Daily Archives: May 29, 2019

May 29 A Life-Changing Prayer

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 3:10–15

Key Verse: 1 Corinthians 3:13

Each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.

The prayer that the apostle Paul offered for the church is a powerful model for any believer to follow on behalf of others. This life-changing prayer will impact you as well as those whom you lift to the Father, asking that they

  • May be filled with the knowledge of God’s will. One of the major steps of knowing God’s will is knowing His Word, which provides guidance in every imaginable situation. You are asking God to make clear His perfect and precise will for every decision. He numbers the hairs of our heads, so He certainly has an interest in the details of our lives, including every decision we make.
  • May walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. First Corinthians 3:10–15 details the believer’s judgment, when Christ will determine whether the weight of the believer’s life was more eternal than temporal. When you ask the Lord to help someone walk in a manner worthy of Him, you are asking Him to help make that person’s life count for eternity. Refined gold, silver, and precious stones—whatever we have done in the Spirit—are worth exponentially more than the ashes produced by a life of wood, hay, and straw.
  • May bear fruit in every good work. When Christ is the center of your life, then your character, conduct, and conversation should bear fruit unto His kingdom. Asking God for His Holy Spirit’s assistance is an indication of a sincere desire to live for the Lord and obey His Word.

Lord, I want to be filled with the knowledge of Your will. I want to walk in a manner worthy of You. I want to bear fruit in every good work.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 156). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

May 29 The Worth of Weakness

Scripture Reading: Psalm 103

Key Verse: John 10:10

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

The late Traian Dorz was an influential Christian leader in Communist Romania following the Second World War.

As such, he was beaten on many occasions by Communist authorities seeking to weaken his faith. After each beating by one particular guard, he would look into the guard’s menacing face and say, “I want you to know that God loves you very much, and I love you very much too.”

The guard returned one evening for what Dorz thought was yet another pummeling. Instead, the guard reported he had found Jesus as his Savior.

Traian Dorz modeled the biblical idea of weakness. Contrary to the world’s definition, weakness is not fear, cowardliness, or defeat. Weakness is a rational appraisal of our strength versus God’s strength. We are finite; He is infinite. We are erratic; God is unchanging.

In view of this truth, it is foolish not to trust in God for help and guidance, to come to Him in solid anticipation that He can and will handle our problems.

Draw on the inexhaustible reservoir of God’s wisdom, grace, and mercy. In your limitations, you have the power of an unlimited God to sustain you.

Almighty God, I receive by faith Your wisdom, grace, and mercy. Thank You that in my limitations, I have Your unlimited power to sustain me.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 156). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

The NEW Christianity: Brought to the World by None Other Than SATAN Himself!

Absolute Truth from the Word of God

THE FATHER OF LIES; THE AUTHOR OF CONFUSION AND THE ACCUSER OF THE BRETHREN BOTH DAY AND NIGHT!

Who are we speaking of?  None other than the Enemy of our Souls – SATAN.

THE GARDEN

” Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?”  (Genesis 3:1) KJV

From the very beginning, Satan has spoken his deceptive ‘whispers’ into the ears of God’s people. And he certainly does’t need new tricks because the old ones work just fine.

IN THE WILDERNESS FROM LUKE 4

The arrogant enemy of God and of our souls even tried his twisting of Scripture with our Lord Jesus who IS God in the flesh.  Jesus shut the evil one down with PURE Scripture.  You see, Satan…

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May 29 The Throne Room of God

Scripture reading: Psalm 55:1–3

Key verse: Psalm 57:7

My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast;

I will sing and give praise.

Our first course of action when facing a problem should be to take our burden to God in prayer and praise Him for the answer. Believers in Jesus Christ can avail ourselves of the wisdom, power, and counsel of God Himself through the supernatural gift of prayer. Unbelievers have no such resource. They must deal with crises in their limited strength and wisdom.

As a follower of Christ, you have the immeasurable, fathomless power of prayer at your disposal. When you were saved by faith in Christ through the riches of His grace, you were given access to God: “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus … draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Heb. 10:19, 22). You are reconciled to Christ forever.

You are His friend. You are forgiven of all your sins—past, present, and future. The moment you placed your faith in Christ, the doors of heaven were opened for you to approach the heavenly Father with complete assurance.

You can bring anything to Him. He will not reject you. As you turn to Him with your problems in prayer, the Lord Jesus Christ providentially works to supply your needs and help you.

Bring it all to Him in prayer. Praise Him for the answer. The red carpet of Christ’s blood has paved Your way into the throne room of God.

Dear Lord, thank You for access into Your throne room. Christ’s blood has paved the way for me.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 156). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Liberal Media Silent As Explosive New FBI Memos Allege Martin Luther King Jr. Had Affairs With Over 40 Women And Watched As A Pastor Raped A Woman — Now The End Begins

Documents describing secret FBI recordings allege Martin Luther King Jr. had affairs with 40 women and watched on as a pastor raped a woman in the 1960s, a new report said.

I do not remember the day that JFK was assassinated by the mafia at the orders of Lyndon Baines Johnson, while George HW Bush working for the CIA stood by to make sure things went smoothly. But I do have faint memories of the day that Robert Kennedy was shot and killed, and also the day that Martin Luther King Jr. was killed also. For me, the Kennedy brothers and King belong in the same class of history because they were so very similar on many levels.

America made an idol out of Jack Kennedy and his family, and as a president he tried to do some good things, no question about it. But as a human being, as a person, JFK led a sordid, sexual life that until recently would have been too shocking and disgusting to believed had it been revealed. His father helped to get him elected using ties to the Mafia, the same Mafia that just a few years later would be instrumental in his death. The Kennedy family was as crooked as a dog’s hind leg, but all we were allowed to see was the carefully created and completely false image that the news media demanded that we see. The creation of ‘Camelot’ was nothing more than a fabrication designed to keep the Kennedys in power. What was the cost of all these lies and deceptions? The Kennedy family, for all their sown seeds of wealth, power and influence have reaped nothing but death, despair and destruction.

What does this have to do with Martin Luther King Jr.? Plenty.

Martin Luther King Jr. did lots of good when it came to combating racial injustices and prejudices, and it was well-needed to advance ourselves as a decent and compassionate society. King was an excellent orator, and could hold crowds of tens of thousands spellbound as he spoke words of love, compassion and forgiveness. But Martin Luther King Jr. the man, the human being, was like JFK a squalid mess of such mind-numbing contradictions and actions that when looked at in the cold light of day, is repulsive on many levels. Again, just like it is with Kennedy.

MLK was, depending on who you talk to, a Socialist at the least and a Communist at the worst, things he for good reason tried to keep hidden from the general public. But worse than that, and worse than all the sordid, sexual dealings alleged by the FBI memos and secret tapes, MLK had some very unbiblical ideas about Jesus Christ, the blood atonement and the virgin birth.

King held unorthodox views on theology, which he expressed during his time at Crozer Theological Seminary. In a paper he wrote for a systematic theology class he cast skeptical aspersions on the doctrines of divine Sonship, the Virgin Birth (”. . . the evidence for the tenability of this doctrine is too shallow to convince any objective thinker”), and the Resurrection (”. . . the external evidence for the authenticity of this doctrine is found wanting”). In the conclusion of another paper he writes,

“Others doctrines such as a supernatural plan of salvation, the Trinity, the substitutionary theory of the atonement, and the second coming of Christ are all quite prominent in fundamentalist thinking. Such are the views of the fundamentalist and they reveal that he is opposed to theological adaptation to social and cultural change. He sees a progressive scientific age as a retrogressive spiritual age. Amid change all around he is willing to preserve certain ancient ideas even though they are contrary to science.” source

In conclusion, we live in a day and age where radical Leftist groups like ANTIFA and Black Lives Matter seek to ‘correct the record’ about the Confederacy, offensive racist statues and everything else they want to expose and bring to light. OK, so as long as we’re doing all that, let’s also bring to light the truth about JFK and MLK. Both men led scorchingly scandalous and unrepentant double lives that are also part of their legacy. Yes, let’s remove the statues that glorify a racist past, and let’s also remove the statues of the idols that we created in Kennedy and King. If you do one, you have to do all three if  you want to be fair about it.

Why is the fake news media silent on this matter? I thought that we should ‘believe all victims‘, stand for the oppressed, and give a voice to the people without a voice? Why isn’t the fake news media right now investigating these allegations, and seeing if there is truth that Martin Luther King Jr. had affairs with 40 women and watched a pastor rape a member of his own congregation? Talk about selective outrage. I think they are silent because the allegations about King, like with Kennedy, are all true.

If you want to tear down statues dedicated to men who did terrible things, let’s take them all down, starting with John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. Anything less is simply a prejudiced, biased and nonsensical waste of our time.

FBI tapes reveal Martin Luther King’s affairs ‘with 40 women’

FROM THE TIMES UK: According to London’s The Times, an article written by the King biographer David Garrow and set to be published in the June edition of the UK magazine Standpoint details newly released FBI memos that discuss the tapes.

The tapes — sealed until 2027 in the US National Archives — hold recordings from bugs placed in hotel rooms King used in the 1960s, when they suspected his aide Stanley Levison was a Communist. Business Insider has contacted The King Center for comment on the report but has not yet received a response.

via Liberal Media Silent As Explosive New FBI Memos Allege Martin Luther King Jr. Had Affairs With Over 40 Women And Watched As A Pastor Raped A Woman — Now The End Begins

Christian, you’re engulfed in an all-out spiritual battle. Are you prepared for it? — Christian Research Network

(Marsha West – Christian Research Network)  For years I’ve been saying that America is in an all-out spiritual battle. Kids vs. Parents…Sexual deviancy vs. Virtue…Hollywood vs. Family values…Filth vs. Decency…Pro-death vs. Pro-life…Moral relativism vs. Absolute truth…Christian liberalism vs. Christian orthodoxy…Atheism vs. Theism…Evolution vs. Creation…Big government vs. Free enterprise.

You’d think that because of the downright wickedness we’re dealing with in our morally bankrupt culture, Christ followers would wear the whole armor of God 24/7. What I’m referring to is the spiritual armor Paul advises believers to “put on.” Based on this admonition it would seem only a fool would fail to heed Paul’s advice.  In Ephesians 6:1-19, he lays out how to arm ourselves to fight the unseen forces of evil. If we yield for a second, we give them the advantage.

This world is engulfed in an ongoing battle between the spiritual forces of good and evil, evil being Satan and his demons. Our enemy’s goal is “to deface the heavenly image in our hearts.” Therefore, we must be prepared to “stand firm” against them. Paul wants God’s people to understand that our enemy is not flesh and blood, we’re wrestling with the rulers, the authorities, the cosmic powers over this present darkness, the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Even though the battle will be ongoing for as long as we remain on this planet, Paul offers hope:

…in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37) 

Demons are under the power of Satan (Mat. 12:24). They have the ability to possess and control those who are unsaved. (Mat. 8:28-34) They can cause sickness (Mat. 12:22); insanity (Luke 8:26-36); bodily injury (Mark 9:14-26); long term infirmities (Luke 13:11-13). Yes, God has allowed Satan some powers; nonetheless, turncoat angels remain servants of God and can only work within the boundaries that God defines.

For those who are doubtful that demons exist, let me ask you a simple question. Why did the Son of God give the apostles power over evil spirits if they’re not real? According to Scripture, the apostles had the authority to cast out demons. (Mark 16:17,18; Luke 10:17; Acts 5:16; 8:7; 16:16-18; 19:12) Likewise, the existence of cosmic powers is testified to in the account of Satan tempting Jesus in the wilderness.

The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.  And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him. (Mark 1:12-13) 

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness. For forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. (Luke 4:1-2) 

As you can see, the Son of God was fully prepared before facing down the enemy. Clearly, Satan isn’t imaginary!

Jesus is the ultimate authority on how to deal with demons.  How did He respond to Satan’s temptation? His weapon was the Sword of the Spirit – the Word of God!  Here’s what happened, in part:

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” (Matthew 4:2-6) 

Derek Thomas observes:

Christ, in his resurrection, proclaims his triumph, not only over death, but over Satan too. From the moment he began his public ministry, his intention to defeat Satan is announced by the Spirit’s (yes, the Spirit’s) driving of him into the wilderness to face Satan in three successive assaults. These temptations, whilst they may have something to say too us as we face temptations, must be understood primarily as a declaration of war by Jesus against the forces of darkness.  pp 51, Praying the Savior’s Way.

The account of Jesus facing Satan in the wilderness was a declaration of war!

Who’s Teaching You?

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons. (1 Timothy 4:1)

What sort of things do demons teach us? Lies combined with truth. Evil spirits have convinced those who profess to know Christ to believe wolves in sheep’s clothing! (Slow-witted demons are superior in intelligence to a human “genius” because angles, even fallen angels, were created as an order of creatures higher than humans, which means they possess greater knowledge.)

It is clear from Scripture that a spiritual battle has been ongoing from the beginning of Creation – and most humans are unaware that a battle’s taking place. Because we can’t see what’s going on with the naked eye, we don’t take it seriously.  So I have a few questions…

Who’s the mastermind behind removing God from the public square?  You guessed it.

Who’s the mastermind behind the moral cesspool in America and Western Europe? Is there any doubt?

Who’s the mastermind behind seeing that Christianity is irrelevant?  None other.

For satanic forces to accomplish the cultural decay we’re currently observing they must control the minds of individuals who hold positions of power — and it is apparent that even some highly regarded leaders in the visible Church are under Satan’s control.

You may be thinking, “Rubbish!” That’s because even professing Christians cannot accept the reality that angels and demons are battling it out. Which is fine.  However, if my understanding of Scripture is rubbish, you’re welcome to share your view of what’s behind the moral collapse that is unlike anything our nation has experienced in the past.

Socialism In America

If progressive-liberals (including Christian Progressives) have their way, this country will soon be a socialist state. So I ask you brethren, how will a godless government that controls businesses, education and our healthcare system–and the minds of the masses—benefit future generations? Under totalitarian rule, and that’s what socialism leads to, what will our country look like 50 years from now?

Under the guise of “fairness” a bunch of Robin Hood do-gooders think they have the right to rob the “haves” and give what’s been stolen from them to the “have-nots.” This is commonly called redistribution of wealth. Redistributing wealth is unbiblical and it is out right theft!

Big Government is hell-bent on controlling our lives and our hard-earned money.  Big Government is taxing Americans to death — and unelected bureaucrats, not our elected representatives, determine where a great deal of our money is spent. I for one prefer to decide where my money is spent, especially when it comes to the arts, charities and healthcare.

Political Correctness On Steroids

America, Canada, and Western European countries are dealing with political correctness on steroids.  Woe to anyone who offends their fellow man’s sensibilities.  Correction!  Fellow person’s sensibilities.

Ever notice how individuals who utter a politically incorrect word or phrase are attacked and not given the benefit of the doubt?  Critics will set aside a rational and brilliant argument and go all out to destroy the offending individual’s reputation and credibility! It matters not if it’s just a slip of the tongue, which often happens.  The offender will be labeled a bigot, racist, homophobe, hateful or worse.  From then on Joe Blow is known as the guy who said____  You fill in the blank.  Both the Left and the Right are guilty of this, by the way.  And the “PC police” bully anyone—anyone—who refuses to conform.

A growing number of professing Christians see themselves as social justice warriors. These folks embrace religious pluralism, the belief that each religion is equally valid, and that all roads lead to God (universalism). For over 2,000 years biblical Christianity has held that there’s one way to God, through Jesus Christ. (John 3:16) Let’s be clear. These people are progressive-liberals who say they’re Christians even though they reject historic Christianity’s long-held traditions, doctrines and creeds. Moreover, Progressive (Social Justice) “Christians” celebrate unbiblical practices and ungodly behavior in the name of tolerance and unity. In our postmodern, moral relativistic, anything goes, live and let live houses of worship, even those shepherds who are supposed to guard the sheep are too cowardly to teach what the Bible says about heaven and hell.  So, if all religions lead to God, does that mean unrepentant tyrants, mass murderers, serial rapists, pedophiles, prostitutes, drug dealers and animal abusers will go to heaven? What about atheists and those who say they’d rather go to hell than heaven because that’s where their friends are?  Will God-haters go to heaven, too?  Is Judas there?

No.  Unrepentant sinners will not inherit the Kingdom of God.  If there’s one thing Christianity is not known for, it’s all-inclusiveness. What irks people the most about the Christian religion is its claim that it has the only truth.  Christianity also makes the claim that Jehovah is the One true God and that all other gods–and all other religions–are counterfeit. “He who has the Son has the life” said the Apostle John. “He who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.” (1 John 5:12)  According to Holy Writ, anyone (including good people) who do not believe that Jesus paid the penalty for their sins on the cross are going to remain separated from the Father in heaven – permanently.  “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience…” (Ephesians 2:1-2)  Sin separates us from God, Christ reconciles us to Himself.

