Daily Archives: January 15, 2019

January 15 Facing Life’s Unknowns

scripture reading: Hebrews 11
key verse: 1 Thessalonians 5:24

He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.

A delayed promotion, an unreached goal, a broken relationship—some of life’s inexplicable turns. Many of the saints mentioned in Hebrews 11 knew firsthand about life’s unknowns.

Many others also had the opportunity to witness God’s hand at work as He rolled back the waters of the Red Sea, defeated enemy armies, and proved faithful when times of trial and tribulation struck. The test of faith is not merely in trusting, but in trusting God when all hope has disappeared.

One way that God tests our faith is by allowing life’s unknowns to invade our lives. Samuel anointed David as king over Israel. Yet nothing was mentioned about having to wait years before he sat on Israel’s throne. Thanks to life’s unknowns, David was forced to leave his family and friends and live like a common criminal on the run from a jealous and mentally impaired king.

At any point he could have proclaimed his frustration, but David went beyond bitterness and self–pity to claim the goodness of God. He realized God’s ways were not the ways of people. All of life’s unknowns are perfectly within God’s sovereign control. If He has given you a promise, cling to it. He will do exactly what He has said He will do.

The year ahead—even the events of this day—are unknown to me, Father. I rest in the knowledge that You alone have sovereign control over every aspect of my life. You will do exactly what You said You would do.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (1998). Enter His gates: a daily devotional. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

15 january (1860) 365 Days with Spurgeon

A home question

“But are there not with you, even with you, sins against the Lord your God?” 2 Chronicles 28:10

suggested further reading: Matthew 7:1–5

Tell him that his sins deserve the wrath of hell. Make him feel that it is an awful thing to fall into the hands of our God, for he is a consuming fire. Then throw him down on a bed of spikes, and make him sleep there if he can. Roll him on the spikes, and tell him that bad as he is, he is worse by nature than by practice. Make him feel that the leprosy lies deep within. Give him no rest. Treat him as cruelly as he could treat another. It would only be his deserts. But who is this that I am telling you to treat so? Yourself, my hearer, yourself. Be as severe as you can, but let the culprit be yourself. Put on the wig, and sit upon the judgment-seat. Read the king’s commission. There is such a commission for you to be a judge. It says—Judge thyself—though it says judge not others. Put on, I say, your robes; sit up there Lord Chief Justice of the Isle of Man, and then bring up the culprit. Make him stand at the bar. Accuse him; plead against him; condemn him. Say: “Take him away, jailor.” Find out the hardest punishment you can discover in the statute book, and believe that he deserves it all. Be as severe as ever you can on yourself, even to the putting on the black cap, and reading the sentence of death. When you have done this, you will be in a hopeful way for life, for he that condemns himself God absolves. He that stands self-convicted, may look to Christ hanging on the cross, and see himself hanging there, and see his sins for ever put away by the sacrifice of Jesus on the tree.

for meditation: Does your heart condemn you before God? The Lord Jesus Christ is your defence lawyer, but only if you are trusting in him as your Saviour, and he can silence even the condemnation coming from your own heart (1 John 2:1; 3:19–23).

sermon no. 294[1]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H., & Crosby, T. P. (1998). 365 Days with Spurgeon (Volume 1) (p. 22). Leominster, UK: Day One Publications.

Are We Justified By Grace or By Works? (James 2) | Crossway Articles

This article is part of the Tough Passagesseries.

14What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food,16and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?17So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.18But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.19You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!20Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?21Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?22You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works;23and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.24You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.25And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?26For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
James 2:14–16

Two Piercing Questions

James signals the beginning of a new section with a vocative (“my brothers”) and two piercing questions (“What good is it . . . if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?”). These questions function rhetorically as strong and memorable denials. They are akin to the declarative statements, “To say you have faith but not works is of no benefit. That kind of faith cannot save anyone.” 

Readers should pay careful attention to the exact wording. James does not say that the person in question indeed has faith but not works. Instead, the person “says” he has faith (a deceived self-declaration). Furthermore, the ESV has rightly translated the sense of the article that appears in front of the word pistis(“faith”) in Greek. The question is not, “Shall faith be able to save him?” (so the DouayRheims translation), but rather, “Can that faith save him?” (ESV). The faith under discussion is not genuine saving faith but the inadequate self-declared faith from the first half of verse 14.

James next provides an illustration of the self-declared, inadequate, non-saving faith introduced in verse 14. The Greek language has several ways of introducing conditional sentences, and by the use of ean (“if”) in verse 15, James signals to his readers that he is describing a situation for hypothetical consideration (like the English introduction, “Let us imagine . . .”).

Despite James’s frequent generic use of adelphos (“brother”), anthrōpos “man,” and even anēr (normally “male,” but see 1:8), here he unexpectedly mentions both genders explicitly (“a brother or sister”; 2:15). Perhaps respecting the stricter segregation of the sexes of his ancient culture, James describes vividly a need that should be met with equal alacrity by both male and female readers. 

Analogous to James’s vivid description of the rich man’s appearance (2:2), here he identifies the poor Christian brother or sister by his or her inadequate clothing and need for daily sustenance. The Greek word translated in 2:15 as “poorly clothed” is gymnos, which usually means “naked” but can also refer to the sparse coverings of the destitute (e.g., Matt. 25:36; LXX Job 31:19; Tob. 1:17).

Genuine faith organically bears such fruit produced by the Holy Spirit, who dwells in the hearts of those who have trusted in Christ for salvation.

Meeting Spiritual Needs

In verse 16, James continues to develop the plot of this hypothetical minidrama: “[Imagine] . . . one of you says to them . . .” James here skillfully weaves in a member of the ancient Christian community he is addressing. From a distance, this imagined interchange between the Christian of average means and the poor Christian seems warm and religiously appropriate. It recalls the spiritual greetings of the OT saints (e.g., Ruth 2:4). Certainly it is not wrong to wish someone the Lord’s blessing of peace or to wish for the Lord to provide him with the clothing, food, and shelter he needs (note the divine passive construction).1

But it is wrong, says James, to wish such blessings upon people when you yourself are able to help meet those material needs but do nothing beyond wagging your tongue in their direction. James speaks of “things needed for the body” (James 2:16), which reminds us that all humans have both a spirit/soul and a body. Humans have basic bodily needs (food, clothing, shelter), and a fundamental test of love is whether we give of our resources to help those in desperate need—especially a “brother or sister” (v. 15). The rhetorical question, “What good is that?” (v. 16b), repeats the exact Greek words that began verse 14 and makes unmistakably clear that this sad story is a visible example of empty, useless, non-saving faith.

Dead Faith

James summarizes starkly in verse 17: “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” It is important to note that the formula is not “faith + works = salvation.” James does not say that works need to be added to faith in order for one to be saved. Instead, his explicit language is that faith either “has” or “does not have” works (v. 17). Faith is inherently either dead or alive. If it is alive, it contains works organically in itself and thus overflows with them in the visible world. The alternative is a dead faith that does not contain such works. James’s contrast is between living and dead faith, not between a living faith that has works and a living faith that does not have works. Faith is like a seed. If a living seed is planted, it will produce a living plant. If a dead seed is planted, it will produce nothing.

In lively homiletic style, James introduces a potential objection in verse 18: “But someone will say, . . .” An interchange between an imaginary interlocutor and an author/speaker is called a diatribe. The diatribe style was common in ancient Greco-Roman rhetoric and is found also in Paul’s writings (e.g., Rom. 9:19). The interlocutor objects, “You have faith and I have works.” In this objection, the pronouns “you” and “I” are employed nonspecifically—i.e., as equivalent to “one person” or “another person.” In other words, the objector raises the question of whether “faith” and “works” are not just two separate, equally valid gifts. We might paraphrase his objection, “Why are you insisting that everyone has to be the same? Some people have faith; others have works!”

James’s verbal riposte skewers his opponent’s flawed perspective. He writes, “Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18). How can a dead faith with no works be demonstrated? A self-deceived declaration of having faith (v. 14) is certainly not admissible evidence! 

The explicit language of “show” (Gk. deiknymi), used twice in verse 18b, again highlights that works are not being added to faith. Genuine saving faith “has” (Gk. echō; v. 17) works, and if such works are present, they will “show up” to be observed by others. Genuine saving faith is demonstrable through outward behavior. One is reminded of Jesus’ warning against false prophets:

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. (Matt. 7:15–20)

Although some scholars attempt to pit James and Paul against one another, in Galatians Paul presents a similar formula for genuine faith. Saving faith inevitably produces the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22–23). That is to say, genuine faith organically bears such fruit produced by the Holy Spirit, who dwells in the hearts of those who have trusted in Christ for salvation. Likewise in Galatians, Paul says, “In Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love” (Gal. 5:6). “Faith working through love” seems to be a Pauline equivalent to James’s idea of “faith having works” (James 2:14).

God Is One

In 2:19, James continues to respond to his self-deceived opponent. James writes, “You believe that God is one.” “God is one” is a literal translation of the famous Jewish confession known as the Shema (Deut. 6:4), which should likely be understood as an affirmation of monotheism. The fact that James chooses this well-known Jewish statement of faith is further evidence that the Christian congregation to which James writes is made up largely of persons of Jewish ethnicity (cf. James 1:1).

15 JANUARY 365 Days with Calvin

Vultures under Cover

Thou shalt not steal. Exodus 20:15

suggested further reading: Nehemiah 5

Charity is the goal of the law. The rule of charity is that every one’s rights should be safely preserved and that no one should do to another what he would not do to himself. In defiance of the law are thieves who secretly steal the property of others, seek to gain from the loss of others, accumulate wealth by unlawful practices, and are more devoted to their private advantage than to equity. Rape or plundering is theft, since there is no difference between robbing one’s neighbor by fraud or by force.

So that God might warn his people against all fraudulent injustice, he uses the word steal in Exodus 20:15, which is something we naturally abhor as disgraceful. Still, we know that men bury their misdeeds under many coverings and that they convert those deeds into praise by false pretexts. By craft and low cunning their deeds appear as prudence, and those who cleverly overreach others, take in the simple, and insidiously oppress the poor are spoken of as provident and circumspect. The world boasts of vices as if they were virtues and freely excuses those in sin. But God wipes away this gloss when he pronounces all unjust means of gain to be theft.

