Daily Archives: March 15, 2019

March 15 Facing Life’s Mountains

Scripture Reading: Zechariah 4:6–10

Key Verse: Zechariah 4:6

So he answered and said to me: “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.”

The Bible uses the word mountain to mean different things: a geographical location such as Mount Zion (Psalm 2:6); an example of stability (Psalm 30:7); and a barrier, hindrance, or obstacle (Zechariah 4:7).

As a disciple of Christ, you are not guaranteed an easy life. You may face many mountains—trials, difficulties, and hardships—throughout your life. How do you respond when facing what appears to be an overwhelming obstacle or problem? Do you panic? Do you feel discouraged? Do you feel like giving up?

When God calls you to a task, He assumes the responsibility of removing the hindrances that would keep you from succeeding. “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6).

What do you feel is looming before you like an impossible mountain? Work, relationships, finances, health, the future?

Isaiah 41:10 provides words of comfort for us to hold close to our hearts: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

No matter what you are facing or how easy or difficult the task may be, always look toward God for victory. He is your eternal, unfailing hope (Psalm 123:2).

Lord, help me to see that the mountain I consider impossible to climb is the one that You see as an opportunity for a better view.[1]

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 78). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

March 15 A Changed Life

Scripture Reading: John 3:1–17

Key Verse: Psalm 62:1

Truly my soul silently waits for God; from Him comes my salvation.

After we are saved, the constant pressure to conform to the world’s standards can give us spiritual amnesia. We have to pay the electric bill on time, fight the rush-hour traffic, mow the yard, and wash the dishes just as everyone else does. The danger is that the familiar routine can cause us to lose sight of the radical transformation that occurred when we were born again.

At salvation, we received a new spirit, the Holy Spirit, who works through our ordinary experiences to accomplish the supernatural goal of conforming us to the image of Christ. In our bill paying, we can depend on His provision. In the irritating traffic snarls, we can meditate on Scripture. (Try it, it works!) In the yard work, we can enjoy His creation. In the kitchen, we can give thanks for His many gifts to us.

As new creatures with a new spirit, we have a new purpose—to honor God in all we do: working, eating, drinking, driving, playing, and thinking.

If your Christian experience borders on boring, remember the monumental change that occurred when you were saved and the divine dimension that is now yours to enjoy by faith and obedience.

Heavenly Father, thank You for the tremendous change that occurred when I was saved. Thank You for the divine dimension that is mine to enjoy in every area of my life. I want to honor You in all I do.[1]

[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 78). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

March 15, 2019 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)


President Donald Trump condemned the “horrible massacre” at two mosques in New Zealand on Friday, a deadly attack that killed 49 people in what the White House called a “vicious act of hate.”

Israeli warplanes bombed Hamas targets in the Palestinian enclave of Gaza early on Friday after Israel’s military said militants had fired two rockets toward the city of Tel Aviv.

The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a non-binding resolution on Thursday calling for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s upcoming report on his probe into Russia’s role in the 2016 election to be released to Congress and the public.

The United States will impose visa restrictions on people responsible for any International Criminal Court probe, a move aimed at preventing actions against U.S. and allies in Afghanistan, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday.

Only one in five U.S. taxpayers expect to pay less income tax this year as a result of the tax reform law passed in 2017 by Republicans who promised big savings for everyday Americans, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Friday.

North Korea is considering suspending talks with the United States and may rethink a ban on missile and nuclear tests unless Washington makes concessions, news reports from the North’s capital on Friday quoted a senior diplomat as saying.

U.S. manufacturing output fell for a second straight month in February, offering further evidence of a sharp slowdown in economic growth early in the first quarter.

AP Top Stories

Many people were killed in a mass shooting at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday, a witness said. New Zealand police said that three men and one woman have been taken into custody.

A Bay Area woman has filed a $500 billion lawsuit over the college admissions scandal, accusing specific individuals linked to the alleged scam — including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin — of denying others an opportunity to attend elite U.S. colleges.

Amid the latest spate of allegations of sexual abuse of young people by priests, an increasing percentage of Catholics are re-examining their commitment to the religion, according to a poll released Wednesday.

A federal judge in New York denied a request that would have allowed 44 unvaccinated children to return to school on Wednesday. Citing an “unprecedented measles outbreak,” District Court Judge Vincent Briccetti said the parents had failed to demonstrate “that public interest weighs in favor of granting an injunction.”

The civil war in the Democratic Party between old-school liberals and progressive firebrands heated up last week, leaving establishment forces in full retreat. What began as an attempted gentle slap directed at a freshman member who was offending the powers that be turned into a rout, leaving progressive forces commanding the field.

A woman who claims asbestos in Johnson & Johnson products caused her deadly cancer was awarded $29.4 million by a California jury on Wednesday, Reuters reports.

U.S. federal prosecutors are conducting a criminal investigation into data deals Facebook Inc struck with some of the world’s largest technology companies, the New York Times reported on Wednesday. Both companies are among the more than 150, including Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp, which have entered into partnerships with Facebook for access to the personal information of hundreds of millions of its users, according to the report.

Venezuela’s public employees were called to return to work Thursday after the government ended a nearly week-long hiatus caused by an unprecedented nationwide blackout that deepened widespread anger against President Nicolas Maduro.

Sales of new US homes in January unexpectedly fell to their slowest pace in three months while prices edged downward, the government reported Thursday.

If the Green New Deal came up for a vote in the Democrat-controlled House, it would have trouble passing. Because of the Democrats. Party moderates leading a new climate change panel said Thursday they can’t support the ambitious resolution led by liberal firebrand Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that calls not only for combating the environmental crisis but also champions broad social reforms such as free housing, medical coverage and higher education for all Americans.

President Donald Trump said Wednesday he sees a “very good chance” of reaching a trade deal with China but is in “no rush” to reach an agreement.

Italy’s Justice Ministry has ordered a preliminary inquiry into an appeals court ruling that overturned a rape verdict in part by arguing that the woman who was attacked was too ugly to be a credible rape victim. The appeals sentence was handed down by an all-female panel.

Walt Disney World has hiked its prices yet again, increasing the cost of tickets around the holidays. Per the park’s website, tickets during peak Christmas and New Year’s days will now cost $159, up $30 from last year. Prices for dates around other holidays like Memorial Day and Easter have also increased.


Thousands of school pupils worldwide have abandoned classrooms for a day of protest against climate change. India, South Korea, Australia and France are among the countries where teenagers are already on strike. The day of action is expected to embrace about 100 countries.

China has passed a new foreign investment law in a move widely seen as an effort to facilitate US trade talks. The measure is seen as a possible olive branch to the US as negotiators from both countries work to resolve their bruising trade dispute.

Two astronauts who survived a failed Soyuz launch last year are now on their way to the International Space Station.


Tory MP Scott Mann has attracted mockery on social media after calling for strict new knife control measures including for every blade sold in the UK to be fitted with GPS tracking systems. Britain should create a “national database” of people who own knives, “like we do with guns”.

Mid-Day Snapshot · Mar. 15, 2019

The Foundation

“The mind that aims at a select militia, must be influenced by a truly anti-republican principle; and when we see many men disposed to practice upon it, whenever they can prevail, no wonder true republicans are for carefully guarding against it.” —Federal Farmer (1787)

Court Opens Crack in Federal Law Protecting Gunmakers

Connecticut Supreme Court okays Sandy Hook victims’ liability lawsuit against Remington.

New Zealand Assailant(s): Fascist Anarchist, Not ‘Right Wing’

The Left blames the Right for the violent actions of a deranged, racist fascist.

McConnell Considers the Next Nuclear Option

Democrats are obstructing nominations by abusing 30 hours of debate. Not for much longer.

Obama’s Department of Injustice Quashed Clinton Investigation

Newly released testimony from Lisa Page highlights egregious abuse of power.

No Safe Spaces for Conservative College Students

A majority of these young conservatives find their political views are not welcome on campus.

The Border Crisis That Wasn’t?

We’re told there’s no crisis, but the numbers on crime and drugs say otherwise.

Video: Ocasio-Cortez Sounds a Lot Like Karl Marx

The freshman Democrat attacks Reagan for what she and other socialists and racists do.

Today’s Opinion

Michael Reagan
The Cheating Parents of California
Jonah Goldberg
Something’s Wrong When the Diploma Is Worth More Than the Education
Rich Lowry
Don’t Break Up Big Tech
Marc A. Thiessen
In Opposing Impeachment, Pelosi Is Trying to Protect Democrats From the Lunatic Left
Erick Erickson
Into the Quadragesima
For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.

Friday Top News Executive Summary

New Zealand shooting, Senate rebuke, North Korea’s waffling, Brexit, Mueller probe, Remington Arms lawsuit, and more.

Friday Short Cuts

“This is a time where we need the God of the universe to step in and to change people’s hearts.” —Adam Kinzinger

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 – 3/15/2019

Minnesota Dems Are Looking for an Omar Primary Challenger in 2020
Minnesota Democrats are reportedly looking for someone to launch a primary challenge against Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) after her recent string of anti-Semitic comments, which drew condemnations from both sides of the political aisle. Several party leaders said they have had discussions about finding a candidate to take on Omar, just two months into her first term in Congress.” “Unfortunately, having the opportunity to speak with her about that point didn’t dissuade her making that statement,” Steve Hunegs, the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota, told The Hill. “We were appalled.”

US Declares West Bank and Golan No Longer “Occupied Territories”
US President Donald Trump’s State Department has called the Golan Heights “Israeli-controlled territory” in its annual human rights report for 2018, which was released this week. All previous administrations refused to recognize Israeli sovereignty on the Golan, and consistently referred to the area as “occupied territory.” In addition, the report does not refer to the “West Bank” and Gaza Strip as “occupied” or “under occupation,” language used by all US administrations in reference to Judea and Samaria and all the territories, including Jerusalem, captured by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War.

Left Mocks Beto’s ‘Messiah-Esque’ ‘Born’ to Run Remarks: ‘Peak White Male Privilege’
The Messiah cometh.. ‘I’m just born to be in it,’ Beto O’Rourke says he “feels called” to run the for US Presidency in 2020.

Palestinian Red Crescent Society Set to host BDS conference
Palestinian Media Watch reveals that, in direct breach of its commitments, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS), which is a member of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), is set to host a conference sponsored by the Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement on Saturday.

The two-state-solution is a failure: India-Pakistan as living proof
Proof that the “two state solution” does not work is the 300 killed in the India-Pakistan conflict in February 2019 Since the British-sponsored 1947 partition there have been 14 million refugees, 4 wars and now a dangerous nuclear race.

ISRAEL FIRES BACK: IDF Bombs 100 Gaza Terror Targets After Rockets Fired at Tel Aviv: Iron Dome Intercepts New Rockets
Israeli warplanes attacked some 100 Hamas terror targets in the Gaza Strip on Friday in response to a rare rocket attack on the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, as the sides appeared to be hurtling toward a new round of violence. Rocket fire persisted into the morning, setting the stage for additional possible reprisals.

Feminists, conservatives, lesbians urge Congress to scrap ‘gender identity’ from Equality Act
A coalition of radical feminists, lesbians, and politically conservative women are petitioning the government to scrap “gender identity” in federal civil rights legislation that’s being considered in Congress. The inclusion of this into the Equality Act, these women say, erases sex-based protections feminists and others have fought for in previous decades, and women as a category are essentially scrubbed from the law. Women and girls face increased risk of exploitation by predatory males who will use gender identity to invade their private spaces, they maintain.

IDF: Hamas rocket fire on Tel Aviv was a ‘mistake’
The two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip toward Tel Aviv on Thursday night, were likely launched mistakenly by Hamas, the IDF said on Friday. The understanding was based on the IDF’s initial assessment of Thursday night’s events and included the possibility that the rockets accidentally went off during routine maintenance work by Hamas.

Polish Pres. to ‘Post’: Israel started the crisis and it needs to end it
A month after a crisis erupted between Israel and Poland over Polish history of the Holocaust, Polish President Andrzej Duda outlined a path on Thursday for how it can be resolved, saying that the first move must be made by Israel. “The side that started the crisis should also finish it,” Duda told The Jerusalem Post in an exclusive interview at the Presidential Palace. Asked if that would be Israel, he said: “Yes. I expect friendship and respect. On both sides.”

Cyclone Idai: Mozambique city of Beira hit by storm
People living in one of Mozambique’s largest cities have been cut off by a huge storm. Cyclone Idai, which is carrying heavy rains and winds of up to 170 km/h (106 mph), made landfall at the port city of Beira on Thursday evening. Its 500,000 residents are now without electricity and communications have been severed, the National Institute of Disaster Management (INGC) says.

Senate Republicans revolt against Trump over border
Rebel members of President Donald Trump’s party have helped pass a vote to reject his declaration of an emergency on the US-Mexico border. Twelve Republican senators broke party ranks to side with Democrats, approving a proposal to revoke the proclamation by 59-41. The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives last month backed the measure.

50 Iranian drones conduct massive ‘way to Jerusalem’ exercise – report
Iran’s Defense Ministry announced on Thursday that it had launched a massive exercise involving 50 drones that are based on a US Sentinel drone the Iranians captured in 2011. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said it was the strongest exercise of its kind to date. Named “Beit al-Maqdis,” a reference to Jerusalem, the operation was attended by the commander of the IRGC, Hossein Salami, and IRGC Aerospace Force commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh.

North Korea may suspend nuclear talks with ‘gangster-like’ U.S.: diplomat
North Korea is considering suspending talks with the United States and may rethink a ban on missile and nuclear tests unless Washington makes concessions, news reports from the North’s capital on Friday quoted a senior diplomat as saying. Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui blamed top U.S. officials for the breakdown of last month’s summit in Hanoi between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un…

Austria to introduce digital tax after failure of EU-wide plan
Austria will press ahead with a planned tax on Internet giants after plans for an EU-wide levy fell through this week, Finance Minister Hartwig Loeger said on Friday. Austria said in January that it would tax firms like Google, Amazon, Facebook and Alibaba 3 percent of their advertising revenue from within Austria.

Federal Court: “Planned Parenthood Does Not Have a 14th Amendment Right to Perform Abortions”
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a major victory to Ohio taxpayers Tuesday when it ruled that the state may defund the abortion giant Planned Parenthood.

Christchurch Shooter Livestreamed MASS SHOOTING on Facebook!
There was a shooting at a Christchurch mosque in New Zealand on Friday afternoon. Several people are injured. Hospitals are expecting 40-50 victims.The witnesses describe a man in military uniform is responsible for the shooting.THE SHOOTER LIVESTREAMED THE SHOOTING ON FACEBOOK!!!

Pentagon finally implements Trump’s transgender military ban, LGBT community livid
Almost a year after the policy was unveiled, the Pentagon on Tuesday instituted the Trump administration’s new guidelines barring gender-confused individuals from military service.

Ex-Planned Parenthood director: We were ‘trained’ how to sell abortion to Christian women
…“We were trained how to overcome various objections…to abortion, particularly religious arguments because we know that the majority of women walking into abortion clinics to have abortions identify as Christian.”

Israel Confirms That Two Rockets Were fired At Tel Aviv On Thursday Evening As Iron Dome Gets Activated First Time There Since 2014
Israel was caught in a very rare ‘nap’ today, as two rockets were fired on Tel Aviv without the IDF having advanced warning it was coming. Military spokesman Ronen Manelis told Channel 13 News that “we did not have advance knowledge of this fire today, and in fact it surprised us.” That is not a good sign. With all the controversy surrounding the upcoming elections, Israel’s attention is elsewhere, and that’s bad.

Polish church admits clergy abused hundreds of children
Poland’s powerful Catholic church on Thursday published a report admitting that nearly 400 of its clergy had sexually abused children and minors over the last three decades, reflecting findings published last month by a charity focused on abuse in the church.

Parents, Be Warned: This Prominent Charity May Be Funding Pro-Abortion Orgs
Writing at LifeNews, The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) says people should shield their wallets from Red Nose Day since those funds may be going toward abortion services like the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF).

Facebook’s Under Criminal Investigation – Geller Report
Facebook reportedly under criminal investigation for secret data-sharing deals. Is this why Facebook was down all day yesterday? Were they conducting a massive purge? Federal prosecutors are probing Facebook’s illicit data-sharing partnerships, reportedly subpoenaing data from smartphone manufacturers as the regulatory walls appear to close in on the beleaguered social media firm. A New York grand jury has subpoenaed two device-makers’ records as part of a criminal investigation into some of the 150+ dubiously legal data partnerships Facebook forged with technology companies and other large corporations, according to sources familiar with the requests who spoke to the New York Times.

The Destruction of Damascus Marks the Beginning of World War III
Damascus-Gone In a Day! It’s Biblical and prophetic. Damascus will be destroyed in one day at the start of WW III. Here is the story…

Germany is Covering Up Migrant Crime to Protect Merkel’s Open Borders Agenda
In a bid to protect German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open borders agenda, authorities in Germany have been covering up violent crimes by migrants over fears it would “stir up prejudice,” it has been alleged.

Headlines – 3/15/2019

Sirens Sound in Tel Aviv as City Targeted by Gaza Rockets for First Time Since 2014

US envoy to Middle East calls rocket attack on Tel Aviv ‘outrageous’

9 rockets fired at border towns; IDF assesses Tel Aviv rocket attack was mistake

Nine rockets fired at Israeli towns on Gaza border, Iron Dome intercepts six

Rocket fired from Gaza at Israel lands inside the Strip

Israel launches airstrikes on ‘terror sites in Gaza’ after attack on Tel Aviv, military says

IDF hits more than 100 Hamas targets in Gaza after rockets fired at Tel Aviv

Islamic Jihad: Israel looking for excuse to attack in Gaza

IDF says ‘Hamas terror group’ fired the two rockets at Tel Aviv

Hamas vows to act against those responsible for rocket attack

We thought it was a drill: Rockets shock Tel Aviv, including crowd at a war play

Rocket fire on Tel Aviv pushes Gaza to center stage in Israel’s elections

Israel suspects Iran of hacking election frontrunner Gantz’s phone

Hamas’s security forces disperse rare Gaza protests against its rule

U.N. Palestinian aid faces funding battle without U.S. help – agency

Erdan: We won’t allow another mosque on Temple Mount

50 Iranian drones conduct massive ‘way to Jerusalem’ exercise

At NJ fair, rise in anti-Semitism in the mix when deciding to move to Israel

Government of Japan contributes additional $7 million to UN agency for “Palestinian refugees”

U.N. Human Rights Council set to condemn ‘occupation’ of Golan

UN to seek multi-billion dollar aid pledges for Syria

Bad weather gives IS militants in Syria a second wind

U.S. sees Turkey’s Russian missile deal as national security problem for NATO

Russia says it’s going to arm a submarine with 6 nuclear ‘doomsday’ devices

At least two killed in Iran gas pipeline explosion

Protest-hit Sudan unveils new cabinet to ‘solve’ economic crisis

Police say ‘multiple fatalities’ in mass shooting at two New Zealand mosques

New Zealand shooting: 40 killed, 3 men and 1 woman taken into custody after shootings at 2 mosques in Christchurch

Australia PM: New Zealand mosque gunman was Australian right-wing ‘terrorist’

New Zealand mosque shooter livestreamed killings on Facebook

AOC draws ire ripping ‘your thoughts and prayers’ after Christchurch mosque shootings

Brazil school shooting: Thousands attend wake for victims

Police say Brazil school shooters were trying to copy Columbine

Feds Indict 5 New Mexico Compound Residents On Terror And Gun Charges

China accuses US of prejudice over human rights issues

N.Korea considering suspending nuclear talks with U.S.

Ireland says extension of 21 months would allow ‘rethink’ of Brexit

Trump says Brexit has gone ‘badly’ because Theresa May ignored his advice

Pelosi Says She Personally Supports Lowering The Voting Age To 16

The Senate votes to terminate Trump’s national emergency in a stunning rebuke, and the president will have to use his first veto to get his border wall

12 GOP senators rebuke Trump, vote with Dems to block border emergency

House Votes Almost Unanimously For Public Release Of Mueller Report

Top Mueller Prosecutor Stepping Down In Latest Clue Russia Inquiry May Be Ending

Lindsey Graham: Don’t Make Mueller Report Public Without Setting Up Special Counsel to Probe Hillary’s Emails

Clinton Foundation whistleblowers have come forward with hundreds of pages of evidence, Meadows says

DOJ reached agreement with Clinton lawyers to block FBI access to Clinton Foundation emails, Strzok says

Facebook and Instagram outages send surfers to Pornhub for tentacle porn

HR Departments Turn to AI-Enabled Recruiting in Race for Talent

Tel Aviv deploys zombie lights for mobile-obsessed walkers

Western concerns over China’s Huawei 5G network prompt security review by Israel

Joint Chiefs Chairman: Google ‘Is Indirectly Benefiting The Chinese Military’

Another earthquake reported near Florida-Alabama line; Space Coast ‘rumble’ still a mystery

More than 200 tiny tremors recorded between Victoria and Seattle between Monday and Tuesday

6.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Cliza, Bolivia

Popocateptl volcano in Mexico erupts to 26,000ft

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 24,000ft

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 16,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 16,000ft

Kerinci volcano in Indonesia erupts to 14,000ft

Sakurajima volcano on Japan erupts to 13,000ft

Sheveluch volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 12,000ft

Bezymianny volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 10,000ft

Ebeko volcano in the Kuril Islands, erupts to 10,000ft

Tenggar Caldera in Indonesia erupts to 10,000ft

Cyclone Idai: Mozambique braces for ‘worst-case scenario’ storm

Cyclone Idai claims more than 122 lives in Malawi, Mozambique: UN

Deadly Tropical Cyclone Idai to threaten more lives, property as it makes landfall on Mozambique

Tropical Cyclone Savannah in the South Indian Ocean

Storm Gareth: Travel disruption as gusts of up to 75mph hit UK

‘Bomb cyclone’ triggers flooding and forces evacuations in parts of Iowa

Hundreds Evacuated in Historic Flooding in Nebraska, Iowa as Swollen Waterways Threaten Dams, Levees

California drought officially over after more than seven years

China’s fight against smog last year may be obscuring just how bad its economy is this year

The ‘ecological foundations of society’ are in peril, a massive UN report warns

New Zealand’s climate change minister punched in face while on his way to parliament

A dog exposed more than 100 unsuspecting vets to the Black Death after contracting the bacteria from sniffing a dead rodent

Young Americans Today Are More Depressed, Prone To Suicide Than Generations Before Them

Amid tears, bowed heads, Maryland House of Delegates approves legalizing medically assisted suicide

FDA cracking down on online mail-order abortion pills

Nearly 50 students caught up in sexting scandal at north Georgia high school

Italy court overturned rape verdict citing woman’s “masculine” looks

First man recognized as ‘nonbinary’ in US regrets taking hormones, warns against trans ‘sham’

United Methodist Church investigating voting irregularities at summit that bolstered LGBT bans

Apostasy Watch Daily News

Jeff Maples – Harsh and Divisive Things Jesus Said

Repetitive Prophecy Books Keep Getting it Wrong

Why the Roman Catholic Mass is Idolatry

Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals Invites Pastor Who ‘Loves the Darkness’ to Speak at Reformed Conference

Mystery infections traced to blood-shedding religious ritual

Truth2Freedom Blog Disclaimer

This post was originally posted on: https://truth4freedom.wordpress.com

(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

This blog is an aggregator of news and information that we believe will provide articles that will keep people informed about current trends, current events, discussions and movements taking place within our church and culture.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107,material here is distributed without profit for research and educational purposes.

