Daily Archives: February 10, 2019

February 10 Sensitivity to Sin

Scripture Reading: Numbers 22

Key Verse: Psalm 139:23

Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties.

In Numbers 22, we read how Balak, the Moabite king, sought to persuade Balaam to prophesy against Israel by offering the pagan prophet a significant sum of money to curse God’s chosen people.

God warned Balaam not to accept the offer. However, when Balak’s men showed up at his door with an extra-large sum of cash, temptation won out. Balaam went back to God to see if there was a chance He had changed His mind. The Lord gave Balaam permission to go, but was angry at him for not heeding His first command.

God knows the true motivation of our hearts. Balaam told the men he would go with them but could say only what God told him to say. Here’s the catch: Balaam wanted the money more than he wanted to do what was right. He knew God did not want him to go, but he was willing to risk everything in order to cash in on the situation.

Balaam’s donkey was the only thing that saved him from God’s wrath. She saw a mighty angel blocking their path and stopped. However, Balaam became so angry that he beat her.

The Spirit of God always reveals sin. However, we can choose to go against God’s warning by compromising our convictions. When this happens, we suffer in our disobedience. Ask the Lord to make you sensitive to sin. Pledge your devotion to Christ, and He will guard your life.

Dear God, make me sensitive to sin. Reveal the true motivations of my heart. I pledge my devotion to Christ. Let His power and truth guard me and direct my spiritual journey.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 43). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

February 10 A Love for God’s Word

Scripture reading: Psalm 119:57–64

Key verse: 2 Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Paul’s final words to his understudy Timothy were words that God wants us to apply to our lives: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God.”

A part of becoming approved is learning how to flee from the temptations that keep you from becoming all that God has planned for you to be.

Immersing yourself in the study of His Word prepares you not only for the trials of life but also for the blessings that come your way. And God has many blessings stored up for those who walk in the light of His truth.

His Word is a road map, a framework, and a blueprint to life. Paul knew that regardless of what Timothy faced, as long as God’s Word was hidden within his heart, he could meet all challenges victoriously.

Becoming approved of God is not a work you perform. It requires the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Time spent in the study of God’s Word teaches you more about Christ’s personal love and desire for you. While He wants you to attend church, His greater joy comes in watching you study His Word and then apply it to your life.

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God will teach you how to accurately handle His Word. If you are ready for a true adventure, pick up the Bible and ask God to breathe fresh life into your love for His Word.

Father, through the power of Your Holy Spirit, teach me how to handle Your Word. Breathe fresh life into my love for Your Word this day.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 43). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Justice in All Its Parts: Responding to Thabiti Anyabwile – Part 2 — Reformation Charlotte

Justice in All Its Parts: Responding to Thabiti Anyabwile – Part 2

Before I wrap up my review of Anyabwile’s three posts on justice, I want to go back to where I left off on part 1. I ended that post with the following observations:

  • The lexical data is distorted by way of an inappropriate and inexcusable expansion of the semantic range of the words justice and righteousness.
  • Texts are lifted out of context, such as Zachaeus, and used illegitimately as a model. Peter nor Paul issued commandments around giving. It was always an appeal to the individual’s love for Christ and others.
  • The laws of the Mosaic Covenant are inappropriately applied to civil courts governing secular society. This is clearly a misapplication of the Old Testament text. The model is not far removed from theonomy and if one really wants to be consistent, it is theonomy. Why should we stop at these commands to Israel? Why not apply the commands of stoning as well?

Now, I want to move to Anyabwile’s third post on the subject (part 2 of Justice in All Its Parts). Anyabwile says the following, “But I’m trying to include in the definition not only a sense of outcomes (punishment or reward) but also a sense of well-being (restoration) and process.” Now, there is no question that in the ancient theocracy we call the nation of Israel, the old Mosaic covenant made legal provisions for those situations in which someone took advantage of another person. The offender was to restore what they took from the victim plus 20% and if the victim was no longer living, the restoration took place between the guilty and the victim’s next of kin. That is where it ended. I think anyone would dispute that even in our own culture, the laws are very similar, operation on similar principles. But one has to keep in mind, America is not a theocracy, nor is it a Christian nation. One of the mistakes modern Christians make is to think of American government like they think of Israel. They read these old laws and come up with this misguided idea that these laws ought to be implemented in American society. What is worse is that they seem to believe that one of the ways that church obeys these old laws is through political activism. Nothing could be further from the truth. The church needs to see ancient Rome when they see America, NOT ancient Israel.

Now we come to one of the most glaring problems with Anyabwile’s theology. Regarding distributive justice, Anyabwile says,

“A common simple way of defining distributive justice is “making sure everyone has their fair share.” Distributive justice does not require equality of possessions or outcomes. Nor is it simply defined as fitting the thing to be distributed to those who deserve it or are best for it. Neither is distributive justice a matter of everyone keeping what they’ve earned.”

Notice the beginning sentence and then the ending sentence of this paragraph. Distributive justice is making sure that people have their fair share and it is not a matter of everyone keeping what they’ve earned. Here is see the elements of Marxism creeping into Anyabwile’s theology. T concerns me that between these two very wrong sentences, Anyabwile includes at least one statement that is correct. It does not require equality of possessions or outcomes. But one has to wonder, in terms of possessions, what does he mean by “fitting the thing to be distributed to those who deserve it or are best for it?” The issue I have with Anyabwile and others is that they lace in language that is right with language that is far removed from the biblical concepts of justice OR mercy and this is confusing at best and could be interpreted as deceptive at worst. We would say that the one who deserves the paycheck is the one who did the work. The one who deserves the book is the one who purchased it with money he earned legally. And we would say that those who deserve it are the same as those who are best for it where the sense of justice is concerned.

SIDEBAR: 30 Men do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy himself when he is hungry; 31 But when he is found, he must repay sevenfold; He must give all the substance of his house. (Prov. 6:30-31) Those who are hungry are not viewed in Scripture as having a right to the possession of others. Not only this, justice mandates that if someone does this, there will be penalties. The mercy is seen in the fact that he is not hated like a typical thief would be because of his reason for stealing. Nevertheless, biblical justice does not let him off the hook. I say this because if we are not careful, mercy can impugn justice if balance is lost. These two principles must be kept in balance. A imbalanced view of justice can translate into a lack of mercy and an imbalanced view of mercy can translate into a lack of justice. Both of these situations remove us from godliness where these principles are involved.

Anyabwile calls on Deut. 15:11 to support his idea of distributive justice: “For the poor will never cease to be in the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land.’ This text is preceded by a warning to those who are tended to be close up their compassion for their brother in need when the Sabbatic year approaches. This is because of the practice to release debts and such during this year. It should be pointed out that there is a distinction made between those who are brothers, fellow Israelites, and those who are not. This text is talking about a brother, not a foreigner. For theological purposes, a foreigner is for us, an unbeliever and a fellow Israelite would be considered a fellow believer. Not only this, the poor’s gaps were to be filled, not their wants. Don’t ask me to pay your cell phone bill, your cable bill, or any of these other American luxuries. We all have them. To fill gaps in luxury is not the biblical principle of mercy. To meet genuine needs, be they food, water, shelter, clothing. We lose sight of the fact that Scripture is talking about essentials for life! Luxuries we consider to be essentials is not the biblical principle.

“Another disturbing spin on the text takes place with Anyabwile’s use of Lev. 19:9-10: 9‘Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 ‘Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the Lord your God.”

Now, Anyabwile says this about that text:  Leviticus 19:9-10 commands the people of Israel to redistribute by leaving gleanings in their fields at harvest time. To use the terminology of redistribution in this context is clearly misleading. Immediately, people will think that Scripture supports the socialist idea of the redistribution of wealth when Leviticus is teaching nothing of the sort. The text is instructing wealthy land owners to leave something behind for the poor. Do not let your greed choke out love for the misfortunate. For Anyabwile to use such terminology is irresponsible.

From Deuteronomy to Leviticus Mr. Anyabwile takes us into the New Testament to Ephesians and makes a second claim that the NT employs his view of distributive justice: “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” Again, there is nothing in the semantic range of the words for justice or righteousness in the Old or New Testament that even hints at compassion, mercy, or charity.

Finally, Anyabwile asks what he calls the ‘key’ question: The key question with distributive justice is, “Does what I am seeking and calling ‘justice’ provide for the needs of the vulnerable?” notice that up to this point, Anyabwile has done nothing from an exetetical standpoint to justify his definition of distributive justice. He gave us his own definition for an expression that appears nowhere in Scripture. There is no biblical reference to distributive justice. There is no lexical data to justify attaching the meaning to the term as Anyabwile does. He makes the term up out of thin air, take his modern, newly invented expression, and imports it into the biblical text, waves his eisgetical magic wand and magically, we have a new concept that all Christians are now obligated to understand and practice.

In his conclusion, Anyabwile makes the following observation and application:

“We cannot hope to “do justice” as the Bible commands without understanding the various aspects of justice. We must keep an eye on outcomes as well as process. We must be concerned with justice not only in legal and political matters but also in personal and business dealings. The biblical notion of justice aims at our entire life. We cannot delegate it or diminish it to only one aspect.”

Notice that Anyabwile uses the first-person plural pronoun four times. We have to accept his various aspects of justice if we are to do justice. We have to keep an eye on the outcomes. What outcomes? If you read this paragraph rightly, you will feel the weight of responsibility on the part of the church for policing the civil authorities. We are responsible for taking the principles of the ancient theocracy and making sure they are carried out in American society; in politics, in foreign policy, and in business practices. This is how “we” in the church do justice.

Conclusion

In conclusion then it follows that Anywabile’s interpretation of these passages in support of his concept of justice is seriously flawed. If the lack of any lexical data to support his view of distributive justice wasn’t bad enough, he also illegitimately and arbitrarily I might add, expands the semantic range of the very words he is attempting to use as his grounding for his argument. Not only that, his obvious ignoring of the context in which these passages appears witnesses against his argument, not for it. And finally, in the grand scheme of things, it is simply not the case that the NT Church is called to impose the old laws of the ancient theocracy on American society or any other society as far as that goes. The Christian community takes care of her own widows in accordance with Paul’s criteria in 1 Tim. 5:1-16. The same holds for caring for our orphans. If you are interested in a little more detail and a more biblical perspective in its proper context, I would encourage you to listen to my podcast here: The Reformed Rant – Biblical Justice vs Social Justice.

via Justice in All Its Parts: Responding to Thabiti Anyabwile – Part 2 — Reformation Charlotte

Black Conservative Candace Owens Unloads On Chelsea Clinton In Epic Fight

Black conservative commentator Candace Owens got into a heated fight with former first daughter Chelsea Clinton on Twitter this weekend.

“I actually don’t have any problems at all with the word ‘nationalism.’ I think that it gets, the definition gets poisoned by elitists that actually want globalism. Globalism is what I don’t want,” Owens said at the conference.

“So when you think about, whenever we say ‘nationalism,’ the first thing people thing about, at least in America, is Hitler,” she said. “You know, he was a national socialist, but if Hitler just wanted to make Germany great and have things run well, okay fine.”

“The problem is … he had dreams outside of Germany,” she said. “He wanted to globalize. He wanted everybody to be German. Everybody to be speaking German. Everybody to look a different way. … To me that’s not nationalism.”

Clinton started the battle by speaking about what Owens said about Hitler at a Talking Points USA conference.

“Hitler’s ‘make Germany great’ included more than 400 regulations that stripped German Jews of their ability to work, go to school, vote, own property, seek care in public hospitals & enter ‘Aryan’ zones. All before the Holocaust. In 1943, Germany celebrated being ‘free of Jews,’” Clinton said.

https://t.co/HDfUcCuWo9

A man named Andrew Martin fired back at her by saying he was offended by the Hitler and President Donald Trump comparison.

“I know you are trying to make a Trump/Hitler connection. I find it extremely offensive. Open a book and read what Hitler REALLY did. You are offending Jews that lived through the holocaust. You are offending soldiers that freed them. Find a legitimate cause!” he said.

I know you are trying to make a Trump/Hitler connection. I find it extremely offensive. Open a book and read what Hitler REALLY did. You are offending Jews that lived through the holocaust. You are offending soldiers that freed them. Find a legitimate cause!

— Andrew Martin (@MeetTheUnrealMe) February 8, 2019

“Good afternoon Andrew – Ignorance about Hitler’s evil regime must always be confronted. That burden should not fall on Holocaust survivors. There was nothing, using @RealCandaceO own words, “great” about the Third Reich before it began annexing & invading its neighbors,” Clinton shot back.

https://t.co/Pq8vdtirly

Then Owens got involved to defend herself and she took the gloves off and went for the jugular.

“Chelsea, The audacity of this tweet. If you want to discuss evil regimes, look no further than you racist parents.

