Daily Archives: February 17, 2019

February 17 The Precious Blood

Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 1:17–21

Key Verse: Romans 3:23

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

In Genesis we read about God performing the first animal sacrifice: “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them” (Gen. 3:21 nasb).

Adam Clarke writes it is not likely that “sacrifice could have ever occurred to the mind of man without an express revelation from God.” The slaying of the animals was His chosen way to atone for Adam and Eve’s transgression. A blood sacrifice was the only payment that would suffice.

Many years later, God gave the Israelites specific commands concerning sacrifice for sins, from how to prepare the animal to what the priests should wear to what to do with the leftover portions from the altar. But the bottom-line requirement was still the same—blood.

When Jesus died on the cross, He literally took our place by becoming the ultimate and final sacrifice for mankind’s sin. Once we accept Him as our Savior, our sins are covered by His precious, atoning blood.

Jesus submitted His life to the power of death for a time so that you can have life for all time. He satisfied once and for all God’s requirement for forgiveness: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23 nasb). The precious blood of Jesus is the only cleansing agent that works.

Lord, let the precious, cleansing blood of Your Son, Jesus, flow over my life today. O cleansing stream, cover me![1]

[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 50). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Meet Generation Z: The Newest Member Of The Workforce — ZeroHedge News

Every generation approaches the workplace differently.

While talk over the last decade has largely focused on understanding the work habits and attitudes of Millennials, Visual Capitalist’s Jeff Desjardins points out that it’s already time for a new generation to enter the fold.

Generation Z, the group born after the Millennials, is entering their early adult years and starting their young careers. What makes them different, and how will they approach things differently than past generations?


Today’s infographic comes to us from ZeroCater, and it will help introduce you to the newest entrant to the modern workforce: Generation Z.

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist

There is no exact consensus on the definition of Generation Z, and demographers can differ on where it starts. Some have Gen Z beginning as early as the mid-1990s, while others see it starting in the mid-2000s.

Regardless, Generation Z is the group that follows the Millennials – and many Gen Zers are wrapping up high school, finishing up their university degrees, or looking to get their first real jobs.


While generational differences cast a wide net and don’t necessarily apply to every individual, here is what demographers say are some key similarities and differences between Gen Z and Millennials.

Generation Z tends to be more pragmatic, approaching both their education and career differently than Millennials. It appears that Gen Z is also approaching money in a unique way compared to past groups.


Generation Z does not remember a time when the internet did not exist – and as such, it’s not surprising to learn that 50% of Gen Z spends 10 hours a day connected online, and 70% watches YouTube for two hours a day or more.

But put aside this ultra-connectivity, and Gen Zers have some unique and possibly unexpected traits. Gen Z prefers face-to-face interactions in the workplace, and also expects to work harder than past groups. Gen Z is also the most diverse generation (49% non-white) and values racial equality as a top issue. Finally, Gen Z is possibly one of the most practical generations, valuing things like saving money and getting stable jobs.

You may already have Gen Zers in your workplace – but if you don’t, you will soon.

Source: Meet Generation Z: The Newest Member Of The Workforce

February 17 A Firm Foundation

Scripture reading: 1 Corinthians 2:1–5

Key verse: 1 Corinthians 2:7

We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory.

The people of Corinth were proud intellectuals. They loved to debate, philosophize, and speculate, depending on their human reasoning to work through problems and understand their world. It wasn’t long before this cultural emphasis carried over into the church.

Paul didn’t waste any time using the human arguments they were used to hearing. Instead, he said, “[I] did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom … For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:1–2).

Jesus is the foundation of our faith. He is the one foundation. Through Jesus alone, we are cleansed from sin, reconciled to and adopted by God. The Word of God is the foundation of our beliefs.

Have you been sidetracked by minor issues? Are your relationship with Jesus and conformity to His Word your top priorities? Faith that relies solely on Christ and His Word makes you stable, secure, discerning.

Make me stable, secure, and discerning, Lord, as I rely solely upon Your Word. I want to know nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.[1]

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 50). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

February 17, 2019 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

3:9 Eli finally realized that God was speaking to Samuel and advised the young man what to do.[1]

3:9 Eli, at length, discerned the source of the voice calling Samuel. Recognizing the call of God is not always easy. Here Eli performed faithfully as a witness, and Samuel was instructed to return and indicate his willingness to hear whatever God would say.[2]

3:9 Eli’s suggested words to Samuel, Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening, provide a model prayer for those who seek to follow God’s will.[3]

[1] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 351). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[2] Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., 1 Sa 3:9). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Beyer, B. E. (2017). 1 Samuel. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (p. 416). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

Series: Christian Growth, Maturity and Discipleship (Lesson 1: Who Is Jesus Christ?)

Objective: To recognize Jesus Christ as the Son of God

  • Read: John 1:1–34
  • Memorize: John 14:6

What if you could predict that a major world event would take place five minutes from now?

What if you could accurately describe what would happen?

Would knowing the future give you unusual power?

Would anyone believe you?

Possibly some would, but how many would not?

Many people do not believe the Bible, yet it miraculously foretells hundreds of events, sometimes in minute detail, and usually hundreds—sometimes thousands—of years ahead. Some prophecies concern cities and countries, such as Tyre, Jericho, Samaria, Jerusalem, Palestine, Moab, and Babylon. Others relate to specific individuals. Many have already been fulfilled, but some are still in the future.

Jesus Christ is the subject of more than 300 Old Testament prophecies. His birth nearly 2,000 years ago, and events of His life, had been foretold by many prophets during a period of 1,500 years. History confirms that even the smallest detail happened just as predicted. It confirms beyond a doubt that Jesus is the true Messiah, the Son of God and Savior of the world.

Bible Study

Jesus’ Claims Concerning Who He is

  1. In your own words, write the claims Christ made concerning Himself in the following verses:
  • Mark 14:61,62 (I am the Christ.)
  • John 6:38; 8:42 (God the Father sent me.)
  • John 5:17,18 (I do whatever God the Father does.)
  • John 10:30 (I and the Father are one.)
  • What did those who heard what Jesus said think He meant?
  • John 14:7 (We know God by knowing Jesus.)
  • John 14:8,9 (Anyone who has seen Jesus has seen the Father.)
  1. What did Jesus claim to do in the following verses?
  • John 5:22 (Judge mankind.)
  • Matthew 9:6 (Forgive sins.)
  • John 6:45–47 (Anyone who comes to Jesus comes to the Father too.)
  1. What did Jesus predict in the following verses?
  • Mark 9:31 (His betrayal and death.)
  • Luke 18:31–33 (He would be handed over, mocked, spit on, flogged, and killed.)
  • John 14:1–3 (He would go to heaven to prepare a place for His followers, then come back again.)
  1. What characteristics of Jesus are attributes of an omnipotent God?
  • John 2:24 (He knows all men.)
  • Matthew 8:26,27 (He controlled nature.)
  • John 11:43–45 (He raised the dead.)

According to the above passages, Jesus claimed to be God. He made the kinds of claims that only a person who presumed he was God would make. Both His friends and His enemies called Him God, and He never attempted to deny it. He even commended His followers for believing He was God.

The Importance of the Truth About His Identity

  1. Suppose Jesus Christ were not God. If He knew He was not God and that none of those claims were true, what could we conclude about Him?
  • (That He was a liar or an imposter.)
  1. Suppose Jesus were sincerely wrong. Suppose He sincerely believed all these fantastic claims even though they were not true. What could we conclude about Him?
  • (He was crazy.)
  1. Why is it important to investigate His claims?
  • (He claimed to be the only way to God. If that is true, His claims are essential for our future.)

What Others Said About Who He Was

  1. His followers:
  • John the Baptist (John 1:29) (The Lamb of God who takes away sin.)
  • Peter (Matthew 16:16) (The Son of the living God.)

How did Jesus respond to what Peter said (verse 17)?

  • (God has revealed this to him.)
  • Martha (John 11:27) (The Son of God.)
  • Thomas (John 20:28) (My Lord and my God.)

How does Christ’s response to what Thomas said (verse 29) apply to you? (We are blessed because we believe even though we haven’t seen Jesus.)

  • Paul (2 Corinthians 5:21; Titus 2:13) (He was made sin for us; He is God and Savior.)
  1. His enemies:
  • The Jews (John 10:33) (He blasphemed because He claimed to be God.)
  • Judas (Matthew 27:3,4) (Innocent.)
  • Pilate (Matthew 27:22, 23) (Hadn’t committed any crime.)
  • The Roman soldier (Matthew 27:54) (He was the Son of God.)
  1. Who do you believe Jesus is and on what do you base that belief? List the facts that particularly help you know that He is God.


  1. Why is it important that you personally recognize who Jesus Christ really is?
  2. Have you invited Jesus Christ into your life? (See “Your Invitation to Life” on page 33.)
  3. What changes do you expect to experience in your life as a result of receiving Christ as your Savior and Lord?
Excerpt From Ten Basic Steps Toward Christian Maturity by Bill Bright

“A Man Without Equal” (Video) – Introducing Jesus to Others and Assisting Believers to Grow and Mature in Their Christian Faith

One of the most effective ways to introduce Jesus to others and to assist believers to grow and mature in their Christian faith is to watch the thirty-minute video, “A Man Without Equal”

Questions for Reflection and Discussion:

1. What was Jesus’ greatest teaching?

Answer: (Mark 16:16; John 3:16-18) That salvation is by faith, not works. According to Romans 3:23, all of us have sinned and do not measure up to God’s standards. Sin is going our way independent of God. Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. He came to reconcile us to God.

Why was this teaching so unique?

Answer: All other major religions teach that we must work our way to God.

What does this teaching mean in your life?

Answer: It means that I can have a relationship with God without first having to make myself acceptable to Him.

2. Give several examples of how Jesus’ influence on people and nations has altered the course of history, your country, your city, your neighborhood.

3. What are people in your circle of influence saying about Jesus? What are some of the doubts you have felt about Jesus either in the past or in the present?

4. What personal feelings about Jesus were confirmed as you watched the video?

5. Jesus claimed to be the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. After viewing the video, who do you believe He is?

Answer: Jesus is the Son of God and my Savior.