A headline link on this blog post doesn’t necessarily mean that there is agreement or approval with all the views and opinions expressed within the headline linked article. Caution is also warranted with regards to the advertisements and links that are embedded within the headline linked article.

*Please note that the preceding blog post content is formed by my personal conviction, values, worldview and opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

RenewAmerica Newsletter for March 15, 2019

March 15, 2019
Fighting for injured workers’ rights
RENEWAMERICA STAFF — In Utah, unethical “insurance medical examiners” hired to deprive injured workers of guaranteed Workers Compensation medical and other benefits are protected by “state policy” from any liability for harm resulting from their fraudulent examinations…. (more)

March 14, 2019
JOAN SWIRSKY — “[T]he Democrats have become an anti-Israel party. They’ve become an anti-Jewish party.” President Donald J. Trump “[T]he chickens of the Democratic Party are coming home to roost…. [M]aybe then they will also realize that anti-Semitism, like most cancers, is fatal unless it’s removed.”… (more)

March 14, 2019
CLIFF KINCAID — Billionaire Bill Gates is pouring some of his wealth into development of an HIV/AIDS vaccine that will be mandatory for all young people, even children, in the U.S. Perhaps a scheduled “breakthrough” in this controversial effort and a plan for universal HIV vaccinations explain why major media organs and corporate and government officials are being used to demonize those concerned about the safety of vaccines. The U.N.’s World Health Organization (WHO) has gone so far as to issue a report ranking “vaccine hesitancy” as one of the top “Ten Threats to Global Health in 2019.”… (more)

March 14, 2019
FOX NEWS — Senate Republicans joined their Democratic colleagues on Thursday in voting to block President Trump’s border emergency declaration – – a move that will prompt the president’s first-ever veto. The president made his intentions crystal clear, tweeting “VETO!” moments after the resolution cleared Congress. The White House said Trump likely would issue the veto Friday…. (more)

March 14, 2019
NEWSMAX — A leading advocate for a strong U.S. military expects morale and readiness to improve now that the Defense Department has unveiled a new policy restricting military service by transgender soldiers. The Associated Press reported Tuesday the new policy will take effect April 12. It requires military personnel to serve in the gender of their birth, and they will not be allowed to serve while transitioning to another sex…. (more)

March 14, 2019
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page testified last year that officials in the bureau, including then-FBI Director James Comey, discussed Espionage Act charges against Hillary Clinton, citing “gross negligence,” but the Justice Department shut them down…. (more)

March 14, 2019
IAMTV — Dr. Alan Keyes talks with IAMtv’s Stacey Campfield about the latest revelations in the college admissions scandal…. (more)

March 14, 2019
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — Actress Lori Loughlin turned herself into federal authorities in Los Angeles a day after being charged in a college admissions bribery case. FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller confirmed Loughlin is in custody after she turned herself in Wednesday. The “Full House” actress is expected to appear in court in Los Angeles in the afternoon…. (more)

March 14, 2019
NATIONAL REVIEW — A thing that occurs to you if you attend an elite college or university, as I did, is that most of the professors teaching you are more or less the same beleaguered time-servers who would be teaching you at any other school. I well remember the sad, unshaven schlump in corduroys who taught one of my introductory English courses: He was fine. He knew his stuff…. (more)

March 14, 2019
BLOOMBERG — The number of wealthy households in the U.S. reached a new high last year, roughly equivalent to the entire population of Sweden or Portugal. More than 10.2 million households had a net worth of $1 million to $5 million, not including the value of their primary residence, according to a survey by the Spectrem Group. That’s up 2.5 percent from 2017…. (more)

March 14, 2019
BEN SHAPIRO — Over the weekend, Democratic fresh face and socialist darling Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., spoke at the South by Southwest conference. While sitting amidst the enormous bounty provided by capitalism – -top-notch electronic equipment, a massive crowd of paid ticket holders – -AOC tore into capitalism…. (more)

March 14, 2019
JOHN STOSSEL — Do you pay enough taxes? What is enough? When asked on “60 Minutes,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., didn’t seem to have a specific tax rate in mind, but then she said, “back in the ’60s … you see tax rates as high as 60 or 70 percent.”… (more)

March 14, 2019
Ruling upholds Ohio law funding health providers that don’t do procedure
WORLDNETDAILY — In a decision that could ripple across the nation, a federal appeals court ruled abortionists don’t have a constitutional right to perform abortions. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, by an 11-6 vote, upheld an Ohio law redirecting about $1.5 million a year in state tax money away from abortionists such as Planned Parenthood and toward other health providers…. (more)

March 14, 2019
Eliminating bias against religion-linked organizations
WORLDNETDAILY — Department of Education officials are being praised for announcing they are eliminating an anti-religion bias in their contracting procedures, a move triggered by a Supreme Court decision against such discrimination…. (more)

March 14, 2019
‘We wish you luck in finding a video hosting platform more suitable to your needs’
WORLDNETDAILY — The video-hosting platform Vimeo canceled the account of a church that posted videos of a Bible conference that included teaching on homosexuality. Vimeo informed Fairview Baptist Church of Edmond, Oklahoma, that the videos violated the company’s ban on posting “content that promotes Sexual Orientation Change Efforts,” reported the website Reform Charlotte…. (more)

March 12, 2019
‘Congress dropped the ball and DOJ and State continued to obstruct quest for truth’
WORLDNETDAILY — Government watchdog Judicial Watch, whose Freedom of Information Act lawsuit during the Obama administration uncovered the scandal over Hillary Clinton transmitting classified information through an unauthorized email, has announced a series of depositions for government officials involved…. (more)

March 11, 2019
ALAN KEYES — “The Democrat Party has apparently abandoned the modicum of respect for innocent, helpless, human life that led many Democrats in Congress to support the BAIPA [Born Alive Infant Protection Act] in 2002. Anti-life Democrat ideologues, prevalent among them now, have surrendered that shred of decency. Despite their loud denunciations of that surrender, GOP members of Congress and Trump administration officials will be suspect if they do not ask President Trump to end the long, bipartisan failure to see that the BAIPA is faithfully executed.” (“U.S. law already protects infants who survive abortion”)… (more)

March 11, 2019
DAILY CALLER — Democrats and the media will face a “reckoning” if special counsel Robert Mueller finds no evidence of collusion involving the Trump campaign, ABC News’ Terry Moran argued in a panel discussion Sunday…. (more)

March 11, 2019
DAILY CALLER — One credential in particular has been a boon to candidates President Donald Trump considers for judicial appointments: a clerkship with Justice Clarence Thomas. As of this writing, the president has appointed seven Thomas clerks to the federal appeals courts, while an eighth is expected in the near future. As such, Thomas’s legal approach – – sometimes branded unusual or idiosyncratic – – can claim adherents among a new generation of judges…. (more)

March 11, 2019
AXIOS — Generation Z has a more positive view of the word “socialism” than previous generations, and – – along with millennials – – are more likely to embrace socialistic policies and principles than past generations, according to a new Harris Poll given exclusively to Axios…. (more)

March 10, 2019
NEWSMAX — “Bill Nye The Science Guy,” a climate-change activist, is a big fan of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and her own push for the Green New Deal, he tweeted Saturday night…. (more)

March 10, 2019
VICTOR DAVIS HANSON — Trump was warned by friends, enemies, and neutrals that his fight against the deep state was suicidal. Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, just a few days before Trump’s inauguration, cheerfully forecast (in a precursor to Samantha Power’s later admonition) what might happen to Trump once he attacked the intelligence services: “Let me tell you: You take on the intelligence community – – they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”… (more)

March 10, 2019
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — Free speech advocates say that President Trump’s executive order to promote free speech at universities could work if the administration enforces it through research contracts awarded to schools…. (more)

March 10, 2019
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — A Wichita doctor was sentenced to life in prison Friday by federal courts after he was found guilty of illegally selling opioids that led to one of his patients’ death. Steven R. Henson, 57, was convicted last year on multiple counts, including falsifying patient records and fulfilling prescription requests outside the regular regimen of care. The death of his patient Nick McGovern in 2015 was a result of intoxication of alprazolam and the opiate methadone – – two deadly and highly addictive prescription drugs…. (more)

March 9, 2019
DAILY WIRE — As Girl Scout cookies season comes to a close, parents should be aware that the organization does not exactly have family-friendly values at its heart…. (more)


DOJ And Clinton Lawyers Struck Secret Deal To Block FBI Access To Clinton Foundation Emails: Strzok | ZeroHedge News

The Justice Department and Hillary Clinton’s legal team “negotiated” an agreement that blocked the FBI from accessing emails on Clinton’s homebrew server related to the Clinton Foundation, according to a transcript of recently released testimony from last summer by former FBI special agent Peter Strzok.

Under questioning from Judiciary Committee General Counsel Zachary Somers, Strzok acknowledged that Clinton’s private personal email servers contained a mixture of emails related to the Clinton Foundation, her work as secretary of state and other matters.

“Were you given access to [Clinton Foundation-related] emails as part of the investigation?” Somers asked

We were not. We did not have access,” Strzok responded. “My recollection is that the access to those emails were based on consent that was negotiated between the Department of Justice attorneys and counsel for Clinton.” –Fox News

Strzok added that “a significant filter team” was employed at the FBI to “work through the various terms of the various consent agreements.”

“According to the attorneys, we lacked probable cause to get a search warrant for those servers and projected that either it would take a very long time and/or it would be impossible to get to the point where we could obtain probable cause to get a warrant,” said Strzok.

The foundation has long been accused of “pay-to-play” transactions, fueled by a report in the IBTimes that the Clinton-led State Department authorized $151 billion in Pentagon-brokered deals to 16 countries that donated to the Clinton Foundation – a 145% increase in completed sales to those nations over the same time frame during the Bush administration. 

Adding to speculation of malfeasance is the fact that donor contributions to the Clinton Foundation dried up by approximately 90% over a three-year period between 2014 and 2017, according to financial statements.

What’s more, Bill Clinton reportedly received a $1 million check from Qatar – one of the countries which gained State Department clearance to buy US weapons while Clinton was Secretary of State, even as the department signaled them out for a range of alleged ills,” according to IBTimes. The Clinton Foundation confirmed it accepted the money.

Then there was the surely unrelated $145 million donated to the Foundation from parties linked to the Uranium One deal prior to its approval through a rubber-stamp committee.

“The committee almost never met, and when it deliberated it was usually at a fairly low bureaucratic level,” Richard Perle said. Perle, who has worked for the Reagan, Clinton and both Bush administrations added, “I think it’s a bit of a joke.” –CBS

Later in his testimony last summer, Strzok said that agents were able to access “the entire universe” of information on the servers by using search terms to probe their contents – saying “we had it voluntarily.”

“What’s bizarre about this, is in any other situation, there’s no possible way they would allow the potential perpetrator to self-select what the FBI gets to see,” said former Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz – former chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee until 2017 and current contributor to Fox News. “The FBI should be the one to sort through those emails — not the Clinton attorneys.

Chaffetz suggested that the goal of the DOJ was to “make sure they hear no evil, see no evil — they had no interest in pursuing the truth.”

“The Clinton Foundation isn’t supposed to be communicating with the State Department anyway,” said Chaffetz. “The foundation — with her name on it — is not supposed to be communicating with the senior officials at the State Department.”

Republican-led concerns that the DOJ, under the Obama administration, was too cozy with the Clinton team during the 2016 presidential campaign have grown louder in recent days. Earlier this week, Fox News exclusively reviewed an internal chart prepared by federal investigators working on the so-called “Midyear Exam” probe into Clinton’s emails. The chart contained the words “NOTE: DOJ not willing to charge this” next to a key statute on the mishandling of classified information.

The notation appeared to contradict former FBI Director James Comey’s repeated claims that his team made its decision that Clinton should not face criminal charges independently.

But Strzok, in his closed-door interview, denied that the DOJ exercised undue influence over the FBI, and insisted that lawyers at the DOJ were involved in an advisory capacity working with agents. –Fox News

Strzok was fired from the FBI after months of intense scrutiny over anti-Trump text messages he exchanged with his mistress – FBI lawyer Lisa Page. Both Strzok and Page were involved at the highest levels of both the Clinton email investigation and the counterintelligence investigation on President Trump and his 2016 campaign.

Source: DOJ And Clinton Lawyers Struck Secret Deal To Block FBI Access To Clinton Foundation Emails: Strzok

Why We Shouldn’t Assume Catholics are Christians — Christian Research Network

“Even if a Catholic is truly born again, if they refuse to leave their false church, we must treat them as though they are not. By their own profession, confession, and expression of faith, they continue in sin by practicing idolatry and rejecting Christ.”

(Jeff Maples – Reformation Charlotte)  Historically, Roman Catholicism has been considered by Protestants and Evangelicals to be an expression of faith that distorts the Biblical gospel of Jesus Christ. While Protestants hold to a soteriological belief of “grace alone through faith alone,” in contrast, Roman Catholics hold to a sacerdotal view of salvation by faith plus works whereby grace is dispensed through the Church by the intervention of a Sacerdote (priest). …

For them, salvation cannot be attained apart from the sacraments. Bible-believing Christians shouldn’t assume Catholics are born-again Christians because they trust in their own works as opposed to the finished work of Christ on the cross, for their salvation.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

Sadly, during this modern time of ecumenical “unity,” many professing Bible-believing Christians have compromised on this. For them, it has become a matter of “individual faith,” and regardless of your religious affiliation, anyone who has that “personal relationship” with Christ can be saved. But there are several errors in this line of reasoning, and it is extremely reckless to assume that Catholics or Orthodox Christians are truly saved. Here’s why.    View article →


Roman Catholicism

via Why We Shouldn’t Assume Catholics are Christians — Christian Research Network

March 15 Praying in Jesus’ Name

Scripture reading: John 14:12–14

Key verse: John 15:16

You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.

Have you ever paused to think about the significance of saying “in Jesus’ name” at the end of your prayers? Maybe you’ve said it since you were a child and never questioned the meaning of the phrase, but in those three words is a world of truth about prayer.

“In the name of” means “by the power and authority of.” For example, in certain legal contracts, you can be given special authority to act in the name of someone else or on that person’s behalf. You are allowed to make decisions and take actions as though you were that person.

In prayer, by saying “in Jesus’ name,” you acknowledge that what you’re asking is through the power, authority, and permission of Jesus. Jesus explained in John 14:13–14: “Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”

Some have greatly misunderstood this verse, interpreting it as a license to ask God for anything in Jesus’ name and believing that God is then somehow bound to give them their desires. What Jesus is really saying, however, is that praying in His name means praying according to His character and His will.

Praying in Jesus’ name is a serious matter and a matchless blessing. His name is your assurance that He will shape your prayers in His image.

Heavenly Father, I pray today in the name of Jesus. Thank You for the assurance that You will shape my prayers in Your image.[1]

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 78). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

March 15, 2019 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

Responding to a Royal Invitation


And Jesus answered and spoke to them again in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king, who gave a wedding feast for his son. And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. Again he sent out other slaves saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.’ ” But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. But the king was enraged and sent his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and set their city on fire. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’ And those slaves went out into the streets, and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests. But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw there a man not dressed in wedding clothes, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.” (22:1–14)

This parable is the third in Jesus’ trilogy of judgment parables given in response to the Jewish religious leaders who maliciously challenged His authority (21:23, 28–30, 33–39). It is among the most dramatic and powerful of all His parables, which, though directed specifically at those leaders and all unbelieving Israel whom they represented, also has far-reaching significance and application for subsequent times, certainly including our own.

For three years Jesus had been preaching and teaching the gospel of the kingdom, which included proclaiming Himself as the Messiah, the Son of God and Savior of the world. He had been offering Himself and His kingdom to the people of Israel, His own people, the chosen people of God. But at the end of those three years, all but a handful of Jews had rejected Him. Although Jesus had always been popular with the masses wherever He ministered, their acceptance of Him was for the most part superficial and selfish.

The multitudes were awed by Jesus’ straightforward, authoritative teaching, which was in refreshing contrast to the confusing, legalistic, and complicated tradition taught by their scribes and Pharisees. They were even more awed by His healing miracles, which had brought restored health, sanity, and even life to so many countless thousands of their friends and loved ones. They doubtlessly appreciated the fact that Jesus never took financial advantage of them, never taking payment for any supernatural good work He did. On the contrary, He was always giving to them freely, and had on several occasions miraculously fed thousands. They deeply admired Jesus for His humble, self-giving love and compassion, and they must have rejoiced when He rebuked and embarrassed their hypocritical, self-righteous leaders, who looked down on them in contemptuous superiority. How wonderful, they must have thought, that the Messiah not only is so powerful but also so compassionate.

But when the people finally realized the kind of Messiah Jesus was, and especially that He had no plans to deliver them from the Roman oppressors, their acclamation quickly turned to rejection—as is evident in their change of mood from Sunday to Thursday of this last Passover week of Jesus’ ministry. Therefore, as He continued to respond to the Jewish leaders in the Temple, where He was teaching on Wednesday morning (21:23), it was also to the multitudes that the third judgment parable was directed.

The Invitation Rejected

And Jesus answered and spoke to them again in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king, who gave a wedding feast for his son. And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. Again he sent out other slaves saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.” ’ But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them.” (22:1–6)

The parable contains four scenes, the first of which depicts the rejection of the invitation. Although none of His hearers may ever have attended a royal wedding feast, they were all familiar with wedding feasts in general and had some idea of the importance and magnificence of one that a king would prepare for his own son.

As Jesus answered the chief priests and elders (21:23), He was continuing to respond to their bitter challenge of His authority and spoke to them again in parables for the third time. It is likely they heard little of what He said, because their minds were by then singularly and unalterably bent on His arrest and execution. They had wanted to seize Him after He related the second parable but were still afraid of what the crowds might do (21:46).

In His first two parables Jesus gave no introduction, saving the explanation and application to the end. In this parable, however, He begins by stating that it illustrates the kingdom of heaven. Because most Jews believed that the kingdom of heaven was reserved exclusively for them, and possibly a few Gentile proselytes, the audience in the Temple immediately knew that what Jesus was going to say closely applied to them.

Although they had many perverted ideas about the kingdom of heaven, because the term heaven was so often used as a substitute for the covenant name of God (Yahweh, or Jehovah), most Jews would have understood that it was synonymous with the kingdom of God and represented the realm of God’s sovereign rule. There are past, present, and future as well as temporal and eternal aspects of the kingdom, but it is not restricted to any era or period of redemptive history. It is the continuing, ongoing sphere of God’s rule by grace. In a narrower sense, the phrase is also used in Scripture to refer to God’s dominion of redemption, His divine program of gracious salvation. As Jesus uses the phrase here, it specifically represents the spiritual community of God’s redeemed people, those who are under His lordship in a personal and unique way because of their trust in His Son.

In the ancient Near East, a wedding feast was inseparable from the wedding itself, which involved a week-long series of meals and festivities and was the highlight of all social life. For a royal wedding such as the one Jesus mentions here, the celebration often lasted for several weeks. Guests were invited to stay at the house of the groom’s parents for the entire occasion, and the father would make as elaborate provisions as he could afford. A royal wedding, of course, would be held in the palace, and a king would be able to afford whatever he desired.

A wedding feast that a king prepared for his son would be a feast of all feasts, and Jesus was therefore picturing the most elaborate celebration imaginable. The fact that it was a wedding celebration was incidental to the purpose of the parable, the only mention of the groom being that of identifying him as the king’s son. No mention at all is made of the bride or of any other aspect of a wedding. The point is that because the feast represents the greatest festivity imaginable, given by the greatest monarch imaginable, for the most-honored guests imaginable, a royal wedding feast was chosen as the illustration of the ultimate celebration.

When all the preparations were complete, the king sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast. The fact that they had been invited indicates that the guests were invited earlier and already knew they were expected to attend the wedding. To be a pre-invited guest to the king’s wedding was among the highest honors possible, and no doubt those who had received invitations were boasting to their neighbors and friends. It is therefore inconceivable that, when the actual call came to attend, they were unwilling to come.

As with the previous parable of the wicked vine-growers, it is the shockingly extreme and unthinkable nature of the events mentioned that are central to the story’s point. Jesus’ hearers already would have begun to think to themselves, “Who would do such a thing? The very idea is preposterous.” Attending the royal wedding would be an even greater experience than receiving the invitation, and it would have provided the finest food and the most prestigious fellowship in the land. Not only that, but an invitation from one’s king not only brought honor but obligation. It was a serious offense to spurn the king’s favor.

The initial response of the king, like the initial response of the vineyard owner, is as amazing as the responses of the guests. Few monarchs were known for their humility and patience, especially in the face of open insult. But that king sent out other slaves saying, “Tell those who have been invited, ‘Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.’ ”

The dinner was the first of many meals eaten during the feast, and it was ready to be served. “Remind the guests,” the king said in effect, “of all the preparations that have been made. The oxen and fattened livestock are all butchered and waiting to be roasted, and everything else is ready also. Plead with the people to come to the wedding feast now.”

