Lent as we know it today did not arise out of this biblical understanding of fasting. Rather, Lent came about as a superstitious misunderstanding both of the purpose of fasting in general and the purpose of Christ’s forty-day fast in the wilderness in particular. As a result, Calvin correctly summarizes, “the superstitious observance of Lent had prevailed everywhere, because the common people thought that in it they were doing some exceptional service to God, and the pastors commended it as a holy imitation of Christ. On the contrary, it is plain that Christ did not fast to set an example for others, but to prove, in so beginning to proclaim the gospel, that it was no human doctrine but actually one sent from heaven [Matt. 4:2] (emphasis added).” Here we see how a good practice, like fasting, can be turned into a terrible superstition. People began to think that by giving up food or other things for Lent, that these acts in and of themselves were a service to God. Sadly, they were too often encouraged in this by pastors. (It’s a reminder that even the best of pastors in history are still flawed human beings!) But Calvin laments that this could happen to otherwise good men of God: “And the marvel is that such sheer hallucination (which is refuted so often and with such clear arguments) could creep upon men of keen judgment…It was, therefore, mere wrongheaded zeal, full of superstition, that they justified and painted fasting [for Lent] as the following of Christ.” Read more»
Bill Godfrey, Should Christian Practice Lent?
Christian surveillance is a lot stricter in the East says expert
Senior Policy Officer of the Christian Persecution charity Open Doors, Dr Matthew Rees revealed how they measure the ways that Christians are persecuted because of their faith. In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk Dr Rees explained the persecution applies to every aspect of a Christians life and revealed direct violence was not their biggest threat. He said: “The way Open Door works out what kind of persecution is we have six separate spheres.
We measure Christian persecution in groups of Family Life, Public Life, Private life, Church Life, Government and Violence
Dr Matthew Rees
“Sphere one is family life- That is whether the family is putting pressure on an individual who has converted.
“It happens a lot in countries like Afghanistan and Libya where unfortunately we have received reports over the years of honour killings which is particularly brutal.
“Sphere two is public life- That is the ability to publicly be a Christian, whether that be public work or expressions of Christianity.
“People are often accused of blasphemy for what they say publicly and then sentenced to death.
“There are cases like that in Pakistan and Bangladesh.
“Sphere three is private life- Which is quite an interesting one as it is really specific to a few countries.
“It is the ability and the space that an individual might have to practice his or her faith in private.
“In a country like North Korea where surveillance is so high, that is extremely difficult.
“For example, teachers in North Korea will often ask children to report it if they have seen a little black book which is obviously referring to a bible.
“Sphere four is church life- That is the ability for churches to exist.
Hitler wanted to replace Christianity with Nazi religion says expert
“In Egypt, there is a lot of churches waiting to have planning permission for a building for a church.
“Sphere five is the State/Government- What role does the Government play in this.
“Sphere six is violence- This is where we look at what is going on in terms of levels of violence including murder and sexual violence of which we have seen escalate in India.”
The top five countries for Christian persecution according to the charity were North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, and Pakistan.
India stood tenth on the list, just over the war-torn nation, Syria.
Police, social services, and health workers in Canada are using shared databases to track the behaviour of vulnerable people—including minors and people experiencing homelessness—with little oversight and often without consent.
Whatever happened to Canada, our sweet little sister to the North? Well, for one thing, she elected a foaming-at-the-mouth, stark raving Liberal as their leader. Under his auspices, Canada has passed a bill into law making it a crime to use the wrong pronoun when addressing transgenders, partnered with Google to create the first Mark Of The Beast surveillance ‘smart city, and voted to legalize beastiality. Not satisfied to rest on the laurels of this dubious accomplishments, Trudeau’s Canada is now instituting pre-crime prevention, like from the movie ‘Minority Report‘.
Remember when we told you a few months ago about China’s bizarre ‘Social Credit System‘ and showed you how much it had it common with the coming Mark Of The Beast world system? Well, Canada’s Risk-driven Tracking Database is very similar to that as you can see in this article from Breitbart.
One of the first casualties in this type of set-up is the end of the ‘presumption of innocence’ that is the bedrock of countries like America. The very notion of pre-crime assumes that a person, though currently innocent at the moment, will likely become guilty of something in the near future. As as you can see in the article below, Canada’s Risk-driven Tracking Database allows for the ‘hospitalization or arrest’ of ‘some individuals’ when the AI determines that to be needed. All before any crime has been committed. Yes, you read that correctly. People will be detained before a crime has been committed. First China…now Canada…who will be next?
Police in Canada Are Tracking People’s ‘Negative’ Behavior In a ‘Risk’ Database
FROM VICE: Documents obtained by Motherboard from Ontario’s Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS) through an access to information request show that at least two provinces—Ontario and Saskatchewan—maintain a “Risk-driven Tracking Database” that is used to amass highly sensitive information about people’s lives. Information in the database includes whether a person uses drugs, has been the victim of an assault, or lives in a “negative neighborhood.”
The Risk-driven Tracking Database (RTD) is part of a collaborative approach to policing called the Hub model that partners cops, school staff, social workers, health care workers, and the provincial government.
These “pre-crime” interventions can often be a simple chat, but many involve minors, and some end in forced hospitalization or arrest. The Hub model is now in use in more than 100 cities across Canada.
Information about people believed to be “at risk” of becoming criminals or victims of harm is shared between civilian agencies and police and is added to the database when a person is being evaluated for a rapid intervention intended to lower their risk levels. Interventions can range from a door knock and a chat to forced hospitalization or arrest. READ MORE
This Is The Coming Future Of Pre-Crime
This is not a movie, this is reality and it is already here.
A 2016 DOJ criminal investigation was suppressed and buried by the DOJ/FBI that involved a major NY Democratic power broker and the Clintons and the Clinton Foundation.
The investigation revolved around the illegal sale of controlled US Homeland Security technology to Russia and China in the years before the 2016 election by a company named AGT.
(See below AGT article of a Homeland security related project.)
The DOJ terminated its internal investigation in 2016 despite clear and irrefutable evidence of criminal activity and hid it from the public!
In Part I of our series we discussed the Clinton Foundation and the donations to the Foundation from the COB and CEO of AGT International as well as from Sheikhs in the UAE. These donations in the millions of dollars were for favors from the Clintons. In return the Clintons helped promote AGT –
In Part II of our series we discussed the illegal actions that AGT International took to generate revenues around the globe. Highly sensitive US defense technology and ITAR classified products were provided to China, Russia and other countries in the name of sales growth. These actions were beyond criminal, they were treasonous.
(Below is an AGT article about its premier defense software from its company 4D Security Solutions.)
In Part III of our series we discussed the investigation that the FBI/DOJ started into AGT and the Clinton Foundation but then terminated and covered up before the 2016 Presidential election despite irrefutable crimes!
In Part IV of our series we discussed the activities by individuals associated with AGT in obtaining entrance to a highly sensitive US Intel facility circumventing the controls in place that prevent illegal entries to the facility.
Today we discuss the efforts by AGT to obtain top secret US Intel for the sole purpose of selling to the Russians. AGT personnel used the information as a means to entice sales from US adversaries.
As noted in our prior post, 4D Security Solutions (an AGT company) was a major defense contractor for entities like the US Navy, the Philadelphia Police Department and the US Department of Homeland Security.
At least one of AGT’s companies, 4D Security Solutions, provided its products to a facility that was regulated by the US government and required screening and a US passport in order to enter it.
As noted in our prior post, in 2014, while AGT was actively selling its Real Time Crime Center (RTCC) products worldwide, three of its executives, Jason Stark, Geoffrey Baird, and Zvi Moskowitz visited the DVIC in Philadelphia in order to collect intelligence and operational information about the secure site. This visit was arranged and scheduled via back channels.
Per the details of their meeting invite, these AGT top executives were to call an individual by the name of Justin Frank as soon as they approached the DVIC facility. Frank is a detective at the Philadelphia Police Department and he also works for a company called Intuidex.
The DVIC that these individuals wanted to visit is a secure location that permits only US citizens with special permits to enter. The DVIC tracks and maintains information that is top secret including intercepts and files on terrorism, gangs, etc.
The startling observation of the visit to the DVIC by the group from AGT is that this group appeared to circumvent the procedures in place to prevent illegal entry to the site. This is evident from the visit scheduling details. The parties involved utilized private email communications to workout the details, and curtailed official vetting, approval, and background checks, which apparently were never conducted.
Baird and reportedly Moshkovitz were not US citizens. For them to enter the DVIC facility an enormous amount of checks and verifications were to take place but there is no evidence that these activities took place.
As noted previously, from the information collected and subsequent discussions with AGT international management, it is clear that the purpose of these visits was to extract high value intelligence and operational data and then use it for financial gain and sell it or exchange it abroad. These actions were in the least suspect but probably criminal.
AGT International collected this information from various US based defense, law enforcement, intelligence and security sources on a regular basis. As can be seen from the internal communication by senior AGT executives, this was not a one off.
The next image shows more internal communications regarding the need for RTCC information. It has all of the AGT leaders and other of the company’s senior leadership team on the distribution list.
The next image shows a meeting to discuss the RTCC project in one of the former Soviet Union countries (Kazakhstan) with pricing information at $1.5 million. In the email “C” stands for Israel.
The next four images contain detailed discussions about what was going to be given to the Russians when they come over for a physical visit. In these emails “MM” stands for MasterMind which is an Intel platform. Also note that that Lenz Gadi is using the 4D security email in these exchanges. He is a US employee working for a US regulated defense company with secret clearance (they provide services, software, hardware, etc. to the Feds) and he is leading the effort to do the exchange with the Russians. This preparation for the face to face meetings with the Russians shows that the Russians want to see basically everything, not just MM.
In the last part of the email above there is an exchange that shows an individual in Russia forwarding instructions to individuals at AGT (including its CEO Mati Kochavi) that indicate after the NDA is signed “we may start to exchange the information”.
