruisers and destroyers. A guided projectile, HVP can drop high explosives on enemies on the ground up to three times as far as conventional ship gun ammo with a high rate of precision. It can also intercept incoming anti-ship missiles, providing an economical alternative to increasingly expensive anti-missile interceptors.

BBC

Car sales in China, the world’s biggest vehicle market, have seen their first annual fall in twenty years.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he is “deeply concerned” about the increased production of coca leaf, the raw material for cocaine, in Colombia. At a meeting with Colombian President Ivan Duque, he said the two countries would try to reduce coca production by 50% by 2023.

WND

A penny that a Massachusetts teenager found in his change from lunch money in March 1947 could be worth as much as $1.65 million when it is auctioned off.

Twenty pupils at a Beijing primary school were wounded on Tuesday in a hammer attack that police said had left three seriously injured, state news agency Xinhua reported.

New York City will begin guaranteeing comprehensive health care to every single resident regardless of someone’s ability to pay or immigration status, an unprecedented plan that will protect the more than half-a-million New Yorkers currently using the ER as a primary provider, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.


Mid-Day Snapshot

The Foundation

“The bosom of America is open to receive … the oppressed and persecuted of all nations … if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment.” —George Washington (1783)

The Humanitarian and Security Crisis on our Border

A full analysis of Donald Trump’s Oval Office address, as well as the Demo rebuttal.

The Shutdown’s Essential Personnel Remain on the Job

Let’s not forget the essential government employees who are not on paid vacation.

Study: Discrimination Now Favors Women

Women aren’t oppressed in America. In fact, the truth is very much the opposite.

House Dems Introduce Latest Anti-Gun Bill

Their “new” “gun control” legislation aims to mandate “universal” background checks.

Chinese Moon Landing Warrants Action

It was a remarkable technological achievement — and a big-time warning for America.

Video: These Are the Families Impacted by Illegal Immigration

The Republican National Committee released a new ad featuring Americans killed by illegals.

Wednesday Short Cuts

“I believe in what the president is doing. When he says that this is a national security problem, he’s absolutely correct.” —Obama Border Patrol chief Mark Morgan

Wednesday Top Headlines

Trump’s border case, health care for illegals, $16 billion in deregulation, Rosenstein leaving, and more.

Today’s Opinion

Ben Shapiro
The Scientific Experts Who Hate Science
Michelle Malkin
Border Wall: Monument for the People, Not Pols
Jonah Goldberg
‘Green New Deal’ a Product of Ideological Recycling
Walter E. Williams
Black Education: A Glimmer of Hope
John Stossel
Legal Weed

Today’s Meme


Today’s Cartoon


News – 1/9/2019

Gold Dome of the Rock Not Where Jewish Temples Stood
A Temple Mount expert, a rabbi who has been studying the subject for years, combined his knowledge of Jewish sources and archaeology and arrived at the conclusion that the Jewish Temples did not stand where visitors now see the prominent golden Dome of the Rock. Knowing the precise location of the Temples would permit all Jews to ascend to the site as well as pave the way for a Third Temple to be built. … the Dome of the Rock is close but not on spot. His 20-year search has led him through many possibilities.  If proven accurate, Moskoff’s theory would permit the construction of a structure for Jewish worship without infringing on the Muslim structures currently at the site. Moskoff is working to bring his theory to the attention of Israeli politicians.

Earthquake reported in Mississippi Delta
A 3.7 magnitude earthquake was reported in Hollandale, Mississippi around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. Shaking was felt throughout Washington County. The earthquake was at a depth of 5 kilometers, which is fairly shallow. According to the First Alert Weather team, most major earthquakes come from a deeper depth.