But as before, the invited guests disregarded the call from the king, except that their refusal this time was even more crass and brutal. Many of the invitees were coldly indifferent, acting as if the wedding were of no consequence. They responded by carrying on business as usual. They went their way, doing the things they would normally have done in looking after their own interests, represented by the farm and business. They were so selfishly preoccupied with personal concerns for profit that the invitation and the repeated calls of the king to stop work and attend his son’s wedding were altogether ignored. They willingly and purposely forfeited the beauty, grandeur, and honor of the wedding for the sake of their everyday, mundane, self-serving endeavors. They were not concerned about the king’s honor but only about what they perceived as their own best interests.

But another group of guests were worse than indifferent. Rather than being concerned about offending the king, they were themselves offended at his persistence. In an act of unbelievably brutal arrogance, they seized the king’s slaves and mistreated them and killed them. Contempt for the king’s slaves demonstrated contempt for the king himself, and in mistreating and killing his slaves they committed a flagrant act of rebellion.

As already noted, because Jesus had said that the parable was about the kingdom of heaven, its meaning needed no interpretation to any thinking hearer. The king obviously was God, and the invited guests were His chosen people, Israel, those who already had been called by Him.

God first called His chosen people through Abraham, whose descendants would be blessed and be a channel of blessing to the rest of the world (Gen. 12:2–3). After being captive in Egypt for 400 years, the chosen people were delivered through Moses. Through His prophets the Lord declared, “When Israel was a youth I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son” (Hos. 11:1), and, “You only have I chosen among all the families of the earth” (Amos 3:2). In one of the most poignant accounts in Scripture, God described Israel as an abandoned newborn, with its umbilical cord untied and squirming in its own blood. To that hopeless infant He had said, “Live!” and it lived and prospered. The Lord bathed it, anointed it with oil, clothed and protected it, and adorned it with jewelry (Ezek 16:4–14).

The wedding feast represented God’s promised blessing to Israel, a figure understood by everyone in the Temple that day. According to talmudic literature, the Messiah’s coming would be accompanied by a grand banquet given for His chosen people.

The slaves God sent to call again and again those who had been invited were John the Baptist, Jesus Himself in His preaching-teaching ministry, and the New Testament apostles, prophets, and other preachers and teachers. It would seem that the slaves would also have to represent New Testament preachers, because their message pertained to the King’s Son, Jesus Christ. God was saying to Israel, His already-invited guests, much the same as He had said from heaven at Jesus’ baptism: “Here is My Son; come and give Him honor.” But John the Baptist was rejected and beheaded, Jesus was rejected and crucified, and the apostles and prophets were rejected and persecuted, many being put to death.

The indifferent guests in the parable represent people who are preoccupied with daily living and personal pursuits. They are essentially the secular-minded, those who are interested in the here and now and have no interest in spiritual things. They are the materialists, whose primary interest is accumulating things, and the ambitious, whose main concern is “getting ahead.” They are not usually antagonistic to the things of God but simply have no time for them.

Those who are actively hostile to the gospel invariably are people involved in false religion, including the many forms of humanistic religion that parade under a guise of philosophy, mysticism, or scientism. The history of persecution of God’s people shows that the chief persecutor has been false religion. It is the purveyors of error who are the aggressive enemies of truth, and it is therefore inevitable that, as God’s Word predicts, the final world system of the antichrist will be religious, not secular.

The fact that the king sent his messengers on two different occasions cannot be pressed to mean that only two calls were extended or that the first group consisted of John the Baptist and Jesus and the second consisted of the apostles. The parable makes no distinction in the types of slaves, or messengers. The point of the two callings of the invited guests was to illustrate God’s gracious patience and forbearance with the rejecters, His willingness to call Israel again and again—as John the Baptist had done for perhaps a year, as Jesus did for three years, and as the apostles did for some forty years, until Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed in a.d. 70.

The Rejecters Punished

But the king was enraged and sent his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and set their city on fire. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. (22:7–8)

The second scene in the parable depicts the punishment of the rebellious subjects who rejected the king’s call. As in the parable of the vineyard, God’s patience is here shown to have its limit. The king would have been perfectly justified in punishing the offenders when they first ignored His call. After His repeated invitations and their repeated wicked responses, He finally became enraged. One is reminded of God’s statement with regard to the antediluvian generation: “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever” (Gen. 6:3).

The term behind armies (strateuma) refers to any group of armed forces and is probably better translated “troops,” since the king would hardly have needed his full military might to accomplish his purpose. According to the king’s instructions, the troops both destroyed the murderers responsible for killing his emissaries and set their city on fire. The fulfillment of the second prophetic feature in the story occurred in a.d. 70.

When the Roman general Titus conquered Jerusalem in that year, he killed some 1,100,000 Jews, threw their bodies over the wall, and slaughtered countless thousands more throughout Palestine. In his Jewish War, the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem, graphically chronicled the horrible scene:

That building [the Temple at Jerusalem], however, God long ago had sentenced to the flames; but now in the revolution of the time periods the fateful day had arrived, the tenth of the month Lous, the very day on which previously it had been burned by the king of Babylon.… One of the soldiers, neither awaiting orders nor filled with horror of so dread an undertaking, but moved by some supernatural impulse, snatched a brand from the blazing timber and, hoisted up by one of his fellow soldiers, flung the fiery missile through a golden window.… When the flame arose, a scream, as poignant as the tragedy, went up from the Jews … now that the object which before they had guarded so closely was going to ruin.… While the sanctuary was burning, … neither pity for age nor respect for rank was shown; on the contrary, children and old people, laity and priests alike were massacred.… The emperor ordered the entire city and sanctuary to be razed to the ground, except only the highest towers, Phasael, Hippicus, and Mariamne, and that part of the wall that enclosed the city on the west.

The king explained to his slaves that the wedding was ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to attend. Their unworthiness was not because in themselves they lacked the required righteousness. Neither the original invitation nor the subsequent calls were based on merit but solely on the king’s gracious favor. Ironically and tragically, they were declared to be not worthy because they refused an invitation that was in no way based on worth. As the parable goes on to make clear (v. 10), “both evil and good” people were called.

That which makes a person worthy of receiving salvation is not any sort of human goodness or religious or spiritual accomplishment but simply his saying yes to God’s invitation to receive His Son, Jesus Christ, as Lord. The people God here declared not worthy were His chosen people, Israel, who would not come to Him freely and without merit through His Son. And because they rejected the Son, God rejected them for a season. Because they rejected their own Messiah, they were temporarily cast off as a nation and as God’s unique chosen people.

The New Guests Invited

Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’ And those slaves went out into the streets, and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests. (22:9–10)

The third scene in the parable depicts the guests who were finally invited to replace those who had repeatedly refused the king’s call. The wedding feast for the king’s son was ready, but there was no one to attend unless new guests were invited.

“Go therefore to the main highways,” the king told His servants, “and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.” The plan was for them to go everywhere and find everyone they could and invite them to come. That is precisely what Jesus commanded in the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matt. 28:19). God had long beforehand predicted through Hosea, “I will call those who were not My people, ‘My people,’ and her who was not beloved, ‘Beloved.’ And it shall be that in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ there they shall be called sons of the living God” (Rom. 9:25–26; cf. Hos. 2:23; 1:10). By the Jews’ “transgression,” Paul wrote in that same letter, “salvation has come to the Gentiles” (11:11).

Just as their king commanded, those slaves went out into the streets, and gathered together all they found, both evil and good. They called the morally evil and the morally good alike, their being equally unworthy in themselves to come to the king’s feast. The original guests had not been invited because of their moral or spiritual superiority, and neither were the newly-invited guests. Among the ancient Jews were those who lived exemplary, upright lives, who were helpful to their neighbors, told the truth, never used the Lord’s name in vain, never cheated in business, and never committed adultery or murder or theft. There were also those whose lives were a moral cesspool. But the first kind of person was no more acceptable to God in himself than the second. God has always extended His call for salvation to both evil and good people, because neither are righteous enough and both are equally in need of salvation.

Paul makes clear that “neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9–10). God will not allow those whose lives are characterized by such sins to have any part of His kingdom. But He will receive for salvation a person who is guilty of any or all of those and other sins and who desires to be cleansed from his sins by the redeeming work of Christ on the cross. Therefore Paul could continue to say to his Corinthian brothers in Christ, “And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified” (v. 11).

What makes a person worthy of salvation today is exactly what has made a person worthy of salvation since the Fall, namely, personal faith in God’s gracious provision in Christ. All who accept God’s invitation to His Son’s celebration, that is, who follow the Son as their saving Lord, will be dinner guests in His divine and eternally glorious wedding hall.

The Intruder Expelled

But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw there a man not dressed in wedding clothes, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.” (22:11–14)

The fourth and last scene in the parable focuses on an intruder into the wedding feast, who did not belong because he was not dressed in wedding clothes. The man obviously had been included in the general invitation, because the king made no restrictions as to who was invited, having instructed his slaves to call both the evil and good wherever they might be found. He was not a party crasher who came without an invitation, but he had come improperly dressed, and he obviously stood out in the great wedding hall, in stark contrast to all the other dinner guests.

At first reading, one wonders how any of those who accepted the king’s invitation could have been expected to come properly attired. They had been rounded up from every part of the land, and many had been taken off the streets. Even if they had time to dress properly, they had no clothes befitting such an occasion as the wedding of the king’s son.

But the fact that all of the dinner guests except that one man were dressed in wedding clothes indicates that the king had made provision for such clothes. It would have been a moral mockery, especially for such an obviously kind and gracious ruler, to invite even the most wicked people in the land to come to the feast and then exclude one poor fellow because he had no proper clothes to wear.

That man was fully accountable for being improperly dressed, but the gracious king nevertheless gave him an opportunity to justify himself, asking with undeserved respect, “Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?” Had the man had a good reason, he would certainly have mentioned it immediately But he was speechless, unable to offer the king even the feeblest excuse. It is therefore obvious that he could have come in wedding clothes had he been willing.

Until that point the man had been utterly presumptuous, thinking he could come to the king’s feast on his own terms, in any clothes he wanted. He was proud and self-willed, thoughtless of the others, and, worst of all, insulting to the king. Arrogantly defying royal protocol, he was determined to “be himself.”

But his arrogance was short-lived. When, as the king knew in advance, the man could not excuse himself, the king said to the servants, “Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” The binding of hand and foot probably represents prevention of the man’s resisting as well as prevention of his returning. By that time it was night, and although the wedding hall would be well lighted, it was dark outside. The man was permanently expelled from the presence of the king and of the king’s people into the outer darkness. He would have great regret and remorse, and, with everyone else in that place, he would experience perpetual weeping and gnashing of teeth. But though he had a great opportunity, he had never had, and did not now have, the godly sorrow that leads to repentance and salvation (2 Cor. 7:10).

Since Cain’s first attempt to please God by offering his self-appointed sacrifice, men have been trying to come to the Lord on their own terms. They may fellowship with believers, join the church, become active in the leadership, give generously to its support, and speak of devotion to God. Like the tares among the wheat, they freely coexist for a while with God’s people. But in the day of judgment their falsehood will become obvious and their removal certain. Some will dare to say to God “on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then [Christ] will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’ ” (Matt. 7:22–23).

The proper wedding garment of a true believer is God-imputed righteousness, without which no one can enter or live in the kingdom. Unless a person’s righteousness exceeds the hypocritical self-righteousness that typified the scribes and Pharisees, he “shall not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:20). The only acceptable wedding garment is the genuine “sanctification without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14).

Many of Jesus’ Jewish hearers that day would have recalled the beautiful passage from Isaiah which declares, “I will rejoice greatly in the Lord, my soul will exult in my God; for He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness” (Isa. 61:10). Sincere Jews knew that, contrary to the man-made, legalistic traditions of their rabbis, God not only requires inner righteousness of men but He also offers it as a gift.

God’s eyes, of course, can see into men’s hearts to know whether their righteousness is of their own making or His granting. But even outwardly a true believer’s life will evidence right living and reflect right thinking. The Lord not only imputes but imparts righteousness to His children. Only He can see the internal righteousness that He imputes, but everyone can see the external righteousness that He imparts. A child of God is characterized by a holy life. Peter made that fact clear when he described salvation as “obedience to the truth” which has “purified your souls” (1 Pet. 1:22).

Just before Jesus declared that prophesying, casting out demons, and performing miracles in His name may be false evidence of salvation, He had said that true evidence of salvation will always be apparent. A person’s spiritual condition will be manifested in the fruit of his living. “Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they?” He had asked rhetorically. “Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit” (Matt. 7:16–17, 21–23). A holy, godly life cannot help bearing righteous fruit, because it is the natural outgrowth of the work of the Spirit within (Gal. 5:22–23).

Jesus surely would have been pleased had one of His hearers interrupted and asked, “How can I be clothed in the proper garment? What can I do to keep from being cast into the outer darkness like that man?” He no doubt would have said to that person as He had said many times before in various ways, “Come to Me, that you may have life” (John 5:40). As Paul explained to the Corinthians, God made Christ “who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). That is the wedding garment that God demands and His Son provides.

Jesus did not ask the Jewish leaders to comment on this parable as He had done with the previous two, where in each case they condemned themselves by their answers (21:31–32, 40–45). He knew they would not be trapped again, because it was now obvious that the whole thrust of the parables was to condemn them. Their only purpose, now heating up to a fury, was to trap and condemn Him to death (22:15; cf. 21:46).

Consequently, the Lord closed with the simple but sobering statement, Many are called, but few are chosen. That phrase reflects the scriptural balance between God’s sovereignty and man’s will. The invitations to the wedding feast went out to many, representative of everyone to whom the gospel message is sent. But few of those who heard the call were willing to accept it and thereby be among the chosen. The gospel invitation is sent to everyone, because it is not the Father’s will that a single person be excluded from His kingdom and perish in the outer darkness of hell (2 Pet. 3:9). But not everyone wants God, and many who claim to want Him do not want Him on His terms. Those who are saved enter God’s kingdom because of their willing acceptance of His sovereign, gracious provision. Those who are lost are excluded from the kingdom because of their willing rejection of that same sovereign grace.[1]

The Parable of the Wedding Banquet

Matthew 22:1–14

Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

“Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’

“But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless.

“Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

“For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

From time to time in these studies I have acknowledged that a particular parable is difficult to interpret and have mentioned several ways the details of the story might be taken. That problem does not exist with the parables in Matthew 21 and 22: the parable of the two sons, the parable of the wicked tenant farmers, and the parable of the wedding banquet. On the contrary, they are all too clear—above all the parable of the banquet! It speaks of God’s gracious invitation in the gospel and of the indifferent and even arrogant way men and women respond to it. It also refers to hell as the end of those who presume to enter God’s presence without the wedding garment of Christ’s righteousness.

This parable is found in Luke as well as in Matthew, though with some differences. The fullest form is Matthew’s; Luke does not mention the guest who is cast out. But Luke 14:15–24 contains an elaboration of the excuses made by those who refused the king’s invitation.

Those Who Would Not Come

The story begins with a king who has prepared a wedding banquet for his son and sends servants to those who have been invited to tell them that the feast is now ready and that they should come. They refuse to come. Their refusal is an insult, of course. It is dishonoring to the son, the king, and even to the servants who carried the king’s message. But the king is patient at first. He sends other servants to repeat the invitation: “Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet” (v. 4). But again they refuse. This time, however, they do not merely reject the invitation, they also mistreat the messengers and kill some of them. The king sends an army to destroy the murderers and burn their city (vv. 1–7). After that he invites others.

The reason the parable is so easy to understand is that nearly every part is discussed in plain terms elsewhere. The king is God, sitting on the throne of the universe. The son is his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The banquet is the marriage supper of the Lamb. The messengers are the early preachers of the gospel. Those to whom the invitation was first given are the upright Jews, and those who eventually come to the banquet are the outcast and poor, even Gentiles. John 1:11–12 says, “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

John 1:11–12 suggests that on one level at least a number of Jesus’ parables deal with the refusal of the Jews to receive Jesus when he first came to them. This was a major puzzle during the lifetime of the Lord, as well as afterward, so it is not strange to find parables that either deal with it directly or allude to it indirectly. The older son in the parable of the prodigal son represents Israel and her religious leaders particularly. So do the workers in the vineyard who were hired early but were paid the same as those who came late. So does the Pharisee in the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9–14). These parables all explore the thinking of those who supposed they had worked long and faithfully for God, unlike the common people or Gentiles, and were resentful when the grace of God was shown to people they considered unworthy of it.

The unique element in the parable of the wedding banquet is the willful refusal of those who were invited. It was not that they could not come. Rather, they would not. The reason for their refusal is not spelled out, but the way the servants were treated suggests what it was. They “seized” the servants, “mistreated them and killed them” (v. 6). If the invited guests felt that way toward the servants, they obviously felt that way toward the king who had sent them and would have seized, mistreated, and killed him if they could have done so. In other words, they would not come because they actually despised the king and were hostile to him.

The leaders of Christ’s day bitterly resented this portrait of them, but resent it or not, that is precisely the way these religious leaders thought and acted. In the story immediately before this (Matt. 21:33–46), Jesus told of tenant farmers who beat, killed, and stoned the owner’s servants. At last they murdered his son.

In the chapter following (Matthew 23), Jesus pronounces woes on these same people:

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, “If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.” So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers!…

I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berakiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.…

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.

verses 29–37

We know that at the last these rebellious subjects of the King of heaven killed Christ. As Stephen later put it, “Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him—you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it” (Acts 7:52–53).

Today we are not so inclined to kill prophets. If we are honest, however, we will admit that the same spirit is present among many of our contemporaries as they dispose of God’s messengers by ridicule or neglect, if not by more violent hostility. Charles H. Spurgeon preached seven sermons on this parable during the course of his long ministry, and he was deeply touched by that fact. He said:

Today this same class will be found among the children of godly parents; dedicated from their birth, prayed for by loving piety, listening to the gospel from their childhood, and yet unsaved. We look for these to come to Jesus. We naturally hope that they will feast upon the provisions of grace, and like their parents will rejoice in Christ Jesus; but alas! How often it is the case they will not come!… A preacher may be too rhetorical: let a plain-speaking person be tried. He may be too weighty: let another come with parable and anecdote. Alas! With some of you the thing wanted is not a new voice, but a new heart. You would listen no better to a new messenger than to the old one.

Some who are invited to the gospel banquet do not openly express their hatred of the one who gives it, but they make excuses. They go off “one to his field, another to his business” (v. 5). Jesus elaborates that point in Luke’s version: “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’

“Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’

“Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come’ ” (Luke 14:18–20). Each of those excuses is trifling. As Jesus tells it, it is not a case of a man being on his deathbed, unable to move, nor a woman being kept at home by a violent husband. Not one of these excuses has any weight at all. So what if a man has just bought a field? There is no reason why he would have to see it on that particular day and miss the banquet. The field could wait. There was no reason why the second person had to try out his oxen. He could have waited a few days. Even the excuse about marriage had no substance. Are we to think that a new bride would be unwelcome at a feast to which her husband was invited?

Besides that, the invitation was not the first they had received. In both versions of the parable Jesus says the invitation was sent to those who had already been invited once. The guests had no excuse for failing to arrange their schedules accordingly. When the final summons came, they should have been eagerly anticipating the banquet.

Many who reject the gospel invitation today have equally flimsy excuses and will rightly incur the King’s wrath. They say they are too busy for spiritual things. They say they have fields or patients or bonds or whatever it is that imprisons their souls and keeps them from faith in him who brings salvation. Spurgeon, whom I quoted earlier, tells of a ship owner who was visited by a godly man. The Christian asked, “Well, sir, what is the state of your soul?” to which the merchant replied, “Soul? I have no time to take care of my soul. I have enough to do just taking care of my ships.” But he was not too busy to die, which he did a week later.

Do you fit that pattern? Are you more interested in your good credit than in Christ? Do you read the stock quotations more than you read your Bible? You do not have to murder a prophet to miss out. You have only to fritter away your time on things that will eventually pass away and thus let your opportunities for repentance and faith pass by.

Those Who Came

Half the parable (Matt. 22:1–7) is about those who despised the king and would not come to the banquet, but the second half (vv. 8–14) tells of those who did come. The king said, “Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find” (v. 9). Luke makes it plain that these persons were drawn from the lower ranks of life. “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.… Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full” (Luke 14:21, 23).

This seems an extraordinary thing for the master to have done or, in Matthew’s case, for a king to have done. But when we remember that the master represents God, it seems inevitable. We need to ask questions such as, Is it possible that the King of the universe could ever be dishonored by having no one at the wedding supper of his Son? That no one would be saved? Can the Almighty be vanquished? Disappointed? Can the work of the Lord Jesus Christ be ineffective? Can Jesus have died in vain? Or risen in vain? If Jesus died and no one receives salvation through his completed work, would not God be dishonored? Would Satan not have triumphed? To ask questions such as these is to show the impossibility of such an outcome. God must be honored. Jesus must be effective in his work. Jesus himself said, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away” (John 6:37, emphasis added).

But surely God is dishonored by the kinds of people who come, someone might say. These are not the important people, not the wise, not the strong, not the mighty. True, and God admits it. Paul wrote, “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him” (1 Cor. 1:27–29). Is God dishonored by dealing with such people? On the contrary, he is highly honored.

