Daily Archives: March 14, 2019

March 14 When the Odds Are Against You

Scripture Reading: Judges 7:12–15

Key Verse: Judges 7:12

Now the Midianites and Amalekites, all the people of the East, were lying in the valley as numerous as locusts; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the seashore in multitude.

Do you need special encouragement today? Does it feel like all your sources of security have crumbled around you? Gideon understood feeling like all the odds were against him. He faced the challenge of his life: fighting the mighty battalions of Midian with an army of only three hundred men.

Judges 7:12 reported that the Midianites and the Amalekites appeared as numerous as locusts. Their camels appeared as numerous as the sand on the seashore. Can you imagine how Gideon’s heart must have sunk upon seeing the awesome view? However, God did not allow Gideon to remain discouraged. When he returned to the camp, he heard two men discussing a dream that, being interpreted, was of God giving Midian over to the Israelites. Upon hearing this, Gideon worshiped God.

Gideon’s boldness was renewed. Yours can be too. Such courage is available to you, though all the odds appear stacked against you. This is because you can know for sure that God will not leave you to face your foes alone. No matter what you face today, God is greater. Trust Him, and He will use you in a mighty, wonderful way to effect victory.

Thank You, Lord, that You will use me today to effect victory in Your name. I move forward with confidence and trust.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 77). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

BREAKING… CONFIRMED: Obama’s CIA, DOJ and FBI Started Targeting the Trump Campaign in 2015 – Long Before What Comey Claimed (July 2016)! — The Gateway Pundit

The pieces of the coup to undermine the Constitution of the United States of America are coming undone.  Evidence from various sources now confirms that Obama’s CIA, DOJ and FBI illegally spied on the Trump team starting in 2015 and then built a coup to prevent him from winning the election and later remove him from office!

As we reported on June 4, 2018, the US Senate released over 500 pages of information related to the Spygate scandal.  Hidden in the information were unredacted Strzok – Page texts that show the FBI initiated actions to insert multiple spies in the Trump campaign in December 2015.

We reported that according to far left LA Times, Comey stated in March of 2017 under oath that the FBI investigation into the Trump – Russia scandal started in July 2016.  Now we know without a doubt that Comey lied about this.

A text message released by the US Senate showed words that were redacted when the FBI released the same texts long ago. The texts show evidence of collusion and wrongdoing by Obama’s FBI.

Super-spy Tony Shaffer retweeted a tweet by Nick Falco showing that text messages between dirty cops Peter Strzok and his girlfriend in the FBI, Lisa Page, lead to information that ‘Spygate’ started in early 2015 –

Unfortunately but not surprisingly, Twitter has since shut down the Twitter account of Nick Falco, the individual Shaffer retweeted, he must have been too effective!

Fortunately we saved the contents of Falco’s tweet.  Falco referred to texts released between corrupt FBI investigator Peter Strzok to corrupt FBI attorney Lisa Page stating the following –

Additional information we also provided showed that Obama’s spy, Stefan Halper, was awarded a contract in September of 2015.

We also pointed out that the problem with Obama spying on Trump before July 2016 is that it is against FBI rules –

Retired assistant FBI director for intelligence Kevin Brock also has questions. Brock supervised an agency update to their longstanding bureau rules governing the use of sources while working under then-director Robert Mueller. These rules prohibit the FBI from directing a human source to perform espionage on an American until a formal investigation has been opened – paperwork and all. 

Brock sees oddities in how the Russia case began. “These types of investigations aren’t normally run by assistant directors and deputy directors at headquarters,” he told me. “All that happens normally in a field office, but that isn’t the case here and so it becomes a red flag. Congress would have legitimate oversight interests in the conditions and timing of the targeting of a confidential human source against a U.S. person.” -The Hill

The problem with Comey lying about the start date of the Trump counterintelligence campaign before Congress is that it is against the law.

President Trump tweeted out a follow up to our post the next day –

Now we know that President Trump was correct in retweeting our story!

US Representative Devin Nunez was on the Sean Hannity [Radio] Show two days ago and he said this –

There’s a lot of information out there that tells us that the FBI was thick into this all through 2016 not just starting at the end of July like they’d like to claim.

In addition, we now know from Jeff Carlson at the Epoch Times who obtained a copy of Nellie Ohr’s testimony to Congress, that Nellie, who was a CIA agent, started working against Trump in 2015

The implication here is that Nellie Ohr approached Fusion-GPS owner Glenn Simpson for a job; essentially to work on political opposition research files Fusion-GPS was assembling in 2015.  This is distinctly different from Glenn Simpson seeking out Nellie Ohr, and opens the entire background to larger ramifications.

Our research has always indicated that Nellie’s work product was transmitted to Christopher Steele as part of an intelligence laundry process.   Chris Steele laundered Nellie’s information, provided second verification where possible, formatted into an official intelligence file, and returned that file -now named the Steele Dossier- to the FBI.

However, if it becomes verified that it was CIA contracted (former or current) Nellie Ohr who approached Simpson, then it becomes possible, perhaps likely, the intelligence information (seeds carried by Nellie), originated from the CIA.

This means that Obama’s CIA, DOJ and FBI, all started working on spying on, infiltrating, harassing and framing the Trump campaign in 2015!

The light is beginning to shine on the many crooks in the Obama Administration.  Let it burn!

hat tip D. Manny

via BREAKING… CONFIRMED: Obama’s CIA, DOJ and FBI Started Targeting the Trump Campaign in 2015 – Long Before What Comey Claimed (July 2016)! — The Gateway Pundit

March 14 Clothed with Power

Scripture Reading: Luke 24:44–49

Key Verse: John 6:63

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

After Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to the Father, His disciples were zealous to spread His message of salvation. Yet Christ commanded them to wait until they were “clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49 nasb) on pentecost when the Holy Spirit would come for a new, indwelling ministry.

Think seriously about this fact: If the Holy Spirit was necessary for the apostles to live and minister effectively, do we not need His power as well? The Christian life is started by the Holy Spirit in the new birth experience and continued by the same Holy Spirit.

We need God’s Holy Spirit to enable us to live in victory over our circumstances. Only He gives us His hope, strength, and peace in the midst of crises. Only He supplies the mind and life of Christ when our emotions and situations are unpredictable and unstable.

We need the Holy Spirit to carry out the commands of Scripture through us. We can love our enemies, give thanks in heartache, deny ourselves, and turn the other cheek when we are ridiculed—only as He expresses Christ’s life through us.

The Lord gives you His all-sufficient Holy Spirit to glorify Himself through you. Let Him complete what He started in you at salvation by yielding to His reign daily.

Dear Lord, I yield to Your reign in my life so that You can complete what You started in me at salvation. Enable me to live in victory over my circumstances. Give me the mind of Christ when my emotions and situations are unstable.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 77). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

March 14 A God-Centered Prayer

Scripture reading: 2 Chronicles 20:13–30

Key verse: 2 Chronicles 20:17

You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem! Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.

Jehoshaphat’s prayer was God centered. He did not indulge in negativism by dwelling on the details of the difficulty. God wants you to be specific about a problem, His desire is to move your focus onto His power. Name your concern and begin with praise for His action and blessing in the past; then express the truth of His omnipotence.

The king was no novice in rulership, and that wasn’t the first kingdom problem. He had learned the value of coming to God in absolute humility, acknowledging his utter dependence. So complete was his trust that he never lapsed into self-reliance.

In other words, he could have quickly thanked God and then spread out the battle maps to make plans with his commanders. In your situation, the temptation to figure it out yourself may be the same, but God wants you to let Him handle the strategy.

What is even more awesome is that while the king prayed, God already had their deliverance under way. By the time the army of Judah arrived on the scene, what they beheld was a field of corpses. Not one foe was left standing. God provided what they needed, and He supplied them with gracious abundance.

Trusting Him to provide the resources for every demand makes you a God-centered person.

Lord, thank You for Your faithfulness in the past. I praise You for what You will do in the future. I lay my problems, plans, and issues before You right now.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 77). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

March 14, 2019 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

REUTERS

The U.S. Treasury will try to shield President Donald Trump from a congressional request to see his tax returns but its efforts to protect his privacy will be the same given any taxpayer, the Treasury secretary said on Thursday.

Beto O’Rourke, the youthful Texan who gained a national following with his long-shot election battle against U.S. Senator Ted Cruz last year, on Thursday launched a bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

The U.S. Senate was poised on Thursday to pass a proposal to terminate President Donald Trump’s declaration of an emergency at the southern border, defying his threat to veto the measure and heavy lobbying of his fellow Republicans.

Congress plans to scrutinize why the United States waited so many days to ground all Boeing Co 737 MAX jets involved in Sunday’s crash in Ethiopia as other countries and airlines acted more quickly.

India and Pakistan agreed on Thursday to go forward with a new border crossing and route for Sikh pilgrims to visit a holy temple in Pakistan, a rare glimmer of cooperation after tension flared over the neighbors’ decades-old Kashmir dispute.

Russian oil company Rosneft spent a fortune on joint ventures in Venezuela even though it suspected it was losing out on millions of dollars. It continued investing because the Kremlin wanted to support its ally in South America.

The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits increased more than expected last week, suggesting the labor market was slowing, but probably not to the extent implied by a near-stall in job growth in February. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 229,000 for the week ended March 9.

AP Top Stories

Citing poor media freedoms, racism and “ideological prejudice”, China hit back on Thursday in unusually strong terms after the U.S. State Department slammed China’s rights record, including equating abuses on its Muslim minorities with the 1930s.

A leading researcher on China’s ethnic policies said on Wednesday that an estimated 1.5 million Uighurs and other Muslims could be held in so-called re-education centers in Xinjiang region, up from his earlier figure of 1 million.

A new chemical weapons investigation team with the power to assign blame for attacks such as those in Syria will start work in weeks, the head of the world’s toxic arms organisation said.

A senior Iranian security official on Wednesday accused regional powers of spending money on “suspicious nuclear projects”, and warned that such threats would force Tehran to revise its defense strategy.

California’s governor has signed a moratorium halting the use of the death penalty, saying he would be unable to sleep at night if he sent just one innocent person to their death. Citing a National Academy of Sciences report that estimated 1 out of every 25 people on death row was innocent, the governor said. “If that’s the case, that means if we move forward executing 737 people in California, we will have executed roughly 30 people that are innocent.”

International donors are gathering in Brussels hoping to drum up $9 billion to help Syrians uprooted by the country’s bloody civil war, as European countries warn the money must not prop up President Bashar al-Assad.

India’s biggest private oil refiner Reliance Industries has capped crude imports from sanction-hit Venezuela, the company said Thursday, following pressure from the United States.

Western-backed forces on Wednesday claimed Isil’s caliphate was in its “final moments” after thunderous shelling on its last patch of territory in eastern Syria prompted a wave of jihadists to surrender. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) estimated around 3,000 had walked out of the shrinking Baghuz pocket in the last 48 hours, most of whom fighters, suggesting a coordinated surrender.

The Navy between 2020 and 2024 wants to spend around $4 billion buying 10 large unmanned surface vessels and nine unmanned submarines.

The United States aims to test a ground-launched cruise missile with a range of about 620 miles in August, a Pentagon official said on Wednesday, after Washington announced last month it plans to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

BBC

Greta Thunberg, 16, the Swedish schoolgirl who has inspired an international movement to fight climate change, has been nominated as a candidate to receive this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. If she were to win, she would be the youngest recipient since Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai, who was 17 when she received the prize.

The new Algerian prime minister, Noueddine Bedoui, has been setting out his objectives in response to mass protests that forced President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to withdraw from seeking a fifth term. In his first news conference since being appointed, Mr Bedoui said that he would form a technocratic government that would include young Algerians who led the demonstrations.

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s newly elected President Félix Tshisekedi has pardoned 700 political prisoners, in what is seen as a major gesture of reconciliation since he took office in the troubled nation in January.

WND

A Bible said to have been signed by President Donald Trump sold this week on eBay for $325, according to the listing.

The video-hosting platform Vimeo canceled the account of a church that posted videos of a Bible conference that included teaching on homosexuality.

A new study finds that people who use e-cigarettes face a significantly higher risk of a heart attack, coronary artery disease, and depression compared to people who use no tobacco products. E-cigarettes, also known as “vapes” or “e-cigs,” are battery-operated, handheld devices that many believe is a “healthier” alternative to smoking or chewing traditional tobacco.


Mid-Day Snapshot · Mar. 14, 2019

The Foundation

“It will not be denied that power is of an encroaching nature and that it ought to be effectually restrained from passing the limits assigned to it. After discriminating, therefore, in theory, the several classes of power, as they may in their nature be legislative, executive, or judiciary, the next and most difficult task is to provide some practical security for each, against the invasion of the others.” —James Madison (1788)

Lee’s Plan to Save Trump’s Emergency Declaration

Republicans are divided on Trump’s border barrier amid concerns over executive overreach.