Sunday’s Hymn: How Can I Keep From Singing? — Rebecca Writes

My life flows on in endless song;
Above earth’s lamentation
I hear the sweet though far off hymn
That hails a new creation:
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul—
How can I keep from singing?

What though my joys and comforts die?
The Lord my Savior liveth;
What though the darkness gather round!
Songs in the night He giveth:
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that refuge clinging;
Since Christ is Lord of Heav’n and earth,
How can I keep from singing?

I lift mine eyes; the cloud grows thin;
I see the blue above it;
And day by day this pathway smoothes
Since first I learned to love it:
The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,
A fountain ever springing:
All things are mine since I am His—
How can I keep from singing?

—Robert Lowry




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

via Sunday’s: How Can I Keep From Singing? — Rebecca Writes

February 17 Praying for Others

scripture reading: 1 Timothy 2:1–8
key verse: Philemon 4

I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers.

Prayer is a supernatural tool for developing genuine compassion and a burden for the needs of others. We are admonished to pray for all sorts of people—local, state, and national leaders (1 Tim. 2:2); the universal body of Christ, especially those under persecution (Eph. 6:18–20); laborers in God’s harvest fields (Matt. 9:38); our personal enemies (Matt. 5:44); and all people, believers and unbelievers alike (1 Tim. 2:1).

That is quite a list, isn’t it? If we are honest, most of our time spent in prayer is for our personal requirements, sprinkled in with a pinch of worship and a neighborly request or two for others for good measure.

Laboring in prayer for the welfare of those mentioned does not come naturally, does it? That is why when you begin earnestly and systematically to intercede for others, you find a strange release from your selfish bent. Less time is spent on yourself, but you spend significantly more time praying for the needs of others.

In so doing, prayer becomes the spiritual scalpel that lifts off the stifling layers of self–preoccupation. You are freed to heed Jesus’ great command: “Love one another, just as I have loved you” (John 15:12 nasb).

Heavenly Father, expand my focus beyond myself and my needs. Remove the stifling layers of self–preoccupation from my prayer life.[1]

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

Bible study: why would a loving God make a terrible place like Hell?


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

It’s time for us to take a look in the Bible and make some sense of it, again. Today’s question is really “what does God expect us to be doing with our lives?” but I wanted the title of this post to be more eye-catching for non-Christians.

Why do people go to Hell?

Let’s start with finding out what we are supposed to be doing, and then we’ll know why there is a place like Hell for people who don’t do that to be separated from God.

Everyone has a moral obligation to choose how to use their time wisely during their life time. People everywhere, in all times and places, have had the choice of whether to spend more time thinking about the “big questions” or more time having fun and being selfish. Thinking about the big questions logically leads a person to making discoveries about…

View original post 1,345 more words

17 february (1861) 365 Days with Spurgeon

None but Jesus

“He that believeth on him is not condemned.” John 3:18

suggested further reading: Acts 15:5–11

When I stand at the foot of the cross, I do not believe in Christ because I have got good feelings, but I believe in him whether I have good feelings or not.

“Just as I am, without one plea,

But that Thy blood was shed for me,

And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee,

O Lamb of God, I come.”

Mr Roger, Mr Sheppard, Mr Flavell, and several excellent divines, in the Puritan age, and especially Richard Baxter, used to give descriptions of what a man must feel before he may dare to come to Christ. Now, I say in the language of good Mr Fenner, another of those divines, who said he was but a babe in grace when compared with them—“I dare to say it, that all this is not Scriptural. Sinners do feel these things before they come, but they do not come on the ground of having felt it; they come on the ground of being sinners, and on no other ground whatever.” The gate of Mercy is opened, and over the door it is written, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” Between that word “save” and the next word “sinners,” there is no adjective. It does not say, “penitent sinners,” “awakened sinners,” “sensible sinners,” “grieving sinners,” or “alarmed sinners.” No, it only says, “sinners” and I know this, that when I come, I come to Christ today, for I feel it as much a necessity of my life to come to the cross of Christ today as it was to come ten years ago,—when I come to him, I dare not come as a conscious sinner or an awakened sinner, but I have to come still as a sinner with nothing in my hands.

for meditation: We have no more right to complicate the Gospel than we have to water it down. Feelings are good and proper, but Satan can use them not only to give false assurance of salvation, but also to make sinners feel too bad to obey the Gospel and come to Christ.

sermon no. 361[1]

[1] Spurgeon, C. H., & Crosby, T. P. (1998). 365 Days with Spurgeon (Volume 1) (p. 55). Leominster, UK: Day One Publications.

17 FEBRUARY 365 Days with Calvin

Surrounded by Angels

The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. Psalm 34:7

suggested further reading: 2 Kings 6:8–19

Though the faithful are exposed to many dangers, they may be assured that God is the faithful guardian of their life. The power of God alone would be sufficient, but in mercy for our infirmity God employs angels as his ministering spirits to protect us. It helps confirm our faith to know that God has innumerable legions of angels that are ready to serve as often as he is pleased to help us. What is more, the angels that are called principalities and powers are always intent on preserving our life because they know that this duty is entrusted to them.

God indeed designates with propriety the wall of his church and every kind of fortress and place of defense to her. But in accommodation to the measure and extent of our imperfection, he shows us his power to aid us through the work of his angels. Moreover, what the psalmist says about one angel can be applied to all other angels, for they are “ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation” (Heb. 1:14). In other places Scripture teaches us that, whenever it pleases God and whenever he knows it to be for our benefit, he appoints many angels to take care of his people (2 Kings 6:15; Ps. 41:11).

So, however great is the number of our enemies and the dangers by which we are surrounded, the angels of God, who are armed with invincible power, constantly watch over us and array themselves on every side to deliver us from all evil.

for meditation: How often we forget about God’s armies of angels that surround us to protect us! How could this change the way we face each day? Ask God to open your eyes to this blessing, and thank him for it.[1]

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 66). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

EChurch@Wartburg 2/16/19 — The Wartburg Watch

Wade Burleson: A Mouth that talks to people not about people.


Bolton Abbey


Blessed are you, creator of all,
to you be praise and glory forever.
As your dawn renews the face of the earth
bringing light and life to all creation,
may we rejoice in this day you have made;
as we wake refreshed from the depths of sleep,
open our eyes to behold your presence
and strengthen our hands to do your will,
that the world may rejoice and give you praise.
Blessed be God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Blessed be God forever.

The night has passed, and the day lies open before us;
let us pray with one heart and mind.

Silence is kept.

As we rejoice in the gift of this new day,
so may the light of your presence, O God,
set our hearts on fire with love for you;
now and forever.

Prayers of the Church: LCMS

Let us pray for the whole Church of God in Christ Jesus and for all people according to their needs.

Lord God, heavenly Father, You are building a living temple for Your Holy Spirit out of the Church,
whose cornerstone is Jesus Christ, Your Son.
Grant faithful master builders to lay upon this foundation that which will survive the day of His return.
Never let us trust or boast in our own works, but only in the work You do by Your Spirit through Your Son.
Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

When there are divisions in the Church on earth, let what is genuine be recognized,
that we may always walk the path of Your commandments and so please You.
Guide us to a reliance on Your Son, the One who perfectly loved His enemies.
Let us imitate Him and be holy as You are holy.
Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Almighty Father, You ask us to pray for our enemies and do good to those who hate us.
Help us in this task, that all may humbly come before You,
confess their sins and be reconciled to You and to each other.
Let no one be after selfish gain, but rather help us to consider others more significant than ourselves.
Do not let us hate our brother in our heart,
but instead model the humility of Your Son and make peace with our neighbor. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Gracious Lord, You do not willingly afflict or grieve Your children.
Look with compassion on those who are suffering in body or mind
[especially this week we ask for ___________].
Remember them in Your mercy, strengthen them in patience,
comfort them with the memory of Your goodness and let Your face shine on them,
that they may be guarded by Your peace in Jesus Christ.
Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord God, by Your Word give us understanding to keep Your Law and observe it with our whole heart.
By Your Son’s body and blood, confirm to Your servants Your promise,
that You may be feared, our reproach turned away and life granted us in Your righteousness.
Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Into Your hands, dear Father, we commend all for whom we pray,
trusting in Your mercy, through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Luke 18:9 NIV

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable:


Wade Burleson: A Mouth that Talks to People Not About People from Emmanuel Enid on Vimeo.

Methodist prayer

God be in my head, and in my understanding;
God be in my eyes, and in my looking;
God be in my mouth, and in my speaking;
God be in my heart, and in my thinking;
God be at mine end, and at my departing.

via EChurch@Wartburg 2/16/19 —

SSB Sunday Gathering – February 17, 2019 — Spiritual Sounding Board

Spiritual Sounding Board – This is your place to gather and share in an open format.

-by Kathi


Scripture is taken from the Book of Common Prayer, Readings for Epiphany and Ordinary Time Until Lent, Year 1 and may be found here.

Psalm 19

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth.

The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous.

They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression.

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

1 John 2: 3 – 11

We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word,love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.

Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.

John 8: 12 – 19

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.”

Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. 1I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.”

Then they asked him, “Where is your father?”

“You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.”



May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you: wherever he may send you;

may he guide you through the wilderness: protect you from the storm;

may he bring you home rejoicing: at the wonders he has shown you;

may he bring you home rejoicing: once again into our doors.


Feel free to join the discussion.

You can share your church struggles and concerns.

Let’s also use it as a time to encourage one another spiritually.

What have you found spiritually encouraging lately?

Do you have any special Bible verses to share, any YouTube songs that you have found uplifting?

Photo credit: Kathi

via SSB Sunday Gathering – February 17, 2019 — Spiritual Sounding Board

February 17, 2019 Morning Verse Of The Day

† 5:6 — Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.

Jesus told us to watch for Him and keep at His business until He comes, and Paul merely elaborated on the same message. The prospect of Jesus’ return should inspire us to keep working, not to get lazy.[1]

The Distinctiveness of Believers’ Behavior

so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. (5:6–8)

The phrase so then emphasizes the inseparable link between Christians’ nature and their behavior, between their character and their conduct—a truth taught throughout the New Testament (cf. 2:12; 4:1; Eph. 4:1, 17; Phil. 1:27; Col. 1:10). What people are determines how they act; believers are day people and must act accordingly.