How? Let me share Spurgeon’s answer to that question:

  1. “The persons who came to the wedding were more grateful than the first invited might have been if they had come. The richer sort had a good dinner every day. Those farmers could always kill a fat sheep, and those merchants could always buy a calf. ‘Thank you for nothing,’ they would have said to the king if they had accepted his invitation. But these poor beggars picked off the streets … welcomed the fatlings. How glad they were! One of them said to the other, ‘It’s a long time since you and I last sat down to such a joint as this,’ and the other answered, ‘I can hardly believe that I am really in a palace dining with a king. Why, yesterday I begged all the day and only had twopence at night. Long live the king, say I, and blessings on the prince and his bride!’
  2. “The joy that day was much more expressed than it would have been had others come. Those ladies and gentlemen who were first invited, if they had come to the wedding, would have seated themselves there in a very stiff and proper manner.… But these beggars! They make a merry clatter; they are not muzzled by propriety; they are glad at the sight of every dish.…
  3. “The occasion became more famous than it would otherwise have been. If the feast had gone on as usual it would have been only one among many such things; but now this royal banquet was the only one of its kind, unique, unparalleled. To gather in poor men off the streets, laboring men and idle men, bad men and good men, to the wedding of the Crown Prince—this was a new thing under the sun. Everybody talked of it. There were songs made about it, and these were sung in the King’s honor where none honored kings before.… Dear friends, when the Lord saved some of us by his grace, it was no common event. When he brought us great sinners to his feet, and washed us, and clothed us, and fed us, and made us his own, it was a wonder to be talked of for ever and ever. We will never leave off praising his name throughout eternity. That which looked as though it would defame the King turned out to his honor, and ‘the wedding was furnished with guests.’ ”

Ultimately, nothing will dishonor God. Unbelievers may despise him and dishonor him by their rejections of the gospel, but theirs is not the last word. Their hatred will be overcome by God’s good, and the praise of the redeemed will drown out the cries of the impenitent. To see it we have only to turn to the last chapters of the Book of Revelation, where we find the wicked being judged and the redeemed people of God engaged in holy, hearty, heartfelt praise to him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb forever.

The Man without a Garment

At this point the parable seems to be over, which is the case in Luke. But Matthew is not quite finished, and I am glad because here the Lord gives a much needed warning concerning the man who came to the feast without a wedding garment. The disadvantaged sometimes possess an inverse pride. Because they are not rich or famous or powerful but poor and unknown and weak, they feel they deserve the king’s bounty and can come before him in their own character and on the basis of their own “good” works. Jesus exposed that error by showing how the man who came to the feast without a garment was at once confronted by the king and then thrown “outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (v. 13).

What is the wedding garment? It is the righteousness of Jesus Christ, of course. It is that perfect righteousness that God provides freely to all who repent of sin and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for their salvation. We sing about it in a hymn of Nikolaus von Zinzendorf, translated by John Wesley:

Jesus, thy blood and righteousness

My beauty are, my glorious dress;

’Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,

With joy shall I lift up my head.

If we are clothed in Christ’s righteousness, we will be able to stand before God and rejoice in our salvation, but only if we are so clothed. If we are not clothed in Christ’s righteousness, we will be speechless before God and will be cast out.

I am interested in the words “the man was speechless” (v. 12), because that is the same thought Paul expresses in Romans 3:19, when he wraps up his powerful indictment of the human race by concluding that “every mouth [will] be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.”

Early in his ministry, Donald Grey Barnhouse developed a way of presenting the gospel using that text. When Barnhouse was speaking to a person and he wasn’t sure whether the person was a Christian, Barnhouse would ask, “Suppose you should die tonight and appear before God in heaven and he should ask you, ‘What right do you have to come into my heaven?’ what would you say?” He learned from experience that there were only three answers a person could give.

Many would cite their good works, saying, “I’d say I’ve done the best I can, and I’ve never done anything particularly bad.” This was an appeal to the person’s moral record, and Barnhouse would point out that it is our record that has gotten us into trouble in the first place. We have all fallen short of God’s moral standard embodied in the law. The Bible flatly declares, “No one will be declared righteous in [God’s] sight by observing the law” (Rom. 3:20).

A second group of people would respond as a woman did whom Barnhouse once met on a ship crossing the Atlantic. He asked, “If God demanded of you, ‘What right do you have to come into my heaven?’ what would you say?”

She responded, “I wouldn’t have a thing to say.” To put it in other words, she would be “speechless” before God, which is what Paul wrote about in Romans. In Jesus’ parable the Lord says this will be the case for all of us when God actually asks that question. In this life we may get by with our excuses or with the delusion that our record is pretty good and God will be satisfied with it. But in that day, when we see God in his glory and understand what true righteousness is, our foolishness will be made apparent to ourselves as well as to all other beings in the universe, and we will be reduced to silence—if we are not clothed with the wedding garment of Christ’s righteousness.

Which brings us to the third and only acceptable answer. “What right do you have to come into my heaven?” The only possible answer is, “None at all, so far as I myself am concerned. But Jesus died for my sins and has given me the covering of his own righteousness in which alone I dare to stand before you. I come at your invitation and in that clothing.” Will God reject a person who comes in that way? He will not, for it is precisely for such persons that Jesus Christ died. Besides, it is Jesus who has invited us to come to him.[2]

The Parable of the Wedding Feast

Matthew 22:1–14

Many are invited, but few are chosen. (Matt. 22:14)

We are fascinated by weddings. My recent internet search of the term “wedding” turned up over fifty million hits, not far behind terms such as truth, marriage, baseball, and mother. Weekly television programs and successful magazines are exclusively devoted to brides and weddings. Wedding movies entertain every year, with stories of princess brides, runaway brides, and wedding planners who dream of their own wedding plans. Some people plan more for their wedding than they do for their marriage, and a few people seem to care more about their wedding than their marriage. Therefore they put their marriages at risk by delaying marriage in order to have “the perfect wedding,” and after the marriage ends, they may end up suing each other for ownership of the wedding photos.

The Kingdom Is like a Royal Wedding Banquet

Since this fascination with weddings is nothing new, it is no surprise that Jesus tells a parable about the kingdom that features an unusual wedding: “Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son’ ” (22:1–2 ESV). Like all parables, this one is a comparison, an analogy, meant to make a point, not to offer a precise definition of the kingdom. Strange things happen in parables, so that they arrest our attention and make us think. Here, for starters, guests spurn a royal wedding and kill the messengers, and the king retaliates by burning their city.

In our story, a king hosts a wedding banquet for his son and invites his guests. Then, as now, custom required that the king send invitations to his friends and fellow leaders for such a formal event. The guests would be honored by the invitation, and the king would prepare a sumptuous banquet that might last for days.

The invitation secures a commitment to attend (or not) on a certain day. Since they had no clocks or watches, everyone would need to be ready to come when the king dispatched his servants to invite everyone again and to declare that the hour of the wedding and the feast had come.

The Invited Guests Behave Badly

Yet on the appointed day, when the king “sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet … they refused to come” (22:3). This is astonishing—both rude and unnatural—to reject anyone like this, let alone the king!

But the king persisted and gave everyone a second chance. Could there be a misunderstanding? To make everything clear, “he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet’ ” (22:4).

Strangely, the guests cared not a whit and “paid no attention” to the servants. They “went off—one to his field, another to his business” (22:5). Thus they ignored the king. To sense the depth of this insult, imagine receiving an invitation to an intimate event hosted by the president or prime minister of the nation. This is neither a publicity stunt nor a photo opportunity, but an entire day with government leaders, including an hour with the president or prime minister himself, discussing policy. We accept the invitation and arrange to go. But when the day comes, we change our mind. It is a beautiful day for a round of golf or a long hike with a friend, so we skip the flight. Suppose that the president’s staff is tracking the flights of all his guests and learns that we are not on the appointed flight. Thinking the best, a staffer calls and says, “We see that you missed the flight. I have reserved a seat on the next flight from your airport. It is scheduled to leave in an hour, but the plane will wait for you.” If we still do not come, what must the president think? If we choose golf or a hike over a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet with the president, he must be dismayed as he concludes that we think nothing of him and scorn his office.

As the parable describes the shocking behavior of the king’s supposed friends, we realize that Jesus must have been dismayed at the dreadful way Israel’s leaders had treated him in recent days. Describing Jesus’ life as a whole, John says, “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (John 1:11 ESV). Matthew has given us the details. Specifically, when Jesus examined the temple and saw no fruit, he corrected what he saw. But far from asking Jesus what his acts meant, the authorities replied defensively, asking why he thought he had the right to criticize them. Jesus then told three parables that describe the way he saw the temple and its leaders.

The parable of the two sons compares the leaders to a man who promises to serve his father, then goes off and does nothing (21:28–32). The parable of the tenants compares Israel to tenants who are given a perfect vineyard, then refuse to pay the rent and attempt to seize the property by beating and killing the owner’s representatives. Finally, they incite one another to disinherit and slay the owner’s son, just as the leaders soon disinherited and killed Jesus (21:33–46). In this parable, people are invited to a royal banquet, then refuse to come.

These parables do not merely condemn Israel’s leaders, they express dismay over their rejection of Jesus, their long-expected Redeemer and King. Remember, Jesus had an emotional life. On occasion, he grew weary and disappointed, even exasperated (Matt. 17:17; Mark 8:12). So here we sense astonished disappointment. How could those who claim to be God’s people do such things? It is a wound, an outrage, a senseless insult to the King of kings. It is hate toward his servants, the prophets, and his Son. Why would they do it? How shall the king respond?

The story hints at the senselessness of it all. The guests casually wandered off to their farms or businesses. Jesus tells essentially the same parable but in a different setting in Luke 14. There Jesus describes the guests’ excuses in more detail. As in Matthew, they had no urgent business.

One said, “I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it” (Luke 14:18). But any sensible person would inspect a field before he bought it. Today one might as well say, “I cannot come to your party. I bought a house and need to look at it.” It is hardly urgent to examine a field or a house after buying it. Besides, if a final inspection is necessary, the next day will suffice.

Another wanted to test five teams of oxen (14:19). But a team must be tested before purchase, for if they cannot pull together, they are worthless. This excuse is no more likely than someone saying today, “I just bought five trucks and must go see if they run.” We test things before we buy them.

Finally, one said, “I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come” (14:20 ESV). The assumption is that the marriage was recent. The law does excuse a newly married man from fighting for Israel’s army (Deut. 20:7). But marriage is no excuse for backing out of a party. Besides, he did accept the first invitation, whether newly married or not. So the invitees insult the host’s honor.

Worse yet, some of them did something more egregious than simply to ignore the king and his messengers. They “seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them” (Matt. 22:6). At first glance, the invited guests simply seemed rude and disrespectful. But now we see that they hate him and would destroy his reign if they could. This is rebellion!

The king is angry, yet resolute. He is the king, after all. The violence against his servants will be punished: “He sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city” (22:7 ESV). In the parable, the feast is waiting and the rebels are concentrated in another city, which he burns. We understand that not everything in the story could happen at once. Rather, the king ordered his soldiers to act decisively to crush the rebellion.

This element of the story may shock us. The image comes from Isaiah 5, which also supplied the starting point for the parable of the wicked tenants (21:33–46). In Isaiah, the Lord compares Israel to a fertile vineyard, well planted with vines, guarded by a tower and supplied with a winepress. But the vineyard bore him no fruit. Therefore the Lord will tear up the vineyard, let the vines dry, and then burn them. Israel despised the word of God, “therefore the anger of the Lord was kindled” (Isa. 5:1–6, 24–25 ESV).

As the first phase of the story ends, we pause to consider whom the characters represent. As usual, the king represents God the Father. The son represents Jesus (the son was Jesus in the prior parable, 21:33–46, and Jesus is a bridegroom in 25:1). The servants are God’s agents—the prophets, the apostles, and their successors. The king invites guests to his son’s wedding feast just as God invites men, women, and children to his kingdom through the ages. The feast is a symbol of eternal life, for God’s people will celebrate and dine with him at “the wedding supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:7–9).

Those who initially agreed to come represent those Israelites who said “Yes” to God, but now refuse God’s invitation when the hour arrives. Originally, they especially represented the Jewish leaders who opposed Jesus. But the citizens also represent religious people who first accept, then reject God’s invitation.

Then and now, those who reject God’s invitation miss his feast. Yet the guests do not simply turn down an invitation to a party. In the story, they are so hostile that they kill the king’s servants. This violence is rebellion against the king. For this, they face the king’s wrath and punishment (22:7).

In the real world, many simply ignore God’s invitation, for it seems irrelevant to them. Others are more adamant about their goal of keeping God out of their lives. For example, Stephen Jay Gould, the renowned Harvard paleontologist and Darwinist, famously said, “Science and religion are not in conflict, for their teachings occupy distinctly different domains.” That may sound innocuous, but Gould meant that religion and morality merely belong to the private sphere of finding comfort and direction in life. He meant that religion—indeed, God himself (should he exist)—should stay out of the public sphere of science and fact. He meant Christians should keep their faith out of science and scientists will keep out of their faith. But his definition of the spheres keeps God and faith out of all but a small realm of private feelings and personal decisions. Religion can offer direction to the morally confused and comfort to the emotionally burdened, but nothing more. So he excluded God from most of the world.

Now we cannot read the first principles or the developed theories of science from the Bible, but if the God of the Bible says anything, he says he is Lord of all. When someone says, “This sphere, my sphere, is off limits to God,” he rejects the Lord. He ignores, even insults, God’s messengers.

The King Invites Others

The king is angry at his first guests. They “did not deserve to come” (22:8). But the king is gracious. The wedding feast stands ready (22:8), so he commissions his servants to “go to the street corners” or, more precisely, the intersections where two roads meet. He charges them “to invite to the banquet anyone you find” (22:9). So the servants “went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests” (22:10).

The banquet will go on because the king shows genuine grace, inviting those who have no relationship with him. There is no reason to invite them to the feast other than his desire to honor his son on his wedding day. That is why the servants must “gather” them. Custom required them to refuse the invitation. The offer cannot be serious! So the servants must convince them the host is sincere and urge them to come. The king orders that the servants bring “both good and bad.” Eventually, “the wedding hall was filled with guests” (22:10).

Again, the symbolism is easy to follow. The guests who fill the banquet hall represent everyone who does not deserve a place at God’s eternal kingdom celebration. They represent flawed Israelites who are unworthy of God—the ordinary people, the sinners, who seemed to have no relation to the king. They represent Gentiles, nations, and peoples who once seemed far removed from the kingdom. From the beginning, the Gospels predicted that Jesus would come to the Gentiles. Shortly after Jesus’ birth, Simon called him “a light for revelation to the Gentiles.” Later, John said that through Jesus “all flesh shall see the salvation of God” (Luke 2:32; 3:6 ESV). Matthew says Jesus began his ministry in “Galilee of the Gentiles” (Matt. 4:15).

So God invites all kinds of people to his feast. Some initially say yes, then back away. Many leaders did this in Jesus’ day. They said yes to God once, but when Jesus came, they did not like what they saw. Today, the same holds for nominal Christians. They go to church occasionally, maybe even regularly. They like some of Jesus’ teachings and the offer of eternal life. But when they inspect the entire package, they demur and pull away.

Such people remind us that it is not enough to say yes to God once, vaguely. Many people are baptized, catechized, and sanitized from public displays of gross sin. But there is more to faith than that. True believers say yes and come to Jesus, redeemer and Lord, as the Gospels present him. Yet if someone refuses the feast, he does not stymie Jesus. His feast goes on, for he issues more invitations.

To this day, invitations remain important. In high school, good looks, athletic ability, and social confidence are the gold, silver, and bronze medal winners in the world of invitations. Of course, adults consider it important to be invited to certain parties or meetings, and some will do all they can to get in. But there is a gathering for which no credentials are required. The host is most impressive and the guest list will take your breath away. Unfortunately, one glance at the host tells you this party is out of your league.

Yet the party is not exclusive. Everyone is invited. The messenger declares, “The king requests your presence.” You reply, “There must be a mistake. You cannot mean it.” But the host does mean it, so the messengers must gather people, pulling them in. “Yes, you have no standing with the host, but he wants you to come. Please come; I implore you.”

The parable depicts the free gift of the gospel. The feast is a metaphor for eternal life. Even today, people ought to be astonished that the king of the universe requests their presence. Before we knew him, apart from any merit on our part, the Lord God set in motion a process that brings ordinary people to himself. According to plan, God personally entered history with the incarnation and continued through the death, resurrection, ascension, and return of Christ. He will return to call his people to himself.

But the Guests Must Be Prepared

This is the gospel: God saves on the basis of grace, not by merit, by grace alone, not by credentials, résumé, or lineage. He saves by faith in Christ alone. Even our faith has no merit. We cannot boast, “At least I had the good sense to believe.” God seeks us and prompts us to come to him. Besides, faith does not look inward, to the believing self. It looks upward to Christ. Then and now, faith leans on Jesus. And he accepts us, whether we are insiders or outsiders, whether we are the kind to get invited to important parties or not.

The story has one more element. The king came, inspected his guests, and “noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes” (22:11). His address takes a cordial tone: “Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?” But the man had nothing to say—he “was speechless” (22:12).

Since he was unfit for the banquet, the king’s servants tossed him outside, “into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (22:13; cf. 8:12; 13:42, 50). The guest was invited, but he acted like a party crasher. He was not dressed for the wedding. As a result, the host cast him out. The parable hints at the reality of eternal exclusion from the blessed presence of God and the eternal punishment which Matthew 24 and 25 describe more fully.

The darkness and the weeping represent eternal separation from God. The parable reminds us that not all who are part of the visible church are members of the true church. Eventually they leave or are cast out. As John says, “They did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us” (1 John 2:19).

But what do the wedding clothes represent? There are two answers. In Revelation, the wedding clothes are the righteousness of Christ. In heaven, God’s people are dressed in white robes. They became white when washed “in the blood of the lamb” (Rev. 7:9–14). This fits the parable which says the king invited both “good and bad” guests. If they are “bad,” they must be dressed in the righteousness of Jesus, which we gain by faith. But Revelation also says God’s people are dressed in fine linen, which is “the righteous deeds of the saints” (19:8 ESV).

So then the garment seems to be both the righteousness we have by faith in Christ and the righteousness we have by living as disciples. How can it be both? Let me answer with another story from family life.

Reflecting on the Banquet

Our first child was born to my wife at noon, after twenty hours of labor and thirty-three hours without sleep. A nurse cleaned her, checked her grip, and handed her to her mother for a season of bonding, as if, like a duck, our infant needed to imprint on her mother. It was a tender but brief moment. They cuddled, I took a photo, and my exhausted wife smiled and said, “Here, you take her, I need to sleep.”

I accompanied our newborn for the next phase of hospital activities. They undressed and weighed her and she screamed. They stretched her out for measurement and she screamed some more. They smeared gel in her eyes and thrust tubes down her nose and stuck their fingers in her mouth and she wailed. My emotions began to rise. Sleep deprived as I was, I struggled to restrain myself from accosting my baby’s tormentors and shouting, “Why are you hurting my baby? Leave her alone.” I did restrain myself, of course, because I could foresee the headlines: “Pastor wrestles nurse in hospital melee.” But the depth of my emotions surprised me. I loved this child! I had known her for twenty minutes and hot waves of paternal love surged through me.

Just so, parental love does not depend on an infant’s merit. It is free. My children know their parents’ love is free. Yet they know it also has costs. For example, everyone has chores to do, even if they suspect that it is impossible to match all the white socks correctly. And we have rules: Tell the truth; treat each another with respect, and don’t hit anyone unless they clearly deserve it.

Why do my children obey those rules? Why do they love and respect their parents? In order to obtain our love? No, they love because we loved them first. They obey not to get a father but because they have a father. For a child, there is a great difference between obeying parents in order to gain love and obeying because she is loved. Good parents remember the difference every day. The kingdom is the same. First we experience God’s love, then we love him and obey him. Both are necessary: the parents’ initial love and the child’s answering love.

The parable makes this vital point about God: he invites all kinds of people to join his kingdom. He offers life to religious and to secular people, to Jews and Gentiles. The other characters in the story teach additional lessons as they respond to this primary lesson.

The first group teaches that rejection of God’s offer is rebellion, which God eventually punishes (22:1–7). The second group teaches that both good and bad people can enjoy God’s offer (22:8–10). Yet those who come to God must come in truth (22:11–13). They must be prepared to stand before the Lord. That happens two ways: by faith in Jesus, who gives his righteousness to us, and by living as a disciple.

So it comes to us. Jesus says, “Many are invited [or called], but few are chosen” (22:14). That is, many hear the outward call to God and many appear to respond, but God chooses only some of them to enter his eternal heaven. We know who these are by a profession of faith that is verified by a godly life.

Today, we can have assurance that we are ready for God’s banquet and have been chosen for it in this way. We must ask: Have we heard and accepted Christ’s call to believe? Are we, to use Paul’s phrase, “putting on Christ” and the good deeds that never earn God’s favor but always answer to his favor? Or will you be speechless when you meet the Lord?

Some years ago, a great pastor fashioned a diagnostic question that started profitable conversations about the faith: If God asked you, “What right do you have to enter my heaven?” what would you say? The pastor found that people answered three ways.

  • Some say they have tried to be good—a good neighbor, a good mother, a good citizen. They say, “I’ve done my best and I’m no worse than the next fellow.”
  • A second group is speechless. This is not the silence of a listener, it is the silence of the embarrassed, the flustered and the guilty, who know they have nothing to say in their defense. They simply do not know what to say.
  • The third group says, “I have no right to enter heaven and offer nothing by way of merit. But I do believe in Jesus. I trust in him alone for salvation and I seek him for daily direction.”

The third group is fit for the banquet, fit for heaven. In the last several chapters, the topic of true religion and true faith has come up several times. True religion bears fruit, true faith follows Christ. If someone is not sure whether his religion is genuine, he should both examine himself and pray. He may seek a Christian friend or a pastor to help him, or he may seek a quiet place where he will be alone with the Lord. A person might pray this way:

Lord Jesus Christ, I am aware that in different ways you have been seeking me. I believe that your claims are true; that you died on the cross for my sins, and that you have risen in triumph over death. Thank you for your loving offer of forgiveness, freedom, and fulfillment. Now—I turn from my sinful self-centeredness. I come to you as my Savior. I submit to you as my Lord. Give me the strength to follow you for the rest of my life. Amen.

This prayer, sincerely prayed, makes us true friends of the king. It clothes us in the garments that prepare us for God’s banquet, for life everlasting with him.[3]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Vol. 3, pp. 303–313). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Boice, J. M. (2001). The Gospel of Matthew (pp. 465–471). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Doriani, D. M. (2008). Matthew & 2. (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.) (Vol. 2, pp. 278–288). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.