Beto Was ‘Born to Run’?

O’Rourke jumps into an already crowded Democrat presidential field with his exuberant ego.


Democrats Are Alienating Jewish Millennials

The new “Jexodus” movement aims to pull more Jews away from bondage to Democrats.


Leftist Rahm Emanuel Warns Party Is Too Far Left

Obama’s former chief of staff warns Dems that it will be their fault if Trump is reelected.


Syria Should Prompt the Return of Mattis

Trump’s decision to keep American troops on the ground might be otherwise beneficial.


A Black Female Harvard Professor Reconsiders the Second Amendment

“The NRA has long been a boogeyman for me.”


Native American Tribe Pays for Funerals of Alabama Tornado Victims

“[The tribe] said, ‘Tell us what it would take to cover all of it.”


Video: Environmentalist Rips Green New Deal

Former Greenpeace executive Patrick Moore takes on the ecofascists’ plan.



Today’s Opinion

Cal Thomas
Why Socialism Fails
Jeff Jacoby
Why the ‘Excellent’ Electoral College Is Well Worth Keeping
Larry Elder
It Is Time for ‘Jexodus’
Veronique de Rugy
Politics Trump Policy Once Again in Budget Debate
Victor Davis Hanson
Waging War Against the Dead
For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.

Thursday Top News Executive Summary

National emergency, Beto O’Rourke, Boeing 737 Max, Paul Manafort, Brexit, Elizabeth Warren, and more.


Thursday Short Cuts

Get ready to see lots of reporters throwing their panties, and I’m not just talking about the men from Vox. Robert Francis O’Rourke is running for President.” —Erick Erickson



Today’s Meme

For more of today’s memes, visit the Memesters Union.

Today’s Cartoon

For more of today’s cartoons, visit the Cartoons archive.

News – 3/14/2019

Bringing Fruit Offerings to God on Temple Mount
Two groups of approximately 50 people each, braved a rainy but blessed morning, to ascend the Temple Mount. A call had gone out a day or two earlier for Jews to take part in Ha’aliyah Hamonit, a mass ascension to create a presence on the site of the two Temples. While there, the woman, who had somehow managed to bring dates with her, distributed them to those gathered. Each person made a blessing over the fruit prior to eating it and Rabbi Ariel said one when everyone had finished.

Palestinian Attempt to Conquer the Temple Mount With Corpses
While the world watches tensions grow on the Temple Mount a side aspect of the conflict is going unnoticed, a “war” for the Temple Mount that is being fought with dead bodies. On Tuesday, a Palestinian terrorist threw a firebomb into a police post next to the Dome of the Rock. A policeman was seriously wounded and riots ensued after police arrested the terrorist. The police responded by closing all entrances to the site and ordering everyone to leave.

House Republicans Urge Sending Cohen Case to Justice Department for Alleged Perjury
leading House Republicans are ramping up pressure on House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings to refer the case of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen to the Justice Department because of allegations that he perjured himself during congressional testimony.

U.S. and India agree to establish six U.S. nuclear power plants in India
The United States and India on Wednesday agreed to strengthen security and civil nuclear cooperation, including the establishment of six U.S. nuclear power plants in India, the two countries said in a joint statement.

PA organizations in the US reject ‘Deal of the Century’
Organizations representing Palestinian Arabs in the US on Wednesday announced their absolute opposition to participating in any political framework that seeks to promote economic peace with Israel as an alternative to the establishment of a Palestinian state with eastern Jerusalem as its capital.

Lisa Page admitted Obama DOJ ordered stand-down on Clinton email prosecution, GOP rep says
Lisa Page: Justice Department told agents not to charge Hillary Clinton. “the FBI was ordered by the Obama DOJ not to consider charging Hillary Clinton for gross negligence in the handling of classified information,” the congressman alleged in a social media post late Tuesday, citing a newly unearthed transcript of Page’s closed-door testimony.

10 Colorado Counties Declare Sanctuary Status Against Gun Confiscation Law
Ten Colorado counties have declared “Second Amendment Sanctuary” status against a gun confiscation law being pushed by state-level Democrats.

Satellite images show another Iranian missile site in Syria
Satellite images taken by Israeli intelligence firm ImageSat International (ISI) on Wednesday appear to show a new missile factory being constructed in the Syria raising additional suspicion of Iranian involvement in missile production in the country. The images show a site surrounded by a fence, three hangers, a newly built water tower and buses and vans were detected in the site entrance within the securely fenced compound…

1,700-year-old inscription found at Negev Excavation
Archaeologists have uncovered a Greek inscription at the Haluza excavation in southern Israel indicating the name of the town. The name Haluza is mentioned in many historic sources, but this is the first archaeological evidence for the name of the city of Haluza found at the site itself. It is one of the two main possible locations for the Biblical city of Ziklag, mentioned in Genesis and I Samuel.

Israel issues complaint to U.N. over terrorists on Golan border
Israel issued a formal complaint to the United Nations Security Council over Hezbollah’s recently revealed “Golan Project,” which has positioned operatives along Israel’s northern border. Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon…wrote to council members stating that Israel “will not ignore the conversion of Syria and Lebanon to a military front against us and will act with force against the aggression from Tehran,” referring to Hezbollah’s Iranian backers.

Senate votes to end US support of Saudi-led Yemen war
The US Republican-led Senate has approved a bill to end US support for the Saudi-led coalition war in Yemen. The bipartisan vote was 54 to 46, and is a rebuke to President Donald Trump’s support of Saudi Arabia and its leader despite recent tensions. Mr Trump has vowed to veto the resolution should it pass through the Democrat-led House.

More than 1,000 drivers stranded in Colorado Springs area, Gov. Polis declares state of emergency as bomb cyclone paralyzes Front Range
Snow driven by winds approaching 100 mph shut down schools, highways, air travel and businesses in the Pikes Peak region Wednesday and left more than 1,000 stranded in their cars awaiting rescue. The rapidly intensifying storm — known as a bomb cyclone — caused whiteout conditions for drivers caught in its fury and prompted the governor to call out the National Guard and El Paso County to declare an emergency.

Parents Blame Elementary School’s Cell Tower After 4th Student Diagnosed With Cancer
A fourth child has been diagnosed with cancer at a San Joaquin County elementary school, and parents believe it’s because of radiation caused by a cell phone tower. The towers are spread throughout the community, but it’s this particular one that parents say needs to go. “We had a doctor tell us that it’s 100 percent environmental, the kind of tumor that he has,” said Monica Ferrulli.

Polish newspaper’s front page teaches ‘how to recognize a Jew’
A right-wing newspaper with national distribution in Poland ran on its front page an article that instructs readers on “how to recognize a Jew.” The Polish-language weekly, Tylko Polska, or “Only Poland,” lists on its front page “Names, anthropological features, expressions, appearances, character traits, methods of operation” and “disinformation activities.” The text also reads: “How to defeat them? This cannot go on!”

‘IDF will shoot African infiltrators,’ Israeli official tells shocked activists
A United Nations plan to resolve the issue of African migrants in Israel has been secretly revived by the government… The renewal of the plan was leaked by activists from South Tel Aviv who are furious at the prospect of around half of the almost 40,000 migrants being allowed to remain in the country. Even more shocking…is a call by the head of Israel’s Immigration Authority for the IDF to open fire on any Africans who…sail to Israel seeking asylum.

US drops ‘occupied’ from description of West Bank, Golan Heights
The US State Department changed its usual description of the Golan Heights from “Israeli-occupied” to “Israeli-controlled” in an annual global human rights report released by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday. A separate section on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, areas that Israel captured along with the Golan Heights in the 1967 Six-Day War, also did not refer to those territories as being “occupied” or under “occupation.”

Syria’s Assad struggles to reap spoils after military gains
Eight years since Syria began its descent into war, many of President Bashar al-Assad’s enemies have been defeated and the bulk of the country is back under his control. But he isn’t celebrating. “We must not wrongly think, as happened in the last year, that the war is over. I say this not just to citizens but also to officials,” Assad told supporters in a speech last month.

CUT OFF: Trump is requesting ZERO dollars for the ‘Palestinians’ in the new budget
The difference between Trump and the Democrats could not be clearer. Unlike the Democrats, Trump believes that incitement, terrorism, and anti-Semitism should not be rewarded with financial aid from American taxpayers. Thank god this man was elected President. Any Jewish American who votes against President Trump is mad.

Georgia: Jewish parents furious over map of terror state ‘Palestine’ replacing Israel featured at middle school multicultural night
From Barack Obama to Bernie Sanders to Rashida Tlaib to Ilhan Omar, American Jews turned a blind eye to the anti-Semitism from the left. As a result, anti-Semitism is now normalized in the United States.

Top Catholic Cardinal Pell sentenced to six years for choirboy abuse
Disgraced Australian Cardinal George Pell was on Wednesday sentenced to six years in prison for sexually abusing two choirboys, in what the judge lambasted as a “brazen” attack and “grave” abuse of power.

Dick’s Throws in the Towel: Pulling Guns from 125 Stores
Dick’s Sporting Goods announced Tuesday it will pull guns from 125 stores around the country.

THE NEW WORLD ORDER
It has been several years since the term “New World Order was widely used. It almost seems as if it faded from the world scene after George Bush (father) popularized the term in the 1990’s. His use of the term didn’t set too well with conservative voters. After a glorious victory over Iraq, he became a one-term president. Politicians learned not to use the cliché around voters. But across the pond, in stodgy old Europe, the New World Order is as popular as ever.

Swedish Government Pushes New ‘Gender Swap’ Program for Teens | Neon Nettle
Authorities in Sweden are steering male teenagers who apply for summer jobs towards “traditionally female professions” and females to males jobs in a bid to “break” traditional gender roles, according to reports.

The Pope Is Creating a One-World Religion to Complement the Coming One-World Government
The Fall of Rome has commenced. The Pope is holding private meetings in an effort to create a one world religion which will complement the coming one-world government that the UN has publicly stated that they will install by 2030.  Here is the story.

$2M in Soros, Feinstein-Linked Dark Money Connects to Trump Dossier Creators
A dark money group, with ties to liberal billionaire George Soros and senior Democrat Dianne Feinstein, gave $2 million to an organization that contracted Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele to investigate the president and create the now-infamous Trump-Russia dossier, it has been revealed.

BOOM! President Trump Warns Obama Deep State – a “Broken and Corrupt Machine” – Justice Will Be Served, More to Come!
For over two years the Deep State FBI-DOJ and their liberal media has been investigating and harassing the Trump administration over a made-up Russia conspiracy.
They have found nothing. Yet they continue to abuse their power.

NY Aggressively Auditing Residents Fleeing State, Tracking Social Media, Phone Records
New York is aggressively auditing its wealthy residents attempting to flee the high-tax state for Florida, going so far as to monitor cell phone records, social media use and visits to the veterinarian or dentist, according to CNBC.