Religious pluralism is an oxymoron, brethren!  Diversity is not tolerant, in fact it’s just the opposite. It’s glaringly hypocritical.  Is it possible to have a personal God (Christianity) and an impersonal God (Islam) at the same time?  No.  Can a person “die once and after that face the judgment” (Christianity) and also die and be reincarnated (Hinduism)? No. Can Jesus Christ be the Son of God (Christianity) and a mere prophet (Islam)? No. Either Jesus Christ is God incarnate and rules the universe as Christians believe, or He was just a man. And if he was just a man, he was a liar and a nut job!

C. S. Lewis made the following argument in his bestselling book Mere Christianity:

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing  commonsense about his being a great human teacher. (pp 55-56)

The point I’m making is that this is “doublethink.” Doublethink causes a person to simultaneously believes in two contradictory ideas. For example: same difference, spendthrift, perfect idiot, and my personal favorite, Southern Baptist Buddhist.

For the sake of diversity virtually everything society once thought of as perverted behavior is now seen by many as normal and acceptable.  Not surprisingly Christians are expected to go along with these societal changes. If they choose not to, they’re ridiculed and bullied.

The Bible is the roadmap that shows followers of Jesus how to live their lives. Believers are not to embrace the world’s wicked ways. We’re called to be holy, not to mimic society. We shouldn’t even want to fit in. But, sadly, ministers of God desire to be relevant. They want to be hip and trendy like Hollywood celebrities, so they get their body parts pierced and inked, wear ripped jeans, even use foul language. If the Apostles were alive today, would they care about being relevant? Um…no. Being viewed as relevant isn’t God’s plan for a shepherd’s life.

God’s people are not to conform to the world – we are to be the light of the world! (Mat. 5:14-15) We are here to glorify God in all we say and do. So, Christian, how are you doing right now?

Copyright by Marsha West 2019.

via Christian, you’re engulfed in an all-out spiritual battle. Are you prepared for it? — Christian Research Network

Christianity Today Editor Mark Galli Says Evangelical Faith Is No Longer Characterized by Passion for God — BCNN1 – Black Christian News Network

Mark Galli is editor in chief of Christianity Today and author, most recently, of Karl Barth: An Introductory Biography for Evangelicals.


The longing to know and love God, to bask in his presence, is core to evangelical life and faith as I understand it. The famous Bebbington quadrilateral describes evangelicals as those who emphasize the authority of Scripture, Christ’s death on the cross, the need for conversion, and a life of service, in both word and deed. That is good as far as it goes, but it does not go deep enough, in my view. There is something that energizes our action, that initiates our first and sustains our ongoing conversion, that draws us repeatedly to the Cross, that compels us to read and obey Scripture. That something deeper is the yearning to know God. (My previous essay, “Monomaniacs for God,” outlines what that looks like in Scripture and church history.)

One can still find this passion in our movement today, to be sure. But it is no longer something that characterizes us. It is not what we’re known for.

One reason I believe desire for God, as such, is core to what it means to be evangelical is what happened at our birth, when the desire for God did indeed characterize the movement. The following historical survey is woefully inadequate to prove this and the subsequent decline of our desire. But I nonetheless believe that, in broad strokes, it is a fair summary of where we’ve been and where we are today.

‘The town seemed to be full of the presence of God’

In the beginning, the American evangelical movement sprung up when, in the 1730s and ’40s, George Whitefield and John Wesley began preaching about the need to be born again. Their preaching revived a dying portion of Jesus’ church, which reanimated a people so that they might enjoy a vital, living, and loving relationship with our Savior. The movement blossomed as the message and experience of being born again spread (often with painful contractions as the larger body of Christ resisted the movement). But nothing could stop what was happening. Before long, there stood a movement of men and women, boys and girls, washed clean of their sin “by the blood of the Lamb.” They cried out with the joy of being alive, really alive for the first time. And they praised our Savior—and loved him more than anything, more than life itself.

The pastor-theologian Jonathan Edwards did his best to describe what he saw happeningaround him:

This work of God, as it was carried on, and the number of true saints multiplied, soon made a glorious alteration in the town: so that in the spring and summer following, anno 1735, the town seemed to be full of the presence of God: it never was so full of love, nor of joy, and yet so full of distress, as it was then. There were remarkable tokens of God’s presence in almost every house. It was a time of joy in families on account of salvation being brought to them; parents rejoicing over their children as new born, and husbands over their wives, and wives over their husbands. The doings of God were then seen in His sanctuary, God’s day was a delight, and His tabernacles were amiable. …

In all companies, on other days, on whatever occasions persons met together, Christ was to be heard of, and seen in the midst of them. Our young people, when they met, were wont to spend the time in talking of the excellency and dying love of Jesus Christ, the glory of the way of salvation, the wonderful, free, and sovereign grace of God, His glorious work in the conversion of a soul, the truth and certainty of the great things of God’s word, the sweetness of the views of His perfections. …

Evangelical faith soon became characterized by a lively, personal relationship with God, grounded in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, with a deep and abiding trust in the Bible as God’s personal Word to us, with an active desire to spread this gospel to others. These emphases—especially that lively and personal relationship with God—can be seen in many eras of church history, and in this sense, evangelical religion goes back to the beginnings of the Christian faith. But its modern, American form finds its birth here, in a season when whole towns “seemed to be full of the presence of God.”

After the Revolutionary War, as the exhausted nation moved West in the late 1700s, the enthusiasm—en theos, the yearning to be in God and to know God in us—was replaced by more other concerns. On a trip to Tennessee in 1794, Methodist bishop Francis Asbury noted, “When I reflect that not one in a hundred came here to get religion, but rather to get plenty of good land, I think it will be well if some or many do not eventually lose their souls.” Andrew Fulton, a Presbyterian missionary from Scotland, observed anxiously that in “all the newly formed towns in this western colony [around Nashville, Tennessee], there are few religious people.” Others still worried that many Christians had become universalists and deists, the latter especially asserting God’s distance from this world. (See “Revival at Cane Ridge” for the above quotes and the description and quote below.)

Still, there were some who, at the first sign of a flagging spirit, prayed for God to make himself known again. They prayed at home, in their churches, at denominational meetings, and at retreats that would climax in the sharing of the Lord’s Supper. And their prayers were answered at Cane Ridge in 1801, when some 20,000 people showed up to be touched by the Spirit of God.

Their enthusiasm for God spread into what is now called the Second Great Awakening. It eventually found expression in circuit riders and Methodist camp meetings and periodic revival meetings of local churches. One observer at small revival previous to Cane Ridge described what was to happen to so many in the years to come: “No person seemed to wish to go home—hunger and sleep seemed to affect nobody—eternal things were the vast concern.”.”

From the Sublime to Technique

Historians have noted that these revivals were in some ways a reaction against Enlightenment rationality, which often marshaled reason and science to question and marginalize religion. The larger reaction—Romanticism—encompassed the arts, literature, music, and philosophy, which together exalted the role of intuition and emotion in human affairs. Many Christians expressed their disdain for Enlightenment values by pointing to revivals and noting that they could not be explained rationally but only as products of divine intervention.

But some Christians, already deeply influenced by the Enlightenment, looked at the revivals rationally and noticed sociological patterns. And they began applying them to their ministries. The most famous is Charles Finney. In his Lectures on Revivals of Religion,he argued that a revival was “not a miracle, or dependent on a miracle, in any sense. It is a purely philosophical [meaning, scientific] result of the right use of constituted means.” To be sure, he believed God gave these means to produce revivals, but as Tim Keller puts it, “Finney insisted that any group could have a revival any time or place, as long as they applied the right methods in the right way.

This morphed into a religion of crisis, a religion of decision, and a religion where the manipulation of emotion became the centerpiece. Instead of a genuine encounter with the living God, the movement became infected with too many who sought not so much to know and love God as to have a remarkable religious experience. This has been our Achilles heel ever since—more of that below.

Some were alert to this corruption early on and reacted against it. One reason: Try as they might, this genuine religious ecstasy never came to them. One such person, Phoebe Palmer, after a crisis of faith, determined that “She didn’t need ‘joyous emotion’ to believe—belief itself was grounds for assurance,” as a Christian History article summarized it. “Reading Jesus’ words that ‘the altar sanctifies the gift,’ she believed that God would make her holy if she ‘laid her all upon the altar.’” She fine-tuned John Wesley’s teachings about perfection into a three-step process: “consecrating oneself totally to God, believing God will sanctify what is consecrated, and telling others about it.”

Out of this grew the holiness movement, where complete sanctification stood erect at the center. The life of faith became for many not so much a pining after God but after moral perfection, not so much seeking grace as pummeling the will into submission. No question that there was a need to depend on the power of the Spirit, and to be sure, many rigorously pursued holiness that they might see God. This movement produced more than its share of Protestant saints. But much of it also predictably degenerated into religious narcissism. For many, it was more and more about the pursuit of personal holiness and not so much the pursuit of the Holy One.

This passion for personal reform soon spilled over into the social realm, so that evangelical believers also became known for striving for the reformation of society—from prison reform to abstinence to the abolition of slavery to care for the urban poor. And for some, this blossomed into the social gospel movement, whose gospel origins and godly motives one cannot deny.

Walter Rauschenbusch in his A Theology for the Social Gospel, said, “The new thing in the social gospel is the clearness and insistence with which it sets forth the necessity and the possibility of redeeming the historical life of humanity from the social wrongs which now pervade it.” Though evangelicals today reject Rauschenbusch’s theological liberalism, his emphasis on the nature of the church’s mission has woven itself into the very fabric of evangelical religion. Mission, and all the horizontal activity surrounding it, has become the very reason for the church’s existence. More of that in coming essays in this series.

It must be said—and I’ll say it over and over in these essays—such activity for God is laudatory. It is to be commended and encouraged. One of the jobs of the church is indeed to love the world. But when mission becomes the center, the focal point of the Christian life, I believe that life will inevitably degenerate into an active and busy religious life void of God. It will become a life increasingly fascinated with technique as it seeks to efficiently accomplish mission. We may begin and end our missional meetings with prayer, but we know deep down, we don’t even need God’s special blessing if, as Finney argued, we already have the means at our disposal to accomplish our ends.

Click here to read more.
Source: Christianity Today

via Christianity Today Editor Mark Galli Says Evangelical Faith Is No Longer Characterized by Passion for God — BCNN1 – Black Christian News Network

May 29, 2019 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

REUTERS

The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday failed again to pass a $19.1 billion disaster aid bill supported by President Donald Trump after a Republican lawmaker objected to the measure.

The Illinois House of Representatives on Monday voted to put a proposal that would change the state’s personal income tax system on a ballot to take place alongside the 2020 U.S. national election vote.

The United States believes Russia may be conducting low-level nuclear testing in violation of a moratorium on such tests, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency said on Wednesday.

Belgium’s King Philippe met the head of the anti-immigrant Vlaams Belang on Wednesday after Flemish separatist parties surged in an inconclusive national election, the first time a Belgian monarch has met a far-right leader since the 1930s.

A nationwide strike in Argentina protesting austerity measures under President Mauricio Macri brought the country’s airports to a standstill and halted work at key grains ports on Wednesday, the latest sign of tension in the recession-hit nation.

The U.S. banking sector recorded $60.7 billion in profits in the first quarter of 2019, an increase in profit levels from the year prior, according to data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Wednesday that naval mines “almost certainly from Iran” were used to attack oil tankers off the United Arab Emirates this month, and warned Tehran against conducting new operations.

The number of U.S. borrowers seeking a home loan fell to a one-month low amid concerns about the growing trade tension between China and the United States and its impact on the economy, the Mortgage Bankers Association said on Wednesday.

AP Top Stories

For Chinese artist Guo O Dong, the simple black Samsung laptop computer, loaded with six potent viruses, symbolizes one of the world’s most frightening threats. On Tuesday his creation “The Persistence of Chaos” rocked the art world, selling for more than $1.3 million in a New York online auction.

Vice President Mike Pence has commended the Supreme Court for upholding a part of an Indiana law requiring the burial of fetal remains after abortions. Now he’s encouraging the court to review state laws that restrict when and why an abortion can be performed, and says he hopes that “legal protections against discrimination based on sex, race, or disability will someday be extended to unborn Americans.”

The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to hear a challenge to a Pennsylvania school district’s policy that allows some transgender students to use the bathroom representing the gender they identify with.

President Donald Trump said on Monday a deal with Iran on its nuclear program was possible, crediting economic sanctions for curbing activities Washington has said are behind a spate of attacks in the Middle East.

U.S. forces have quietly sent at least 30 suspected foreign Islamic State fighters captured in Syria last year and in late 2017 to stand trial in Iraq, interviews with the men, Iraqi sources and court documents show.

Iran’s foreign ministry on Tuesday insisted it did not currently see the need for mediation with the United States, as it played down the chances of a military clash with Washington.

National Security Adviser John Bolton has caused a furor in Beijing by meeting with his counterpart from Taiwan, leading an entire generation of young Americans to ask: “Where?”

The Chinese government signaled on Wednesday that it would not follow Taiwan’s example on same-sex marriage after the first legal unions in Asia were hailed by activists as a social revolution for the region.

Nigerian soldiers on Wednesday repelled an attack by Boko Haram jihadists on the northeast city of Maiduguri, security sources and residents told AFP.

Two major shipping lines this month have raised their rates for transporting goods from the United States to Venezuela, according to three industry sources and two documents, as U.S. sanctions limit transit between the two nations.

BBC

Sixteen people have been charged in Bangladesh over the shocking murder of a teenager who was burned to death after reporting sexual harassment.

A large crowd has marched on the Congress building in the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, to demand the decriminalization of abortion. Tuesday’s march came as a bill was introduced to legalize terminations in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

The Eritrean government has welcomed the impending removal of the country from a blacklist of nations that the US accuses of “not fully co-operating” with anti-terrorism efforts.

Myanmar’s army is committing fresh war crimes, extrajudicial killings, torture and arbitrary arrests, against ethnic groups in Rakhine state, according to Amnesty International.

Satellite images show large areas of farmland in opposition-held north-west Syria have been burnt as part of what activists allege is a campaign by the government to destroy vital food crops.

WND

A collection of legal groups sued the Trump administration Tuesday over new rules that protect medical workers with religious objections from being forced to provide or refer to abortion, sterilization, or medically assisted suicide.

A new survey finds just 18% feel “very confident” in their ability to read a traditional map, compared to nearly half of middle-aged adults. What’s worse, 15% of millennials – about one in seven – say they’ve never even tried reading a paper map.


Mid-Day Snapshot · May 29, 2019

The Foundation

“[The Judicial Branch] may truly be said to have neither FORCE nor WILL, but merely judgment; and must ultimately depend upon the aid of the executive arm even for the efficacy of its judgments.” —Alexander Hamilton (1788)

McConnell’s Strategy: Ensure SCOTUS Protects the Constitution

He says it’s about “the quaint notion that the job of the judge is to follow the law.”


Trump to Replace Alarmist Climate Models With Sound Science

The president taps a Princeton scientist to head his new climate-review panel.


Millennials Stuck in Their Lifestyle-Choices Rut

If there’s any truth to their “left behind” struggles, it’s largely the result of their own choices.


Robust Economy Means Fewer Workers Claiming Disability

“For the first time in decades, the disability rolls are shrinking.” That’s good news.


CrossFit Dumps Facebook After Deplatforming

The social-media giant’s attempt to regulate speech is only creating more problems than solutions.


Why Afghanistan Still Matters

The definition of winning is staying in the fight and making whatever fitful progress we can.


Margaret Sanger — Eugenics Supremist

Digging deeper into the eugenicist and racist history of Planned Parenthood’s founder.


Video: How the New American Left Plans to Gain Power

There’s an effort afoot to fundamentally change the way our government works.


Video: Harvard Caves to Student Mob

Former Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz says “the inmates run the asylum.”



Today’s Opinion

Walter E. Williams
Slavery Is Neither Strange Nor Peculiar
Stephen Moore
The Fed Hurts Farmers More Than China Does
Rich Lowry
On the Crime Bill, Biden Has Nothing to Apologize For
Marc A. Thiessen
Assange Is a Spy, Not a Journalist. The Justice Department Is Right to Indict Him.
Michelle Malkin
Revoke Ilhan Omar’s Marriage Fraud Immunity Card
For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.