Bruce Ashford and Southeastern Seminary Opening the Door to Leftist Politics — Reformation Charlotte

Southeastern Seminary’s Slide into Progressivism
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) is one of the premier vehicles for aspiring pastors and theologians to join the endless ranks of social justice warriors in Evangelicalism today. Through its Office of Kingdom Diversity, the seminary has held events showcasing such anti-Christian icons as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. to advance their political cause of economic equality. Southeastern Seminary is leading the way in the cause of leftist political advancement.
Bruce Ashford is a professor at SEBTS and an elder at Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) president, J.D. Greear’s Summit Church in Raleigh, NC. SEBTS now offers a degree in “Social and Justice Ethics,” which includes such courses as Ethics of Wealth and Poverty and Social Justice and Race Relations. The school describes these courses respectively as,

A biblical and theological examination of ethical issues that arise in the creation and use of wealth, in the exercise and management of work, and in the experience or alleviation of material needs.


A study of the ethics of social justice and race relations in light of biblical principles, theological doctrines and historical expressions, with special attention given to the church’s tasks in promoting social justice and confronting discrimination.

Bruce Ashford a Leading Proponent of Liberal Tolerance
Bruce Ashford, one of the leading professors in the program announced and is leading a seminar on a Ph.D. program offered by the school in Public Theology. Ashford, who is neck-deep in the social justice program at SEBTS, says in a recent article he published titled The Eight Deadly Sins of Political Conservatism, that while he tends to fall on the political right, it’s dangerous to not be tentative. He writes,

Given that my primary allegiance is to Christ and his church, my commitments to political parties, platforms, and leaders should always be tentative. Thus, since I land on the right side of the American political spectrum, it is especially helpful to beware the dangers found on the right.

While I agree that blind allegiance to the Republican party or its leaders should be avoided, the implication here is that leftist politics should be viewed in a Christian context as a viable alternative to conservative politics. In a recent article I wrote, If You’re a Democrat, You’re Probably Not Saved, I made the case that conservative values are a fruit of the Christian life. I also made the case that leftist politics oppose biblical moral values. This is where Ashford fails to distinguish the political right from the left.
In Ashfords first point, he writes,

Some conservatives think America is God’s chosen nation and thus envision God as the underwriter of American aspirations, even when those aspirations are more nationalistic and less Christian. Even Americans who have little interest in Christianity sometimes exhibit a missionary-like zeal to spread secular conservative ideology. They confuse America with God’s coming kingdom.

Here, he artificially separates secular conservative ideology with Christian conservative ideology. When we define conservatism, we must be clear that we mean we derive our values from the Scriptures, even in secular society, as a means to preserve the morality in our society according to God’s standards. This is why the Ten Commandments can be found in court-houses around the country — because the founders knew that, even though the nation is secular, there is but one standard upon which morals can be objectively based.
Further, his equating nationalism with conservative ideology is simply a straw-man. Of course, certain forms of what some consider “nationalist” ideology but are actually forms of racism and racial superiority, should certainly be condemned. However, if we place these remarks in the context of the social justice agenda in the broader Evangelical Church today, issues as common sense as securing our national borders from illegal invaders is seen as “racist” and “white supremacy.”
He also makes the following point in his article, he writes,

Some conservatives think we should keep doing what we have always done traditionally. But this causes problems. Should we continue to own slaves? Should we continue to allow abortion-on-demand? Every evil, once installed, lays claim to being a tradition.

Now, this is simply nonsense. Nobody — like, literally no one — at least nobody credible argues that we should continue to do things simply because we’ve always done it that way. Again, if you place this in the context of today’s social justice push, Ashford is trying to open the door for Christians to accept leftist ideology — redistribution of wealth (theft), open borders (lawlessness), etc. — are viable Christian alternatives to traditional conservatism.
Another point he attempts to make is,

Many conservatives believe the purpose of the commonwealth should be to increase wealth continually, often while ignoring social issues. Even if Adam Smith’s theory is basically right, the “invisible hand” of the market doesn’t work without a moral populace. Budziszewski writes, “Capitalism depends on a moral spirit which it cannot supply and may even weaken; it is, in the most exact of senses, a parasiteon the faith.”

This is where Ashford’s argument really starts to take a sinister turn. Essentially, he argues that the capitalist system we have in America is, well, evil because there are evil people who participate in it. What’s the alternative? Marxism. There are two main strands of economic systems in the world — Capitalism and Communism. Of course, there are variances under each strand, but Marxism, Socialism, etc. fall under the Communism umbrella. We need not argue the Godless foundation upon which these economic systems were built, suffice it to say that they were designed, at their core, to oppose the moral standards of God. Morality, in these systems, becomes relative.
The purpose of Christianity is not, as Ashford argues and is taught in seminary courses at Southeastern, to fix economic insufficiencies of certain people groups — groups segregated not by biblical standards, but by secular intersectionality. Christ died to set men free from the spiritual bondage to corruption so that they could freely choose Him and live in obedience to Him in a world that opposes Him.
Lastly, Ashford argues,

Conservatives often think that they should do unto others as they deserve. This is the opposite of liberal propitiationism, in which we do unto others as they want. Conservatives have a preference for justice, while liberals have a preference for mercy. But Christ has a preference for both. Liberal propitiationists want to pay women cash prizes for having children out of wedlock, but conservatives want to end it. Budziszewski’s problem with the conservatives is that after they’ve cut off the cash prizes, they tend to walk away and do nothing to help.

He pits conservatives up against liberals, claiming that liberals prefer mercy while conservatives prefer justice, and that Christ prefers both. He is right, Christ does prefer both, and any Christian who doesn’t would be wrong. However, the argument he is making is in context of the civil government. There is not one place in the New Testament that a case for government redistribution of wealth is equivalent to mercy. In fact, it is theft.
One cannot make a valid biblical case that we should mitigate the conservatives’ desire to end government redistribution and balance it with the liberal idea of what Ashford argues is “mercy.” Mercy is not taking from the rich to give to the poor. Liberals do not desire mercy, liberals desire theft. Mercy is giving of yourself, not of others. And, in fact, the vast majority of the liberals who are pushing for this so-called “mercy” push for it because of their own selfish desires of entitlement for it. The rest do it for political votes. Let’s just be clear — there is absolutely nothing Christian about the left’s redistribution system. Nothing!
Yet, Southeastern Seminary and Bruce Ashford are continuing to propagate this ideology as it creeps into our churches. The implications for societal politics are huge as political leftists such as George Soros fund major Evangelical outlets such as the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. However, the bigger implication — the spiritual implication — is that the doors for unconverted progressives are being opened in our churches and given a false sense of security while they are in open rebellion to God and His commandments.

Bruce Ashford and Southeastern Seminary Opening the Door to Leftist Politics — Reformation Charlotte

The Wisdom of Cowards: The SBC’s Profound Lack of Courage — Reformation Charlotte

Humanity Refuses to Believe God
In the book of Numbers, chapter 13, God instructs Moses to select a leader from each of the tribes of Israel to send them into the land of Canaan for the purpose of gathering intelligence. When they returned from the intelligence gathering mission, they briefed Moses and the people. The briefing was a true disaster.
The land was indeed a land that was flowing with milk and honey. It was a prosperous region. It held all that anyone living in this era could ever want for a healthy and prosperous life. However, the land also had serious warriors. The Nephilim mentioned in Genesis 6 were there.
As a side note, this offers a serious challenge who believe that the Nephilim were the product of angel-human copulation. The flood would have wiped them out. Instead, it is better to understand the Nephilim as a type of gifted warrior.
They occupied the land of Canaan. The spies were clearly afraid and convinced that Israel could not subdue the inhabitants of the land. They recommended to Moses and the people not to continue with the plan to invade Canaan.
The dispute became so intense between the three leaders (Joshua, Moses, and Aaron) and the people of Israel that the people decided to stone them. It seems that the people would have stoned these leaders had God not supernaturally intervened. God not only intervened; he would have killed the people had Moses not interceded for them. Fear led to disobedience and disobedience to divine wrath. God did not wink at these people for being afraid. He brought them out of Egypt and performed many miracles in front of them. And they still refused to believe in him. They refused to take him at his word just like Adam and Eve did in the garden. Humanity continues to refuse to take God at his word despite the disastrous consequences such behavior produces.
Fear is a Lack of Belief
Fear is an obvious lack of belief in God’s promises. It is a palpable chariness in God’s ability to do what he says he can and will do. It seems that the young pastor Timothy at one point grappled with trust issues of his own. Paul wrote to this young pastor and reminded him that God did not give him a spirit of timidity, but of power, love, and discipline.
Timidity is from the Greek word deilia, which means cowardice. Timothy watched Paul suffer for the gospel and it is unnerving. Paul showed no sympathy toward Timothy for his lack of trust in God. He reminded Timothy what was at stake and insisted that he join him in his suffering.
Fear Dominating the Leadership of the Church
Like Timothy, there is no room in the Christian life for fear. In other words, Christians cannot allow the emotion of fear to dominate them in such a way that it causes them to distrust God. When our fear dominates us, we, like the children of Israel, rebel against God, distrust his word, refuse to take the land he gave us, and turn against God’s appointed leaders. The same is true when leaders give in to their fears.
What does this have to do with what is going on in evangelicalism today? I think it has quite a bit to do with what is going on. It’s understandable why semi-Pelagians and Arminians would worry about the credibility of the church. It’s also understandable why such theological convictions would create concern over how the world perceives the gospel.
Al Mohler – Shepcon 2019
I readily admit that I am struggling with Albert Mohler’s comment in the Q&A session at the Shepherd’s Conference of his fear that a mass exodus of evangelicals from an evangelical gospel to a social gospel. As Phil Johnson pressed Mohler for answers, Mohler responded,

I am afraid we are going to lose an enormous number of evangelicals to various kinds of a social gospel because that’s a lot easier to find satisfaction in than evangelism.

Why should Mohler allow that kind of fear serve as a critical element in how he decides to best respond to these recent attacks on the gospel coming from the social justice movement? Is this not to side with the elders that came back from the reconnaissance missions into Canaan? Is it not exactly like saying “these people are too great for us?” Is it different from grumbling against and not trusting God?
God Calls Christian Leaders to Exemplify Trust in Him
In Matthew 16:18 Jesus said this:

I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.

Nothing can stand against the church of Jesus Christ! Nothing can destroy! It will endure under the sovereign control and preservation of our God.
In Romans 1:16, the Apostle Paul said this:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

We need not fear competitors to the gospel or the false preachers and converts they produce. We can rest assured with the greatest degree of confidence that Christ will continue to call his sheep to Himself and that he will continue to use the ancient gospel once for all delivered to the saints to do it.
In 1 Peter 3:14-15, the Apostle Peter said the following:

But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.

Who is there to harm us if we are seeking the good? Peter takes us all the way back to Isaiah 8:12 when he tells us not to fear their intimidation.
Paul told Timothy, “For God has not given us a spirit of
timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” God has not called his leaders
nor his church into a spirit of timidity. Instead, God has given us a spirit of
power, of love, and of sensibleness. The enemies of God are always going to be
the enemies of the church. How could it be any other way?
At this very moment, the political pagans in Washington D.C. are circulating the “Equity Act.” Democrats are pushing this as their top priority. If it passes and enters law, it will demonize and outlaw biblical Christianity as we know it today. Seminaries will lose accreditation and businesses will be in a legal position to fire Christians who say things that outsiders consider hate speech — even outside the workplace and on social media platforms.
Men like Russell Moore, Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, Thabiti Anyabwile have aggressively moved evangelicals to vote for this party over the conservative party for the last few years. They are asking the churches to vote for the party that will outlaw their churches and the churches’ seminaries. Do not ask me to explain it. I cannot. The churches must purge the social justice proponents from its midst. Many of them are enemies of the faith and those who are not must be brought to repentance.

The Wisdom of Cowards: The SBC’s Profound Lack of Courage — Reformation Charlotte

Predictable: Pelosi and Schumer Will both Speak at AIPAC and Pretend Democrats Support Jews and Israel — The Gateway Pundit


Last week Nancy Pelosi and Democrats failed to condemn the anti-Semitic words of outgoing Democrat freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar.

Instead of condemning the anti-Semitic attacks by Omar the Democrats passed a bland condemnation of hatred of any type.
Even worse, Speaker Pelosi allowed Ilhan to edit the statement before it was passed.

In the past several years the Democrat Party has gone from staunch supporters of Israel and the Jewish community to the party that boos Israel and God at their convention.

Next week Democrat leaders Pelosi and Chuck Schumer will address AIPAC – America’s Pro-Israel Lobby, to speak.

No doubt Pelosi will pretend her caucus supports Israel.
These people have no shame.

Predictable: Pelosi and Schumer Will both Speak at AIPAC and Pretend Democrats Support Jews and Israel — The Gateway Pundit

On the New Zealand Massacre — CultureWatch

Two mosques in Christchurch were targeted by gunmen with multiple fatalities. As I write it seems that around 50 people may have been killed and many injured. This is a horrible day for New Zealand and we need to keep all the victims and their families in our prayers.

One 28-year-old man, who has been identified as Brenton Tarrant from NSW, Australia, seems to have videoed the attack. Sadly it is making the rounds on the social media. It is claimed he did this in protest against Islam, Western immigration policies, and related grievances. We will learn much more about him and any others involved in this in due course. It is still early days yet as to who exactly was involved, and why.

I and all people of good will fully and unequivocally condemn this attack. Without question those who are responsible for this should face the full force of the law. There is no place for such violence and there is absolutely no justification for this attack. I take it that New Zealand does not have the death penalty, but if it did, these individuals would fully deserve it.

Those responsible for this were fully given over to evil, and it is appalling that they could get away with such reprehensible acts. If anyone who is a friend or colleague of mine in any way supports this, applauds this, or cheers this on, they are NOT my friends and colleagues. If I find anyone on the social media who is a friend of mine who supports this, they will be swiftly unfriended.

I have never condoned a tit-for-tat response here, nor advocated for violence and murder, and will keep working to share my concerns about some of these things in a peaceful manner. Legitimate concerns about runaway immigration, creeping sharia and the like are fully fair and need to be heard. But resorting to what the jihadists do daily is not the way to proceed.

Indeed, it is at this point that we need to be reminded of some home truths. It is perfectly clear that this sort of violence and terrorism is perpetrated on a daily basis against Christians, Westerners and others by Muslim attackers all around the world.

As one example, a new report notes that 11 Christians are killed every day for their beliefs, mostly by Muslims. It looks at the ten most dangerous nations for Christians, and finds eight of them are Islamic nations.

But because such killings and attacks are so utterly common and routine, there is next to no media coverage of them, nor much outrage about them. Moroever, every time another Islamic jihad attack occurs, especially in the West, everyone seems to bend over backwards and claim this has nothing to do with Islam and we should not even speak about Islam. They say the Muslim religion should not be tarred and feathered because of the actions of these terrorists.

Invariably we are told that these killers were lone wolves, that they had no connection with others, and that they have nothing to do with any ideology or religion. Invariably we are also told that they were mentally ill. Invariably we are told that Western culture in some way was the cause of such attacks.

Yet even in these early stages, we can see how the leftist media will be operating: they will put this attack down to right wing views, to Christianity, to anti-immigration groups, to the conservative alternative media, and so on. It will be open season on anyone and anything even remotely resembling a conservative, a Christian, or those who have expressed legitimate concern about border policies, unchecked multiculturalism, stealth jihad and the like.

Already I have heard journalists at New Zealand press conferences asking, “Have we been paying too much attention to Muslim terrorism?” Incredible. Anywhere from 200 to 600 million people have been murdered in the past 1400 years in the name of Islam.

So now we get an evil fool doing this at some mosques, and we are now just supposed to forget all about the other terrorism, and pretend that Islam is a religion of peace? Yes non-Muslims can and do commit acts of horrible violence and terror, but not even bloodthirsty ideologies like godless communism came close to killing as many people in terms of sheer numbers.

Again, the media, most political leaders and most experts are already speaking of how Muslims are living in fear, and are talking as if they experience such fear every day. Um, they have NOT been the main victims of terrorism acts. They have been the main perpetrators.

And as mentioned the blame game is already happening. As just one example, one social media post said this was directly due to the words and policies of people like Pauline Hanson and Fraser Anning. Already we have talk about stricter gun control. Already we have those wanting to clamp down further on conservative sites, and so on.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has already referred to the assailant as “an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist.” Already there are those who are speaking of Christians and conservatives and white supremacists, etc., and how they are part of the blame here. Never mind that it seems that on Brenton Tarrant’s social media pages he spoke of being into paganism and Odin worship, etc.

One person on the social media has reminded us how a tragedy like the 1933 Reichstag Fire in Germany helped prepare the way for the Nazis to consolidate their power even further. The arson attack happened four weeks after Hitler was sworn in as the German Chancellor, and he swiftly used it to clamp down on his ideological foes.

Sadly we have enough examples of this happening with the left whenever something like this happens. They are ever ready to demonise their political opponents and become opportunists to push their agendas. Watch for more of it to happen in this case. And in the meantime, most folks will continue to wonder why we seem to have so many double standards here.

For example, we have just learned on the media that one apparent Muslim terrorist who had planned to bomb an entire plane might be given a free pass: “An Australian-Lebanese man in custody on terrorism charges in Lebanon will be freed on bail this week, after the Australian Government agreed to hand over crucial documents. Amer Khayat, 41, is accused of plotting to blow up an Etihad plane on a flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi in July 2017 using two bombs — one hidden in a meat grinder and another hidden in a Barbie doll.”

All such killing and attempted killing must be fully and soundly condemned. But the actual historical record here is all one-way traffic. Most acts of terrorism conducted around the world are Islamic attacks. Since 9/11 alone there have been nearly 35,000 deadly Islamic terror attacks. These hard truths also need to be kept in mind as we mourn with our overseas neighbours.

I close where I began. We need to keep in prayer all those so terribly impacted by all this. No person should have to experience this sort of horror. I for one will pray for the victims and their families, and I hope you will join in with me.

On the New Zealand Massacre — CultureWatch

Indoctrination: ‘Coexist’ With Lies and False Teachings?

Eradicate: Blotting Out God in America

Government education in America kicked God, prayer, the Bible, and the Ten Commandments out of public schools over fifty years ago leaving a massive spiritual void. The doors were then flung open to Atheism, evolution, Humanism, witchcraft, Islam, Liberalism, sexual promiscuity, the LGBTQ agenda, and recently, Buddhism. 

Our tax dollars now support the teaching of an ABC curriculum: Anything But Christ. All the religions in the world cannot possibly be true, but in a secular culture influenced by postmodernism, people don’t want to hear there is only one way to God. But if you’re sincerely seeking truth, I suggest you take a look at Jesus before trying everything else. 

The coexist slogan was actually created to oppose Christianity, and demand that we keep our beliefs to ourselves. Public schools follow this philosophy and insist we conform and tolerate all behavior as well as other religious claims.

Just last year, middle…

View original post 1,512 more words

March 15 The Pathway of Perplexity

scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 4:7–15
key verse: Isaiah 58:11

The Lord will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.

Perplexity. One dictionary defines it as a “puzzled condition; uncertainty as to what to think or do; a tangled, involved, or confused condition.”

We have all been there—financial bloodbaths, emotional trauma, spiritual wrestling. The apostle Paul was familiar with perplexity. His storms were unrelenting.

The Greek word Paul used for “perplexed” in his letter to the Corinthians was exaporeo. Poreo means “a pathway.” When Paul added the letter a (alpha) in front of the word, it became “no way.” When combined with the prefix ex, Paul’s term became “absolutely no way out.”

Have you felt that way? Does it describe your current conditions?

If so, take heart. Even though it appeared to Paul as if there was no way out at times, he never despaired, never lost hope. He never walked out on his divine calling as Christ’s ambassador to the Gentiles.

Why? Because he understood that Jesus Christ was his constant Companion in all of his struggles. Jesus would never fail him. Jesus would never abandon him. Jesus would never quit on him.

When you have Jesus, you have the Way to guide you although there seems to be absolutely no way out.

I am perplexed and I don’t know what to do, Lord, but You do! My pathway seems blocked, but You are the Way. So show me![1]

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

15 march (1857) 365 Days with Spurgeon

Christ about his Father’s business

“Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” Luke 2:49

suggested further reading: Ephesians 4:32–5:10

You never find Christ doing a thing which you may not imitate. You would scarcely think it necessary that he should be baptised; but lo, he goes to Jordan’s stream and dives beneath the wave, that he may be buried in baptism unto death, and may rise again—though he needed not to rise—into newness of life. You see him healing the sick to teach us benevolence; rebuking hypocrisy to teach us boldness; enduring temptation to teach us hardness, wherewith, as good soldiers of Christ, we ought to war a good warfare. You see him forgiving his enemies to teach us the grace of meekness and of forbearance; you behold him giving up his very life to teach us how we should surrender ourselves to God, and give up ourselves for the good of others. Put Christ at the wedding; you may imitate him. Yes, sirs, and you might imitate him, if you could, in turning water into wine, without a sin. Put Christ at a funeral; you may imitate him—“Jesus wept.” Put him on the mountain top; he shall be there in prayer alone, and you may imitate him. Put him in the crowd; he shall speak so, that if you could speak like him you should speak well. Put him with enemies; he shall so confound them, that he shall be a model for you to copy. Put him with friends, and he shall be a “friend that sticketh closer than a brother,” worthy of your imitation. Exalt him, cry hosanna, and you shall see him riding upon a “colt, the foal of an ass,” meek and lowly. Despise and spit upon him; you shall see him bearing disgrace and contempt with the same evenness of spirit which characterised him when he was exalted in the eye of the world. Everywhere you may imitate Christ.

for meditation: The imitation of Christ is an impossible way to obtain salvation, but it is an excellent way of follow-up after conversion (John 13:15; 1 Corinthians 11:1; 1 Peter 2:21).

sermon no. 122[1]

[1] Spurgeon, C. H., & Crosby, T. P. (1998). 365 Days with Spurgeon (Volume 1) (p. 81). Leominster, UK: Day One Publications.

15 MARCH 365 Days with Calvin

Provoking God

Many times did he deliver them; but they provoked him with their counsel, and were brought low for their iniquity. Psalm 106:43

suggested further reading: Numbers 14

The wickedness and perversity of people becomes more evident when even God’s severe chastisements fail to produce reformation. The prophet deduces that the detestable hardness of people’s hearts continues. They are not bent to obedience despite all the benefits they have received from God. Indeed, in the time of their afflictions, they groan under the burden of those afflictions, but when God mitigates their punishment and grants them wonderful deliverance, how can their subsequent backsliding then be excused?