What information is this email above referring to? It’s suspected that the information is highly sensitive US defense Intel obtained on US facilities serviced by AGT!
Below is a slide from a presentation to the Russians.
The next image shows the NYPD Real Time Crime Center (RTCC) data input screen.
And below is the NYPD RTCC data flow view.
Urban Shield is another RTCC type system that was provided by AGT.
This next slide shows the cyber security features of the Wisdom related products. The slide shows that the system features include “realtime” views with a “zero day database”. These are terms computer geeks would commonly use to define time frames related to hacking. Also, this slide describes “Metasploit frameworks” which use the penetration testing software Metasploit.
What we are talking about here is a cyber attack system using the Metasploit framework which has the ability to execute remote attacks (like the alleged DNC/HRC type hacks). Basically AGT is offering the Russians a state of the art cyber attack system with the latest technology.
This final slide shows more of AGT’s Wisdom and MM features. Note that “CI operations and planning” is really counter Intel capabilities. In other words, AGT is offering the Russians the ability to conduct counter-Intel operations (e.g. cell phone intercepts, object and vehicle tracking, etc.). Also, “OSINT integration” allows the Russians to tie into the Internet into these operations. All of this information provided to the Russians was super classified and never should have been placed in their hands.
The AGT family of companies participated in numerous suspect, if not criminal activities. The leaders of the company were Clinton friends and major donors to the Clinton Foundation. The Clintons in turn helped promote AGT.
AGT then participated in numerous shady and criminal activities, the worst of which were selling US ITAR regulated products and information to the Russians and Chinese.
The DOJ/FBI started an investigation of AGT but then covered it up. The investigation into the Clinton Foundation and AGT was material to the 2016 US election and yet the FBI and DOJ concealed it from the American public.
The Clinton Foundation and the DOJ and FBI must be investigated and the crimes committed by these entities must be brought to justice!
|scripture reading:||Psalm 57|
|key verse:||Matthew 27:46|
About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
“Why?” That is the universal response to adversity.
“Why did our child die?”
“Why did our business fail?”
“Why did our son reject us?”
Jesus, the all–knowing One, asked why as the darkness of separation from His Father reached its black climax.
David asked why as he sat in a wilderness exile imposed by treacherous King Saul (Ps. 57).
Moses asked why as millions of Hebrews clamored for food (Num. 11:11).
Jeremiah asked why as he mourned the destruction of Jerusalem (Lam. 5:20).
In On Asking God Why, Elisabeth Elliot describes the proper context in which we should echo the same probing cry when suffering buffets and baffles us:
I seek the lessons God wants to teach me, and that means I ask why. There are those who insist that it is a very bad thing to question God. To them, “why?” is a rude question.
That depends, I believe, on whether it is an honest search, in faith, for His meaning, or whether it is a challenge of unbelief and rebellion.
You may ask, but ask rightly. For God is the Potter, and you are the clay.
I often ask it, Lord: Why? Thank You for the times You answer and I learn from it. Help me accept the times when there seems to be no answer.
With all eyes on the Vatican, the meeting on Catholic clergy sex abuse ended with no concrete policy developments. As The New York Times reports, “For all the vivid language and the vow to combat this evil that strikes at the very heart of our mission, the Pope’s speech was short on the sort of detailed battle plan demanded by many Catholics around the world.”
So: The really surprising development in all this was the lack of any development in concrete policies. Nicholas Cafardi, a prominent canon lawyer in the United States said, “The Pope is the sole legislator, so he could make this change wherever he wants. Zero tolerance … should be universal law. And the Holy Father can do it himself.”
But attendees did not even hear the term “zero tolerance” from the Pope.
The Pope fails to understand the gravity of the charges that had been made for decades against the Roman Catholic Church.
A big part of the world has gone crazy. By “big part of the world”, I mean, “lots of people, and lots of institutions”. We know that.
They have rejected God and adopted a form of man-made morality which holds that every person and every culture should be “equal” (a form of morality which is clearly on display in universities and magnified by the media), in such a way that dissenting from this morality can cause you to lose a Facebook or Twitter account, or a job, or a wife and custody of a child, or your life.
How are Christians to deal with this?
Not long ago, Rod Dreher proposed “The Benedict Option”, which he summarized as “communal withdrawal from the mainstream, for the sake of sheltering one’s faith and family from corrosive modernity and cultivating a more traditional way of life”.
I don’t think that is good enough. On the other hand, I’ve long been impressed by Alvin Plantinga’s advice in his “Advice to Christian Philosophers” (from the 1984 essay). While this advice is specific to philosophy students, I think it has broader application for those of us in other situations:
My counsel can be summed up on two connected suggestions, along with a codicil.
First, Christian philosophers and Christian intellectuals generally must display more autonomy — more independence of the rest of the philosophical world.
Second, Christian philosophers must display more integrity — integrity in the sense of integral wholeness, or oneness, or unity, being all of one piece. Perhaps ‘integrality’ would be the better word here.
And necessary to these two is a third: Christian courage, or boldness, or strength, or perhaps Christian self-confidence. We Christian philosophers must display ore faith, more trust in the Lord; we must put on the whole armor of God …
Plantinga followed his own advice, and over the years, he gained respect not only from Christian philosophers, but from the secular philosophical culture as well.
He goes on to give a few examples, but basically, this boils down to: Christians need to be Christians in the world, wherever they are – not in isolated communities that withdraw from the culture – but as Christian individuals, strengthened with God’s word and his Spirit – the wind at our backs, in other words … bearing a Christian worldview, and approaching the world unashamedly with that worldview.
John Frame notes:
My favorite of Plantinga’s publications is his “Advice to Christian Philosophers.” In that paper, he urges Christians to take their faith into account in their philosophical work: their choice of mentors, models, methods, and so on. Christians should be suspicious of claims that this or that approach is necessary for philosophical or scientific respectability, and they should be alert for proposals that emerge out of and/or support their Christian faith. That advice is the same as that which I would offer to readers as we draw near to the end of this book.
Frame, John M.. A History of Western Philosophy and Theology (p. 543). P&R Publishing. Kindle Edition.
So too, for all Christians, especially those in non-philosophical realms: we should “be alert for proposals that emerge out of and/or support our Christian faith”, and we should individually (if necessary) and collectively give our support, sanction, and efforts to those things. We kinda-sorta know what those things will turn out to be, but often, with as quickly as things are moving in the world, we simply can’t know in advance.
Cashing all of this out in real life should translate (IMO) sort of like this:
As to Plantinga’s first piece of advice as applied to “day-to-day” Christians, displaying “autonomy” or “independence” simply means that we go about being Christians in the world. We do not need to wait for “the crowd” or for some kind of movement to form.
As to Plantinga’s second piece of advice, “integrality”, we should start with the “integral wholeness, or oneness, or unity” of the Scriptures. It comes down to Frame’s presupposition (as he puts it) that “As a Christian, I am committed to a worldview that comes from the Bible: God the Creator, the world as his creation, man made in his image, sin and its consequences as our predicament, Christ’s atonement as our salvation, his return as the consummation of all things (Frame, “A History…”, pg. 2).”
This view should inform every part of our lives – marriage, family, church, work, politics. But on the other hand, this is easier said than done.
Consider the part about man having been created “in God’s image” – that includes the qualification, “he created them male and female”. Consider a thought from Machen’s 1915 essay, “History and Faith”, in which he says, “The Bible is primarily a record of events. That assertion will not go unchallenged”.
I love the understatement. But we must put it our Christianity “out there”, we must defend it tooth and nail, knowing that the Lord is our strength and our shield.
We should not hesitate to take Plantinga’s advice regarding philosophy, and expand it into every sphere of influence where Christians still live and work (and into those where they don’t, as well).
Precisely how we do this is going to be a matter that we need to work out “with fear and trembling”. That is where Plantinga’s third piece of advice comes into view. We will need to stand with Christian courage, wearing “the full armor of God”, knowing that swords and arrows will come our way.
We don’t know where the chips will all fall. And we will certainly need at some points to crawl away and tend to our wounds.
But the cultural situation today is not something we should shrink from. The so-called “morality” of the day is something we should not accept.
Cleansed and forgiven by the Lord, we should not hesitate to say, “Here I am Lord. Send me.”
We don’t know where the Lord will send us. But we will know that he goes before us and clears the way for us.
Here is a teaching we did at our campus apologetics ministry at The Ohio State University.
We define a worldview, and discuss the importance of having a worldview. We also discuss questions we ask when forming a worldview as well as the tests we use to see if a worldview matches reality. Enjoy.
‘Nobody Wants to Listen to That’: Street Preacher Arrested in London for ‘Breach of the Peace’ Feb 24, 2019 06:37 pm
South African Funeral Directors to Sue False Prophet Over Faked Resurrection Stunt Feb 27, 2019 03:29 pm
‘Uncommon Collaboration’? Photo Circulating of Francis Chan Embracing Heretical Teacher Todd White Stirring Concern Mar 01, 2019 03:17 pm
Indian Christian Convert Killed and Left on the Road Beheaded Feb 23, 2019 10:28 am
Idaho Couple Sues Planned Parenthood Over Birth of Their Son After Drug-Induced Abortion Fails Feb 23, 2019 03:37 pm
United Methodists Vote to Retain Ban on Same-Sex ‘Weddings,’ Ordaining Practicing Homosexual Clergy Feb 28, 2019 03:41 pm
Police Issue Warning to Parents After Suicide ‘Momo Challenge’ Resurfaces Feb 28, 2019 04:22 pm
Senate Democrats Kill Bill That Sought to Protect Babies Born Alive During Abortions Feb 27, 2019 11:55 am
Academic Stopped From Researching ‘Sex-Change Regret’ Says Fear, Sensitivity of Subject Is Stifling Debate Feb 24, 2019 10:21 am
After having one of the strongest starts to a new year in history, major stock indexes find themselves testing yet another potential overhead resistance barrier. And they’re doing so while in an over-extended technical condition. But they’ve been looking over-extended for most of the past month. Chart 1 shows the Dow Industrials testing their early November intra-day high at 26,300 (first red circle). A decisive close above that previous peak would clear the way for a retest of last October’s record high. But it has to clear its November high first. The Dow remains above its 200-day moving average (red arrow). Its blue 50-day average, however, remains below its 200-day line. On a more positive note, its 20-day average (green arrow) remains above the other two longer averages. If the Dow does pull back, that would the first moving average to be tested. Maybe even the 200-day. One cautionary note is fact that its daily MACD lines (lower box) have been converging over the last month and are close to turning negative. That would be their first time in negative territory since the end of December. That might be enough to signal some short-term profit-taking. Or possibly a period of consolidation to work off its overbought condition.