An affirmative precept is connected with the prohibition Thou shalt not steal, for those who do not steal must also inculcate liberality and kindness and the other duties whereby human society is maintained. So that we may not be condemned as thieves by God, we must endeavor, as far as possible, to ensure that others should safely keep what they possess and that we promote our neighbor’s advantage no less than our own.

for meditation: Think about your first reactions when you hear of another person’s misfortune, particularly someone who has harmed or hurt you. Are you most concerned with their profit or with yours? How can the prohibition on stealing apply to you?[1]


[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 33). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

Favorite Finds ~ January 14, 2019

Michelle Lesley

Here are a few of my favorite recent online finds…

It’s a few years old, but this excellent episode of the Issues, Etc. radio show: This Week in Pop-American Christianity: Priscilla Shirer on Hearing the Voice of God recently came across my news feed. Many false teachers (in this case, Priscilla Shirer) twist or misunderstand John 10 to mean that, if you’re a Christian, God will speak to you audibly. That’s not what it means, as anyone who takes the time to read the passage in context can attest. Pastor and podcaster Chris Rosebrough explains simply, carefully, and biblically, why this teaching is wrong and what John 10 actually means.

“I get dozens of emails each month from parents whose teens are leaving the church or being swept away by a false version of Jesus and the gospel…In this list I’ve compiled ten critical topics for the modern…

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Tuesday Briefing Jan. 15, 2019 – AlbertMohler.com

As House leaders strip Steve King of committee assignments, Christians must be clear that there is no place for any argument for racial superiority

Deep moral divide revealed by court battle over exemption to Obamacare contraceptive mandate

Sexual revolution marches onward, this time in California’s new framework for sexual education

The post Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.

Download MP3

— Read on albertmohler.com/2019/01/15/briefing-1-15-19/

What the FBI was willing to do to take out Trump with no evidence

Creeping tyranny

For almost three years bureaucrats from the Obama administration, including those at FBI and Justice, have tried to take out candidate and then President Trump with no actual evidence. Robert Mueller knew that Michael Flynn didn’t violate any laws by talking with a Russian after the election, knew that Comey tried to entrap Flynn, knew that FBI agents didn’t think he lied but badgered and sought to destroy and bankruptFlynn and his family until he caved to plead to perjury. Now, we learn from an article in the New York Times that the FBI started a secret investigation into whether President Trump worked for Russia even though there was no evidence that he did.

J. Edgar Hoover Building, FBI Headquarters (

F.B.I. Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia

In the days after President Trump 

The inquiry carried explosive implications. Counterintelligence investigators had to consider whether the president’s own actions constituted a possible threat to national security. Agents also sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence.

And, of course, they found nothing.

Somehow, the Times, other media outlets, and Democrats have absolutely no concern about the abuse of power by the FBI and say it is Trump that should be investigated, even though there is no evidence that Trump did anything wrong. If the FBI is willing to destroy Trump and others surrounding him because they wanted Hillary to be President what would they be willing to do to other people? Tyranny creeps in on secret FBI investigations, leaked when it is convenient to the plotters seeking to oust a duly elected President of the United States. 

Let’s take a short trip down memory lane to see how all this fake news from the media started over two years ago and continues to this day:

The DNC and HIllary couldn’t figure out how to beat Trump based on facts and by promoting their policies, that consisted mainly of making government bigger and more people dependent on government, so they contracted out and paid over $10 million to create a fraudulent dossier about Trump and Russia. They committed a crime by filing false reports with the FEC about these expenses.

They shopped the fraudulent dossier and found welcoming hands at the FBI by powerful government officials who also wanted to defeat Trump and elect Hillary no matter what they had to do.

Even though these agents couldn’t verify any of the garbage in the dossier, they used it to get FISA warrants to listen in on Trump and people surrounding him. They pretended they were concerned about Russian collusion, but not once did they seek to investigate the Russian connections of Hillary, Podesta and others. The Russian collusion story was made up from the start. Obama even gave a stand-down order to his cyber security chief in the summer of 2016 to stop investigating Russian hacking.

The FBI, Intelligence agencies, Justice Department and others in the Obama administration colluded to insert spies into the Trump campaign to entrap them including George Papadopoulos.

While these partisan hacks at Justice and FBI were targeting Trump at every turn, they were protecting Hillary, her aides, Obama and others from prosecution no matter what they did.  James Comey listed the crimes that Hillary and her aides committed and yet had exonerated her before she was even interviewed. Comey lied when he said no prosecutor would take her case. Not once did these partisan hacks take the criminal actions of Hillary and her aides to a Grand Jury for them to decide. President Obama also violated the law by corresponding with Hillary on her non-secure computer and then he lied about it.

While the media and Democrats spew forth about pretend obstruction by Trump when there was no underlining crime, they overlook many cases about actual obstruction during Obama’s eight years.

The computers at IRS were destroyed and Obama publicly said he didn’t see a “smidgen” of evidence IRS did anything wrong as they were stifling the political speech rights of political opponents.

Hillary and her aides destroyed emails, smart phone, and computers.

The Mueller team destroyed text messages and evidence of partisan hack agents who were fired

The DNC wouldn’t let government agencies examine their computers, yet government agencies, the media and other Democrats universally said Russians hacked the computers with no physical evidence. Why would anyone believe what the DNC says when they created the fraudulent dossier and lied to the FEC?

The most obvious case of obstruction was when Obama put a stop into drug running by Hezb’allah to appease Iran.

The FBI and Justice also didn’t care about multiple perjury cases with Obama including Hoider, Clapper, Brennan and Rice. They didn’t care when Obama officials illegally unmasked names.

The abuse and tyrannical nature of the Obama administration has been completely obvious, yet the NYT, WP, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, NPR and others haven’t cared; they supported them at every turn as they set out to destroy Trump with fake news from anonymous sources without any evidence.

Despite the clear evidence that Obama controlled the Justice Department and that many people associated with Obama, including Hillary, violated many laws, the media and other Democrats say the Justice Department operated independently and no one was above the law. The fake reporting is endless.

The media and other Democrats continuously call Trump an authoritarian, but he is trying to go through Congress to get funding for the wall that Democrats have voted for before. He is trying to give the power and purse back to the people as fast as he can which is the opposite of an authoritarian/dictator.

Contrast Trump with Obama who dictatorially and unconstitutionally implemented DACA as Democrats, including the media wing of the party, cheered. I did not see Obama go to Congress for money to implement DACA even though it had to cost billions in benefits.

When Obama came up billions short for Obamacare, he did not go to Congress to get an appropriation Nope, he just illegally and dictatorially stole money from other sources to pay for the shortfall and the media and other Democrats did not rip him for being an actual authoritarian and thief.

A tyrannical government is dangerous to our freedom and it is made much more dangerous by a complicit media that continuously supports an increase in power for those who abuse their power.

How many individuals and families are the media and other Democrats willing to destroy to enhance their power?  They were willing to absolutely destroy Brett Kavanaugh without evidence just because they were afraid of how he would vote on the courts. Several people running for President in 2020, including Warren, Booker, Harris and Gillibrand, participated in the public hanging of Kavanaugh with no evidence. Why would anyone trust them to treat the rest of us respectfully and equally?
— Read on www.americanthinker.com/blog/2019/01/what_the_fbi_was_willing_to_do_to_take_out_trump_with_no_evidence.html

Why Is the Resurrection Central to the Christian Faith? (Video) — Cold Case Christianity

J. Warner Wallace discusses the evidence for Christianity with apologist, Sean McDowell, as part of the “Advocates” series from Awana. In this clip, J. Warner describes why the Resurrection is the foundational claim of Christianity. If you’re interested in this great series for high school students, visit the Advocates webpage.

Why Is the Resurrection Central to the Christian Faith? (Video) — Cold Case Christianity

Psalm 32: Confronting the Thief of Joy — Biblical Woman

Be glad in in the LORD and rejoice,

You righteous one;

shout for joy,

all you upright in heart

Psalm 32:11

The beginning of a new year brings the typical social media and blog posts proclaiming one’s “Word of the Year.”  I have never been one to focus on my one word or one verse for a given year, but 2019 is different. After coming through a particularly challenging time, finding myself distracted by the many things that took my eyes from what was the most important, I believed that of any year, 2019 is the year to choose my one word, setting a tone of intentionality for how I wanted the theme of this year to be. My word for 2019 is JOY.

JOY… some days you are surrounded by it, some days you must choose it, some days you depend on it, and some days you get to spread it. Joy can be there amid pain, and no one can steal it unless you allow them. That last part, the joy stealers, was the one part I wanted to guard against more than any other. As I have sought to understand what was stealing my joy, Psalm 32 reminded me that, perhaps, I was my biggest thief.

The 32nd Psalm begins in the first verse by emphasizing that we are full of joy when our “transgression is forgiven” and “our sin is covered”. The psalmist continues by declaring, “how joyful is a person whom the LORD does not charge with iniquity and in whose spirit is no deceit!” If the result of forgiveness is joy, then an unrighteous, deceitful spirt must be the culprit for stealing joy.

Two of the biggest joy stealers for women are worry and fear, especially during uncertain times and difficult circumstances. While each morning I would voice the words of the previous Psalm, “But I trust in you, LORD; I say, ‘You are my God.’ The course of my life is in your power” (Ps 31:14-15a), by day’s end, I fell into the trap of worry and fear. I was overcome by the raging waters around me and, just like David, it began to drain me physically, mentally, and emotionally (Ps 32:3-4). The sins of worry and fear were stealing my joy. Not until I was honest with myself and with God, confessing I was not fully trusting in the LORD and resting in His power, did I experience His forgiveness and discover joy again. He surrounded me with “joyful shouts of deliverance” (Ps 32:7).

Friend, as you are reading this, are you struggling to live each day full of joy? We can blame circumstances, painful seasons, the actions of others, or the uncertainty of the future on our struggle for joy. But perhaps, the true joy stealer is our own unrepentant sin, deceiving ourselves that we can keep going, and no one will know how hard each day is.

Let’s make 2019 the year of joy, daily confessing sin and receiving God’s complete removal of guilt and shame.  May this be the day you and I declare that while many pains will come our way, we will trust in the LORD knowing His faithful love surrounds us, and we will live each day full of His joy.

Psalm 32: Confronting the Thief of Joy — Biblical Woman

January 15, 2019 Morning Verse Of The Day

† 2:18 — For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.

Jesus knows what it feels like to be tempted. We can never say to Him, “You don’t know what it’s like,” because He does. In fact, we know less of the pain of temptation than He does, since He never gave in to it.[1]


Our Sympathizer

For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. (2:16–18)

Christ did not come to redeem angels but men. So He took on Himself the form of Abraham’s descendants and became a Jew. “How odd of God to choose the Jews,” someone has quipped. We wonder why He chose them and not some other race or nation on whom to show His special favor. But if He had chosen some other group, we would ask the same question about them. He simply chose them in His sovereign will out of love. “The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the Lord loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers” (Deut. 7:7–8).