“Haiti still remembers what you stole from them.

“Black America remembers that your father locked up more black men than any president in the history of the USA,” she said.

Chelsea,

The audacity of this tweet. If you want to discuss evil regimes, look no further than you racist parents.

Haiti still remembers what you stole from them.
Black America remembers that your father locked up more black men than any president in the history of the USA. https://t.co/6OOl4S8OK9

— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) February 8, 2019

“Evil regimes and the slaughtering of millions was BEST executed by Margaret Sanger, who your RACIST mother idolizes.

“When you have an excuse for the 19 million black babies that have been aborted due to her theory of eugenics— tweet at me,” Owens said.

https://t.co/6OOl4S8OK9

“Don’t you ever in your miserable life have the audacity to tweet at someone who educating blacks on the nasty, racist, harmful “evil regime” policies inflicted by your soulless mother and father.

“There will be a #BLEXIT. And your trash parents will be alive to witness it,” she said.

https://t.co/6OOl4S8OK9

“You don’t get to separate yourself from the HORRORS your parents inflicted worldwide through the Clinton Foundation.

“You were on payroll.

“But wishing you a life full of love, health, and—of course, happiness #LockHerUp,” Owens said.

https://t.co/GSeX8NJUPj

“Thank you @USATODAY for publishing the FULL quote & context of what I said.

“We are all holding to see if @ChelseaClinton will apologize for perpetuating this leftist media hoax.

“Similar to #Covington, this hoax has resulted in death threats against me,” she said.

https://t.co/3VEAkX23nx

Source: Black Conservative Candace Owens Unloads On Chelsea Clinton In Epic Fight

THE GOSPEL COALITION AND THE ANTI- GOP POLITICS OF TOMORROW — thirtypiecesofsilverdotorg

HOW THE “NEVER TRUMPERS” WILL NUANCE CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIAN POLITICS IN THE RUN UP TO 2020.

Rev Thomas Littleton                                                                                                2/10/2019

During the 2018 Southern Baptist Convention in Dallas as Vice President 9MARKS editor and council member of the  ERLC Jonathan Leeman tweeted out his displeasure over the SBC invitation to the Vice President of the United States Mike Pence. Leeman quickly penned an article about his feelings which was published by TGC here . https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/truth-power-pence-sbc/                                     “I’m sitting here at the Southern Baptist Convention. Earlier today Vice President Mike Pence addressed the convention. We were told he initiated the offer to speak. I wish we had not accepted.” He goes on to give his “four reasons why ” while acknowledging that TGC (ERLC for that matter ) justify their own invitations to politicians to speak.

Leeman wrote another article on the reasons why he thought inviting the Vice President to Speak at the SBC meetings in Dallas 2018 was” Controversial” which was published in The Washington Post ,a favorite outlet of progressive political voices in the SBC.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/06/14/why-the-southern-baptist-convention-shouldnt-have-allowed-mike-pence-to-speak/?utm_term=.e9643d3a488a

Leeman says “Permit me to remain neutral on Pence himself. Whether you love or hate him, reason one our churches and associations of churches should ordinarily not receive political leaders to address their assemblies is that it goes against the pattern of the entire Bible. You never see Jesus asking the Roman centurion to make an appearance at his next speaking event to “share a word from his heart,” even after the centurion proved to have “great faith.” No, Jesus had a different mission. He taught us to keep church and state separate.”

Leeman’s use of the interaction – or fictional non interaction – between Jesus and the Roman centurion is hardly a contextual one for the TGC expository hardliners.

HILLARY CLINTON INVITED TO SBC BY RUSSELL MOORE IN 2015

There was no outcry when ERLC head Russell Moore invited Hillary Clinton(who did not accept the invitation ) to the SBC 2015 meetings as reported in this TGC 2018 article. The pushback appears to be over office holders or candidates from the GOP being invited .

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/evangelical-history/politicians-speaking-southern-baptist-annual-meeting-brief-history/

” In spite of his Baptist background, Bill Clinton never addressed the SBC. George W. Bush addressed the SBC in 2002. President Obama never addressed the SBC. It was not hard to see a pattern that had developed. In spite of SBC leaders’ routine insistence that the convention was and is not affiliated with any political party, the SBC had become firmly aligned with the GOP. (Russell Moore did invite Hillary Clinton to speak at an ERLC forum in 2015, but she declined.)”

LEEMAN’S UNKNOWN BACKGROUND AND THIRD WAY MESSAGE INCLUDING PRO-LIFE

In an interview from the 9MARKS meetings at the same SBC 2018 meetings,  Leeman discussed his book with a group of SBC pastors who got a heavy dose of nuancing on the problems of being a “single issue (pro-life) voter “. In the interview Dever boasted in the Q &A that Leeman holds a Masters degree from London School of Economics. This fact is not part of Leeman’s biographies on TGC/ ERLC/ 9MARKS or other organizations Leeman works with. When recently asked about this omission he responded that the did not want it to seem boastful. Problems with the influences from liberal globalist politics and economics as well as the Fabian Socialist founding of LSE make non disclosure problematic by an influential member of the SBC writing books , teaching, working in our Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission ,and on a national tour promoting “Rethinking” our political engagement . More on this issue and the nuancing of the pro life discussion with Mark Dever is discussed in the link below .

https://thirtypiecesofsilver.org/2018/11/17/9marks-dever-and-fabian-socialist-trained-editor-how-to-ditch-your-pro-life-voting-habit/

LEEMAN WILL NOT ANSWER A QUESTION HIS PAST EMPLOYMENT

On January 22nd of 2019 this author asked Jonathan Leeman if he would identify the name of a global economics magazine he worked as an editor for in DC which is included but NOT NAMED in his bio . Leeman responded -showing displeasure – but would not answer.

“Jonathan . Hello we spoke on twitter. I have your book “How the Nations Rage” and am finishing it soon. I saw in your bio  that you ” worked as an editor for an international economics magazine in Washington, D. C. ” Would you say which publication. Thanks . Thomas”

Response – “Thomas, Forgive me for adopting a severe tone, but I’m not sure why you would expect me to trust you…. If I were to give you the benefit of the doubt, the best I can say is, you maligned me in your first article in sincere ignorance (not that I understand why one Christian would ever malign another w/o due diligence; non-Christian reporters do better). But for you to continue as you’ve begun, having been corrected several times, is for you to choose deception. Let me encourage you to take a better route”

– Leeman would not disclose the name of the publication while he accuses the author of “choosing deception” . In the same way he does not disclose his London School of Economics political education in his biography . He does discuss the LSE background briefly in this interview . https://www.bhacademicblog.com/an-interview-with-jonathan-leeman-on-baptist-foundations/

TGC 2019 LECTURES ON “THINKING IN PUBLIC” WITH ALBERT MOHLER “RETHINKING FAITH AND POLITICS ” FROM LEEMANS BOOK

http://www.sbts.edu/tgc/

“Join us for a live recording of Thinking in Public with Albert Mohler and Jonathan Leeman. Each attendee will receive a Southern Seminary mug and be entered to win a library of 100 books from Southern Seminary faculty.”

JONATHAN LEEMAN’S APPROACH TO RETHINKING FAITH AND POLITICS STRIKES A DISTINCT THIRDY WAY TONE ADVOCATING CHRISTIANS HAVE A “POLITICAL REBOOT”

“Religious liberty feels in jeopardy today, as cultural power brokers grow ever more suspicious of Christianity. Meanwhile, Christians cannot agree with one another politically. Some want to strengthen the evangelical voting bloc. Others advise focusing on social-justice causes. Still others would leave the public square to get on with the so-called spiritual work of the church. Prominent Christian leaders criticize one another in the news. Members of church small groups find themselves divided and angry. Clearly, Christians in America need a political reboot.”

“Jonathan Leeman, a scholar of political theology who has taught at various seminaries, believes this restart begins in local churches. Before we can truly do good and do justice, we need to be a good and just people. We cannot talk with integrity about family values if our marriages are falling apart. Or advocate for tax policy changes if we’re not being generous with fellow believers. The restart needed is conversion. Conversion makes us first citizens of Christ’s kingdom and then puts us to work as ambassadors to the world. Our focus must shift from redeeming the nation to living as a redeemed nation. Only when we realize that the life of our churches now is the hope of the nation tomorrow will we be the salt and light Jesus calls us to be.”

LEEMANS BOOK IS ENDORSED BY SOME OF TGC’s LEADING “RETHINKERS” WHO CITE ITS ALTERNATIVE TONE

https://www.thomasnelson.com/p/how-the-nations-rage/

ENDORSEMENTS of “How the Nations Rage ”

“What has the church to do with politics? Is there a proper, biblically informed relationship between church and state? In How the Nations Rage, Leeman exhorts the church neither to withdraw from nor to dominate the political sphere, but to represent heaven to a world in turmoil. What timely counsel, especially to the American church! This work is highly accessible and deserving of praise.”

– John MacArthur, Pastor Grace Community Church Sun Valley California 

 

“The last 20 years, evangelical Christians have been politically mobilized in an outpouring of moral concern and political engagement. Is this a good development? To what extent should Christians be involved in the political process? In his new book, How the Nations Rage, Jonathan Leeman provides a careful and theologically compelling treatment of the relationship between faith and politics. This book is an urgently needed resource for Christians seeking to faithfully integrate their Christian commitments with their political engagement. Leeman is careful, cogent, and unflinchingly biblical in his presentation. This book deserves careful consideration by any Christian who seeks to walk faithfully in the public square.”

– R. Albert Mohler President of SBTS 

RACIALLY FOCUSED AND SOCIAL JUSTICE PROMOTER TISBY GIVES HARDY AND INSIGHTFUL TAKE ON THE POLITICAL RAMIFICATIONS -“SQUIRMING ”

Jonathan Leeman’s How the Nations Rage contains truths that will make any Christian—Republican, Democrat, Independent or otherwise—squirm, and that’s what makes it worthwhile. In this time of political polarization, Leeman offers an opportunity for people to step back from the headlines and the harangues to re-evaluate what it means to represent Christ in the public square and one’s local community. If read carefully, How the Nations Rage, can smooth some of the sharp edges of our current political discourse and move people of faith toward being truth tellers and peacemakers instead of mere partisans.”

– Jemar Tisby, President, The Witness, a Black Christian Collective; Co-Host, “Pass The Mic” podcast 

 FELLOW ERLC COUNCIL MEMBER AND FRINGE ACTIVIST GIVES A

“These are fraught political times, both inside and outside the church. The “culture wars” model of the previous century has proven inadequate in addressing the polarization of our current social climate. How the Nations Rage provides a more mature, deeply biblical, and much needed pastoral understanding of the relationship between the church and the public square. In these pages, Leeman balances correction and encouragement, as well as principle and wisdom.”

– Karen Swallow Prior, author of Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me and Fierce Convictions–The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More: Poet, Reformer Abolitionist

RUSSELL MOORE’S LEYLAND HOUSE CREW IN DC INTERVIEW LEEMAN AT MIDTERMS

ERLC November 2018

https://erlc.com/resource-library/capitol-conversations-episodes/how-the-nations-rage-with-jonathan-leeman

“Christians are rethinking their relationship with politics as American culture moves away from certain moral Christian principles. Jonathan Leeman, author of How The Nations Rage, joins Steven, Travis, and Jeff at the Leland House to talk about the church, the state, and how to have confidence in this divided age. From the conversation:”

“What I’m trying to help readers do is to understand what is the state, what is the church, how to read the bible politically, what is justice, and perhaps most importantly, envigorate, encourage, and inspire with a vision of the the church as this embassy of light, of justice and righteousness that shows a model to the nations of how we can move forward with a happy confidence of what God is doing, whether America gets better or worse.” – Jonathan Leeman

CONCLUSION

GET READY FOR TGCs TOUR OF THE NEVER TRUMPERS HIP HOP /SOCK HOP FOR YOUNG AND OLD.

Leeman’s book offers a rambling set of perspective enabling stories that cover a range of conflicted souls on their own journeys .The emotional discussion is laid out for Christians on the usual divisive topics  like” finding  solutions ” for modern positions on age old divisive issues between Christians and culture like abortion, homosexuality, race etc.etc.etc.

The answers provided , though presented most often in theological terms ,certainly bear the greater, more defined marks of the authors political philosophy training and underlying disdain for classic conservative Christian political views. The discussion projects an assumed political spirituality and political /theological mixture including and espousing a mangled sort of collectivist thinking about Christian faith in the public square, a submission to authority that is requisite for both salvation and healthy identity for the believer .