Chart 2 shows the S&P 500 in a similar technical condition. The SPX is testing its November intra-day high at 2815. If it does pull back, it could retest its 20 and 200-day averages (green and red lines). Chart 3 shows the Nasdaq Composite Index also testing its November intra-day high at 7572. The lower box in Chart 3 shows its MACD histogram bars in danger of falling below their zero line (red circle). That would signal that the MACD lines themselves are turning negative.
The allegories of Sarah and Hagar
“These are the two covenants.” Galatians 4:24
suggested further reading: Galatians 3:19–24
Hagar was not intended to be a wife; she never ought to have been anything but a hand-maid to Sarah. The law was never intended to save men: it was only designed to be a hand-maid to the covenant of grace. When God delivered the law on Sinai, it was apart from his ideas that any man would ever be saved by it; he never conceived that men would attain perfection thereby. But you know that the law is a wondrous handmaid to grace. Who brought us to the Saviour? Was it not the law thundering in our ears? We should never have come to Christ if the law had not driven us there; we should never have known sin if the law had not revealed it. The law is Sarah’s handmaid to sweep our hearts, and make the dust fly so that we may cry for blood to be sprinkled so that the dust may be laid. The law is, so to speak, Jesus Christ’s dog, to go after his sheep, and bring them to the shepherd; the law is the thunderbolt which frightens ungodly men, and makes them turn from the error of their ways, and seek after God. Ah! if we know rightly how to use the law, if we understand how to put her in her proper place, and make her obedient to her mistress, then all will be well. But this Hagar will always be wishing to be mistress, as well as Sarah; and Sarah will never allow that, but will be sure to treat her harshly, and drive her out. We must do the same; and let none murmur at us, if we treat the Hagarenes harshly in these days—if we sometimes speak hard things against those who are trusting in the works of the law.
for meditation: God’s law will never have the power to save us (Romans 8:3); but thank God that it points us to a Man who can.
sermon no. 69
Guarding against Hypocrisy
Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues. Psalm 78:36
suggested further reading: Matthew 15:1–20
We are not to suppose that the psalmist is saying these people made no acknowledgment of God, but he does intimate that, because the confession of their mouth did not proceed from the heart, it was therefore constrained and not voluntary. This is well worthy of notice, for from it we learn that we are constrained by duty to guard against the gross hypocrisy of uttering with the tongue before others one thing, while thinking something different in our hearts.
We also learn that we should beware of the hidden hypocrisy of the sinner, who, being constrained by fear, flatters God in a slavish manner, while yet, if he could, shunning the judgment of God. Most people are mortally smitten with this disease, for though divine majesty elicits some kind of awe from them, yet they would be grateful if the light of divine truth would be completely extinguished. It is not enough to yield assent to the divine word unless that is accompanied with true and pure affection, so that our hearts are not double or divided.
The psalmist points out in the next verse the cause and source of dissimulation is that such people are not steadfast and faithful (Ps. 78:37). By this he intimates that whatever does not proceed from unfeigned purity of heart is considered lying and deceit in the sight of God. Since uprightness is everywhere required in the law, the psalmist accuses hypocrites with covenant-breaking because they have not kept the covenant of God with the fidelity that is required. As I have observed elsewhere, we can presuppose a mutual relation and correspondence between the covenant of God and our faith, in order that the unfeigned consent of the latter may attest to the faithfulness of the former.
for meditation: Whether or not we are guilty of hypocrisy can be a daunting question. Do we love God, and are we thankful for him and his will? Or do we serve him because we fear him, all the while wishing that he would cease to exist? Let us pray much for living, vital reality in our Christianity.
Stocks are enjoying their best quarter in seven years.
But with one long month ahead, NorthmanTrader founder and technical expert Sven Henrich says this sky-high rally is about to hit some air pockets.
“Over the past year and a half, we’ve had an extremely wide price range and the extremes become more extreme to the upside and the downside,” Henrich said Thursday on CNBC’s “Trading Nation.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average, for example, rallied at the beginning of 2018 on the passing of tax cuts, again in the summer, and then in the past two months.
“At some point these patterns get too extreme and then something triggers it, volatility moves higher, and then we break to the downside. So you saw that obviously in February 2018, we saw that in October of 2018 as well,” said Henrich. “This rally here now is actually even steeper than the ones that we’ve seen, partially because we’ve had the extreme oversold readings from December.”
December’s major sell-off pushed the Dow to the very edge of a bear market, characterized as a drop of more than 20 percent off 52-week highs. Since its Dec. 26 bottom, the blue-chip index has bounced 19 percent and sits around 1,000 points from a record high.
“All these rallies have massive gap ups, meaning that a lot of open gaps were not filled and there’s been no retesting yet. And so far, this rally since the December lows has not been tested technically in any shape or form and I expect some sort of test to take place in this next month here in March,” he said.
Though the Dow is slightly lower for this week, it ended last Friday with its longest weekly win streak since 1995.
An even longer-term S&P 500 chart, stretching to the mid-1990s, gives an early indication that conditions might go from bad to worse.
“We’ve had multiple bull markets. Here too, we’ve had long-term trends, they are very steady on the uptrend, and once they break, then things get shaky and it’s kind of what we’re seeing now,” Henrich said. “In December we broke that uptrend and this big rally has brought up all the way back to that broken trend line and that’s now resistance.”
The S&P 500’s current uptrend extends from the March 2009 bottom. From that trough to its September 2018 record, the index had rallied 340 percent.
“If we were to pull back from here, things can become a lot more shaky. It’s not in the cards right now because we haven’t had any sort of pullback, but it’s a risk,” said Henrich. “Remember the most aggressive rallies in markets happen actually in the context of bear markets, so there’s still the possibility out here that this is a counter bear market rally, but it’s too early to tell.”
Henrich notes that a pullback from its resistance level at 2,800 to 2,850 would mean that upward trend line has been rejected. The S&P 500 is less than a 1 percent increase from the lower-end of that range.
— Read on www.cnbc.com/2019/03/01/these-two-charts-suggest-the-rally-could-go-from-good-to-bad-to-worse.html
And opening his mouth, Peter said: “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right, is welcome to Him. The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all)—you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil; for God was with Him. And we are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. And they also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. God raised Him up on the third day, and granted that He should become visible, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us, who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.” (10:34–43)
In contrast to his indicting sermons on the Day of Pentecost and at Solomon’s portico, and his bold defenses before the Sanhedrin, Peter here is led by the Spirit to give a simple gospel presentation. Some situations call for a detailed apologetic and historic presentation before the hearers can understand the gospel message. Others, with divinely plowed hearts, require only the simple truths of the gospel. Cornelius and the other Gentiles gathered with him were such divinely prepared individuals.
The phrase opening his mouth is a colloquial Greek expression marking the speech that follows as important. Looking around at his improbable audience, Peter began by shattering what remained of the barrier separating the two groups with his fresh insight: “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right, is welcome to Him.” With one stroke, Peter cuts to the heart of the issue and rivets their attention on him.
Saying I … understand is an admission that this is really new for him, and that only now, at long last, was he beginning to understand that the church was to include men from every nation. The truth of Jesus’ words “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold” (John 10:16) was dawning. The meaning of the vision was clear. Actually, because this was not new truth, Peter and his Jewish companions should have already known that God is not one to show partiality. That is clearly taught in the Old Testament (Deut. 10:17; 2 Chron. 19:7; Job 34:19).
Paul elaborated on that truth. To the Romans he wrote, “Is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one” (Rom. 3:29–30; cf. 2:11; Eph. 6:9).
Peter then expanded that thought, explaining that in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him. Some have misunderstood this verse to be teaching universalism, that God accepts all who are sincere on the basis of their works. That view is obviously inconsistent with biblical teaching and absurd. If Cornelius and the others were already saved, what was Peter doing there preaching that only through the name of Jesus can souls be saved (v. 43)? Further, that they were not yet saved is clearly stated in Acts 11:14. There are some who would deny that there is any pre-salvation work on the part of the sinner, leading to salvation. This, too, is absurd, since the text clearly states that salvation comes to those who fear God and do what is right. Is this salvation by works? Of course not. Peter is simply expressing the reality that there is a Spirit work in the heart of the sinner (cf. John 16:8–11; Acts 11:18; 2 Tim. 2:25). That work produces a person who fears or reverences God and does what is right, and who is welcome or acceptable (dektos) to God. That word means “marked by a favorable manifestation of the divine pleasure,” as used in 2 Corinthians 6:2, “ ‘At the acceptable time I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you’; behold, now is ‘the acceptable time’, behold, now is ‘the day of salvation.’ ” This text shows that the welcome or acceptable time is the time of salvation. No matter what the age, race, sex, or social strata, when the heart hungers for God and for righteousness (Matt. 5:6), it is the welcome time for salvation. Commenting on this verse, Everett Harrison remarks, “The meaning is not that such persons are thereby saved (cf. Acts 11:14) but rather that they are suitable candidates for salvation. Such preparation betokens a spiritual earnestness that will result in faith as the gospel is heard and received (Interpreting Acts: The Expanding Church [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986], 182).