Headlines – 3/14/2019

US alters Golan Heights designation from ‘Israeli-occupied’ to ‘Israeli-controlled’

Abbas aide blasts US report that drops references to Israeli ‘occupation’

US assures ‘no change’ in its policy on the status of Palestinian territories

One-state solution gains ground as Palestinians battle for equal rights

Selling Jerusalem: Middlemen sell Jerusalemite homes to settlers

Israeli group honors Nikki Haley with coin

Israel opens criminal probe into 11 deaths in Gaza violence

Erdogan Accuses Netanyahu of Being ‘Child-killing Tyrant’

Exxon said considering gas, oil exploration in Israel

Syrian flag placed opposite Knesset as gesture of goodwill

IDF: Hezbollah head of Golan operations murdered U.S. troops in Iraq

After Hezbollah cell in Syria exposed, PM says it’s the ‘tip of the iceberg’

Israel petitions UN Security Council to act on uncovered Hezbollah cell

Intel firm: Satellite images back report of new Iranian missile plant in Syria

Up to 3,000 Isis children living in ‘extremely dire conditions’

Russian and Syrian air strikes intensify on last rebel bastion

Syria’s Kurds Defeated ISIS and Were Abandoned by Trump. Now They Must Look to Russia

Syria: Chemical weapons probe team to start in ‘weeks’

Iraq’s top Shi’ite cleric tells Rouhani ties must respect sovereignty

US sees room to be more aggressive on sanctions and take Iran oil exports to zero

Iran Threatens Defense Overhaul to Counter ‘Suspicious Nuclear Projects’

Georgia detains two for trying to sell radioactive uranium

EU parliament calls for freeze on Turkey’s membership talks

Portland Trail Blazers star Enes Kanter, fearing Turkish retaliation, won’t go anywhere alone except bathroom

Defying Trump, Senate votes to end US support for Saudi-led Yemen war

Navy Wants 10-Ship Unmanned ‘Ghost Fleet’ to Supplement Manned Force

India and Pakistan to Hold First Meeting Since Kashmir Escalation

U.S. says China’s treatment of Muslim minority worst abuses ‘since the 1930s’

Niger says it killed 33 Boko Haram ‘terrorists’

10 dead, including 6 kids, in ‘unspeakably brutal’ Brazil shooting; 17 hurt

Venezuela’s water turns black as local say it is contaminated with oil

Power has finally been restored to Venezuela, minister says

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says power recovery will come ‘little by little’

British parliament votes for ruling out no-deal Brexit in any scenario

UK lawmakers vote against no-deal Brexit, now aim for delay

British pound surges the most in nearly two years after UK lawmakers vote to reject a no-deal Brexit

Boeing 737 Max grounded after investigators find similarities between crashes

Boeing faces crisis with worldwide grounding of 737 MAX jetliners

Trump appreciates Pelosi’s ‘statement against impeachment’

Not so fast: Mueller still investigating pivotal Russia probe issues

Ex-Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort, just sentenced to federal prison, faces new charges in N.Y. indictment

Manafort’s bad day underscores the peril in sprawling Trump probes, some beyond the president’s control

Bader Ginsburg poster vandalized in Brooklyn with ‘Die, Jew b****,’ swastika

Facebook’s Data Deals Are Under Criminal Investigation

Users worldwide report Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram outages

Facebook says outage not due to DDoS attack

Want to turn off the internet? It could happen if a solar storm hits the Earth

Physicists Just Reversed Time on The Smallest Scale by Using a Quantum Computer

5.5 magnitude earthquake hits near Volcano, Hawaii

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Anan, Japan

Popocateptl volcano in Mexico erupts to 26,000ft

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 23,000ft

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 16,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 16,000ft

Tenggar Caldera volcano in Indonesia erupts to 14,000ft

Mayon volcano in the Philippines erupts to 12,000ft

A Rare Giant Cyclone Is Set to Make Landfall in Mozambique, Threatening Dangerous Floods

Historic blizzard blasts 100mph winds across central US, turns deadly

Denver airport closes all runways after canceling over 1,300 flights amid severe weather

Gov. Polis activates Colorado National Guard, declares emergency in response to blizzard

‘Bomb cyclone’ blasts Colorado and leaves hundreds stranded in cars

Rare ‘bomb cyclone’ hits Colorado. Here’s what that means

Dire UN climate change report reveals it’s not too late to save planet

Virtual Blood Vessels and 3D Printed Organs: The Israeli Technology Training Doctors

Group of World’s Top Researchers Call For an Urgent Moratorium on Gene-Edited Babies

US warship quarantined at sea due to virus outbreak

Parents Blame Elementary School’s Cell Tower After 4th Student Diagnosed With Cancer

With lawsuits looming, OxyContin maker considers bankruptcy

America’s doctors warn Google, Twitter, and Facebook: Anti-vaxxers are weaponizing tech platforms, prompting outbreaks that can ‘debilitate and kill’

Parents Question State’s Right to Mandate Vaccines

Italy Implements ‘No Vaccine, No School’ Policy In Preschools

Whooping cough vaccine less effective because the bacteria is mutating, study suggests

Iowa Supreme Court: Medicaid Must Provide Coverage for Sex-Change Surgery

High schooler who posted Bible verses in response to pride flags suspended for ‘targeting’ Gay-Straight Alliance club

Most evangelicals favor LGBT nondiscrimination protections: poll

More than a Third of Catholics Consider Leaving the Church Amid Abuse Scandal

Spiritual leader of alleged New York sex cult hit with child porn charges

Mystery infections traced to blood-shedding religious ritual


Apostasy Watch Daily News

Jordan Standridge – Farewell Francis

Gary DeMar – Grinding Out More bad Prophecy Books

Former Estero youth pastor’s bond revoked after police report no-contact order violation

Court Lets Ohio Defund Planned Parenthood in Major Pro-Life Victory

Kenyan pastor who ministers to ex-Muslims beaten with clubs, hospitalized


Truth2Freedom Blog Disclaimer

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(Alternative News, Apologetics, Current Events, Commentary, Opinion, Theology, Discernment Blog, Devotionals, Christian Internet Evangelism & Missions Activist).

“In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”

— Augustine

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March 14, 2019 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

The Warning

Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour. (25:13)

For the fifth time in the discourse (see 24:36, 42, 44, 50) Jesus called on those who will be alive during the last days of the Tribulation to be alert, because they will not know the day nor the hour of His appearing. They would know its nearness by the catastrophic signs, but the exact day and the exact hour they would not know.

“Be on guard,” Jesus had said in the Temple on the previous day, “that your hearts may not be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day come on you suddenly like a trap; for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. But keep on the alert at all times, praying in order that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:34–36).

In his epic poem Idylls of the King, Alfred Lord Tennyson used figures from the parable of the ten virgins in a song directed to the wicked Queen Guinevere, who learned too late the cost of sin:

Late, late, so late, and dark the night and chill!

Late, late, so late, but we can enter still.

Too late, too late, ye cannot enter now.

No light had we, for that we do repent;

And, learning this, the Bridegroom will relent.

Too late, too late, ye cannot enter now.

No light, so late, and dark and chill the night!

O let us in, that we may find the light.

Too late, too late, ye cannot enter now.

Have we not heard the Bridegroom is so sweet?

O let us in, tho’ late, to kiss His feet!

No, no, too late! Ye cannot enter now.[1]


13 The theme is reiterated once more (cf. 24:36, 42, 44, 50). Jeremias (Parables of Jesus, 52) and others suggest this verse is a late addition to the parable, since it is at variance with the fact that both the wise and the foolish virgins fell asleep. But this misses the purpose of v. 13. “Keep watch” does not mean “keep awake,” as if an ability to fight off sleep were relevant to the story. Rather, in light of the entire parable, the dominant exhortation of this discourse is repeated: Be prepared! Keep watching![2]


25:13. Jesus’ closing exhortation is the central application point of the parable, using almost exactly the same wording as when Jesus first introduced the command in 24:42. As in 24:42, we find again the present tense with the imperative mood of the verb gregoreo, which means, “be staying continually awake, constantly keeping watch.” And the same reason is given—we do not know the day or the hour of Christ’s return. Our preparedness for Christ’s coming demonstrates our personal trust and respect for him.[3]


13. Keep on the alert, therefore, because you do not know the day or the hour. See on 24:36, 42, 44, 50.

Having now studied the parable, and having fixed our attention upon its main lesson, namely the necessity of constant preparedness, hearts and lives ever consecrated to the Lord in the here and now, we are entitled to ask, “In keeping with this main application, what are some of the ancillary truths taught here?” Probably the following:

  1. All who profess to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ are alike in many respects; especially in this, that all are on their way to meet the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. See Matt. 25:1.
  2. The resemblances are, however, superficial. There is an essential difference. By no means all who read the Bible, attend and even belong to a church, sing the songs of salvation, make public profession of faith, even preach in Christ’s name, are going to share in the blessings of Christ’s return. Some are sensible. Religion with them is not sham and pretense. They believe in being prepared by faith in the Savior and lives dedicated to him and therefore to God Triune. Others are foolish. “They have a form of piety but deny its power” (2 Tim. 3:5; cf. Matt. 7:22, 23). Unprepared they travel on—to meet the Judge. See Matt. 25:2–4.
  3. A long span of time will elapse between the first and the second coming. See Matt. 25:5; and on 24:9, 14; 25:19.
  4. The return of the Lord will be sudden, visible, and audible. See Matt. 25:6; and on 24:31.
  5. Preparedness is not transferable from one person to another. See Matt. 25:7–9; also Ps. 49:7; Prov. 9:12; Gal. 6:12.
  6. For those who are not ready—that is, for those unsaved before they die, and for those who in their unsaved condition survive on earth until Christ’s return—there is no “second chance.” See Matt. 25:10–12; also 7:22, 23; 10:32, 33; 24:37–42; 25:34–46; 2 Cor. 5:9, 10; Gal. 6:7, 8; 2 Thess. 1:8, 9; Heb. 9:27.
  7. Therefore—and in view of the fact that the moment of Christ’s return is unknown—watchfulness at all times is required. See Matt. 25:13; also Ps. 95:7, 8; 2 Cor. 6:2.

Whether or not the “oil” in this parable has a symbolical meaning is not certain. If it does, it would point to the Holy Spirit, through whose transforming and enabling power men are prepared to welcome the Bridegroom. See Matt. 25:2–4; and cf. Isa. 61:1; Zech. 4:1–6; 2 Thess. 2:13.[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Vol. 4, pp. 92–93). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, p. 577). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Weber, S. K. (2000). Matthew (Vol. 1, p. 419). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[4] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Vol. 9, pp. 878–879). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

March 14 God Is by Your Side

scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 1:3–11
key verse: Isaiah 51:12

I, even I, am He who comforts you.
Who are you that you should be afraid
Of a man who will die,
And of the son of a man who will be made like grass?

The God of all comfort can lovingly touch all heartache, despair, darkness, pain, evil, and desperation. Your tribulations are severe. Your path is hard. Your conditions are bleak. Your outlook is dim. But the God of all comfort—the God who Himself has suffered indescribably at the hands of people—will aid you, encourage you, strengthen you, and guide you.

Because Christ has experienced the ridicule and rejection of people and now stands as the Great High Priest, the throne of grace beckons every believer.

In the heat of the fight—the Light of Life is with you.

In the midst of the storm—the Prince of Peace is your steadfast guide.

In the bottom of the pit—the Chief Cornerstone is your rock.

If you hurt, let the healing love of Jesus Christ sustain you. He longs to comfort and encourage you with His presence, His promises, His people, and His power.

The God of all comfort will not let you go over the edge or sink beneath the mire. He will come instantly to your aid as you call on His name.

One day He will use you to personally carry His comfort to the ailing heart of another—transforming your trouble into His healing balm.

Lord, thank You that in the heat of the fight, Your Light is with me. Thank You that in the midst of the storm, the Prince of Peace is my guide. In the bottom of the pit, O God, the Chief Cornerstone is my rock.[1]


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

14 march (1858) 365 Days with Spurgeon

The solar eclipse

“I form the light, and create darkness.” Isaiah 45:7

suggested further reading: Ecclesiastes 1:1–10

Since God has made the ecliptic, or the circle, the great rule of nature, it is impossible but that eclipses should occur. Now, did you ever notice that in providence the circle is God’s rule still. The earth is here to-day; it will be in the same place this day next year; it will go round the circle; it gets no further. It is just so in providence. God began the circle of his providence in Eden. That is where he will end. There was a paradise on earth, when God began his providential dealings with mankind; there will be a paradise at the end. It is the same with your providence. Naked you came forth from your mother’s womb, and naked you must return to the earth. It is a circle. Where God has begun, there will he end; and as God has taken the rule of the circle in providence, as well as in nature, eclipses must be sure to occur. Moving in the predestined orbit of divine wisdom, the eclipse is absolutely and imperatively necessary in God’s plan of government. Troubles must come; afflictions must befall; it must needs be that for a season you should be in heaviness, through manifold temptations. But I have said, that eclipses must also occur in grace, and it is so. God’s rule in grace is still the circle. Man was originally pure and holy; that is what God’s grace will make him at last. He was pure when he was made by God in the garden. That is what God shall make him, when he comes to fashion him like unto his own glorious image, and present him complete in heaven. We begin our piety by denying the world, by being full of love to God; we often decline in grace, and God will bring us back to the state in which we were when we first began.

for meditation: This sermon was occasioned by the anticipation of the solar eclipse on the following day. Meditate on the significance of the most important solar eclipse in all history. Remember this was not an astronomical eclipse, since it occurred at Passover—full moon (Luke 23:44–46)!

sermon no. 183[1]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H., & Crosby, T. P. (1998). 365 Days with Spurgeon (Volume 1) (p. 80). Leominster, UK: Day One Publications.

14 MARCH 365 Days with Calvin

Remembered with Favor

Remember me, O Lord, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people: O visit me with thy salvation. Psalm 106:4

suggested further reading: Psalm 30

The prophet here declares his chief desire is that God would extend to him the love that he bears toward the church. He might thus participate in all the blessings which, from the very first, God bestowed upon his chosen and which he day by day continues to bestow on them. The prophet desires this not only for himself but also, in the name of the universal church, offers up a prayer for all, that by his example he might stimulate the faithful to present similar petitions.