Knowing some of Leeman’s other work on “Church Discipline”, pastoral and elder authority and the SBC 9MARKS review on the book focusing on “a plurality of elders” as the answer for the poor little lost Christian in Leeman’s world view creates some doubts. This author was made to feel as though we are being primed to not feel confident about living out our own “deeply held religious convictions ”  in the public square or in the voting booth. There is an unsettling notion indicating we will by some forces of natural and divine law be compelled to look to Leeman and TGC leaders like Moore/ Mohler / Keller/ Macarthur ….and dare we think it Karen Swallow Prior -for guidance on how to live and vote in the future.

Leeman’s book ends with several quotes in the last chapter from the current ERLC  favorite social justice and wealth redistribution warrior John Perkins His final quote in the book is from Perkins “True justice is wrapped up in love” .They are “intimately tied together “.

TGC /ERLC ARE FORCING THE CREATION OF A SOCIAL JUSTICE VOTER BLOCK

Leeman certainly intends his approach and the answers he provides to be or appear to be “heart-felt” and “Justice Driven ” . He frames his final thoughts in a “more robust practice of justice ”  and goes on to offer comments on “Love of Nation” and “Hope for the Nation”. In reality TGCs broader political narrative ,of which Leeman is a part, insist we must reconsider how deeply harmful our evangelical identity is to the Gospel. Christians who stand for conservative faith and family values about  abortion, gay marriage, secure borders, holding candidates and one another accountable are somehow suddenly so egregious and inflammatory that we should disown our identity and redefine ourselves. Otherwise the risk is to lose the hope of gaining the culture by acclimating to it . The harsh light of history and pure light of Scripture soundly disprove these foolish notions. We impact our world be being salt and light in it.

Matthew 5:13-16

Believers Are Salt and Light

13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

A REALLY BIG MESS – THE TRUE POLITICAL OVERHAUL – LEEMAN/ MOHLER/ PRIOR ARE ADVOCATING

The most compelling  part of Leeman’s discussion of his approach is in considering the outcome of his efforts in light of the word picture he paints for it. In his zero budget/ deconstructionist approach Leeman likens Joe Christian as having a big pot of stew containing chunks of meat and carrots and potatoes already in it. Leeman insist all these contents must be removed and seems to thoughtlessly suggest we ” dump it all out on the counter ” and “Start over” with just the approved- justified essentials allowed back in. All this author could see in this word picture or envision in the coming TGC / ERLC effort to force this political  RETHINK is the mess it is going to make. A picture of a young Leeman and the boyish looking Russell Moore  and kid sister Karen Swallow Prior – playing in the kitchen – under the watchful eye of big brothers Mohler and MacArthur and instigator middle child Mark Dever urging them on as the mess is made. These look to have ZERO consideration in their efforts for the mess OR they have the full assumption that someone else will have to clean it up. Wait until mom gets home – or the people in the pew who have already had enough Obamanomics and social justice policy. They are happy with their own STEW and voting decisions thank you very much.

Jonathan is quoting Perkins to sound like this effort is driven by love -while he should be looking at the fact that Truth is as important as Love and being motivated by BOTH is essential. “The Nations Raging TGC/ ERLC tour ” is on  and already going national . BUT-   Let’s get real TGC/ ERLC guys -the motivation here is political not spiritual.

Ephesians 4:12-16   (NKJV)

12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the [a]edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

via THE GOSPEL COALITION AND THE ANTI- GOP POLITICS OF TOMORROW — thirtypiecesofsilverdotorg

Defining “Social Justice” — Triablogue

I’ve watched most of the videos from the recent G3 conference, but this one, “Defining Social Justice” by Dr. Voddie Baucham was clearly the best. “I do not think [that phrase, ‘social justice’] means what you think it means”, he says. “The biggest problem with the terminology ‘social justice’ is that it doesn’t mean what we think it means”.

“Those who have decided to go ahead and use the terminology, they want first for the terminology to be understood according to their [own] intentions”.

He unpacks the term in a variety of ways.

“The biggest problem with the term ‘social justice’”, he said, “is that there is a ‘social justice’ ‘movement’ and that ‘movement’ has a ‘mission’.” It is a mission that is not consonant with Biblical Christianity.

He cites this article from Kevin DeYoung: Is Social Justice a Gospel Issue? — in which DeYoung clearly seems to miss the boat on what he is talking about.

The primary division, according to Dr. Baucham, is whether “justice” is being intended at an individual level (wherein God Himself works for justice for individuals) or for “groups” (and this is where the modifier “justice” comes into play – in the sense that “social” justice requires an arbiter – usually the state – to provide “justice” not for individuals, but for aggrieved “groups” (in the Marxist “oppressor/oppressed” paradigm).

The larger point is, we need to understand what our political opponents are talking about, specifically in the form of the language they use. Because those individuals who ought to be on our side, unwittingly find themselves advocating things that they normally would not advocate, if it were the case that they actually knew that they were using what I’ll call here, pre-loaded terminology.

As an analogy for this kind of confusion, one of the most frequently confused terms, I think, involves the various uses of “begging the question”. In a world that has some intelligent interactions with philosophy, “begging the question” is a technical term that means “petitio principii”, essentially using the premises of an argument to define its conclusion. However, at a more popular level, many people use that phrase in the sense that what has come to mean “raises a question” or “invites a question to be asked”. But for philosophers and those speaking in the philosophical sense, it decidedly does not mean that.

In the case of the term “social justice”, its usage by Christians is problematic, because, first, God demands justice. Injustice is sin. So if ‘social justice’ is truly justice, then disagreement is sin.

But that is not the case at all. As Dr. Baucham points out, the “social justice” movement is not about Biblical, Godly justice.

In short, the mission of the “social justice” movement sees its mission as one to facilitate “state distribution of advantages and resources to disadvantaged groups to satisfy their right to social and economic equality”

So as it is used on the left, the “social justice movement” is about societal (governmental) redistribution of virtually everything in society – not only goods and services, but all kinds of “advantages and resources”, including such things as access to education (through “affirmative action” programs), “reparations” for “slavery”, even such intangibles as prestige, ideology (weighted through “intersectionality” to provide advantages to those who can claim the most “oppression” in terms of the number of “oppressed groups” that they can claim membership in) and on and on.

So for “the political left”, the phrase “social justice” connotes their own use of the term with all the “Critical Theory” espoused by the “Frankfurt School”, otherwise known for its “Cultural Marxism” and the “Intersectionality” that goes along with it.

When Christians ask “is social justice a Gospel issue”, the phrase “social justice” does not imply actual justice. It is a “technical term”, a “code word” or even, say, a “dog whistle” for something far more well-defined and far more insidious.

Neil Shenvi has provided some helpful quotes from leading thinkers on the political left, illustrating how and why this is so.

We must not be afraid to confront our political opponents “on their own terms” and “in their own terms”. But we must also not be afraid to call a thing what it is, to say what it really is.

via Defining “Social Justice” — Triablogue

“Progressive” Attacks On Capitalism Were Key To Hitler’s Success — ZeroHedge News

Authored by Ludwig von Mises via The Mises Institute,

The following, written in 1940, is excerpted from Interventionism, An Economic Analysis, which was originally part of Nationaloekonomie, the German predecessor to Human Action.

Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini constantly proclaim that they are chosen by destiny to bring salvation to this world. They claim they are the leaders of the creative youth who fight against their outlived elders. They bring from the East the new culture which is to replace the dying Western civilization. They want to give the coup de grace to liberalism and capitalism; they want to overcome immoral egoism by altruism; they plan to replace the anarchic democracy by order and organization, the society of “classes” by the total state, the market economy by socialism. Their war is not a war for territorial expansion, for loot and hegemony like the imperialistic wars of the past, but a holy crusade for a better world to live in. And they feel certain of their victory because they are convinced that they are borne by “the wave of the future.”

It is a law of nature, they say, that great historic changes cannot take place peacefully or without conflict. It would be petty and stupid, they contend, to overlook the creative quality of their work because of some unpleasantness which the great world revolution must necessarily bring with it. They maintain one should not overlook the glory of the new gospel because of ill-placed pity for Jews and Masons, Poles and Czechs, Finns and Greeks, the decadent English aristocracy and the corrupt French bourgeoisie. Such softness and such blindness for the new standards of morality prove only the decadence of the dying capitalistic pseudo-culture. The whining and crying of impotent old men, they say, is futile; it will not stop the victorious advance of youth. No one can stop the wheel of history, or turn back the clock of time.

The success of this propaganda is overwhelming. People do not consider the content of alleged new gospel; they merely understand that it is new and believe to see in this fact its justification. As women welcome a new style in clothes just to have a change, so the supposedly new style in politics and economics is welcomed. People hasten to exchange their “old” ideas for “new” ones, because they fear to appear old-fashioned and reactionary. They join the chorus decrying the shortcomings of the capitalistic civilization and speak in elated enthusiasm of the achievements of the autocrats. Nothing is today more fashionable than slandering Western civilization.

This mentality has made it easy for Hitler to gain his victories. The Czechs and the Danes capitulated without a fight. Norwegian officers handed over large sections of their country to Hitler’s army. The Dutch and the Belgians gave in after only a short resistance. The French had the audacity to celebrate the destruction of their independence as a “national revival.” It took Hitler five years to effect the Anschluss of Austria; two-and-one-half years later he was master of the European continent.

Hitler does not have a new secret weapon at his disposal. He does not owe his victory to an excellent intelligence service which informs him of the plans of his opponents. Even the much-talked-of “fifth column” was not decisive. He won because the supposed opponents were already quite sympathetic to the ideas for which he stood.

Only those who unconditionally and unrestrictedly consider the market economy as the only workable form of social cooperation are opponents of the totalitarian systems and are capable of fighting them successfully. Those who want socialism intend to bring to their country the system which Russia and Germany enjoy. To favor interventionism means to enter a road which inevitably leads to socialism.

An ideological struggle cannot be fought successfully with constant concessions to the principles of the enemy. Those who refute capitalism because it supposedly is inimical to the interest of the masses, those who proclaim “as a matter of course” that after the victory over Hitler the market economy will have to be replaced by a better system and, therefore, everything should be done now to make the government control of business as complete as possible, are actually fighting for totalitarianism. The “progressives” who today masquerade as “liberals” may rant against “fascism”; yet it is their policy that paves the way for Hitlerism.

Nothing could have been more helpful to the success of the National-Socialist (Nazi) movement than the methods used by the “progressives,” denouncing Nazism as a party serving the interests of “capital.” The German workers knew this tactic too well to be deceived by it again.

Was it not true that, since the seventies of the last century, the ostensibly pro-labor Social-Democrats had fought all the pro-labor measures of the German government vigorously, calling them “bourgeois” and injurious to the interests of the working class?

The Social-Democrats had consistently voted against the nationalization of the railroads, the municipalizationof the public utilities, labor legislation, and compulsory accident, sickness, and old-age insurance, the German social security system which was adopted later throughout the world. Then after the war [World War l] the Communists branded the German Social-Democratic party and the Social-Democratic unions as “traitors to their class.” So the German workers realized that every party wooing them called the competing parties “willing servants of capitalism,” and their allegiance to Nazism would not be shattered by such phrases.

Unless we are utterly oblivious to the facts, we must realize that the German workers are the most reliable supporters of the Hitler regime. Nazism has won them over completely by eliminating unemployment and by reducing the entrepreneurs to the status of shop managers (Betriebsfuhrer). Big business, shopkeepers, and peasants are disappointed. Labor is well satisfied and will stand by Hitler, unless the war takes a turn which would destroy their hope for a better life after the peace treaty. Only military reverses can deprive Hitler of the backing of the German workers.

The fact that the capitalists and entrepreneurs, faced with the alternative of Communism or Nazism, chose the latter, does not require any further explanation. They preferred to live as shop managers under Hitler than to be “liquidated” as “bourgeois” by Stalin. Capitalists don’t like to be killed any more than other people do.

What pernicious effects may be produced by believing that the German workers are opposed to Hitler was proved by the English tactics during the first year of the war. The government of Neville Chamberlain firmly believed that the war would be brought to an end by a revolution of the German workers. Instead of concentrating on vigorous arming and fighting, they had their planes drop leaflets over Germany telling the German workers that England was not fighting this war against them, but against their oppressor, Hitler. The English government knew very well, they said, that the German people, particularly labor, were against war and were only forced into it by their self-imposed dictator.

The workers in the Anglo-Saxon countries, too, knew that the socialist parties competing for their favor usually accused each other of favoring capitalism. Communists of all shades advance this accusation against socialists. And within the Communist groups the Trotskyites used this same argument against Stalin and his men. And vice versa. The fact that the “progressives” bring the same accusation against Nazism and Fascism will not prevent labor some day from following another gang wearing shirts of a different color.

What is wrong with Western civilization is the accepted habit of judging political parties merely by asking whether they seem new and radical enough, not by analyzing whether they are wise or unwise, or whether they are apt to achieve their aims. Not everything that exists today is reasonable; but this does not mean that everything that does not exist is sensible.