On that basis, Paul exhorted the Thessalonians, let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. The apostle did not need to exhort them to be day people, because their nature was permanently fixed by the transforming, regenerating power of God in salvation. But because that new nature is incarcerated in fallen, sinful human flesh (cf. Rom. 7:14–25), it is possible for day people to do deeds of the darkness. Therefore, Paul exhorted the Thessalonians to live consistently with their new natures. The present tense verbs indicate that the Thessalonians were to be continuously awake, alert, and sober. Rather than threaten them with chastening, the apostle appealed to their sense of spiritual dignity. As children of the day and the light, it was unthinkable for them to participate in the deeds of darkness (cf. Eph. 4:1; 5:11).

The term sleep (katheudō; a different word than the one used to refer metaphorically to “death” in 4:13–15) adds yet another dimension to Paul’s portrayal of the night people (the others to whom he refers). As children of the night and the darkness, it is not surprising to find them asleep in spiritual indifference, living as if there will be no judgment. Like the man in the Lord’s parable (Matt. 24:43), who was unaware that he was about to be robbed, they are foolish, unwitting, and unaware of the disaster that threatens to overtake them. That they sleep further compounds their dilemma; not only is the night they exist in pitch black, but they also are in a coma. In verse 7 the apostle will complete his description of their sorry plight by noting that they are asleep in the darkness in a drunken stupor. Sadly, though they are asleep to spiritual reality, night people are wide awake to the lusts of the flesh.

As day people, the Thessalonians had been delivered out of the dark night of sin, ignorance, rebellion, and unbelief. Therefore, it was ridiculous for them to walk in the darkness. There is no place for night life among day people—a truth Paul reinforced in another exhortation:

The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. (Rom. 13:12–14)

The apostle reminded Titus that “the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:11–12). Redeeming grace is also sanctifying grace.

Living consistent with their nature as day people provides believers with comfort, because living a righteous, godly life brings assurance of salvation (cf. 2 Peter 1:5–10). When day people walk in the darkness, however, they forfeit that assurance and become fearful of God’s judgment. They become “blind or short-sighted, having forgotten [their] purification from [their] former sins” (2 Peter 1:9). Though it is not possible for day people to be caught in the Day of the Lord, it is possible for sinning ones to lose assurance and fear they might be.

Sleep is the natural condition of night people, but day people are to be alert. Grēgoreō (alert), the source of the name “Gregory,” means to be awake or watchful. Unlike the slumbering, witless night people, day people are awake and able to rightly assess what is happening in the spiritual dimension. They heed Peter’s injunction, “Prepare your minds for action” (1 Peter 1:13) and, knowing the Day of the Lord is coming (2 Peter 3:10), they are “diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless” (2 Peter 3:14).

In contrast to the drunken stupor that envelops night people, day people are also sober. To be sober means to be free from the influence of intoxicants. A sober person exhibits self-control, lives a serious, balanced, calm, steady life, and maintains proper priorities. To be sober is to be alert; the two terms are essentially synonyms. Just as sleep and drunkenness define night people’s insensitivity to spiritual reality, so alertness and soberness describe day people’s sensitivity to it. William Hendriksen notes:

The sober person lives deeply. His pleasures are not primarily those of the senses, like the pleasures of the drunkard for instance, but those of the soul. He is by no means a Stoic. On the contrary, with a full measure of joyful anticipation he looks forward to the return of the Lord (1 Peter 1:13). But he does not run away from his task! Note how both here and also in 1 Peter 5:8 the two verbs to be watchful and to be sober are used as synonyms.

The apostle’s exhortation, then, amounts to this: “Let us not be lax and unprepared, but let us be prepared, being spiritually alert, firm in the faith, courageous, strong, calmly but with glad anticipation looking forward to the future day. Let us, moreover, do all this because we belong to the day and not to the night.” (New Testament Commentary: Exposition of Thessalonians, Timothy, and Titus [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981], 125–26; emphasis in original)

The self-evident observation that those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night, further strengthens Paul’s point. He also may have been alluding to a parable told by Jesus:

But if that slave says in his heart, “My master will be a long time in coming,” and begins to beat the slaves, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and assign him a place with the unbelievers. (Luke 12:45–46)

Both sleeping and getting drunk are things generally done at night. Sleeping refers metaphorically to passive indifference; getting drunk to active sin.

Repeating what he said in verse 6 for emphasis, Paul wrote, But—in sharp contrast to the sleeping, drunken night people—since we are of the day, let us be sober. The apostle’s repetition suggests that their fear of being in the Day of the Lord was a major concern for the Thessalonians. In fact, they were so concerned that Paul had to address the issue again in his second inspired letter to them (2 Thess. 2:1ff.). Once again, he stressed that as day people, the Thessalonians would have no part in the Day of the Lord. Both their nature and their behavior set them apart from the night people on whom the Day of the Lord will descend.

The concepts of alertness and sobriety suggested to Paul the image of a soldier on duty. He therefore viewed day people as having put on the “armor of light” (Rom. 13:12; cf. Isa. 59:17; Eph. 6:13–17). A soldier’s breastplate protected his vital organs, the area where he was most vulnerable. It was the ancient equivalent of a bulletproof vest. The obvious function of a soldier’s helmet (like a modern football or motorcycle helmet) was to protect his head from blows that otherwise might crush his skull. The breastplate of faith and love and the helmet of the hope of salvation equip the Christian soldier to “stand firm against the schemes of the devil.… against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:11–12).

Faith, love, and hope form the supreme triad of Christian virtues (cf. 1:3; 1 Cor. 13:13). They also provide an excellent defense against temptation. Faith is trust in God’s power, promises, and plan. It is the unwavering belief that God is completely trustworthy in all that He says and does.

First, believers can trust God’s Person. He will never deviate from His nature as revealed in Scripture, but will always act consistently with His attributes. The writer of Hebrews declared of God the Son, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8).

Second, believers can trust God’s power. God rhetorically asked Abraham, “Is anything too difficult for the Lord?” (Gen. 18:14; cf. Jer. 32:17, 27).

Third, believers can trust God’s promises. “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent; has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Num. 23:19).

Fourth, believers can trust God’s sovereign plan, which can neither be halted nor hindered. Through Isaiah the prophet, God declared, “I act and who can reverse it?” (Isa. 43:13).

Faith provides a defense against temptation, because all sin results from a lack of trust in God. For example, worry is the failure to believe that God will act in love on behalf of His people; lying substitutes man’s selfish plans for God’s sovereign purposes; adultery denies God’s wisdom in instituting the monogamous marriage bond. Thus, faith is an impenetrable breastplate, providing sure protection against temptation. But to put it on, believers must study and meditate on the rich depths of God’s nature as revealed in Scripture, and then translate that knowledge into action in their lives.

If faith forms the hard, protective outer surface of a Christian’s breastplate, then love is its soft inner lining. Love toward God involves delight in and devotion to God as the supreme object of affection. It, too, provides a powerful deterrent to sin, since all sin involves a failure to love God. The greatest command, the injunction that sums up the whole law of God, is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37). “Love is the fulfillment of the law” (Rom. 13:10), because those who genuinely love God will not do what grieves and offends Him. So love and faith form an impregnable barrier against temptation; it is only when one or both are lacking that Christians fall victim to sin. Perfect trust in and love for God leads to perfect obedience.

The final piece of armor is the helmet of the hope of salvation. The salvation in view here is not the past aspect of salvation (justification), or its present aspect (sanctification), but rather its future aspect (glorification). Paul described that future aspect of salvation in Romans 13:11 when he wrote, “Now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed.” It is then that believers will receive the eagerly anticipated redemption of their bodies (Rom. 8:23), when the Lord Jesus Christ “will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory” (Phil. 3:21). Focusing on the eternal glory that awaits them (2 Tim. 2:10; 1 Peter 5:10) protects believers against temptation. “Beloved, now we are children of God,” wrote John, “and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:2–3).

When faith is weak, love grows cold. When love grows cold, hope is lost. When hope in God’s promise of future glory is weak, believers are vulnerable to temptation and sin. Only those who keep the breastplate of faith and love, and the helmet of the hope of salvation firmly in place can resist effectively the onslaught of the forces of darkness.[2]

Victors Valiant

1 Thessalonians 5:4–8

For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. (1 Thess. 5:5–6)

In 1969, Bo Schembechler was appointed head football coach at the University of Michigan. One of college football’s most storied programs, the Michigan Wolverines had languished in mediocrity for over a decade. Schembechler arrived with an intensity that shocked his players, and almost half of them quit during his demanding first training camp. Schembechler’s philosophy was not based merely on individual expectations, however, but even more on a commitment to teamwork. He expressed his winning philosophy in a memorable speech on “The Team”:

We want the Big Ten championship and we’re gonna win it as a team … The Team. The Team, the Team.… We’re gonna play together as a team. We’re gonna believe in each other, we’re not gonna criticize each other, we’re not gonna talk about each other, we’re gonna encourage each other. And when we play as a team, when the old season is over, you and I know, it’s gonna be Michigan again.

Not only was Schembechler a legendary football coach, but the apostle Paul would have agreed with his priority on teamwork. In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul responded to their challenges with a similar emphasis. At the end of chapter 4, Paul gave clear teaching about Christ’s second coming and urged, “Therefore encourage one another with these words” (1 Thess. 4:18). In chapter 5, Paul addressed concerns about the timing of Christ’s return, concluding with a similar charge: “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (5:11).

According to the apostle, the Christian strategy for enduring in faith through trials is to strengthen one another with biblical truth. This is Christian teamwork in the church and home. How is the Christian family to endure against cultural attacks? By the husband’s encouraging his wife and the parents’ encouraging their children with biblical truths. How are Christians to minister to those faltering or discouraged? With the encouragement of biblical truth. We are to take a team approach in the Christian life, not tearing each other down but building each other up with the truths of God’s Word.

Children of Light

The truth that Paul wants to impress on the minds of his Thessalonian readers concerns their relationship with Christ. The way to be prepared for Jesus’ coming, he says, is to have our heads clear about what it means to be joined to Christ in salvation. Paul writes: “But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness” (1 Thess. 5:4–5).