Wednesday Top News Executive Summary

Mueller speaks, McConnell’s hardball politics, border wall hiccup, and more.


Wednesday Short Cuts

Notable quotables from Matthew Continetti, Ted Cruz, Clarence Thomas, and more.



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 – 5/29/2019

Severe Weather, Flash Flood Saga Continues From the Midwest Into the Plains Through Midweek
Early Tuesday evening, a tornado emergency was issued for the southern side of Lawrence, Kansas, and the western side of Kansas City. A confirmed large tornado, estimated 1 to 1.5 miles wide by storm spotters, was seen on the ground. Doppler radar detected debris being lifted some 20,000 feet into the air. Images posted to social media showed houses damaged or destroyed just south of Lawrence. There were also reports of multiple vehicles overturned. Linwood, Kansas, may have taken a direct hit from this destructive tornado.

Clarence Thomas: Abortion for eugenics ‘not hypothetical’
Justice Clarence Thomas on Tuesday bluntly warned the other justices on the U.S. Supreme Court they need to start acting on various abortion-law cases because of the industry’s threat “to achieve eugenic goals.” That, he warned in a concurring opinion, “is not merely hypothetical.” The case centered on a law in Indiana that banned abortions based on sex or disability and required the state to ensure deceased unborn infants are provided a “proper burial.”

Staggering: Venezuela’s Epic Economic Collapse Is So Complete We Have This Figure Hitting…10 Million Percent
If the Democratic Party wants to run on a full-blown socialist agenda, and it looks like they could especially in future election cycles, then Republicans have the perfect example to show voters concerning its total failure. Yes, we’re talking about Venezuela whose addiction to so-called 21stCentury Socialism, championed by the late Hugo Chavez, had led to one of the most stunning economic collapses in nearly a half-century. It’s downright depraved what has occurred. People are eating out of trashcans, hyperinflation has made mounds of money utter worthless, groceries are now a luxury due to available items and costs, and because of the cost—you have Venezuelans of all walks of life resorting to prostitution for common goods.

The Message That Addiction Is a Disease Makes Substance Users Less Likely to Seek Help
Research finds that people with substance-use problems who read a message describing addiction as a disease are less likely to report wanting to engage in effective therapies, compared to those who read a message that addiction behaviors are subject to change. The finding could inform future public and interpersonal communication efforts regarding addiction.

Russia is harassing U.S. jets in the Arctic as part of a Putin power play
Last week alone, the ussians twice conducted air sorties. In each case, the American F-22s rushed to take off to keep the Russian planes out of U.S. airspace. In such missions, the F-22s and Bear bombers eye one another warily for several minutes — or hours…

Abbas: Trump Peace Plan Can ‘Go to Hell’
Abbas added that “the economic project they [the conference participants] are working on for next month will also go to hell … we said we are not going to accept this meeting and its results because they are selling us illusions that will lead to nothing.”

Alaskans are shaken out of their beds in the middle of the night as 5.8 magnitude earthquake strikes off state’s southern coast
The Alaska earthquake was said to have struck at about 1.50am Monday The quake hit about 55 miles away from the southwest coastal town of Homer There were no reports of injuries or damage from the quake, but it was felt by many residents who said they were shaken awake by it.

Forecasters calling for up to four major hurricanes in 2019
Forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center said Thursday that 2019 could generate up to four major hurricanes from June 1 to Nov. 30. A report posted on the National Hurricane Center’s website stated NOAA predicts up to 15 named storms with winds of 39 miles per hour or higher, of which four to eight could become hurricanes, with winds of 74 mph or higher. Two to four of those could reach category 3, 4 or 5, which are considered major hurricanes producing winds of 111 mph or higher.

U.S. court fails to halt Florida cabinet’s Jerusalem meeting at U.S. Embassy
A second-circuit Florida judge refused to stop Wednesday’s first ever meeting of the Florida state cabinet at the US Embassy in Jerusalem, according to media reports. The Florida based NGO – the First Amendment Foundation – and four media companies filed a suit to block the meeting, claiming it violated the constitutional rights of Florida residents.

German intel: Iran wants to expand to weapons of mass destruction
The Islamic Republic of Iran is committed to a program of weapons of mass destruction, the domestic intelligence agency for the southern German state of Bavaria said in its May 2019 intelligence report. The hair-raising section of the report reviewed by The Jerusalem Post states Iran’s regime is “making efforts to expand its conventional arsenal of weapons with weapons of mass destruction.”

After several quiet years, tornadoes erupt in United States
After several quiet years, tornadoes have erupted in the United States over the last two weeks as a volatile mix of warm, moist air from the Southeast and persistent cold from the Rockies clashed and stalled over the Midwest. On Monday, the U.S. tied its current record of 11 consecutive days with at least eight tornadoes confirmed on each of those days, said Patrick Marsh, warning coordination meteorologist for the federal Storm Prediction Center.

Secretive Bilderberg meeting to address Russia, cyber threats and Brexit…
More than a hundred of the world’s elite including Henry Kissinger, Mark Carney and the Dutch King will meet at the secretive Bilderberg summit this week. Bankers, Prime Ministers, CEOs and defence experts will meet in Montreux, Switzerland, to discuss a wide range of topics including Russia, cyber threats and Brexit.

Knesset mulls bill to dissolve for elections as time runs out to form coalition
With just hours to go before Benjamin Netanyahu runs out of time to form a coalition, the Knesset began discussions Wednesday noon on a bill to dissolve parliament and head to a second round of national elections this year. Netanyahu…has indicated that he would take the country into a new vote rather than cede the task of forming the next government to a rival either within his own right-wing bloc or opposition leader Benny Gantz.

Trump team to meet leaders of Israel, Jordan as it sells Mideast plan
President Donald Trump’s top Mideast advisers face skeptical audiences as they visit several locations in the region and in Europe starting Tuesday to rally support for what they have billed as a workshop on the economic foundations of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The White House is promoting the June 25-26 meeting in the Gulf state of Bahrain as the first phase of its long-awaited Mideast peace plan…

First openly gay Orthodox rabbi ordained in Jerusalem
A gay rabbinical student denied ordination by a liberal seminary in New York was welcomed into the rabbinate in Jerusalem, breaking a longstanding taboo against homosexuality in the Orthodox community.

Villagers kill Ebola health worker in eastern DR Congo
Villagers in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo killed a health worker engaged in the fight against a major Ebola outbreak and looted a treatment centre, according to an official report seen Monday by AFP.

Mississippi River breaks record set by Great Flood of 1927
The Mighty Mississippi is setting a new record for the longest period at or above flood stage. The world’s fourth largest river broke the 92-year-old record yesterday when it reached 136 days in flood stage, according to the National Weather Service.

Christians, Stop Saying Jesus Is The Son Of God. It Provokes Muslims.What is your response to Muslims now ? –
Buried in the concluding paragraphs of a Christmas Eve Washington Times report about Muslims in Uganda forcing Christians to convert to Islam was the extraordinary revelation that in that country, Muslims now consider any public statement of the Christian Faith to be a calculated insult to Muslims, for which they can justifiably exact revenge.

Warzone: 42 People Shot In Chicago Over Memorial Day Weekend
Every 3 minutes and 57 seconds, someone in Chicago is shot.

Is The US On The Cusp Of War In Iran?
 …Increased US pressure has had a pernicious and dangerous effect on the Iranian people, more specifically far-right Shia Islamists who have been further emboldened by these economic sanctions. Even the more moderate Hassan Rouhani (President of Iran) has shifted his tone stating that he would begin to walk away from the 2015 restrictions imposed by the Iran nuclear deal. But instead of treading lightly, the US responded with further sanctions on Tehran, reviving a crisis that had been previously contained for the past 4 years.

AOC Featured Among America’s ‘Enemies Of Freedom’ In Baseball Team’s Memorial Day
The Fresno Grizzlies, a minor league baseball team in California, played a double header on Monday. But it wasn’t their play on the field that drew headlines.

BREAKING: Missouri Poised to be First State Without an Abortion Clinic
The state of Missouri is poised to become the first state in the country without an abortion clinic according to a new report.

Germany Tells Jews to Stop Wearing Skullcaps in Public
Germany’s government is urging Jewish citizens to stop wearing traditional skullcaps in public over concerns about rising discrimination in the country, according to reports.

Socialist Paradise: Venezuela’s Streets Now Ruled By Violent Kidnapping Gangs
The failing socialist state of Venezuela has descended into a crime-ridden hell hole where murderous gangs rule the streets making money from kidnapping, according to reports.

Snyder: A Random Encounter In A Diner On Memorial Day Shows Exactly Where America Is Heading…
“… the most narcissistic generation in American history… feel entitled to everything, but they don’t want to work for it…”


Headlines – 5/29/2019

Kushner, Greenblatt to visit Israel, Jordan this week to discuss US peace plan

Kushner meets Moroccan king on trip to press US peace plan

Trump team faces tough audiences as it tries to sell Mideast peace plan

Russia raps US for ‘blurring’ two-state solution with economic bonuses

Israel just held elections, but it might have a do-over

Hours Left to Deadline: Netanyahu Races to Dissolve Knesset, Send Israel to New Election

Liberman accuses Netanyahu of offering ‘dishonest’ coalition compromise

Ahead of deadline, Liberman says he won’t cave to shocking, ‘powerful’ pressure

Rivlin clarifies won’t intervene in coalition crisis before deadline passes

Cupboard Is Bare to Cover the Cost of a New Election, Israel Finance Ministry Saysv

Netanyahu hints that snap elections may be averted

Likud body passes measure aimed at preventing PM’s rivals from taking over party if snap elections called

Netanyahu advisers said to warn elections won’t give him time to secure immunity

Incendiary balloon sparks blaze in Gaza border region

Israel reduces Gaza fishing zone again in response to balloon attacks

Germany urges people to wear kippa in solidarity with Jewish community

UK racism watchdog launches probe into Labour anti-Semitism allegations

Egypt’s Sinai: ‘War crimes’ being committed, says Human Rights Watch

France says signs of Syria chemical attack, but still checking

U.S. calls Russian, Syrian air strikes ‘reckless escalation’ in Syria

Israeli Airstrike Destroys Iranian Terror Cell in Syria

Turkey Launches Military Operation in Northern Iraq Against Kurds

Iran foreign ministry shuns Trump’s mediation offer

Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton arrives in UAE for talks

Bolton: Iran only breaching nuclear deal to acquire atomic weapons

Bolton says Iran ‘almost certainly’ sabotaged ships off UAE

Trump Undercuts Bolton on North Korea and Iran

China rages against Bolton meeting with Taiwan as anti-invasion drills begin on the island

China Gears Up to Weaponize Rare Earths in Trade War

Shares of rare earth miners skyrocket after Beijing threatens to cut off the minerals

No-deal Brexit is ‘political suicide’, says UK foreign secretary Hunt

In Venezuela, criminals feel the pinch of an economic crisis

Amash gets standing ovation at first town hall after calling for Trump’s impeachment

Not for Obama, but OK for Trump. McConnell says he’d confirm Supreme Court justice in election year

$19 billion disaster aid bill blocked again in the House by GOP dissenter

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 24,000ft

Popocateptl volcano in Mexico erupts to 22,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 17,000ft

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 15,000ft

Karymsky volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 15,000ft

Extreme weather spans coast-to-coast with multiple tornadoes and severe storms plaguing the country

‘Large and extremely dangerous’ tornado rips through Kansas, causing multiple injuries and ‘catastrophic’ damages

Kansas declares tornado emergency, at least 11 injured; airport shut down

Tornado hammers town in Kansas. Dozens of homes ‘all gone’

1 dead, 90 injured as tornadoes rip through Ohio and Indiana

Tornado leaves path of destruction in Morgantown, Pa.

Storm thrashes NJ, NYC tornado warning expires

After several quiet years, tornadoes erupt in United States

11 Straight Days of Tornadoes Have U.S. Approaching ‘Uncharted Territory’

What’s fueling the spate of recent tornadoes across the U.S.? Scientists say the number of tornadoes per outbreak is increasing

Tornado damage so bad they’re using snow plows to clear debris

Snowplows push piles of hail out of southwest Omaha roadways

Weatherman Jamie Simpson Tells Viewers to Stop Complaining About Tornado Warnings Interrupting ‘The Bachelorette’: ‘This Is Pathetic’

All 77 counties in Oklahoma is under a state of emergency because of historic flooding

Mississippi River flood is longest-lasting in over 90 years, since ‘Great Flood’ of 1927

At least 1 dead in vehicle submerged in Arkansas floodwaters, police say

Crop-tastrophe In The Midwest – Latest USDA Progress Report Signals Nightmare Scenario

Purdue Pharma’s ‘Pain League’ allegedly pushed opioids in Italy

Lawmakers, activists renew battle to legalize some abortions in Argentina

Supreme Court hands down varying decisions in hot-button abortion, transgender and border cases

Supreme Court Upholds Pro-Life Law Requiring Proper Burial or Cremation for Babies Killed in Abortions

Clarence Thomas Pens Screed Comparing Women Who Obtain Abortions to Eugenicists

Missouri could soon be first ‘abortion-free’ state since Roe vs Wade

Cory Booker proposes creating special White House office to promote abortion

U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Case on Transgender Student Bathroom Access

In a survey of American Muslims, 0% identified as lesbian or gay. Here’s the story behind that statistic

First Openly Gay Orthodox Rabbi Ordained in Jerusalem

Methodist evangelicals ask for prayers as Church considers allowing gay marriage

Prison inmates in Brazil stabbed to death in front of visiting family members; at least 55 dead


Apostasy Watch Daily News

The preachers getting rich from poor Americans

Kenneth Copeland claims his ministry brought 122 million people to Jesus Christ

Michael Brown’s Refusal to Red Flag Sid Roth Proves Brown Is Dangerous

John G. Lake’s Clandestine Affair


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“A simple layman armed with Scripture is to be believed above a pope or a council without it…” – Martin Luther

 

May 29, 2019 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

The Believer’s Possession of Divine Love

because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (5:5b–8)

A fourth marvelous link in the unbreakable chain that eternally binds believers to Christ is their possession of the divine love of God, which has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. When a person receives salvation through Jesus Christ, he enters a spiritual love relationship with God that lasts throughout all eternity.

As the apostle makes unambiguous in verse 8, love of God does not here refer to our love for God but to His love for us. The most overwhelming truth of the gospel is that God loved sinful, fallen, rebellious mankind, so much “that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). And as the apostle proclaims in verse 9 of this present chapter, if God loved us with so great a love before we were saved, when we were still His enemies, how much more does He love us now.

As if that were not enough, God even graciously imparts His love to us. For those who accept His offer of salvation, God takes His indescribable and undeserved love and pours it out within the hearts of those who believe, through His own Holy Spirit who he gives to them. Taking the truth of eternal security out of the objective area of the mind, Paul now reveals that, in Christ, we are also given subjective evidence of permanent salvation, evidence that God Himself implants within our deepest being, in that we love the One who first loved us (1 John 4:7–10; cf. 1 Cor. 16:22).

Poured out refers to lavish outpouring to the point of overflowing. Our heavenly Father does not proffer His love in measured drops but in immeasurable torrents. The very fact that God gives His Holy Spirit to indwell believers is itself a marvelous testimony to His love for us, because He would hardly indwell those whom He did not love. And it is only because of the indwelling Spirit that His children are able to truly love Him. Speaking to His disciples about the Holy Spirit, Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water’ ” (John 7:38; cf. v. 39). Those rivers of blessing can flow out of believers only because of the divine rivers of blessing, including the blessing of divine love, that God has poured into them.

In the same way, our spiritual security is not in our ability to live godly but in the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit to make us godly. Only God can make men godly, and the Spirit’s leading us into godliness is one of the great evidences of salvation. “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God,” Paul declares, “these are sons of God” (Rom. 8:14).

With the longing to love, even the genuine desire to be godly is produced by the Holy Spirit. Whenever we sincerely aspire to righteous living, whenever we have an earnest desire to pray, whenever we yearn to study God’s Word, whenever we long to worship the Lord Jesus Christ with all our hearts, we know we are being led by the Holy Spirit. Whenever we experience the awesome awareness that God is indeed our heavenly Father, it is “the Spirit Himself [who] bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:16–17). The natural man has no such desires or experiences, and even Christians would not have them apart from being indwelt and led by the Holy Spirit.

Because acknowledging His promises with the mind does not necessarily bring personal confidence to the heart, God makes provision for the emotional encouragement as well as the mental enlightenment of His children. When the Lord is given free reign in our lives, the Holy Spirit will bear fruit in and through us, the first fruit of which is love (Gal. 5:22). But when we grieve Him through our disobedience (Eph. 4:30), He cannot produce what He intends. Therefore, when we live in disobedience, we not only will not feel loving toward God but will not feel His love for us.