Bear in mind that we have a picture here as in a mirror of the nature of all mankind. If God uses the same means that he used for the Israelites to reclaim the majority of the sons of men, how is it that comparatively few do not continue in the very same state as they were? He may humble us with the severity of his rod or melt us with his kindness, but the effect is only temporary, because, though he visits us with correction upon correction or heaps kindness upon kindness upon us, we very soon relapse into our wonted vicious practices.

The Jews did not cease from backsliding, but, as the psalmist says, provoked him with their counsel. They then received a just recompense of reward in being oppressed by their iniquity. Moreover, though these backsliders deserved their afflictions, yet God still heard their groanings. In his unwearied kindness, God did not cease to strive with them even in their perverseness of spirit.

for meditation: This passage is a clear demonstration of our need for the miracle of regeneration. Unless a person is changed from the inside out, all the chastisements or all the blessings in the world will not turn him to God. What impact do God’s chastisements have on you?[1]

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 93). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

Friday Briefing March 15, 2019 – AlbertMohler.com

The new marijuana business is coming for you: How a recent flood of articles on the rise of cannabis indicates a turning point in the growing market

A Mob Boss and an American Inventor: How the teenage years of Carmine Persico and Jerry Merryman pointed to the men they would become

The post Friday, March 15, 2019 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.

Download MP3

— Read on albertmohler.com/2019/03/15/briefing-3-15-19/

Brannon Howse: March 14, 2019 | Worldview Weekend

Topic: Hear shocking audio from “Christian” University of Northwestern chapel speaker Jer Swigart who is co-founding director of the Global Immersion Project. Listen as in this mandatory “Chapel” Jer takes Scripture out context, preaches social justice, domination theology, a false gospel, interfaith dialogue, collective salvation, and praises Lady Gaga and her organization. Jer tells the story of one of Lady Gaga’s representatives tell him how evangelicals are the most dangerous people on the planet, that we are a liability and the problem. Brannon explains how true conservative Christians are being set up by a false church for persecution. Topic: We take your calls including a VERY passionate caller that calls out the University of Northwestern and proposes some very important questions.   

Download File Here

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

World War 3 Coming? Israel Is On The Brink Of War With Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria And Iran All At The Same Time

On Thursday, rockets were fired at Tel Aviv for the first time since 2014, and Israel responded by hammering Hamas with airstrikes.  This latest exchange has brought Israel closer to another war with Hamas than ever.  But as you will see below, Israel is also on the brink of war with Hezbollah, Syria and Iran.  And on top of everything else, the most pivotal election in Israel in many years is on April 9th.  If more rockets are fired at Tel Aviv, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cannot afford to look weak because that could cost him a lot of votes in this very tight election.  But he must walk a very fine line, because a military response that is seen as too harsh could potentially spark a major regional conflict.

Everyone knows that Israel is simply not going to tolerate rockets being fired at Tel Aviv, and so it was quite a shock to learn what had happened on Thursday.  The following comes from the Jerusalem Post

The Israeli military confirmed that two rockets were fired towards central Israel on Thursday evening, with at least two loud explosions heard in the Gush Dan region.

According to the IDF, although the Iron Dome missile defense system was activated, there were no interceptions as both rockets fell in open territory.

It was the first time sirens were activated in Tel Aviv since the last war with Gaza in 2014 and several Israelis were treated for shock.

It was inevitable that there would be a substantial response from the Israeli military, and airstrikes were conducted very rapidly.  According to Fox News, a Hamas naval base was one of the primary targets…

The strikes were occurring in Khan Younis, roughly 15 miles south of Gaza City, according to The Associated Press. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

A Hamas naval base was targeted, the outlet reported, citing Palestinian media.

Originally, Hamas had seemed to deny responsibility for the rocket attacks, but the IDF later confirmed that they were fired by Hamas

We can confirm that the rockets fired from  at  earlier tonight were launched by the Hamas terrorist organization.

If Hamas doesn’t fire any more rockets, this will probably be the end of it for now.

But with Hamas, things are never truly over.

Meanwhile, Israel is also on the brink of war with Hezbollah in the north.

In recent days, Israel has been dealing with massive tunnels that Hezbollah has constructed for the purpose of rapidly moving military forces into northern Israel.  So far, five tunnels have been discovered, but there are probably a lot more.

We are being told that the tunnels are absolutely enormous.  Reportedly, they are large enough “to move heavy military equipment”

For the first time since 1973, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) confronts the very real prospect of a sizable incursion. Years of fighting alongside Russian and Iranian forces in Syria have transformed Hezbollah into a formidable military force capable of launching such a raid, relying on coordinated infantry, artillery, and even armor and drones. This represents a major leap from Hezbollah’s small hit-and-run tactics in the 2006 Lebanon war.

The tunnels are integral to this new threat. Built in violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 prohibiting Hezbollah’s rearmament in this area, they are reportedly wide enough to move heavy military equipment and large troop units.

Hezbollah’s leadership continues to threaten Israel with a new war, and it has been estimated that they have built up an arsenal of approximately 150,000 missiles for the next conflict.

Israel is roughly the same size as New Jersey.  Just imagine what would happen if 150,000 missiles were suddenly fired at towns and cities all over New Jersey, and you will have some idea of what Israel is potentially facing.

Of course the Israeli military is far superior to Hezbollah’s forces, but if Israel has to fight Hamas and Hezbollah simultaneously that would be a real challenge.

And then there is Syria.  After eight years of civil war, you would think that Syria would have had enough fighting by now.

Unfortunately, as I pointed out in a previous article, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad just threatened to attack Israel if the Israelis do not leave the Golan Heights.  The following comes from the Jerusalem Post

Syria vowed to attack Israel unless it withdraws from the Golan Heights, World Israel News reported on Thursday.

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad submitted an official warning to the head of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) Kristin Lund, in what seemed to be an attempt to prevent official US recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the Golan.

Can you imagine the stress that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must be going through right now?  A major election is less than a month away and he is literally fighting for his political life, and meanwhile several of Israel’s neighbors appear to be preparing for war with his nation.

And Iran appears to be eager for a fight too.  A few weeks ago, a top Iranian general threatened to completely wipe Israel off the map

Asked by a reporter in Tehran about Israeli threats to strike Iranian forces deployed in Syria, Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami was quoted by Iranian news outlets as saying, “Our strategy is to erase Israel from the global political map. And it seems that, considering the evil that Israel is doing, it is bringing itself closer to that.”

He added: “We announce that if Israel does anything to start a new war, it will obviously be the war that will end with its elimination, and the occupied territories will be returned. The Israelis will not have even a cemetery in Palestine to bury their own corpses.”

And Netanyahu also seems to anticipate that a conflict with Iran is coming.  The following comes from NBC News

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu startled Iranians and even the White House on Wednesday with a strident call for Israeli-Arab action against the government in Tehran that was translated by his office as urging “war with Iran.”

Although Israeli officials tried to soften the reference by altering the English translation, the provocative comment was likely to further the perception that Israel, its Gulf Arab neighbors and the United States are interested in using military action to topple the government of Iran.

I have been warning that a major war is coming in the Middle East for a long time, and now we are closer than ever.

Let us hope for peace, but as we have seen in the past, any peace in the region is always just temporary.

Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran are all fundamentally committed to the complete and total destruction of the state of Israel and nothing is going to change that.  War is coming at some point, and it is going to be extremely bloody.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dreamand The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

The post World War 3 Coming? Israel Is On The Brink Of War With Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria And Iran All At The Same Time appeared first on The Economic Collapse.

— Read on theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/world-war-3-coming-israel-is-on-the-brink-of-war-with-hamas-hezbollah-syria-and-iran-all-at-the-same-time

March 15, 2019 Morning Verse Of The Day

14 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. 16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:

He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated by the Spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Ti 3:14–16). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

The Message of the Church

And by common confession great is the mystery of godliness:

He who was revealed in the flesh,

Was vindicated in the Spirit,

Beheld by angels,

Proclaimed among the nations,

Believed on in the world,

Taken up in glory. (3:16)

The Word of God is a vast, inexhaustible storehouse of spiritual truth. Out of all that truth, what is most essential for the church to uphold and proclaim? Paul gives the answer in verse 16: The message of Jesus Christ. That is the core of what we teach and preach. In Luke 24:46–47, Jesus said to the disciples, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” That became the theme of apostolic preaching. In Acts 10:37–43 Peter said,

You yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil; for God was with Him. And we are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. And they also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. God raised Him up on the third day, and granted that He should become visible, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us, who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.

Paul, too, made Jesus Christ the central theme in his preaching. To the Corinthians he wrote, “we preach Christ crucified” (1 Cor. 1:23), and, “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). In his second epistle to them he added, “For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silvanus and Timothy—was not yes and no, but is yes in Him” (2 Cor. 1:19), and “We do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor. 4:5). In Galatians 6:14 he said, “May it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Even when Christ was preached from wrong motives, he rejoiced (Phil. 1:18).

Because Paul emphasizes the person and work of Christ in 1 Timothy (cf. 1:1; 2:5–6; 6:15–16), that truth may well have been under attack in Ephesus. In this magnificent six-line hymn, Paul rehearses in familiar terms the central truths about Jesus Christ.

Common confession comes from homologeō, which means “to say the same thing.” This is a truth upon which everyone agrees; it is the unanimous conviction of all believers that great is the mystery of godliness. That phrase may be a parallel to the common confession of the pagan worshipers in Ephesus, “Great is Artemis [Diana] of the Ephesians!” (Acts 19:28).

As already noted, a mystery was a hidden, sacred truth that is revealed in the New Testament. The mystery of godliness parallels the “mystery of the faith” (v. 9). It refers to the great truth of salvation and righteousness through Christ, which produces godliness (eusebeia) in those who believe. It is also possible to understand the mystery of godliness as a reference to Jesus, who was the very revelation of true and perfect “godlikeness,” since He was God. Godliness, then, first refers to the incarnation and secondly to those who are saved and become the godly in Christ.

As already noted, the lines that follow are undoubtedly from an early church hymn. That is evident from its uniformity (the six verbs are all third person singular aorists), rhythm, and parallelism. The first parallel is between the flesh and the Spirit, the second between angels and nations (men), and the third between the world and glory, or earth and heaven.

The Authorized Version opens the hymn with “God.” The earliest and best manuscripts, however, read hos (He who), not theos (“God”). (For a discussion of the textual issue see Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament [New York: United Bible Societies, 1975], 641.) Although no antecedent for hos is given, the hymn can only be describing Jesus Christ, who is the purest mystery of godliness—the hidden God revealed perfectly. This marvelous hymn gives us six truths about our Lord.

First, Jesus Christ was revealed in the flesh. God became man in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Phaneroō (revealed) does not mean “to bring into existence,” or “to create,” but “to make visible.” It thus affirms Christ’s preexistence (cf. John 8:58; 17:5). At the Incarnation, Jesus “although He existed in the form of God … emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and [was] made in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:6–7). Our Lord Jesus Christ made the invisible God visible to human eyes (cf. 1:17; 6:16; John 14:9; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3).

Flesh does not refer here to sinful, fallen human nature, as it does in Romans 7. Rather it refers merely to humanness (cf. John 1:14; Rom. 1:3; Gal. 4:4). Jesus was “made in the likeness of men … and … found in appearance as a man” (Phil. 2:7–8). “Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same” (Heb. 2:14), and therefore “is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Heb. 2:11). That does not mean He was sinful, but that He was fully human. “We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).

It is at precisely this point that the cults and false religions of the world deceive. Satan invariably attacks the Person of Christ, denying that He is the living, eternal God in human flesh.

Second, Jesus Christ was vindicated in the Spirit. Dikaioō (vindicated) means “to justify,” or “to declare righteous.” Though the translators decided to capitalize Spirit, making it refer to the third member of the Trinity, it could also refer to Jesus. That would mean that Jesus Christ was vindicated—declared to be righteous—with respect to His spiritual nature. This reality is why the Father said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased” (Matt. 3:17). First John 2:1 calls Him “Jesus Christ the righteous.” He was “tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). Hebrews 5:9 relates that “having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,” while Hebrews 7:26 describes Him as “holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens.”

Jesus Christ was a sinless sacrifice on our behalf: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Heb. 9:14)? “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth” (1 Peter 2:21–22).

Our Lord was the God-Man. In His human nature, He was fully man, in His divine nature, He was fully God.

It is also possible that the translation of Spirit in the upper case is correct and is referring to Christ’s vindication by the Holy Spirit. In Romans 1:4 Paul tells us that Jesus Christ “was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the spirit of holiness.” His resurrection by the Spirit proved His sinlessness. If He had any sin of His own, He would have stayed dead as the penalty for that sin. The affirmation of His perfect righteousness came when the Holy Spirit raised Him from the dead.

It may well be that Paul here encompasses both realities. Jesus Christ was vindicated both by His sinless life of obedience to God which declared His righteousness, and by the testimony of the Holy Spirit, who affirmed His righteousness again by raising Him from the dead.

Third, Jesus Christ was beheld by angels. Horaō (beheld means “to see,” “to visit,” “to observe,” or “to be attendant to.” Throughout our Lord’s earthly ministry, the angels observed Him, and attended to Him. They were there at His birth, announcing it to Joseph and the shepherds. They ministered to Him at His temptation, and strengthened Him in Gethsamane. At His death and resurrection, which is the focal point of this passage, angels observed Him. The fallen angels saw Him. First Peter 3:18–20 describes that event:

For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah.

After His death on the cross, our Lord visited the place where certain demons are kept imprisoned, and proclaimed His triumph over them (cf. Col. 2:15).

The holy angels also were involved. An angel rolled away the stone at the door of His tomb (Matt. 28:2). Angels appeared to the women, affirming that Jesus had risen (Luke 24:4–7). Finally, two angels attended Christ’s ascension (Acts 1:10–11). Angels were involved in our Lord’s earthly life from beginning to end. That, too, signified divine approval of the incarnate Messiah.

Fourth, Jesus Christ was proclaimed among the nations. Before His ascension, He commanded the disciples to “go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19–20). In Acts 1:8 He told them, “you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” There was to be no nation left without the gospel message. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the whole world (cf. John 3:16; 4:42; 2 Cor. 5:19–20; 1 John 2:2; 4:14).

Fifth, Jesus Christ was believed on in the world. The plan of God was fulfilled as the apostles’ proclamation resulted in saving faith in many lives. At the first public preaching of the gospel after Christ’s resurrection, 3,000 people were saved (Acts 2:41). In the days that followed, thousands more believed on Him. The gospel was preached throughout Judea, then to the Samaritans, to an Ethiopian eunuch, to Cornelius the Gentile, and ultimately across the Gentile world by Paul and his associates.

Finally, Jesus Christ was taken up in glory. Acts 1:9–10 describes the event:

After He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was departing, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them; and they also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

“When He had made purification of sins,” Hebrews 1:3 says, “He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” To the Philippians Paul wrote,

Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:8–11).

Jesus’ ascension showed that the Father was pleased with Him and accepted His work.

In six short stanzas, this hymn summarizes the gospel. God became man, died for our sins, triumphed over death, was honored by angels and feared by demons, and ascended into heaven. This message was preached all over the world and many believed and were saved. That is the heart of the message it is our mission to proclaim to the world.

There once was an old church in England. A sign on the front of the building read “We preach Christ crucified.” After a time, ivy grew up and obscured the last word. The motto now read, “We preach Christ.” The ivy grew some more, and the motto read, “We preach.” Finally, ivy covered the entire sign, and the church died. Such is the fate of any church that fails to carry out its mission in the world.[1]

The Great Mystery of Godliness

1 Timothy 3:14–16

He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory. (1 Tim. 3:16)

The truth is not as true as it used to be. Sometimes it may even be falsehood. During one White House scandal, a prominent lawyer was asked if his client was telling the truth. “Tell us what the truth is,” the reporter demanded. “The truth is what is in that deposition,” answered the lawyer, “unless we make a deal with the prosecutor and say something else.” In other words, “the truth” is something that may or may not actually be true. It is something to manipulate for personal gain.

Sadly, lawyers and politicians are not the only ones who do not know the difference between truth and falsehood. In his book No Place for Truth, or, Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology? David Wells argues that the church is weak because it has “exchanged the sensibilities of modern culture for the truth of Christ.” If Wells is right, then the church is no longer the church. For in the process of explaining his purpose for writing to Timothy, the apostle Paul defines the church by its relationship to the truth: “I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of truth” (1 Tim. 3:14–15).

Order in the House

Paul was planning to visit Ephesus before long. But in case he was detained—by an arrest, perhaps, or yet another shipwreck—he wanted Timothy to know how to carry out his pastoral duties in the meantime. Since 1 Timothy was a public letter, it seems he also wanted to remind the Ephesians to support their pastor by behaving themselves in the household of God. From what we have seen in 1 Timothy so far, the kind of conduct the apostle has in mind includes proper doctrine (1 Tim. 1:1–20), proper gender relations (1 Tim. 2:1–15), and proper spiritual leadership (1 Tim. 3:1–13) in the church.

It is not certain precisely how this letter fits with Paul’s itinerary in the book of Acts. Nor is it known if his travels ever brought him back through Ephesus after all. But in the providence of God, Paul’s uncertainty led him to write this letter, and the Holy Spirit has used it ever since to tell Christians all over the world “what kind of conduct befits a member of God’s household” (1 Tim. 3:15 nab). “Household” is an image that comes up repeatedly in 1 Timothy and throughout the New Testament (e.g. Gal. 3:26–4:7; 1 Tim. 3:4–5). The members of the true church are sons and daughters of God the Father. Having been born again through faith in God’s Son, we have been adopted into his family by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we are brothers and sisters in Christ. Each and every one of us has a place of fellowship and service in God’s household.

Second, the church is God’s residence—what Paul calls “the church of the living God” (1 Tim. 3:15; cf. Josh. 3:10). In other words, the church is not simply God’s household; it is also his house. “There are good reasons why God should call the Church His House,” writes Calvin, “for not only has He received us as His sons by the grace of adoption, but He Himself dwells in the midst of us.” Here Paul may well have been reminding the Ephesians what he told them in an earlier letter: “In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Eph. 2:22; cf. 2 Cor. 6:16). The church is the house that God built.

The promise that God makes his home in his church must have been of special encouragement to the Ephesians, who worshiped within the shadow of the temple of the goddess Diana. Diana’s temple in Ephesus was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. But however impressive it seemed from the outside, it was utterly devoid of life. The goddess in the temple was nothing more than a dead idol. By contrast, Paul wanted to remind the Ephesians that the church of Jesus Christ is the real temple. The living God does not dwell in temples built by human hands (cf. Acts 17:24). He lives among his people, especially in their public worship. Whenever Christians gather for prayer and praise, for Word and sacrament, God takes up residence among them. To put it in the vernacular, God is in the house.

This is why Christian worship properly begins with a prayer of invocation. In the invocation, a church invites the Holy Spirit to enter its house of worship with power. If the church is true to God’s Word, the Spirit will always make his presence known. Whenever visitors enter a church where the Spirit of God is present with the people of God in worship, they say, “Surely God is in this place!”

The Pillar of Truth

The church is not only a home for God and for his people; it is also a home for God’s truth. Paul continues his temple imagery with a third definition of the church: it is “a pillar and buttress of truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). Roman Catholic theologians often use this verse to argue against the Reformation doctrine of sola scriptura. “See,” they say, “the church is the foundation for the truth. Therefore, Scripture is not the only rule of faith and practice, as Protestants say. We must obey church tradition as well as the Bible. The truth rests upon the church, and not the other way around.”

One problem with the Catholic view of this verse is that it forgets Paul’s previous letter to the Ephesians: “You are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone” (Eph. 2:19–20). The ultimate bedrock foundation of the church is the Word of God spoken by the prophets of the Old Testament, written by the apostles of the New Testament, and made incarnate by God’s own Son. How can the church be the foundation of the truth if the truth is the foundation of the church?

Notice further that one of the words Paul uses to describe the church in 1 Timothy 3:15 is the word “buttress” (hedraiōma). A buttress is not a building’s foundation, but part of its supporting structure. To be specific, a buttress helps to stabilize the walls and pillars of a large building. In the same way, the church of Jesus Christ helps to hold the truth steady. The people of God are people of the truth. In opposition to every form of false teaching, they support truth in the world.

The other word Paul uses to describe the relationship between the church and orthodoxy is the word “pillar” (stylos). The architectural function of pillars is well known: they hold up the roof. So to say that the church is the pillar (and buttress) of the truth is to say that it lifts up the truth for all the world to see. As John Stott says, “The purpose of pillars is not only to hold the roof firm, but to thrust it high so that it can be clearly seen even from a distance.… Just so, the church holds the truth aloft, so that it is seen and admired by the world. Indeed, as pillars lift a building high while remaining themselves unseen, so the church’s function is not to advertise itself but to advertise and display the truth.” Thus the truth that the church is a “pillar of the truth” is not so much a doctrinal truth as it is a practical truth.4 Over against the Roman Catholic view that the church determines the truth, the Bible teaches that the church displays the truth.

It may be significant that the Greek omits the definite article: verse 15 reads “a pillar” rather than “the pillar.” Every Christian congregation is one pillar of truth. The Ephesians were reminded of this every time they saw the temple of Diana, which had more than one hundred Ionic columns in all, each six stories high. So many pillars were needed because the entire roof was made of marble. Without all of these pillars the temple would collapse, rather than remaining visible for miles around. Similarly, every church is a pillar that helps to bolster the truth of Jesus Christ by holding it up for the world.

A Great Mystery

If the church is a pillar and buttress of the truth, it needs to know what the truth is, and the truth is a great mystery: “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness” (1 Tim. 3:16). When the Bible uses the word “mystery” it is not referring to something that is unsolved, but to something long hidden that has now been revealed (cf. Rom. 16:25–26; 1 Tim. 3:9). In the Bible, a mystery is the secret plan of redemption which is no longer secret because God has divulged it.