Remember me, says he, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people; that is to say, grant to me the same unmerited kindness that thou art pleased to confer upon thy people, so that I may never be cut off from thy church but will always be included among the number of thy children. The phrase favour toward thy people refers passively to the love that God graciously bears to his elect. The prophet uses it to indicate the marks of God’s love. From this gracious source flows the proof that God actually and experimentally gives grace to his people.

The prophet considers being numbered among the people of God as the summit of true happiness because by this means he feels that God is reconciled to him. Nothing is more desirable than this. Also, he experiences that God is bountiful. The term remember refers to the circumstance of time. As we shall see toward the end of the psalm, it was written when the people were in such a sad and calamitous state that the faithful might have entertained some secret apprehension that God had forgotten them.

for meditation: Are you, by grace, one of God’s chosen people? If you are numbered among the elect, you will never be forgotten but will be remembered with favor. That should comfort you in the darkest hours.[1]


[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 92). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

Lisa Page testimony means DOJ might want to re-open case against Hillary Clinton

Lock her up?

More and more, it appears the Justice Department should have tried to do just that to Hillary Clinton and that only nefarious interference kept the attempt from occurring.

My colleague Becket Adams is correct in writing that newly released testimony by disgraced FBI attorney Lisa Page makes former U.S. attorney general Loretta Lynch look blatantly dishonest and makes her infamous “tarmac meeting” with former president Bill Clinton look even sleazier than it already had. Specifically, despite sworn assurances to the contrary from Lynch, Page testified that Department of Justice officials repeatedly dissuaded the FBI from building a criminal case against Clinton for “gross negligence” in her handling of classified information.

What bears further comment is the legal importance of the phrase “gross negligence.” Page said DOJ advised FBI lawyers that “gross negligence” was a charge they could not “permissibly bring” against Clinton because it was “too vague.” 

This borders on nonsense. “Gross negligence” is not some vaguely interpretive standard the FBI was creatively deciphering from penumbras of the federal criminal code. Instead, it is a specific, enumerated standard for prosecution under Section 793 (f) of the U.S. Code’s chapter on “Espionage and Censorship.” It says anyone in possession of protected information “related to the national defense” who, “through gross negligence, permits” that information to “removed from its proper place of custody,” “shall” be penalized with up to 10 years in prison.

“Gross negligence” may not be as precise as a numerical equation such as 2 plus 2, but it’s hardly a mystical concept understandable only by sages and seers. Instead, it is a basic legal standard, appearing in U.S. laws too many times to count, meaning “a conscious and voluntary disregard of the need to use reasonable care.” 

National Review’s Andrew McCarthy, who led the prosecution of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers, explained this in 2016 when then-FBI Director James Comey first let Clinton off the hook: “With lawful access to highly classified information, she acted with gross negligence in removing and causing it to be removed it from its proper place of custody, and she transmitted it and caused it to be transmitted to others not authorized to have it, in patent violation of her trust. Director Comey even conceded that former Secretary Clinton was ‘extremely careless’ and strongly suggested that her recklessness very likely led to communications (her own and those she corresponded with) being intercepted by foreign intelligence services.”

Moreover: “In essence, in order to give Mrs. Clinton a pass, the FBI rewrote the statute, inserting an intent element that Congress did not require. The added intent element, moreover, makes no sense: The point of having a statute that criminalizes gross negligence is to underscore that government officials have a special obligation to safeguard national defense secrets; when they fail to carry out that obligation due to gross negligence, they are guilty of serious wrongdoing. The lack of intent to harm our country is irrelevant. [Italics and bolding in the original.]”

What this all means is that even the apparently pro-Hillary FBI lawyers understood that gross negligence had occurred but that the even more leftist Obama-Lynch minions at DOJ convinced them that “malign intent” was needed to prosecute, despite the explicit words of the statute.

This wasn’t just Comey hubristically asserting the authority to decide justice and innocence in Clinton’s case; it was Comey’s hubris combined with interference by the Lynch mob. Minus the interference, based on a plain reading of the law, Clinton should have been indicted. 

By some (admittedly debatable) interpretations of the law and the applicable statute of limitations, she still should be.
— Read on www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/lisa-page-testimony-means-doj-might-want-to-re-open-case-against-hillary-clinton

What Is The Social Gospel?

What is the social gospel? Can it help change the world and turn people to Christ?

The social gospel is a Christian faith practice that is not just a call to salvation, but it’s a call to social reform, and it’s been around a very long time. Some say it began as a North American Protestantism movement where Christian ethics were to be used to address social problems like social justice, economic inequality, poverty, abortion, alcoholism, divorce, and many other social ills. This is more than Bono digging wells for African villages. That is good in itself, but it is not the gospel. Jesus would have us render unto Caesar the things of Caesar (Matt 22:20-22), not revolt against the things of Caesar and try to change or overthrow the Roman Empire. Jesus never taught that His believers are to take the world by force, or try to change the world into what the Bible teaches. He does call us to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, teaching them the same things He taught the disciples (Matt 28:18-10), which are now in the gospels and the New Testament. And that does change the world…at least one person at a time.Best Place To Start Reading the Bible

Speak Up

Believers aren’t called to change this world into God’s world, but they are called to speak up when they see evil being done to someone. The Proverbs command us, “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute” (Prov 31:8), and that includes the unborn. Since they cannot speak from their mother’s womb, we must speak up “for the mute” and stand up for “the rights of all who are destitute,” many of which are the poor and disabled. When we see an injustice, and fail to speak up about it, for us, it is sin, so “Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and need” (Prov 31:9). If you see wrong, and you can change it by legal means, then by all means, change it. You and I are obligated to speak up for those who cannot or those who have no power or influence to speak up for themselves. We can’t keep our mouths shut about some things, like child abuse. Loving God and loving our neighbor is all the law and the prophets (Matt 22:40). You may not be an attorney, but you can make sure to do “no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor” (Lev 19:15). This was part of ancient Israel’s civil law, but there was always mercy and justice within God’s laws. He always made provisions for the poor, the lame, the widows, and the orphans. Today, that’s up to us.

Compassion

Some believe that Jesus was participating in the social gospel by feeding the 5,000 (Luke 9:10-22), and in another place, 4,000 (Matt 15:28039), but what was Jesus’ reason for feeding these masses? Jesus “said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way”(Matt 15:32). They were far from home and hungry, so Jesus had compassion on them, but He never used this to change the world. We cannot change the world, but we can help one person at a time. Maybe it’ll change their world, but it may also change ours! The Apostle John writes that “if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him” (1 John 3:17)? Jesus saw their need and filled it, better than anyone ever had, but He was not interested in reforming Rome or the Jewish religious system. He often slipped away when they tried to come and force Him to be king (John 6:15). They completely missed the message and His purpose (Mark 10:45).

                                                    New Birth

When a person is born again by God (John 3:3-7), they become a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Cor 5:17). That new creation now does things that please God, and those things are generally better for the world than those things done by unbelievers. The new creation in Christ now prays for their enemies, does good to those who abuse them, and blesses those who curse them (Luke 6:27-28). That’s not social reform; that’s personal reform, but it can act as an agent to draw others to Christ. In our church’s ministries, we never require conversion before helping someone. Jesus never singled out the believers and only fed the believers, and not the rest of the 5,000. We are here to help others as we are able, but our help doesn’t depend on their being saved or not. That is God’s business. At best, we are only unworthy servants (Luke 17:7-10), doing what we are told (Matt 25:35-36). We let God take care of the rest…and He does! The Bible clearly teaches that “whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4:17). That’s not a social gospel, but a gospel that feeds the poor, visits the sick and those in prison, welcomes the stranger, and clothes the underdressed, but it’s not for us that we do these things. We are doing it as unto Him (Matt 25:40). Love is all people….saved, and lost, will know who Jesus’ disciples are (John 13:34-35), but also, who they are not (1 John 3).

Conclusion

The social gospel is not just making the world a better place to live in. If that’s the only goal, then we’ve got the wrong gospel and we’re only rearranging the chairs on the Titanic. If we help others but fail to speak up for Christ, we’re only making it a better place for them to go to hell in. It’s not just soup and soap; it must be soup, soap, and salvation. This is not our Father’s world…we’re only passing through. We all yearn for the coming kingdom, and the appearance of the King of that kingdom. The gospel is what Jesus said it was; repent and believe (Mark1:15). Either you believe and receive eternal life (John 3:36a), or you reject Christ and die with the wrath of God abiding on you, forever more (John 3:36b). Why not put your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ? There is positively no other way you can be saved (John 6:44; Acts 4:12). Do it today.

Here is some related reading for you: How to Share the Gospel with Family

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Tagged as: Another Gospel, gospel, Socail Gospel
— Read on www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/what-is-the-social-gospel/

Throwback Thursday ~ The Mailbag: I love the Bible, but I have to force myself to read it

Michelle Lesley

Originally published October 9, 2017

I am struggling with reading the Word. I find myself having to drag myself to it to dedicate time to read it, struggling against doing other things instead. I love the Lord with all my heart. I love His Word, LOVE everything about the Bible. I know that love for God’s word and hunger for it is one of the marks of salvation. I want to hunger for reading it like a baby hungers for milk. I want that passion for His word.

Please don’t tell me to check my salvation as I daily obsess about this to the point where my sister in Christ said I have OCD about this. I hear about false converts and it scares me. An elder told me that you can do the unpardonable sin against the Holy Spirit and I thought that once I was saved I could…

View original post 890 more words

The Day of the Rapture is ever nearer

The End Time

By Elizabeth Prata

The rapture will happen, and every day that passes makes it one day closer.*

There are some people who say that we should not say it is near, and they cite Mark 13:32, where it says ‘no one knows the day nor hour’. Or they cite 1 Thessalonians 5:1 where Paul said the day of the Lord will be as a thief in the night, a surprise. Or they cite Acts 1:7, where we are told we will not know the times or dates God has set by His own authority.

They are right.

If you meet up with anyone who knows the time, hour, or day, run, for they are false.

In Luke 12 beginning in verse 35 there is a section called “Watchfulness”. Jesus says, “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning,” and later in vs. 37 He says, “It…

View original post 918 more words

WATCH: Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile Praises Arkansas State Senator’s Passionate Speech on Racism and Gun Laws | BCNN1 – Black Christian News Network

Thabiti Anyabwile praised an Arkansas state senator’s passionate speech on racism and gun laws. 

Prominent Washington, D.C. Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile of Anacostia River Church was among many who praised Sen. Stephanie Flowers for rebuking her colleagues in the senate judiciary committee in an impassioned speech when they voted to limit public debate on a proposed “Stand Your Ground” law last Wednesday.

Flowers, who is the only black member of the committee, spoke against the proposal, and refused to curtail her comments due to what she argued is the fear of how gun violence would impact her son as well as members of the black community.

“It doesn’t take much to look on the local news every night and see how many black kids, black boys, black men are being killed with these Stand Your Ground defenses that these people raise, and they get off. So I take issue with that. I’m the only person here of color. I am a mother, too. And I have a son. And I care as much for my son as y’all care for y’all’s. But my son doesn’t walk the same path as yours does. So this debate deserves more time,” she told her white colleagues.

“I’m in Pine Bluff. We have killings regularly down there. … I don’t know where Mr. Ballinger is from. But I can tell you for a long time since I’ve been back here in Arkansas, I have feared for my son’s life. Now he’s 27 and he’s out of Arkansas, and I thank God he is when you’re bringing up crap like this. It offends me. And then to limit the debate, too? This is crazy,” she said addressing Two Republican Sen. Bob Ballinger.

dramatic clip of Flowers’ extended comments on the issue has since gone viral on social media, racking up more than 10 million views along with praise.

Reacting to the video in a series of tweets last Friday, Anyabwile said Flowers’ speech captured how many African Americans feel about gun laws.

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair
— Read on blackchristiannews.com/2019/03/watch-pastor-thabiti-anyabwile-praises-arkansas-state-senators-passionate-speech-on-racism-and-gun-laws/

Thursday Briefing March 14, 2019 – AlbertMohler.com

Download MP3

— Read on albertmohler.com/2019/03/14/briefing-3-14-19/

March 14, 2019 Morning Verse Of The Day

Some Will Depart from the Faith
4 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Ti 4:1–5). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.


Falling Away from the Faith

But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods, which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer. (4:1–5)

Since creation, the earth has been the battleground between God and Satan. God calls mankind to respond to His Word, and Satan tries to lure them to follow lies. Some claim satanic perversions to be the truth from God. Sadly, even some who profess to follow God’s truth turn away from it.