The usual terminology of political language is stupid. What is “left” and what is “right”? Why should Hitler be “right” and Stalin, his temporary friend, be “left”? Who is “reactionary” and who is “progressive”? Reaction against an unwise policy is not to be condemned. And progress towards chaos is not to be commended. Nothing should find acceptance just because it is new, radical, and fashionable. “Orthodoxy” is not an evil if the doctrine on which the “orthodox” stand is sound. Who is anti-labor, those who want to lower labor to the Russian level, or those who want for labor the capitalistic standard of the United States? Who is “nationalist,” those who want to bring their nation under the heel of the Nazis, or those who want to preserve its independence?

What would have happened to Western civilization if its peoples had always shown such liking for the “new”? Suppose they had welcomed as “the wave of the future” Attila and his Huns, the creed of Mohammed, or the Tartars? They, too, were totalitarian and had military successes to their credit which made the weak hesitate and ready to capitulate. What mankind needs today is liberation from the rule of nonsensical slogans and a return to sound reasoning.

Source: “Progressive” Attacks On Capitalism Were Key To Hitler’s Success

Trump’s wild popularity overseas is one of media’s best kept secrets — American Thinker Blog

World-famous Italian festival parade that features giant ‘God-Emperor Trump’ is only the latest example. Not just a hero, a superhero!

The mainstream media pretends that their scorn for President Trump is almost universally shared overseas. While globalists everywhere (along with their media allies) dislike him for standing up for national sovereignty, a rising tide of populist revolt is shaking them to their core. And Trump is a hero – even a superhero – to the growing number of anti-globalist populists around the world.

Stark evidence of this popularity of President Trump comes from Italy, where a populist government won power – though the media tend to ignore this. The Carnival of Viareggio, described as “world-famous” by Medium.com (the website chosen by Jeff Bezos for his j’accuse manifesto against the National Enquirer) dates back to 1873, and has established itself as the venue for featuring amazing giant figures. It takes place in Tuscany, a wealthy area that is a magnet for tourists worldwide.

Check out the highlight of yesterday’s parade:

Source: Twitter

Don’t you love the Twitter sword that he carries?

There was at least one individual who picked up the theme in the parade:

Source: Twitter video screen grab

Most delightful of all: This crowd transferred their love of President Trump into love for America.

Source Twitter video screen grab

According to Bizpacreview, the representation of Trump has acquired a nickname, God-Emperor Trump.”

Trump’s supporters here in the states have dubbed this caricature “God Emperor Trump” because of its uncanny resemblance to the “God-Emperor of Mankind,” a character in the popular tabletop fantasy wargame Warhammer 40,000.

“The Emperor of Mankind is the immortal Perpetual who serves as the ruling monarch of the Imperium of Man, and is described by the Imperial Ecclesiarchy and the Imperial Cult as the Father, Guardian and God of humanity,” a Wikia fan page notes.

And this “Father, Guardian and God of humanity” looks just like the Italians’ caricature of Trump.

Looks pretty spot on to me:

Source: Twitter

Of course, this is but the latest evidence that President Trump is inspiring people all over the world. My colleague Monica Showalter offers these examples that are shunned by our lying media:

  • Thousands in England chant “We want Trump”

The globalists realize that this is a worldwide phenomenon, one directed squarely at them and the transition they have wright on countries everywhere. The last thing they want is for Americans to understand that President Trump is THE global leader of a populist movement that is growing, is pro-America, and has already toppled statist governments

The mainstream media pretends that their scorn for President Trump is almost universally shared overseas. While globalists everywhere (along with their media allies) dislike him for standing up for national sovereignty, a rising tide of populist revolt is shaking them to their core. And Trump is a hero – even a superhero – to the growing number of anti-globalist populists around the world.

Stark evidence of this popularity of President Trump comes from Italy, where a populist government won power – though the media tend to ignore this. The Carnival of Viareggio, described as “world-famous” by Medium.com (the website chosen by Jeff Bezos for his j’accuse manifesto against the National Enquirer) dates back to 1873, and has established itself as the venue for featuring amazing giant figures. It takes place in Tuscany, a wealthy area that is a magnet for tourists worldwide.

Check out the highlight of yesterday’s parade:

Source: Twitter

Don’t you love the Twitter sword that he carries?

There was at least one individual who picked up the theme in the parade:

Source: Twitter video screen grab

Most delightful of all: This crowd transferred their love of President Trump into love for America.

Source Twitter video screen grab

According to Bizpacreview, the representation of Trump has acquired a nickname, God-Emperor Trump.”

Trump’s supporters here in the states have dubbed this caricature “God Emperor Trump” because of its uncanny resemblance to the “God-Emperor of Mankind,” a character in the popular tabletop fantasy wargame Warhammer 40,000.

“The Emperor of Mankind is the immortal Perpetual who serves as the ruling monarch of the Imperium of Man, and is described by the Imperial Ecclesiarchy and the Imperial Cult as the Father, Guardian and God of humanity,” a Wikia fan page notes.

And this “Father, Guardian and God of humanity” looks just like the Italians’ caricature of Trump.

Looks pretty spot on to me:

Source: Twitter

Of course, this is but the latest evidence that President Trump is inspiring people all over the world. My colleague Monica Showalter offers these examples that are shunned by our lying media:

  • Thousands in England chant “We want Trump”

The globalists realize that this is a worldwide phenomenon, one directed squarely at them and the transition they have wright on countries everywhere. The last thing they want is for Americans to understand that President Trump is THE global leader of a populist movement that is growing, is pro-America, and has already toppled statist governments

Source: Trump’s wild popularity overseas is one of media’s best kept secrets

Five Million Migrants from Latin America Plan to Relocate to US in Next 12 Months – One-Fifth of El Salvador Already Lives Here — The Gateway Pundit

According to Gallup five million third world migrants from Latin America to the United States in the next 12 months.

Breitbart.com reported:

Five million Latin Americans plan to migrate to the United States in the next 12 months, and an estimated 42 million more say they want to enter the country.

Those statistics were in a report from Jim Clifton, the chairman and CEO at Gallup:

Forty-two million seekers of citizenship or asylum are watching to determine exactly when and how is the best time to make the move. This suggests that open borders could potentially attract 42 million Latin Americans. A full 5 million who are planning to move in the next 12 months say they are moving to the U.S.

There currently are at least 1.1 million Salvadoran immigrants in the United States.

The number represents about one-fifth (19.1 percent) of the total population of El Salvador (5.7 million in 2007 according to the Salvadoran Department of Statistics and Censuses).


(Migration Policy map)

via Five Million Migrants from Latin America Plan to Relocate to US in Next 12 Months – One-Fifth of El Salvador Already Lives Here — The Gateway Pundit

February 10, 2019 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

The Event

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. (12:1)

The key phrase of this passage is let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. In the book of Hebrews, as in many places in the New Testament, “let us” may refer to believers, to unbelievers, or to both. As a matter of courtesy and concern, an author frequently identifies himself with those to whom he is writing, whether or not they are fellow Christians.

In Hebrews 4 (vv. 1, 14, 16), for example, I think unbelievers are being addressed. Similarly, 6:1 speaks of unbelievers going on to the maturity of salvation. In 10:23–24, the reference can be both to believers and unbelievers.

In 12:1, I believe “let us” may be used to refer to Jews who have made a profession of Christ, but have not gone all the way to full faith. They have not yet begun the Christian race, which starts with salvation—to which the writer is now calling them. The truths, however, apply primarily to Christians, who are already running.

The writer is saying, “If you are not a Christian, get in the race, because you have to enter before you can hope to win. If you are a Christian, run with endurance; don’t give up.”

Unfortunately, many people are not even in the race, and many Christians could hardly be described as running the race at all. Some are merely jogging, some are walking slowly, and some are sitting or even lying down. Yet the biblical standard for holy living is a race, not a morning constitutional. Race is the Greek agōn, from which we get agony. A race is not a thing of passive luxury, but is demanding, sometimes grueling and agonizing, and requires our utmost in self-discipline, determination, and perseverance.

God warned Israel, “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion, and to those who feel secure in the mountain of Samaria” (Amos 6:1). God’s people are not called to lie around on beds of ease. We are to run a race that is strenuous and continuous. In God’s army we never hear “At ease.” To stand still or to go backward is to forfeit the prize. Worse yet is to stay in the stands and never participate at all, for which we forfeit everything—even eternal heaven.

Endurance (hupomonē) is steady determination to keep going. It means continuing even when everything in you wants to slow down or give up. I can still remember the excruciating experience I had in high school when I first ran the half-mile. I was used to the 100-yard dash, which requires more speed but is over quickly. So I started out well; in fact I led the pack for the first 100 yards or so. But I ended dead last, and almost felt I was dead. My legs were wobbly, my chest was heaving, my mouth was cottony, and I collapsed at the finish line. That is the way many people live the Christian life. They start out fast, but as the race goes on they slow down, give up, or just collapse. The Christian race is a marathon, a long-distance race, not a sprint. The church has always had many short-spurt Christians, but the Lord wants those who will “make the distance.” There will be obstacles and there will be weariness and exhaustion, but we must endure if we are to win. God is concerned for steadfastness.

Many of the Hebrew Christians to whom the letter was written had started well. They had seen signs and wonders and were thrilled with their new lives (Heb. 2:4). But as the new began to wear off and problems began to arise, they began to lose their enthusiasm and their confidence. They started looking back at the old ways of Judaism, and around them and ahead of them at the persecution and suffering, and they began to weaken and waver.

Paul knew some Christians in the same condition, and to them he wrote, “Prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15) and “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable” (1 Cor. 9:24–25).

Nothing makes less sense than to be in a race that you have little desire to win. Yet I believe the lack of desire to win is a basic problem with many Christians. They are content simply to be saved and to wait to go to heaven. But in a race or in a war or in the Christian life, lack of desire to win is unacceptable.

Paul believed this principle and he had a hupomonē kind of determination. He did not pursue comfort, money, great learning, popularity, respect, position, lust of the flesh, or anything but God’s will. “Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:26–27). That is what Christian commitment is all about.

The competition of the Christian life, of course, is different from that of an athletic race in two important ways. First, we are not to compete against other Christians, trying to outdo each other in righteousness, recognition, or accomplishments. Ours is not a race of works but a race of faith. Yet we do not compete with each other even in faith. We compete by faith, but not with each other. Our competition is against Satan, his world system, and our own sinfulness, often referred to in the New Testament as the flesh. Second, our strength is not in ourselves, but in the Holy Spirit; otherwise we could never endure. We are not called on to endure in ourselves, but in Him.

The Christian has only one way to endure—by faith. The only time we sin, the only time we fail, is when we do not trust. That is why our protection against Satan’s temptations is “the shield of faith” (Eph. 6:16). As long as we are trusting God and doing what He wants us to do, Satan and sin have no power over us. They have no way of getting to us or of hindering us. When we run in the power of God’s Spirit, we run successfully.

The Encouragement to Run

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, (12:1a)

We are all creatures of motivation. We need a reason for doing things and we need encouragement while we are doing them. One of the greatest motivations and encouragements to the unbelieving Jews, as well as to Christians, would be all these great believers from the past, their heroes, who lived the life of faith. The cloud of witnesses are all those faithful saints just mentioned in chapter 11. We are to run the race of faith like they did, always trusting, never giving up, no matter what the obstacles or hardships or cost.

They knew how to run the race of faith. They opposed Pharaoh, they forsook the pleasures and prerogatives of his court, they passed through the Red Sea, shouted down the walls of Jericho, conquered kingdoms, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, received back their dead by resurrection, were tortured, mocked, scourged, imprisoned, stoned, sawn in two, had to dress in animal skins, were made destitute—all for the sake of their faith.

Now the writer says, “You should run like they did. It can be done, if you run as they did—in faith. They ran and ran and ran, and they had less light to run by than you have. Yet they were all victorious, every one of them.”

I do not believe that the cloud of witnesses surrounding us is standing in the galleries of heaven watching as we perform. The idea here is not that we should be faithful lest they be disappointed, or that we should try to impress them like a sports team trying to impress the fans in the bleachers. These are witnesses to God, not of us. They are examples, not onlookers. They have proved by their testimony, their witness, that the life of faith is the only life to live.

To have a whole gallery of such great people looking down on us would not motivate us but paralyze us. We are not called to please them. They are not looking at us; we are to look at them. Nothing is more encouraging than the successful example of someone who has “done it before.” Seeing how God was with them encourages us to trust that He will also be with us. The same God who was their God is our God. The God of yesterday is the God of today and tomorrow. He has not weakened, or lost interest in His people, or lessened His love and care for them. We can run as well as they did. It has nothing to do with how we compare with them, but in how our God compares with theirs. Because we have the same God, He can do the same things through us if we trust Him.