6.4-magnitude earthquake strikes coast of Japan
6.4-magnA strong earthquake hit near southern Japan on Tuesday, shaking buildings, but there were no reports of injuries or damage. No tsunami was expected. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake struck in the evening and had a preliminary magnitude of 6.3. It was centered 16 kilometers (10 miles) off the city of Nishinoomote on the island of Tanegashima in Kagoshima prefecture at a depth of 35 kilometers (22 miles), it said.itude earthquake strikes coast of Japan

Volcano erupts on remote Papua New Guinea island
A series of tremors around Manam triggered a warning system on Monday and the volcano began erupting shortly after, the Rabaul Volcanological Observatory said. The eruption continued into early Tuesday…

Incredible volcano erupts BLUE lava – here’s why, according to science
Volcanic eruptions are breathtaking at the best of times, but one volcano in Indonesia is even more spectacular than usual. The volcano, called Kawah Ijen, erupts blue lava. While this unique hue is almost invisible during the day, at night, it’s unmissable.

Dem leaders witness push for new Red revolution
The newest faces of the Democratic Party suggest the party’s love affair with far-left politics is gaining momentum, angering their leaders, and turning off the public, says a public policy analyst.

Kim Jong Un visits China ahead of possible Trump summit
Kim Jong Un is making his fourth visit to China, state media reported, in a sign that the North Korean leader may be consulting Chinese leader Xi Jinping ahead of a possible second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.

Earthquake Rattles Northern Oklahoma
The 3.4-magnitude earthquake was reported shortly before 10:45 a.m.. No immediate reports of damage or injury were reported.

Cue the ‘IT’S HAPPENING’ memes. France could be starting a revolution that will spread throughout Europe. Globalists in panic mode
The two leaders of Italy’s ruling populist coalition Monday spectacularly threw their support behind the “yellow vest” protesters roiling neighboring France. “Yellow vests, do not weaken!” Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio, who heads the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S), wrote on his party’s blog, echoed by his counterpart from the far-right League, Matteo Salvini.

Radical anti-Trump House Dems are so extreme they may actually help him get re-elected
Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy – and entertaining at times – ride for sure. But in the end, the Democrats just may hand us another four years of President Trump. The GOP campaign ads practically write themselves. The Democrats have quickly shown us that in the next two years they won’t be interested in getting a thing done for the country or the people who elected them. They hate President Trump, and they’re going to spend their time in office showing us just how much they hate him.

Protesters demand California Democratic megadonor Ed Buck’s arrest amid second man found dead in his apartment
Protests erupted Tuesday outside the West Hollywood home of prominent Democratic donor Ed Buck, with activists calling for Buck’s arrest after a man was found dead in the apartment early Monday — 17 months after a deceased male escort was discovered there. “Arrest Ed Buck, prosecute Ed Buck, and then a jury needs to convict Ed Buck,” activist Jasmyne Cannick said to the crowd gathering outside the California apartment Monday night. “This man has had two dead bodies in his house, and he is still in his house.” Said another demonstrator: “This man is a danger to our community.”

Former cabinet minister Gonen Segev convicted of spying for Iran
Disgraced former minister Gonen Segev was convicted by the Jerusalem District Court of spying for Iran on Wednesday in a plea bargain. A statement from the prosecution said that the sides would ask the court for an 11-year jail term. Sentencing arguments have been set for February 11. Other details in the case remain under gag order.

Netanyahu, Trump to meet two weeks before Israeli elections
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump are expected to meet at the White House about two weeks before the April 9 elections… The prime minister will be in the States for the American Israel Public Affairs (AIPAC) conference…a source…said, “The prime minister will deliver his annual speech at the AIPAC conference and will plan to Washington, despite the conference’s close date to the elections.”

Syria conflict: Turkey says US plea on Kurds ‘unacceptable’
Turkey’s president has strongly rejected US calls for his country to protect Kurdish fighters in Syria. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said such statements made by US National Security Adviser John Bolton at the weekend were “unacceptable”. Mr Bolton was in Ankara to seek guarantees that a Kurdish militia battling the Islamic State group would be safe after US troops pulled out.