To describe the Christian’s situation, Paul employs the familiar biblical image of light. Believing in Jesus, the Christian no longer lives in the darkness but belongs to the realm of the light of Christ. This image has a number of facets, each of which is relevant to the believer. First, light reveals, whereas darkness leaves us in ignorance. Christians, therefore, are those who have seen the light of the truth of Christ and have come to know him as God’s Son and as Savior (see Isa. 9:2). Christians no longer live in ignorance of the great truths about God and man, sin and salvation, and Christ’s first and second comings. Second, light warms, which refers to the spiritual transformation of the heart that has been touched by the grace of Jesus. In darkness, our hearts were cold toward God. But now that Christ’s light has shone on us, our affections are warmed toward the things of God (John 12:46). Third, light conveys and stimulates life. We were once dead to God when we lived in darkness, but now we are alive and responsive to his Word. Just as sunlight causes plants to reach up toward the sky, God’s light draws us upward to heaven. Fourth, light guides us in the way we should go. The darkness of unbelief is the realm of stumbling, but Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Similarly, Jesus asserted, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness” (John 8:12).

Paul’s point is that Christians should not be unprepared for Christ’s coming, since we now belong to the light. By calling us “children of light,” he means that the blessings of God’s light have come to distinguish us and characterize our lives. We belong to and are being transformed by the light of Christ. This truth applies not only to some believers but by definition to all who come to Christ in faith. Paul proclaims that “you are all children of light, children of the day” (1 Thess. 5:5). Christians have gained knowledge of truth, have been warmed to God’s ways, have received spiritual life, and are guided by the light of God’s Word. John described Jesus as “the light of men” (John 1:4). Therefore, the day of the Lord should never come upon us as a “surprise,” like “a thief” (1 Thess. 5:4), since we have been looking forward to and preparing for that bright day.

Verses 4 and 5 present one of the Bible’s main principles for Christian living and sanctification, namely, that Christian living arises out of Christian thinking. We observed earlier that Christians are to persevere in faith by encouraging one another in biblical truth. Paul now explains how this works: God’s Word is taught to us, we begin thinking in light of God’s Word, and by God’s grace this new thinking yields a new and godly lifestyle. Jesus mandated this process of transformation by illumination when he prayed to the Father, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).

This knowledge-based approach to sanctification mirrors Paul’s teaching in the book of Romans. Paul had taught the doctrine of justification through faith in Christ alone, apart from works. This raised a question whether Christians may continue to live sinfully, since we are saved by God’s grace as a free gift. Paul answered that no Christian who really thinks about salvation can draw such a conclusion: “How can we who died to sin still live in it?” he asked (Rom. 6:2). Paul argued that as Christians, we have died to sin in Christ and have been raised in Christ to righteousness. This being the case, Paul wrote, “reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:11 nkjv). When Paul said “reckon yourselves,” he employed an accounting term (logizomai), saying that just as we record financial transactions in our bank accounts, we must also take spiritual stock of our lives and take note of the radical change that has come through faith in Christ. James Montgomery Boice writes: “A holy life comes from knowing … that you can’t go back, that you have died to sin and been made alive to God.” The result of such biblical thinking will be a transformed lifestyle befitting our relationship with the Lord: “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions …, but present … your members to God as instruments for righteousness” (Rom. 6:12–13).

Using the imagery of light and darkness, Paul pressed this same case upon the Thessalonians: “For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness” (1 Thess. 5:5). Reckoning what we have been given and have been made in Christ, we should live accordingly as we prepare for his return.

Staying Awake

Having expressed his principle of reckoning who and what we are in Christ—children of light—Paul makes the application in terms of how we should therefore live in anticipation of Christ’s return. He focuses on three aspects of Christian readiness that will enable us to persevere in faith until the coming of Jesus to save us.

Paul’s first application is that since believers no longer belong to the darkness but are children of light, we should stay awake and not slumber: “So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake” (1 Thess. 5:6). Being children of the light, Christians should not engage in the nighttime activities of darkness. Those in the dark are asleep to God, unaware of what is happening in the world, and unresponsive to the call of the gospel. The children of light, in contrast, are to be awake to God’s plan and alive to God’s calling.

The Bible provides a number of illustrations of believers who have fallen asleep. We think of the three disciples who were summoned to watch and pray with Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus returned and found them sleeping. “Could you not watch with me one hour?” he asked (Matt. 26:40). Likewise, Christians are to be watchful during the significant events of our times. Are we to be obliviously prayerless as the great work of the gospel goes forth today? Should we not be watching and praying for missionaries, church-planters, parents raising Christian children, evangelists reaching their neighbors, and Christian leaders trying to stand for truth in our society? Should we not similarly be praying to God about the decline of our culture and the advance of sin tendencies that the Bible abhors? When it comes to watchfulness and prayer, the evidence today suggests that many Christians are asleep, hardly responsive to the spiritual challenges of our time. Jesus warned, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation” (v. 41).

A second biblical example of a sleeping believer was Samson, who lost his strength as his hair was cut in the night. Samson had once been a mighty foe of the Philistine enemy. But he took his rest and made his peace with the world around him, settling into the arms of a Philistine named Delilah, who betrayed him. Samson’s slumber cannot be blamed on Delilah, however: Samson put himself to sleep spiritually by violating his covenant with the Lord. Once asleep, he awoke to his danger too late, realizing only then what he had lost through his alliance with the world. How many Christians today are asleep to the influences of popular culture, so that like Samson we become prisoners of worldly thinking and acting and so lose our usefulness to the cause of Christ?

A third example was given by Jesus in his parable of the tares and the wheat. A man sowed good seed in his field, “but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away” (Matt. 13:24–25). Likewise, in the tolerant spirit that grips the church today, there is little doctrinal vigilance over our churches and ministries. Christians are asleep to the threat of an active enemy who seeks to undermine and infiltrate the works of Christ’s kingdom so that we squander the gains given to us by God and lack the spiritual power to prevail in dangerous times. Charles Spurgeon lamented, “Those who ought to have been watchmen, and to have guarded the field, slept, and so the enemy had ample time to enter and scatter tares among the wheat.”

When Paul says that Christians should not sleep “as others do,” he notes that sleeping is the normal state of the unbelieving world, insensitive to the warnings of God’s wrath and the offer of God’s salvation in the gospel. John Lillie writes: “However wide awake they fancy themselves to be, however knowing and sagacious, they are really, as to all highest things—things of the soul, of eternity, of God—in a state of slumber; of habitual, deep, lethargic sleep.… They are alike insensible to the obligation of present duty, and secure as to the approach of danger.” Are you slumbering in the blissful folly of unbelief? If you are, the Bible offers you examples not merely of temporal loss but of eternal doom in God’s coming judgment. Sisera, the enemy of God’s people, was sleeping in his tent when Jael drove the spike through his skull (Judg. 4:21). Yet those who cry out to God for mercy will be saved. The prophet Jonah slept in the hold of the ship while the tempest raged above. For his hardness of heart toward God, Jonah was thrown overboard to die beneath the waves. God had mercy on the prophet by sending the great fish to bring him to salvation. If you are now asleep to your need for the gospel, God’s Word and the prayers of Christ’s people provide the only hope that you will be saved by awakening to faith.

Perhaps the most relevant biblical illustration of our need to stay awake is Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins waiting for the coming bridegroom. Five virgins were wise and “took flasks of oil with their lamps,” whereas the five foolish virgins “took no oil with them” (Matt. 25:2–3). The bridegroom was delayed, and when he arrived, only the five wise virgins had oil left to light their lamps. Furthermore, only “those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut” (v. 10). In the Bible, oil often stands for the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Thus, the emphasis in the parable is on the Spirit’s work in enabling us to believe the gospel and respond with a life of faith. If we neglect our faith and fall into unbelief, then like the foolish virgins we may be caught unawares by Christ’s coming. “Watch therefore,” Jesus said, “for you know neither the day nor the hour” (v. 13).

Staying Sober

In addition to staying awake, Christians maintain their readiness for Christ’s return by staying sober: “For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober” (1 Thess. 5:7–8). This application is a companion to the previous one: since Christians belong to the day, they should not be characterized by practices that take place during the night. Among these nighttime practices is a lifestyle that is inebriated with earthly pleasures and sin.

Underlining Paul’s teaching here is the realization that “there are certain kinds of conduct which are appropriate enough in the sons of night, but quite unbefitting to Christians.” Most obvious, here, is the fact that being drunk from alcohol or drugs, along with related forms of sensual revelry, is inexcusable in a follower of Jesus. When I was a college professor, a Christian student once gave in to his roommate and went out drinking and carousing. In the morning, he was chagrined to discover that even his unbelieving friends expressed their disgust: after all, he was supposed to be a Christian! In Ephesians 2:2–3, Paul described spiritually dead unbelievers as “following the course of this world, … carrying out the desires of the body and the mind,” and thus identifying themselves as “children of wrath.” Obviously, the children of light, who are “destined … to obtain salvation” (1 Thess. 5:9), should not embrace a similarly drunken pattern of life.

We should understand Paul’s call to sober living to involve more than drunkenness on alcohol or drugs. Today, this calling extends to the whole realm of entertainments of which Christians may imbibe, including movies and music that promote a sensual, self-absorbed lifestyle and glorify values that are contrary to God’s Word. In the workplace, Christians can become drunk with academic prestige, political power, or financial success. G. K. Beale explains: “To be drunk spiritually is to imbibe too much of the world’s way of looking at things and not enough of the way God views reality. To be intoxicated with the world’s wine is to be numbed to feeling any fear in the present of a coming judgment.”

Paul’s emphasis on sober living, repeated twice in these verses, could indicate that this was a problem among the Thessalonian new believers. Given our similarly intoxicated culture today, many young believers and new converts will likewise need to seek God’s power to start living a sober life that no longer indulges in the kinds of worldly recreations that deaden us to the things of God.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul spoke similarly about sobriety: “The night is far gone; the day is at hand.… Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy” (Rom. 13:12–13). Here, Paul defines sobriety in terms of rejecting drunkenness, pursuing sexual purity and modesty, and living peaceably with others. He summed up his appeal in Romans 13:14 by exhorting his readers to “make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” How essential it is for all Christians to realize as soon as possible our call to separation from the drunken ways of the world. Andrew Young writes: “Christians are not to be like others. As unpopular as it may be to stand apart from the crowd, we need to do so.… Ours is not to be a lifestyle of slumber and drunkenness, but by contrast, we are to be self-controlled and alert.”