The Encumbrances That Hinder Us

Let us also lay aside every encumbrance. (12:1b)

One of the greatest problems runners face is weight. Several years ago the winner of a recent Olympic gold medal for the 100 meters came to our country for an invitational track meet. He was considered the world’s fastest human being. But when he ran the preliminary heat, he did not even qualify. In an interview afterward he said the reason was simple. He was overweight. He had trained too little and eaten too much. He had not gained a great amount of weight, but it was enough to keep him from winning—even from qualifying. Because of a few pounds, he was no longer a winner. In that particular race, he was not even qualified to compete.

An encumbrance (onkos) is simply a bulk or mass of something. It is not necessarily bad in itself. Often it is something perfectly innocent and harmless. But it weighs us down, diverts our attention, saps our energy, dampens our enthusiasm for the things of God. We cannot win when we are carrying excess weight. When we ask about a certain habit or condition, “What’s wrong with that?” the answer often is, “Nothing in itself.” The problem is not in what the weight is but in what it does. It keeps us from running well and therefore from winning.

In most sports, especially where speed and endurance count, weighing in is a daily routine. It is one of the simplest, but most reliable, tests of being in shape. When an athlete goes over his weight limit, he is put on a stricter exercise and diet program until he is down to where he should be—or he is put on the bench or off the team.

Too much clothing is also a hindrance. Elaborate uniforms are fine for parades, and sweatsuits are fine for warming up, but when the race comes, the least clothing that decency allows is all that is worn. When we become more concerned about appearances than about spiritual reality and vitality, our work and testimony for Jesus Christ are seriously encumbered.

We do not know exactly what sort of things the writer had in mind regarding spiritual encumbrances, and commentators venture a host of ideas. From the context of the letter as a whole, I believe the main encumbrance was Judaistic legalism, hanging on to the old religious ways. Most of those ways were not wrong in themselves. Some had been prescribed by God for the time of the Old Covenant. But none of them was of any value now, and in fact had become hindrances. They were sapping energy and attention from Christian living. The Temple and its ceremonies and pageantry were beautiful and appealing. And all the regulations, the does and don’ts of Judaism, were pleasing to the flesh. They made it easy to keep score on your religious life. But these were all weights, some of them very heavy weights. They were like a ball and chain to spiritual living by faith. These Jewish believers, or would-be believers, could not possibly run the Christian race with all their excess baggage.

Some in the Galatian church faced the same problem. Paul tells them, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly” (Gal. 2:20–21). He goes on, “You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (3:1–3). To impress his point even more, Paul says, “But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?” (4:9). “After you started the Christian race,” he is saying, “why did you then put all those old weights back on?”

Another type of encumbrance can be fellow Christians. We need to be careful about blaming others for our shortcomings. But a lot of Christians not only are not running themselves but are keeping others from running. They are figuratively sitting on the track, and those who are running have to hurdle them. Often the workers in the church have to keep jumping over or running around the nonworkers. The devil does not put all the encumbrances in the way. Sometimes we do his work for him.

Let us also lay aside … the sin which so easily entangles us. (12:1c)

An even more significant hindrance to Christian living is sin. Obviously all sin is a hindrance to Christian living, and the reference here may be to sin in general. But use of the definite article (the sin) seems to indicate a particular sin. And if there is one particular sin that hinders the race of faith it is unbelief, doubting God. Doubting and living in faith contradict each other. Unbelief entangles the Christian’s feet so that he cannot run. It wraps itself around us so that we trip and stumble every time we try to move for the Lord, if we try at all. It easily entangles us. When we allow sin in our lives, especially unbelief, it is quite easy for Satan to keep us from running.

The Example to Follow

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (12:2)

In running, as in most sports, where you look is extremely important. Nothing will throw off your stride or slow you down like looking at your feet or the runner coming up from behind or the crowds in the stands. The Christian race is very much like this.

Some Christians are preoccupied with themselves. They may not be selfish or egotistical, but they pay too much attention to what they are doing, to the mechanics of running. There is a place for such concern, but if we focus on ourselves, we will never run well for the Lord. Sometimes we are preoccupied with what other Christians are thinking and doing, especially in relation to us. Concern for others also has a place. We do not disregard our brothers in Christ or what they think about us. What they think about us, including their criticism, can be helpful to us. But if we focus on others, we are bound to stumble. We are not even to focus on the Holy Spirit. We are to be filled with the Spirit, and when we are, our focus will be on Jesus Christ, because that is where the Spirit’s focus is (John 16:14).

It is not that we try hard not to look at this or that or the other things that may distract us. If our focus is truly on Jesus Christ, we will see everything else in its right perspective. When our eyes are on the Lord, the Holy Spirit has the perfect opportunity to use us, to get us running and winning.

We are to focus on Jesus because He is the author and perfecter of faith. He is the supreme example of our faith.

In 2:10 Jesus is called the author of salvation. Here He is the author (archēgos) of faith. He is the pioneer or originator, the one who begins and takes the lead. Jesus is the author, the originator, of all faith. He originated Abel’s faith, and Enoch’s and Noah’s, as well as Abraham’s, David’s, Paul’s, and ours. The focus of faith is also the originator of faith. As Paul explains, “Our fathers … all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ” (1 Cor. 10:1, 3–4). Micah had preached the same truth hundreds of years before Paul. “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity” (Mic. 5:2).

But I believe the primary meaning of archēgos here is that of chief leader, or chief example. Jesus Christ is our preeminent example of faith. He was “tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). Jesus lived the supreme life of faith. When the devil tempted Him in the wilderness, Jesus’ reply each time was the expression of trust in His Father and His Word. Jesus would not bypass the Father’s will just to get food, or to test His Father’s protection or lordship (Matt. 4:1–10). He would wait until the Father supplied or protected or directed. When the ordeal was over, His Father did provide by sending angels to minister to Him. He trusted His Father implicitly, for everything and in everything. “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 5:30).

In the Garden of Gethsemane, just before His arrest, trial, and crucifixion, Jesus said to His Father, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39). Whatever the prospect of hardship or suffering, He trusted His Father. His Father’s will was what He lived by and died by. It was all Jesus ever considered. The faith of all the heroes of chapter 11 together could not match the faith of the Son of God. They were wonderful witnesses and examples of faith; Jesus is a more wonderful example still. Their faith was true and acceptable to God; His was perfect and even more acceptable. In fact, without Jesus’ faithfulness, no believer’s faith would count for anything. For if Jesus’ perfect faith had not led Him to the cross, our faith would be in vain, because there would then be no sacrifice for our sins, no righteousness to count to our credit.

Jesus not only is the author of faith, but also its perfecter (teleiōtēs), the One who carries it through to completion. He continued to trust His Father until He could say, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). These words, along with “Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit” (Luke 23:46), were Jesus’ last before He died. His work was finished not only in that it was completed but in that it was perfected. If a composer dies while working on a masterpiece, his work on that piece is over but it is not finished. On the cross, Jesus’ work was both over and finished—perfected. It accomplished exactly what it was meant to accomplish, because, from birth to death, His life was totally committed into His Father’s hands. There has never been a walk of faith like Jesus’.

The world has always mocked faith, just as they mocked Jesus’ faith: “He trusts in God; let Him deliver Him now, if He takes pleasure in Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God’ ” (Matt. 27:43). But in faith, Jesus endured the cross, despising the shame. Why should we not also trust God in everything, since we have not begun to suffer what Jesus suffered? “You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin” (Heb. 12:4). Jesus has set such a high example of faith that it is on His example that we should rivet our eyes for as long as we live. It is good to glance at the examples of the cloud of Old Testament witnesses, but it is imperative that we fix our eyes on Jesus (cf. 2 Cor. 3:18).

The End of the Race

Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (12:2b)

In the ancient Isthmian games of Greece, a pedestal stood at the finish line, and on it hung a wreath—the winner’s prize. No one runs a race without some expectation of reward. The reward may be nothing more than a ribbon or a trophy or a wreath of leaves. It may be a prize worth a large amount of money. Sometimes the reward is fame and recognition. Sometimes it is a healthy body. Occasionally the race is run for the sheer exhilaration.

The Isthmian races and the race spoken of in Hebrews 12, however, were not run for exhilaration. This type of race is the agōn, the agony race, the marathon, the race that seems never to end. It is not a race you run simply for the pleasure of running. If you do not have something important to look forward to at the end of this race, you will likely not start it and will certainly not finish it.

Jesus did not run His race of faith for the pleasure of race itself, though He must have experienced great satisfaction in seeing people healed, comforted, brought to faith, and started on the way to spiritual growth. But He did not leave His Father’s presence and His heavenly glory, endure temptation and fierce opposition by Satan himself, suffer ridicule, scorn, blasphemy, torture, and crucifixion by his enemies, and experience the misunderstanding and denial of His own disciples for the sake of whatever few pleasures and satisfactions He had while on earth. He was motivated by immeasurably more than this.

Only what was at the end of the race could have motivated Jesus to leave what He did and endure what He did. Jesus ran for two things, the joy set before Him and sitting down at the right hand of the throne of God. He ran for the joy of exaltation. In His high-priestly prayer Jesus said to His Father, “I glorified Thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which Thou hast given Me to do. And now, glorify Thou Me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was” (John 17:4–5). Jesus gained His reward by glorifying His Father while on earth, and He glorified God by totally exhibiting the Father’s attributes and by fully doing the Father’s will.

The prize Christians are to run for is not heaven. If we are truly Christians, if we belong to God by faith in Jesus Christ, heaven is already ours. We run for the same prize that Jesus ran for, and we achieve it in the same way He did. We run for the joy of exaltation God promises will be ours if we glorify Him on earth as His Son did. We glorify God by allowing His attributes to shine through us and by obeying His will in everything we do.

When we anticipate the heavenly reward of faithful service, joy will be ours now. Paul spoke of his converts as his “joy and crown” (Phil. 4:1) and his “hope or joy or crown of exultation” (1 Thess. 2:19). He had present joy because of future promise. Those he had won to the Lord were evidence that he had glorified God in his ministry. What gives us joy in this life is confidence of reward in the next.

Even if we must suffer for the Lord, we should be able to say with Paul, “I rejoice and share my joy with you all” (Phil. 2:17). And though, like Paul, we are not yet perfect, we should also forget what is behind and reach forward to what lies ahead, pressing on “toward the goal of the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (3:13–14). We should be able to look forward to the day when our Lord says to us, “Well done, … enter into the joy of your master” (Matt. 25:21). “In the future,” the apostle says, “there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8). And when we get to heaven, we can join the twenty-four elders in casting our “crowns before the throne, saying, ‘Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power’ ” (Rev. 4:10–11).

When Jesus went to the cross, He endured all that it demanded. He despised the shame and accepted it willingly, for the sake of His Father’s reward and the joy that anticipation of this reward brought. As we run the race of the Christian life, we can run in the joyful anticipation of that same reward—the crown of righteousness, which one day we can cast at His feet as evidence of our eternal love for Him.[1]


Faith Fixed on Jesus

Hebrews 12:1–3

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb. 12:1–2)

It has been rightly said that the story of our lives is only finished in the lives of other people, others we have loved and led, influenced and inspired. The same can be said of the great eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, that it is only finished in the chapter that follows, in which the example of these heroes of the faith reaches out to us. The goal of chapter 11 was not mere history but exhortation. This is why chapter 12 begins with the key word “therefore,” demanding that we deal with the implications of what we have learned, applying the lessons of faith to our own lives.

The Context of the Christian Life

There are four things we should notice from this passage, beginning with the context of the Christian life. It is often said that context is the key to interpretation, so the question is this: what is the context, what is the arena, in which you as a Christian should interpret your life? Do you think of yourself living in the midst of a secular society, with its testimony of materialism and sensuality and relativism? Or do you think of yourself as part of a particular corporation or organization with its own mandates to conformity? Do you think of yourself as part of the family in which you grew up, the neighborhood in which you live, a racial group, or a socio-economic class? However you answer, how you conceive of the context or arena of your life will dramatically shape your manner of living.

The writer of Hebrews suggests a far different context, namely, that Christians should think of themselves as “surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses” who bear testimony to faith in the Lord. If you are a believer, he says, this is the context in which you should see yourself. This is the body to which you belong, and whose approval you should court. This is the audience, as it were, before whom you live, a great arena filled with the beloved of God, the faithful of all ages, and now is the day when you are running your race to the sounds of their approval and encouragement.