Such deviations from the true faith are nothing new. Among the many examples of apostasy in the Old Testament was King Amaziah of Judah. Second Chronicles 25:2 says of him, “he did right in the sight of the Lord, yet not with a whole heart.” His religion was mere external behavior; in his heart he did not know God. Soon he was lured away into idolatry. Second Chronicles 25:14 tells the tragic story: “Now it came about after Amaziah came from slaughtering the Edomites that he brought the gods of the sons of Seir, set them up as his gods, bowed down before them, and burned incense to them.” At the close of his life, his epitaph read, “Amaziah turned away from following the Lord” (2 Chron. 25:27).

The New Testament also has its share of apostates, men like Judas Iscariot (John 6:70–71) and Demas (2 Tim. 4:10). The church at Ephesus had seen Hymenaeus and Alexander depart from the faith (1:18–20). Church history from New Testament times until our own day is replete with examples of apostates. They have turned aside to follow deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons. It is fallen angels, those demonic beings, who energize all false religion. Like their evil master, Satan, their deception is effective because they disguise themselves as angels of light (2 Cor. 11:14).

When men worship idols, they are in reality worshiping the demons behind those idols. Leviticus 17:7 says, “They shall no longer sacrifice their sacrifices to the goat demons with which they play the harlot.” Deuteronomy 32:17 laments that Israel “sacrificed to demons who were not God,” while Psalm 106:36–37 shows the depravity of such worship. Israel “served their idols, which became a snare to them. They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons.” “The things which the Gentiles sacrifice,” Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “they sacrifice to demons” (1 Cor. 10:20).

The presence of apostate false teachers at Ephesus is indicated from 1:3–7, 18–20. In chapters 2 and 3, Paul dealt with some of the ramifications of their false teaching and corruption of the church. He countered their deceptions with the divine design for men and women in the church, and the spiritual qualifications for true church leaders. Chapter 3 closed with a creedal statement affirming what apostates most directly deny and what is the central truth of the Christian faith: the Person and work of Jesus Christ. In chapter 4, Paul returns to his discussion of the false teachers themselves. The battle lines are thus sharply drawn. While not always popular in our day of toleration and “love,” there is a biblical mandate to deal directly and firmly with false teaching. Any tolerance of error regarding God’s revelation is a direct form of dishonor to Him. “For Thou hast magnified Thy word according to all Thy name” (Ps. 138:2). Professing believers who would not speak a blasphemous or degrading word against God Himself out of reverence for His name will nevertheless readily misrepresent and pervert His Word, which is to be equally exalted.

The Certainty of Apostasy

some will fall away from the faith, (4:1c)

The key to unlock this passage is the phrase in verse 1, some will fall away from the faith. There will be those, like Judas, Demas, and the false disciples of John 6:66, and those often warned in Hebrews, who abandon the faith. Fall away is from aphistēmi, which means “to depart from,” or “to remove oneself from the position originally occupied to another place.” It is a stronger term than either the word translated “straying” in 1:6, or the one translated “suffered shipwreck” in 1:19, and refers to a purposeful, deliberate departure from a former position. This term can refer to a simple geographical leaving (cf. Luke 2:37; 4:13; Acts 5:37; 12:10). But in the spiritual sense, it refers to those who come very close to the truth that saves, only to leave. Jesus used this verb when He described some who hear the gospel as being like seed falling on soil that has rockbed below the surface: “Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away (aphistemi)” (Luke 8:13). Here it is used to describe apostasy, to identify the tragic reality that some will act like Judas and turn their face from eternal joy to choose hell.

An apostate is not someone struggling to believe, but one who willfully abandons the biblical faith he had once professed. As already noted, the faith refers to the content of divine revelation that constitutes what Christians believe (cf. Jude 3). This phrase, then, describes an apostate, a rejector of Christ from within the ranks of the church.

In this passage, Paul gives us six features of apostasy: its predictability, its chronology, its supernatural source, its human purveyors, its content, and its error.

The Predictability of Apostasy

But the Spirit explicitly says (4:1a)

Whereas apostasy should sadden and outrage believers, it should neither shock nor surprise them, because the Spirit explicitly says that it will occur. This prediction is part of His ongoing revelation in Scripture on the subject of apostasy. In the Old Testament, He warned of the consequences of apostasy (Deut. 28:15:ff.; Ezek. 20:38), and gave numerous examples of apostates (Ex. 32; 1 Sam. 15:11; Neh. 9:26; Ps. 78). The New Testament also warns of apostasy, particularly at the time of the end just before the Lord’s return. Our Lord warned of false christs who would deceive many (Matt. 24:4–12). Paul wrote to the Thessalonians about the wholesale departure from the faith that will take place during the future time of tribulation (2 Thess. 2:3–12). Peter and Jude warned of mockers, who, in the end time would depart from the faith (2 Peter 3:3; Jude 18). The apostle John cautioned that “it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen; from this we know that it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18; cf. 4:1–6). But apostasy, though escalated in the end time, is not limited to that era. The writer of Hebrews exhorted his readers, “Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God” (Heb. 3:12; cf. 5:11–6:8; 10:26–31).

Paul knew that Ephesus would not be spared efforts to deceive people into abandoning the truth. In his farewell address to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:29–30 he said, “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.”

As the revelation from the Spirit in Scripture shows, apostasy is predictable, and inevitable. There will always be those who make a temporary response to the gospel, but have no genuine faith in God. We should not be surprised when they leave, and should remember the words of John, “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us” (1 John 2:19).

The Chronology of Apostasy

that in later times (4:1b)

Paul defines the time frame in which apostasy will take place as the later times. The later times include, but are not limited to, the eschatological future. The first coming of Christ ushered in the later or last times, which was the Messianic era. First John 2:18 supports this fact when it says simply, “Children, it is the last hour.” First Peter 1:20 states that Christ “has appeared in these last times for the sake of you.” The writer of Hebrews informs us that God “in these last days has spoken to us in His Son” (Heb. 1:2), and “now once at the consummation of the ages [Christ] has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Heb. 9:26). From the first coming of our Lord to His return, through all this age of the church, apostasy will occur and escalate toward the end when “most people’s love will grow cold” (Matt. 24:12).

The Source of Apostasy

paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons (4:1d)

As already noted, apostasy is generated by demonic beings. Ephesians 6:12 says that the battle for the truth and the kingdom of heaven is a struggle “not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Paying attention to is from prosechō. The verb expresses more than merely listening to something. It means “to assent to,” “to devote oneself to,” or “cling to something.” The present tense of the participle shows that apostates continually cling to demonic teaching. They understand the facts of the gospel intellectually, and outwardly identify with the Christian faith. Since their hearts are not right with God and they do not have the Spirit to teach and protect them (cf. Jude 19), however, they are lured away by deceitful spirits. Planos (deceitful) comes from the root word from which our English word “planet” derives. It carries the idea of wandering, and thus came to mean “seducing,” or “deceiving.” Demons are called deceitful because they cause men to wander from the orbit of the truth. The Holy Spirit leads people into saving truth (cf. John 16:13), while these unholy spirits lead them into damning error.

Apostates are not actually the victims of sophisticated university professors, false religious leaders, or wickedly clever writers or speakers. They are the victims of demonic spirits, purveying lies from the depths of hell through such humans. False teaching is thus something far more than a human aberration, it is nothing less than the doctrines of demons. The subjective genitive indicates this is not teaching about demons, but teaching done by them. Satan and his agents have concocted all manner of lying theologies to confuse and deceive. To sit under false teaching that contradicts the truth of Scripture is to be taught by demons, and to put one’s mind and soul in jeopardy. It is no wonder, then, that the Bible cautions against exposing oneself to false doctrine.

In his second epistle, the apostle John wrote,

Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, that you might not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds. (vv. 7–11)

We are to rescue those under the influence of false teaching like we would snatch a stick out of the fire, being careful not to get burned ourselves (Jude 23).

Deuteronomy 13:12–18 gives us a very straightforward warning about apostasy:

If you hear in one of your cities, which the Lord your God is giving you to live in, anyone saying that some worthless men have gone out from among you and have seduced the inhabitants of their city, saying, “Let us go and serve other gods” (Whom you have not known), then you shall investigate and search out and inquire thoroughly. And if it is true and the matter established that this abomination has been done among you, you shall surely strike the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying it and all that is in it and its cattle with the edge of the sword. Then you shall gather all its booty into the middle of its open square and burn the city and all its booty with fire as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God; and it shall be a ruin forever. It shall never be rebuilt. And nothing from that which is put under the ban shall cling to your hand, in order that the Lord may turn from His burning anger and show mercy to you, and have compassion on you and make you increase, just as He has sworn to your fathers, if you will listen to the voice of the Lord your God, keeping all His commandments which I am commanding you today, and doing what is right in the sight of the Lord your God.

That sobering warning shows how seriously God wants us to view apostasy. It was to be cut out of the nation of Israel like cancer from a human body.

The history of demonic seduction dates back to Satan’s successful tempting of Eve in the Garden of Eden. Throughout human history, culminating in the terrible influence of demons in the Tribulation (Rev. 9:2–11; 13:14; 16:14; 18:2, 23; 19:20; 20:2, 3, 8, 10), deceitful spirits will ply doctrines of demons. Through God’s mercy, however, true believers will not succumb (Ps. 44:18; Heb. 6:9; 10:39; Jude 24–25).

The Purveyors of Apostasy

by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron (4:2)

Demonic false teaching is purveyed through human agents. While the source is supernatural, the agents are natural. The phrase the hypocrisy of liars translates two nouns in the Greek text and could be rendered “hypocritical or deceitful lie-speakers.” To purvey their hellish teachings, demons use human deceivers who speak their lies. They may be religious leaders, and appear outwardly good and devout. They may teach in an ostensibly Christian college or seminary. They may pastor a church, or write theological books or commentaries. Though they wear the mask of religion (even Christianity) and wear a mask of piety, they do not serve God, but Satan. They blaspheme God. Sitting under such teachers has no redeeming value, and it results in being exposed to spiritual gangrene (2 Tim. 2:17–18).

The false teachers are able to go about their devilish business without restraint because they are seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron. Some argue that Paul’s metaphor here is that of a slave branded with his owner’s mark. The false teachers, according to that view, carried Satan’s brand in their consciences. It seems better, however, to understand this as a reference to the burning or numbing of their consciences. Kautēriazō (seared) was used by the Greek medical writer Hippocrates to speak of cauterization. The false teachers can carry out their hypocrisy because their consciences have been destroyed. Conscience is the faculty that affirms or condemns an action (cf. Rom. 2:14–15). It is the sensitivity to right and wrong that controls behavior. Paul looked to his conscience as the divinely given witness to the condition of his soul (cf. Acts 23:1; 24:16; Rom. 9:1; 2 Cor. 1:12; 2 Tim. 1:3). The apostle has already stated that false teachers reject “a good conscience” (1:19), which is the very goal Paul pursued (1:5). The false teachers’ consciences have been so ignored and misinformed that they have become like scar tissue burned senseless, which cease to function. With scarred consciences, they feel no guilt or remorse as they purvey their false doctrines.

The Content of Apostasy

men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods, (4:3a)

Anything contrary to Scripture can be the entry point of demonic teaching. We might have expected the apostle to follow his severe comments about demon doctrine with examples like denying the Trinity or the deity of the Savior, or rejecting salvation by grace. But Satan is so subtle and seeks to gain a foothold on territory more easily yielded. Paul gives a sample of what was being taught at Ephesus. The deceivers there were focusing on two seemingly minor teachings: that spirituality demanded avoiding marriage and abstaining from foods. As is typical of satanic deception, both of those teachings contain an element of truth. There is nothing wrong with singleness, and such a state may aid spiritual service. First Corinthians 7:25–35 honors those designed by God to be single. Nor is fasting wrong; it is an important accompaniment to prayer (cf. Matt. 6:16–17; 9:14–15). The deception comes in seeing those as essential elements of salvation. The devising of human means of salvation is a hallmark of all false religion.

The teaching that self-denial on the physical level was essential for true spirituality characterized the Essenes. They were a Jewish sect that appeared in Palestine as early as the second century b.c.. They formed the Qumran community, near the Dead Sea, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. They practiced asceticism, denying marriage and enforcing special dietary regulations. It is possible their influence was being felt in Ephesus.