Ready and Armed

Paul’s first two applications were negative in principle: “Let us not sleep … [or] get drunk” (1 Thess. 5:6–7). The third application is active and positive, calling for Christians to arm themselves with biblical virtues: “having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation” (5:8).

Paul presents here for the first time in his writings an analogy that he will continue to develop in his later epistles, especially in Ephesians 6. He imagines Christians as preparing themselves for life in the same way that a soldier puts on his armor before heading into battle. John Calvin notes that Paul therefore understands that “the life of Christians is like a perpetual warfare.… He would have us, therefore, be diligently prepared and on the alert for resistance.” It is not enough for Christians merely to say No to sin and worldliness; we must also actively cultivate faith, love, and hope in order to be guarded from threats that would endanger our salvation.

The three virtues noted by Paul have recurred throughout this letter as the chief Christian resources: faith, love, and hope. The apostle thanked God in 1 Thessalonians 1:3 for the believers’ “work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” In 3:6, Paul rejoiced at Timothy’s “good news of your faith and love.” Now, he urges the Thessalonians to keep themselves ready for the coming of Christ by putting on these same virtues to defend themselves for salvation.

The two pieces of armor that Paul cites here are those that protect the vital areas of the heart and the head. The soldier’s chest was protected in battle by a breastplate, and Paul urges Christians to “put on the breastplate of faith and love” (1 Thess. 5:8). In Ephesians 6:14, Paul speaks of putting on “the breastplate of righteousness.” These descriptions go together—“faith and love” on the one hand and “righteousness” on the other—because faith and love are the means by which righteousness is received and then practiced. We are forgiven our sins and justified before God through faith in Jesus Christ (Gal. 2:16). Having believed, we then pursue a practical righteousness by leading a life of love—love for God and love for one another as outlined in God’s holy law.

The breastplate was the primary and most important piece in any panoply of armor, and likewise faith and love are at the center of Christian life and readiness. As Paul wrote to the Galatians, what really matters is “faith working through love” (Gal. 5:6). Christians should therefore put on faith by devoting ourselves to God’s Word and prayer, and then train ourselves to exercise our faith in loving obedience to God and loving service to others. With this armor, Christians fight to win in the warfare of this darkened age.

Added to the breastplate that guards the vital organs is the helmet that protects the head: “and for a helmet the hope of salvation” (1 Thess. 5:8). According to Paul, the Christian who possesses a biblical hope for salvation is able to think clearly and resist blows that would daze him or her into unbelief or folly. We ground our hope in God’s sovereignty over history—a history that is defined by Christ’s saving death for our sins and that will conclude in Christ’s saving return. When life comes crashing down on a believer’s head, the Christian’s helmet—his or her hope of salvation—imparts “a calm assurance in the midst of all trials and perils.” We are confident that whatever may happen, Christ is certain to save us in the end, and this hope enables us to think clearly amid the tumults of this world.

As an illustration of this helmet of salvation, John Lillie cites the example of the first Christian martyr, Stephen, who rejoiced to see Christ standing to receive him even “as he sank beneath the blows of his murderers,” praying aloud for Christ to forgive his persecutors. “I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God,” Stephen cried with joy (Acts 7:56). Paul himself would face martyrdom with a bold calmness, confident of his salvation in the face of death:

I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 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, 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. 4:6–8)

The helmet of salvation will deliver us not only from worldly threats but also from a misguided dread of Christ’s second coming, as many Christians have sadly been led to do. For Paul and the early believers, Christ’s return was the hope for which they fervently longed. We are to live in readiness for that day, not suspending our lives and gazing at the sky in trepidation, but awake, sober, and armed with faith, love, and Christian hope. G. K. Beale writes: “The way to be ready for the last advent is to live a life of trust in God and his promises.” If we trust in the work that Christ has done for our salvation, dying on the cross for our sins; if we cultivate a love for God and for one another according to God’s Word; and if we look in hope for Christ’s coming to bring us with him into glory, we will be guarded for salvation and crowned with the grace to stand without fear before a dark and wicked world that can be awakened to the gospel only by the witness that we are emboldened to give.

Hail to the Victors!

Paul makes it clear that Christians should expect struggle and difficulty as we await the return of our Lord. Some may wonder whether it is worth all the effort of staying awake, keeping sober, and arming ourselves with faith, love, and hope. Can we expect to prevail? Jesus answers, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

I mentioned how Bo Schembechler challenged Michigan football players with high expectations and rigorous demands, with nearly half his players quitting the team. During that first training camp, Bo strolled into the locker room one day and nailed a sign to the wall that remains there still. It reads, “Those Who Stay Will Be Champions!” That promise was kept throughout Schembechler’s tenure as Michigan football coach. Not one class of his recruits who stayed for four years failed to be conference champions at least once, and their collective efforts established a tradition of victory. If Bo Schembechler was able to keep his promise to make his teams champions, how much more able is Jesus Christ to promise eternal glory and salvation to all who persevere through faith, love, and hope in him. Paul urges believers to remind each other of such truths: “Therefore encourage one another with these words” (1 Thess. 4:18).

The Michigan fight song exclaims, “Hail to the Victors Valiant! Hail to the conquering heroes!” How much more honor will accrue to all who answer the call of Christ for salvation, who are made righteous with God through faith in him, and who persevere in love and hope to the end! William Walsham How wrote of the great day to come when the valiant children of light will be hailed as victors:

But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;

The saints triumphant rise in bright array;

The King of glory passes on his way.

Alleluia! Alleluia!

That is the glorious hope of all who trust in Christ. Our calling now is worthy of that glorious end:

O may thy soldiers faithful, true, and bold

Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,

And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.

Alleluia! Alleluia![3]

6. Therefore let us not sleep. He adds other metaphors closely allied to the preceding one. For as he lately shewed that it were by no means seemly that they should be blind in the midst of light, so he now admonishes that it were dishonourable and disgraceful to sleep or be drunk in the middle of the day. Now, as he gives the name of day to the doctrine of the gospel, by which the Christ, the Sun of righteousness (Mal. 4:2) is manifested to us, so when he speaks of sleep and drunkenness, he does not mean natural sleep, or drunkenness from wine, but stupor of mind, when, forgetting God and ourselves, we regardlessly indulge our vices. Let us not sleep, says he; that is, let us not, sunk in indolence, become senseless in the world. As others, that is, unbelievers, from whom ignorance of God, like a dark night, takes away understanding and reason. But let us watch, that is, let us look to the Lord with an attentive mind. And be sober, that is, casting away the cares of the world, which weigh us down by their pressure, and throwing off base lusts, mount to heaven with freedom and alacrity. For this is spiritual sobriety, when we use this world so sparingly and temperately that we are not entangled with its allurements.

Having put on the breastplate. He adds this, that he may the more effectually shake us out of our stupidity, for he calls us as it were to arms, that he may shew that it is not a time to sleep. It is true that he does not make use of the term war; but when he arms us with a breastplate and a helmet, he admonishes us that we must maintain a warfare. Whoever, therefore, is afraid of being surprised by the enemy, must keep awake, that he may be constantly on watch. As, therefore, he has exhorted to vigilance, on the ground that the doctrine of the gospel is like the light of day, so he now stirs us up by another argument—that we must wage war with our enemy. From this it follows, that idleness is too hazardous a thing. For we see that soldiers, though in other situations they may be intemperate, do nevertheless, when the enemy is near, from fear of destruction, refrain from gluttony and all bodily delights, and are diligently on watch so as to be upon their guard. As, therefore, Satan is on the alert against us, and tries a thousand schemes, we ought at least to be not less diligent and watchful.2

It is, however, in vain, that some seek a more refined exposition of the names of the kinds of armour, for Paul speaks here in a different way from what he does in Eph. 6:14, for there he makes righteousness the breastplate. This, therefore, will suffice for understanding his meaning, that he designs to teach, that the life of Christians is like a perpetual warfare, inasmuch as Satan does not cease to trouble and molest them. He would have us, therefore, be diligently prepared and on the alert for resistance: farther, he admonishes us that we have need of arms, because unless we be well armed we cannot withstand so powerful an enemy. He does not, however, enumerate all the parts of armour, (πανοπλίαν,) but simply makes mention of two, the breastplate and the helmet. In the mean time, he omits nothing of what belongs to spiritual armour, for the man that is provided with faith, love, and hope, will be found in no department unarmed.[4]

6 This verse provides a solid basis (“so then,” ara oun) for the ethical behavior Paul now urges on his readers—a lifestyle free from moral laxity. Mē katheudōmen (lit., “let us not sleep,” GK 2761) represents the ethical insensitivity that besets people in the other realm (“like others”; cf. 4:13). Though it is impossible for the day of the Lord to catch Christians unprepared, it is possible for them to adopt the same lifestyle as those who will be caught unawares. Paul urges his readers not to let this happen.

Conduct in keeping with “the light” and “the day” also includes alertness. Inattention to spiritual priorities is utterly inappropriate for those who will not be subject to the coming day of wrath. Though the Thessalonians were, if anything, overly watchful to the point of neglecting other Christian responsibilities (4:11–12; 2 Th 3:6–15), they were not to cease watching altogether.

Apparently self-control was a great need. Nēphō (“to be self-controlled, be sober,” GK 3768) is found with grēgoreō (“to be alert, watch,” GK 1213) in the noneschatological context of 1 Peter 5:8. Its usage in 1 Peter 1:13 and 4:7 is eschatological. Nēphō denotes sobriety. To counteract what might become a state of wild alarm or panic, Paul urges self-control as a balance for vagaries arising from distorted views of the parousia. Undue eschatological excitement was a serious malady; spiritual sobriety was the cure.

7 To explain his exhortation, Paul appeals to everyday experience. Sleep and drunkenness are most often associated with the night. Thus, he illustrates his figurative use of “sleep” in v. 6 by referring to the normal habit of sleep and uses “drunkenness” to point up his reference to the need for sobriety.

8 Paul resumes his exhortation but drops for the moment the need for alertness, speaking only of sobriety as a countermeasure against spiritual drunkenness. The idea of belonging to the realm of spiritual daylight goes back to vv. 4–5 and becomes the motivation for self-controlled action. So Paul goes on to describe “self-control” in figurative language drawn from Isaiah 59:17 (cf. Eph 6:14–17). Though the breastplate and helmet were Roman military apparel, lexical similarity to the Isaiah passage points to the OT as the probable source for his reference to them here.