This cloud of witnesses refers, of course, to the heroes of the faith presented in chapter 11: Noah, Abraham, Moses, and the others. Sometimes this is called the Westminster Abbey of biblical faith, comparing this chapter to the great church in England where so many of that nation’s heroes are buried. But there is a great difference here, namely, that the writer of Hebrews does not see these as dead men to be remembered, but living witnesses to be heard. Though dead, they still live, and what was said of Abel can be said of them all: “Through his faith, though he died, he still speaks” (Heb. 11:4). John Owen writes, “All the saints of the Old Testament, as it were, stand looking on us in our striving, encouraging us unto our duty, and ready to testify unto our success with their applauses. They are placed about us unto this end; we are ‘compassed’ with them.”

This, then, is how you should conceive of your life. You belong to this noble company of God’s people, living in this world but glorifying God through faith. This is the context of your life. You are surrounded by those with whom you will spend eternity, those who will be your brothers and sisters long after everyone else is consigned to judgment. You should hear their voices and conform to the pattern of their faith, not to the pattern of this world.

The Calling of the Christian Life

This leads us to consider the calling of the Christian life. Verse 1 concludes by telling us that God has marked out a race for us. He has laid out a course for our lives. There are places we are to go, things we are to do, challenges we are to confront. We do not know where this course winds on its way to heaven, nor, frankly, is it important for us to know. Our calling is to “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1). Many Christians spend far too much effort trying to figure out what lies ahead, when our calling is to persevere in faith wherever God should lead us.

This metaphor of life as a race was common in ancient literature as well as in the Bible. Paul employs it in 1 Corinthians 9:24–25, where he tells Christians to “run in such a way as to get the prize … a crown that will last forever” (niv). He describes his own life in similar terms, writing at the end of his life to his disciple Timothy: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness” (2 Tim. 4:7–8).

The writer of Hebrews now applies the same terminology to us. First, he tells us that the stands are packed with the saints of old. He places them there not merely as spectators, but also as a cheering section. He tells us to pay attention to their testimony, to heed the encouragement they give us. There is Abel reminding us of the true sacrifice we are to trust. Out cries Noah that while the world is condemned there is an ark of salvation. Abraham cheers out for all who hope for promises yet unfulfilled, just the way he did for so many years in Canaan. Moses shouts out to those who, like him, must forfeit status and favor in the world, riches and rank, in order to follow the Lord. Their presence gives us the home-field advantage for our race, if only we will see them there by faith and hear their cries.

Earlier we saw that the context in which we envision ourselves has a great influence over our thinking, but how we conceive of our calling in life is even more vital. What is the purpose or goal of your life? Is it to attain a certain standard of wealth? Is it to rise to a position of influence and power? Is it to be popular or to enjoy maximum leisure and fun? These are the ways our unbelieving society defines success, but not how a Christian should think of his or her life.

How liberating it is for the Christian to realize that his or her true calling is the race of faith in the living God: to persevere in the various settings where God will place you, to hold fast your convictions and your obedience to God in different settings and seasons of life, to grow in grace and to glorify God through faith all the way to the end of your life. This is our victory: not worldly standards of success, but enduring in faith to the end.

This is not an easy calling, and just as if we were athletes training hard, the writer of Hebrews gives us training instructions: “Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely” (v. 1). He speaks here of two things, starting with weights or, as some versions put it, hindrances. In the ancient Greek games, a runner trained to make his body lean. Then, before the race began, he stripped off his long garments to run completely naked. The Greek word here for hindrances may be used in both of these ways: of excess body weight and of weighty garments. The writer of Hebrews tells us that anything that slows us down must be discarded if we are to run well.

This exhortation helps us with all sorts of decisions about our lives. People will say, “This is not technically a sin, so it must be all right for me.” But here we read that anything that weighs you down, anything that hinders your spiritual progress, should be discarded. Perhaps it involves your lifestyle. For instance, many Christians today have bought into the entertainment culture, giving vast hours to mindless television, unwholesome literature, and objectionable movies. We should ask ourselves, “Is this a help or a hindrance to me spiritually?” Hindrances can be career ambitions, hobbies, associations and friendships, habits and preoccupations. Any of these may or may not be a problem, and it will vary from person to person. But each of us should look at the things in our lives and ask, “Is it a help? Is it a hindrance?” If it is the latter, then the wise believer will let the hindrance go, not wanting to be weighed down in the race.

When we turn to the matter of sin, the situation is far more serious. Hindrances weigh us down, but sin entangles our feet, possibly bringing us down to the ground. Notice how the writer puts it: “sin which clings so closely.” The point is that sin entangles us. We take sin lightly at our great peril. Sin is deceitful, as we read in chapter 3, able to lead us off the path altogether. Therefore, we must be wise regarding sin, seeking grace from God to be free from actual sins that we know about, while shunning the temptations to sin that abound.

Think, for instance, how quickly and thoroughly a great man like King David fell into sin when he allowed his heart to lust after Bathsheba. How entangled he became, and what a horrible impact that sin had on his life and on his whole family, even the entire kingdom! He was running brilliantly, as almost no one had run before, but sin entangled him and took him down. Sexual sin and pride continue to entangle the feet of many today, including leaders in the church.

Therefore let us flee temptation and oppose all sin. Sin is the agent of death in our world; it is the master of untold slaves; sin is never profitable, and the pleasures it offers the unwise are all filled with deadly poison. Even true believers, whose debts are paid by the blood of the Lamb, can scarcely afford sin, for we have a race to run, a course marked out by God for these few short years of our lives, and unless we actively shun sin we will quickly find ourselves distracted and entangled.

This is our calling, the challenging race of a life of faith. Notice what kind of race we run. It is not a short sprint, and we will not finish it with a reckless burst of energy. It is a long-distance race, and our great virtue is not speed but perseverance. Many experience the flush of excitement at conversion, only to find that enthusiasm must be converted into endurance. What Jesus said to the church at Thyatira should be true for us as well: “I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance” (Rev. 2:19).

The Encouragement of the Christian Life

This leads us to what I often call “the all-purpose Christian advice,” from Hebrews 12:2, which gives the encouragement of the Christian life: I say this because there is no circumstance, no difficulty, no temptation for which this is not a reliable guide: “looking to Jesus.” This is the “secret” of the Christian life, the encouragement we need for our faith: to place our eyes not on the world with its enticements and threats, not even on ourselves with our petty successes and many failures, but on him who is the source and fountain of all our spiritual vigor. John Owen writes:

A constant view of the glory of Christ will revive our souls and cause our spiritual lives to flourish and thrive.… The more we behold the glory of Christ by faith now, the more spiritual and the more heavenly will be the state of our souls. The reason why the spiritual life in our souls decays and withers is because we fill our minds full of other things.… But when the mind is filled with thoughts of Christ and his glory, these things will be expelled.… This is how our spiritual life is revived.

The writer of Hebrews has shown us the context of our life of faith, and the calling of our life of faith; now he sets before us the encouragement our faith requires: “looking to Jesus.” There are three ways that this verse encourages us. First, it shows us Christ as the premier example for our faith. The Greek word translated as “founder” (archēgos) is better rendered “forerunner” or “pioneer.” It describes one who goes ahead to blaze the trail and overcome barriers. Similarly, the word “perfecter” (teleiōtēs) connotes the idea that Jesus is the supreme and perfect example of faith, especially since the Greek text speaks of the faith rather than our faith.

It is noteworthy that this verse focuses on the ordeal of the cross, where Jesus’ faith in God was put to the greatest test and given the most brilliant display. The religious authorities said of him on the cross, “He trusts in God” (Matt. 27:43). They were mocking him, yet how true it was. By faith Jesus pleased God as Enoch did. Like Abraham, Jesus looked forward to the city to come and, by faith, he was willing to make the supreme sacrifice. By faith Jesus, like Moses, set aside earthly glory that he might be numbered among the afflicted people of God and become their deliverer. By faith Jesus made the sacrifice Abel’s faith presented. If the heroes of the Old Testament are lights testifying to faith in God, Jesus on the cross is a blazing sun bringing faith to its most dazzling expression.

Jesus endured both suffering and shame on the cross. The Hebrew Christians were in danger of shrinking back from these very things, just as we find them so difficult to endure. It was by faith that Jesus “endured the cross, despising the shame,” persevering to his appointed end and thus entering into his glory in heaven. He “is seated at the right hand of the throne of God,” because he faithfully endured suffering and did not fear the world’s contempt. This provides an example for us, that we would bear the cross in our own lives. First Peter 2:21 says, “To this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” How important, then, for us to fix our eyes upon him. James M. Boice wrote:

The only thing that will ever get us moving along this path of self-denial and discipleship is fixing our eyes on Jesus and what he has done for us, coming to love him as a result, and thus wanting also to be with him both now and always. Jesus is our only possible model for self-denial. He is the very image of cross-bearing. And it is for love of him and a desire to be like him that we take up our cross and willingly follow him.

Jesus is our example in perseverance, and also in spiritual joy: “for the joy that was set before him [he] endured the cross” (Heb. 12:2). That is an amazing statement and it says much about his faith. We may conceive of Jesus’ joy before the cross in a number of ways. First, Jesus took joy in doing his Father’s will. He said, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” (John 4:34). William Newell writes, “There is no joy like the accomplishment of a noble task: and of the noblest task of all eternity, Christ was to say, ‘I have finished it.’ ”

Jesus also looked forward to his future reunion with the Father in heaven and to receiving his delight with the greatest of joy. He rejoiced at the knowledge of what his suffering and death would accomplish, namely, the redemption of a people for himself. In short, Jesus rejoiced because he saw the crown beyond the cross; he saw the purchase of his blood, even the church that would be his bride forever in the regenerated glory of the endless age to come. In the same vein, the apostle James writes to us, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” (James 1:2–3). We should rejoice at trials, because by enduring we gain the crown that waits beyond the cross.

Jesus is not only the example for our faith, but he is also the object of our faith. He waits at the finish line for us; it is to him and for him that we run. We endure and persevere because we want to know him and join him and share the blessings of his salvation. This again explains why the cross is emphasized here, for the cross is not only the greatest example of Jesus’ faith, but also the focus of our faith in him. We see his blood shed for our forgiveness; we see the wrath of God spent on him, and we find our safety there—our righteousness at his cross. To be a Christian, then, means to rely on his atoning blood, on his finished work for our salvation, and to hold this gospel as the great treasure of our heart. Henceforth we want to be faithful to him. We desire to please and serve him, and we would endure to the end so that we will spend eternity with him. This is what Paul says of his own ambition: “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.… One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:12–14 niv). We fix our eyes on Jesus because he is the example and object of our faith.

Third, we fix our eyes on Jesus because he is the source of our faith. It is in this sense that the translation “founder and perfecter of our faith” has real merit. Jesus is not merely an example, like some long-dead hero. Nor is he the object of our faith as a mere philosophical ideal. Rather, he is an active recipient of our faith, active in inspiring and empowering faith in us because he lives now. Faith in Christ produces union with a living Lord who reigns in the heavens, who is seated at the right hand of God’s throne in power. Therefore, when we fix our eyes on him, he works in us by his power, sending God’s Holy Spirit to sustain us in our trials. Thomas Watson says, “As the Spirit is at work in the heart, so is Christ at work in heaven. Christ is ever praying that the saint’s grace may hold out.… That prayer which Christ made for Peter, was the copy of the prayer he now makes for believers. ‘I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not’ (Lk. 22:32). How can the children of such prayers perish?”

This encouragement—“looking to Jesus”—is vitally important in such a difficult race as ours. Those who fix their gaze on the world and the things of the world will be conformed to its pattern. But in a still more powerful and reliable way, those whose gaze is fixed on Jesus will find themselves changed into his pattern—not merely because of the working of our own hearts, but because of his active and transforming work through the Holy Spirit. With our eyes fixed on him, we are, Paul says, “being transformed into [his] image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor. 3:18).

How essential it is that we grasp this principle! As Christians we live in the context of this great cloud of witnesses, with a race to run with endurance, a race that includes the suffering and shame of the cross. Therefore, we must remove every hindrance and entangling sin, for this is already more than the flesh can endure. Yet we are encouraged and empowered in our faith as we look to Jesus Christ, our great example of faith, the object of our faith, and the source of our faith, its author and finisher, as he reigns with power from on high in us and for us.

If you have never looked to Jesus in faith, if you have yet to enter this godly calling of those who follow him, this exhortation applies especially to you. Look to Jesus Christ, and you will find one who is altogether lovely, whose example of life and death transcends all others, and most important, who suffered death that you might be forgiven and have eternal life. Unless you look to Jesus in faith, you will never know the life that is of God, and though you may enjoy this world for a season, there will be no crown for you at the end, but only the judgment of God and the punishment your sins deserve.

A Cure for Weary Hearts

Lastly, we find in this passage a cure for weary hearts. This is what verse 3 says: “Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” Here the writer of Hebrews anticipates a problem and prescribes its cure.