Cornelius responded to the work of God in his soul, yet it must not be thought that he did that on his own, apart from the grace of God. The truth is that no one, whether Gentile (cf. Rom. 1:18ff.) or Jew (cf. Rom. 2:1ff.) does that (Rom. 3:10–18). God had worked in Cornelius’s heart so that he sought to know and obey God, and when he heard the saving truth of the gospel, he eagerly responded.
Peter introduced his message by assuring them that salvation was available to the prepared heart. Yet it was not enough for them merely to know of its availability; they needed to know how to appropriate the forgiveness of sin and deliverance from judgment. Peter turns, then, to the main theme of the gospel, namely that salvation comes through Jesus Christ to anyone from any nation. In the words of the hymn “The Church’s One Foundation,” the church is
Elect from ev’ry nation,
Yet one o’er all the earth.
The word of God containing the message of salvation came first to the sons of Israel (cf. Rom. 1:16). It was the glorious message of peace through Jesus Christ. All people are fallen and are enemies who are at war with God (cf. Rom. 5:10). The sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus Christ ended that hostility and brought peace between man and God by paying the price for sin. In the words of the apostle Paul, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (2 Cor. 5:19), and has “made peace through the blood of His cross” (Col. 1:20). Salvation is offered to all because Jesus is Lord of all.
As already noted, Caesarea was the seat of the Roman government in Judea. Consequently, Peter can affirm to Cornelius and the others that you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. They were aware of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil; for God was with Him.
The baptism which John proclaimed was a baptism signifying an attitude of repentance and longing for the reign of righteousness. It prepared the nation for the Messiah, who was Jesus of Nazareth. As He began His ministry, God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power (cf. Matt. 3:13–17; Luke 3:21–22). Peter describes that ministry as going about doing good, then lists as an example His healing of all who were oppressed by the devil. That phrase encompasses the whole gamut of human ailments, from direct demon oppression to disease to spiritual darkness. “The Son of God,” wrote the apostle John, “appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). Jesus Christ’s complete overpowering of Satan and his demons left no doubt that God was with Him.
All they had heard about Jesus’ ministry was true, Peter affirms. He adds the apostolic corroboration that we are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, and then comes quickly to the significant event saying, And they also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. God raised Him up on the third day, and granted that He should become visible, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us, who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. That religious men would lead the effort to put to death the One who went about doing good and overruling the work of Satan illustrates the depths of human depravity—even when it is masked with religion. God, however, overturned the world and hell, vindicating Jesus by raising Him up on the third day.
The significance of Peter’s statement that Jesus became visible should not be overlooked. Countless heretics, from apostolic times to the present, have denied the truth of Christ’s physical resurrection. That fact is central to Christianity, however. Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 15:12–19 the serious consequences of denying the resurrection. If “Christ has not been raised, [our] faith is worthless; [we] are still in [our] sins” (1 Cor. 15:17). Those who deny Christ’s literal resurrection destroy the only bridge spanning the gulf separating them from God. For the record, Paul has left us the inspired fact that the risen Jesus appeared to Peter, then the Twelve, more than 500 believers at one time, then to James, all the apostles, and finally to himself (1 Cor. 15:5–8).
Not everyone had the privilege of witnessing the resurrected Christ, however. He appeared, Peter declares, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us, who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. God chose only a few to bear testimony to the world that Jesus Christ had risen from the dead, and all of them were believers. Peter’s reference to those who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead offers further proof of His bodily resurrection, since in Jewish thought spirit beings were incapable of such actions.
Verse 42 relates the warning that was essential to the apostolic witness. They were ordered (commanded) to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead (cf. John 5:21–29; Acts 17:30–31; 2 Thess. 1:7–10; 2 Tim. 4:8; Rev. 19:11ff.). Jesus Christ will be to every person either deliverer or judge.
The apostles were not the only witnesses of Jesus Christ; so also were the prophets. They bore witness that through His name (by His power and authority) everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins. Isaiah (Isa. 53:11), Jeremiah (Jer. 31:34), and Zechariah (Zech. 13:1) were among those who spoke of the forgiveness Messiah would bring. All that Jesus is and did is the culmination of divine promises made centuries earlier. The last recorded line of Peter’s message, everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins, is essential. Every component is critical to the gospel. Everyone indicates the universal offer of saving grace (cf. Acts 2:39; 13:39; Rom. 9:33; 10:11; 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9; Rev. 22:17). Who believes in Him indicates the means of receiving saving grace—by faith in Christ alone (Acts 9:42; 11:17; 13:39; 14:23; 15:9; 16:31; 19:4; cf. John 3:14–17; 6:69; Rom. 10:11; Gal. 3:22; Eph. 2:8–9). Receives forgiveness of sins indicates the marvelous, unspeakable privilege conferred by saving grace (Acts 2:38; 13:38–39; cf. Matt. 26:28; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14).
While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.
Then Peter said, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.
The tenth chapter of Acts is one of the most important chapters in Acts, perhaps also one of the most important chapters in the Bible. It is so important because it tells how a gospel that was originally thought of in exclusively Jewish terms came by the intervention and revelation of God to be practically as well as theoretically a gospel for the whole world. Gentiles should be especially thankful for this chapter, since it is because of this revelation that they are able to come to God as Gentiles (see chapter 20).
Today the gospel is preached to Gentiles as Gentiles, and it is not demanded of us that we become Jews in order to become followers of Jesus Christ. Jesus, as Peter says in this sermon, “is Lord of all” (Acts 10:36); that is, he is the Savior and Lord of Jews as Jews and of Gentiles as Gentiles. So Gentiles do not have to come to church wearing coverings for their heads. They do not have to eat kosher food. They do not have to make yearly pilgrimages to Jerusalem for the required feasts. This was not always so, and the reason it is not so now is because of what is recorded in this chapter. Acts 10 is of crucial importance for the way in which Christianity has become not a Jewish religion but a world religion.
In our last chapter we looked at the first four parts of Acts 10. Now we consider Peter’s sermon and its results.
A Three-Part Sermon
Peter’s sermon has three parts. It has an opening section in which Peter describes how he got where he is and how he perceived what God was doing. Second, there is the message proper, beginning with verse 36. Finally, at the end of the sermon, there is what we would call an invitation. It is not phrased as an invitation explicitly, but it is a call for faith in Christ as a result of which, Peter says, God will forgive the sins of those listening.
The important thing about this sermon is that it is simply the basic gospel. Christians are always tempted to reinterpret, rework, or re-create the gospel because they think if they do that, somehow they will make it more appealing to the people to whom they speak. There is a proper concern here, and there is a proper way of doing this. Obviously we have to use the language of the people to whom we speak. And this is not just a matter of learning a particular language—English, French, Greek, or whatever it might be. It is also a matter of speaking in a people’s cultural idiom. For these reasons there is a sense in which the preacher does properly adapt his expression of the gospel to a given audience. But the point I am making is that we must not change the gospel itself. The important thing is the faithful declaration of the message that was given to the apostles at the very beginning and that has formed the substance or heart of Christian preaching throughout all the long centuries of the history of the Christian church.
In the last chapter I described the metamorphosis of Peter’s thinking. God had been teaching Peter that the gospel was for Gentiles as well as Jews. So when Peter got into Cornelius’s house and actually had a Gentile congregation in front of him, he began by acknowledging that truth: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right” (vv. 34–35).
We ought to realize it too. But, of course, we often do not—since we have prejudices of our own. We have denominational prejudices, believing that God is more willing to work with our denomination than with others. We have racial prejudices, thinking that God prefers one race or prefers working with one race to working with others. We have national prejudices, supposing that our nation is somehow intrinsically superior to all others. We must learn that God does not show favoritism. The gospel is for all who will come to him through faith in Jesus Christ.
The Apostolic Gospel
In verse 36 Peter gets to the sermon proper, introducing it by the words: “You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ.” Do you remember C. H. Dodd’s kerygma? This is the fixed structure of the basic gospel message the apostles preached (see pages 52, 108, 109). This basic gospel is what we find Peter’s sermon in Acts 10 to be. So when we go through it we are studying not just any sermon but rather what Peter and the other apostles thought was essential for all people everywhere to learn.
Understand that this is not just a historical study. I am not merely saying, “Well, back in the early days of the church, this is what Peter thought.” Peter was an apostle, and what he thought and the way he expressed the gospel are both normative and binding. Because of his and the others’ apostolic authority, this gospel is also for today. If we teach something else, we do so to our harm and the weakening of the church.
Here is what Peter thought the gospel to be.
The Good News of Peace
The gospel is “the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.” This is a summary statement or introduction to the gospel. The reason the gospel is good news of peace is that apart from the work of Jesus Christ, we are not at peace with God. We are at war with God. Paul puts it in other terms in Romans, saying that we are actually under God’s wrath. The world says, “I’m okay; you’re okay.” But God says that everything is not okay. God says the world is in rebellion against him. Humanity wants to fight him to the death. When almighty God actually did take a form in which mere human beings could fight him to the death, that is precisely what they did. So, as I say, we are at war with God. And the first announcement of the gospel is that peace with God has been made for those who will have it. Peace has been made by Jesus Christ.
When Peter says, quite appropriately in this context, that Jesus is “Lord of all,” he is saying not only that Jesus is the Savior of the Gentiles as well as of the Jews, but also that he is God. The “Lord” is God. Only God is able to establish peace by removing the offenses we have erected.
E. M. Blaiklock notes how remarkable this emphasis is.
Peter was the first to declare that Jesus was the Messiah, and in his exposition of the gospel to his Gentile audience he covers the same theme fully and faithfully.… “This startling claim made by St. Peter with reference to Jesus of Nazareth, with whom he had lived on terms of closest human intimacy, and in whose death he might well have seen the destruction of all his hopes is a further evidence of the change which could only be accounted for by the belief that this same Jesus was risen, and declared to be the Son of God with power.”