With perhaps that truth in mind, Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers: “For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God” (Eph. 3:14–19). The Holy Spirit strengthens the inner man and enables him “to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge.” By the gracious work of the Spirit within us, our hearts are able to experience a depth of love that our minds are unable to grasp, “the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge.”

Knowing that his readers would want to know more about the quality and character of the divine love that filled them, Paul reminds them of the greatest manifestation of God’s love in all history, perhaps in all eternity: For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. While men were utterly helpless to bring themselves to God, He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us, notwithstanding the fact that we were ungodly and completely unworthy of His love. When we were powerless to escape from our sin, powerless to escape death, powerless to resist Satan, and powerless to please Him in any way, God amazingly sent His Son to die on our behalf.

Natural human love is almost invariably based on the attractiveness of the object of love, and we are inclined to love people who love us. Consequently, we tend to attribute that same kind of love to God. We think that His love for us is dependent on how good we are or on how much we love Him. But as Jesus pointed out, even traitorous tax collectors were inclined to love those who loved them (Matt. 5:46). And as theologian Charles Hodge observed, “If [God] loved us because we loved him, he would love us only so long as we love him, and on that condition; and then our salvation would depend on the constancy of our treacherous hearts. But as God loved us as sinners, as Christ died for us as ungodly, our salvation depends, as the apostle argues, not on our loveliness, but on the constancy of the love of God” (Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974 reprint], pp. 136–37).

God’s immense love is supremely demonstrated by Christ’s dying for the ungodly, for totally unrighteous, undeserving, and unlovable mankind. In the human realm, by contrast, Paul observes that one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. Paul is not contrasting a righteous man with a good man, but is simply using those terms synonymously. His point is that it is uncommon for a person to sacrifice his own life in order to save the life even of someone of high character. Still fewer people are inclined to give their lives to save a person they know to be a wicked scoundrel. But God was so inclined, and in that is our security and assurance. Saved, we can never be as wretched as we were before salvation—and He loved us totally then.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. That sort of self-less, undeserved love is completely beyond human comprehension. Yet that is the love that the just and infinitely holy God had toward us even while we were yet sinners. The God who hates every sinful thought and every sinful deed nevertheless loves the sinners who think and do those things, even while they are still hopelessly enmeshed in their sin. Even when men openly hate God and do not have the least desire to give up their sin, they are still the objects of God’s redeeming love as long as they live. Only at death does an unbeliever cease to be loved by God. After that, he is eternally beyond the pale of God’s love and is destined irrevocably for His wrath. In Christ, we are forever linked to God by His love, demonstrated in (positive) blessings and (negative) mercy.[1]


God’s Love Commended

Romans 5:6–8

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

There are a number of preachers today, some of them quite famous, who do not want to say anything unpleasant about sinful human nature. They describe their approach to Christianity as “possibility thinking” and argue that people are already so discouraged about themselves that they do not need to be told that they are wicked. I do not know how such preachers could possibly preach on our text.

They should want to, I think,

Romans 5:6–8 (and verse 5, which precedes this paragraph) speak about the love that God has for us. The greatness of this love, which is mentioned here in Romans for the very first time, is an uplifting and positive theme. Besides, it is brought into the argument at this point to assure us that all who have been justified by faith in Christ have been saved because of God’s love for them and that nothing will ever be able to separate them from it. This is the climax to which we will also come at the end of Romans 8. Nothing could be more positive or more edifying than this theme. Yet Paul’s statement of the nature, scope, and permanence of God’s love is placed against the black backdrop of human sin, and rightly so. For, as Paul tells us: “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (v. 8).

How can we appreciate or even understand that statement without speaking about the evil natures of those whom God has thus loved?

This is a very practical matter for two reasons. First, since Paul is describing the love of God against the dark background of human sin, he is saying that it is only against this background that we are able to form a true picture of how great the love of God is. In other words, if we think (as many do) that God loves us because we are somehow quite lovely or desirable, our appreciation of the love of God will be reduced by just that amount—just as a beautiful but very vain woman might have trouble appreciating the love of her husband, or of anyone else. If we think we deserve the best of everything, we will not appreciate the love we receive irrespective of our beauty, talent, or other supposedly admirable qualities.

The second point is this: If we think we deserve God’s love, we cannot ever really be secure in it, because we will always be afraid that we may do something to lessen or destroy the depth of God’s love for us. It is only those who know that God has loved them in spite of their sin who can trust him to continue to show them favor.

God’s Love for Sinners

I begin with Paul’s description of the people God loves and has saved, and I ask you to notice the four powerful words used to portray them, three in the passage we are studying and one additional word in verse 10. They are “powerless,” “ungodly,” “sinners,” and “enemies.” It is important to know that we are all rightly described by each of these words.

  1. Powerless. This word is translated in a variety of ways in our Bible versions: “weak,” “helpless,” “without strength,” “feeble,” “sluggish in doing right,” and so on. Only the strongest terms will do in this context, since the idea is that, left to ourselves, none of us is able to do even one small thing to please God or achieve salvation.

One commentator distinguishes between “conditional impossibilities” and “unconditional impossibilities” in order to show that this kind of inability is truly unconditional. A conditional impossibility is one in which we are unable to do something unless something else happens. For example, I might find it impossible to repay a loan unless I should suddenly earn a large sum of money. Or I might be unable to accept an invitation to some social event unless a prior commitment is canceled. An unconditional impossibility is one which no possible change in circumstances can alter, and it is this that describes us in our pre-converted state.

What specifically were we unable to do? We were unable to understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14). We were unable to see the kingdom of God or enter it (John 3:3, 5). We were unable to seek God (Rom. 3:11). Paul elsewhere describes this inability vividly when he says that before God saved us we were “dead in [our] transgressions and sins” (Eph. 2:1). That is, we were no more able to respond to or seek God than a corpse is able to respond to stimuli of any kind.

  1. Ungodly. This word conveys the same idea Paul expressed at the beginning of his description of the race in its rebellion against God: “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Rom. 1:18).

In these verses, “ungodly” and “godlessness” mean not so much that human beings are unlike God (though that is also true), but that in addition they are in a state of fierce opposition to him. God is sovereign, but they oppose him in his sovereignty. They do not want him to rule over them; they want to be free to do as they please. God is holy, and they oppose him in his holiness. This means that they do not accept his righteous and proper moral standards; they do not want their sinful acts and desires to be called into question. God is omniscient, and they oppose him for his omniscience. They are angry that he knows them perfectly, that nothing they think or do is hidden from his sight. They also oppose him for his immutability, since immutability means that God does not change in these or any of his other attributes.

  1. Sinners. “Sinners” describes those who have fallen short of God’s standards, as Romans 3:23 says: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” It means that we have broken God’s law and in this sense is probably parallel to the word wickedness in Romans 1:18, which was cited above. “Godlessness” is being opposed to God; that is, to have broken the first table of the law, which tells us that we are to worship and serve God only (cf. Matt. 22:37–38). “Wickedness” means to have broken the second table of the law; we have failed to treat others properly, to have respected them, and to have loved them as we love ourselves (cf. Matt. 22:39).
  2. Enemies. The final word Paul uses to describe human beings apart from the supernatural work of God in their lives is “enemies,” though the word does not appear until verse 10. This summarizes what has been said by the first three terms, but it also goes beyond that. It affirms that not only are we unable to save ourselves, are unlike and opposed to God, and are violators of his law, but we are also opposed to God in the sense that we would attack him and destroy him if we could. Being like Satan in his desires, we would drag God from his throne, cast him to hell and crush him into nothingness—if that were possible—which is what many people actually tried to do when God came among them in the person of Jesus Christ.

What a terrible picture of humanity! No wonder the possibility thinkers choose other, more uplifting themes to speak about!

Yet it is only against this background that we see the brightness of God’s love. “You see,” writes Paul, “at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (vv. 6–8).

Love at the Cross

Any contrast has two sides, of course, and thus far we have looked only at one side. We have looked at the dark side: ourselves. We have seen that God loved us, not when we were lovely people who were seeking him out and trying to obey him, but when we were actually fighting him and were willing to destroy him if we could. That alone makes the measure of God’s love very great. However, we may also see the greatness of the love of God by looking at the bright side: God’s side. And here we note that God did not merely reach out to give us a helping hand, bestowing what theologians call common grace—sending rain on the just and unjust alike (cf. Matt. 5:45), for instance—but that he actually sent his beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die for us.

There is a further contrast, too, as Paul brings these great ideas together and compares what God has done in dying for sinners with what human beings might themselves do in certain circumstances. Paul points out that, while a human being might be willing to give his life for a righteous or, better yet, a morally superior woman or man under certain circumstances, Jesus died for us while we were still sinners, which is the precise opposite of being good, or righteous.

In his excellent study of this text Donald Grey Barnhouse gives two illustrations of exceptionally great human love.

In one story two men were trapped in a mine cave-in, and poisonous gas was escaping. One man had a wife and three children. He also had a gas mask, but his mask had been torn in the underground explosion and he would have perished apart from the act of the man who was trapped with him. This second man took off his own mask and forced it on the man who survived, saying, “You have Mary and the children; they need you. I am alone and can go.” When we hear of an act like this, we sense we are on hallowed ground.

The other story concerns a tough youngster from the streets of one of our large cities. His sister had been crippled and needed an operation. The operation was provided for her. But after the operation the girl needed a blood transfusion, and the boy, her brother, was asked to volunteer. He was taken to her bedside and watched tight-lipped as a needle was inserted into his vein and blood was fed into his sister’s body. When the transfusion was over, the doctor put his arm on the boy’s shoulder and told him that he had been very brave. The youngster knew nothing about the nature of a blood transfusion. But the doctor knew even less about the actual bravery of the boy—until the boy looked up at him and asked steadily, “Doc, how long before I croak?” He had gotten the idea that he would have to die to save his sister, and he had thought that he was dying drop by drop as his blood flowed into her veins. But he did it anyway!

These stories sober us, because in them we recognize something of the highest human love. Yet, when we read of the love of God in Romans 5, we learn that it was not for those who were close to him or who loved him that Jesus died—but for those who were opposed to God and were his enemies. It is on this basis that God commends his love to us.

An Argument for Hard Hearts

Isn’t it astounding that God should need to commend his love to us? We are told in the Bible, though we should know it even without being told, that all good gifts come from God’s hands (James 1:17). It is from God that we receive life and health, food and clothing, love from and fellowship with other people, and meaningful work. These blessings should prove the love of God beyond any possibility of our doubting it. Yet we do doubt it. We are insensitive to God’s love, and God finds it necessary to commend his love by reminding us of the death of his Son.

So it is at the cross that we see the love of God in its fullness. What a great, great love this is!

You may recall that when the Swiss theologian Karl Barth was in this country some years before his death, someone asked a question at one of his question-and-answer sessions that went like this: “Dr. Barth, what is the greatest thought that has ever gone through your mind?”

The questioner probably expected some complicated and incomprehensible answer, as if Einstein were being asked to explain the theory of relativity. But after he had thought a long while, Barth replied by saying: “Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so.”

This was a profound answer and a correct one. For there is nothing greater that any of us could think about or know than that Jesus loves us and has shown his love by dying in our place.

The Greatness of God’s Love

I would like to close this study by reflecting on the greatness of God’s love for us, but I wonder how anyone can do that adequately. How can any merely human words sufficiently express this wonder?

Some years ago I was preaching through the Gospel of John and had come to that greatest of all verses about the love of God: John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” I wanted to say that the love of God is great, remembering that Ephesians 2:4 uses that very word: “But because of his great love for us.…” But the English word great is not great enough for this subject. The week before, I had been at Houghton College in New York, and I remembered having said that I thought the work of the college was great, that some of the points the other speakers had made were great, and that I had had a great time. I was sincere in my use of the word great. But what were such uses of the word compared to the use of the word to describe God’s love?

Someone once tried to express the greatness of God’s love by printing on a little card a special arrangement of John 3:16, with certain descriptive phrases added. The twelve parts of the verse were arranged down one side of the card, and the added phrases were printed across from them. It went like this:

God

 

the greatest Lover

 

so loved

 

the greatest degree

 

the world

 

the greatest company

 

that he gave

 

the greatest act

 

his only begotten Son

 

the greatest gift

 

that whosoever

 

the greatest opportunity

 

believeth

 

the greatest simplicity

 

in him

 

the greatest attraction

 

should not perish

 

the greatest promise

 

but

 

the greatest difference

 

have

 

the greatest certainty

 

everlasting life

 

the greatest possession

 

The title placed over the whole was: “Christ—the Greatest Gift.”

Let me try to express the greatness of the love of God by the words of a hymn by F. M. Lehman. Lehman wrote most of this hymn, but the final stanza (the best, in my opinion) was added to it later, after it had been found scratched on the wall of a room in an asylum by a man said to have been insane. The first and last verses of the hymn and the chorus, go as follows:

The love of God is greater far

Than tongue or pen can ever tell;

It goes beyond the highest star,

And reaches to the lowest hell.

The guilty pair, bowed down with care,

God gave his Son to win:

His erring child he reconciled

And rescued from his sin.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,

And were the skies of parchment made;

Were every stalk on earth a quill,

And every man a scribe by trade;

To write the love of God above

Would drain the ocean dry;

Nor could the scroll contain the whole,

Tho stretched from sky to sky.

Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!

How measureless and strong!

It shall forevermore endure—

The saints’ and angels’ song.

Did you know that the love of God seemed so great to the biblical writers that they invented, or at least raised to an entirely new level of meaning, a brand-new word for love?

The Greek language was rich in words for love. There was the word storgē, which referred to affection, particularly within the family. There was philia, from which we get “philharmonic” and “philanthropy” and the place name “Philadelphia.” It refers to a love between friends. A third word was erōs, which has given us “erotic,” and which referred to sexual love. This was a rich linguistic heritage. Yet, when the Old Testament was translated into Greek and when the New Testament writers later wrote in Greek, they found that none of these common Greek words was able to express what they wanted. They therefore took another word without strong associations and poured their own, biblical meaning into it. The new word was agapē, which thereby came to mean the holy, gracious, sovereign, everlasting, and giving love of God that we are studying here.

Alas, I feel that even yet I have not begun to explain how great the love of God is. There is nothing to be done but to go back to our text and read again: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Perhaps I should say one more thing on this subject: If you do not yet fully appreciate (or perhaps have not even begun to appreciate) the greatness of the love God has for you, the explanation is probably that you have never really thought of yourself as God saw you in your fallen state.

Perhaps you have never thought of yourself as someone who was utterly without strength or powerless before God saved you.

Perhaps you have never considered yourself to have been ungodly.

Nor a sinner.

Nor God’s enemy.

But that is what you were—and still are if you have never come to Christ in order to be justified. It is only if you can recognize the truth of these descriptions that you can begin to appreciate the love that God holds out to you through the death of his Son.

If you have never responded to this great overture of the divine love, let me encourage you to do that, assuring you that there is no greater truth in all the universe. Can you think of anything greater? Of course, you can’t. How could anybody? God loves you. Jesus died for you. Let those truly great thoughts move you to abandon your sin, love God in return, and live for Jesus.[2]


8. But God confirms, &c. The verb, συνίστησι, has various meanings; that which is most suitable to this place is that of confirming; for it was not the Apostle’s object to excite our gratitude, but to strengthen the trust and confidence of our souls. He then confirms, that is, exhibits his love to us as most certain and complete, inasmuch as for the sake of the ungodly he spared not Christ his own Son. In this, indeed, his love appears, that being not moved by love on our part, he of his own good will first loved us, as John tells us. (1 John 3:16.)—Those are here called sinners, (as in many other places,) who are wholly vicious and given up to sin, according to what is said in John 9:31, “God hears not sinners,” that is, men abandoned and altogether wicked. The woman called “a sinner,” was one of a shameful character. (Luke 7:37.) And this meaning appears more evident from the contrast which immediately follows,—for being now justified through his blood: for since he sets the two in opposition, the one to the other, and calls those justified who are delivered from the guilt of sin, it necessarily follows that those are sinners who, for their evil deeds, are condemned.