This verse assumes something believers know all too well, namely, that from time to time Christians grow weary and become downcast. If you feel this way, you are not exceptional; this is something you should expect. Especially when faced with prolonged difficulty or trials, even the strongest Christian can experience spiritual depression. The cure for this, he says, is to consider Jesus in his own struggle with the opposition of the world.

This may sound similar to the exhortation in verse 2 to fix our eyes on Jesus, but there is a difference in emphasis here. In verse 2 the Greek word aphoraō meant to look away from one thing to another; the emphasis was to keep looking away from distractions and to fix our eyes on Jesus. Here in verse 3 the writer uses a different word, analogizomai, which means “to consider intently.” This is an accounting term related to the English word “logistics”; when we speak of “logging” something in, we mean that a record should be kept of what transpired. The point here is that we should meditate on or reflect on, take stock of Jesus’ life and death as it relates to our own struggle, and especially remember how God ordained his suffering for his and our glory. We are to remember that beyond the cross there lies a crown; it was so for our Lord, and so it will be for us. As Paul writes, doing the very thing our text suggests, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18). That is the cure for our hearts when we grow weary in the long race of this life of faith.

How do we consider Jesus? By consulting what the Bible says about him. We read the Gospel accounts and learn what Jesus said and did and how God delivered him. We read the Epistles, which explain the significance of his life and death and resurrection. Indeed, in the Old Testament we see Christ in his work, as he is prophesied and represented by various types and symbols.

This is the very thing we find our Lord doing for his disciples in the Gospel accounts. Perhaps the worthiest way to conclude these studies of faith in Hebrews 11, especially as we are reminded here that they all direct us to Jesus, is with an account that appears in Luke 24. There we learn of two downcast disciples walking away from Jerusalem on the very day that Jesus was resurrected. They were weary and had lost heart, but unbeknownst to them, Jesus himself, risen from the grave, came alongside them on the road. Jesus asked what they were talking about; Luke tells us, “they stood still, looking sad” (v. 17). This is how Jesus finds us sometimes, discouraged and standing still instead of running the race. The two disciples told Jesus about a man from Nazareth they thought would be the Messiah. But, they added, he had been arrested and killed, and they did not understand the confusing reports they had heard about him being seen afterward.

Jesus responded by pointing them to Scripture: “Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). What Jesus did for them, we are to do for ourselves, seeking and finding him and contemplating his life and ministry in the pages of Scripture.

When the party arrived at their destination, Jesus revealed himself to the disciples and then miraculously disappeared. Yet, in spite of this direct encounter with the risen Lord and his dramatic disappearance, the two disciples, now greatly encouraged, marveled not at this supernatural experience but at the things they had seen in the Scriptures! “They said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?’ ” (Luke 24:32).

This is what we will find when our hearts have grown cold on the long and sometimes difficult race that is our calling as Christ’s disciples. We open the Scriptures and Jesus teaches us of himself, no less than he did for those two disciples, and as we consider him in his sufferings for us, his victory over sin and death, our hearts too are warmed and even burn within us. This is what makes us rejoice as we should, singing words of confident faith:

My hope is in the Lord who gave himself for me,

and paid the price of all my sin at Calvary.

For me he died, for me he lives,

and everlasting life and light he freely gives.

If you want to live that way, with that kind of joy and power, then you must fix your eyes on Jesus, not on this world or anything in it, and consider how great a Savior he really is.[2]


1. Wherefore, seeing we also, &c. This conclusion is, as it were, an epilogue to the former chapter, by which he shews the end for which he gave a catalogue of the saints who excelled in faith under the Law, even that every one should be prepared to imitate them; and he calls a large multitude metaphorically a cloud, for he sets what is dense in opposition to what is thinly scattered. Had they been a few in number, yet they ought to have roused us by their example; but as they were a vast throng, they ought more powerfully to stimulate us.

He says that we are so surrounded by this dense throng, that wherever we turn our eyes many examples of faith immediately meet us. The word witnesses I do not take in a general sense, as though he called them the martyrs of God, and I apply it to the case before us, as though he had said that faith is sufficiently proved by their testimony, so that no doubt ought to be entertained; for the virtues of the saints are so many testimonies to confirm us, that we, relying on them as our guides and associates, ought to go onward to God with more alacrity.

Let us lay aside every weight, or every burden, &c. As he refers to the likeness of a race, he bids us to be lightly equipped; for nothing more prevents haste than to be encumbered with burdens. Now there are various burdens which delay and impede our spiritual course, such as the love of this present life, the pleasures of the world, the lusts of the flesh, worldly cares, riches also and honours, and other things of this kind. Whosoever, then, would run in the course prescribed by Christ, must first disentangle himself from all these impediments, for we are already of ourselves more tardy than we ought to be, so no other causes of delay should be added.

We are not however bidden to cast away riches or other blessings of this life, except so far as they retard our course; for Satan by these as by toils retains and impedes us.

Now, the metaphor of a race is often to be found in Scripture; but here it means not any kind of race, but a running contest, which is wont to call forth the greatest exertions. The import of what is said then is, that we are engaged in a contest, even in a race the most celebrated, that many witnesses stand around us, that the Son of God is the umpire who invites and exhorts us to secure the prize, and that therefore it would be most disgraceful for us to grow weary or inactive in the midst of our course. And at the same time the holy men whom he mentioned, are not only witnesses, but have been associates in the same race, who have beforehand shewn the way to us; and yet he preferred calling them witnesses rather than runners, in order to intimate that they are not rivals, seeking to snatch from us the prize, but approvers to applaud and hail our victory; and Christ also is not only the umpire, but also extends his hand to us, and supplies us with strength and energy; in short, he prepares and fits us to enter on our course, and by his power leads us on to the end of the race.

And the sin which doth so easily beset us, or, stand around us, &c. This is the heaviest burden that impedes us. And he says that we are entangled, in order that we may know, that no one is fit to run except he has stripped off all toils and snares. He speaks not of outward, or, as they say, of actual sins, but of the very fountain, even concupiscence or lust, which so possesses every part of us, that we feel that we are on every side held by its snares.

Let us run with patience, &c. By this word patience, we are ever reminded of what the Apostle meant to be mainly regarded in faith, even that we are in spirit to seek the kingdom of God, which is invisible to the flesh, and exceeds all that our minds can comprehend; for they who are occupied in meditating on this kingdom can easily disregard all earthly things. He thus could not more effectually withdraw the Jews from their ceremonies, than by calling their attention to the real exercises of faith, by which they might learn that Christ’s kingdom is spiritual, and far superior to the elements of the world.

2. Who for the joy that was set before him, &c. Though the expression in Latin is somewhat ambiguous, yet according to the words in Greek the Apostle’s meaning is quite clear; for he intimates, that though it was free to Christ to exempt himself from all trouble and to lead a happy life, abounding in all good things, he yet underwent a death that was bitter, and in every way ignominious. For the expression, for joy, is the same as, instead of joy; and joy includes every kind of enjoyment. And he says, set before him, because the power of availing himself of this joy was possessed by Christ, had it so pleased him. At the same time if any one thinks that the preposition ἀντὶ denotes the final cause, I do not much object; then the meaning would be, that Christ refused not the death of the cross, because he saw its blessed issue. I still prefer the former exposition.

But he commends to us the patience of Christ on two accounts, because he endured a most bitter death, and because he despised shame. He then mentions the glorious end of his death, that the faithful might know that all the evils which they may endure will end in their salvation and glory, provided they follow Christ. So also says James, “Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and ye know the end.” (James 5:11.) Then the Apostle means that the end of our sufferings will be the same with those of Christ, according to what is said by Paul, “If we suffer with him, we shall also reign together.” (Rom. 8:17.)[3]


1 The intimate connection of these verses with ch. 11 appears in the unusually emphatic “therefore” (toigaroun) that opens this verse. It is immediately followed by kai hēmeis, “we too”; “we” are not only part of the same race but also, as 11:39–40 has explained, the culmination of it, so that all the previous runners are looking to “us” to finish off what they have begun so well. The striking visual metaphor of a “cloud” (nephos) of witnesses (“fig. of a compact, numberless throng” [BDAG, 670]) surrounding the runners further emphasizes the solidarity of the Christian with God’s faithful people through the ages. They are “witnesses” (martyres) because their lives (and in some cases their deaths) witnessed to the unconquerable faith in God for which they were “commended” (11:2, 4, 5, 39—the verb is martyreō, GK 3455), but they are also, as those who trusted God and whose faith has been vindicated, witnesses to the reliability of God’s promises. Moreover, the presence of these “witnesses” (the secondary sense “spectators,” while not the main point, fits the metaphor well) means that to fail to complete the race would be not just a personal disappointment but a public disgrace.

The NT contains several references to the Christian life under the metaphor of an athletic contest (notably 1 Co 9:24–27; Gal 2:2; 5:7; 1 Ti 6:12; 2 Ti 4:7; in this letter already in 10:32); here it is specifically a long-distance footrace for which they are entered. Such a race, run in a very public arena, requires not only maximum concentration but also the removal of all that could reduce performance, pictured in terms of the athletic metaphor as “weights” (NIV, “everything that hinders”; the word could cover excess bodily weight as well as things carried or worn), but then also specified nonmetaphorically as entangling “sin” (in general, not just specific sins). The author coins a graphic term that probably means “easily ensnaring or obstructing,” picturing something, perhaps a flowing garment, that clings around the runners’ legs. Instead, the runners need “perseverance,” the determination to keep going even when it hurts. In 10:32, the author has commended them for this quality in the past and in 10:36 has singled it out as the essential basis for their continuing as God’s faithful people in the difficult situation they now face.

2 As we noted at 11:26, where a similar verb was used of Moses, “fix our eyes on” is more literally “look away to.” It thus denotes both the deliberate ignoring of present circumstances and a reference point beyond them, in the person of Jesus, perhaps envisaged as standing at the finishing line. At 2:10 we considered the range of possible meanings of archēgos (GK 793) as both “originator” and “leader” or “pioneer.” Both senses would be appropriate here—“pioneer” in that he has run the race before us (cf. “forerunner,” 6:20), as the last and greatest example of faith in action, but also “author” in that it is from him that faith (the Greek does not specify “our” faith, though this would be included in the sense) derives, just as it is in him that it will be completed (“perfecter”; notice the contrast with the “uncompleted” faith of the OT heroes, 11:40). While the focus of these verses is on Jesus as the supreme example of faith in action, he is also much more. Our faith begins and ends in him, and his seat of authority at God’s right hand assures us he will not let us down.

The story of Jesus closely matches the pattern of faith established in ch. 11. His earthly experience was of suffering and death (“a cross”; there is no article in the Greek), and of ostracism from human society (“shame”), but he was willing to “endure” all this (the same word as in 10:32, 36; 12:1, “persevere”) because he could see beyond it to the future “joy.” As a result, he now enjoys the fulfillment of God’s promises in that he is seated “at the right hand of the throne of God” (cf. 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12), his victory won and his eternal authority secure. Here writ large is the perspective of faith, which is “sure of what we hope for” (11:1), however improbable it may seem in light of present circumstances.[4]


12:1 / The first, and therefore emphatic, word of the original text is a strong inferential particle, therefore. The exhortation now to be given is based on the reality expounded in chapter 11. The community of faith is such that it figuratively surrounds us like a great cloud of witnesses. Witnesses here does not mean observers of the present conduct of Christians but rather those who testify or give evidence of the victorious life of faith. They show that it is possible to live by faith. Motivated by the preceding catalogue of examples, the readers are themselves to live the life of faith. The exhortation is given in figurative language: Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. But if the race is to be run (cf. the same imagery in 2 Tim. 4:7), we must put away everything that hinders (lit., “every weight” or “impediment”). The author does not specify any impediments; it is understood that anything that hinders the life of faith as it has been portrayed in the preceding chapter is to be laid aside. One clear obstacle to the life of faith, however, is the sin that so easily entangles. The relation between sin and unbelief has already been the subject of our author’s attention (cf. 3:12, 18f.). The believers’ susceptibility to sin (cf. Rom. 7:21) must not be allowed to thwart them in their pursuit of the goal (cf. 11:25). Taking courage from past examples, the readers are exhorted to complete the course upon which they have embarked.