Again the writer answers the question, “If Jesus is God, why did He become a man?” He came to substitute for men, to reconcile men to God, to fit them for God’s presence and to destroy death. But beyond that He also came to help the reconciled when they are tempted. He wanted to feel everything we feel so that He could be a merciful and understanding, as well as a faithful, high priest. He came not only to save us but to sympathize with us.

In his letters to Timothy, Paul gave words of counsel and encouragement to his young friend about many things—his health, his critics, his moral and spiritual welfare. But all of his counsel could perhaps be summed up in these words in the second letter: “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David” (2 Tim. 2:8). Paul was saying, in effect, “Remember Jesus Christ in His humanity, Timothy. Remember that, wherever you may go, He has been there before you. You can get down on your knees when the going gets tough and you can pray, ‘Lord, You know what You went through when You were here. I’m going through it now.’ And He will say, ‘Yes, I know.’ ”

When you have a problem, it is wonderful to be able to talk with the divine One who has already experienced it and come through successfully. Other people may be understanding, but they cannot fully understand. Jesus came to identify with us, to experience what we experience. “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). He became our Sympathizer, a merciful and faithful high priest. He was hungry, He was thirsty, He was overcome with fatigue, He slept, He was taught, He grew, He loved, He was astonished, He was glad, He was angry, He was indignant, He was sarcastic, He was grieved, He was troubled, He was overcome by future events, He exercised faith, He read the Scriptures, He prayed, He sighed in His heart when He saw another man in illness, and He cried when His heart ached.

Jesus felt everything we will ever feel—and more. For example, He felt temptation to a degree that we could not possibly experience. Most of us never know the full degree of resistible temptation, simply because we usually succumb long before that degree is reached. But since Jesus never sinned, He took the full measure of every temptation that came to Him. And He was victorious in every trial.

Why did He go through that? He did it so that He could become a merciful and faithful high priest who could sympathize with our weaknesses and who could come to the aid of those who are tempted. Ours is not a cosmic God, powerful and holy, but indifferent. He knows where we hurt, where we are weak, and where we are tempted. He is the God we can go to not only for salvation but for sympathy.

This is our Savior. The perfect Savior. Our Substitute, our salvation Author, our Sanctifier, our Satan-Conqueror, and our Sympathizer. What a Savior He is. There is no other.[2]


Able to Help

Hebrews 2:14–18

For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Heb. 2:18)

Most of the heresies of the early church had to do in one way or another with the person of Jesus Christ. On the one hand, there were those who denied the full divinity of Jesus, a view most closely identified with Arius, a preacher from Alexandria in Egypt. The Arians held that however great Jesus was, he was still less than the eternal and almighty God. On the other hand were the Docetists, so called for the Greek word dokeō, which means “to seem” or “to appear.” These held that while the divine Christ may have appeared as a man, he nonetheless was not. It would have been unworthy for the divine to take up flesh, they argued, much less to die in shame and weakness upon a cross.

The first church council at Nicaea, meeting in a.d. 325, dealt with such matters. It specifically condemned Arianism as a heresy, affirming Christ’s full divinity and his full humanity. The Nicene Creed described our Lord Jesus Christ as “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father … and [he] was made man.” More recently, the Westminster Shorter Catechism speaks of the eternal Son of God becoming man with these words: “Christ, the Son of God, became man, by taking to himself a true body and a reasonable soul, being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and born of her yet without sin” (Q/A 22).

Both aspects of this ancient controversy have already been answered in the Letter to the Hebrews. Christ’s full divinity featured prominently in chapter 1, where verse 8 said of Jesus: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.” This is about as clear a statement of deity as you can find. Chapter 2 speaks very deliberately to the other side of the equation. Hebrews 2:10–13 showed how thoroughly Jesus identified himself with mankind, making himself of one family with those he saves and even equipping himself for office by means of suffering. Hebrews 2:14–18 goes on to give proof-texts that are and have been devastating to any who would deny the full humanity of Jesus Christ. Verse 14 tells us that he “partook of … flesh and blood,” while verse 17 says he was “made like his brothers in every respect.” The One who is fully God—the very Son of the very God of heaven—both suffered and was tempted as a man, as we see in verse 18.

This is the great theme of these verses before us: the full humanity of Jesus Christ in his work as divine Savior. Assuming this truth, the writer of Hebrews draws forth its implications, making clear the reasons why God’s Son became man and also detailing the final results of that work begun by his humble birth in the Bethlehem stable. The author highlights here three great aspects of Christ’s saving work: first, he broke the devil’s hold and liberated captive humanity; second, he made propitiation for God’s holy wrath against our sin; and third, he became a merciful and compassionate minister who is able to help us who now are suffering under the trial of temptation.

Death Defeated

The passage begins by telling us: “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham” (Heb. 2:14–16). This is the reason Christ came into the world as a man. His purpose is defined by two key verbs. The first is “to destroy.” Jesus came to destroy the power of a tyrant who held mankind in slavery, namely, the devil. The second verb is “to deliver.” Like Moses in the exodus, Jesus came to set his people free. This was the purpose of the incarnation. These verses also show the means by which he gained this victory: through his death.

Altogether this is a wonderfully succinct statement of Jesus’ mission in this world. If someone asks, “Why did Jesus come into the world?” here is the answer: he came to die, that he might overthrow Satan’s dominion, and set captive humanity free.

Several great statements are made here, beginning with a description of man’s condition under sin. The writer of Hebrews says that all men “through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (v. 15). He names our great oppressor, the devil, and says he “has the power of death.” When the devil seduced our first parents into sin, he brought them under the curse of death. God had made this the punishment for disobedience, as seen in Genesis 2:17: “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Ever since, the devil and his minions have tormented man by means of the fear of death. This now is the plight of our race, so that William Lane is surely right when he comments: “Hopeless subjection to death characterizes earthly existence apart from the intervention of God. Moreover, the presence of death makes itself felt in the experience of anxiety.”

The fear of death is something mankind still faces today. How much of our busyness, or our frenzy for entertainment, is mainly an attempt to divert our gaze from the shadow death casts across our lives? Death is not merely an event that awaits us, but a power that rules us now, the leaven of futility that permeates all our achievements and denies our souls peace and contentment.

This, then, is a clear statement of the problem our Lord Jesus came to solve. It is from this that he saves us—not merely from unhappiness or dysfunction or failure in life. What we need to be saved from is far greater, the comprehensive reign of death because of sin—a reign that now holds us in bondage through fear, that at the end of our lives afflicts us with the experience of death, and that beyond the grave sees us damned before the judgment throne of the holy God. Death is the problem from which we must be saved. Death is the rod of Satan’s rule and the source of his laughter at our expense.

Death is also what Christ overcomes by his saving work. He breaks the devil’s power and sets us free by means of his own death on the cross. Taking our sins upon himself, Jesus endured the wrath of God that we deserve. At the cross, Jesus “abolished death and brought life and immortality to light” (2 Tim. 1:10). Jesus is the champion from heaven who has defeated our hellish foe by his victory on the cross.

Are you held in bondage by the spectre of death’s reality? Though you must face death, are you free from the chains of its fear, knowing that for you death is the doorway to eternal life in glory? If you have relied on Jesus, you have been set free from death’s sting. This is what Jesus did on the cross—he gave you freedom from the fear of death. Now, through faith in Christ, you can exult in his victory with the words of the apostle Paul: “ ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:54–57). John Calvin therefore exhorts us: “It is from this fear that Christ has released us, by undergoing our curse, and thus taking away what was fearful in death. Although we must still meet death, let us nevertheless be calm and serene in living and dying, when we have Christ going before us.”

Propitiation Made

Whenever we talk about Christ’s death on the cross, we need to understand that there are two parties to whom his work was directed—both the sinner and God. This is why Paul writes, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).

We have already seen one reason why Jesus became man, namely, to die and thus to free us from death. In that sense, we are the objects of his saving work. But there is also God the Father to be considered, who in his holiness cannot accept people who have stained themselves with sin, who are corrupted as an entire race and as individuals. Verse 17 deals with that aspect of Christ’s death of which God is the object: “He had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

I mentioned earlier that controversies over Christ’s divine and human natures have caused some of the key battles in church history. This verse gives a classic explanation as to why the Christ had to become fully man; namely, so that he might perform priestly service before God on man’s behalf and thus propitiate—that is, turn aside—God’s wrath against our sin.

The classic explanation of this doctrine was given by Anselm of Canterbury some nine hundred years ago in his towering work Cur Deus Homo, which means “Why God Became Man.” Speaking of the payment that must be made for our sins, Anselm wrote: “It could not have been done unless man paid what was owing to God for sin. But the debt was so great that, while man alone owed it, only God could pay it, so that the same person must be both man and God. Thus it was necessary for God to take manhood into the unity of his person, so that he who in his own nature ought to pay and could not should be in a person who could.”

This is what the writer of Hebrews gets at in verse 17: “He had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest.” The Old Testament priests represented God before man, which was why they were garbed with glory and honor (Ex. 28:2). Their priestly apparel gleamed, to portray the righteousness of God before the people. But just as importantly, the priest represented man before God. This is why the high priest wore an ephod of gold, upon which were fastened twelve stones, bearing the names of the twelve tribes of Israel (Ex. 28:9–12).

Christ became man so that he might bear our names upon his shoulders. The true high priest, he is garbed in his own perfect righteousness, which he presents on our behalf. He went forth as our minister and representative, offering his precious blood—his divine and infinitely valuable life, which alone could atone for the sins of the world—to pay the debt of our sin. His work was one of propitiation, turning aside God’s wrath from our sin.

This is why Jesus was born into this world, so that by his death as both God and man he might break the hold of death and set us free, while making propitiation to the holy wrath of God against our sins. As one of our great Christmas carols puts it: “Good Christian men, rejoice with heart and soul and voice; now ye need not fear the grave: Jesus Christ was born to save.”

Able to Help

I said there are three reasons why God the Son had to become a man. The first was to free us from slavery to death, while the second was to propitiate God’s just wrath. But there is a third reason given in this passage, set forth in verse 18: “Because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”

When I was on the faculty of the United States Military Academy, I spent one summer with the counseling center during the training of new cadets, affectionately known as Beast Barracks. It is a grueling time of physical and psychological challenges, under which not a few young men and women begin to crack, which is why the Academy provides counselors. I was one of several officers who oversaw the center, but the counseling was done mainly by older cadets who had been through the brutal weeks of that first summer at West Point. The cadets had recently been through it themselves, and therefore were best equipped to help new cadets who were tempted to quit, go home, or otherwise fall into despair.