The import of the whole is,—since Christ has attained righteousness for sinners by his death, much more shall he protect them, being now justified, from destruction. And in the last clause he applies to his own doctrine the comparison between the less and the greater: for it would not have been enough for salvation to have been once procured for us, were not Christ to render it safe and secure to the end. And this is what the Apostle now maintains; so that we ought not to fear, that Christ will cut off the current of his favour while we are in the middle of our course: for inasmuch as he has reconciled us to the Father, our condition is such, that he purposes more efficaciously to put forth and daily to increase his favour towards us.[3]


8 In contrast to the very best of human love is God’s love; for he “com-mends96 his own love for us,98 in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” The language of Christ “dying for us/our sins” is a basic early Christian statement of the meaning of Christ’s death (see esp. 1 Cor. 15:3; 1 Thess. 5:9–10; 2 Cor. 5:14; Rom. 14:15; see also 1 Pet. 3:18). Again we see the assumption that God’s love is shown in Christ’s death (see v. 6). Gorman rightly notes, “The interweaving of God’s grace/love and initiative (a theological claim properly speaking) and Christ’s grace/love and self-gift (a christological claim) is certainly one of the richest and most profound contributions of Paul to Christian theology.” We notice also that Paul finds a basic unity, even identity, between the love of God as it is shown in the objective, factual event of Christ’s death on the cross and as it is experienced in the heart by the believer (v. 5b). An emotional feeling of God’s love, in itself, is little comfort to the person who is lost, condemned, doomed for hell. But a cold, sober, historical interpretation that indeed God “loved the world” on the cross is of little benefit to a person until that love is experienced, is received, by faith in Christ. It is when these are properly experienced as two aspects of one great love, ultimately indivisible, that our assurance that “hope will not put us to shame” (v. 5a) will be strong and unshakable.[4]


5:6–8 / Verses 6–8 present one of the most profound descriptions of divine love found in Scripture. Poor Richard’s Almanack said that “God helps them that help themselves.” That is vintage deism, but it is not biblical Christianity. Romans 5 teaches that God helps them that cannot help themselves. Note Paul’s descriptions of the human condition: when we were still powerless (v. 6), ungodly (v. 6), sinners (v. 8), “God’s enemies” (v. 10). A miserable list of credits if ever there was one! God’s love is not a matching fund bestowed on the worthy. God’s love is love for the undeserving. Christ died for humanity not when it made amends or turned over a new leaf, but for humanity as rebellious sinners (v. 8) and “God’s enemies” (v. 10). This is a shocking thing to realize, indeed quite an offense to moral people who nurse the idea that their goodness is somehow responsible for God’s love. The radical news of the gospel is that Christ died for the godless, which means that God loves the godless. And to say that God loves the godless is to say that God justifies the godless. The offense remains: to say that a person is a sinner is to say that that person is the object of God’s love!

God demonstrated his love at just the right time. Paul was of the conviction (Gal. 4:4; Eph. 1:10; Phil. 2:6f.), as were other nt writers (Mark 1:15; John 1:14; Heb. 9:26), that the Christ-event was no arbitrary happening, but an integral part of the divine economy, the constituent element in the plan of salvation which happened “in the fulness of time,” according to Galatians (4:4), “once for all at the end of the ages,” according to Hebrews (9:26). God did not send his regards to the human race, he did not merely possess noble intentions for the human race, but he did something absolutely without precedent or analogy—God became a human being. The word “incarnation” in Latin literally means “in human flesh,” and the enfleshment of God in Jesus Christ is the supreme manifestation of God’s love (v. 8).

In verse 7 Paul considers the limitlessness of God’s love, a love which, in comparison with human guardedness, must appear utterly profligate. Verses 6–7 are not a little awkward, however. Verse 6 is complicated by a textual variant in Greek. This is followed by a redundancy in verse 7, the first half of which says that death on behalf of a righteous person hardly ever occurs, with the implication that death on behalf of an unrighteous person never occurs. But the second half of the verse continues that death on behalf of a good person is still thinkable. Exactly how we should understand the difference between a righteous and good individual is debatable. Attempts to argue an interpretation of the passage from these two words alone ring a sour note. More plausible is Barrett’s suggestion that Paul, realizing that he overstated the case at the beginning of the verse, attempted to rectify it in the latter half, but that Tertius, his amanuensis (16:22), failed to omit the first statement, thus accounting for the repetitiveness of the verse (Romans, p. 105).

There can be no doubt about Paul’s meaning, however, for verse 8 avers that God’s love is humanly inconceivable. God’s love for the ungodly is greater than human love for the godly. Three times in as many verses Paul includes the little Greek particle eti, “yet” or “still,” driving home that God’s love and Christ’s sacrifice were offered contrary to all expectation, while we were still sinners and enemies. Here is no bloodless essay on “the idea of the good.” Paul speaks of an enactment, a manifestation, a demonstration of divine love in the death of Christ for sinners that has transformed history itself. The German artist Matthias Grünewald (1460[?]–1528) captured something of Paul’s sense in his “Crucifixion.” Dwarfing the mortals who surround him, including John the Baptist who points to him with outstretched finger, Jesus hangs heavy in human agony on the cross as an awesome demonstration of the weight of sin and the magnitude of divine love.

The climax of the passage comes in the final pronouncement, Christ died for us (v. 8). Here is the gospel in four words, a combination of history and theology, event and interpretation. Christ died is a historical statement; for us is a theological interpretation. Both are essential to the gospel. Without theological interpretation Christ’s death becomes a meaningless datum of history; but without history theology evaporates into speculation and idealism. Each word in this confession is a vital tenet of salvation. Not just anyone, not even a very good person, but Christ, who appeared at the right time, died for our salvation.

The Greek text of verses 6–8 contains four sentences, each of which ends with reference to Christ’s death. Thus, when Paul speaks of God’s love, or of righteousness, or of eschatology, he must speak of the cross, for the cross is the constitutive criterion of salvation. Whoever thinks God begrudges the world a pittance of goodwill finds that notion dispelled forever by verse 8. Christ did not die of natural causes. In the face of animosity and rejection he offered his life as a supreme sacrifice for us. The Greek preposition translated for means “on behalf of.” Unlike most prepositions, this one is concrete: Jesus took our place. It is one thing to say Christ died; quite another to say Christ died for me! Thus, Christ died for us is not only the gospel distilled to four words, it is by necessity the personal confession of every Christian.[5]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans (Vol. 1, pp. 283–286). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Boice, J. M. (1991–). Romans: The Reign of Grace (Vol. 2, pp. 535–542). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

[3] Calvin, J., & Owen, J. (2010). Commentary on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans (pp. 196–197). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[4] Moo, D. J. (2018). The Letter to the Romans. (N. B. Stonehouse, F. F. Bruce, G. D. Fee, & J. B. Green, Eds.) (Second Edition, pp. 336–337). Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[5] Edwards, J. R. (2011). Romans (pp. 139–141). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

May 29 When You Have Failed

scripture reading: Psalm 51
key verses: Psalm 51:16–17

You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.

You failed. The tempter played his seductive tune, and you danced. For the first time, the third time, the “I don’t know how many” times, you failed.

Now what? Do you cower before God, run from Him? Do you drown in your guilt, sink in your sadness, nosedive into mediocrity?

While the Father’s desire is resistance to and victory over temptation, He provides a way of escape even when you capitulate. He meets and deals with your failure through forgiveness and mercy. The remedy of the Cross is still effective for a believer who drinks the poison of temptation.

Moses failed. David failed. Peter failed. On numerous occasions the people and leaders of Israel erred.

But the love and grace of God remain greater than any believer’s failure. Christ’s sacrificial death paid your sin debt in full, removing your guilt, and His resurrection grants you His unceasing hope and power.

Confess your sin. Acknowledge that you have grieved God. Humbly and penitently receive His forgiveness. Learn about your weakness and His provision. Cling to His stubborn love that will never forsake you. Do not give up the fight. God is with you and for you, never against you.

Your grace is greater than my failure. You are for me, and never against me. Thank You, Lord![1]


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

29 may (1859) 365 Days with Spurgeon

Justice satisfied

“Just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus”. Romans 3:26

“Just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

suggested further reading: Genesis 50:15–21

I have heard of Mr John Wesley, that he was attended in most of his journeyings by one who loved him very much, and was willing, I believe, to have died for him. Still he was a man of a very stubborn and obstinate disposition, and Mr Wesley was not perhaps the very kindest man at all times. Upon one occasion he said to this man, “Joseph, take these letters to the post.” “I will take them after preaching, sir.” “Take them now, Joseph,” said Mr Wesley. “I wish to hear you preach, sir; and there will be sufficient time for the post after service.” “I insist upon your going now, Joseph.” “I will not go at present.” “You won’t?” “No, sir.” “Then you and I must part,” said Mr Wesley. “Very good, sir.” The good men slept over it. Both were early risers. At four o’clock the next morning, the refractory helper was accosted with, “Joseph, have you considered what I said—that we must part?” “Yes, sir.” “And must we part?” “Please yourself, sir.” “Will you ask my pardon, Joseph?” “No, sir.” “You won’t?” “No, sir.” “Then I will ask yours, Joseph!” Poor Joseph was instantly melted, and they were at once reconciled. When once the grace of God has entered the heart, a man ought to be ready to seek forgiveness for an injury done to another. There is nothing wrong in a man confessing an offence against a fellow-man, and asking pardon for the wrong he has done him. If you have done aught, then, against any man, leave thy gift before the altar, and go and make peace with him, and then come and make peace with God. You are to make confession of your sin to God. Let that be humble and sincere. You cannot mention every offence, but do not hide one.

for meditation: If we cannot bring ourselves to apologise to and to forgive those we have seen, we must know little about true confession to and the forgiveness of God whom we have not seen (Matthew 6:14, 15; 1 John 4:20).

sermon no. 255[1]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H., & Crosby, T. P. (1998). 365 Days with Spurgeon (Volume 1) (p. 156). Leominster, UK: Day One Publications.

29 MAY 365 Days with Calvin

Why Animals Suffer

I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the Lord. I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumbling blocks with the wicked; and I will cut off man from off the land, saith the Lord. Zephaniah 1:2–3

suggested further reading: Genesis 7

Why does God pronounce vengeance on the beasts of the field, the birds of the heaven, and the fish of the sea? For no matter how much the Jews have provoked God by their sins, innocent animals ought to be spared. If a son is not to be punished for the fault of his father (Ezek. 18:4), but only the soul that has sinned must die, why does God turn his wrath against fish and birds and animals? This seems to be a hasty and unreasonable infliction.

To answer that, let us first bear in mind that it is preposterous for us to estimate God’s doings according to our judgment. Proud and perverse people do that today, for they are disposed to judge God’s works with such presumption that whatever they do not approve of they think it right to fully condemn. It behooves us to judge God’s ways with modesty and sobriety, confessing that his judgments are a deep abyss. When a reason for God’s ways does not appear obvious, we ought to reverently and with deep humility look for the day in which that revelation comes.

Second, it is wise for us to remember that because animals were created for man’s use, they must undergo much along with him. God made the birds of heaven and the fishes of the sea and all other animals subservient to man. Why, then, should we wonder that the condemnation of the one who has sovereignty over the whole earth should also extend to the animals?

The world was not willingly or naturally made subject to corruption, but because the corruption from Adam’s fall diffused itself through heaven and earth.

for meditation: The horrifying cruelty sometimes found in the animal kingdom is not natural, but is the product of our sin. Though the animals did not sin against their Creator, they too were destroyed in the flood. The next time that we are tempted to think lightly of sin, let us reflect on the incredible suffering that we have brought upon this earth and tremble at the seriousness of our sin.[1]


[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 168). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019 – AlbertMohler.com

PART I

 Supreme Court Sends a Mixed Message on Abortion: What Does this Mean for the Future?

PART II

 Justice Clarence Thomas Delivers Massive Moral and Constitutional Argument Against Abortion: A Prophetic Word Against Eugenics

PART III

 Liberal Christianity and Abortion Rights: A Longtime Partnership Revealed

PART IV

 Pregnancy Kills and Abortion Saves? Confronting the Logic of an Abortion Doctor

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DOCUMENTATION AND ADDITIONAL READING

PART I

PART III

THE ATLANTIC

 A Pastor’s Case for the Morality of Abortion, by Emma Green

PART IV

May 29, 2019 Morning Verse Of The Day

The Final Passover, The First Communion

(Luke 22:14–20)

When the hour had come, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. And He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes.” And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. (22:14–20)

Among the many unforgettable statements the Lord Jesus Christ made was His declaration,

For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. (John 10:17–18)

No one took Jesus’ life. He gave it up. He was not a victim, but willingly offered His life in complete agreement with and submission to God the Father. He died according to the divine plan, orchestrating every act of both enemies and friends to accomplish God’s purpose. He died as the true Passover lamb, whose sacrifice paid the full penalty for the sins of all who would ever believe.

There are many compelling figures surrounding the death of Jesus Christ, including the current high priest Caiaphas; the powerful and influential former high priest Annas; the Jewish leaders—the Sadducees, Pharisees, Herodians, and the Sanhedrin—who plotted and carried out the death of the Messiah; the puppet king Herod Antipas, not a Jew but an Idumean; the wretched Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Christ; the woeful puppet Pilate, who ordered Jesus’ execution despite having declared Him innocent; and the cowardly disciples, who at His arrest deserted Him.

Those characters will act freely and yet carry out their divinely assigned roles as the drama of the cross unfolds. The central figure is, of course, the Lord Jesus Christ, who eclipses all the others just as the blazing noon-day sun eclipses the stars. He appears as humiliated and yet majestic; suffering and yet exalted; punished and yet innocent; hated and yet loving; subjected and yet sovereign. Far from being a victim, Jesus moved through the events surrounding His death controlled by the Father’s will, kept by the Spirit’s power, and acting on the heavenly timetable, which was established before the world began.

The setting for this section of Luke’s gospel was Thursday night of Passion Week, the beginning of the eight-day-long celebration of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It was also the night before Christ’s crucifixion, and His final gathering with the apostles before His death, since He would be arrested later that evening after the Passover meal. This section of Luke’s gospel marks the major turning point of redemptive history. Jesus brought the Old Covenant to an end and inaugurated the New Covenant. Thus, He and the disciples celebrated the last legitimate Passover, and the first Lord’s Supper. Jesus culminated the celebration looking back to God’s miraculous historical deliverance of Israel from Egypt and inaugurated a new memorial, looking to the cross and the eternal deliverance accomplished for His people there.

The Final Passover

When the hour had come, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. And He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes.” (22:14–18)

The message of Passover is that God delivers through the judgment of sin by the death of an innocent substitute. All the Old Testament sacrifices were symbols of that reality. But those animal sacrifices were not, in themselves, sufficient substitutes, or such offerings would have ceased (Heb. 10:1–2). No person has ever been delivered from divine judgment by the death of an animal (Heb. 10:4). Through the centuries, the people of Israel waited for the sacrifice that would be satisfactory to God, the one to which all the countless animal sacrifices had pointed.

That long-awaited sacrifice would be offered the next day, Friday, while countless thousands of lambs were again being sacrificed on the Passover. At that very time, God offered His sacrifice. He poured out His wrath against sinners on an innocent substitute—the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus was the perfect, final, and complete sacrifice for sin, making this the last Passover approved by God. Symbolic animal sacrifices pointing to the true sacrifice were no longer necessary once the Savior had been offered.

Luke’s treatment of Passover and the Lord’s Supper is brief, since the Old Testament contains a lot of information about Passover, and Paul had already described the Lord’s Supper in detail at least five years before Luke’s gospel when he wrote 1 Corinthians (see chapters 10 and 11). The precise sequence of the many features (e.g., the Passover meal, the institution of the Lord’s Supper, Christ’s washing of the disciples’ feet, upper room discourse [John 13–16], high priestly prayer [John 17], prediction of Peter’s denials, and dismissal of Judas) that took place in the upper room that evening is not known. The hour they commenced, however, was sunset, the time when Passover always officially began. As was customary, Jesus reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him, lying on cushions with their heads near the table and their feet away from it. That Jesus and the Twelve reclined in such a manner indicates that this was a prolonged meal. The custom had changed since the original Passover celebration, a hurried affair before Israel fled from Egypt.

There were several stages in the Passover celebration, spread out over a period of hours and interspersed with conversation. The event opened with a prayer thanking God for His preservation, deliverance, protection, goodness, and blessing. Next came the first of four cups of diluted red wine, known as the cup of blessing. That was followed by a ceremonial washing of the hands, symbolizing the need for cleansing from sin. It was most likely at this point that the disciples began arguing among themselves about who was the greatest (Luke 22:24). In response, Jesus washed their feet (John 13:3–5) and instructed them concerning humility. The next element was the eating of bitter herbs, dipped along with pieces of bread into a paste made from fruit and nuts. That act symbolized the bitterness of Israel’s slavery in Egypt. Then the participants sang Psalms 113 and 114, the first two of the Hallel Psalms (113–118), after which they drank the second cup of wine. After that the father of the family, or as in this case Jesus as the head of the table, explained the meaning of Passover. Then came the main meal, consisting of the roasted sacrificial lamb and unleavened bread, after which they drank the third cup of wine. The ceremony closed with the singing of the remainder of the Hallel Psalms (115–118), and the drinking of the fourth cup of wine.