The Baptism of Jesus
The second thing Peter mentions is the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. This is a much more important part of the early preaching than we would imagine, as is proved by the fact that each of the four Gospels begins at this point.
Why is Jesus’ baptism so important? When we talk about the baptism of Jesus, generally we talk about it in terms of Jesus’ identification with us. He stressed that point himself when he was baptized. When John protested about baptizing him, Jesus said, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt. 3:15). He was saying in effect, “I want to identify with people; I want to go through all that is proper for me to do.” That is important in its own place. But that is not the primary reason why the baptism of Jesus by John has such an important place in the kerygma.
The reason it is involved in all these basic proclamations of the gospel is that when Jesus Christ was baptized God the Father spoke from heaven, authenticating him as his Son, and on that occasion Jesus was anointed visibly with the Holy Spirit for the task he had to do. John saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove upon him, and the voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17).
It is significant in this respect that the four Gospels do not begin by giving us information about the Lord’s early life, the time between his birth and the start of his public ministry about thirty years later. Some but not all tell of the birth. Luke mentions his growth “in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). That is something but not much. Rather, each of the Gospels passes quickly to the baptism of John. And Mark does not even mention the birth! Mark just starts with John’s baptism. This is because at his baptism God set his seal of approval on Jesus. He identified him as his Son and messenger, the one to whom we should pay heed.
The Public Ministry of Jesus
The third part of Peter’s summation of the gospel is the public ministry of Jesus: “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him” (Acts 10:38). This ministry involves two things: good deeds and special acts that demonstrated Christ’s power over Satan.
The significant thing about this summation of the public ministry of Jesus is that, as in his previous sermons, Peter does not mention Christ’s teaching. In the Gospels we find whole chapters filled with Christ’s sayings, parables, and discourses. In Matthew the Sermon on the Mount takes three chapters and the Olivet Discourse takes two. Chapters 14–16 of John contain what we call the final discourses. The reason for this omission is that until people come to understand what Jesus Christ accomplished by his death, turn from sin, and follow him, they are incapable of responding to his teaching. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said that his disciples are to be poor in spirit, meek, pure in heart, and peace-makers, to live by the teaching of the Scriptures, and to follow a standard higher even than that found in the Old Testament. These teachings are important and necessary for those who are Christ’s. But if they are taught to those who are not yet converted, to those who are incapable in their unconverted state of doing them, these teachings are misleading and harmful.
If we speak about the teachings of Jesus without first speaking of the need for repentance and faith in Jesus as our Savior from sin, people quite naturally begin to think that Christianity is merely about doing good. It is learning what Jesus taught and trying to put it into practice. This only encourages self-righteousness, a trust in human righteousness, which is harmful. Whenever Christianity has fallen into that pattern of teaching it has made a great mistake.
Well, someone says, didn’t the disciples share what Jesus taught? Of course they did. The proof is our New Testament, which contains that teaching. But this came afterward—after people had turned from sin and had come to God through faith in Jesus (see chapter 12).
The Crucifixion of Jesus
The central item in this list of essentials is the crucifixion of Jesus, though Peter mentions it only briefly, perhaps because it was so well known: “They killed him by hanging him on a tree” (v. 39). We may rightly suppose, however, that as questions were asked, this is the chief thing Peter would have spoken about.
What was the point of Jesus’ dying? Jesus was God’s messenger. He is the one to whom we should listen. Why should he have died and not have remained alive to teach us? And why is his death such an important part of the gospel proclamation? The answer is that he died for us, in our place. This is how he made peace between ourselves and God the Father, the truth with which Peter started (v. 36). Jesus made peace, as Peter’s fellow apostle Paul says in another place, by taking the law that we have broken and that condemns us and “nailing it to the cross” (Col. 2:14).
Our sin is like a great wall between God and us. We cannot bridge it in order to make peace with God. We are on the far side of this wall, fighting God all the time. How can that wall be removed? The cross is God’s answer. At the cross God took our sin, placed it upon Jesus Christ, and punished it there. Jesus did not die for himself; he had not sinned. He did not die merely because he was a man. He died for us.
This is the symbolism of the sacrifices. One who had sinned could take an innocent animal, bring it to the priest, have it killed, and then go away knowing that an innocent had died in the guilty one’s place. Of course, a mere animal does not take away sin. But the animal pointed to Christ, who could take away sin. Because Jesus is God and infinite, his death had inexhaustible value. When we trust him, coming to God on the basis of his death, our sin is removed. And what was before a relationship of hostility becomes a bond of peace.
The Resurrection of Jesus
The next item in Peter’s list of gospel truths is the resurrection: “But God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead” (vv. 40–41).
Peter stresses eating and drinking with Christ because that is a way of saying that Christ’s was a real resurrection. In the resurrection of Jesus we are not dealing with some mystical appearance of a disembodied Christ, not the kind of resurrection you sometimes see in Hollywood movies. It was not a resurrection in the sense that “Jesus died, but what he stood for lives on.” The disciples were not suffering from a hallucination as if they loved him so much that they just couldn’t bear the thought of having him dead and so imagined that they saw him in various places. Nor was it that his Spirit was just somehow present with them, inspiring them. No, it was a real resurrection. The resurrected Jesus had a real body. They sat down at a real table with this real Christ, and together with him they ate and drank real food.
This took place in the Upper Room, as Jesus asked for food to show them he was real. When they first saw him they thought he was a ghost. But when he ate with them they knew that he was really risen from the tomb.
Jesus as Judge
Peter’s final point is that God appointed Jesus “as judge of the living and the dead” (v. 42), adding that Jesus also commanded that this truth be preached to the people. This is part of the gospel, but it is the first specific mention of Christ’s role as judge in Acts.
Repent and Believe
When Peter got to the end of this sermon he gave what I would call an application or invitation, though he does so cautiously and even indirectly. Peter said, “All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (v. 43).
Sometimes you hear people talking about different kinds of gospels. In the last century there was something called “the gospel of inevitable progress.” It was a secular philosophy, having to do with Darwinism and the Industrial Revolution. But it also had a religious version that maintained that Jesus came to establish an earthly kingdom and that this kingdom would advance in the world inevitably. Sin was going to be wiped out, and everything was going to be perfect. That was not the real gospel.
Jesus Christ does have a kingdom, of course. That kingdom will be established. I believe it will even be established upon earth. But the preaching of an inevitable kingdom to be brought in by the church is not the gospel. The gospel is what we find in Acts 10.
Sometimes people talk about a “social gospel.” There was an emphasis upon that in the earlier decades of this century by men like Walter Rauschenbusch, Washington Gladden, and others. They saw that the social aspects of Christianity had been neglected and began to stress these things. For them and their followers Christianity became feeding the poor, helping the downtrodden, and so on.
Good as these things may be, we must nevertheless remember that the gospel is what we find here: peace with God through the work of Jesus Christ. And this is no imaginary Jesus. He is the one God sent—who was anointed with the Holy Spirit at his baptism, who went about doing good, demonstrating power over Satan and the forces of evil, who was crucified by wicked men, who was raised the third day, and who will return one day as the judge of all people. This is the gospel God blesses. Whenever we preach something else, we may indeed produce certain visible results. People may be pleased by it and say, “Isn’t that wonderful!” But it is not the gospel, and it will not be blessed by God in the rescue of sinners and the changing of human lives. What God uses to turn men and women from a life of sin to righteousness and empower them to live righteously through the Spirit of the living Christ is the good news of Christ crucified, risen, and coming again.
And that is the way the chapter ends: “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message” (v. 44). What message was that? The message of the social gospel? The message of liberation theology? The gospel of inevitable progress? No. It was the message of Christ crucified. It was while they were hearing that message that the Holy Spirit came upon them and saved them.
This was a puzzle to those Jews who had come up from Joppa with Peter, because they could not understand how the Holy Spirit could be poured out “even on the Gentiles” (v. 45). They had been thinking that the Gentiles would have to become Jews first. The Gentiles had not become Jews, and yet the Holy Spirit came to them exactly as he had come to the apostles prior to Peter’s first preaching at Pentecost. The Gentiles are brought into an exactly parallel position, not merely with normal Jews (or even Samaritans) who had believed on Jesus, but with the apostles themselves. When Peter preached at Pentecost, people repented, were baptized, and after that the Holy Spirit came upon them. When Peter and John went to Samaria, the people had already believed, but they did not receive the Holy Spirit until the apostles laid their hands on them. Here, the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius—this entirely and unabashedly Gentile congregation—received the Holy Spirit just as the Jewish apostles had received the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room.
And they were not compelled to be circumcised! Peter looked at them and said, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water?” He meant, If you can give a reason, here’s the time to do it. Speak up or forever hold your peace. “They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have” (v. 47). Nobody had anything to say. So they baptized them. Thus, without being circumcised, without becoming Jews, they were received rightly, properly, and victoriously into this one great, growing, international, and multi-racial church of Jesus Christ.
Acts 10:1–9, 23b–48
At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God. (Acts 10:1–2)
Luke spends two whole chapters (Acts 10:1–11:18) on the conversion of Cornelius, in itself a fact that indicates its importance. Cornelius’s vision is related four times (Acts 10:3–6, 22, 30–32; 11:13–14) and Peter’s vision twice (Acts 10:9–16; 11:4–10). Peter alludes to it again at the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:7–11). The entire episode underlines the inclusion of Gentiles in the kingdom of God, a matter that for Christian Jews, such as Peter and the church in Jerusalem, would prove difficult to take in. Luke slows down the story of the church’s growth in order to give us this part of the story in detail.