12:2 / An even more significant example of the life of faith is to be found in Jesus, now described as the author (or “pioneer”) and perfecter of our faith. The word for “pioneer” is the same word used in 2:10 (“author,” or “originator,” of salvation; cf. Acts 3:15). Is there a sense in which Jesus can be described as the “originator” of faith? Like Paul (Gal. 3:23–26; cf. John 1:17), our author believes that the people of God could indeed have lived by faith in past generations, but that in a fundamental sense the possibility—or at least the validity—of faith in any era depended and depends upon the work of Christ. That is, because Christ is so central both to the promise and to the fulfillment, because he brings into existence the hoped-for telos (and is therefore the perfecter of faith), he is also the “originator” or “founder” of faith. As perfecter of faith, he brings it to its intended goal. Thus, whether one talks about faith as a possibility or as the experience of fulfillment, all depends upon Jesus. For this reason, Christians must keep looking away from this world to him. He is not only the basis, means, and fulfillment of faith, but in his life he also exemplifies the same principle of faith that we saw in the paragons of chapter 11. Thus, by faith he counted upon the reality of future joy and, assessing present circumstances in light of the glorious future, he endured the cross, scorning its shame. He died as a despised criminal (cf. Phil. 2:8). And that future joy is already his in a preliminary way, for he sat down at God’s right hand. This description of Christ in the language of Psalm 110:1 alludes throughout the book to the completeness of his work (cf. 10:11f.).[5]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1983). Hebrews (pp. 372–381). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Phillips, R. D. (2006). Hebrews. (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.) (pp. 528–538). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.

[3] Calvin, J., & Owen, J. (2010). Commentary on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews (pp. 310–313). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[4] France, R. T. (2006). Hebrews. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, pp. 167–168). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[5] Hagner, D. A. (2011). Hebrews (pp. 211–212). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

February 10 Solving Problems Through Prayer

scripture reading: 2 Chronicles 20
key verse: 2 Chronicles 20:12

O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.

Karl Marx, the Communist philosopher of the last century, sarcastically referred to religion as “the opium of the people.” Christians obviously refute such tainted logic, but in practice we tend to treat prayer in a similar vein.

Prayer too often is seen as a last resort, a divine escape hatch if all else fails. We turn all the knobs, pull all the strings, exhaust all our resources—and then begrudgingly turn to prayer if what we do does not work.

Prayer is not a spiritual crutch. It is not begging God to help after all our efforts have failed. Instead, prayer is the most effective problem solver we can employ. It is a divine management tool that can be availed, regardless of the nature of our predicament.

Why don’t we always view prayer as such? Pride. We do not want to admit our dependence on Christ. Sure, we had to call on Him to save us, but now we can handle most things just fine, thank you!

How blind we are; how twisted is our notion of prayer. God offers us His help, and we, in our human haughtiness, turn Him down.

God wants you to lean on Him. He longs to work on your behalf, to guide you and help you. Prayer is His divine provision. Should you ignore God’s helping hand?

I confess my dependence on You. I can’t handle the circumstances of my life alone, Father. Thank You for the divine provision of prayer to manage the affairs of my life.[1]


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

Sunday’s Hymn: Jesus! What a Friend for Sinners — Rebecca Writes

 

Jesus! what a Friend for sinners!
Jesus! Lover of my soul;
Friends may fail me, foes assail me,
He, my Saviour, makes me whole.

Hallelujah! what a Saviour!
Hallelujah, what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.

Jesus! what a strength in weakness!
Let me hide myself in him;
Tempted, tried, and sometimes failing,
He, my strength, my vict’ry wins.

Jesus! what a help in sorrow!
While the billows o’er me roll,
Even when my heart is breaking,
He, my comfort, helps my soul.

Jesus! what a guide and keeper!
While the tempest still is high,
Storms about me, night o’ertakes me,
He, my pilot, hears my cry.

Jesus! I do now receive him,
More than all in him I find,
He hath granted me forgiveness,
I am his, and he is mine.

—J. Wilbur Chapman

 

 

 

Other hymns, worship songs, or quotes for this Sunday:

via Sunday’s Hymn: Jesus! What a Friend for Sinners — Rebecca Writes

Lord’s Day 6, 2019 — The Thirsty Theologian

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”

 

Gird Your sword on Your thigh, O Mighty One,
In Your splendor and Your majesty!
And in Your majesty ride on victoriously,
For the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness;
Let Your right hand teach You awesome things.

—Psalm 45:3–4

XLI. The Triumph of Christ in the Cause of Truth, Meekness, and Righteousness. Psalm xlv. 3, 4.

Loud to the Prince of Heav’n
Your chearful Voices raise!
To him your Vows be giv’n,
And fill his Courts with Praise.
With conscious Worth
All-clad in Arms,
All-bright in Charms,
He sallies forth.

Gird on thy conqu’ring Sword,
Ascend thy shining Car,
And march, Almighty Lord,
To wage thy holy War.
Before his Wheels
In glad Surprize,
Ye Valleys, rise,
And sink, ye Hills.

Fair Truth, and smiling Love,
And injur’d Righteousness
In thy Retinue move,
And seek from thee Redress:
Thou in their Cause
Shalt prosp’rous ride,
And far and wide
Dispense thy Laws.

Before thine awful Face
Millions of Foes shall fall,
he Captives of thy Grace,
That Grace, which conquers all.
The World shall know,
Great King of Kings,
What wond’rous Things
Thine Arm can do.

Here to my willing Soul
Bend thy triumphant Way;
Here ev’ry Foe controul,
And all thy Pow’r display.
My Heart, thy Throne,
Blest Jesus, see
Bows low to thee,
To thee alone.

—Philip Doddridge, Hymns Founded on Various Texts in the Holy Scriptures (Salop, 1755).

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


Please don’t miss worshiping with your local congregation
if you can possibly help it.
But if you’re in need of a good sermon, try these.

via Lord’s Day 6, 2019 — The Thirsty Theologian

Sunday Morning Praise for February 10, 2019 — Do Not Be Surprised…

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

Christians today are in a battle, not of weapons, but of truth. Remember the words of the apostle Paul:

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
(2 Timothy 4:3-4)

And do not forget the admonition of Jude:

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 1:3)

 

via Sunday Morning Praise — Do Not Be Surprised…

Bible study: what difference does the resurrection of Jesus make?

WINTERY KNIGHT

Bible study that hits the spot Bible study that hits the spot

Here’s an article from Bible.org, written by famous New Testament manuscript expert Dan Wallace. (H/T Eric Chabot, Ratio Christi OSU)

There is a lot in this article, but I’ll just snip out one that I think is interesting.

First, what does the Old Testament say about the doctrine of the resurrection in Judaism?

The resurrection of the dead was not plainly revealed in the OT until very late in salvation history. It was not until the Jews were taken in captivity, in the sixth century BC, that this was clearly articulated. Daniel 12:1-2 is the principal text: it speaks of the resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous:

At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time; but…

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10 february (1861) 365 Days with Spurgeon

The Tabernacle—without the camp

“And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought the Lord went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp.” Exodus 33:7

suggested further reading: Hebrews 13:9–16

This going out of the camp will involve much inconvenience. Some try to get over the inconvenience in the way Joshua did, they think they will come out of the camp altogether and live in the tabernacle, and then there will be no difficulty. You know there are many pious minds, a little over-heated with imagination, who think, that if they have never mixed with the world they could be holy. No doubt they would like to have a building erected, in which they could live, and pray, and sing all day, and never go to business, nor have anything at all to do with buying and selling. Thus they think by going without the camp they should become the people of God. In this however, they mistake the aim and object of the Christian religion—“I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” That were an easy, lazy subterfuge, for getting rid of the hard task of having to fight for Christ. To go out of the battle in order that you may win the victory, is a strange method indeed of seeking to become “more than conquerors!” No, no, we must be prepared, like Moses, to go into the camp and to come out of it; always to come out of it when we seek fellowship with God, but still to be in it; to be mixed up with it, to be in the midst of it doing the common acts of man, and yet never being tainted by its infection, and never having the spirit troubled by that sin and evil which is so rampant there. I counsel you, not that you should come out of the world, but that being in it, you should be so distinctly not of it, that all men may see that you worship the Father outside the camp of their common association and their carnal worship.

for meditation: As in everything the Lord Jesus Christ is our perfect example—not of the world, but most certainly in it (John 17:14–18), separate from sinners (Hebrews 7:26) and yet able to be called the friend of sinners (Luke 7:34 and 15:2).

sermon no. 359[1]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H., & Crosby, T. P. (1998). 365 Days with Spurgeon (Volume 1) (p. 48). Leominster, UK: Day One Publications.

The nails in the Crucifixion

The End Time

By Elizabeth Prata

The crucifixion. Excruciating, painful, humiliating. It was the worst form of execution ever invented. The Romans didn’t invent it, the Persians did, but the Romans honed it for the execution of the worst of their society’s criminals.

If you are a Christian, you’ve no doubt been sitting under a pastor at some time, or heard one online, describing in detail the elements of what the Romans/Jews/Us did to the Lord on the cross, and even before. Scourging and beatings were part of the execution, so as to make the time on the cross even more excruciating. As a matter of fact, the word excruciating comes from crucifixion. The Latin word excrucio means From ex- (“out of, from”) +‎ cruciō (“crucify; torture, torment”).

I saw this tent peg and snapped a photo of it. I know that we say “He was nailed to the cross” and He was. But…

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10 FEBRUARY 365 Days with Calvin

Reflecting Him

Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. Psalm 19:2

suggested further reading: Romans 1:18–32

If we were as attentive as we ought to be, even one day and one night would suffice to show us the glory of God. But in addition, we see the sun and the moon perform daily revolutions; the sun by day appearing over our heads, and the moon succeeding in its turn. The sun ascends by degrees while at the same time coming closer to us. Later, it bends its course to depart from us by little and little. Variations in the length of days and nights are regulated by a law so uniform that they recur at the same point of time in every successive year. In this we have a brighter testimony of the glory of God.

With the highest reason, David declares that, although God should not speak a single word to men, yet the orderly and useful succession of days and nights eloquently proclaims the glory of God. So there is left to men no pretext for ignorance; for, since the days and nights perform for us so well and so carefully the office of teachers, we may acquire, if we are duly attentive, a sufficient amount of knowledge under their instruction.

for meditation: How often does the sunrise draw our thoughts toward God? What about the orderly progression of seasons? What do the sun, moon, and stars say about God? How can we remedy our common neglect of Him reflected in nature?[1]


[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 59). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

1,000 scientists go public with doubts on evolution

Charles Darwin

More than 1,000 highly influential scientists from around the world have gone on record with their doubts about Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

They hail from institutions such as Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Columbia, Tulane, Rice and Baylor, the National Academy of Sciences, the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, the British Museum and MIT’s Lincoln Library.

“We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life,” they say in a statement. “Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”

The scientists include the best in molecular biology, biochemistry, biology, entomology, computational quantum chemistry, microbiology, psychiatry and behavioral sciences, astrophysics, marine biology, cellular biology, physics and astronomy, math, physics, geology and anthropology, according to Evolution News, an online publication of the Discovery Institute in Seattle, which promotes the theory of intelligent design.

The Discovery Institute first published its “Scientific Dissent from Darwinism” list in The New York Review of Books in 2001 to challenge “false” claims from PBS’ series “Evolution.”

PBS had claimed “virtually every scientist in the world believes the theory to be true.”

But biologist Douglas Axe, director of the Biologic Institute, argued peer pressure is obscuring the truth.

“Because no scientist can show how Darwin’s mechanism can produce the complexity of life, every scientist should be skeptical,” he said. “The fact that most won’t admit to this exposes the unhealthy effect of peer pressure on scientific discourse.”

Originally, Discovery Institute Chairman Bruce Chapman assembled a list of 100 doctorate-level scientists for the statement.

“Realizing that there were likely more scientists worldwide who shared some skepticism of Darwinian evolution and were willing to go on record, the Institute has maintained the list and added to it continually since its inception,” the Evolution News report said.

“The list of signatories now includes 15 scientists from the National Academies of Science in countries including Russia, Czech Republic, Brazil, and the United States, as well as from the Royal Society. Many of the signers are professors or researchers at major universities and international research institutions such as the University of Cambridge, London’s Natural History Museum, Moscow State University, Hong Kong University, University of Stellenbosch in South Africa, Institut de Paléontologie Humaine in France, Ben-Gurion University in Israel, MIT, the Smithsonian, Yale, and Princeton,” it noted.

Marcos Eberlin, Ph.D., founder of the Thomson Mass Spectromety Laboratory and member of the National Academy of Sciences in Brazil, said in the report, “As a biochemist I became skeptical about Darwinism when I was confronted with the extreme intricacy of the genetic code and its many most intelligent strategies to code, decode, and protect its information.”

Michael Egnor, professor of neurosurgery and pediatrics at State University of New York, Stony Brook, said scientists “know intuitively that Darwinism can accomplish some things, but not others.”

“The question is what is that boundary? Does the information content in living things exceed that boundary? Darwinists have never faced those questions,” he said. “They’ve never asked scientifically, can random mutation and natural selection generate the information content in living things.”

Source: 1,000 scientists go public with doubts on evolution