Another possible influence was the philosophic dualism that characterized much contemporary Greek philosophy. That view held that matter was evil, and spirit good. Marriage and food, being aspects of the evil material world, were to be shunned. Such teaching may have influenced the Ephesians, as it did the Corinthians (cf. 1 Cor. 7:1–7, 28–38; 15:12). In the second century, this false teaching developed into the dangerous heresy known as Gnosticism. Gnostics boasted of a secret, hidden knowledge. They believed they were the initiated ones, who had transcended the mundane and touched the reality of God. They rejected the body as part of the evil, physical world. Gnosticism was to pose a serious threat to the orthodox faith for several centuries.

The emphasis on externalism that marked the Ephesian apostates is typical of all satanic false religion. From the animism of primitive tribes to the sophistication of major world religions, men rely on good works, outward ritual, and self denial. William Barclay comments,

This was an ever-recurring heresy in the Church; in every generation men arose who tried to be stricter than God. When the Apostolic Canons came to be written, it was necessary to set it down in black and white: “If any overseer, priest or deacon, or anyone on the priestly list, abstains from marriage and flesh and wine, not on the ground of asceticism (that is, for the sake of discipline), but through abhorrence of them as evil in themselves, forgetting that all things are very good, and that God made man male and female, but blaspheming and slandering the workmanship of God, either let him amend, or be deposed and cast out of the Church. Likewise a layman also” (Apostolic Canons 51). Irenaeus, writing towards the end of the second century, tells how certain followers of Saturninus “declare that marriage and generation are from Satan. Many likewise abstain from animal food, and draw away multitudes by a feigned temperance of this kind (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1, 24, 2). This kind of thing came to a head in the monks and hermits of the fourth century. They went away and lived in the Egyptian desert, entirely cut off from men. They spent their lives mortifying the flesh. One never ate cooked food and was famous for his “fleshlessness.” Another stood all night by a jutting crag so that it was impossible for him to sleep. Another was famous because he allowed his body to become so dirty and neglected that vermin dropped from him as he walked. Another deliberately ate salt in midsummer and then abstained from drinking water. “A clean body,” they said, “necessarily means an unclean soul.” (The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon [Philadelphia: Westminster, 1975], 93–94)

Such teaching is both false and dangerous. Paul rejects it in Colossians 2:16–23:

Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day—things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God. If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (which all refer to things destined to perish with the using)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.

Believers are complete in Christ and do not need to practice physical self-denial to gain salvation from sin and righteousness before God.

The Error of Apostasy

which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer. (4:3b–5)

The fundamental error of such apostate teaching is that it rejects divine revelation. All false teaching is a denial of God’s Word. All through the Pastoral Epistles, Paul confronts false teachers for their treatment of Holy Scripture (cf. 1 Tim. 1:3–11; 6:3–5, 20–21; 2 Tim. 2:14–18; 23–26; 3:13–17; 4:1–4; Titus 1:9–16; 3:9–11). Contrary to the false teaching plaguing Ephesus, God created both marriage and food and pronounced them good (cf. Gen. 1:28–31; 2:18–24; 9:3). God created marriage and food to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. How then can it be right to deny them to men? God made marriage and food for the same reason He made everything else—to give man joy and to bring Himself glory (cf. 1 Cor. 10:31). Unbelievers, while they enjoy marriage (“the grace of life”—1 Peter 3:7) and food, do not fulfill that ultimate intention and praise God for them. So in the truest sense, God made marriage and food for those who believe and know the truth, because they are the ones who will glorify Him for such gracious goodness. How foolish to abstain from his kindness and thus deny God the right to be glorified for their enjoyment!

The Ephesian deceivers refused to recognize that everything created by God is good. They flatly denied the goodness of God’s creation, which would have led them to understand that nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude. Paul once again emphasizes that God’s purpose in giving good things to men is so that, in their enjoyment of those gifts, they would praise Him. By gratefully receiving God’s gracious gifts, believers fulfill that noble intention for which those things were created. The doxology of Romans 11:36 sums up this perspective: “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”

At the close of creation week, God pronounced everything He had created “good” (Gen. 1:31). Those good things from God that believers gratefully receive are sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer. To be sanctified is to be set apart for holy use. The means by which that is accomplished are the word of God and prayer. Prayer obviously refers to the thanksgiving that expresses gratitude. The word seems to refer to the very word in Genesis 1:31, that everything God made was good. There is a double sanctifying, or setting apart from all that is sinful. But it is also possible that Paul has in mind more than Genesis 1:31, namely, the New Testament gospel.

In the Pastoral Epistles, the word of God refers to the message of salvation (cf. 2 Tim. 2:9; Titus 2:5). Through that message, believers have come to know the truth in Christ. Part of that truth is that Christ has abolished the dietary laws. According to Mark 7:19, our Lord “declared all foods clean” (cf. Acts 10:9–15; Rom. 14:1–12; Col. 2:16–17). The dietary regulations were temporary, intended to teach Israel the importance of discernment and to isolate the nation from the pagan societies around them. To reimpose them now would be to manufacture a works righteousness system that denies the work of Christ and dishonors God. If believers understand that the gospel has abolished the dietary laws, and in prayer offer God thanks, they can receive all His good gifts, and He will be glorified.

Mandatory celibacy and abstinence from foods in general or particular is the teaching of demons. It denies the goodness of God’s creation, and robs Him of the glory and praise He is due for that goodness. It also is a denial of God’s truth, as revealed in His Word. Mere externalism neither pleases God nor promotes genuine spirituality.

Apostasy is an ever-present danger to the church. Believers can avoid the false teaching that feeds it only by giving heed to God’s Word. They would do well to pay attention to the warning issued by the writer of Hebrews: “Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were thus occupied were not benefitted” (Heb. 13:9).[1]


Where Bad Theology Comes From

1 Timothy 4:1–5

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared. (1 Tim. 4:1–2)

The world is full of bad theology. On television a preacher of prosperity says, “Be healed! Jesus died for your disease on the cross!” On the radio a teacher presents such a distorted view of Calvinism that it would cause the most stable Christian to doubt his or her salvation. In the magazines leading evangelicals are confused about whether justification comes by faith alone or not. Then add all the errors of non-Christian religion: the fanciful speculations of the New Age; the dangerous views about Jesus in the cults; the mindless, godless philosophies of the consumer culture. The world is full of untrue, unsound, unbiblical theology. Where does it all come from?

Apostasy Ahead

Having explained the mystery of godliness (1 Tim. 3:16), Paul explains the mystery of ungodliness, telling Timothy and the church to expect bad theology: “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith” (1 Tim. 4:1). This is not simply Paul’s analysis of the church; it is a prophecy of the Holy Spirit.

Paul does not specify when the Holy Spirit said this. This unhappy news may have been revealed to Paul as he wrote to Timothy. More likely, the apostle was referring to some earlier prophecy, perhaps one uttered by a prophet in the early church. Similar prophecies do appear elsewhere in the New Testament. Paul may even have been recalling the words of Jesus Christ: “And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray” (Matt. 24:10–11). The parallel with 1 Timothy is close because Jesus speaks of people “falling away.” Or the apostle may simply have been reminding the Ephesians of the warning he gave their elders when he said farewell to them at Miletus: “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:29–30).

The living voice of the Holy Spirit testifies in no uncertain terms that although Christians may be saddened by false theology, they should never be surprised by it. Timothy was well acquainted with the dangers of unsound doctrine. He knew, for example, that Hymenaeus and Alexander had made a shipwreck of their faith (1 Tim. 1:19–20). At that very moment, he was contending against false teachers in the Ephesian church. Like Timothy, the church can take the Spirit’s word for it: “in later times some will depart from the faith” (1 Tim. 4:1).

The technical theological term for abandoning the faith is “apostasy,” which comes from the Greek noun apostasia. Here the related verb appears: to “depart from the faith” is to apostatize (1 Tim. 4:1). One scholar defines such apostasy as “the serious situation of becoming separated from the living God after a previous turning towards him, by falling away from the faith.” Apostasy does not mean that believers who have saving faith can lose it. This would be an impossibility, since every sinner who receives the gift of saving faith is preserved by the Holy Spirit until the day of Christ (see John 10:28; Phil. 1:6).

What apostasy does mean, however, is that someone who once claimed to be a Christian has renounced the gospel. Here again, as he does throughout this epistle, Paul refers to Christianity as “the faith.” He has in mind those central doctrines that rest on the solid foundation of Holy Scripture and are necessary to saving faith: the sovereignty of God the Father, the deity of God the Son, the reality of God the Holy Spirit, and redemption through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, received by faith. Sad to say, some who profess to believe these doctrines later deny them. Indeed, one of the distinguishing marks of the later times is that people who call themselves Christians will forsake the Christ of authentic Christianity.

Since human beings are curious about the future, we are bound to ask, “When will these later times be?” There is an important clue in this passage. In verse 1 the Holy Spirit speaks about the future: “in later times some will depart from the faith.” Yet by verse 3 the apostle is speaking in the present tense about things happening in the Ephesian church at that very moment. This indicates that the later times of the final age have already begun.

The same shift from the future to the present occurs in 2 Timothy 3:1–5, where Paul warns Timothy that “in the last days there will come times of difficulty” (2 Tim. 3:1). He then proceeds to explain how people will behave in the end times: they will be insolent, violent, and arrogant. Thus he warns Timothy to “avoid such people” (2 Tim. 3:5). In other words, Timothy himself knew some of the wicked people of the last days. They were already living in Ephesus!

When someone asks, therefore, “Do you think we are living in the last days?” the answer is always, “Yes!” These are the later times. These are the last days, which, as John Wesley said, “extend from our Lord’s ascension till His coming to judgment.” George Knight helpfully defines them as “the days inaugurated by the Messiah and characterized by the Spirit’s presence in power, the days to be consummated by the return of Christ.”3 The end times thus encompass the whole Christian era from the resurrection of Jesus Christ to his second coming in power and glory.

If these are the later times, then apostasy is to be expected. From time to time Christians will hear news of former church members who have abandoned the faith. Some will fall into grievous sin. Others will gradually drift away from the church. Still others will reject Reformation truth for the falsehoods of other faiths. As sad as these things are, they should not surprise us. When someone abandons orthodox Christianity it should not throw our faith into question. Rather, it proves the truth of Scripture “that in later times some will depart from the faith” (1 Tim. 4:1).

Diabolical Doctrine

The Scripture goes on to explain that such apostasy comes from bad theology. In verses 3 through 5 Paul will proceed to explain what the false doctrines are. First, however, he explains where they come from. Bad theology has two sources, the first of which is positively diabolical. Those who abandon the faith do so “by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1). Bad theology comes from seductive spirits and deceptive demons. The Revised English Bible thus identifies their teachings as “demon-inspired doctrines.”

There are two errors to avoid when thinking about demons. The first is to give the devil more than his due. Some Christians think there are demons lurking behind every door. They assume they are under spiritual attack every time they get a headache or miss the bus. Others attribute most of their own sins to demonic activity. Still others become so obsessed with demons that they live in unholy fear. But the truth is that Jesus Christ defeated the devil and all his lackeys on the cross of Calvary. The Son of God became a man so that “through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (Heb. 2:14–15). On occasion, God may allow fallen angels to manipulate the physical universe or to tempt human beings to commit sin. But demons do not and cannot have control over anyone who is filled with the Holy Spirit.

The opposite error is to deny that demons exist. As Baudelaire once said, “The devil’s cleverest ruse is to make men believe that he does not exist.” But the devil does exist. Spiritual warfare is as real today as it was in the days of Jesus Christ. We continue to “wrestle against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). This struggle will continue until the day of judgment, which is why the Lord Jesus instructs his disciples to pray every day for deliverance from the evil one (see Matt. 6:13).

The main reason Christians need daily spiritual protection is the deceitfulness of the devil. Jesus called Satan “a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Elsewhere Paul speaks of his schemes (2 Cor. 2:11; Eph. 6:11) and bewitchments (Gal. 3:1). His work is said to be “displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders” (2 Thess. 2:9 niv; cf. Rev. 13:14). Believers are thus warned not to believe every spirit, but to test the spirits “to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

Satan was a deceiver from the very beginning. When he came to Eve in the form of a serpent, his appearance was deceptive, and he asked a deceptive question: “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Gen. 3:1). Satan was putting words in God’s mouth because God had said nothing of the kind. Then he made a deceptive claim: “You will not surely die” (Gen. 3:4). Satan told one lie after another. This is his modus operandi, his standard operating procedure. When he hinted to Eve that God was stingy, he was denying God’s goodness. When he told Eve that she would not die, he was denying God’s justice. Satan was the first liberal theologian. It is his particular aim to persuade people that true theology is false and false theology is true.