The relation of this soldierly figure of speech to sobriety has been a puzzle. Frame, 187, suggests soberness as a prerequisite to effective vigilance by a sentry on duty. Yet vigilance is covered in the earlier word about alertness. Obviously, intoxication prevents effective duty as a sentry, and this thought may supply the answer. To be armed against wild excitement with its disregard for normal Christian responsibilities requires soberness. Paul had earlier spoken of the need for calmness (4:11–12). The Thessalonians had already made significant progress in faith and love (1:3; 3:6), but additional improvement was still needed (3:10; 4:1, 10). So the “breastplate” of faith and love could furnish protection from the problems mentioned in 5:14.

To these Paul adds the “hope of salvation” (cf. 1:10) as the indispensable “helmet.” The anticipated salvation in 5:8–9 includes deliverance from eschatological wrath and being raised to life with Christ (cf. Bruce, 112–13). These three (faith, love, and hope) will strengthen the readers for their present trials (1:3) and doubts (5:14). The Thessalonians can confidently anticipate a future deliverance not to be enjoyed by those in darkness (v. 3) but assured for those in the realm of light (vv. 4–5). Self-control consists of balancing future expectations with present obligations. The well-equipped soldier wears both a breastplate and a helmet.[5]

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (1 Th 5:6). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2002). 1 & 2 Thessalonians (pp. 158–162). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Phillips, R. D. (2015). 1 & 2 Thessalonians. (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.) (pp. 204–214). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.

[4] Calvin, J., & Pringle, J. (2010). Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians (pp. 288–289). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[5] Thomas, R. L. (2006). 1 Thessalonians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 424–425). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: A Good High Priest — The Thirsty Theologian

A Good High Priest Is Come

imageA good High Priest is come,
supplying Aaron’s place,
and taking up his room,
dispensing life and grace;
the law by Aaron’s priesthood came,
but grace and truth by Jesus’ name.

He once temptations knew
of eve’y sort and kind,
that He might succor show
to ev’ry tempted mind;
in ev’ry point the Lamb was tried
like us, and then for us He died.

He died, but lives again,
and by the throne He stands,
there shows how He was slain,
op’ning His piercèd hands;
our Priest abides and pleads the cause
of us who have transgressed His laws.

I other priests disclaim,
and laws and off’rings too;
none but the bleeding Lamb
the mighty work can do;
He shall have all the praise: for He
has loved, and died, and lives for me.

Hymns to the Living God (Religious Affections Ministries, 2017).

Right tune, different hymn.

The current hymnal for this series is Hymns to the Living God, published by Religious Affections Ministries. This is such a good hymnal that I’m pretty sure I could happily post every hymn it contains, but I’ll be limiting selections to hymns I have never posted here before, especially those unfamiliar to me (of which there are many). For more information and to purchase this hymnal, visit Religious Affections Ministries.

via In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: A Good High Priest — The Thirsty Theologian

Mea Culpa: Analysis of Albert Mohler and Danny Akin’s Apologies for Supporting CJ Mahaney Over SGM Victims — The Wartburg Watch

Sincere apology or “my back is against a wall” deflection?

Image by Ryan Ashton

A stiff apology is a second insult… The injured party does not want to be compensated because he has been wronged; he wants to be healed because he has been hurt. Gilbert K. Chesterton

It official. This has been the busiest week for TWW in its almost 10 year history. I’m sorry for being a bit late in approving comments. Many abuse advocates, myself included, have been slammed with requests from the media for both interviews and background.

Yesterday morning I received a request for the audio of Al Mohler making a sick joke at the expense of SGM victims. Thankfully, I had put this into a post so I found it quickly.  Al Mohler Extolls CJ Mahaney at T4G While Joking at the Expense of SGM Victims. Does Money Play a Role in the Relationship?

What was happening at the time of this despicable joke? SGM victims, families and supporters were protesting outside of the T4G 2016. One woman, walking into the conference, yelled “Liars” to the protestors. CJ Mahaney, a best friend of Al Mohler, Mark Dever and Ligon Duncan (They are the 4 in T4G), was introduced on the stage by Al Mohler prior to Mahaney’s speech.

One more point is important. You will hear a number of people in the audience laughing at this joke by Mohler. All of those people are responsible for causing pain to the SGM victims. They should be ashamed of themselves but a quick “I’m sorry” to God at the end of the day means “never having to say you’re sorry to the victims, right?”

According to Al Mohler, his wife Mary refers to the 4 in T4G as Al’s little playgroup.  It seems like the 4 boys are having lots of chuckles. In the audio below, you will hear Al joking about looking up CJ Mahaney on Google. Listen carefully and you will hear the laughs. Start listening at the 2:00 minute mark to hear the *joke*. However, it is worth listening to the section before this.

Much to my surprise, I was notified that an apology by Al Mohler was just minutes away. It appears this joke played a part in his apology. That is why documentation is necessary. You never know when it becomes critical. I never thought I would hear something like this. Don’t be alarmed. I’ve not gotten sucked into believing that this apology comes from pure motives. I believe that Mohler, along with other SBC leaders, have found themselves with their backs against a wall. The SBC is getting linked with the RCC and it isn’t pretty.

Once again, Robert Downen nails it in Leading Southern Baptist apologizes for supporting leader, church at center of sex abuse scandal. Let’s look at a few things.

The infamous statement vouching for CJ Mahaney.

Mohler regrets the infamous statement that he wrote with Mahaney’s other BFFs: Mark “Captain, O My Captain” Dever and Ligon Duncan. TWW’s good friend, Todd Wilhelm, posted the entire statement and has given me permission to post anything I wish from his wonderful website. So, here it is, winsomeness T4G style!


May 23, 2013

We are friends who have been brought together for the gospel. Over the last several months, we have wanted to speak publicly to the issues that have related to our friend C. J. Mahaney. A Maryland judge’s recent action to dismiss a lawsuit against Sovereign Grace Ministries offers us the first opportunity, and responsibility, to speak to this issue. We could not speak to the issues involved so long as they were raised only in the context of an action in the civil courts. We have never made a public comment with regard to claims and counter-claims in a civil lawsuit, and we will not violate that principle now.

Claims presented in a civil lawsuit seeking financial compensation are beyond the ability of the public to render judgment. Often, such claims are even beyond the ability of a court to deliberate. To comment on such claims is irresponsible, since no one apart from the court and the parties directly involved has any ability to evaluate the claims presented. If the filing of civil litigation against a Christian ministry or leader is in itself reason for separation and a rush to judgment, no ministry or minister is safe from destruction at any time. Furthermore, the effort to try such a case in the court of public opinion prior to any decision rendered by an authorized court is likewise irresponsible.

We have stood beside our friend, C. J. Mahaney, and we can speak to his personal integrity. We can make no judgment as to the truthfulness of the horrifying charges of sexual abuse made against some individuals who have been connected, in some way, to Sovereign Grace Ministries and its churches. Our hearts must go out to anyone, and especially to any child, who suffers abuse at the hand of anyone. In such a case the legal authorities must use the full power of the law to investigate and to prosecute any perpetrator of such crimes. We must take any responsible action to protect the vulnerable, and we must act immediately to inform legal authorities of any charge or claim of sexual abuse, and do so without delay. Our first response must be to call the police, to act to protect the child or young person, and then to proceed to biblical church discipline when the facts demand such a response.

If a Christian leader is accused of any wrongdoing, those to whom he is accountable must investigate the charges and then deal responsibly with the evidence. If a criminal accusation is made, Christians have a fundamental duty to inform law enforcement officials. This does not, however, preclude or mitigate the church’s responsibility for biblical church discipline.

A Christian leader, charged with any credible, serious, and direct wrongdoing, would usually be well advised to step down from public ministry. No such accusation of direct wrongdoing was ever made against C. J. Mahaney. Instead, he was charged with founding a ministry and for teaching doctrines and principles that are held to be true by vast millions of American evangelicals. For this reason, we, along with many others, refused to step away from C. J. in any way. We do not regret that decision. We are profoundly thankful for C. J. as friend, and we are equally thankful for the vast influence for good he has been among so many Gospel-minded people.

Our heart goes out to anyone who has ever suffered abuse of any kind. Our emphatic encouragement would be for anyone who has ever suffered such abuse or knows of anyone made vulnerable to such abuse to contact law enforcement officials without delay. We must then allow the law enforcement agencies and the courts to do their proper work. When criminal charges are filed, the public is then presented with evidence upon which it can draw a responsible judgment. On matters of protecting the vulnerable, Christians know what judgment must be made. We side with the victims.

Our hope and prayer is that Christ’s healing and health will come to all parties involved in this matter and that justice and righteousness will prevail for all. May every true victim of any injustice be vindicated. May every doer of wrong be exposed. And may all of us speak no further than we can responsibly speak.

Those who minister in the name of the Lord Christ bear an inescapable duty to live and to minister in a way that is above reproach. Those who teach, reminds James, will face a stricter judgment. [James 3:1] May everything we do, everything we teach, and all that we are be measured against that standard.

Together for the Gospel,

Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, Albert Mohler

These supposed *gospel leaders*

  • Vouched for Mahaney’s personal integrity.
  • Claimed that no accusations of direct wrongdoing were ever made against CJ.
  • Claimed he was simply charged with founding a ministry and for teaching doctrines and principles that are held to be true by vast millions of American evangelicals.(!!!!)
  • Refuse to step away from Mahaney.
  • Do not mention the lawsuit was dismissed, not due to the merits of the case but due to an expired a statute of limitations.

Al Mohler apologizes for supporting CJ Mahaney

Al Mohler said for the first time publicly that he regrets his embrace of C.J. Mahaney, the former leader of the non-Southern Baptist group Sovereign Grace Ministries, now known as Sovereign Grace Churches.