Christ’s words to the disciples in verse 15, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer,” likely were spoken just after the men had reclined at the table. They are intensive and forceful; the Greek text could be translated, “With desire I have desired.” These words indicate that this final Passover would be the fulfillment of a most powerful, emotional longing in the heart of the Lord. In a few hours He would go from eating again a sacrificial lamb to dying as the one true Lamb of God to validate the New Covenant. His whole life He had anticipated this hour, surely with increasing emotion.

The Lord’s next statement, “For I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God,” reveals that although this was the final Passover of His life, there will be another time when He celebrates the Passover with His own. That will take place in the kingdom of God (cf. vv. 18, 28–30; 1 Cor. 11:26). According to Ezekiel’s description of the future millennial temple, Passover will be cele brated in the millennial kingdom (Ezek. 45:21)—not remembering the exodus, but the cross. Until then, there are no divinely authorized Passovers. The regular celebration of Passover by the Jews is an expression of their rejection of their Messiah.

Jesus’ promise was wonderful news to the apostles. He had taught them the previous evening on the Mount of Olives what would happen in the future (Luke 21:7–36). Now in this reference to His kingdom He reassured them that His death was not the end of the story. He will rise and return to establish His promised kingdom in which His true followers will join with Him.

Jesus’ taking a cup and giving thanks (eucharisteō, from which the English word “eucharist” derives) marked the beginning of the Passover celebration. This cup, which He then commanded the disciples to take … and share … among themselves, was the first cup, called the cup of blessing. The apostle Paul referred to it in his instructions to the Corinthian church regarding communion (1 Cor. 10:16). The head of the table extolled God for His goodness, mercy, and provision through the years. Traditionally, he would also extol the glory and righteousness of Israel. But Jesus in all likelihood did not do that, since apostate Israel’s apostasy had reached its apex in eagerness to crucify the Messiah.

His words in verse 18, “For I say to you, I will not (ou mē; the strongest form of negation in Greek) drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes,” emphasize once again that this was the final Passover until it is reinstated in the millennial kingdom. These were words of comfort and hope for the disciples.

The fruit of the vine is a symbol of fruitfulness, blessing, and joy, reflecting God’s goodness to His people in delivering them from bondage. There will be a future salvation for the believing remnant of Israel (Rom. 11:1–32), when they and all believers will celebrate the Passover with Christ and extol the goodness of God. The cup of blessing here looks past the judgment that would fall on Jerusalem in the holocaust of a.d. 70, in which the Romans would utterly destroy both the city and the temple and scatter the people, to Israel’s ultimate salvation and blessing.

The First Communion

And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. (22:19–20)

It is impossible to overstate the monumental change these few simple phrases introduce. Christ’s words signaled the end of the Old Covenant, with its social, ceremonial, dietary, and Sabbath laws, and installed the New Covenant. With these words, Jesus marked the end of all the rituals and sacrifices, the priesthood, the holy place, and the Holy of Holies, the curtain of which God would soon split from top to bottom, throwing it wide open (Mark 15:38). All that the Old Covenant symbolism pointed toward would be fulfilled in the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus’ taking of the bread and giving thanks took place after the singing of the first part of the Hallel (Pss. 113, 114), followed by the second cup of wine, and the explanation of the meaning of Passover, while they were eating the main meal (Matt. 26:26).

Having taken the bread, Jesus then broke it and gave it to them. The bread was no longer the Passover “bread of affliction” (Deut. 16:3), nor was the breaking of the loaf a figure of Christ’s death, since none of His bones were broken (John 19:36; cf. Ex. 12:46). The disciples’ all partaking of the same loaf symbolized the unity of the body of Christ.

The Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation perverts the intent of Jesus’ reference to the bread as My body. According to that doctrine, during the mass the substance (though not the outward appearance) of the bread and wine are changed into the actual body and blood of Christ. The Lutheran notion of spiritual presence (known as consubstantiation) is also an errant view of our Lord’s words. According to that view

the molecules [of the bread and wine] are not changed into flesh and blood; they remain bread and wine. But the body and blood of Christ are present “in, with, and under” the bread and wine. It is not that the bread and wine have become Christ’s body and blood, but that we now have the body and blood in addition to the bread and wine. (Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1985], 3:1117)

Christ’s statement is no more to be taken literally than are His references to Himself as a door (John 10:9), vine (John 15:1, 5), and bread (John 6:35, 48). Such language is figurative, symbolically conveying spiritual truth using everyday items. Bread pictures things that are earthly, fragile, and subject to decay, symbolizing the reality that the Son of God took on human form and became subject to death.

The phrase which is given for you introduces the most important truth in the Bible—substitutionary atonement. As noted above, Passover conveyed the twin truths that divine wrath and justice can only be satisfied by death, but that death can be the death of innocent substitutes for the guilty. The millions of lambs that were slain throughout the centuries were all innocent. Animals are incapable of sinning, since they are not persons, and have no morality or self-consciousness. Jesus, however, is both innocent and a person—fully man as well as God. Therefore His substitutionary atonement death was acceptable to God to satisfy His holy condemnation of sin. Isaiah wrote, “He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed” (Isa. 53:5; cf. v. 12). Jesus “bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds [we] were healed” (1 Peter 2:24). God “made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).

Then in the same way (that is, with thanks; cf. v. 19) Jesus took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.” The cup was the third cup, which came after the meal. That it was poured out for you “for forgiveness of sins” (Matt. 26:28) is another declaration of Christ’s death as a substitute for all who would believe. Sin can only be forgiven when satisfactory payment to God in the form of the death of the perfect sacrifice has been rendered. The Lord Jesus’ death was that payment. As the infinite God incarnate, He was actually able to bear the sins of and suffer God’s wrath for those sins on behalf of all who would ever believe, rescuing them from divine judgment by fully satisfying the demands of God’s justice.

His death inaugurated the new covenant which, like the Old Covenant, was ratified by the shedding of blood (Ex. 24:8; Lev. 17:11; Heb. 9:18–20). The New Covenant (Jer. 31:31–34; cf. Ezek. 36:25–27) is a covenant of forgiveness (Jer. 31:34) and the only saving covenant. As noted above, it was ratified by the blood of Christ, whose death as an innocent substitute satisfied the demands of God’s justice. (For a detailed discussion of the New Covenant, see 2 Corinthians, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary [Chicago: Moody, 2003], chaps. 7 and 8.)

Regular observance of the Lord’s Supper is to be a constant reminder to Christians of the Lamb of God, chosen by God, sacrificed for sinners, whose death satisfied the demands of God’s justice, and whose life was poured out on our behalf so that our sins can be fully and forever forgiven. Paul summarized the significance of the Lord’s Supper when he wrote to the Corinthian believers,

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. (1 Cor. 11:23–26)[1]


The First Supper

Luke 22:14–20

And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” (Luke 22:14–15)

It is customary for a condemned man to be given one last request before he is put to death. That convention is observed in America by giving criminals on death row a feast before they are executed. Typically the menu is printed in the newspaper, presumably to satisfy the morbid interest of public curiosity. People want to know: What did the condemned man eat and drink before dying?

We could ask the same question about Jesus Christ, for he too was a condemned man, with one last meal to eat before dying. This was the night on which Jesus was betrayed. Soon he would be condemned and crucified for crimes he did not commit. In just a few short hours he would be arrested and accused, then beaten and abused. He would be dead before nightfall the following day, his lifeless body put in a tomb. This was the last night of our Savior’s life on earth, and he had one last meal to share with his disciples.

Christians usually call this farewell feast “the Last Supper.” This title makes sense because it was the last time that Jesus would celebrate Passover with his disciples, and the last time he would eat and drink anything with them before he died. But it was also the first time that Jesus celebrated communion with them, the sacred meal also known as the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. So in a sense the Last Supper was also “the First Supper”—the first supper of the new salvation that Jesus gave his disciples by giving them himself. In the words of T. W. Manson, the Lord’s Supper “indicates and inaugurates a redemption effected by the death of Christ as a sacrifice.”

The Heart of the Host

The first thing to understand about this supper is how eagerly Jesus wanted to share it with his disciples. We have already seen the deliberate preparations he made for this meal (see Luke 22:7–13), and how careful he was to make sure that it took place before he was betrayed. But as he sat down to the meal, Jesus opened his heart to his disciples. Luke tells us that “when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, ‘I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God’ ” (Luke 22:14–16).

In God’s perfect timing, the hour had come for Jesus to sit with his beloved disciples, waiting on them at the meal that signified their salvation (cf. Luke 12:37). With a heart of love, their host told them how much he had been looking forward to being alone with them around the table that night. The words he used for “earnest desire” (epithymia epethymēsa) express intense longing. Jesus Christ was a man of perfect passions. We have seen these passions throughout Luke’s Gospel: his scornful contempt for religious hypocrisy, his merciful compassion for the lost and broken, his holy jealousy for the true worship of God. Here we see his ardent affection for his disciples. There is no one Jesus would rather have been with on this last night than his closest friends. As he looked into the faces of the men gathered around the table that night, his heart was full because his intense longing to share this meal with them was satisfied.

Why did Jesus have this deep desire? It may have been because Passover was such a blessed occasion for the people of God. Passover was a sacramental celebration of God’s deliverance—a commemoration of Israel’s exodus. Every year the people of God offered a lamb to remember the sacrificial blood that had saved their ancestors on the famous night in Egypt when the angel of death passed over their houses. They ate bitter herbs to remember the bitter years of their slavery to Pharaoh, but they ate them while reclining at table—a symbol of freedom to show that they were no longer slaves. They also ate unleavened bread to symbolize their hasty departure the night they made their exodus from Egypt. The people of God looked forward to doing all of this at Passover. For Jesus and his disciples, the feast brought back some of the happiest memories of childhood: making the annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem, eating roast lamb with their families, and praising God for his salvation.

There is more, however. Jesus was not just longing for Passover, but also anticipating his death on the cross, and it is in this context that he earnestly desired to eat and drink with his disciples. Jesus was specific about this. He said, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15). For many months Jesus had been telling his disciples that he would “suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed” (see Luke 9:22). Now the conspiracy was under way that would culminate in his crucifixion. But there was something Jesus wanted to do first: before he suffered, he wanted to host the farewell feast for his disciples that would help them understand what he was about to do for their salvation.

Jesus also desired to have this of all Passovers with his disciples because the feast was about to find its fulfillment. Passover was a time to look back and remember how God had saved his people in the past. In the plan of God, however, Passover also looked forward to the full and final salvation that God would provide in the person and work of the Messiah. So Jesus said, “I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God” (Luke 22:16).

At first it may sound as if Jesus was telling his disciples that after an undetermined delay, he would sit down and share this meal with them again. If so, then Jesus must have been thinking in terms of his coming glory and referring to the last of all feasts—what the Bible calls “the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:9). Yet Jesus may simply have meant that he would never share Passover with them again. In Hebrew usage, the word “until” does not necessarily imply that something will happen again. To cite just one example, when the Bible says that the prophet Samuel “did not see Saul again until the day of his death” (1 Sam. 15:35), this does not mean that Samuel bumped into Saul the day that he died, but that he never saw him again at all. Similarly, Jesus was telling his disciples that this was their last Passover. Soon that sacrament would find its true fulfillment in the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, and they would never have occasion to celebrate it together again. Instead, the people of God would celebrate the new sacrament of the new covenant in Christ by eating the bread and drinking the wine of the Lord’s Supper.

These were some of the reasons why Jesus was so eager to celebrate this Passover with his disciples—the disciples who later that very night would abandon Jesus and deny ever knowing him as the Christ. Johnny Cash once wrote a simple gospel song that captures something of the warm intimacy that the Savior shared with his friends around the table that night. In the song Jesus says to his disciples:

I can tell by your faces

That you don’t understand

The awesome things you’ve felt and seen

At the touch of my hand.

But someday you’ll understand it,

When the Father means for you to

But for now drink the cup and break the bread

And I’ll eat my last supper here with you.

Then comes the refrain:

Have a little bread, Simon;

Pass the wine to James my brother.

Go ahead and eat, fellas, And love one another.

Have a good time, friends,

’Cause tomorrow I must die.

And I’m never going to eat with you again

Till we eat the marriage supper in the sky.

Needless to say, the words “go ahead and eat, fellas” do not appear in any reputable English translation of Luke’s Gospel. This phrase is not part of the words of the institution of the Lord’s Supper as a sacrament for the Christian church. But it does express the friendly affection Jesus had for his disciples, and the love he felt for them in his heart as they sat down to share their last Passover, which was also the first supper of the kingdom of God. Jesus gave this sacramental meal to his disciples because he loved them.

The Cup of Thanksgiving

The transition from Passover to the Lord’s Supper helps explain why Luke tells us about two cups in this passage, and not just one. Anyone who is familiar with the Christian sacrament of the Lord’s Supper knows that there is only one loaf of bread and one cup of communion. In Luke’s account of the Last Supper, however, Jesus offers his disciples both a cup of thanksgiving (Luke 22:17) and the cup of the new covenant (Luke 22:20).

Some scholars think that having two cups is a difficulty and have tried to get around it by claiming that the last half of verse 19 and all of verse 20 are not part of the original manuscripts for the Gospel of Luke. They point out that these verses (which are absent from some ancient manuscripts of the New Testament) sound almost exactly like 1 Corinthians 11:24–25, so they may have been “borrowed” from the apostle Paul. Yet the vast majority of the ancient biblical manuscripts include the full text of verses 19 and 20. The reason a few manuscripts differ is probably that some scribe or other tried to resolve the difficulty himself and decided that there should really be only one cup.

Not only do both cups belong here, but they both help us to understand what Jesus was teaching his disciples. In all likelihood, the first cup was not part of the Lord’s Supper, but part of the traditional celebration of Passover. Four cups of salvation were raised during the Passover meal—one for each promise of deliverance that God gave to his people through the prophet Moses. This seems to be the context for what Luke tells us in verses 17 and 18: “And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, ‘Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes’ ” (Luke 22:17–18). It is not entirely clear which cup this may have been, but whether it was the first cup of the feast or the last, it was part of “this Passover”—the one that Jesus said he wanted to celebrate with his disciples (Luke 22:15).

The first cup that Luke mentions was for thanksgiving. When Jesus raised it for his disciples, he first gave thanks to God. We do not know exactly what Jesus said when he prayed. Presumably, he praised the Father for his mighty works of saving power. But it is enough for us to know that he celebrated this feast with a glad and thankful heart, and that when he gave this thankful cup to his disciples, they drank it together. They were sharing a communal celebration of God’s saving power.

Once again, Jesus said that he would not share this cup with them again until kingdom come. Or, to take what he said more literally, he would not drink any wine of any kind. Again, it is hard to be entirely certain what Jesus meant by “until” and what he meant by “the kingdom of God.” Many of the early church fathers thought Jesus was talking about the resurrection of his body: his lips would touch no wine until he was raised from the dead. Possibly the word “until” means here what it seems to mean in verse 16, namely, that he will not share this Passover with them again. More likely, Jesus was looking forward to the banquet he has promised to share with us in the coming age. He would not keep a feast of the same kind again until he ate the last of all suppers, on the day when “the grand Consummation has arrived with the final victory over all the evil powers.”

What does seem clear is that Jesus connected the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper to Passover. “Jesus is interpreting His death in a Passover context,” writes Leon Morris, “and making it clear that it has saving significance.” The Last Supper is both the last Passover and the first communion. By way of analogy, this meal is like a video sequence in which one image fades away while at the same time a superimposed image is coming into focus. The meal morphs from Passover into communion, from the Last Supper of the old administration to the first supper of the new covenant.

F. W. Krummacher used a different analogy to make the same point, comparing the meal in the upper room to a blossom on a tree that grows into fruit. “Christ has exalted the Mosaic festival of the Passover,” Krummacher said, “by changing it into His sacrament.” Jesus made this change because it was one of the best ways for his disciples to understand his saving work. Seeing the Lord’s Supper in the context of Passover teaches us what Jesus was doing for us on the cross. The apostle Paul made a similar connection when he said, “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival” (1 Cor. 5:7–8).

The Bread of Remembrance

This brings us to the two elements Jesus used to celebrate the First Supper: the bread of remembrance and the cup of the new covenant. We begin the way that Jesus did, with the bread: “And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me’ ” (Luke 22:19).