California Governor Newsom Vows ‘Sanctuary To All Who Seek It’ In Inauguration Speech
California’s new governor is promising the most populous state will be a “sanctuary to all who seek it” in a direct affront to President Donald Trump’s immigration policies. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom challenged the Trump administration repeatedly as he was sworn in to office Monday, particularly on immigration. The former San Francisco mayor became the state’s 40th governor, succeeding the term-limited Jerry Brown.

Worst measles outbreak in decades sweeps New York as cases surge in Oregon, Washington and abroad
Cases of measles have reached a 20-year high in several New York counties amid an outbreak that threatens to reach epidemic proportions, experts say. At least 160 people have been infected by the virus…in New York and unusual outbreaks have been reported internationally. The worst affected areas so far are Rockland County – where 105 cases have been reported – and an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn, where at least 55 have been infected.

Heathens hold religious services rooted in Norse paganism aboard aircraft carrier
Heathenry is experiencing a resurgence. The polytheistic religion, one that traces its origin to Norse myths that tell of the universe’s creation and prophesy its destructive end, was at one time stifled following the end of the Viking Age and the subsequent spread of Christianity…Now…a small group of sailors aboard the aircraft carrier John C. Stennis has adopted these deities as the pillars of their religion, according to a Navy release.

Dems block Senate bill on Israel boycotts, citing shutdown
Senate Republicans’ first bill of the new Congress was intended to insert the legislative branch into President Donald Trump’s Middle East policy—but also to drive a wedge between centrist and liberal Democrats over attitudes toward Israel. The bipartisan package backed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had initially drawn widespread support ahead of Tuesday’s vote.

Japan Earthquake 2019 Today Strikes Off the Coast
A massive Japan Earthquake 2019 today hast struck off the coast. The quake began moments ago. No reports of damage have yet to be released. A strong 6.3 magnitude Japan Earthquake 2019 today started off the coast and 35 km below sea level. As a result the quake could be felt across the region.

Catholic Cardinal: Homosexuality is Cause of Sexual Abuse Crisis, It’s ‘Statistically Proven’
Contrary to the claim by some clergy that the sexual abuse problems in the Catholic Church stem from “clericalism” — excessive deference to priests and bishops — German Cardinal Walter Brandmuller said the fundamental problem is homosexuality in the priesthood.

Coming to a City Near You: Health Care For All (Including Illegal Aliens)
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has decided to lead the progressive charge on the health care front. On Tuesday, de Blasio announced the would pay for everyone, including illegal aliens, to receive health care, something they’ve dubbed NYC care.

FRANCE: “BANK RUN, THIS SATURDAY 8:00 AM” – Protesters to Crash the banks!
In a bare-knuckles effort to collapse the French government, “Yellow Jacket” protesters are abuzz on social media with their plan for this Saturday:  “BANK RUN at 8:00 AM”

Planned Parenthood President Acknowledges The Truth: Abortion Is Indeed Their Core Mission
On Tuesday, Planned Parenthood President Dr. Leana Wen finally admitted what Planned Parenthood has seemingly tried for years to deny: the main mission of the organization is to perform abortions.

WHO ARE THE REAL COMMUNISTS? US Democrat Party Proposes Higher Personal and Business Tax Rates Than Communist China
Who’s more radical? The Communist Chinese or the US Democratic Party? We all know the answer to that. The Democrat Party is the most radical political party in the world today.

New York Gov Cuomo Won’t Sign State Budget Without Provision Expanding Abortion Rights
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo vowed to protect and expand abortion access for women in the state, promising Monday to nix a state budget that doesn’t include looser abortion laws.

The Deep State Plot to Start World War III
In August of 2018, the Pentagon released a report that was not covered in our corporate controlled media. Subsequently, I have learned that the Pentagon held a closed door briefing on the topic of the Chinese preparing to unleash a series of Pearl Harbor type of attacks against the United States.And as will be revealed later in the article, it led me to ask the right questions of deep cover sources regarding China and the commencement of World War III.