The mysteries concerning Jesus Christ are profound; they are “great beyond all question” (1 Tim. 3:16 reb). The greatness of the mysteries of the gospel is demonstrable and “undeniable.” There is no doubt about it. The mysteries of the gospel are great by common consent. Almost certainly, this was another attack on the goddess Diana. During Paul’s first visit to Ephesus, the silversmiths felt threatened by his missionary work, so they sent the city into an uproar. As many as twenty thousand people crowded into the theater at Ephesus, where “they all cried out with one voice, ‘Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!’ ” (Acts 19:34). They shouted this slogan so long and so loud that their words were still ringing in Paul’s ears when he wrote this letter. Paul knew the meaning of true greatness, however, so he wrote: “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness” (1 Tim. 3:16). His very phrasing helps convey the glory and grandeur of the gospel, for the mystery is Jesus himself. This is the truth that the church is called to uphold in the world: the saving mystery of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The mystery of Jesus Christ is described in six lines that sound like part of an early creed, confession, or catechism. Because the lines are rhythmic, and because their first words all rhyme, it is often thought that this verse formed part of an early Christian hymn:

He was manifested in the flesh,

vindicated by the Spirit,

seen by angels,

proclaimed among the nations,

believed on in the world,

taken up in glory. (1 Tim. 3:16)

In order to capture their liturgical quality, Walter Lock has put these lines into English verse:

In flesh unveiled to mortals’ sight,

Kept righteous by the Spirit’s might,

While angels watched him from the sky:

His heralds sped from shore to shore,

And men believed, the wide world o’er,

When he in glory passed on high.

These lines deserve careful study, especially since scholars disagree about how they should be divided. One suggestion is to separate the creed into two stanzas, each three lines long. The first stanza refers to the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ (he was “manifested,” “vindicated,” and “seen”), while the second stanza refers to the work of Jesus Christ after his ascension (he was “proclaimed,” “believed on,” and “taken up”).

Walter Lock, who follows this two-part structure, calls the first stanza “The Life of the Incarnate Lord” (“as seen on earth, as watched from heaven”) and the second stanza “The Life of the Ascended Lord” (“as preached on earth, as lived in heaven”). Gordon Fee describes the difference between them like this: “The first stanza sings Christ’s earthly ministry, concluding with a word of triumph and glorification. Similarly, the second stanza sings the ongoing ministry of Christ through his church, concluding again with the theme of glorification. In a certain sense both stanzas reflect the theme of humiliation and exaltation.”

Other scholars point out that the lines come in pairs or couplets. In each case, there is a contrast between earth and heaven: “flesh” and “Spirit,” “angels” and “nations,” “world” and “glory.” This suggestion may also have some merit, although the contrast between “angels” and “nations” seems somewhat forced.

Since it is not certain how to subdivide the verse, perhaps it is better not to try. This hymn—if it is a hymn—is a short history of Jesus Christ. It contains the gospel truth about his work of salvation in outline form. Each line describes a different period or event in his life and ministry. Therefore, it seems best to understand these statements in chronological order.

He Appeared in a Body

Paul begins by saying, “He was manifested in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3:16; cf. 2 Tim. 1:10). The best and oldest manuscripts say “Who” rather than “He,” but the meaning of the verse is the same in either case: God was manifested in physical form.

God the Son had lived in all the splendor of his deity from eternity past (cf. Phil. 2:6–8). Then he became a man, identical to us in his physical body. This is the mystery of the incarnation: God the Son became the God-man. By taking upon himself human flesh and blood, he became one person with two natures: a divine nature and a human nature. Calvin described his epiphany like this:

Thus is Jesus Christ true God, in so much as he was the wisdom of God before the world was made, and before all everlastingness. Now it is said, that he was made manifest in the flesh. By this word flesh, Saint Paul giveth us to understand that he was true man, and put upon him our nature. But yet he showeth by this word, manifested, that there are two natures in him. And yet we may not imagine, that there is one Jesus Christ which is God, and another Jesus Christ which is man: but we must know him only God and man.

Since God the Son appeared as a man, everything he did on this earth he did in a real human body. The events of the passion of Jesus Christ were physical events. His cheek was kissed by his betrayer. His face was spit upon. His body was struck and slapped. His back was flogged. His brow was pierced by thorns. His head was struck with a staff. As the Scripture says, “Christ suffered in the flesh” (1 Peter 4:1).

Christ even died in the flesh. It was a real body that was nailed with real nails to a cross of real wood. It was a real body that was punished for sin: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24). Then it was a real body—a corpse—that was taken down from the cross, wrapped in linen, and laid in a tomb. God the Son did not just appear in a body; the body in which he appeared was crucified, dead, and buried.

Vindicated by the Spirit

God the Son did not remain in the grave, however; he was “vindicated by the Spirit” (1 Tim. 3:16). In other words, the Holy Spirit confirmed and proved that Jesus Christ is God’s own Son and the Savior of the world by raising him from the dead.

Some scholars think that this part of the creed refers again to the incarnation. In that case, the word “spirit” would refer to the human spirit of Jesus. However, although it is true that Jesus Christ had a spirit as well as a body, what is emphasized here is that he was vindicated by the Spirit.

When was Jesus vindicated? The Holy Spirit proved Jesus was who he claimed to be throughout his earthly ministry. The Spirit proved it at Jesus’ baptism, when he descended upon him from heaven like a dove (Matt. 3:16). He proved it by preserving Jesus from sin throughout his earthly ministry. He proved it whenever he performed miracles, especially when he drove out demons. “But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons,” Jesus said, “then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matt. 12:28).

The Spirit vindicated the Son in all these ways, but most of all he did it through the resurrection. When Christians think about the resurrection, we usually think first of God the Son, who was raised up from the grave. We may even remember that it was God the Father who raised him. But Easter Sunday is also a day to praise God the Holy Spirit. The resurrection was such an important event that it required the work of each and every member of the Trinity. God the Father raised God the Son from the dead by the power of God the Holy Spirit: “Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18 niv; cf. Rom. 8:11). Although Jesus laid down his life to take it up again (see John 10:18), he did not raise himself by himself. He was raised from the dead by his Father (e.g. Acts 2:24; Rom. 10:9), but this was done through the Spirit. The Holy Spirit was the one who gave life and glory to the dead body of Jesus Christ.

When the Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead, he confirmed that everything Jesus ever said or did was true. Although Jesus Christ was rejected by the world, he was approved by the Spirit. The Spirit vindicated the Son by raising him from the dead. The word for “vindication” is also the word for “justification,” which is why the King James Version says Jesus was “justified in the Spirit” (1 Tim. 3:16). Justification is a legal declaration. In this case, it means that by his resurrection Jesus was declared to be the Son of God and the Savior of the world. As the apostle Paul explained on another occasion, Jesus “was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4). The resurrection was the Holy Spirit’s verification that Jesus is the Christ.

Seen by Angels

After Jesus was “vindicated by the Spirit” he was “seen by angels” (1 Tim. 3:16). The word “angels” (angelos) usually means what it says. It refers to the principalities and powers of the unseen world, especially those glorious, supernatural creatures who worship God in heaven and serve him on earth—the angels.

We know from the Gospels that some of the angels were witnesses of the incarnate Christ. Angels sang at his birth (Luke 2:13–14). They attended to him in the wilderness (Mark 1:12–13). An angel even appeared in the Garden of Gethsemane to strengthen Jesus for the work of the cross (Luke 22:43). But the angels were also witnesses of the risen Christ. They were the first to tell the disciples that Jesus was alive (Matt. 28:1–7; cf. Luke 24:23), but how could they give such testimony unless they had seen his resurrection body for themselves? Then, finally, angels witnessed the ascension of Jesus into heaven (Acts 1:9–11). To summarize, “These ministering spirits sang at his birth, ministered in the hour of his temptation, guarded his sepulcher, attested his ascension, and expected his return.”

The reason for mentioning the angels here is to show that the mystery of godliness is known in heaven as well as on earth. Although the angels themselves are not saved by grace, they glorify God for our salvation, as they are doing this very moment. The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ “has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him” (1 Peter 3:22).

There is, however, another possible meaning for this line of Paul’s hymn. The word “angel” simply means “messenger,” which makes it an appropriate word for God’s heavenly messengers. But it can also refer to his earthly messengers, meaning the apostles. What Paul says about these messengers in 1 Timothy 3:16 was certainly true of the apostles: they saw Jesus. The apostles were eyewitnesses of his life and work, and especially of his resurrection. In fact, the Greek word Paul uses here for seeing (ōphthē) is the same word he uses when he tells the Corinthians that the risen Christ “appeared” to Peter and the rest of the apostles, including Paul himself (1 Cor. 15:5–7).

When the first Christians confessed that Jesus was seen by messengers, therefore, they may have been referring to the apostles. This possibility has been dismissed by many commentators, but without sufficient reason, because it is in keeping with the logic of the hymn. The next thing Jesus did after he appeared in a body and was vindicated by the Spirit was to show himself to Peter, John, and the rest of the disciples, including Thomas. Here is the sequence of Paul’s hymn: first, the incarnation; second, the resurrection; third, the presentation.

The postresurrection appearances of Jesus were essential to the plan of salvation. In order for the apostles to know that Jesus was the Christ, they had to see his glorious resurrection body. Otherwise, they would not have been able to testify that he had won the victory over the grave. Without their eyewitness testimony, we ourselves would never believe in the resurrection, and the church of the living God would not be able to stand as a pillar and buttress to the gospel truth. The same cannot be said of the angels and their testimony. They glorified God when they saw the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But our faith rests upon Jesus’ presentation to the apostles, not to the angels.

Preached among the Nations

There is another reason for thinking that “messengers” may refer to the apostles. Notice what comes next: Jesus was “proclaimed among the nations,” meaning all the Gentile peoples of the world. This clearly refers to the apostolic preaching of the gospel. After the presentation came the proclamation. Having seen the risen Christ, the apostles preached the risen Christ.

The apostles received the commission to do this from Jesus himself. Before he ascended into heaven, he said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:18–20). The apostles began to fulfill this commission at Pentecost. While they waited in Jerusalem, they were anointed by the Holy Spirit and began to speak in foreign tongues. The Bible emphasizes that the people who heard them were “from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5). When Peter stood up and addressed the crowd that day, he was preaching Jesus Christ among the nations.

Pentecost was only the beginning of the worldwide work of the gospel. Jesus Christ was preached, not only in Jerusalem, but in Judea, and Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth. Paul himself preached Christ in Ephesus (Acts 19), and once they came to Christ, the Ephesians began to take the gospel to the nations, especially by praying for missions (see 1 Tim. 2:1–4). Jesus is preached among the nations to this very day. This is part of the great mystery of godliness. What the church is doing at this moment in history is essential to God’s plan for the redemption of the world. The gospel is going to the nations as the good news about Jesus Christ is proclaimed to every tribe, people, and language.

Believed On in the World

Wherever Jesus Christ is proclaimed, he is “believed on in the world” (1 Tim. 3:16). The first to believe were the first eyewitnesses of the resurrection. John believed even before he saw the risen Christ. When he heard the tomb was (almost) empty, he “outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen clothes lying there, but he did not go in” (John 20:4–5). As John stood in the doorway, he saw the burial cloth, still intact, and tried to figure out what it all meant. Finally, he went inside, where “he saw and believed” (John 20:8). On the evidence of the burial clothes, he believed that Jesus had been raised from the dead.

John was only the first to believe. Mary Magdalene believed and told the disciples, “I have seen the Lord” (John 20:18). They were afraid at first, and some doubted, but when Jesus appeared to them, they also believed (Matt. 28:17). Eventually, even Thomas believed, in spite of all his initial doubts (John 20:24–29).

As soon as the apostles began to preach the gospel to the nations, others began to believe as well. Nearly three thousand people believed on the day of Pentecost alone (see Acts 2:41). As the first church in Jerusalem continued to preach the gospel, “the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). It has been that way ever since. It is doubtful whether a single day has gone by since the day Jesus rose from the tomb without people coming to him in faith, giving their lives to him.

The global mission of Jesus Christ is a global success. He is still believed on in the world. The week that I write this I have received news of dozens of conversions. The mother of a church member—an eighty-eight-year-old Jewish woman—prayed to receive Jesus as her Messiah. A boy in a neighborhood Bible club asked how he could pray to receive Jesus into his heart. A former church member wrote to say that his daughter started a Good News club for her friends; all nine of them have made a commitment to Christ. Then there was the news from overseas. The church received an e-mail from the Middle East, where missionaries reported seeing more Muslims believe the gospel and repent of their sins in recent weeks than ever before. Another report, this one from the Far East, told the story of a man who received a Bible from a missionary hospital. The next time he needed medical care he returned to the hospital. It was thirty years (!) since his previous visit, and he had been reading his Bible ever since, having long since come to faith in Jesus Christ.

The confession in 1 Timothy 3:16 makes a historical claim: “he was believed on in the world.” But this statement is for the present as well as the past because God is still making history. He will continue to bring men, women, and children to salvation in Christ until history comes to an end. In fact, if you trust in Jesus Christ for your salvation, then this verse is about you as well. You are in the world. You believe on him. Therefore, your faith is one proof that Jesus is believed on in the world.

Taken Up in Glory

The only real problem with taking Paul’s hymn about the mystery of godliness in chronological order is the last phrase: he was “taken up in glory” (1 Tim. 3:16). This line seems to refer to the ascension. In fact, the same verb (analambanō) is used in the book of Acts to describe the way Jesus ascended to heaven. After he appeared to his disciples, “as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9; cf. 1:2, 22; Mark 16:19). The problem is that this seems to be out of sequence: Jesus was “taken up in glory” before he was “proclaimed among the nations” or “believed on in the world.”

One possible solution is that this last phrase refers to the second coming of Jesus Christ. When Jesus returns to this earth he will come the way he left, trailing clouds of glory, to gather all his people to himself. The reason this is put in the past tense is that it is such a certainty. Jesus has promised to come again in power and glory, and he will undoubtedly do so.

The important thing, in any case, is that Jesus has become the glorified Christ. “Glory” (doxa) is the word the Bible uses to describe “brightness, splendor, or radiance.” It “denotes in particular the glory, majesty, and sublimity of God.” By virtue of his resurrection, Jesus is exalted and enthroned. He radiates the glory of God. What better way to end a hymn than with the glorious praise of the glorious Christ? Epiphanius had this glory clearly in mind when he composed his “Second Creed”—a confession of praise that strikes a joyous chord in every believer’s soul: “The Word became flesh; the same suffered in the flesh; rose again; went up to heaven in the same body, sat down gloriously at the right hand of the Father; is coming in the same body in glory to judge the quick and the dead.”

The Godliness of the Mystery

The truth that the church holds out to the world is the mystery of the incarnation (“manifested in the flesh”), resurrection (“vindicated by the Spirit”), presentation (“seen by angels”), mission (“proclaimed among the nations”), reception (“believed on in the world”), and glorification (“taken up in glory”) of Jesus Christ. The only thing left to say about this mystery is that it is a mystery “of godliness” (1 Tim. 3:16; cf. 2:2; 4:8). In other words, this hymn or confession contains practical truth. It promotes the worship of God and encourages the exercise of true religion.

John Chrysostom understood well that the mystery of Christ is for godliness. When he preached this mystery at his church in Constantinople, he brought his sermon to the point of practical application: “Great indeed was it. For God became Man, and Man became God. A Man was seen without sin! A Man was received up, was preached in the world! Together with us the Angels saw Him. This is indeed a mystery!.… But let us live in a manner worthy of the mystery.” This is good pastoral counsel. The truth about Jesus Christ demands a response.

What does it mean to live worthily of the mystery of godliness? Since Jesus “was manifested in the flesh,” let us glorify him with our bodies. Let us use our hands to help, our lips to bless, and our minds to serve. Since Jesus was “vindicated by the Spirit,” let us pray that we ourselves will be vindicated on the day of judgment. Let us ask God to prove that we belong to him by giving us glorious resurrection bodies. Since Jesus was “seen by messengers,” let us join the angels and the apostles in their worship around his throne. Since Jesus was and is “proclaimed among the nations,” let us testify to his grace, declaring the gospel to everyone we love and sharing in the worldwide work of missions, so that all peoples might praise him. Since Jesus was and is “believed on in the world,” let us believe on him with all our hearts for salvation as well as for everything else we need. Last of all, since Jesus was “taken up in glory,” let us await his soon return with eager expectation, longing for the day when we will see the great mystery for ourselves.[2]

16. Great is the mystery of godliness. Again, here is another enhancement. That the truth of God might not, through the ingratitude of men, be less esteemed than it ought, he extols its value, by stating that “great is the secret of godliness;” that is, because it does not treat of mean subjects, but of the revelation of the Son of God, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom.” (Col. 2:3.) From the greatness and importance of such matters, pastors ought to judge of their office, that they may devote themselves to the discharge of it with greater conscientiousness and deeper reverence.

God manifested in the flesh. The Vulgate translator, by leaving out the name of God, refers what follows to “the mystery,” but altogether unskilfully and inappropriately, as will clearly be seen on a bare perusal, though he has Erasmus on his side, who, however, destroys the authority of his own views, so that it is unnecessary for me to refute it. All the Greek copies undoubtedly agree in this rendering, “God manifested in the flesh.” But granting that Paul did not express the name of God, still any one who shall carefully examine the whole matter, will acknowledge that the name of Christ ought to be supplied. For my own part, I have no hesitation in following the reading which has been adopted in the Greek copies. In calling the manifestation of Christ, such as he afterwards describes it, a “great mystery,” the reason is obvious; for this is “the height, depth, and breadth of wisdom,” which he has elsewhere mentioned, (Eph. 3:18,) by which all our senses must unavoidably be overwhelmed.

Let us now examine the various clauses in their order. He could not have spoken more appropriately about the person of Christ than in these words, “God manifested in the flesh.” First, we have here an express testimony of both natures; for he declares at the same time that Christ is true God and true man. Secondly, he points out the distinction between the two natures, when, on the one hand, he calls him God, and, on the other, expresses his “manifestation in the flesh.” Thirdly, he asserts the unity of the person, when he declares, that it is one and the same who was God, and who has been manifested in the flesh.

Thus, by this single passage, the true and orthodox faith is powerfully defended against Arius, Marcion, Nestorius, and Eutyches. There is also great emphasis in the contrast of the two words, God in flesh. How wide is the difference between God and man! And yet in Christ we behold the infinite glory of God united to our polluted flesh in such a manner that they become one.

Justified in the Spirit. As the Son of God “emptied himself,” (Philip. 2:7,) by taking upon him our flesh, so there was displayed in him a spiritual power which testified that he is God. This passage has received various interpretations; but, for my own part, satisfied with having explained the Apostle’s real meaning, as far as I understand it, I shall add nothing more. First, justification here denotes an acknowledgment of divine power; as in Ps. 19:9, where it is said, that “the judgments of God are justified,” that is, are wonderfully and absolutely perfect; and in Ps. 51:5, that “God is justified,” meaning that the praise of his justice is illustriously displayed. So also, (Matt. 11:19, and Luke 7:35,) when Christ says, that “Wisdom hath been justified by her children,” he means that they have given honour unto her; and when Luke (7:29) relates that the publicans “justified God,” he means that they acknowledged, with due reverence and gratitude, the grace of God which they beheld in Christ. What we read here has, therefore, the same meaning as if Paul had said, that he who appeared clothed with human flesh was, at the same time, declared to be the Son of God, so that the weakness of the flesh made no diminution of his glory.

Under the word Spirit, he includes everything in Christ that was divine and superior to man; and he does so for two reasons: First, because he had been humbled in “the flesh,” the Apostle now, by exhibiting the illustration of his glory, contrasts “the Spirit” with “the flesh.” Secondly, that glory, worthy of the only-begotten Son of God, which John affirms to have been seen in Christ, (John 1:14,) did not consist in outward display, or in earthly splendour, but was almost wholly spiritual. The same form of expression is used by him, (Rom. 1:3, 4,) “Who was made of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared by the power of the Spirit to be the Son of God;” but with this difference, that in that passage he mentions one kind of manifestation, namely, the resurrection.

Seen by angels, preached to the Gentiles. All these statements are wonderful and astonishing; that God deigned to bestow on the Gentiles, who had hitherto wandered in the blindness of their minds, a revelation of his Son, which had been unknown even to the angels in heaven. When the Apostle says, that he was “seen by angels,” he means that the sight was such as drew the attention of angels, both by its novelty and by its excellence. How uncommon and extraordinary the calling of the Gentiles was, we have stated in the exposition of the second chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians. Nor is it wonderful that it was a new spectacle to angels, who, though they knew about the redemption of mankind, yet did not at first understand the means by which it should be accomplished, and from whom it must have been concealed, in order that this remarkable display of the goodness of God might be beheld by them with greater admiration.

Obtained belief in the world. It was above all things astonishing that God made the Gentiles, who were heathens, and the angels, who held uninterrupted possession of his kingdom, to be equally partakers of the same revelation. But this great efficacy of the preached gospel was no ordinary miracle, when Christ, overcoming all obstacles, subdued to the obedience of faith those who seemed to be altogether incapable of being tamed. Certainly nothing appeared to be less probable—so completely was every entrance closed and shut up. Yet faith vanquished, but by an incredible kind of victory.

Lastly, he says that he was received into glory; that is, from this mortal and wretched life. Accordingly, as in the world, so far as related to the obedience of faith, so also in the person of Christ, the change was wonderful, when, from the mean condition of a servant, he was exalted to the right hand of the Father, that every knee may bow to him.[3]

16 The apostle goes on to cite a confession (homologoumenōs, GK 3935; NIV, “beyond all question”; NASB, “by common confession”; cf. Josephus, Ant. 1.180: “by common consent”; 2.229: “all agree”), which he calls “the mystery of godliness.” (Regarding eusebeia [GK 2354, “godliness”], see comments at 2:2; cf. 4:7, 8; 6:3, 5–6, 11.) Most likely this confession is made up of three couplets, each linking earthly and heavenly realities (flesh/spirit; angels/nations; world/glory), apparently in the form of a chiastic structure (ab-ba-ab; contra Mounce, 217–18, following Walter Lock, who sees two stanzas of three lines each; and Marshall, 502, who postulates the later insertion of lines 4 and 5). Knight, 183, writes that “the first of the three couplets presents Christ’s work accomplished, the second his work made known,and the third his work acknowledged.”