The inclusion of Gentiles in the saving purposes of God was hinted at earlier in Acts: in Jesus’ commission to the apostles to be his witnesses “to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8); and again on the day of Pentecost when Luke draws attention to the fact that representatives of “the nations” were present and were able to hear the good news of God’s grace in their own languages (Acts 2:8–11). But these events could have merely signaled God’s intention to bless Jews in the Diaspora, the Jews who had scattered to remote lands, rather than Gentiles. It was now time to signal the clear intention of the new covenant: God desires to bring into the kingdom people from every tongue, tribe, and nation (Rev. 5:9). “God does not show favoritism” (Acts 10:34 niv). The Holy Spirit had a purpose in sending Peter to Caesarea: he intended to bring a Gentile soldier named Cornelius, a high-ranking member of the occupying power, to faith in Jesus Christ. He would use Peter to bring this about. But Peter must first overcome some prejudice about Gentiles.
Prejudice still plays a disturbing role in church life today, and as we examine Acts 10 and 11, we will need to ask ourselves some disturbing questions whether we are in need of repentance at this point.
Acts 10 begins by telling us what had been going on in Caesarea, the center of Roman administration since a.d. 6, and the home of Cornelius the centurion. Luke describes Cornelius’s vision this way:
At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.” And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the seaside.” When the angel who spoke to him had departed, he called two of his servants and a devout soldier from among those who attended him, and having related everything to them, he sent them to Joppa. The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. (Acts 10:1–9)
Cornelius is described as a centurion, usually a soldier who had worked his way up through the ranks (unlike aristocrats, who could directly become tribunes or legates). According to Acts 10:1, he belonged to “the Italian Cohort.” A cohort consisted of 480 men (one-tenth of a legion). As a centurion, he would be in charge of 80 of these men or legionaries (the number varies from 80 to 160 in different periods of Roman history). At this period, Roman soldiers typically served twenty years in military service (seventeen to thirty-seven years of age), though barely half of them survived the experience. Later in the first century it became twenty-five years. Only citizens could join the legion, but noncitizens could join the auxiliary troops and receive citizenship upon completion.
As a centurion, Cornelius, though a noncommissioned officer, held responsibilities roughly equivalent to those of a modern army captain. Luke describes Cornelius and his family as “devout and God-fearing” (Acts 10:2, 22). There is little certainty today of the precise meaning of the word “God-fearer.” At best, it described someone who attended the synagogue and observed Jewish laws and customs, but had not been incorporated into the Jewish community and had not been circumcised. At a minimum, the most accurate definition we have today according to current scholarship is that the term refers to one who has respect for Jewish ethics, ideals, and monotheistic religion. Nevertheless, Cornelius remained a Gentile. Even though the Old Testament predicted the inclusion of Gentiles into the people of God—and it had said a great deal in such passages as the messianic second psalm, the apocalyptic vision of Isaiah 2, and the prophecy of Pentecost in Joel 2:28ff.—Peter’s mind was still deeply prejudiced by years of resentment and disgust at the ceremonial uncleanness of uncircumcised Gentiles. Showing respect to Cornelius was one thing; eating with him in his home was unthinkable.
To contemplate Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians as complete equals was something beyond unthinkable; it was something to be resisted. It was clear that Gentiles were coming to faith in Jesus Christ (Philip had been instrumental in the conversion of a noble Ethiopian), but the church was now on the verge of splitting along ethnic lines—a Jewish-Christian church and a Gentile-Christian church.
In another town, Joppa, God was addressing the Gentile-Christian relationship in his dealings with Peter. This was the very same location where, centuries earlier, Jonah had been given a similar charge. It was here in Joppa that he had subsequently found a ship in the harbor sailing in the opposite direction. Would Peter do the same, returning to Jerusalem with words of warning to an already deeply suspicious community about the loss of Jewish distinctiveness in the expanding Christian community?
In the previous study, we took note of the fact that Luke is engaged in a story that took place simultaneously in two different locations, Caesarea and Joppa. In the latter city (Acts 10:9–23a), Peter had received a vision on the rooftop of Simon the tanner, where he had been residing. In the vision he was shown a sheet containing both clean and unclean animals and had been ordered to kill and eat. Since Peter was a law-abiding Jew, the very idea of abrogating the ceremonial kosher laws elicited from him a vehement protest. What is clear from our perspective—that the distinction between Jew and Gentile in the Christian church was no longer valid—was not, as yet, so evident to Peter. Meanwhile, three men had arrived and informed Peter that a man named Cornelius, a Roman centurion and a “God-fearer,” had sent them. The centurion, under instruction of a “holy angel,” was requesting Peter’s presence in Caesarea. Since the evening had arrived, the three men spent the night with Peter at Simon’s house, with the intent of making the journey to Caesarea the next morning.
So it was that at 3 in the afternoon (a traditional prayer time), Cornelius had a vision in which an angel spoke to him by name. God commended his alms and prayers and commanded him to send for Peter, who was in Joppa at the house of Simon the tanner, some thirty miles south of Caesarea (Acts 10:4–6). Once the vision was over, Cornelius sent for two of his servants and a “devout soldier” to make the journey south to Joppa. Meanwhile, Peter received a vision of his own in preparation for the visit (Acts 10:9–23). Once the three visitors arrived (the journey would take a good ten hours, or two days), it was evening, and they spent the night in the home of Simon the tanner, where Peter was residing. In the morning, the four, along with six others (“brothers” [10:23]; 11:12 identifies the number of brothers as six), made the journey north to Caesarea, another full day’s journey.
The Journey North
By the time the ten arrived in Caesarea, Cornelius had assembled a welcoming party of family and close friends (Acts 10:24). Cornelius’s immediate response upon seeing Peter was to fall down before him as if he were an angel. No doubt he had spent the previous two days since the men left to fetch Peter contemplating what the visit might entail. His response needs patient evaluation. Luke records the incident this way:
The next day he rose and went away with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him. And on the following day they entered Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.” And as he talked with him, he went in and found many persons gathered. And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me.” And Cornelius said, “Four days ago, about this hour, I was praying in my house at the ninth hour, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.’ So I sent for you at once, and you have been kind enough to come. Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.” (Acts 10:23b–33)
If Cornelius’s expectation levels were heightened, so, too, were Peter’s. Even though he was already in Cornelius’s home, he made it very clear that as a Jew he shouldn’t be; it was “unlawful” (Acts 10:28). This sounds tactless, from one point of view. No doubt, however psychoanalytical it sounds, both Cornelius and Peter were nervous, and perhaps their stumbling responses reflected it. On Peter’s part, it was typical of him to display ambivalent enthusiasm, so eager to do God’s will and convince himself (and others) of good reasons why he shouldn’t be doing it!
It is a curious feature of this delightful story that we are almost thirty verses into the narrative, yet Peter still did not know why he had been sent for! Peter had to ask Cornelius this very question: “I ask then why you sent for me” (Acts 10:29). Peter had shown remarkable willingness to go in obedience to God’s command, even though he was not initially told the precise reason for the mission. Of course, he had heard Jesus charge him, along with the other disciples, to “make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19; cf. Luke 24:47). He may well have guessed the purpose, though it is easier for us to see it from our perspective than it would have been for Peter. Why was Peter there? According to Cornelius, he was there to preach a sermon. He had assembled a congregation eager to hear it. It must have been a preacher’s dream!
We should ask ourselves whether we possess such willingness to act in obedience to God’s commands even when we cannot perceive the full significance of doing so. In evangelism, for example, we are commanded to be ready to “make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). We can never know whether such a defense will fall on deaf ears. We have no means of knowing whether this or that individual is one of the elect. But our obedience must be based on God’s command and not on the guarantee of results.
Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord. (Acts 10:33)
There is a sense in which Peter had been prepared for this moment. Everything in his life—as a fisherman in Galilee, as a disciple of Jesus, as an apostle-delegate of the church in Jerusalem—had been preparing him for this moment: to preach what would be, in effect, the most important sermon of Peter’s entire ministry. One could argue that this sermon was more difficult to give than the one he preached on the day of Pentecost. The audience in Acts 2 had been Jewish; this one was decidedly different.
It is doubtful that we are ever fully aware of the times we are involved in something monumental. Only with the significant benefit of hindsight are we able to look back and see the significance of any moment. This truth suggests the need to be obedient to God’s commands at every level and on every occasion. When the Lord commands, it is our duty to obey, no matter how difficult it may be. It was indicative of Peter’s nobility that he was willing to come to Cornelius’s house without knowing the precise reason.
When Peter preached to Jews assembled in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, he could assume that his audience knew many of the salient details relating to the identity of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:14–42). Here in Caesarea, Peter could make no such assumption. Cornelius and the audience that had gathered with him had not been present in Jerusalem to witness the death and resurrection of Jesus. So how would Peter handle this new situation? His sermon is to be found in Acts 10:34–43:
So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
The sermon provides us with an insight into those features of the gospel that are most important to proclaim to people who have never heard. Peter had been given an opportunity to relate the key features of the gospel to a willing and eager audience. He began by leveling the playing field, pointing out that Cornelius’s status as a Gentile was no barrier to salvation. Nor was this a new policy. It had always been God’s intention, expressly so, that the message of salvation was for the whole world.
Notice the first global aspect of Peter’s sermon: God does not show favoritism (Acts 10:34). This is of greater significance than it might first appear. Many of the Jews had long since believed they were special, even superior to the Gentiles. The restrictive policies of social contact were always in danger of being interpreted that way. The Old Testament, however, was clear enough: God had not chosen the Jews for anything in themselves, but because he loved them (Deut. 7:7). It was the grace of God that distinguished them and not something of which they could boast. The Jews were even commanded to love aliens because they themselves had also been aliens in Egypt; the Lord “is not partial and takes no bribe” (Deut. 10:17). The grace of God is to be shown to those outside the church.
Notice the second aspect: the gospel is for everyone regardless of ethnic identity (Acts 10:35). Those who “fear God” and do “what is right” are “acceptable” to God, irrespective of race. The statement is a bold one, giving rise to a great deal of interpretive suggestions, requiring some careful analysis.