In the same manner, Jesus is ideally suited to help us in our struggle with temptation to sin and despair, because he has been through it all himself. Here again is a great proof of Christ’s full humanity, that “he himself has suffered when tempted.” We naturally think of Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness at the hands of the devil. There Jesus was afflicted with great hunger and the temptation to accept the crown without the cross. Surely those were great temptations, and Jesus overcame them. But we mustn’t overlook the whole range of temptations to which he was exposed during all his earthly existence, temptations that would have interacted with every aspect of his human nature. Because of them, Jesus knows exactly what we are going through. He knows what it is to be tempted because he experienced it himself. Our high priest has real sympathy and compassion for what we are going through.

Some people object that Jesus does not know the full human experience because he was not a sinner. Without the experience of sin’s corruption, they say, he cannot have full sympathy with us. The answer to this is that far from Jesus knowing less than we do about temptation because he never fell into sin, the opposite is the case. Jesus knows far more about temptation than we do because he endured far beyond the point where the strongest of us gives in to the trial. B. F. Westcott is surely right when he observes: “Sympathy with the sinner in his trial does not depend on the experience of sin but on the experience of the strength of the temptation to sin, which only the sinless can know in its full intensity. He who falls yields before the last strain.”

Jesus has real and knowledgeable sympathy with those who are tempted. Therefore, the Scripture says, he is able to help. What a wonderful combination we have before us. On the one hand we have One who is mighty to save. In this respect, Jesus is not “just like us.” He is the Redeemer and we are the sinners in so great a need for a champion. And yet his work is hardly impersonal or mechanical; it is heartfelt and sensitive. He was like us in his experience of pain and suffering and temptation. He felt nails as they were driven into his hands and his feet so that he might rescue us from the power of death. Thus there is a quality of mercy to Christ’s work that is intimate, personal, and knowing. It calls us to love him as an intimate Savior, the God who has gone to such lengths to know us in our trials, to have the fellowship of our suffering even as he calls us into the fellowship of his.

What all this means is that Jesus is able. He is able to understand what you are going through. He is able to hear you with a sympathetic and merciful heart when you cry out. What an encouragement that is for you in all sorts of trials and temptations to turn to the Lord in prayer.

Most importantly, Jesus is able to deliver you. You can trust him, therefore, knowing that death will not bring you harm but will bring you to Jesus. You can also trust him for today, for your present temptations and struggles. He is able to help us, by praying for us at the throne of his Father in heaven and by sending the Holy Spirit into our hearts, giving us strength that is of him. This is why Paul said, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). Despite all of Paul’s many trials, it was with knowledge of Christ’s present power that he could declare: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).

Like You, for You, with You

Jesus Christ, God’s own Son, became like us to be a total Savior, sufficient for the whole range of our need. How hollow, then, ring the world’s complaints against our God. People are saying all the time today, lamenting in this world of woe, “Where is God? Why doesn’t he do something?” Meanwhile, he has done everything, indeed, more than ever we could ask or imagine. God has entered into our world. He has walked through the dust of this earth. He who is life has wept before the grave, and he who is the Bread of Life has felt the aching of hunger in his belly. Is there anything more lovely in all of Scripture than the scenes of Jesus supping with the weak and the weary, the sinners and the publicans? He has taken the thorns that afflict this sin-scarred world and woven them into a crown to be pressed upon his head. And he has stretched open his arms in love, that the hands that wove creation might be nailed to a wooden cross. Then he rose from the dead, conquering all that would conquer us, setting us free to live in peace and joy before the face of God.

All that God has done, in the redeeming work of Jesus Christ, was done not for angels but for you. It was like you that he became, and it was for you that he died. It is with you that he sympathizes now, knowing well your struggle. He is able—but are you willing? That is the only question that remains. The hymn “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” tells us the only answer that makes any sense, namely, that we should trust him to be this kind of Savior for us:

Come, thou long-expected Jesus,

born to set thy people free;

from our fears and sins release us;

let us find our rest in thee.…

Come to earth to taste our sadness,

he whose glories knew no end;

by his life he brings us gladness,

our Redeemer, Shepherd, Friend.[3]


For in that he himself hath suffered, &c. Having been tried by our evils, he is ready, he says, to bring us help. The word temptation here means no other thing than experience or probation; and to be able, is to be fit, or inclined, or suitable.[4]


18 This verse underlines the assertion that Jesus can be a “merciful” high priest because he (unlike the angels) has shared and therefore understands our human weakness. In the NT it is always difficult to know whether peirazō (GK 4279) should be translated “tempt” or “test”; both senses are inherent in the verb, and both apply to the experience of Jesus, “tested” by his Father and “tempted” by Satan (Mt 4:1–11); his passion was the supreme “test” (12:2–3). In Hebrews the verb is used of the Israelites “testing” of God (3:9) and of God’s “testing” of Abraham (11:17); but in 4:15, where it is used again specifically of Jesus, the qualification, “yet without sin,” suggests temptation to do wrong. That Jesus shared our experience of temptation, though without succumbing to it, is one of the most profound indications of his real humanity—and our assurance of his understanding and effective help when we are tempted.[5]


2:18 / Although it is not strictly pertinent to the argument at this point, the writer cannot resist a brief pastoral note about the practical benefit of having Jesus as our high priest. Jesus, because of his full humanity and because of his suffering, is in a special position to help those who are being tempted and who call upon him. This application is made more explicit in 4:15, and almost certainly is prompted by the actual difficulties faced by the readers.[6]


Christ our liberator

2:14–18

The writer now develops his theme of Christ’s identification with our humanity by describing his liberating work for all mankind. During the past decade ‘liberation’ has become a highly fashionable theological idea. This passage expounds the theme of man’s greatest deliverance, but it does not figure prominently in the teaching of so-called ‘liberation theology’. It is important for us to discern what our author believes to be man’s most serious form of bondage and how Christ effected his release from such a grim prison. Christ’s liberating mission is here presented as an urgent necessity, an accomplished fact and a continuing process.

  1. Liberation as an urgent necessity

The liberation theologians of South America and elsewhere focus attention on man’s need for political and social deliverance. Genuine Christians are portrayed as those wiling to take up the cause of the powerless masses. Liberty and freedom are presented in terms of human salvation from inhuman regimes and oppressive structures. It is important here to emphasize again that Christians have cause to be deeply troubled about any form of human deprivation. It is certainly no part of the Christian gospel to ignore the crying needs of the oppressed. Jesus cared for people deeply, fed the hungry and helped the outcast members of his contemporary society. But this letter makes it abundantly clear that even if, rightly, all forms of oppression are removed from man’s experience, he will still be crushed and broken by a far greater power than that exercised by loveless megalomaniacs, selfish employers, or indifferent politicians. In other words, the worst tyranny is within. These verses vividly portray helpless man, the terrified victim of a triple enemy, sin, death and the devil. Our writer asserts that, as our perfect pioneer, Christ had to meet these sinister powers and malevolent influences. It was necessary for him to partake of the same nature as ourselves in order to deal effectively with them.

The first enemy is sin. We have already seen that it is starkly portrayed in the opening verses of this letter as an ugly stain which must be purged away if we are to be purified (1:3). It is a hostile, destructive, inward power which will always prevent us from being the people we might genuinely want to be. To meet our need of purification, Christ came as a priest to offer the sacrifice of himself. He makes expiation for the sins of the people (2:17).

The second enemy is death. Death is the direct result and inevitable fruit of sin and man is haunted by its constant threat. Throughout our lives we are through fear of death … subject to … bondage (2:15). Enslaved convicts, we are in powerless ‘servitude’ (neb) and need to be released. By taking our nature and experiencing death (2:14), Jesus deals effectively and eternally with this immense tyrant.

Perhaps even the early Christians who received this letter were a little fearful when they thought of death. Persecution was imminent and, understandably, one might have been a little afraid of the actual experience of dying, especially as it might well involve intense physical suffering. Such believers stood in need of a reminder that death has no fears for the Christian. But if Christians might occasionally be afraid when they contemplated death, unbelievers in the first century were terror-stricken when they considered its shattering prospect. The pagan had no hope for the future. He could only live for the present. Some lines from Euripides indicate something of the crippling despair in the mind of the ancient pagan when he considered the fact of death. The Greeks thought about it this way:

But if any far-off state there be,

Dearer than life to mortality;

The hand of the Dark hath hold thereof,

And mist is under and mist above.

And so we are sick for life, and cling

On earth to this nameless and shining thing.

For other life is a fountain sealed,

And the deeps below us are unrevealed

And we drift on legends for ever!

The most that the Romans could believe about the life to come is that a good man might hope to ‘live on’ in the minds of those who cherished his memory, but there was little thought of personal survival. With what excitement the early Christian preachers must have proclaimed the authoritative words of Jesus to men and women in despair about death: ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.’ The unbelieving world has no such assurance. It is absent, for example, from both Communism and humanism. During the second world war Sir John Lawrence attended what he describes as ‘a sort of Communist memorial service’ to Stanislavsky in the Moscow Arts Theatre. He says,

There was a closed coffin on the stage, draped in a red flag, and the dead man’s colleagues came and said goodbye to him in set speeches. One heard some of the world’s greatest actors and actresses speaking of their teacher and leader on what should have been a moving occasion, but the experience was empty. I was not at that time a Christian believers, but even so it struck me that Communism has nothing to say about death. There was no development of a theme such as one gets in the prayer book service for the Burial of the Dead. In the same way, to visit the Mausoleum where Lenin lies, and where Stalin lay for a few years beside him, is for me a disturbing experience precisely because it has no content.

Or take the humanist attitude to life with its sad stark pessimism and restricted horizons. Bertrand Russell says:

Brief and powerless is man’s life; on him and all his race the slow, sure doom falls pitiless and dark. Blind to good and evil, reckless of destructions omnipotent matter rolls on its relentless way; for man, condemned today to lose his dearest, tomorrow himself to pass through the gates of darkness, it remains only to cherish, ere yet the blow fall, the lofty thoughts that enoble his little day; … to worship at the shrine his own hands have built.

The third enemy is the devil. Jesus has robbed death of its anguish by defeating the one who constantly makes use of it. The devil is a reality to the biblical writers. Some modem scholars, embarrassed by the references to his work in Scripture, have endeavoured to dismiss the force of such sayings by suggesting that the idea of the devil is a Persian religious notion which came into Old Testament thought rather late in the day. The argument then proceeds that the New Testament writers inherited this conception and utilized it, but in our more enlightened times we can dispense with it. Those who are committed to the authority and reliability of Scripture believe that the entire book is given for our instruction and choose to be neither dismissive nor derisive concerning the biblical teaching about the devil. Jesus did not appear to minimize his power or rationalize his sinister influence,8 and in his teaching openly identified him for what he is, murderer, liar, thief.