Interestingly, Mohler did not apologize directly to the victims. He did not make an attempt to contact them. Instead, he made a generic apology thru the Houston Chronicle. To who?  Those who subscribe to the Houston Chronicle? For what is he sorry? He said a lot of unkind things about the victims, about those who defended the victims, and about those who spoke against the leadership of CJ Mahaney. He alienated a lot of people and his actions led to The Gospel Coalition to block people on Twitter who supported SGM victims. His actions led to men like Joe Carter thinking it was appropriate to insult those who defended victims. Real apologies should be directed to those who we’re harmed by his actions. If he needs to meet an SGM victim, I can introduce him to one who could probably get a bunch of other victims to meet with him.

Mohler claims he didn’t really understand the charges against Mahaney.  Is anyone buying this?

“I believe in retrospect I erred in being part of a statement supportive of (Mahaney) and rather dismissive of the charges,” And I regret that action, which I think was taken without due regard to the claims made by the victims and survivors at the time, and frankly without an adequate knowledge on my part, for which I’m responsible.”

Frankly, this is codswallop. Mohler was made well aware of the charges as were many other leaders in The Gospel Colaition and T4G. They simply did not want to hear them. Victims reached out to all of them. They saw the protestors. Remember, Mohler is a man who does a daily Briefing purporting to give an analysis of world events. He either is brilliant (as followers claim) or he is not. I believe he is making an unbelievable excuse.

The joke heard round the world.

I was shocked when I heard about this joke and documented it. (See above.) I believe the surfacing of this joke played a part in this apology.

Mohler also apologized for a joke he made while introducing Mahaney at a 2016 conference that was being protested by former Sovereign Grace members and others.

“What I did was wrong and caused hurt to the victims and survivors who felt that their experience had been trivialized and dismissed,” Mohler said. “And I grieve that, I apologize for that, it was wrong. I would never make such a comment again.”

Did Mohler ever denounce, even mildly, his friend Mahaney as he is attempting to claim?

Mohler said he should have been more forceful in his denunciation of Mahaney.

“Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes,” he said. “I should have been very clear about insisting on an independent, credible third-party investigation.”

Mohler claims he should have made a more forceful denunciation. What denunciation? When? Mohler never denounced Mahaney and is not going to get away with pretending he even tried to do so *a little.* Mohler was in for Team Mahaney and never wavered until now.

Also, Mohler didn’t call for any sort of investigation against Mahaney. This is more baloney and appears to be attempting to downgrade the level of his utter lack of action and compassion.

Mohler claims he should have *heard from* victims and sought expert advice.

Once again, this is utter nonsense.  Victims attempted to reach out to T4G, etc and got nothing but the left boot of fellowship. Essentially they were kicked in the pants. Is Al Mohler telling us that he only thought about getting advice from authorities this week? Sorry-not buying it.

“I should have said nothing until I had heard from those who were victims and who were making the allegations. I should have sought at that time the advice and counsel of agencies and authorities who were even then on the front lines of dealing with these kinds of allegations.”

Danny Akin, President of SEBTS, joins in with the “CJ, I hardly knew ye” club.

Read this statement

Akin said he has not had a close relationship with Mahaney since a speech Mahaney was slated to give at the seminary was cancelled.

On Thursday, he said he was wrong to support Mahaney without properly investigating the allegations. He also criticized how Mahaney and Sovereign Grace handled the allegations.

“Do I think that Sovereign Grace handled the accusations brought against them well?” Akins said. “No, I don’t. I think they could have been far more transparent. I think they could have been far more forthcoming. Even to this day, there’s still a lack of clarity.”

He added, “I absolutely think they’ve handled (the allegations) poorly and that they have not been as transparent as they should have been or could have been, and (that they) could have saved a lot of people a lot of grief,” Akin said.

Akin knew all about the claims of the victims in the SGM debacle. This is simply a case of rats deserting a sinking ship. However, I’m not going to let them get away with this. Read this again.

“I absolutely think they’ve handled (the allegations) poorly and that they have not been as transparent as they should have been or could have been, and (that they) could have saved a lot of people a lot of grief,

Danny Akin and Al Mohler-you handled this poorly. You refused to hear the victims. You bear responsibility for this years long devastating and disdainful silence towards the victims. You could have done something. Instead you played tribal games.

Mohler’s defense of Mahaney encouraged other members of the Gospel Coalition to accuse advocates for victims as having a Javert like obsession with Mahaney

Mohler is one of the leaders of this group of like minded Calvinist friends who adore Mahaney. His own friendship and advocacy for Mahaney led  to A Statement from Don Carson, Kevin DeYoung, and Justin Taylor: Why We Have Been Silent about the SGM Lawsuit.

In this statement, they resorted to outright lies.The lawsuit was dismissed due to the statute of limitations, not anything else.

So the entire legal strategy was dependent on a theory of conspiracy that was more hearsay than anything like reasonable demonstration of culpability. As to the specific matter of C. J. participating in some massive cover-up, the legal evidence was so paltry (more like non-existent) that the judge did not think a trial was even warranted.

They attacked bloggers who cared about the victims and then minimized the thoughts of one young woman who claimed she had been raped at the age of 14 at an SGM event.

Reports on the lawsuit from Christianity Today and World Magazine (among others) explicitly and repeatedly drew attention to C. J., connecting the suit to recent changes within SGM. He has also been the object of libel and even a Javert-like obsession by some. One of the so-called discernment blogs—often trafficking more in speculation and gossip than edifying discernment—reprinted a comment from a woman who issued this ominous wish, “I hope [this lawsuit] ruins the entire organization [of SGM] and every single perpetrator and co-conspirator financially, mentally and physically.”

And they love CJ because they all got to laugh!

We are not ashamed to call C. J. a friend. Our relationship with C. J. is like that with any good friend—full of laughter and sober reflection, encouragement and mutual correction. He has regularly invited—even pursued—correction, and we have given him our perspective when it is warranted. While the admission of friendship may render this entire statement tainted in the eyes of some, we hope most Christians will understand that while friends should never cover for each others’ sins, neither do friends quickly accept the accusations of others when they run counter to everything they have come to see and know about their friend. We are grateful for C. J.’s friendship and his fruitful ministry of the gospel over many decades.

Obviously, these three Mahaney fanboys need to repent and apologize.

How this group of men could cause such pain to victims is beyond me. They sure know how to march lockstep and not one of them questioned their stance. How long will we need to wait for apologies from them?

Here is a list of other names who should apologize. All of these men were CJ gushers.

I bet our readers can add others.

  • Denny Burk
  • Matt Chandler
  • Mark Dever
  • Jonathan Leeman
  • David Horner
  • Carl Trueman
  • Kevin DeYoung
  • Joe Carter
  • Tim Challies
  • Matt Chandler
  • Justin Taylor
  • Jared Wilson
  • JD Greear
  • Wayne Grudem
  • John Piper
  • D.A. Carson
  • Thabiti Anyabwile


Want to see what I had to put up with from these CJ fanboys?

Sometimes it was hard on me and I needed a stiff spine. These men were mean. I always believed that I was telling the truth when I advocated for SGM victims. However, Joe Carter of The Gospel Coalition (senior editor) and the communication specialist (I’m not joking) for the ERLC decided to stick up for CJ. Demonstrating his loyalty to his clan, he called me, along with Julie Anne Smith and Zach Hoag,  “pathologically dishonest.” His lack of winsome behavior to me on Twitter was so over the top, I got a call from  The Christian Post which documented this despicable exchange. 

Today, Carter went after the Denhollander’s who had a similar experience.

Then, he said this:

I then sent him this link.The Gospel Coalition, Christian Bloggers Spar Over Sovereign Grace Ministry, C.J. Mahaney on Twitter. Assuming he is taking a peek at this post, let’s go through his claims. Odds on me getting an apology?

  • He accused me of being pathologically dishonest without giving one example of said dishonesty. Also, pathological dishonesty is a psychiatric diagnosis but I do not see where Carter went to medical school.
  • “After Parsons asked him to clarify what “slander” he was referring to, Carter responded “Have you not intimated that CJM was involved in a coverup of sexual abuse?” linking to a recent post on her site where a guest blogger claimed that Mahaney was guilty.”
  • Parsons defended herself, claiming that “everyone has a right to express their point of view. Also, I tend to believe the victims.”
  • He accused me of defamation. “Carter challenged Parsons, arguing that by publishing posts which argued that the civil lawsuit was true, she was still defaming Mahaney and other SGM leaders’ reputations.” Carter demonstrates a serious knowledge gap when it comes to defamation.
  • I offered to have him meet with some of the SGM victims but he refused to answer me. This is not a man, or an organization, that seeks after truth if they don’t like what the truth is.

I like this closing thought.

Parsons said she was disappointed with how the interaction with Carter transpired.

“I really wanted to build a bridge [with Joe] and that was my goal and my hope and that’s since been destroyed. And that’s where I stand,” said Parsons. “I had no animosity to Joe Carter in that exchange. I looked at it as the potential for positive opportunity to bring understanding in this whole mess and I’m actually very sad.”

Source: Mea Culpa: Analysis of Albert Mohler and Danny Akin’s Apologies for Supporting CJ Mahaney Over SGM Victims

February 17 For the love of God (Vol. 2)

Genesis 50; Luke 3; Job 16–17; 1 Corinthians 4


when job responds to eliphaz’s second speech, his opening words are scarcely less tempered than those of his opponents—though doubtless with more provocation (Job 16–17): “I have heard many things like these; miserable comforters are you all!” (16:2). Ostensibly they have come to sympathize with him and comfort him (2:11), yet every time they open their mouths their words are like hot, bubbling wax on open sores. From Job’s perspective, they make “long-winded speeches” that “never end” (16:3). Job insists that if their roles were reversed he would not stoop to their level; he would bring genuine encouragement and relief (16:4–5).

There is a way of using theology and theological arguments that wounds rather than heals. This is not the fault of theology and theological arguments; it is the fault of the “miserable comforter” who fastens on an inappropriate fragment of truth, or whose timing is off, or whose attitude is condescending, or whose application is insensitive, or whose true theology is couched in such culture-laden clichés that they grate rather than comfort. In times of extraordinary stress and loss, I have sometimes received great encouragement and wisdom from other believers; I have also sometimes received extraordinary blows from them, without any recognition on their part that that was what they were delivering. Miserable comforters were they all.