Several possibilities have been suggested for the statement Peter makes in verse 35, that “in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” First, some suggest that this shows that God saves individuals on the basis of their piety and moral character regardless of their hearing about Jesus Christ, let alone trusting in him as Savior and Lord. Thus, those who have never heard the gospel are saved on the basis of works.
Such a view seems to warrant an appeal to justification by works, or self-effort, a position that the entire canon of Scripture rules out. If we were to depend on our own efforts for salvation, none of us would be saved, for “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). At no point did Cornelius suggest that his good works were enough, and thus that he did not need the salvation of which Peter spoke. On the contrary, he humbly admitted his need of forgiveness and accepted salvation solely through faith in Christ.
Second, others suggest that people may be saved on the basis of what Jesus Christ had done for them in the atonement, irrespective of whether they realize this and acknowledge it. They are “anonymous Christians,” as the term has sometimes been employed. Both of these positions read Peter’s use of the word “acceptable” to mean full-blown “justification” (Acts 10:34). Those who have a humble spirit (fear God) and display fruits of the Spirit in Christlike character traits, it is said, are justified on the grounds of “implicit faith.” On this basis, it is possible to be saved even though a person has never heard of Jesus Christ, let alone placed a personal trust in him as Savior and Lord.
The view that it is possible for someone who has never heard of Jesus Christ to be saved has been advocated in different ways. The current pope, Benedict XVI, issued a document in the year 2000 called “Dominus Iesus: on the unicity and salvific universality of the Church,” stating that salvation is possible for those who are not Roman Catholics. The prayers and rituals of the Catholic faithful may either help or hinder in their salvation. On the Protestant side, Clark Pinnock, in his book A Wideness in God’s Mercy, and John Sanders, in No Other Name: An Investigation into the Destiny of the Unevangelized, have advocated similar views. Citing this incident in Acts 10 and the “conversion” of Cornelius, Pinnock calls Cornelius “the pagan saint par excellence of the New Testament.” God had accepted Cornelius’s prayers and alms, and yet Peter was commanded to preach Christ to him to bring “messianic” salvation to his household. “True,” writes Pinnock, “he needed to become a Christian to receive messianic salvation, including assurance and the Holy Spirit, but not to be saved from hell.” C. S. Lewis espoused a similar view:
Is it not frightfully unfair that this new life should be confined to people who have heard of Christ and been able to believe in Him? But the truth is God has not told us what His arrangements about the other people are. We do not know that no man can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him.
There are several reasons why these views are unacceptable. At worst, they sanction a view that one can be saved on the basis of the person’s own good works. Evangelicals who have advocated a view that the unevangelized can be saved, not wishing to endorse a salvation by works, have introduced an “unconscious faith” into the equation. Those who are saved among the unevangelized are, in fact, exercising faith in a Jesus they have never heard of! They have an “implicit faith.” The death of Jesus is still necessary for salvation, but a conscious faith in Jesus who died for my sin is not.
The vast majority of evangelical Christians hold the view that explicit belief in Jesus is necessary for salvation. This view, known as exclusivism, can be summarized in four propositions: (1) Jesus is the only Savior; (2) in order to be saved, humans must know that they are sinners who need salvation and forgiveness; (3) in order to be saved, humans also need to know who Jesus is and that his death and resurrection provide the basis for that salvation; and (4) humans must place their personal faith and trust in Jesus as the one and only Savior. Scriptural support is drawn from the following: (1) “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Rom. 10:9–10); and (2) “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:17–18).
In addition to the view that the unevangelized and unbelieving may be saved, two further views need to be considered. It is possible to read Peter’s words as a statement about believers rather than unbelievers. In this way, those who fear the Lord and engage in acts of piety do so because they are already believers in Jesus Christ. Peter is merely repeating what he has already said: that God shows no partiality on the basis of race or ethnicity.
It is also possible to understand the word “acceptable” as something less technical than full-blown justification. What Cornelius did (in giving alms and engaging in prayer) were good things. They were not things for which God would save him eternally; but they were good things, nevertheless. He was still in need of the gospel—hence the reason why Peter was there in his home. It would have been strange, after Cornelius had been told by an angel that God had seen his almsgiving and heard his prayers, for Peter then to come in and immediately suggest that his good works were evil and that there was no goodness in Cornelius whatsoever. Our eagerness to expose human depravity and consequent inability can sometimes make us appear unkind. In an eagerness to appear biblical, we can easily appear to be denying the very concept of common grace. Even unbelievers are capable of doing good, but this is not sufficient to save them. Peter, therefore, began his sermon not with the doctrine of sin—something that might have shut the door of world missions had Cornelius taken offense to it—but with Jesus Christ!
Jesus: His Life, Death, and Resurrection
Peter’s sermon (Acts 10:34–43) itself presented the same message for this Gentile as had his sermon to the Jews in Jerusalem: after all, God “is Lord of all” (Acts 10:36). Peter did not preach one message for the Jew and another for the Gentile. The way of salvation is exactly the same for both Jews and Gentiles. Picking up the story of Jesus following his baptism by John, Peter began in earnest to relate the highlights of the work of Jesus Christ.
First, Peter spoke of Jesus’ life and ministry. Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit and went about “doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him,” adding that he was himself a witness to these things and could therefore faithfully corroborate these events (Acts 10:36–37). Luke can relate a firsthand knowledge of Jesus.
Second, Peter alluded to Jesus’ death. Jesus had been put to death “by hanging him upon a tree” (Acts 10:39)—a deliberate reference to Deuteronomy 21:22–23. Jesus’ death had been a cursed death and not just another execution. Peter will reflect on it again later in his first letter: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24). Jesus’ death had borne the judgment of God upon it. It was no ordinary life, and it was no ordinary death, either.
Third, Peter emphasized the resurrection: “God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead” (Acts 10:40–41). The resurrection was more than an apparition. Jesus ate and drank with the apostles in his resurrection body (Luke 24:41–43).
Fourth, Peter noted the judgment activity of Jesus at the end of the age: “And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead” (Acts 10:42). Life, death, resurrection, and coming judgment—from his incarnation to his glorious return, Jesus is now proclaimed by his apostolic delegates as the only Savior of sinners. Forgiveness of sins is offered to all who believe in his name. Salvation is to be found in Jesus Christ alone:
None other Lamb, none other name,
None other hope in heav’n or earth or sea,
None other hiding place from guilt and shame,
None beside thee!
As Peter finished the sermon, the Holy Spirit “came on all who heard the message,” and to the astonishment of Peter’s “circumcised” companions, they began to speak in tongues, much as they had done in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (Acts 10:44). Identical words are employed in both instances: “poured out” (Acts 10:45; 2:17–18, 33), “baptism” (11:16; 1:5), “gift” (11:17; 2:38), and “tongues” (10:46; 2:4). Peter draws out the analogy in some detail when he explains this event back in Jerusalem in the next chapter (Acts 11:15–17). It marked a redemptive-historical breakthrough of the gospel into the Gentile world, as the men in Jerusalem had to admit: “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life” (Acts 11:18). In this way, what occurred at Caesarea was unique and unrepeatable. It was a sign that the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile had been demolished forever.
Jesus told us the essence of the Holy Spirit’s mission in John 16:14: “He will glorify me.” J. I. Packer has written: “The essence of the Holy Spirit’s ministry is, at this or any time in the Christian era, to mediate the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In other words, the Spirit is sent to make Christ real to people and to show us who Christ really is in his glory, so that we come to love him, trust him, obey him, and show him to the world. The Spirit responds to the exalting of Christ.
To every individual there is a remedy for the guilt of sin. It is faith alone in Jesus Christ alone!
There is a postscript to the story. Peter immediately baptized Cornelius and others who had received the Holy Spirit—the same Spirit that indwelt Peter: “ ‘Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?’ And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days” (Acts 10:47–48). It was an action for which Peter would need to account on his return to Jerusalem. There would be some who expressed grave doubts about what had happened. Others would rejoice in the grace of God that had now been lavished on the growing church. Either way, things would not be the same from then on. A Rubicon had been crossed, and there was no going back. The Gentiles were coming in large numbers into the church. The next chapter in Acts (Acts 11) will return again to this incident as Peter defends his ministry and actions on the Mediterranean coast.
38. Jesus of Nazareth. He calleth him a Nazarite here, not because he was born there, but because he came thence to execute his office; again, because he was surnamed thus commonly. He saith that he was anointed with the Spirit and power by hypallage. For the power wherein Christ exceeded proceeded from the Spirit alone. Therefore, when as the heavenly Father anointed his Son, he furnished him with the power of his Spirit. Peter saith immediately after, that this power appeared in miracles; although he expresseth one kind only in plain words, that Christ testified that he was endowed with power of the Holy Ghost, that he might do good in the world. For it was not meet that the fearful power of God should be showed forth in him, but such as might allure the world with the sweet taste of goodness and grace to love him and to desire him. The metaphor of anointing is usual so often as mention is made of the gifts of the Holy Ghost. It is now applied unto the person of Christ, because by this means he was consecrated a king and priest by his Father. And we know that in time of the law, oil was a solemn token of consecration. The going of Christ is taken for the course of his calling, as if he should say, that he fulfilled his function until the time appointed before. The similitude is taken from travellers which go forward in their journey until they come unto the appointed place; although he showeth therewithal that he walked through Judea in three years, so that no corner was without his good deeds.