The confession makes reference to Jesus’ incarnation (“appeared in a body”; cf. Jn 1:14) and resurrection (“vindicated by the Spirit”; cf. Ro 1:4; the phrase should probably be rendered, “vindicated in the realm of the Spirit” [cf. K. Easley, “The Pauline Usage of Pneumati as a Reference to the Spirit of God,” JETS 27 (1984): 305; NASB]). In the second couplet, Jesus was “seen by angels” (resurrection appearances?) and became the object of universal proclamation (“preached among the nations”; cf. Col 1:6, 23). Finally, the faith elicited by this proclamation (“believed on in the world”) and Jesus’ ascension and exaltation (“taken up in glory”) conclude the confession. The first and last lines serve as a framing device, with lines 2–5 filling out the confession, which on all accounts is “great” (sublime as well as important; cf. Eph 5:32).[4]

Gearing up for godliness


I was always nervous when my school report was about to be handed to my parents. Invariably there were comments about the amount of time I spent talking when I should have been working. However, the observation that I ‘could do better’ was always the one that caused me the most difficulty because it was saying that I was not fulfilling my potential.

If we were to write a report on the church in Ephesus, it would say something similar. They could do much better! These verses set out the standards at which they should have been aiming. This was ‘the church of the living God’ and he had given it the responsibility of spreading the good news and living according to his Word in a pagan environment. But these Christians had allowed themselves to be side-tracked by false teaching, divided by arguments, and distracted by rules and regulations introduced by their new teachers.

Throughout the letter Paul has been urging them to live consistently with the fact that they are God’s people. They should be leading ‘peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness’ (2:2, NIV); the men should be able to pray, ‘lifting holy hands without anger or quarrelling’ (2:8); the women should adorn themselves ‘with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God’ (2:10, NIV); the overseers should be ‘above reproach’ (3:2); and the deacons should ‘live with a clear conscience’ (3:9, New Living Translation). Also Paul tells Timothy that he must train himself to be godly (4:7) and that ‘godliness with contentment is great gain’ (6:6, NIV).

The new teachers, who were at the root of many of the problems in Ephesus, would have cited godliness as their main aim. Their thinking seems to have been similar to that of the Pharisees and Sadducees (the religious leaders of Jesus’ day) which was: the more rules and regulations there are to follow, the more godly one will become. But this is not the genuine article. Real godliness is about doing the things which please God and sharing his passion to see people come to salvation and grow in the faith.

Put your house in order!

A lot of people consider this letter to be a set of instructions on how to organize the local church. But they couldn’t be more wrong. It is a passionate plea for Timothy and the Christians in Ephesus to address an urgent situation. Paul intends to visit the church himself but the needs are too urgent to wait until then. ‘I hope to come to you soon,’ he tells Timothy in verses 14 and 15, ‘but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God.’ The word translated ‘know’ carries the idea of practical knowledge that will enable the church to take the steps necessary to put things right, whereas ‘conduct’ describes a consistent pattern of life. In other words, the contents of this letter are designed to enable these Christians to live in a way that is consistent with the good news.

Three powerful pictures

Paul talks about the local church in three ways:

  • it is ‘god’s household’, which portrays her as a family.
  • it is ‘the church of the living god’ or literally, ‘the living God’s church’. We often think of the ‘church’ as being a building, but the word used here describes people who have been called out of the world and brought together by God.
  • it is ‘a pillar and buttress of truth’ This would have been a powerful image for Timothy and the church he cared for because the temple of Diana was in Ephesus. It was one of the Seven Wonders of the World, with one hundred huge pillars, each over eighteen metres high, lifting its massive marble roof. As well as supporting the roof, the pillars also served to hold it high so that it could be seen from a distance. While Paul is not endorsing the kind of worship that went on in such a temple or comparing its objectives with the purpose God has given to the church, he uses this building to illustrate his point. John Stott says, ‘Just as those pillars held up that massive roof, so the church holds the truth aloft, so that it is seen and admired by the world … the church’s function is to display the truth.’ Beneath the pillar lies a ‘buttress’, which is a solid wall-like structure that is constructed to protect a building. When the parts of this image are put together, it is evident that the church exists to guard the truth by proclaiming it.

An open secret

After giving us these three powerful images of the church Paul says, ‘Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness’ (v. 16). The mystery Paul announces here is an open secret, something which would never have been known had it not been revealed. The majority of people reading this book will not know me, so if I tell you that I have a sister by the name of Nikki, you will have discovered something that you otherwise would not have known. It used to be hidden from you but now it is revealed. Verses 9 and 16 remind us of three fundamental truths that God has revealed to his church.

  • christ ‘was manifested in the flesh’. The Son of God became a real human being. He was like us in every way, except for our sin.
  • he was ‘vindicated by the spirit’ This could be referring to Jesus’ resurrection or the way in which the Holy Spirit came upon him during his ministry on earth. But the point being made is that true spirituality is patterned by Christ.
  • he was ‘seen by angels’ and ‘proclaimed among the nations’. The angels were at the empty tomb, telling the disciples that Jesus was no longer there because he had been raised from the dead. The good news is spread because of Christ’s resurrection.
  • he was ‘believed on in the world’ and ‘taken up in glory’. This echoes Matthew’s account of Jesus’ ascension:

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshipped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’

(Matt. 28:16–20).

When believers have their sights set on the risen, ascended Jesus, they are filled with a sense of purpose and fuelled by a passion to tell others about him. This will make us godly people.[5]

3:16 / The mention of the truth (“of the gospel” always being implied by this word) leads Paul to the exclamation: Beyond all question, the mystery (“revealed truth,” as in 3:9) of godliness is great. The word godliness (eusebeia), a favorite in 1 Timothy (see disc. on 2:2), ordinarily refers to “the duty which people owe to God.” But here, as often with “faith” in these letters, it is not referring to the quality of “godliness” as such but “the godliness,” thought of in a more objective way as the content or basis of Christianity.

What follows is an expression of some of the content of the “revealed truth” of the godliness entrusted to God’s people. The passage itself is almost certainly a hymn, or hymn fragment, in six rhythmic lines. Each line has two members, a verb standing in first position, each in the aorist (past) tense, passive voice in Greek, ending with the rhythmic –thē, followed by a prepositional phrase (Gk., en, “in” or “by”). The implied subject of each verb is Christ.

On that much all modern interpreters are agreed; but on the structure itself, the meaning of a couple of the lines, and the meaning of the whole, there has been considerable debate, with nothing like a consensus. It has been viewed as a single stanza of six consecutive lines (see the jb), as two stanzas with three lines each (but in a variety of patterns [cf., e.g., the gnb with the rsv]), as three stanzas with two lines each (cf. niv), or in other, not easily classified combinations. Moreover, three of the lines (2, 3, and 6) are not perfectly clear as to their meaning, a difficulty raised in part by some apparent parallels and/or antitheses between the lines and in part because the whole seems to have a degree of chronology, moving from the Incarnation to further aspects of Christ’s life and ministry, yet breaking down in line 6. In view of so many difficulties and disagreements, one offers an interpretation with some reservation.

Let us begin with what appears to be somewhat certain. Line 1, he appeared in a body (lit. “he was manifested in the flesh”), has been universally recognized as an affirmation of the Incarnation, comparable to John 1:14 or Romans 1:3. Even more than in 1:15, such language implies pre-existence. In Christ, God himself has appeared “in flesh.”

Line 4, was preached among the nations (or “Gentiles”), is likewise generally recognized to refer to the period of early apostolic history when the gospel was proclaimed throughout the nations of the known world.

Line 5, was believed on in the world, seems to accompany line 4 as a word about the response to the proclamation of the gospel.

The content of these lines, therefore, which begin with Christ’s own entry into the world and in 4 and 5 take up the apostolic witness to Christ, has caused most interpreters to view it as some form of heilgeschichtliche hymn, that is, a hymn that tells the story of salvation (cf. J. Wilbur Chapman’s “One Day,” or Fanny Crosby’s “Tell Me the Story of Jesus”). If these observations are correct, then the problem that remains has to do with the meaning of the other three lines and how they all relate to one another.

Let us turn, then, to what is less certain. Line 2, he was vindicated by the Spirit, presents considerable difficulties. Literally, it says “he was justified in spirit [or Spirit].” In the Greek there seems to be a parallel between “in flesh” in line 1 and “in spirit” in line 2. But does it refer to the Holy Spirit or (more likely, given the parallel) to his spiritual nature? If the latter, then the point of this line, with some poetic license, is at least “vindication,” perhaps “exaltation,” referring to Christ’s resurrection. Thus the first two lines hymn Christ’s humiliation and exaltation (incarnation and resurrection) in a manner similar to the splendid prose of Romans 1:3 and 4 (cf. 1 Pet. 3:18).

Line 3, he was seen by angels, is likewise puzzling. This is the only line without the Greek preposition en (“in” or “by”). This verb (was seen by or “appeared to”), with the person(s) to whom he appeared in the Greek dative case (as here), is the regular formula in the nt for resurrection appearances (Luke 24:23; Acts 9:17; 1 Cor. 15:5–8). In this case, however, it more likely refers to the worship given by angels to the ascended, glorified Christ. If so, then the first three lines sing Christ’s incarnation, resurrection, and glorification and form a stanza about Christ himself, as he is seen “from glory to glory.”

In such a scheme, the next two lines (4 and 5) offer a similar parallel to lines 1 and 2, but now sing the ongoing ministry of Christ through his church. But the problem arises at line 6, he was taken up in glory. The word was taken up elsewhere in the nt refers to the Ascension (Luke 9:51; Acts 1:2, 11, 22; cf. Mark 16:19). How, then, does the Ascension follow the apostolic ministry? The answer seems to lie with the phrase in glory, which less likely refers to the place of his exaltation as to its manner, that is, it was “glorious” or “accompanied with glory.” Like line 3, then, this line also emphasizes his triumph and glorification more than the actual event of the Ascension itself, chronologically understood. Indeed, in this view, line 6 is the glorious climax of the whole that begins in line 1 with the humiliation of Incarnation.

On this understanding, then, the hymn has two stanzas of three lines each. The first stanza sings Christ’s earthly ministry, concluding with a word of triumph and glorification. Similarly, the second stanza sings the ongoing ministry of Christ through his church, concluding again with the theme of glorification. In a certain sense both stanzas reflect the theme of humiliation and exaltation.

Thus the great mystery of the godliness we believe in, Paul sings, has to do with Christ’s own humiliation and exaltation and the church’s ongoing witness to him who is now the exalted, glorified one. This double focus, especially the emphasis on the ongoing ministry to the nations, returns to a theme sounded earlier in the creedal words of 1:15 and 2:4–6.

But the question still remains: Why this hymn with these emphases at this point in the letter? The answer to that is not easy, but two possibilities commend themselves (perhaps it is a combination of both): First, the double emphasis on humiliation/exaltation, focusing on the present, triumphant glory of Christ, probably stands in some kind of contrast to the Christology of the false teachers. This is especially so, if, as we have argued in the Introduction (pp. 7–10), there are some affinities between what is going on in Ephesus and what had earlier been afoot in Colossae and Laodicea. Second, Paul is about to return to a censure of the false teachers, with an exhortation to Timothy to stand in sharp contrast to them. This hymn prepares for that censure by boldly expressing what the truth is all about, as a contrast to their demonic errors.[6]

The church (3:14–16)

From the qualifications for the pastorate Paul turns to the church in which pastors serve. For the nature of the ministry is determined by the nature of the church.

Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, 15if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. 16Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great:

He appeared in a body,

was vindicated by the Spirit,

was seen by angels,

was preached among the nations,

was believed on in the world,

was taken up in glory.

Here is Paul’s self-conscious apostolic authority. He is planning to visit Timothy in Ephesus. He says so twice (3:14 and 4:13). And when he comes he will personally regulate the affairs of the church. But he senses that he may be delayed. So he writes his instructions for the interim period. Thus by a deliberate providence of God the New Testament letters came to be written and have been preserved for the edification of the church in subsequent generations. If the apostles’ directions regarding the doctrine, ethics, unity and mission of the church had been given only in oral form, the church would have been like a mapless traveller and a rudderless ship. But because the apostolic instructions were written down, we know what we would not otherwise have known, namely how people ought to conduct themselves in the church.

Paul uses three descriptive expressions of the church, each of which illustrates a different aspect of it, namely God’s household or family, the church of the living God, and the pillar and foundation of the truth (15).

  • God’s household

The word oikos can mean either a house (the building) or a household (the family that occupies the building). And Scripture tells us that the church is both God’s house and God’s household.59 The two concepts are sometimes brought together. But since in this chapter oikos has already been used three times of a household (verses 4, 5, 12), it seems likely that it has the same connotation in verse 15.

By new birth of the Spirit we become members of the family of God, related to him as our Father and to all fellow believers as our sisters and brothers. Although Paul does not here draw out the implications of our being God’s household or family, he does elsewhere. He emphasizes that as God’s children we have an equal dignity before him, irrespective of age, sex, race or culture; and that as sisters and brothers we are called to love, forbear and support one another, enjoying in fact the rich ‘one anotherness’ or reciprocity of the Christian fellowship.63

  • The church of the living God

On a number of occasions in the Old Testament Yahweh is named ‘the living God’ in deliberate contrast to the lifeless idols of the heathen. Indeed, still today Christian conversion involves turning ‘to God from idols to serve the living and true God’. But where does the living God live? Joshua answered this question succinctly: ‘The living God is among you.’65 For this was the essence of God’s covenant promise to Israel: ‘I will dwell among you and be your God, and you shall be my people.’ Israel’s consciousness that the living God lived among them profoundly affected their community life. Even an elementary lesson in personal hygiene was based on the fact that the Lord God walked among them and must not see anything indecent. And they were incensed when the heathen presumed to ‘defy’, ‘insult’ or ‘ridicule’ the living God.68

An even more vivid consciousness of the presence of the living God should characterize the Christian church today. For we are ‘the temple of the living God’, ‘a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit’.70 When the members of the congregation are scattered during most of the week it is difficult to remain aware of this reality. But when we come together as the church (ekklēsia, ‘assembly’) of the living God, every aspect of our common life is enriched by the knowledge of his presence in our midst. In our worship we bow down before the living God. Through the reading and exposition of his Word we hear his voice addressing us. We meet him at his table, when he makes himself known to us through the breaking of bread. In our fellowship we love each other as he has loved us. And our witness becomes bolder and more urgent. Indeed, unbelievers coming in may confess that ‘God is really among you’.

  • The pillar and foundation of the truth

Having considered our duty to each other as the household of God, and to God as his dwelling-place, we come to our duty to the truth as its pillar and foundation.

The hedraiōma of a building is its mainstay. It may refer either to its foundation or to a buttress or bulwark which supports it. In either case the hedraiōma stabilizes the building. Just so, the church is responsible to hold the truth steady against the storms of heresy and unbelief.

The word stylos, however, means a pillar or column. The purpose of pillars is not only to hold the roof firm, but to thrust it high so that it can be clearly seen even from a distance. The inhabitants of Ephesus had a vivid illustration of this in their temple of Diana or Artemis. Regarded as one of the seven wonders of the world, it boasted 100 Ionic columns, each over 18 metres high, which together lifted its massive, shining, marble roof. Just so, the church holds the truth aloft, so that it is seen and admired by the world. Indeed, as pillars lift a building high while remaining themselves unseen, so the church’s function is not to advertise itself but to advertise and display the truth.

Here then is the double responsibility of the church vis-à-vis the truth. First, as its foundation it is to hold it firm, so that it does not collapse under the weight of false teaching. Secondly, as its pillar it is to hold it high, so that it is not hidden from the world. To hold the truth firm is the defence and confirmation of the gospel; to hold it high is the proclamation of the gospel. The church is called to both these ministries.

Some Christians, however, are confused about the relation between the church and the truth. Is it really so that the church is the foundation of the truth? Is it not rather the case that the truth is the foundation of the church? It was probably this concern which led Chrysostom to make a slip of the tongue and say ‘for the truth is the pillar and ground of the church’. Besides, Paul himself had earlier described the church as ‘built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets [sc. their teaching], with Jesus Christ himself as the chief cornerstone’. So is the truth the foundation of the church, or is the church the foundation of the truth? The answer is ‘Both’. When Paul taught that the truth is the foundation of the church,75 he was referring to the church’s life and health: the church rests on the truth, depends on it, cannot exist without it. But when he taught that the church is the foundation of the truth (3:15), he was referring to the church’s mission: the church is called to serve the truth, to hold it fast and make it known. So then, the church and the truth need each other. The church depends on the truth for its existence; the truth depends on the church for its defence and proclamation.

What then is the truth which the church must both guard against every distortion and falsification, and proclaim without fear or compromise throughout the world? It concerns Jesus Christ, to whom Paul now bears witness by quoting from an early hymn or creed. He introduces it with the following words: Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great (16a). First, it is a ‘mystery’, a cluster of truths which are now known only because God has been pleased to reveal them. Secondly, it is a ‘mystery of godliness’ as he has previously called it a ‘mystery of the faith’ (9, jb). It is the latter because it stimulates faith and is faith’s object. It is the former because it stimulates our worship, our humility and reverence before God, as all truth does.76 Thirdly, this divine godliness-promoting revelation is ‘great beyond all question’ (reb) or ‘by common consent’,77 ‘undeniably’ great (BAGD) or ‘demonstrably’ great.78 And fourthly, it focuses on the person and work of Jesus Christ, since ‘the mystery’ is essentially ‘the mystery of Christ’.

Spicq sees these verses as the ‘doctrinal climax’ of the letter, even its ‘heart’, since they define the church ‘by her relation to the glorious Christ’. He also sees the credal affirmation (‘great … is the mystery of our religion’, reb) as ‘a solemn public confession in opposition to that of Diana’s devotees’ who shouted in unison for two hours, ‘Great is Diana of the Ephesians!’80

The liturgical statement Paul goes on to quote consists of six lines which, stylistically speaking, closely resemble one another. For all six begin with a verb which ends in the letters -thē, and is in the aorist tense and the passive voice. All also end with a noun in the dative, and all but one use the preposition en to link the verb with the noun. Moving from style to substance, however, what do the six statements mean, and how do they relate to one another? Three suggestions are made.

First, the six affirmations may be read chronologically, each denoting a fresh, consecutive event or stage in the career of Jesus, taking us from his first coming to his second, from his appearance in flesh to his welcome in glory. So he appeared in a body (literally, ‘in flesh’) refers to his incarnation, by which the pre-existent Son was born into the world, and lived and died in it. Next, he was vindicated by the Spirit. Although the body-spirit contrast has suggested to some commentators a reference to his human and divine natures, ‘spirit’ is more likely to refer to the Holy Spirit who vindicated Jesus first by his mighty works, and then supremely by his resurrection.83 He was seen by angels, and attended by them, throughout his life. But the chronological sequence following his incarnation and resurrection would expect this third statement to refer to his ascension. And indeed angels were present at it85 and watched the whole unfolding drama of salvation. That he was preached among the nations is a clear reference to the church’s world-wide mission in obedience to the great commission of the risen Lord, while he was believed on in the world is an equally plain allusion to the success of the gospel as people responded to it. The final statement, that he was taken up in glory, sounds like another reference to the ascension. But if the sequence is chronological, it must be the parousia which is in mind, his ascension foreshadowing his final epiphany in power and great glory. This interpretation is the more probable because otherwise ‘there is no hint of eschatology’ in this Christological hymn.

A second and more popular reconstruction is to divide the hymn into two stanzas, each consisting of a triplet, the first alluding to the life of the historical incarnate Jesus on earth (he appeared, was vindicated and seen), and the second to the life of the exalted Lord (he was preached, believed on and glorified).

The third and best suggestion, however, is that the hymn consists of three couplets, in each of which there is a deliberate antithesis: between flesh and spirit, between angels and nations, between world and glory. The first couplet speaks of the revelation of Christ (he appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit). Here are the human and divine aspects of his earthly life and ministry in Palestine. The second couplet speaks of the witnesses of Christ (was seen by angels, was preached among the nations). For now the significance of Jesus Christ is seen to extend far beyond Palestine to all the inhabitants of heaven and earth, to angels as well as humans, to the nations as well as the Jews. Then the third couplet speaks of the reception which Christ was given (was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory). For heaven and earth did more than see and hear him; they joined in giving him recognition and acclaim.

Some years ago Joachim Jeremias, in his book Jesus’ Promise to the Nations, argued that this Christological hymn was essentially a missionary statement, announcing the inclusion of the nations in consequence of the death and resurrection of Jesus. He also suggested that this credal fragment was ‘couched in the form of a hymn of three distichs, after the style of a coronation hymn’, indeed ‘the ancient coronation ritual exemplified for us in the ancient Egyptian ritual’. It consisted of the Elevation (of the king to deity), the Presentation (of the deified king to the world) and the Enthronement. This, Jeremias proposed, corresponded to the three couplets of verse 16, namely ‘the Justification by resurrection of him who has been manifested on earth, the Announcement to heaven and earth of his exaltation, and his Assumption of the kingdom on earth and in heaven’. Commentators have been intrigued by Jeremias’s suggestion, and have pronounced it ‘ingenious and attractive’,92 but have not been persuaded by it, mainly on account of the inexact nature of the parallelism. Yet the missionary emphasis is surely right. The mystery of godliness which the church proclaims, the truth of which the church is the foundation and pillar, is the historic yet cosmic Christ.

In conclusion, Paul’s perspective in this chapter is to view the presbyters and the deacons in the light of the church they are called to serve, and to view the church in the light of the truth it is called to confess. One of the surest roads to the reform and renewal of the church is to recover a grasp of its essential identity as God’s household, the church of the living God, and the pillar and foundation of the truth (15).[7]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1995). 1 Timothy (pp. 138–143). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Ryken, P. G. (2007). 1 Timothy. (R. D. Phillips, D. M. Doriani, & P. G. Ryken, Eds.) (pp. 137–151). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.

[3] Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentaries on the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon (pp. 91–95). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[4] Köstenberger, A. (2006). 1 Timothy. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 531–532). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[5] Robinson, S. J. (2004). Opening up 1 Timothy (pp. 62–66). Leominster: Day One Publications.

[6] Fee, G. D. (2011). 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (pp. 92–95). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[7] Stott, J. R. W. (1996). Guard the truth: the message of 1 Timothy & Titus (pp. 102–108). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.