Such experiences, of course, drive me to wonder when I have wrongly handled the Word and caused similar pain. It is not that there is never a place for administering the kind of scriptural admonition that rightly induces pain: justified discipline is godly (Heb. 12:5–11). The tragic fact, however, is that when we cause pain by our application of theology to someone else, we naturally assume the pain owes everything to the obtuseness of the other party. It may, it may—but at the very least we ought to examine ourselves, our attitudes, and our arguments very closely lest we simultaneously delude ourselves and oppress others.

Most of the rest of Job’s speech is addressed to God and plunges deeply into the rhetoric of despair. We are unwise to condemn Job if we have never tasted much of his experience—and then we will not want to. To grasp his rhetoric aright, and at a deeper level than mere intellectual apprehension, two things must line up: First, we should be quite certain that ours is innocent suffering. In measure we can track this by comparing our own records with the remarkable standards Job maintained (see especially chaps. 26–31). Second, however bitter our complaint to God, our stance will still be that of a believer trying to sort things out, not that of a cynic trying to brush God off.[1]

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

Abuse in the Church — Association of Certified Biblical Counselors

Recent revelations compiled by the Houston Chronicle have demonstrated the suffering of sexual abuse victims in the church to be immense. It was hard for me to comprehend the magnitude of the havoc that has been caused. My mind was turned to women I know, personally, who have endured such heartache and confusion. Hearing their stories, knowing how alone they felt, and often still feel, as a result of the abuse in their past. The only consolation is the hope that I have witnessed as Christ has begun to restore all that the enemy tried to steal from their lives. The suffering of sexual abuse victims in the church must not be wasted.

While the devastating effects of sexual abuse are difficult to grasp for any victim, it is even more difficult to imagine the betrayal and pain of someone who has been sexually victimized within the walls of the church. When someone is sexually abused in a place that should be a haven of trust and safety, categories of right and wrong—good and evil—are radically shaken from their foundations. This personal upheaval is compounded when the church and its leaders do not seek to protect the vulnerable. There are no excuses to hide behind; rather, we must take on the responsibility of our inaction and the shameful reproach that has resulted.

Because of the present evil world, we may never be able to completely eradicate the perverseness of sexual abuse from among us, but what we can do is eradicate our neglect to do what is right when we are made aware of such evil. If we want to promote the character of Christ, we must “rescue the weak and the needy to deliver them from the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 82:4).

We grieve, but grief alone at a moment like this is not enough. Godly sorrow must lead to repentance (2 Cor 7:10). We must desire to change and make right the damage that has been done, as far as it depends on us. The caution here is not to become merely problem-focused, even during a moment like this, for we will become reactionary rather than truth-driven in our care for the abused. If we become reactionary to a problem like abuse, we may circumvent God’s grace and character in our desire to eradicate the problem. Ultimately, being problem-focused brings power and prestige to the ones championing the cause, while offering little lasting hope and true care for the victims. To avoid this pitfall, we must be Christ-focused. Our goal must be that God is lifted up as the hero of restoration and redemption, that Christ is recognized as the lamb slain and Prince of Peace for those left destitute by abuse.

Why do we have this problem?

It seems to me that a multifaceted stream of issues has contributed to the situation we now face. We do not want to offer superficial remedies for such a devastating problem as sexual abuse. Therefore, it is important we first ask what patterns of thought or actions have created our unhealthy environment. This list is not exhaustive, but serves to spur on the conversation surrounding the devastation that is sexual abuse.

First, we have attempted to mix Christian and Freudian ethics for our explanations of sexual immorality. Excusing what the Bible terms sexual immorality as some sort of neurotic or psychotic disposition veils personal responsibility. Our acceptance of this Freudian underpinning has made us susceptible to excusing what God calls sin. Rather than call someone to repentance and force them to be responsible for their actions, we have deferred to ideologies that rationalize the sexually immoral behavior of perpetrators and even stoops to victim-blaming on various levels. Lord forgive us for excusing the sin of Amnon and turning away from the ashes on the head of Tamar (2 Samuel 13).

Second, we have believed the lie that by covering sin, Jesus’ name would be protected. In fact, quite the opposite is true. This is evident from Paul’s reason for writing 1 Corinthians, but we also know experientially that church discipline, not church dishonesty, is necessary to uphold the character of the Lord Jesus among his bride. Dr. Gregory Wills has written a helpful history in his book, Democratic Religion, that demonstrates the neglect of church discipline among Baptists in the South. His work shows at least one precursor to the environment we have inherited and the guiding, but faulty principles that allow sin to flourish in the church.

In 1 Corinthians, when prestige and power preside over godliness and discipleship, Paul does not hesitate for one moment to confront the sinfulness in the church. He does not passively spectate or pass off the duty to call others to holiness, and so we also should not be passive in confronting evil. Before we point fingers at others, we must examine our own susceptibility to temptation. There is not a one of us who is above wicked wants, and so we must proceed with caution and much prayer (Galatians 6:1-2). We have made holiness a legalistic pursuit, or “ultra-Christianity,” rather than normal life following hard after Christ Jesus. Holiness is not optional or negative. The Scriptures, and our current dilemma, demonstrate that holiness is actually a means of proclaiming Christ and protecting the vulnerable. Recovering church discipline doesn’t eradicate every sin, but ensures we engage sinful behavior in a manner that pleases God and moves toward healing and restoration.

Third, around the turn of the twentieth century, our seminaries systematically abandoned a curriculum that upheld the pastoral duty and skill of counseling and caring from the sufficiency of God’s Word. Regrettably, theological education trained many of our pastors to be church administrators and not shepherds of God’s people. Perhaps this has contributed to a managing of sin in the church rather than healthy, biblical, and loving confrontation of our human wickedness. Thankfully, we are seeing a trend back toward biblical soul care in our theological institutions. This trend seeks to better educate pastors on how to think through and approach such atrocities among their flock in order to demonstrate God’s sufficient Word as the source for care, correction, and comfort. The church must once again reclaim its position as a haven for the broken and not a harbor for the wicked. This is, at least in part, why ACBC was born over four decades ago — to recover a biblical approach to personal ministry of the Word of God among our churches.

How can we help the sexually abused?

According to Scripture, we are mandated to care for the oppressed, the weak, and helpless (Psalm 82:-4, 1 Thessalonians 5:14). What steps can we take to purposefully engage in caring for the abused? In cases of abuse, this care must take at least four forms.

First, we must be willing to protect the flock by engaging the perpetrator. This may mean that law enforcement is called, but we must not stop with the involvement of legal authorities. The church also bears the responsibility to engage the guilty in order to restore his soul. In this we must remember that a soul can be restored without the removal of legitimate legal consequences. So, even when the perpetrator faces justice at the hands of the law, as he should in cases of abuse, we have a spiritual responsibility to speak the truth for redemption and restoration. Church discipline is the tool we have been granted by God to accomplish this task, and sadly, we have operated in the past as if this is a suggestion instead of a command. We must involve legal authorities and engage the sin committed. By appropriately engaging the perpetrator, we may begin to gain the trust of the victim to begin restorative action.

Second, we must engage the victim to restore what has been broken. Compassionate care for the victim is multifaceted. Victims of sexual abuse face numerous lies such as: “I am to blame. . . I should be ashamed. . .this is what I deserve. . .I can’t trust anyone. . .God doesn’t love me,” and others. Strive to remove guilt and shame with the confidence of Scripture and the work of Christ. Help, encourage, restore. We must be willing to give time and effort to listening and gently correcting the abundance of circumstantial lies victims believe about themselves and about God. If we do not intentionally engage the victim, we contribute to the narrative and further distance the hope of Christ and His church from the broken.

Third, we must engage in preventative care to protect the weak. Last year at our ACBC Annual Conference, “Light in the Darkness: Biblical Counseling and Abuse,” we attempted to engage remedial and preventative measures of care for the abused. In the final paragraph you may find free resources we are offering on this topic to help churches respond appropriately to the abused and the abuser. There is so much to say on this point, but we must simultaneously deal with the current brokenness while we pursue measures of preventative care. We must demand accountability from our leaders. We must prove that the Church is a place where all of us who are broken find care and help from Christ and His word. As pastors and leaders, we must take seriously our duty to watch over the souls of our flock and not settle for superficial or expedient remedies (Hebrews 13:17).

Fourth, we must promote the hope of Christ’s return. Ultimately, we can only strive for partial justice, for that is all that is within our human power to do. We cannot erase the act, we cannot erase the memory, we cannot erase the evil. We must cry out, with patience, to our God, the only One who can provide complete justice. This does not mean we do nothing. We must reflect the heart of God in seeking justice for the oppressed, the weak, and afflicted. However, while we seek justice this side of heaven, our priority must be to call on God for his return, when he will make all things new. Providing solid, Christ-centered hope to victims will include reminding them that a day is coming in which He will wipe away every tear and blot out all of our shame. He will return as warrior and judge, to execute perfect justice on those who have taken advantage of innocence.

No blame-shifting will expunge any guilt and shame we bear for failing to respond well to abuse within our churches. Only our broken and contrite spirit will be pleasing to the Father. Satan cannot destroy the gospel, but he attempts to neutralize it by discrediting its messengers. A broken and contrite spirit must be the ground to stir our affections toward repentance (Psalm 51:17). Genuine care for victims and courage to confront perpetrators will arise from a grievance that we have broken the heart of God (Jeremiah 6:14-16).

Resources for the Church

At ACBC, we are committed to equipping pastors and churches to counsel God’s sufficient and restorative Word. Last Fall, at our annual conference, “Light in the Darkness: Biblical Counseling and Abuse,” we attempted to address the dynamics of abuse, caring for victims of abuse, and how churches must deal with perpetrators of such abuse. We understand that we need to continue to add to our resources in order to address all aspects of abuse, but we believe many would find the resources presented at our conference last year to be an impetus to pursue change and hope for the future. We want to offer our plenary sessions from last year’s conference for free to any who are searching for help in dealing with the sin and suffering of abuse.

Session 1 | Dr. Heath Lambert | What Every Victim of Abuse Needs to Know

Session 2 | Greg Gifford | Child and Family Abuse

Session 3 | Pam Gannon | A Testimony of Abuse

Session 4 | Chris Moles | Domestic Abuse

Session 5 | Tim Pasma | Emotional Abuse

Session 6 | Dr. Dale Johnson | Abuse and the Abuser

Source: Abuse in the Church