Those which were holden of devils. This also was a more manifest token of God’s power in Christ, that he did not only heal men of common diseases, but did also cure desperate evils. All diseases are indeed light punishments wherewith God doth punish us; but when as he dealeth more gently with us according to his fatherly kindness, he is said to strike us with his hand then; but in more grievous scourges he useth Satan as the minister of his wrath, and as it were an hangman. And we must diligently mark this distinction; for it were an absurd thing to say that he is tormented of the devil who is sick of an ague, or of some other common kind of disease; but the alienating of the mind,2 furious madness, and other, as it were, monstrous griefs, [evils,] are fitly and properly attributed to Satan. And, in this respect, the Scripture useth to call men who are so taken and carried headlong with such madness that they have no hold of themselves, so that they seem to be turned almost into beasts, men possessed of devils.
Because God was with him. Peter noteth briefly to what end those powers did tend which were showed by the hand of Christ, to wit, that he might purchase credit among men, who did behold God as it were present; and this was the true use of miracles, as we have said already elsewhere, and as we shall see again hereafter when we come to it. For we must stay ourselves upon this principle, that we diminish the majesty of God unless we embrace and reverence those whom he marketh with the mark of his servants. Therefore, forasmuch as powers [miracles] did plainly prove that Christ descended from heaven, his dignity is placed without the lot of man’s judgment.
Exodus 13; Luke 16; Job 31; 2 Corinthians 1
once again we may usefully reflect on both designated readings.
Job 31 is the final chapter of Job’s last response to the three comforters. The closing three chapters of this address (chaps. 29–31) are dominated by two themes. First, Job now bemoans not so much his physical suffering as his loss of face and prestige in the community. He has been a man of dignity and honor; now he is treated with scorn, even by young men from contemptible families (e.g., 30:1). Second, although all along Job has protested that he is suffering innocently, now he discloses the habits of his life that explain why the opening chapter describes him as “blameless and upright,” a man who “feared God and shunned evil” (1:1).
Indeed, one of the reasons why Job had been so honored in the community was that his righteousness and generosity were well known: he rescued the poor and the fatherless, assisted the dying, and helped widows (29:12). So also in the present chapter: almost in desperation because of the charges brought against him, Job lays out the evidence of his innocence. He made a covenant with his eyes “not to look lustfully at a girl” (31:1). He constantly remembered God’s all-seeing eye (31:4), and therefore spoke the truth and dealt honestly in business (31:5–8). He avoided adultery; he dealt equitably with any grievance from his menservants and maidservants, knowing that he himself must one day face God’s justice, and that in any case they are as human as he (31:13–15). Out of the fear of God, he was especially generous with the poor (31:16–23). Despite great wealth, he never trusted it (31:24–28), nor allowed himself to gloat over the misfortunes of others (31:29–30). So the chapter ends with Job maintaining his reputation for integrity, and finding no comfort.
Paul also suffers—not only the loss of possessions, family, and health, but the peculiar pressures of front-line ministry, and, worse, overt persecution (2 Corinthians 1:1–11). Of course, the circumstances are radically different. Paul knows, as Job did not, that he has been called to suffer (e.g., Acts 9:16). Moreover, Paul lives and serves this side of the cross: he self-consciously follows one who suffered unjustly for the sake of others. Perhaps most importantly, Paul knows that the encouragement he has received from “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort” (1:3) he is able to pass on to others. He knows God “comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (1:4). Pity those who have never been comforted; they never give comfort either.
 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.
“Business so far this year is meeting, but not exceeding, our forecast. We are concerned about indicators showing a slight recession for the second half of the calendar year.”
With US economic data at its most disappointing in 18 months, it should not be surprising that Markit’s US Manufacturing PMI plummeted to 53.0 in February – its lowest since August 2017. Under the hood in the PMI data, new orders tumbled to 52.7 (lowest since June 2017), and output slowed to its weakest since Sept 2017.
ISM’s Manufacturing survey rebounded in January (like PMI) after December’s plunge, and was expected to slide back modestly in February, but it didn’t – it plunged back to cycle lows 54.2 – the lowest since Dec 2016.
As a reminder, the last time the ISM imploded two months ago, it was the catalyst that sent stocks plunging. So far, however, it has not had much of an impact on risk assets as the narrative now is that China can reflate the world.
Looking at the index, ISM Prices Paid contracted (49.4) for the second month in a row as new orders and employment stumbled.
The complaints by respondents largely focused on weak exports and trade, a function of the ongoing trade war with China, as well as the occasional weather lament:
- “Strong domestics market. Slow export markets.” (Paper Products)
- “Demand remains healthy at the beginning of 2019. However, growing concerns for what could be another round of tariffs in March are further escalating price increases of already constrained electronic components. Expect to see increased lead times and prices throughout Q1 and Q2.” (Computer & Electronic Products)
- “Strong start to the year, though weather has been a challenge.” (Chemical Products)
- “Still fairly steady with production and services.” (Transportation Equipment)
- “Economy showing general strength, especially in manufacturing. Cost pressures and tariff challenges persist but are manageable. General outlook is for stability and potential improvement in the second half of 2019.” (Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products)
- “Orders remain strong. Supplier delivery continues to be challenged on some commodities.” (Machinery)
- “Aerospace engine-related business continues to be strong. Energy and general industry-related business is flat to down.” (Miscellaneous Manufacturing)
- “Business so far this year is meeting, but not exceeding, our forecast. We are concerned about indicators showing a slight recession for the second half of the calendar year.” (Fabricated Metal Products)
- “Uncertainty of steel prices due to Section 232 tariffs on imported steel and lack of resolution of the anti-dumping trade cases.” (Petroleum & Coal Products)
- “General business conditions started to slow at the end of January, continuing through February.” (Plastics and Rubber Products)
For his part, not even IHS Chief Business Economist Chris Williamson sounded his usual upbeat self:
“The PMI indicates the US manufacturing sector is growing at its weakest rate for one and a half years, with firms reporting a marked easing in production growth in February, linked to a similar slowdown in order book growth.
“The survey exhibits a strong advance correlation with comparable official data, and suggests that factory production and orders growth rates are close to stalling mid-way through the first quarter, albeit in part representing some pay-back after a strong January. Export markets remained the principal drag on order books.
“Having seen demand grow faster than production through much of 2018, order book and output trends have come back into line in recent months, hinting at an alleviation of capacity constraints as demand cools. Backlogs of works barely rose as a result, and price pressures have likewise moderated, though tariffs were again reported to have pushed costs higher. Hiring has consequently also slowed.
“Worries regarding the impact of tariffs and trade wars, alongside wider poltical uncertainty, undermined business confidence, with expectations of future growth running at one of the most subdued levels seen for over two years and suggesting downside risks prevail for coming months.“
Of course, this is just the kind of bad news the stock market will love – dismal US manufacturing means the Fed is on hold for even longer (and/or QE or rate-cuts imminent), which can only be great news for stocks, now that the market is back to trading the way it did under QE.
READING: Numbers 7-8, Mark 7:1-30
Jesus’ words in Mark 7—a quote from the book of Isaiah that He used to describe the religious leaders of His time—perhaps best summarize religious hypocrisy. Those leaders were going through their religious rituals and customs, but they missed the Messiah in their midst. Instead, their traditions had become their gods. It’s no wonder, then, that Jesus quoted Isaiah’s words: “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. They worship me in vain, teaching as doctrines human commands”(Mark 7:6-7).
On the outside, everything they did looked and sounded good – but God was looking at their hearts. He alone could see that though they claimed to worship Him, they were instead only following their own traditions. They were religious hypocrites leading others astray.
Lest we condemn the Pharisees and scribes without self-reflection, though, I’m reminded that sometimes my heart and my lips aren’t always in sync, either. I know that’s the case, but I don’t want to worship God in vain. True disciples worship Him in truth.
PRAYER: “God, forgive me when I’m not the follower I claim to be.”
TOMORROW’S READING: Numbers 9-10, Mark 7:31-8:21
Exodus 13; Luke 16; Job 31; 2 Corinthians 1
on first reading, the parable of the shrewd manager and its unexpected conclusion is one of the strangest stories that Jesus tells (Luke 16:1–9).
An inefficient and wasteful manager is called in by the wealthy owner and told he is to be sacked. He must close out the books and pick up his pink slip. Terribly concerned about his future, the manager wonders what he should do. He does not possess the robust physique that would equip him for manual labor, and he really does not want to go on the dole.
So he comes up with a totally unscrupulous plan. While he still enjoys legitimate authority over the owner’s goods and accounts, he starts cutting deals with his master’s debtors. It is a huge operation, and the sums are enormous. For debtor after debtor, he slashes the amount of their indebtedness, in some cases as much as fifty percent. His reasoning is very simple. In a culture where a gift creates an obligation, he recognizes that all these people will feel obligated to accommodate him when he finds himself without a job and income. With sums like these, he will be able to rely on their hospitality for a very long time. Doubtless the master did not like having his accounts diddled, but he was savvy enough to recognize the shrewdness his manager had shown.
Then comes the startling application: “For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings” (16:8–9). What does this mean?
It cannot mean that Jesus advocates unscrupulous business practices. The point is that the manager used resources under his control (though not properly his) to prepare for his own future. Do the “people of the light” use resources under their control to prepare for their own future? What is that future? The shrewd manager wanted to be welcomed into the homes of these debtors; the people of the light are to be “welcomed into eternal dwellings” (16:9). So should we not be investing heavily in heaven, laying up treasures there? If that includes spending money on the right things, so be it: when it is all gone, we still have an eternal dwelling ahead of us. The idea is not that we can buy heaven, but that it is unimaginably irresponsible not to plan for our home, when even the people of this world know enough to prepare for their future homes. Understandably, the next verses (16:10–15) strip away the glamour of possessions in favor of what God highly values.
 Carson, D. A. (1998). For the love of God: a daily companion for discovering the riches of God’s Word. (Vol. 1, p. 25). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
The Effectiveness of Gospel Tracts
Segment 1 (00:00) Tale As Old As Time
Segment 2 (08:32) More Money, More Sin Problems
Segment 3 (18:09) An A-Tract-ting Testimony
Wretched Surprise! (25:34) A Trip to Asia with Bible League