The people of God always ate bread when they celebrated Passover. But here, by the words that instituted the Lord’s Supper, Jesus invested the breaking of the bread with new and surprising significance. It is not simply what Jesus did that is important here, but also what he said. The words “do this” indicate that Jesus intended the sacramental acts of breaking the bread (and pouring the cup) to be repeated in the worship of the church. But in order for us to know what it means to “do this” in remembrance of Jesus, the physical sign of breaking the bread must be interpreted by the sacramental words of our Savior. They are words it takes only a moment to understand but a lifetime to comprehend, for although they are simple in themselves, they reveal many deep mysteries of the gospel.

What are some of the things we learn from what Jesus said about the bread? We learn that the bread of this sacrament is to be received with thanksgiving, for Jesus gave thanks before he broke it (Luke 22:19). This is why some Christians call communion “the Eucharist,” which is simply the Greek word for giving thanks (eucharisteō). The Lord’s Supper is a gift of God’s grace, and therefore it is to be received with a grateful heart.

We learn further that the sacramental bread “is” the body of Jesus Christ. This immediately raises further questions, because our interpretation of what Jesus meant by saying this depends on what our definition of “is” is. Some Christians believe that Jesus is speaking literally here, and therefore that in some way the physical essence of the bread must be changed or transubstantiated into the very body of Christ. There are many reasons to think that this interpretation is incorrect, including some that are obvious from the immediate context. What sense does it make to say that the bread is identical with the body of Christ when Jesus is right there with his disciples already, in his physical body, breaking bread with them?

The disciples themselves would have been astonished that anyone would even think of taking Jesus literally here. The very idea would have been alien to their whole way of thinking about Jesus or the sacraments. By this time they were well used to their Lord speaking to them in figures of speech. When Jesus said, “I am the door” (John 10:9), they did not start looking for his hinges, and when he said, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35), they did not assume that his dough was made from scratch! The disciples instinctively recognized that Jesus was not speaking literally at all, but using metaphors to make a spiritual comparison.

Similarly, when Jesus said “This bread is my body,” he was not giving his disciples a philosophical theory of the sacraments, but drawing a simple comparison that would help them understand the meaning of his death. He was not describing a physical change, but making a sacramental identification. The union or association between Jesus and the bread is not physical, but spiritual. To say that the bread is his body is to say that it “represents” or “signifies” or “symbolizes” his body. In the words of John Calvin, “the bread is called body because it is symbol of the body.”

Undoubtedly one of the reasons Jesus chose bread to serve as this sacramental symbol is that bread is so basic to life itself. We cannot live without our daily bread. So when Jesus tells us to take and eat the bread that signifies his body, he is giving us something we cannot live without—something we need to nourish our souls.

Jesus gives us this life-giving nourishment in the bread of the Lord’s Supper. “Give” is just the word to use, because Jesus said, “This is my body, which is given for you.” In breaking the bread, Jesus is offering us himself. To be more specific, he is offering us himself in his bodily sacrifice for our sins.

There may be a reminder of this bodily sacrifice in the very fact that the sacramental bread is broken. This action echoes the famous prophecy in Isaiah 53, where it was promised that our Suffering Servant would be “wounded for our transgressions” and “crushed for our iniquities” (Isa. 53:5). Thus the breaking of the bread may serve as a sacramental signification of the bruised servant—a depiction, so to speak, of his sacrifice.

The atoning death of Jesus is even more obviously signified in the words “for you” (Luke 22:19). The New Testament uses this language to indicate that Jesus died on our behalf, that his sacrifice was substitutionary (e.g., Gal. 1:4; 3:13). When Jesus said to his disciples, “This is my body, which is given for you,” he was already looking ahead to what he would do for them and for all his disciples on the cross. Jesus was speaking of himself as a saving sacrifice. He would give himself for us, dying in our place to pay the death penalty that we deserve for our sins.

To say that Jesus died “for you” is to say something more than that he died for your benefit; it is to say that he died in your place, suffering the death that you deserved to die. This can be illustrated from something that happened not long after the end of the American Civil War, when a man in farm clothes was seen kneeling at a soldier’s grave in Nashville, Tennessee. A sympathetic bystander asked him, “Is that the grave of your son?” “No,” the farmer replied, “I have seven children, all of them young, and a wife on my poor farm in Illinois. I was drafted into the Union army, and despite the great hardship it would cause to my family, I was required to serve. But on the morning I was to depart, the man who now lies in this grave—my neighbor’s oldest son—came over and offered to take my place in the war.” When the farmer stepped away, the bystander could see the words he had written on the gravestone. They simply read, “He died for me.” This is the testimony of every believer in Jesus Christ: we have a Savior who offered himself in our place. Whenever we break bread at his table, we say, “He died for me.”

The old Scottish Presbyterian John Willison summarized everything we have been saying about the bread in his Sacramental Catechism. The catechism asks, “What is the meaning of the words, ‘This is My body, broken for you’?” Then it gives this answer: “The meaning is that this broken bread is Christ’s body spiritually and sacramentally, or that it signifies and represents His body, and is a visible sign and token of His body’s being broken, bruised and crucified; yes, crucified for you, even wounded for your transgressions, and bruised for your iniquities.”

We remember all this every time we celebrate the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). So we break the bread in remembrance of Jesus, calling to mind the body that he sacrificed for our sins. We do not sacrifice Jesus all over again, of course. The sacrament is to be celebrated the way that Jesus celebrated it: not on an altar, but at a table. We do not repeat or reenact the sacrifice of Jesus, but we do remember his once-and-for-all death for our sins (see Heb. 7:27). We remember Jesus himself, who even now is blessing us by his grace. We are called to remembrance because “our Savior knows that we have worldly hearts and treacherous memories, and that we stand in need of all these memorials to keep up the lively remembrance of His love.”

By faith and by the living presence of the Holy Spirit, we also do something more than remember: we have real spiritual participation in the life of Christ. The apostle Paul taught this by asking, “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” (1 Cor. 10:16). Yes, the Lord’s Supper is a spiritual participation in the body and blood of Jesus Christ. The sacrament is more than a remembrance. But it is not less. As often as we do this sacrament, we remember what Jesus did for us in his death and gave to us when he offered his body for our sins.

The Cup of the New Covenant

It was not just his body that Jesus offered for us, but also his blood, which is signified in the cup of the new covenant: “And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood’ ” (Luke 22:20).

This is the second cup that Luke has mentioned in his account of the Last Supper. The first cup—the cup of thanksgiving—was probably part of Passover. The second cup—the cup of the new covenant in Christ’s blood—is certainly part of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

Like the bread, the cup is a symbol that signifies Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross. Just as the bread signifies Christ’s body, so also the cup signifies his blood. These two words—the “body” and the “blood”—appear together several places in Scripture (e.g., Lev. 17:11–14; Deut. 12:23; Heb. 13:11). When they do, it is always in the context of sacrifice. “The body and the blood” is sacrificial terminology, which makes sense, because it is of the very nature of a sacrifice to separate the blood from the body. When a sacrifice is offered, blood is poured out, which Jesus signified by pouring out the cup for his disciples. Even before he shed his blood on the cross for our sins, he gave us the sacrament that shows this sacrifice.

Jesus said that in pouring out his blood he was establishing a new covenant, the new covenant that was brought into being by his death as a sacrifice. To understand what this means, we need to begin with the old covenant, and the sacrificial blood on which it was based. It is characteristic of the covenants that God has made with his people for salvation that they are made by sacrifice. A covenant is a bond in blood, a solemn commitment that God will keep his saving promise to the very death. This is always indicated by a blood sacrifice.

One of the best places to see this is Exodus 24, a passage in which God makes a covenant with his people through the prophet Moses and speaks specifically about “the blood of the covenant.” On the day that covenant was confirmed, Moses collected the blood of many sacrifices into large basins and threw half of it against the holy altar of sacrifice in the house of God (Exod. 24:6). He took the other half and threw it on the people, saying, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you” (Exod. 24:8). Making the covenant was a messy, bloody business. It was not signed like a contract, but sealed in blood. This was a sign of God’s mercy, for the blood on the altar showed that the people had forgiveness for their sins, while the blood on the people themselves showed that they were included in the covenant of salvation.

That was the old covenant, but now Jesus had come to establish a new covenant. This was the covenant that God promised through the prophet Jeremiah, when he said, “I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.… I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.… For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jer. 31:31–34). Even the old covenant was a covenant of grace, but it was always looking forward to the time when God would fulfill all the promises of salvation. God promised to write his law on our hearts. He promised that he would be our God, and we would be his people. He promised to forgive all our sins forever.

Jesus is the answer to all the old promises of the covenant. This is what Jesus was telling his disciples the night of the First Supper. The new covenant had come! Jesus said, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant.” Then he added these staggering words—words that take our breath away, if we understand what they mean: “in my blood” (Luke 22:20). What is new about the new covenant is that it is established by the blood of God. Of all the things that we could say about the newness of the new covenant, this is the place where we must begin: with the fact that the Son of God shed his own blood for our sins—“my blood of the covenant” he calls it in the Gospels of Matthew (26:28) and Mark (14:24).

The old sacrifices were getting God’s people ready to understand this amazing reality. The Old Testament is full of blood sacrifices: the sacrifices of Adam, Noah, and all the patriarchs; the sacrifices that were offered at Passover; the sacrifices that Moses made to establish the covenant; the sacrifices at the tabernacle and later at the temple; the sacrifices on the day of atonement—on and on and on it goes, blood after blood after blood. These old covenant sacrifices were offered again and again because they were only animal sacrifices, and therefore in themselves they could not atone for human sin.

Then Jesus came to offer once-and-for-all atonement for sin through the sacrifice of his blood. On the eve of that sacrifice, he announced that he would establish the new covenant with his very own blood—the blood he would shed on the cross for our sins. Understand that God has never asked anyone else to shed any blood to establish the covenant of salvation; he offered the covenant blood himself. This is what Jesus was emphasizing when he instituted the Lord’s Supper. “It is my blood that will do this thing,” he was saying. “It is my blood that will establish the covenant. It is my blood that will atone for your sins. It is my blood that will gain your salvation. All that I ask of you is to believe in the cross where I will give my blood for you, and then by faith you will drink in all the benefits of the sacrifice I have made for you.”

A Sacrament for You

This was the legacy Jesus left for his disciples the night that he was condemned to die. Rather than thinking of what he wanted to have for himself—the way people usually do when they are led to their execution—he was thinking about what he wanted to give of himself. He would give his disciples a meal to remember before making the sacrifice they could never forget.

Do you understand what Jesus has done for your salvation in his death on the cross? Do you understand the bread of remembrance and the cup of the new covenant that Jesus gives in the Lord’s Supper? As J. C. Ryle explained, “The two elements of bread and wine were intended to preach Christ crucified as our substitute. They were to be a visible sermon, appealing to the believer’s senses, and teaching the old foundation-truth of the Gospel, that Christ’s death on the cross is the life of man’s soul.” This is also the foundation-truth of the Christian life: Christ’s death on the cross for the life of your soul.

If you understand this sacrament and the sacrifice that it signifies, then know this as well, and know it for sure: Jesus desires to share his supper with you every bit as eagerly as he wanted to share it with his disciples the night of the First Supper. Jesus died for you as much as he died for them, and he loves you as much as he loves them. It is to you that the bread is given and to you that the cup is poured, because it was for you that his body was broken and for you that his blood was shed.[2]


Luke 22:19. Which is given for you. The other two Evangelists leave out this clause, which, however, is far from being superfluous; for the reason why the flesh of Christ becomes bread to us is, that by it salvation was once procured for us. And as the crucified flesh itself is of no advantage but to those who eat it by faith, so, on the other hand, the eating of it would be unmeaning, and of hardly any value, were it not in reference to the sacrifice which was once offered. Whoever then desires that the flesh of Christ should afford nourishment to him, let him look at it as having been offered on the cross, that it might be the price of our reconciliation with God. But what Matthew and Mark leave out in reference to the symbol of bread, they express in reference to the cup, saying, that the blood was to be shed for the remission of sins; and this observation must be extended to both clauses. So then, in order that we may feed aright on the flesh of Christ, we must contemplate the sacrifice of it, because it was necessary that it should have been once given for our salvation, that it might every day be given to us.[3]


19–20 As stated above, these words of institution may come from a non-Markan source. Similar wording in 1 Corinthians 11:24–25, written before AD 60, shows that it was probably an early source used by both Luke and Paul. This supports the reliability of Luke’s research (1:1–4). The suffering motif is consistent with Jesus’ understanding of his mission as the Suffering Servant.

The “bread” (arton, GK 788, v. 19) was the thin, unleavened bread used in the Passover. “Gave thanks” translates the verb eucharisteō (GK 2373), the source of the beautiful word Eucharist often used to signify the Lord’s Supper. Luke alone has “given for you” (hyper hymōn didomenon [GK 1443]) in the saying over the bread, as well as “poured out for you” (to hyper hymōn ekchynnomenon [GK 1773]) in the cup saying (v. 20). The “pouring out” may be interpreted as a symbolic act that points to Jesus’ own death on the cross (see, however, L. C. Boughton, “ ‘Being Shed for You/Many’: Time-Sense and Consequences in the Synoptic Cup Citations,” TynBul 48 [1997]: 249–70, who points to the possibility of a future reference in this present passive participle).

“In remembrance of me” (v. 19) directs our attention primarily to the person of Christ and not merely to the benefits we receive (of whatever nature we may understand them to be) from partaking of the bread and cup. The final cup, following the sequence of several refillings during the Passover, signifies the “new covenant” (v. 20) in Jesus’ blood. The disciples would have been reminded of the “blood of the covenant” (Ex 24:8), i.e., the blood used ceremonially to confirm the covenant. The new covenant (cf. Jer 31:31–34) carried with it assurance of forgiveness through Jesus’ blood shed on the cross and the inner work of the Holy Spirit in motivating us and enabling us to fulfill our covenantal responsibility.[4]


19–20        Jesus follows generally the order of the Passover celebration, but lingers over the bread and cup in order to charge them with interpretive significance that draws on yet departs from the meaning of Passover. Interestingly, though sacrificial images are present in these verses (see below), Jesus evokes no direct comparison between the Passover lamb and himself, preferring instead to interpret the bread and cup.60 Nor does Luke portray the manner of his death with reference to the breaking of the bread, an act that is merely preparatory to the distribution of the bread and devoid of symbolic significance. If the breaking of the bread bears no metaphorical weight, this is not true of its distribution, however. “Giving one’s body” is potent as an image for giving one’s life (in battle) for the sake of one’s people.62 The sequence Luke describes with reference to the bread—took + gave thanks + broke + gave—is reminiscent of Jesus’ actions in the feeding of the multitudes in 9:16. It is remarkable that the feeding miracle is also set in a co-text in which kingdom proclamation and messianic suffering figure prominently (9:1–27). The Scriptures employ the image of “the cup” both with reference to participation in salvation and, especially, with reference to divine judgment.65 Similarly, “blood poured out” signals violent death. Jesus, then, is not enacting (or teaching his followers how to reenact) his death through his actions;67 rather, he is interpreting through his words the significance of this Passover and, thus, of his death.

Jesus follows up the bread word with instruction to “Do this in remembrance of me.” The notion of “remembrance” is pivotal to the celebration of Passover and cannot be limited, as it often is in English usage, to the idea of cognitive recall of a prior occurrence. In the biblical tradition, cognitive (or affective) recall is often triggered by verbal communication for that purpose, and this provides the impetus for some response or action. In a related sense, “remembrance” is often employed with the sense of “the effect of the recollection of the past for present or future benefit.”69 With the repeated celebration of Passover as precursor, and with this linguistic background for the understanding of remembrance, we may understand Jesus as instructing his followers not only to continue sharing meals together, but to do so in a way that their fellowship meals recalled the significance of his own life and death in obedience to God on behalf of others. This recollection should have the effect of drawing forth responses reminiscent of Jesus’ own table manners—his openness to outsiders, his comportment as a servant, his indifference toward issues of status honor, and the like—so that these features of his life would come to be embodied in the community of those who call him Lord. “A meal in memory of Jesus is one which celebrates and prolongs his lifestyle of justice and of serving the Father’s food to all.”