Russian Church Leader: Antichrist is Controlling Humans Through Smartphones
The human race’s dependency on digital devices such as smartphones and tablets will ‘result in the coming of the Antichrist,’ according to a stark warning from the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Democrats Ignored Ed Buck’s First Black Male Victim, Slammed Trump Instead
While the West Hollywood gay community was being preyed upon by super predator Ed Buck, Democrat power players remained mum, even as disturbing details were released following the death of Gemmel Moore in 2017 at Buck’s apartment.

S&P Downgrades PG&E To Junk, Launching Countdown To $800 Million Collateral Call
AIG deja vu?


Headlines – 1/9/2019

Fatah official vows more extreme measures to end Hamas’s rule in Gaza

Hamas arrests 45 ‘collaborators’ in Israeli special forces op that went awry

Girl, 14, lightly injured in suspected stabbing in Jerusalem

TV: Shin Bet chief warns a ‘foreign country’ is trying to influence elections

Are Republicans trying to make US government shutdown an Israel issue?

Democrats block Senate bill on Israel boycotts, citing US government shutdown

Jordanian FM to Pompeo: Israel must eventually withdraw from Golan

Pompeo in Jordan: U.S. Will Double Down to ‘Put Pressure on Iran’ Amid Syria Exit

Bolton Gets No Assurances From Turkey On Safety Of Kurdish Allies In Syria

Syrian Kurds Say They Are ‘Ready to Fight Turkey’

Erdogan Calls Kurdish Fight Against ISIS ‘Huge Lie’ – Hours After Deadly ISIS Bombing on Kurdish Base

Turkey-Qatar pact can be ‘misused for military missions’ in the Gulf

US State Department envoy working on Qatar crisis resigns

Car bomb blast kills two police in Iraq’s Tikrit

EU sanctions Iran over thwarted attacks on European soil

Trump administration hits Venezuela with new sanctions

In first Oval Office speech, Trump insists on steel wall with Mexico

Trump calls wall only solution to ‘growing humanitarian crisis’ at border

State Department says ‘no credible evidence’ terrorists entering through southern border

Trump pleads on TV for wall money; Dems say he ‘stokes fear’

TSA Officers Are Already Quitting Over the Shutdown, Union Says

California Governor Newsom Vows ‘Sanctuary To All Who Seek It’ In Inauguration Speech

World Bank warns of ‘darkening skies’ for global economy

Survey: Americans Warming to Use of Facial Recognition Tech

Mobileye founders unveil wearable camera to identify everyone you meet

The Psychiatrist Can See Your Child Now, Virtually

The cyber-attack that sent an Alaskan community back in time

Supermoon Lunar Eclipse To Become The First Pan-American Total Eclipse In 19 Years

6.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Nishinoomote, Japan

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Cibungur, Indonesia

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Neiafu, Tonga

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Saquena, Peru

Manam volcano in Papua New Guinea erupts to 30,000ft

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 28,000ft

Popocateptl volcano in Mexico erupts to 21,000ft

Krakatau volcano in Indonesia erupts to 20,000ft

Sheveluch volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 20,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 16,000ft

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 15,000ft

Young boy sets up first ever drag club for children

Heathens hold religious services rooted in Norse paganism aboard aircraft carrier

Georgia official takes oath of office on Malcolm X autobiography instead of bible

Phones are helping bring about the antichrist, says head of church


Apostasy Watch Daily News

Harvest Bible Chapel: Dropping Defamation Suit to keep Records Private

Julie Roys: My Response to Harvest’s Lawsuit: Time to Confess, Repent, and Resign

John Gray reveals he wanted to commit suicide; TD Jakes rebukes spirit

Black Nazarene: Thousands join annual statue parade in Manila

Bob Wise – Emotion or Worship

Beware of men (and women) who see angels


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