  1. Liberation as an accomplished fact

The New Testament makes it clear that the coming of Jesus was the beginning of the end for the devil. Hebrews adds to this incontrovertible testimony that Christ has overcome the devil’s power, and our writer makes his point in three ways. He is convinced that his victory for us began with the incarnation, was revealed in his sinlessness, and achieved by the atonement.

It was necessary, first of all, for the liberator to partake of the same nature as ourselves. In this way he experienced the full force and relentless power of temptation but resolutely refused to be influenced by its onslaughts. He was tempted not less than we are, but more. All too often we succumb to temptation, we yield to its power when the pressure is on. We give in long before its full force has been really felt. As Hughes puts it, Christ ‘knows the full force of temptation in a manner that we who have not withstood it to the end cannot know it.’

But our victory over the triple-enemy of sin, death and the devil, needed something more than his incarnate life and his moral perfection. To become man’s perfect liberator, God’s Son had to experience the process common to all flesh and blood, the experience of death. It was also necessary for this spotless, pure, undefiled (7:26) conqueror to take upon himself in death the weight and burden of our sin, doing for us at the cross, as our substitute, that which we could not possibly do for ourselves. By that death he obtained for sinful mankind the pardon of our sin and the removal of our guilt. This is how the devil was ‘rendered impotent’, which is the true meaning of the word destroy here (2:14).

But, understandably, the question may be asked: If, at the cross of Christ, the devil was rendered impotent, why is he still so very much alive in the world, and in what sense are we free from his aggressive power? Surely he is still far from being ‘destroyed’ in any final sense? Does he not still, as in Peter’s day, stalk around the entire world like a roaring lion, constantly looking out for someone to terrorize, molest and destroy? Christ’s victorious death robbed the devil of his earlier power and stranglehold over men. Ultimately, the devil will be destroyed completely, but until then believers need to recognize that his power is a limited power.

In my early twenties I used to be a postman. One day I had to deliver a letter to a house I had never visited before. I opened the garden gate only to find myself confronted by the largest and most vicious dog I had ever seen! It barked furiously and then leapt towards me. I stood there helpless and terrified until, to my immense relief, I saw that this massive, angry dog was chained to a huge stake set in concrete. The chain was a long one and the dog had considerable freedom, but not enough to reach me. I saw I could easily deliver the letter and did so. The incident became like a parable to me. As a matter of fact, whenever I had to visit that house in the course of my work, I took little notice of the aggressive dog. I always kept my eye on the strong stake! At the cross the enemy of souls, the devil, was made impotent, limited and chained down. when he has ‘bitten’ us it is usually because we have been far too near.

  1. Liberation as a continuing process

The author of this epistle is deeply persuaded that this eternally significant, divinely planned, conquest of sin, death and the devil by Christ took place once for all in history. He knows, however, that this victory is likely to prove effective in the lives of individual believers only if they recognize that its achievements must be appropriated and its blessings applied in daily living. He is assured not only about what Jesus has done but about what he continues to do for his people. whatever the hazards of daily living, he is able to help those who are tempted (2:18). There are numerous ways in which this promised help comes to the children of God.

First, he helps us by removing our fears. There is little that paralyses us and inhibits us more than being afraid. Here the writer has asserted that, before Christ comes into our lives, our greatest fear is that of death. A truly committed Christian has no need to fear death. In his exposition of these verses, Martin Luther wrote: ‘He who fears death or is unwilling to die is not a Christian to a sufficient degree; for those who fear death still lack faith in the resurrection, since they love this life more than they love the life to come … He who does not die willingly should not be called a Christian.’

Secondly, he helps us by manifesting his mercy. He became like us in order that he might adequately minister to our needs as a merciful … high priest. Death is the fear of the future. Guilt is the fear of the past. Through his ‘great salvation’ he has made expiation or propitiation for the sins of the people. The word used here (hilaskesthai) is translated ‘to make expiation for’ (or ‘to expiate’, neb). It is grammatically permissible to translate this verse (2:17) as a reference to Christ’s work in making ‘expiation’, but as Bruce has made clear, ‘if sins require to be expiated, it is because they are sins committed against someone who ought to be propitiated.’ An Old Testament priest committed himself to ‘the service of God’ and part of his essential ministry on behalf of the congregation was to make propitiation for the sins of the people. As Leon Morris puts it: ‘The just wrath of God was exercised toward men account of their sin. But Christ dealt with that situation. He made the propitiation that was necessary, and so sin is no longer operative.’ Morris has shown that elsewhere in Scripture hilaskomai has to do with the averting of the divine wrath. This does not in any sense imply that a merciful Christ has to die in order to placate the anger of a God initially unwilling to do anything about man’s sin other than destroy the sinner. Far from it. Hughes reminds us that this is a perilous caricature of biblical truth in that it ‘introduces an intolerable dichotomy between the Father and the Son, as though the Son by acting independently could somehow induce a change in the Father’s attitude’. Such a view is certainly not supported by the teaching of this letter. We have already seen that God acted in this way for man’s redemption because it was fitting for him so to do (2:10). A later passage makes it even more clear that his incarnation and death were an expression of Christ’s obedience to and harmony with the saving purpose of God for mankind (10:7–10).

Nothing is quite so debilitating and demoralizing as an acute sense of failure. It severs the nerve of moral action, floods our disturbed minds with a sense of remorse, and cripples us at the very point where we need power not to fail again. Jesus is able to help us when we are tempted because he declares to us, clearly and unmistakably, by his word and his work, that our sin is forgiven, our guilt taken away, our pardon assured. We are thus given a clean start; the failures of the past need not in any sense keep us back from the potential victories of the future.

Thirdly, he helps us by proving his faithfulness. He is a faithful as well as merciful high priest in God’s service. It is possible, of course, to suggest here that in his high-priestly service Christ is merciful to man and faithful to God, the twin-title reflecting the manward and Godward aspects of his priestly ministry. But it is equally true that he is faithful to us. The trustworthy and reliable Christ is the one who comes to our help when we are temped, not a vascillating, capricious, occasionally unavailable helper, but one who has proved himself fully dependable and completely adequate in every experience of life.

Fourthly, he helps us by sharing our sufferings. Jesus did not live a detached life, free from adversity and trouble. He experienced first-hand its hazards and hardships, and went through anguish we shall never have to contemplate, and he did it all for us. The first readers of this letter were also up against persecution, rejection, physical assault and social deprivation. It is essential for them to know that the Christ their contemporaries reject is that Lord who understands their constantly changing needs. This means surely that whenever we are up against it, prayer is our immediate aid. We turn instinctively to the one who has suffered, knowing that he feels for us. The help is not simply emotional, however, though in any kind of trouble we know the immense value of sympathetic understanding from someone who has been through the same grim experiences. He not only feels; he instructs. Having been through all the testings of life, he can reveal to us, especially by his radiant example and his matchless words, how we should react to sufferings or temptations. Moreover, he does not simply teach, he supports.

Finally then, he helps us by supplying our strength. Jesus pledges his strong and sure support, his own invincible and available power. He serves effectively as our priest ‘by the power of an indestructible life’ (7:16). All the forces of evil were hurled against him as he hung upon the cross, but he was ‘brought again from the dead’ (13:20) by the eternal, almighty God. When we are humanly at the end of our tether, with seemingly no resources left, moral or physical, Christ comes to his ‘sons’ with the promise that he is fully qualified to bring them to his ultimate glory. For that journey they will need all the power they can get. Many Christians today work, study, live and serve in surroundings far from congenial for a believer. Christ’s name is used only blasphemously, moral standards are a thing of the past, materialistic concerns are dominant, secular interests and preoccupations form the very air we breathe. Many of our contemporaries cannot cope with the pressures. Disillusionment, loneliness, moral frustration and emotional despair lead some seriously to contemplate the possibility of putting an end to it all. But the one who endured the world’s greatest suffering, the bearing of human sin and separation from God, and yet triumphed, is certainly able to help anyone who turns to him. He is able to help us in our moment of fierce temptation. He is able for all time to save those who seek (7:25). He is able to do far more for us than we would ever dare to pray about or even think about. He is able to keep us from spiritual collapse and present us to the eternal God as his redeemed children. However great the pressures, the New Testament assurance that he is ‘able’ should encourage us to deeper trust and renewed confidence in his unfailing ability not only to see us through the troubles, but make us conquerors over them.[7]


2:18. This verse insists on the real humanity of Jesus. It also contains an important application of that real humanity. Because Jesus was a true human being and because he suffered, he can help us in our temptation.

This verse introduces several important questions. How could the sinless Jesus receive temptation? Was he tempted in the same way as human beings? These questions will be discussed further in 4:15.

Three important thoughts confront us here. First, Jesus suffered. He suffered as our Savior physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Second, this suffering became a source of temptation. The sufferings were so intense that Jesus could have decided that enduring them was not worth the pain which they inflicted. He never considered that, for he said, “Not as I will, but as you will” (Matt. 26:39). Third, enduring suffering allowed him to help us. His victory over temptation and sin allowed him to guide us through the dangerous rocks of temptation.

Jesus has great ability to help us. His ability is not based on his experience with sin. His ability is based on his experience of the temptation to sin. Only someone who is sinless can know this experience fully.

When my son was a child, I often took him swimming. He delighted in playing the game of holding his breath under water. We competed with one another to see who could outlast the other. His youth led to his defeat. At the first sign of pain and discomfort under water, he would surface for air. I stayed under until my lungs were heaving with pain. When I surfaced for air, I truly needed it. Jesus remained in the pool of temptation longer than any of us. He knew the pain more fully. He resisted to the end. He never sinned. His experience allows him to encourage us and lead us to victory as we face temptation.[8]


18. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

That Jesus’ humanity is genuine can be demonstrated, says the author of Hebrews, by the fact that Christ was tempted. He personally experienced the power of sin when Satan confronted him and when the weaknesses of our human nature became evident. Jesus experienced hunger when he was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, thirst when he asked the woman at Jacob’s well for water, weariness when he slept while the storm raged on the Sea of Galilee, and sorrow when he wept at the grave of Lazarus.

As high priest, through his sacrificial work, Jesus removed the curse of God that rested on man. Because of the forgiveness of sin, God’s love flows freely to the redeemed, and Jesus stands ready to help. Those who are being tempted may experience the active support of Jesus. They can expect nothing short of perfect understanding from Jesus, because he himself suffered when he was tempted.