If “the cup” is a metaphorical referent to divine judgment, the train of thought thus initiated is helped along by the reference to “blood poured out,” which signals violent death and sacrifice. The phraseology of v 20 (“new covenant in my blood”) goes further, alluding to two OT texts that indicate Jesus’ interpretation of his death as an effective, covenantal sacrifice. The language of “new covenant” is drawn from Jer 31:31–34; there, as in the portrayal of the ministry of Jesus in the Third Gospel, the eschatological work of God is developed with reference to the forgiveness of sins. Indeed, throughout Luke-Acts, Jesus is presented as the Savior who grants forgiveness of sins. Setting the cup-word within the larger framework of Luke’s presentation of Jesus’ ministry disallows any notion of a “new covenant” discontinuous with the old, for Luke has emphasized the continuity between the ancient purpose of God and its fulfillment in the coming of Jesus. Similarly, in a number of Qumranic texts, the phrase “new covenant” functions as a cipher for a renewal of the covenant in conjunction with those whom God has called.73 Additionally, in the phrase “covenant in my blood,” one may hear an allusion to Exod 24:8, the covenant sacrifice that, in targumic texts, is interpreted as having been effective as an atoning sacrifice for the people by which they were brought into covenant with Yahweh. By means of this allusion, a typological relationship is drawn between the covenant sacrifice of Exod 24:8 and the death of Jesus, so that Jesus’ death is said to atone for the sins of the people and thus to enable their participation in the renewed, eschatological covenant with God.

“Covenant” is fundamentally a relational term, pointing in this case to the bond of fidelity and love between God and humanity. The “you” with whom Jesus thus renews the divine covenant refers to the apostles who have joined him at the table, but it is precisely here that Luke’s rationale for designating them in this co-text as “apostles” (rather than “disciples”) comes into sharp focus. As “apostles,” they are chosen to represent and to lead Israel (cf. 6:12–16; 22:29–30); hence, this covenant is extended beyond Jesus’ immediate table partners to all who embrace “good news to the poor” (see above on 4:18–19).

It is remarkable that this Lukan text attributes such far-reaching significance to the death of Jesus, since the notion of the cross’s substitutionary role is completely missing in the missionary sermons in Acts and otherwise present only in Paul’s farewell address (Acts 20:28). Elsewhere, Luke emphasizes more pointedly (and pervasively) the salvific role of Jesus’ exaltation.[5]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2014). Luke 18–24 (pp. 277–284). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] Ryken, P. G. (2009). Luke. (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.) (Vol. 2, pp. 459–472). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.

[3] Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Vol. 3, p. 212). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[4] Liefeld, W. L., & Pao, D. W. (2007). Luke. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, p. 313). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[5] Green, J. B. (1997). The Gospel of Luke (pp. 761–764). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

05/29/19 Emotions — ChuckLawless.com

READING: 1 Kings 21-22, John 7:45-8:20

In some ways, most of us are babies.* Of course, I don’t mean that others must feed us and change our diapers. Nor do I mean that we are brand new believers. Instead, I mean that sometimes even the strongest believers act like babies – especially when they don’t get their way. I wish I could say that I’ve never been in that camp, but that’s not true. I don’t like it, either, when things don’t go my way.

King Ahab exhibited that same kind of spirit with a seeming depth of emotion that is hard to fathom. He asked Naboth to allow him to purchase his vineyard, but when Naboth refused, Ahab “lay down on his bed, turned his face away, and didn’t eat any food” (1 Kings 21:4). Imagine wanting a piece of land so badly that you go into a sulking, self-centered defeat when you could not get it. Think about how much you must’ve wanted it if you could not even eat in your grief! Ahab allowed his desire for the vineyard to so consume him that he could not get out of bed.

It all seems quite strange, actually. The king pouted like an immature child because he could not have somebody else’s vineyard. Selfishness, covetousness, anger, and resentfulness had reduced a king to a bed-ridden recluse who would talk to no one. I find that picture hard to believe . . .  until I think about my own tendency to act that way.  Sometimes, I’m just a baby, too.

In the light of the story of Ahab, I‘ve learned again just how much I need God to change my tendencies, grow me past my immaturity, and grant me wisdom to trust Him fully – even if I don’t always get everything I want.

PRAYER: “Father, help me to continue to grow in my walk, regardless of how old I am.”

TOMORROW’S READING: 2 Kings 1-3, John 8:21-47

*first published in 2017

via 05/29/19 Emotions — ChuckLawless.com

May 29 For the love of God (Vol. 2)

Deuteronomy 2; Psalms 83–84; Isaiah 30; Jude

 

isaiah 30–31 stand together as a stern denunciation of all who pursue an alliance with Egypt. Both chapters open with formidable opposition to this alliance (30:1–5; 31:1–3). But Isaiah 30 concludes with the grace of God, while Isaiah 31 ends in a mighty call to repentance. Striking parallels emerge between Isaiah 30 and today’s second highlighted reading, Jude.

The first half of Isaiah 30 denounces the leaders in Judah who are aggressively pursuing the help of Egypt. Already their envoys have reached cities in Egypt’s Nile delta (30:4). Donkeys and camels, burdened with wealth to buy Egypt’s support, are crossing the Negev on their way south. From God’s perspective this proves that they are covenantally unfaithful. They are “obstinate children,” “deceitful children” (30:1, 9), literally “rebellious sons”—instead of being the faithful son God expected (Ex. 4:22–23). They are more like the proverbial “rebellious son” of Deuteronomy 21:18–21, utterly unteachable and finally to be condemned. And the reason is disheartening: they do not want to listen to revelation—whether the ancient covenantal stipulations that forbade any return to Egypt (Ex. 13:17; Deut. 17:16) or the visions of their contemporary prophets and seers (30:10). Their criterion for acceptable sermons is painfully simple: “Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel” (30:10–11). That sounds desperately reminiscent of much of the quest for “spirituality” in our day, inside and outside the church, and for much of “therapeutic Christianity,” for much of ecumenical Christianity, for much of the health and wealth gospel. There are huge differences among these movements, of course, but what is characteristically missing in them is the powerful theme of impending judgment wherever there is no unqualified submission to God’s gracious revelation.

Our hope is the grace of God (30:17–33). He longs to be gracious to his people (30:18)—whether as their Teacher (30:18–22), the One who heals their land (30:23–26), or the Warrior who defends them (30:27–33). Here are the fundamental alternatives: grace (30:18) or Topheth (30:33), the fire pit that anticipates hell itself. Jude understands this. In his own day false teachers leading the people astray are “godless men … who suffer the punishment of eternal fire” (Jude 4, 7). By contrast, “To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore!” (24–25).[1]


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

May 29 For the love of God (Vol. 1)

Deuteronomy 2; Psalms 83–84; Isaiah 30; Jude

 

“for the lord god is a sun and a shield: the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you” (Ps. 84:11–12).

Much of this psalm exults in the sheer privilege and delight of abiding in the presence of God, which for the children of the old covenant meant living in the shadow of the temple. “My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God” (84:2). To have a place “near your altar” is to have a home, in exactly the same way that a sparrow finds a home or a swallow builds a nest (84:3). “Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you” (84:4; see also the meditation for April 17).

But what about the last two verses of this psalm? Don’t they go over the top, promising too much? The psalmist insists that God withholds “no good thing” from those whose walk is blameless. Well, since we all sin, I suppose there is an escape clause: who is blameless? Isn’t it obvious that God withholds lots of good things from lots of people whose walk is about as blameless as walks can get, this side of the new heaven and the new earth?

Consider Eric Liddell, the famous Scottish Olympian celebrated in the film Chariots of Fire. Liddell became a missionary in China. For ten years he taught in a school, and then went farther inland to do frontline evangelism. The work was not only challenging but dangerous, not the least because the Japanese were making increasing inroads. Eventually he was interned with many other Westerners. In the squalid camp, Liddell was a shining light of service and good cheer, a lodestar for the many children there who had not seen their parents for years, a self-sacrificing leader. But a few months before they were released, Liddell died of a brain tumor. He was forty-three. In this life he never saw the youngest of his three daughters: his wife and children had returned to Canada before the Japanese sweep that rounded up the foreigners. Didn’t the Lord withhold from him a long life, years of fruitful service, the joy of rearing his own children?

Perhaps the best response lies in Liddell’s favorite hymn:

Be still, my soul! the Lord is on thy side;

Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.

Leave to thy God to order and provide;

In every change, He faithful will remain.

Be still, my soul! thy best, thy heav’nly Friend

Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.[1]


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

Snyder: A Random Encounter In A Diner On Memorial Day Shows Exactly Where America Is Heading… | Zero Hedge

“… the most narcissistic generation in American history… feel entitled to everything, but they don’t want to work for it…”

Authored by Michael Snyder via The End of The American Dream blog,

In this article I am going to share with you a perfect example of why so many people believe that there is so little hope for the future of America.  The young adults of today are going to be the leaders of tomorrow, and generally speaking the young adults of today are not in good shape.  Survey after survey has shown that Millennials reject traditional American values more than any other generation that has come before them by a very wide margin.  They are selfish, rude, arrogant, boastful, proud, disrespectful, ungrateful, undisciplined, slothful and completely obsessed with themselves.  In fact, one study found that they are the most narcissistic generation in American history They feel entitled to everything, but they don’t want to work for it.  They want to be treated like kings and queens, but they don’t see a problem with treating others like dirt.  Of course there are plenty of young adults that are shining exceptions, but in general young adults under the age of 30 in America today are a complete mess.

Earlier today, I came across a story that illustrates this perfectly.  Michael Boldea took his family to a local eating establishment to celebrate Memorial Day on Monday, and he encountered a young couple that could be the poster children for the entire Millennial generation.  The following is an extended excerpt from the Facebook post where Michael Boldea told this story

Neither of them could have been more than thirty, but both were well into adulthood. She was wearing pajamas and carrying a pillow, he had on a pair of shorts that had seen better days, and a shirt he must have been wearing for about a week given all the food stains down the front of it.

They were seated at a booth next to ours, and the first of many complaints was that the booth was too tight. I’m a hefty fellow, and I was seated in an identical booth with room to spare. For a good three minutes, the pajama laden woman who also happened to be a good hundred pounds over the threshold of obesity berated the waitress for the booth being snug, while the waitress apologetically explained that she hadn’t built the booth, but would pass it along to management.

This was only the first volley of what would be a good thirty minutes of macabre drama from which I couldn’t look away. A drama replete with demands for a free meal, asking for another omelet even though over three-quarters of the omelet that was deemed inedible had already been eaten, and a request for the manager to complain about the rudeness of the waitress.

I was there. I heard every word, and the waitress had not been rude. Had it been me, they would have been asked to leave five minutes in, but I have a low threshold for entitlement and rudeness.

They finished their meal, left without tipping, and made sure they were loud enough in their adamant insistence that they would never return to this dump as they walked out.

I’d never seen anything like this in my life, but upon talking to the waitress afterward, apparently, it’s happening more and more in recent years.

Even if they are not running things themselves in the future, these are the people that will be choosing who runs our country.

Either way, we are in big, big trouble.

Once again I should note that there are definitely exceptions to what I am talking about.  I personally know some wonderful young adults, but the problem is that there is not nearly enough of them.

Most of our young adults are the product of a deeply flawed education system, have had thousands of hours of “garbage entertainment” poured into the minds, and have been systematically trained to reject the values that this country was founded upon.

As a result, the future of our nation is looking exceedingly bleak at this point.

Let me give you another example.  Not too long ago, a 27-year-old woman literally tried to drown her newborn baby in a McDonald’s toilet

A California woman who tried to drown her newborn in a McDonald’s toilet received no jail time during sentencing this month.

Sarah Jane Lockner, 27, escaped jail time and was, instead, sentenced to four years of supervised probation on May 3 in the courtroom of San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Stephanie Garratt. Lockner will also be required to attend parenting classes, according to Fox 13.

Lockner was arrested in January on a charge of attempted murder but later pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of child endangerment.

What kind of legal system gives a woman that tried to drown her newborn baby in a toilet no jail time at all?

Of course this is California we are talking about, and without a doubt the legal system in the state is absolutely insane.

But the truth is that we are seeing legal rulings like this all over the country, and it is because our nation is in a greatly advanced state of decline.

When I went to law school a couple decades ago, I sat next to people that were just like the couple that Michael Boldea encountered in the diner.  I was horrified that law students would show up to class in shorts and flip-flops like they were ready for a day at the beach.  But that is where our entire society is heading these days.  At this point, most Americans don’t show much respect for anyone or anything.

And a great place to see everything that I have talked about in this article in action is on social media.  For some reason, social media seems to bring out the best in people, but it also brings out the worst in people.  If you spend much time on social media, you know exactly what I am talking about.

Perhaps the reason why social media platforms such as Facebook are such a problem is because they are so addictive.  In a recent editorial, U.S. Senator Josh Hawley referred to Facebook as “a digital drug”…

Let’s be clear. This is a digital drug. And the addiction is the point. Addiction is what Mark Zuckerberg is selling.

Like other drugs, this one hurts its users. Attention spans dull. Tempers quicken. Relationships fray.

And those are the benign effects. The Journal of Pediatrics recently noted a surge in attempted suicide: more than double the attempts over the last decade for those under 19, with a tripling among girls and young women 10 to 24. The study’s authors can’t prove social media is to blame, but they strongly suspect it plays a critical role. Congress has a duty to investigate that potential link further.

Look, I know that I have been very rough on Millennials in this article, but let me end on a hopeful note.

Millennials could still become the greatest generation that we have ever seen in all of American history, but they will never get there if they stay on the path that they are currently on.

In the end, life is all about choices, and as a nation we have been making the wrong choices for a very long time.  The young adults of today could choose to be the generation that starts making better choices, and let us hope that a great awakening is just around the corner.
— Read on www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-05-28/snyder-random-encounter-diner-memorial-day-shows-exactly-where-america-heading

Red Light Cameras Headed to the Graveyard of Bad Ideas

Source: AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

When America’s first red light camera system was installed in Jackson, Mississippi in 1992, it was hailed as the beginning of a program that would save lives, improve driving skills, and free police officers from having to monitor busy intersections.  The devices sprang up at intersections in cities large and small across the country; fueled by the huge amount of money the devices generated for local governments (and for the private companies that actually owned and operated the cameras and the accompanying software). 

Defense lawyers, civil libertarians and privacy experts raised serious concerns about the constitutionality of the devices and questioned the manner by which fines were being levied on owners of vehicles nabbed by the electronic cameras. Many complaints focused on the fact that the devices were designed more to generate revenue than for safety. Not surprisingly, however, when questioned about the propriety or legality of charging drivers with expensive traffic offenses, local officials would claim with straight faces that revenue was not the primary – or even a secondary – reason for installing and using the devices; and the money kept rolling in.

But something odd was happening at many of the intersections monitored by red light cameras.  Even as the number of citations issued for running a red light at such locations increased dramatically, so too did accidents.  Studies of this counter-intuitive phenomenon revealed that at camera-monitored intersections, accidents were occurring because drivers – fearful of being caught on camera slipping through a light just before it changed from yellow to red – were slamming on their brakes, and either rear-ending the vehicle in front of them, or being rear-ended themselves by the car following them. 

Technology ostensibly employed to improve safety at intersections, actually was making the locations more dangerous.  This was happening to the extent the problem could not be ignored, and even though jurisdictions using the cameras continued to reap significant cash reward by keeping the devices in place. 

Notwithstanding these legal and practical problems, for two decades local and state governments continued to authorize use of red-light cameras.  The love affair peaked in 2012, with devices deployed in some 530 communities in 23 states.  Cities exhibited unusual degrees of ingenuity in efforts to maintain red-light camera programs despite growing public unease.

The City of Chicago, under former Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s leadership, actually tweaked the timing of yellow lights to shorten them by a fraction of a second, thereby generating an additional 77,000 tickets and an extra $8 million for the city. The ploy was suspended only after being exposed by the Chicago Tribune

Other jurisdictions fought back against any attempts by private citizens to shed light publicly on the problematic systems.  In what obviously was a retaliatory action against a driver who received a red-light camera ticket, a man in Oregon was fined $500 by the state licensing board for doing nothing more than describing himself as an “engineer” when he was researching the matter.

For most individuals who have received such a citation in the mail, simply paying the [often steep] fine outweighs the time and expense of fighting it; and this has been perfectly agreeable for the issuing jurisdictions and for the private companies benefiting financially therefrom.   

Still, the weight of the legal challenges that have proceeded, and the continued citizen outcry against the underhanded manner by which the jurisdictions have been raising money through use of red-light cameras, has taken a justifiable toll.  The practice appears headed for the graveyard of bad ideas that sounded good at the time.

In ten states, the use of red-light cameras is now banned outright; and, in Texas, a bill awaits the governor’s signature to add the Lone Star State to that list.

The reversal of a program that served as a virtual cash cow for so many local governments for so long, is astonishing.  The episode presents a rare but welcome example, that if citizens exert continued legal and political pressure on governments against an inherently unfair and defective program, they can prevail.  It doesn’t happen often enough, but it is sweet indeed when it does.