In addition to lying about creation, the devil also lies about redemption. Consider the words of Martin Luther:

When God’s holy Word arises, it is always its lot that Satan opposes it with all his might. At first, he rages against it with force and wicked power. If that promises no success, he attacks it with false tongues and erring spirits and teachers. What he is unable to crush by force he seeks to suppress by cunning and lies. This was his strategy at the beginning. When the Gospel first came into the world, he launched a mighty attack against it through Jews and Gentiles, shed much blood, and filled Christendom with martyrs. When this did not succeed, he raised false prophets and erring spirits and filled the world with heretics.… And we must be prepared for this, and by no means allow it to disturb us, for so it must be.

If Satan’s favorite strategy is deception, it follows that the church is in real danger of being fooled by false doctrine. Some theology is so bad it can be spotted a mile off. But most false doctrines contain enough truth to resist detection. The most dangerous heresies often sound the most like authentic Christianity. Consider a few examples. The distortions of the signs and wonders movement hide behind the truth of the need for people to make a personal commitment to Jesus Christ. The distortions of Roman Catholicism hide behind the truth of the value of good works. The lies of Mormonism hide behind the truth of family values. The lies of the International Church of Christ hide behind the truth of the necessity of baptism. Every false doctrine tries to find some truth to hide behind.

The deceptiveness of false doctrine teaches every Christian to be wary. A man once told me that after he committed his life to Christ he listened to every program on Christian radio. As he matured in the faith, he learned what a mistake that can be. The discerning Christian does not listen to every so-called Christian radio program, read every so-called Christian book, or enter every so-called Christian church, but is wary enough to be on guard against diabolical deceptions.

Through Lying Leaders

If bad theology comes ultimately from demons, it comes more immediately through human beings. It comes, in fact, “through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared” (1 Tim. 4:2). This is the second source of bad theology. It comes from lying leaders as well as deceptive demons.

This is not to say that every theological error comes from someone who is demon-possessed. However, false doctrine is transmitted from false angels through false teachers. The word the Holy Spirit uses to describe such a teacher is “hypocrite” (hypokritēs)—a word that comes from the Greek theater. It means to assume a role in a dramatic production, to play a part.

Hypocrisy explains why heresy is so deceptive. Many false teachers are good actors. They know how to play the part of a Christian. This, too, is part of Satan’s master plan: “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness” (2 Cor. 11:14–15). Or as Hamlet put it, “The spirit that I have seen / May be the devil: and the devil hath power / To assume a pleasing shape.” False teachers often play the part of Christians, pretending to be followers of Jesus Christ. They call themselves Christians. They seem to be committed and sincere. They are thoroughly convinced of their orthodoxy. They go to church, and they may even preach from a pulpit. Heresy always wears the mask of Christianity.

It is all a lie, however. False teachers are sincere all right: sincerely wrong! Neither they themselves nor their doctrines are true. There may even be something intentional about the way they distort the gospel. John Stott says that “hypocrisy is a deliberate pretence and a lie a deliberate falsehood.” There is a grave warning here for Christians who try to seem more godly than they actually are!

Eventually, liars start to live their own lies. They do not even realize they are lying any more, for their “consciences are seared” (1 Tim. 4:2). There is some disagreement about what Paul means by this expression (kaustēriazō). Some take it to refer to the branding of cattle or slaves to establish ownership, in which case the point is that false teachers are tools of the devil. It may be better, however, to take this expression in its medical sense, of coagulating live tissue with a burning instrument to stop bleeding. Sometimes when skin is burned it becomes insensitive, almost as if anesthetized. Once the nerves have been deadened, the skin is no longer able to feel pain. The same thing can happen to the human conscience. It can become cauterized by sin. The more a soul sins, the less painful sin seems, until finally the conscience becomes dead to all feeling (cf. Eph. 4:18–19). At that point, it is no longer able to warn the soul against sin.

To use a different analogy, the conscience is like an alarm clock. The first time a man commits a particular sin the alarm bells ring all over his conscience. But the next time he commits the same sin, it is not nearly as alarming. “This isn’t so bad,” he says to himself. “I’ve done this once or twice before.” The man carefully locates the snooze button on his conscience so that next time he is able to disarm it more quickly. Eventually, he unplugs his conscience altogether and slumbers unto death.

Unless Christians are careful, this self-destructive pattern can be repeated anywhere:

The grim sequence of events in the career of the false teachers has now been revealed. First, they turned a deaf ear to their conscience, until it became cauterized. Next, they felt no scruple in becoming hypocritical liars. Thirdly, they thus exposed themselves to the influence of deceiving spirits. Finally, they led their listeners to abandon the faith. It is a perilous downward path from the deaf ear and the cauterized conscience to the deliberate lie, the deception of demons and the ruination of others.

Apostasy is the inevitable result of hypocrisy. So do not wound your conscience by committing outrageous sins or by excusing lesser ones. Guard your conscience so that it remains sensitive to the least offense against the holiness of God.

By now it should be obvious why Paul so frequently reminds Timothy to keep his conscience clear. His goal is for Timothy to have love which comes from “a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Tim. 1:5). He urges him to keep “holding faith and a good conscience” (1 Tim. 1:19). Similarly, he tells deacons to “hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience” (1 Tim. 3:9). In short, Paul wants every Christian to be as conscientious as he himself was. For as the apostle later testified to Timothy, he served God “with a clear conscience” (2 Tim. 1:3), and as he told Felix, “I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man” (Acts 24:16). One reason Paul was such a good theologian was that he was such a holy Christian.

A clear conscience is always highly to be prized, but is most necessary of all for the pastors and teachers of the church. A theologian who grows comfortable with sin is well on his way to becoming a heretic, while a tender conscience preserves orthodoxy.

The Ascetic Life

Up to this point, Paul has been speaking about bad theology in general terms. In verse 3 he finally starts to get specific by telling us that the false teachers in Ephesus believed that celibacy and vegetarianism were necessary for salvation: they “forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created” (1 Tim. 4:3). Given what Paul has said in the previous two verses, this surely is a surprising summary of what the false teachers were saying. We might well have expected the apostle to say that these men were denying the deity of Jesus Christ, or adding works to faith as the basis for justification, or advocating some other heretical doctrine. But before talking about their theology, Paul first locates their heterodoxy in two areas of everyday practice.

There is nothing wrong, in principle, with being a single, or a vegetarian, or both. God calls some individual Christians to remain unmarried or to refrain from certain foods for a time. In fact, the apostle Paul himself was called to both. He himself was a bachelor, and he encouraged other Christians to value singleness (1 Cor. 7:8). He also followed the biblical practice of fasting with prayer (e.g. Acts 14:23).

The trouble comes when these or other matters of relative indifference are treated as essentials of the gospel. This legalistic mindset is often a problem in the church. A group of Christians discover something that helps them grow in the Christian faith. They rediscover a forgotten doctrine, take up some political cause, follow a new method for family life, or commit themselves to a ministry, which is all well and good. But then they decide that what is good for them ought to be mandatory for others. Soon they go around trying to get everyone to adopt one style of Christianity. They assume that anyone who does not do what they do is less spiritual than they are.

This is exactly what the false teachers in Ephesus were doing. They had committed themselves to one particular diet and one particular lifestyle. Fine. There is nothing wrong with remaining single or with fasting. Nor is there anything wrong in principle with private vegetarianism (although Romans 14:2 hints that this lifestyle may come from spiritual weakness). The trouble came when the false teachers decided that what was good for them was good for everyone. They tried to require every Christian to adopt their practices for abstaining from sex and food.

Apparently, these false teachers taught that meat and marriage were inherently sinful. This passage mentions “foods” without specifying what they were. Perhaps this is a reference to Jewish dietary customs which came from the Mosaic law. Yet elsewhere—especially in Rome (Rom. 14:2, 21) and in Corinth (1 Cor. 8:13)—the controversy in the church concerned eating meat. Whatever the precise practices may have been, the single best word to describe this kind of theology is “ascetic.” According to the Oxford English Dictionary, an ascetic is “a person who practices severe self-discipline and abstains from all forms of pleasure, especially for religious or spiritual reasons.” By forbidding marriage and changing their diet, some members of the Ephesian church were denying the pleasures of sex and food, and at the same time saying that physical self-denial was essential to a person’s standing before God.

What lies behind forbidding meat and marriage is the Gnostic idea that there is something sinful about the body. According to this line of thinking, the physical universe is a hindrance to spiritual life. Souls are all that matter, and physical appetites only lead to sin. John Stott explains the ascetic mindset like this: “From the beginning of church history some teachers … have argued that sex and hunger are themselves unclean appetites, that the body itself is a nasty encumbrance (if not actually vile), and that the only way to holiness is abstinence, the voluntary renunciation of sex and marriage, and, since eating cannot be given up altogether, then at least the renunciation of meat.”

Asceticism has a long history. The Essenes who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls refused to marry. So did the Manichaeans, who lived in the east from the third to the tenth centuries. Similarly Irenaeus reports that the Encratites of his day “preached against marriage, thus setting aside the original creation of God, and indirectly blaming him who made them male and female for the propagation of the human race. Some of those reckoned among them have also introduced abstinence from animal food, thus proving themselves ungrateful to God, who formed all things.” There has long been an ascetic tendency in Roman Catholicism. This explains the existence of monasteries and why Catholic priests are forbidden to marry. It is also the reason why orthodox Catholics refuse to eat meat during Lent.

A more contemporary example of asceticism is the Straight Edge movement, which takes its name from a 1981 punk song by Ian MacKaye and Minor Threat: “I’m a person just like you / But I’ve got better things to do / Than sit around and smoke dope.… I’ve got a straight edge.” As the song suggests, Straight Edgers refuse to smoke or use drugs—so far, so good. However, they are equally opposed to marriage. Sex, they say, is only for having children. It is immoral for human beings to eat anything that comes from an animal, including dairy products. Straight Edgers are willing to use physical violence against people who disagree with their views. Thus, even to the present day, there are people “who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods” (1 Tim. 4:3).

The Ingratitude of Asceticism

What is wrong with a little asceticism? After all, John the Baptist lived on honey and locusts (Mark 1:6). Jesus had nowhere to lay his head (Matt. 8:20). Paul even talked about disciplining his body to “keep it under control” (1 Cor. 9:27). Besides, sex and food so easily lend themselves to sins of the flesh.

One problem with self-denial is that it is often used as a way to become self-righteous. Calvin accuses the false teachers in Ephesus of trying “to acquire righteousness for themselves by abstaining from those things which God has left free. The only reason why consciences are burdened by such laws is that perfection is being sought apart from the law of God.” Another problem with ascetic Christianity is that it rejects God’s good gifts. When they are used in a lawful way, both food and sex are meant for joy. God himself created them “to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth” (1 Tim. 4:3).

Consider marriage. Paul spends less time defending that institution here, perhaps because family life receives positive mention elsewhere in this epistle (see 1 Tim. 3:2, 12; 5:14). Remember, too, that Paul’s other letter to the Ephesians included a good bit of teaching about marriage (Eph. 5:22–33). But what the Bible teaches about marriage is that it is a divine gift, ordained by God the Father (Gen. 2:24) and blessed by God the Son (Matt. 19:4–6). Therefore, marriage is to be received with thankful joy. Chastity in marriage is no less holy than virginity in singleness.

The Puritans offer many good examples of how to appreciate the gift of marriage. Contrary to popular opinion, they were not puritanical about sex. They prized marriage, including its sexual aspect. In his Book of Matrimony, the Puritan Thomas Becon defined marriage as the

high, holy and blessed order of life, ordained not of man, but of God … wherein one man and one woman are coupled and knit together in one flesh and body in the fear and love of God, by the free, loving, hearty, and good consent of them both, to the intent that they two may dwell together as one flesh and body, of one will and mind, in all honesty, virtue and godliness, and spend their lives in equal partaking of all such things as God shall send them with thanksgiving.

Like marriage, food is one of God’s good gifts. Christians are allowed to eat whatever foods they please. Paul’s reasoning is very straightforward: what God has made, we may eat. This is one very practical consequence of the doctrine of creation: “everything created by God is good” (1 Tim. 4:4). Throughout the first chapter of Genesis, God describes everything he made as very good; among other things, what God has made is good to eat.

The proper way to receive the good gifts of creation is “with thanksgiving” (eucharistias), which is Paul’s favorite term to express gratitude to God. Gratitude is so important that it is mentioned twice in three verses: God created these things “to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer” (1 Tim. 4:3–5).