Of course, Jesus did not share with us the experience of sin; instead, because of his sinlessness, Jesus fully experienced the intensity of temptation. He is able and willing to help us oppose the power of sin and temptation. As he said to the sinful woman in the house of Simon the Pharisee, “Your sins are forgiven.… Go in peace” (Luke 7:48, 50), so also Jesus shows his mercy, peace, and love to us. He is our sympathetic High Priest.[9]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (Heb 2:18). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1983). Hebrews (pp. 70–72). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Phillips, R. D. (2006). Hebrews. (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.) (pp. 75–82). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.

[4] Calvin, J., & Owen, J. (2010). Commentary on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews (p. 76). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[5] France, R. T. (2006). Hebrews. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 57). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[6] Hagner, D. A. (2011). Hebrews (p. 54). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[7] Brown, R. (1988). The message of Hebrews: Christ above all (pp. 65–73). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[8] Lea, T. D. (1999). Hebrews, James (Vol. 10, pp. 30–31). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[9] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of Hebrews (Vol. 15, p. 78). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

True Praise Flows Out of True Worship — Paul Tautges

Praise is one of the most consistent commands found in the book of Psalms. Another name for this book is the Psalter. It is the Hebrew hymnbook. It is the only collection of songs inspired by the Holy Spirit himself and, therefore, is part of our Scriptures. The Hebrew title basically means The Book of Praises. The songs are the work of many authors, including Solomon, Moses, Asaph, Heman, Ethan, and the sons of Korah. Most prominent of all is King David, whose name appears above 73 songs.

This is understandable, since one of the first times we hear of David in Scripture it is mentioned that he is a gifted musician. Most important of all, David was a man after God’s own heart. So, when God mixes these two qualities together—a heart for God, and musical skill—you end up with a worship leader who is a blessing to God’s people. This is the David who wrote so many of the Psalms.

Some of the songs are long (Psalm 119 has 176 verses). Some are short, such as Psalm 117, which only has two verses. There are 150 songs in all, most being written during the times of David and Solomon. Many contain historical details about the circumstances the author was in when he wrote his words. But all are given to us by the Holy Spirit.

Psalms is divided into five parts. Each part ends with a doxology or note of praise to God. And there are 13 major types of songs, including doctrinal and historical songs, and hallelujah psalms (called that because they contain the word hallelujah). There are songs of thanksgiving, and songs of repentance. There are Messianic psalms, which foretell of the suffering and future glory of Messiah. There are creation psalms, and there are cries of anguish and pleading with God to judge the wicked (imprecatory psalms).

However, the overarching theme of the Hebrew songbook is praise, worship, and communion with God. That explains why most Bible scholars and commentators agree that Psalm 150 is basically the conclusion of the book. It is a wrap-up of what the book of about—praise and worship.

True praise of God flows from the true worship of God. Praise which does not flow from worship is cheap. It’s nothing more than a bunch of religious words, and God knows it. But praise that flows out of true worship brings pleasure and glory to God. It exalts Him. It magnifies God’s name and, therefore, draws the attention of others toward Him.

But…strange as it may sound…praise also blesses the one doing the praising. Praise not only lifts God up, so that others may take notice of Him. Praise lifts our mind and heart above our trials, sorrows, and the difficulty of our circumstances. Praise has a way of shifting the eyes of our hearts away from the temporal, and toward the eternal. That’s why we so often turn to the Psalms in times of need. Like all Scripture, the Psalms describe life like it is.

As a collection of songs, it is poetry. Sometimes this poetry is clean and refined. Sometimes it is raw; it is deeply personal and emotional. Sometimes it describes intoxicating joy, while other times the pain is heart-wrenching and deep. But always the language of the heart shows evidence that the writer is worshipping God.

The word worship originally was spelled “worthship.” In his little classic, How to Worship Jesus Christ, Joseph Carroll explains the history of the word worship, and its meaning as this: “to attribute worth to an object. Worship is the ‘worthship’ of the one you worship.” The quality of your worship is determined by the worth that your heart ascribes to God. If you “worship” God on Sunday, while living for your flesh Monday through Saturday, your worship is disingenuous and cheap. It demonstrates that, in your heart, you ascribe little worth to God.

But if, on Sunday, your praise and worship of God flows out of a heart and life that seek to walk with the Lord in faith and integrity, then your praise ascribes much worth to God. And so, it is authentic praise and worship that the book of Psalms calls us to practice. As the last song in the book, Psalm 150 teaches us about praise. It is the concluding application of the entire book, in two words: Praise God.

Here we are told to praise God in three ways:

  1. Praise God on earth and in heaven (v. 1).
  2. Praise God for His deeds and greatness (v. 2).
  3. Praise God with musical instruments and voice (vv. 3-6).

The commitment of the psalmist was this: I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being (Psalm 104:33). Is this the longing of your heart? Do you long for God like this?

You may listen to a recent sermon from Psalm 150.

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True Praise Flows Out of True Worship — Paul Tautges

The Charles Finney Cornucopia of False Doctrine, Pelagianism & Evangelical Manipulation — Pirate Christian Media

Charles G. Finney (1792-1875) was the father of “Revivalism” in America, the most prominent preacher of the Second Great Awakening, and in many ways the father of modern Evangelicalism in America. He is often considered the predecessor of American Evangelists/Revivalists like D.L. Moody, Billy Sunday and Billy Graham. He was a successful lawyer who became a Christian as a young man and decided to use his considerable powers of persuasion to begin preaching, in spite of having little theological training.

 

If you’ve ever heard a preacher give an impassioned, emotionally manipulative sermon that ends with an irresistible plea to come forward and somehow make a decision to become a Christian, you’ve witnessed the lasting impact of Charles Finney. If you’ve ever felt that the church was ineffective in building God’s Kingdom and what we really need is a big ‘ole revival, you’ve been influenced by Finney. 

In overly simplistic terms, Finney was guilty of a form of “Pelagianism,” which means he over-emphasized man’s free will so much that the sovereignty of God (and God’s ability to save) was virtually ignored. Finney believed that Christians could accomplish God’s work by simply using their determination, so much so in fact, that he practically left God out of the equation:

 “A revival is not a miracle according to another definition of the term “miracle” — something above the powers of nature. There is nothing in religion beyond the ordinary powers of nature. It consists entirely in the right exercise of the powers of nature. It is just that, and nothing else. When mankind become religious, they are not enabled to put forth exertions which they were unable before to put forth. They only exert powers which they had before, in a different way, and use them for the glory of God. A revival is not a miracle, nor dependent on a miracle, in any sense. It is a purely philosophical result of the right use of the constituted means — as much so as any other effect produced by the application of means.” -Charles Finney, (Lectures on Revival, Lecture 1, 11)

Worse than that, was Finney’s unorthodox view of the atonement of Christ. Finney didn’t believe in the substitutionary atonement, instead he believed that Christ’s death on the cross was simply demonstrating obedience to God. Since Jesus was obedient enough to go all the way to death on the cross, we should do likewise. Christ didn’t so much accomplish something on the cross (pay for our sins) as He was setting a good example for us to follow. This alters the meaning of the Gospel completely! This view of the atonement is usually called the “Moral Influence” theory. Not only did Finney believe that the “moral influence” theory of the atonement was the chief way of understanding the cross; he explicitly denied the substitutionary atonement, which he said:

“assumes that the atonement was a literal payment of a debt, which we have seen does not consist with the nature of the atonement … It is true, that the atonement, of itself, does not secure the salvation of any one” -Charles G. Finney (Systematic Theology p.217).

If you’ve ever felt worn out and frustrated by the “do more, try harder” version of Christianity, this shocking news about Finney’s beliefs might help you to understand what has gone wrong in much of American Evangelicalism. 

 

The following articles and videos are from various writers, theologians and pastors who all agree that Charles G. Finney had a number of very questionable beliefs, and it would do the church much good to carefully consider how Finney’s ideas contrast with Holy Scripture. 

The Disturbing Legacy of Charles Finney by Michael Horton

Charles Finney’s Influence on American Evangelicalism-Exposing Charles Finney’s Heretical Teachings by Bob DeWaay

Charles Finney’s Influence on American Evangelicalism Radio Broadcast with Bob DeWaay

The Pelagian Controversy by R. C. Sproul

Charles G. Finney: Heretic or Man of God (Part one) by Richard Belcher

Charles G. Finney: Heretic or Man of God (Part two) by Richard Belcher

Charles G. Finney: Heretic or Man of God (Part three) by Richard Belcher

Finney: The Aftermath by Monte E. Wilson

A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing: How Charles Finney’s Theology Ravaged the Evangelical Movement by Phil Johnson

Charles Finney The Father of American Evangelicalism lecture by Jeremy Rhode

Walther Versus Finney by Dr. Tom Baker

Charles G. Finney: How Theology Affects Understanding of Revival by Iain H. Murray

The Heresies of Charles Finney (Part one) by John Cereghin

The False Teachers: Pelagius by Tim Challies

  Charles G. Finney: How Theology Affects Understanding of Revival

 

-This article by Steven Kozar
— Read on www.piratechristian.com/messedupchurch/2016/10/the-charles-finney-cornucopia-of-false-teaching-emotional-manipulation-evangelical-influence-k7r6n

A History Lesson From Glenn Greenwald On The Dangers Of FBI-Manufactured Russophobia | Zero Hedge

“The FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of Trump is far from the first time that the FBI has monitored, surveilled and investigated U.S. elected officials…”

Last week the New York Times reported that after President Trump fired FBI director James Comey, the FBI decided to launch an investigation into whether President Trump’s “own actions constituted a possible threat to national security,” and “whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests.” 

Unsurprisingly, buried in paragraph nine is an admission that “no evidence has emerged publicly that Mr. Trump was secretly in contact with or took direction from Russian government officials.” 

As Glenn Greenwald notes in his latest piece in The Intercept, the FBI dangerously overstepped its authority by treating the President as a national security threat – and it’s not the first time they’ve punished thought crimes that run counter to the establishment’s worldview. What’s worse, people are supporting the actions of an agency gone rogue – judging the actions of a duly elected US president. 

The lack of any evidence of guilt has never dampened the excitement over Trump/Russia innuendo, and it certainly did not do so here. Beyond being construed as some sort of vindication for the most deranged version of Manchurian Candidate fantasies – because, after all, the FBI would never investigate anyone unless they were guilty – the FBI’s investigation of the President as a national security threat was also treated as some sort of unprecedented event in U.S. history. “This is, without exception, the worst scandal in the history of the United States,” pronounced NBC News’ resident ex-CIA operative, who – along with a large staple of former security state agents employed by that network – is now paid to “analyze” and shape the news.

The FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of Trump is far from the first time that the FBI has monitored, surveilled and investigated U.S. elected officials who the agency had decided haroberd suspect loyalties and were harming national security. The FBI specialized in such conduct for decades under J. Edgar Hoover, who ran the agency for 48 years and whose name the agency’s Washington headquarters continues to feature in its name. –The Intercept

Greenwald points to the notable case of J. Edgar Hoover’s lengthy counterintelligence investigation of progressive Henry Wallace during his time in Franklin Roosevelt’s administration, and then as FDR’s Vice President. Wallace’s talk of peace with Russia following WWII caused the FBI to suspect that he was undermining “US interests” for the benefit of Moscow – and as a result, he was placed under extensive surveillance and investigation that remained unknown until 1983. 

the bureau opened Wallace’s mail, tapped his supporters’ telephones and used informers and agents to trail him in search of ”possible Communist or pro-Soviet ties,“” reads a 1983 New York Times article. 

The fact that Wallace was critical of Russian leader Josef Stalin was of no interest to his detractors at the FBI. His dovish dissent from prevailing US foreign policy orthodoxy in regards to Russia “made him a suspect in the eyes of the FBI as a possible “national security threat,” a witting or unwitting Kremlin stooge or even as a traitor,” Greenwald writes. 

On that note – the New York Times‘ piece on Friday notes that the FBI “also sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence.” 

Veteran journalist Carl Bernstein said on Sunday expanded on this peek into the changing narrative regarding the Trump-Russia investigation. Perhaps because no evidence of collusion exists – Bernstein suggested to CNN‘s “Reliable Sources” that Trump “has done what appears to be Putin’s goals,” adding “He has helped Putin destabilize the United States and interfere in the election, no matter whether it was purposeful or not.

In other words – Trump may be a Putin puppet without even knowing it, is the new narrative. 

Back to Greenwald – who notes that the 1940s investigation of Henry Wallace has already been compared to Donald Trump by people who accuse him of being a Kremlin stooge, “often for the same reasons.” 

In October, 2016, Vox published an accusatory article about Henry Wallace by Will Moreland of the Brookings Institution designed to compare him to Trump when it came to potentially treasonous servitude toward Russia.

Moreland claimed that Wallace “shares Trump’s fate of being too blinded by his self-messianic vision to realize he too had become a Kremlin pawn.” To justify this accusation, Moreland – citing Wallace’s 1946 pro-peace speech – explicitly compared Trump’s desire for better relations with Moscow to Wallace’s similar desire and used it to claim that both Wallace and Trump were Kremlin stooges and assets, whether “witting” or otherwise. The Intercept

Greenwald points out that the FBI “still refuses to release all of its investigative files on Wallace.” 

The FBI also chased after long-time liberal Senator and 1972 Democratic presidential hopeful George McGovern due to suspected Kremlin sympathies – and his criticism of the FBI

Why this is dangerous to democracy

An FBI that investigates domestic political figures whose loyalties are “suspicious” – and whose politics they consider a “national security threat” is both ominous and tyrannical, according to Greenwald. 

It’s the FBI’s job to investigate possible crimes under the law or infiltration by foreign powers, not ideological sins. If a politician adopts policy views that are “threatening” to U.S. national security or which is unduly accommodating to America’s adversaries or “enemies,” that’s not a crime and the FBI thus has no business using its vast investigative powers against a politician who does that.

That’s why it’s so easy to see that Hoover’s investigative scrutiny of Henry Wallace, and George McGovern, and an endless array of domestic dissenters, was so anti-democratic and dangerous. If a politician adopts “threatening” policy views or is too subservient toward or accommodating of a foreign adversary, it’s the job of the American voting public or Congress in its political oversight and lawmaking role to take action, not the FBI’s job to criminalize policy differences through investigations. –The Intercept

The FBI’s investigation of Trump is similarly “anti-democratic and dangerous” – and it should be plain to anyone “even if you’re someone who hates Trump’s overtures toward Russia or even believes that they are the by-product of excessive subservience to the Kremlin,” Greenwald writes. 

With the following caveat: “Obviously, if there is reason to suspect that actual crimes have been committed – such as, say, Trump officials collaborating with Russia to hack into email inboxes or otherwise engaging in illegal deals with foreign powers – then it’s not just permissible but vital that the FBI investigate such allegations.”

And Greenwald is careful to point out that he has been a “vigorous defender from the start of having a full-scale investigation into those allegations with the evidence publicly disclosed: so that we can know what happened rather than relying on self-serving, evidence-free, anonymous leak snippets laundered through MSNBC and the Washington Post.

Read the rest of Greenwald’s article here
— Read on www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-01-14/history-lesson-glenn-greenwald-dangers-fbi-manufactured-russophobia

Welcome To The ‘Wile E Coyote’ Phase Of American History

As another president once remarked in a different context – LBJ speaking to a hanger full of grunts in Vietnam – “go on out there, boys, and nail that coonskin to the wall!” That was around the time the war was looking like a lost cause, with 1000 soldiers a month coming home in a box and even the Rotarians of Keokuk, Iowa, starting to doubt the official story of what exactly we thought we were doing over there. It was also, arguably, around the time America stopped being, ahem, “great” and commenced the long, nauseating slide into idiocracy and collapse.

The news media has taken LBJ’s place in today’s Wile E. Coyote phase of our history, cheerleading the congressional hunt for the glittering golden scalp of You-Know-Who in the White House.

They got all revved up on Friday in a New York Times front-page salvo with the headline: F.B.I. Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia. The purpose of this blast was to establish the high and grave seriousness of Robert Mueller’s Russia Collusion investigation, because otherwise the yarn has completely shed its credibility. Note: it was around paragraph nine in the story that the team of three Times reporters inserted the sentence that said, “No evidence has emerged publicly that Mr. Trump was secretly in contact with or took direction from Russian government officials.” The idea, you see, was to simply drag the teetering narrative back onstage to titillate the paper’s Creative Classnik readership who desperately want to nail that Golden Golem of Greatness to the wall, scalp, paunch, tiny hands, and all.

The CBS 60 Minutes Show took its turn last night with a puff piece on Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland), incoming chairman of the House oversight Committee, which, CBS interlocutor Steve Kroft delighted in pointing out, “can investigate any [old] thing.” And so, Rep. Cummings will be the ringmaster of this new “Greatest Show on Earth,” aimed at climaxing in an orgasmic impeachment operation. Mr. Kroft could hardly contain his glee onscreen.

The facts say something a bit different about the actual reality-based Russia Collusion case, namely, that it’s been a two-year smokescreen to cover the collective ass of a rogue leadership in the Department of Justice and its step-child, the FBI, who deliberately and repeatedly broke the law in dishonestly pursuing a way to annul the 2016 election result. It also reflects darkly on the Obama White House and its participation in all this huggermugger. Wads of information around this matter also came out in the past week — which you can be sure the news media would not touch — including congressional testimony from last July with former FBI lawyer, Lisa Page, revealing that the traffic controller for the so-called Steele Dossier was one John Carlin, Assistant Attorney General at the time, and formerly then-FBI Director Robert Mueller’s chief-of-staff. Ms. Page herself characterized Mr. Carlin as “a political appointee.” Was he Mr. Mueller’s clean-up man?

What was there to clean up? For one thing, that the Steele Dossier was never properly verified when it was used as a predicate to commence spying operations against Mr. Trump and people who had worked for him in the campaign and afterwards. In fact, it was revealed last week that a file exists proving that the FBI didn’t follow verification procedures before the Dossier was submitted to the FISA courts for warrants to surveil the Trumpistas. Mr. Carlin’s role was also to coordinate the Hillary email investigation with then-AG Loretta Lynch and Barack Obama’s White House. He resigned shortly after then-NSA Director Michael S. Rogers was alerted that the FBI was abusing the NSA data-base to spy on Trump (as reported by Jeff Carlson at Themarketswork.com.)

The purpose of the Russia Collusion narrative was to buy time for Mr. Mueller to come up with an obstruction of justice case on Mr. Trump, which was becoming increasingly difficult to do, and still apparently hasn’t been accomplished. Meanwhile, the actual malfeasance evidence against Mr. Mueller, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, and a long cast of characters mounts steadily and raises the question of when the spotlight will be turned on them, and who will throw the switch.
— Read on russia-insider.com/en/welcome-wile-e-coyote-phase-american-history/ri25894

Lordship, Discipleship and Evangelism (No Compromise Radio Podcast)

Are there any antecedent conditions to belief? If so, who determines what is required? Does Sola Fide mean Sola Fide? Listen to Mike and Tuesday discuss How much of a disciple you need to be in order to be saved.

storage.googleapis.com/noco-main-bucket/radio/2019/01_January/live_2019_01_15_lordship_discipleship_and_evangelism.mp3

Watergate by Any Other Name | Roger’s Rules

Top row from left are former CIA Director Michael Hayden, former FBI Director James Comey, former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe and former national security adviser Susan Rice. Bottom row from left are former FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and former National Intelligence Director James Clapper. (AP Photo)

Familiarity, it is said, breeds contempt. It also breeds indifference. For almost three years now, the intelligence services and police apparatus of the deep state have worked tirelessly to undermine Donald Trump. Beginning sometime in the late winter of 2016, when Trump’s presidential campaign was showing unexpected signs of strength, John Brennan—the Communist-voting apparatchik turned media mouthpiece whom it pleased Barack Obama to appoint as director of the CIA—began ringing alarm bells about Trump’s possible relations with the Kremlin. His concern was based on two things. One was a report, spurious as it turned out, about “contacts between Russian officials and U.S. persons that raised concerns in my mind about whether or not those individuals were cooperating with the Russians.” The other was that brittle sense of entitlement, fired by paranoia, that membership in the higher echelons of the deep state’s nomenklatura breeds.

Brennan convened a “working group” at CIA headquarters that included Peter Strzok, the disgraced FBI agent who was head of counter-intelligence, and James Clapper, then director of national intelligence (now, like Brennan, another mouthpiece for the left-wing media), in order to stymie Trump’s campaign. It was Brennan, too, who first alerted James Comey, the disgraced former director of the F.B.I., to the fantasy of possible “collusion” between the Trump Campaign and “the Russians.”

Then came the infamous “Steele Dossier,” the agglomeration of malicious gossip about Trump that was surreptitiously commissioned by and paid for by the Clinton campaign and the DNC. This fantastical piece of “opposition research” was essentially the sole warrant for opening secret FISA investigations against Carter Page, a low-level Trump campaign advisor, and others.

All this provided sensational pabulum for the anti-Trump press, who spent countless hours peeling back the complex, hypertrophied onion that the CIA, the FBI, and various figures within the Obama administration had built up to destroy the candidacy of Donald Trump without quite seeming to target Trump himself.

Mirabile ditctu, it didn’t work. Still, it was impossible that Trump could actually win the election. Nancy Pelosi told us that we could “take it to the bank” that Donald Trump was not going to be president. Many other politicians and talking heads made fools of themselves emitting similar pseudo-certainties right up to the afternoon and early evening of election day.

But win he did, and that changed everything. Now it was not a candidate who had to be stopped but a duly elected president of the United States who had to be kept from knowing exactly what lengths the government—soon to be his government—had gone to destroy him. From November 9, 2016, to January 20, 2017, the reins of government were still in the hands of Barack Obama. The apparatus to stop Trump the candidate was already in place. Now it would be deployed against Trump the president-elect and, later, Trump the president.
— Read on pjmedia.com/rogerkimball/watergate-by-any-other-name/

Brannon Howse: January 14, 2019 | Worldview Weekend

The Systematic Steps for Brainwashing Americans. (Part #4) Topic: Where does the word brainwashing come from? Today Brannon reads from a new report he found from the 1950s by Edward Hunter who worked as a propaganda specialist for the Office of Strategic Services which is the predecessor to the CIA. Mr. Hunter explains how the communist Chinese created the word brainwashing and also referred to it as heart washing. Brannon explains why the word heart washing is a very accurate description describing a spiritual practice that Mr. Hunter even described as being similar to witchcraft. Indeed witchcraft is an accurate description since drugs and/or hypnosis is often used in brainwashing. The word pharmakeia is used in the Bible and describes the use of medicine, drugs or spells. Pharmakeia is the word from which we get pharmaceutical. Brannon explains how pharmaceuticals are used to numb the conscience of millions of Americans and thus open them up to heart washing or brainwashing. Topic: We take your calls. 

Download File Here

— Read on www.worldviewweekend.com/radio/audio/brannon-howse-january-14-2019

Intelligent People Will Keep Turning to Alt-Media for as Long as the Mainstream Refuses to Touch Stories Western Regimes Don’t Want in the Open

In his 2008 book Flat Earth News, long before the current frenzy about ‘fake news’ and Russian ‘disinformation’, British journalist Nick Davies sought to explain why the global media contained so much ‘falsehood, distortion, and propaganda.’ According to Davies, up to about the 1980s, mass media was not predominantly concerned with money-making. In particular, what one might call ‘serious’ broadsheet newspapers were rarely profitable and often lost substantial amounts of money. They stayed in business because of the subsidies of rich proprietors who felt that owning a newspaper gave them prestige and political influence. In the 1980s Rupert Murdoch changed all that, and set about turning the mass media into a source of revenue. One way of doing this was by cutting costs, which entailed reducing payroll. Thus began a process in which the number of journalists employed by Western media organizations has plummeted. This process has accelerated in recent years, with newsroom jobs falling by 23% between 2008 and 2017 alone. At the same time, the internet has led to a vast increase in the number of media organizations. The internet has also created intense pressure to produce stories quickly. The result is fewer and fewer journalists forced to produce more and more stories faster and faster. The inevitable consequence has been a decline in quality.

Along the way, investigative journalism, which is slow and labour intensive, has fallen largely by the wayside. Instead, modern journalism has become largely a matter of cutting and pasting. Davies and his research team examined where the stories in newspapers came from. They discovered that the overwhelming majority came from two sources: a) a handful of press agencies, such as AP and Reuters; and b) press releases issued by governments and private corporations. Only a few organizations, such as the BBC, produce most of their own news reports. The majority just cut and paste from press agencies or press releases. Fact checking – which is also slow and labour intensive – has largely disappeared. In his 2006 book War Reporting for Cowards, British journalist Chris Ayres explained how the process works. Arriving in New York as the new US correspondent for the London Times, Ayres meets his predecessor. His job, she tells him, is to watch CNN and read the New York Times and then transcribe them for a British audience. Enough said!

My last post was on a very trivial matter, but I wrote it because it encapsulates the sloppy journalism which results from this process. Unfortunately, it’s endemic, and given the pressures that journalists operate under, it’s probably inevitable and not really their fault. Davies comments that these pressures mean that it’s relatively easy for governments and corporations to manipulate the media. Needing stories, journalists will snap up official press releases and regurgitate them without too much critical analysis. Others will then copy them, and before long the story is accepted everywhere. If you want to know why the English-language media overwhelmingly accepted government claims of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, this explains a lot.

What Davies doesn’t go into, but I think is also important, is the latitude the modern cut-throat media process creates for biases to influence reporting. Many issues are contested. Perhaps more than one party is issuing press releases. You don’t have time to check the competing narratives, or maybe look for some middle ground. The editor wants the story out now. So you have to choose. Whose press release do you cut and paste? The one issued by the side you believe more reliable, obviously. And how do you decide that? Perhaps years of experience have taught you the correct answer. But perhaps it’s just a matter of personal preference. Reporting on Syria, do you cut and paste the White Helmets’ latest press release, or that of the Syrian government? You don’t like the Syrian government, so you go with the former. Ideally, you’d do more research, but, as I said, there’s no time, so biases govern.

Davies also points out that at any time there is a ‘story’ which prevails. If everybody else is reporting on something, then editors feel that they have to be reporting on it too, regardless of whether there is anything to it. If you want to sell copy, you can’t be the only outlet which is ignoring the ‘story’. You can see this with what is called ‘Russiagate’. For the past two years, Russian ‘electoral interference’, ‘disinformation’ and so on have been the ‘story’. Journalists therefore leap upon anything which feeds this story, even if it doesn’t actually amount to much. By contrast, anything which suggests a different story is ignored. You can see this in the case of the British-run Integrity Initiative, a shady organization funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and dedicated to combatting ‘Russian propaganda’. As Kit Klarenburg points out in an article in Sputnik News, the Integrity Initiative set up one of its ‘clusters’ of like-minded opinion formers in Germany. This cluster was headed by a former British Member of Parliament Harold Elletson, who is believed to have once worked for the British secret intelligence service MI6. Imagine if it became known that a secret network had been set up in Germany to push pro-Russian stories in the German media, and that this network was funded by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and led by a former Russian Duma Deputy who had at one time worked for the Russian intelligence service SVR. One suspects that it would be front-page headlines. Journalists would be all over it. It now turns out that a British funded network, run by a former British spy, has been recruiting Germans to influence Germany public opinion. It seems newsworthy. But how much attention has it gathered from the ‘mainstream’ media? Practically none. It doesn’t fit the ‘story’.

Attentive readers will note that in two days I have twice referenced the Russian media organization Sputnik. This is kind of odd, as I doubt that I have ever read more than about five Sputnik stories. But the narrative above tells me why people might decide to read more. Too much reporting in Western media is sloppy, inaccurate, and biased. I’m certainly not saying that all of it, or even most of it, is. There are some excellent journalists and some first class reporting. But when it comes to Russia, there is a lot which falls short, more than enough for many intelligent readers to realize that something isn’t quite right. The result is a loss of faith in the mainstream media, which induces some to defect to alternative sources, be it Sputnik or anything else.

Those alternative sources may, of course, be worse. But it seems to me to be wrong to blame them for the phenomenon of ‘fake news’ and the like. Those who campaign against Russian disinformation often demand that governments take action against RTSputnik, and others, and propose setting up counter-disinformation centres dedicated to exposing Russian fake news and spreading their own version of the truth. But none of this addresses the root cause of the problem – the failings of our own traditional media. I’m not sure what the solution is – the pressures of the market and the processes unleashed by modern information technology are what they are – but the solution certainly doesn’t involve blaming others. If you don’t report on the Integrity Initiative, for instance, of course people will turn to Sputnik to read about it. And frankly, they’re right to do so – where else can find out about this stuff? So what I’d say to our information warriors is that if you don’t want people turning to Sputnik¸ you first need to get your own act together. As I’ve said before, the root of problem doesn’t lie without; it lies within.
— Read on russia-insider.com/en/intelligent-people-will-keep-turning-alt-media-long-mainstream-refuses-touch-stories-western-regimes

January 15 For the love of God (Vol. 2)

Genesis 16; Matthew 15; Nehemiah 5; Acts 15

 

when I was a high school student in canada, I heard a story told by our history teacher. He related it with deadly anger. He had just returned from the battle-fields of World War II, where he had seen many of his friends killed. Furloughed home because of a war wound, he was riding a bus in a major Canadian city. Seated behind two prosperous-looking women, he overheard one of them say to the other, “I hope this war doesn’t end soon. We’ve never had it so good.”

There are almost always people who profit from the disasters of others, not least from war. So it was in Nehemiah’s day (Neh. 5). Even while there was a disciplined effort to rebuild the city, in the surrounding countryside the fiscal pressures of the times, coupled with famine conditions, made the rich richer and the poor poorer. In an effort to keep going, the poor mortgaged their land and then lost it; they sold themselves or their families into slavery. From Nehemiah’s perspective, slavery was slavery; to be a slave to a fellow Jew was still to be a slave. In some ways it was worse: Nehemiah was concerned not only with the slavery itself, but with the moral hardness of the rich who were profiting from the bankruptcy of others—the want of compassion, the failure to obey the Mosaic code that forbade usury, the sheer covetousness and greed. Transparently they did not need more. Nor was this a question of buying off the lazy. What conceivable justification could they offer for such profiteering?

Yet, mercifully, the consciences of these rich people were tender enough that they did not rebel when they were rebuked. “They kept quiet, because they could find nothing to say” (5:8). Indeed, in due course they repented, returned what had been taken, and stopped charging interest to their brothers.

Clearly one of the factors that enhanced Nehemiah’s credibility as he labored to bring about these reforms was his own conduct. Doubtless the vast majority of governors at the time used their positions of power to accumulate considerable wealth for themselves. Nehemiah refused to do so. He received, presumably from the central treasury, an ample stipend and sufficient support for himself and his staff, and he therefore declined to use his power to demand additional material support from the local population. Indeed, he ended up supporting many of them (5:14–18).

Obedience to God, compassion toward one’s fellows, consistency in the leadership, covenantal faithfulness that extends to one’s pocketbook, repentance and restoration where there has been either corruption or rapacity—these were values more important than the building of the wall. If the wall had been rebuilt without rebuilding the people, the triumph would have been small.[1]


[1] Carson, D. A. (1998). For the love of God: a daily companion for discovering the riches of God’s Word. (Vol. 2, p. 25). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.