There are two important qualifications here. The first comes from the doctrine of redemption: followers of Christ must be the most grateful people of all. Christians are here defined as “those who believe and know the truth” (1 Tim. 4:3). To believe is to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world. It is to trust in his death on the cross and resurrection from the grave for salvation. True gratitude is a response to saving grace. It begins with thanksgiving for the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. The other qualification comes from the doctrine of creation. Paul does not say that everything is good; he says that “everything created by God is good” (1 Tim. 4:4). What God made is good, but there is always the danger of corrupting what God has made. Christians are to enjoy life to the fullest, but it is not “anything goes!” Although the right use of food and sex have God’s blessing, lechery and gluttony fall under God’s curse.

One way to test if God’s gifts are being used properly is to ask this question: “Can I thank God for what I am doing right now without being ashamed of myself?” A sensitive Christian will find it impossible to thank God for gross excess. Furthermore, true gratitude always leads to generosity. Christians who keep their food to themselves—or keep the benefits of family life to themselves, for that matter—are not receiving God’s gifts with thanksgiving at all.

When Paul speaks about thanksgiving, he may be referring to the practice of saying grace before meals. One way to receive food with thanksgiving is to do what the Lord Jesus did: offer a prayer of thanksgiving before and/or after eating it. In the Gospel of Mark we overhear Jesus giving thanks for the loaves and the fish (Mark 6:41; 8:6), as well as for the bread and the wine of the Last Supper (Mark 14:22–23). This was also the practice of the apostle Paul, who speaks of sitting down to his meals “with thankfulness” (1 Cor. 10:30). The way to receive any gift is with a word of thanks. The Scripture further describes giving thanks for food as a consecration: “it is made holy by the word of God and prayer” (1 Tim. 4:5). Praying before a meal does not make the food any more holy than it already is, but saying grace is a way of acknowledging that daily bread is a sacred gift. According to Calvin, “the only recompense we can make to God for His liberality is a testimony of our thanks.”

It is hard to say for certain what Paul means here by “the word of God” (1 Tim. 4:5). Various commentators have suggested that it refers to the gospel message (Paul sometimes equates “the word of God” with the gospel), or to the Lord’s Supper, or even to the first chapter of Genesis, where God said over and over again that everything he created was very good (an interpretation that fits in well with Paul’s emphasis on creation in these verses). Still others point out that the Jews often used Scripture when they said grace. The last suggestion is a good one. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner may all be consecrated to God. Every meal is a dialogue with heaven. As Fairbairn says, the Bible is “God’s word to man warranting him to use the creation gift,” while saying grace is “man’s word to God, acknowledging the gift, and asking his blessing on it.” Christian singles and families ought to dedicate their meals to God through prayer and the reading of Scripture. Table devotions have been the standard practice of God’s people throughout history. The fact that they have gone out of fashion in some Christian circles today makes them all the more necessary.

Giving thanks, however, is not just for mealtimes. Gratitude is a whole way of life. Christians ought to give thanks to God for every good thing. G. K. Chesterton wrote something helpful about this in one of his personal notebooks. Chesterton was an English essayist and biographer. He was also a Catholic, but not of the ascetic kind, as one can tell from what he wrote:

You say grace before meals.

All right.

But I say grace before the play and the opera,

And grace before the concert and pantomime,

And grace before I open a book,

And grace before sketching, painting,

Swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing;

And grace before I dip the pen in the ink.

Chesterton’s point is that God is to be praised for everything he has created. I am in a good position to appreciate this because I am writing these words one fine spring morning. As I walked the streets of Philadelphia early in the day I saw a starling in a tree. Starlings are not the most attractive birds. They lack the bright colors of song birds and they have trouble carrying a tune. Yet the starling I saw was almost melodic. He was inspired, no doubt, by the fresh buds on the tree and the bright sun in the sky. As I paused to look and to listen, I joined him in grateful praise to the God who made us both. Everything God made is good and is to be received with thanksgiving. Even starlings.

A Grateful Theology

The last thing to be said about the origins of bad theology is that gratitude is essential to sound theology. Thanksgiving is so important to daily Christian life that anyone who rejects God’s good gifts runs the risk of abandoning the faith.

A good example of the way sound theology depends upon a grateful heart comes from the early days of the Swiss Reformation. Shortly before Easter in 1522, several printers scandalized the city of Zurich by eating meat during the traditional Catholic fast for Lent. The printers decided to do this for two reasons. One was practical. They performed such hard physical labor that they felt they needed to eat meat to keep up their strength. But the other reason was theological. The printers wanted to eat meat in order to make a public declaration of their commitment to the doctrines of the Reformation.

To understand this, it helps to know that the Lenten fast in Zurich had become a form of works-righteousness, a way of earning favor with God through self-denial. But the printers knew where bad theology comes from—and where it leads. They believed that they were saved by grace, not by works. They also understood that “everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving” (1 Tim. 4:4). Therefore, they ate their meat to the glory of God, which of course is the way every believer ought to do everything.[2]


Learn to discern

4:1–5

After being taken to the mountain top at the end of the last chapter, we come down to earth with a bump when we read: ‘Now the Spirit expressly says that in the later times some will depart from the faith’ (4:1). The ‘later times’ do not refer to a period at some time in the future, but to the era that both Timothy and we live in. It is the final phase of God’s plan that has been ushered in by Jesus’ death and resurrection and was initiated on the day of Pentecost.

The Greek word translated as ‘now’ in verse 1 connects the great statement made in chapter 3:2 with the practical issues Paul is going to raise in chapter 4. The ‘mystery’ has been revealed to us: God’s Son became a man, has been raised from the dead and has ascended into heaven. But there are still heart-breaking problems with which Timothy has to deal.

This has been revealed to Paul by the Holy Spirit and it should be familiar to the elders of the church in Ephesus. When Paul last spoke to them he said, ‘The Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me … I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock’ (Acts 20:23, 29). A wolf is a symbol of a false teacher who divides and destroys, just like the men who were creating so many problems for Timothy.

The source of the problem

The most dangerous element of the kind of teaching circulating in Ephesus—such erroneous teaching is still in existence today—was that it did not always appear to be wrong. It is possible that Timothy had not realized how dangerous it was until God had shown this to him through the letter Paul had written. Although these ideas were taught by men, they originated from ‘deceitful spirits’ and ‘demons’. This does not excuse the teachers themselves; they were ‘hypocritical liars’ (v. 2, NIV). The word ‘hypocrite’ is a term which has emerged from the theatre and it describes a person who gives a false impression, pretending to be something he or she is not. These teachers knew how to present their teaching so that it had appeal to as many people as possible. They were able to do so because they were ‘seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron’ (NASB). Hippocrates, the Greek medical writer, used the word ‘seared’ to describe cauterization, and the image here is of a conscience that has been destroyed.

The substance of their teaching

Having read that their ideas originated from deceitful spirits and demons, the description of their teaching may seem a little surprising. Paul says that they ‘forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth’ (v. 3). At first, this does not seem so serious, but when given more thought, it will become apparent how harmful their teaching was.

  • it separated christians from god. By forbidding marriage and saying that people could not eat certain foods, they rejected God’s gifts. That is why Paul goes on to remark that ‘everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer’ (vv. 4–5).
  • it caused divisions among christians, creating an elite group of people who considered themselves to be ‘spiritual’ and who looked down on those who did not follow their rules and regulations.
  • it caused them to be preoccupied with themselves and made them neglect evangelism. Remember that this teaching originates from ‘deceitful spirits’ and ‘demons’ whose purpose it is to discourage people from following Christ and to destroy the local church. That is why it is essential to use discernment and to ‘test everything’ (1 Thes. 5:21).[3]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1995). 1 Timothy (pp. 145–155). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Ryken, P. G. (2007). 1 Timothy. (R. D. Phillips, D. M. Doriani, & P. G. Ryken, Eds.) (pp. 152–166). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.

[3] Robinson, S. J. (2004). Opening up 1 Timothy (pp. 68–71). Leominster: Day One Publications.

40 Days to the Cross: Week One – Thursday

Confession: Psalm 25:16–18

Turn to me and have mercy on me

because I am lonely and afflicted.

Remove the troubles of my heart;

bring me out from my distresses.

Consider my affliction and trouble,

and forgive all my sins.

Reading: Mark 10:1–12

And from there he set out and came to the region of Judea and the other side of the Jordan, and again crowds came together to him. And again, as he was accustomed to do, he began to teach them. And they asked him if it was permitted for a man to divorce his wife, in order to test him. And he answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?” So they said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” But Jesus said to them, “He wrote this commandment for you because of your hardness of heart. But from the beginning of creation ‘he made them male and female. Because of this a man will leave his father and mother and will be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh,’ so that they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, man must not separate.”

And in the house again the disciples began to ask him about this. And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

Reflection

See a teacher’s wisdom.… By His argument He showed that it was the commandment of His Father, and that not in opposition to Moses did He command these things, but in full agreement with him. Notice Him arguing strongly not only from the creation, but also from His command. For He not only said that He made one man and one woman only, but that He also gave this command that the one man should be joined to the one woman.… But now both by the manner of the creation, and by the manner of lawgiving, He showed that one man must dwell with one woman continually, and never break off from her.

—John Chrysostom

Homolies of St. John Chrysostom

Response

Jesus comes with authority. How are you eager for Him to reign in all parts of your life—your relationships, your work, your thoughts, and your goals?[1]


[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

03/14/19 Listening to the Spirit — ChuckLawless.com

READING: Numbers 30-31, Mark 13:1-27

As Jesus told His disciples about signs of the end, He warned them that they would be handed over to courts and flogged in the synagogues. That is, they would face persecution, though God would use their troubles to get them before “governors and kings because of me [Jesus], as a witness to them” (Mark 13:9). In those tough times, though, they would not need be concerned about what they would say, for the Spirit of God would speak through them: “So when they arrest you and hand you over, don’t worry beforehand what you will say, but say whatever is given to you at that time, for it isn’t you speaking, but the Holy Spirit” (Mark 13:11).

That’s an amazing mystery, actually. It’s amazing that God Himself lives in us; He indwells us through His Spirit. We are thus never alone, regardless of what we face.

Then, His Spirit gives us words to speak in the most difficult experiences. He who lives in us speaks through us. Worry is thus de-fanged, and faith becomes paramount.

We are to walk with God so consistently and obediently that we’re fully in tune with the Spirit in those difficult times. That truth means that we must walk deeply with Him every step of the way.

PRAYER: “God, thank You for indwelling me. Keep my ears and heart attuned to Your Spirt.”

TOMORROW’S READING: Numbers 32-33, Mark 13:28-14:16

03/14/19 Listening to the Spirit — ChuckLawless.com

March 14 For the love of God (Vol. 2)

Exodus 25; John 4; Proverbs 1; 2 Corinthians 13

 

before embarking on proverbs 1, I must say a little about “wisdom” in the Old Testament. For us, wisdom means something like sagacity. The wise person is insightful, perceptive, even shrewd, able to apply knowledge to diverse people and circumstances. One can understand why T. S. Eliot, in one of his more prescient anticipations of the digital age, asked where wisdom is now that it has been lost in knowledge, and where knowledge is now that it has been lost in information.

But wisdom in the Old Testament, though its meaning sometimes overlaps with modern English use, has a flavor all its own. At one level, it is a broad concept that embraces the structure of everything in God’s universe, both substance and relationships, even before anything exists (cf. 8:22). The glory of God is manifested in such wisdom; it may even be manifested by his resolve to hide such wisdom (25:2). Yet at another level, wisdom in the Old Testament is simply a skill of one kind or another. (1) It may be the skill to survive, which is why ants and lizards are said to be extremely wise (30:24–28). (2) It is the skill to get along with people, what we call “social skills”—how to get along with friends, employers, rulers, spouse, and above all with God. Intuitively one glimpses how this practical “wisdom” or skill is related to the fundamental wisdom, i.e., to how things really are in God’s universe. This use of “wisdom” is strikingly common in Proverbs. (3) Wisdom may refer to some technical skill or other (e.g., Ex. 28:3). In today’s categories, one might have the “wisdom” to run a lathe or program a computer or sew a fine garment. One of these practical skills, one that overlaps with the second entry, is administrative skill, administrative wisdom. This includes judicial insight. It involves not only the mechanics of administration, but being able to listen attentively and penetrate to the heart of a matter (e.g., Deut. 1:15). This, of course, was the “wisdom” for which Solomon prayed (1 Kings 3); it is the wisdom that characterizes the Messiah (Isa. 11:2).

The proverbs of this book, then, are set out “for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair” (1:2–3). The opposite of wisdom is therefore not only “folly” in some intellectual sense, but “folly” understood to be little short of sin. So the “son” of this chapter is exhorted to follow the instruction of Mum and Dad (1:8), or more generally, to pursue wisdom (1:20ff.); the alternative is to be enticed by sinners into some other path (1:10ff.).[1]


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

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