Daily Archives: July 31, 2019

July 31 The Lifeline to Freedom

Scripture Reading: James 1:12–17

Key Verse: James 1:12

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

Satan cannot have your soul, so he wants nothing more than to ruin your fellowship with the Lord and to sidetrack your walk and your witness.

James, Jesus’ half-brother, describes the destructive progression Satan sets in motion through temptation: “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death” (James 1:14–15 nasb).

We can be carried away and lured to go beyond the limits of our God-given desires and interests. Our own lust can conceive and give birth to sin. But this birth is not one involving life. Rather, it brings forth death.

Jesus, however, is a God of hope. While it sometimes seems as if Satan is throwing everything in his formidable arsenal at us, we can trust in God’s Word and believe Him when He tells us that He is faithful. He will never allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able, in His power, to withstand. God will always give us the opportunity to escape. He always honors His Word. And He is always trustworthy.

The key to overcoming temptation is simple obedience. At times, that may seem impossible. But keep in mind that what is impossible with man is possible with God (Matthew 19:26). The Bible says that He will make a way of escape. The lifeline to freedom forever will be there. It is simply a matter of whether we are willing to grab hold.

Dear Lord, I thank You that You will not allow me to be tempted beyond what I am able. Thank You that the lifeline to freedom is available to me today as I reject temptation.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 222). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

July 31 Spiritual Blindness

Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:3–6

Key Verses: Matthew 13:15–16

“For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.” But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear.

When telling of his conversion experience, the apostle Paul always included the footnote that he was a “Hebrew of Hebrews.”

The people of Paul’s day understood exactly what he was trying to convey. His terminology gave evidence that he was a well-educated Jewish purebred.

From the time of his birth, Paul was taught to think within the confines of the Law of Moses. As a young man, he spent his days in the synagogue where he studied under Gamaliel, one of history’s greatest Jewish scholars.

His debates among Stoic philosophers underscored his vast knowledge. But in reality, Paul was quite blind. Mentally he might have been on the borderline of brilliance, but spiritually he lived in darkness. Only Jesus Christ could provide Paul with an education that would change not only his own life, but the lives of all who followed his teaching.

God’s true wisdom and knowledge cannot be found in a human textbook. You may have a “degree of degrees”; but until you sit in God’s classroom, you are living in spiritual blindness. Ask God to remove the scales from your eyes that may keep you in spiritual blindness. Open your heart to study His Word, and you will find the key to true understanding.

Dear heavenly Father, I can’t make this journey if I cannot see the way. Let the light of Your Word clear up my spiritual blindness. Remove the scales from my eyes.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 222). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

July 31 In Difficult Times

Scripture reading: Psalm 4:1–8

Key verse: Psalm 4:5

Offer the sacrifices of righteousness,

And put your trust in the Lord.

In her book Abiding in Christ, Cynthia Heald writes about her journey of faith during difficult times:

The wise counsel of Proverbs 3:5–6 has been in my heart for over twenty–five years. Although it has become an old friend, its encouragement continues to be fresh and new in my life.

During a recent struggle, it seemed that the Lord was saying to me, “Do you trust Me?” My response was, “Yes, Lord, I trust You. But can’t You rephrase the question: Do you trust Me to work everything out so that you are happy? I think I could really trust You then.”

But the Lord was steadfast: the issue was my unconditional trust. No strings attached, no negotiating, no promises.

In a deeper way, I began to understand what it means to trust God with all my heart. There is no room for bargaining for what I think is best, only implicit confidence and patience in His plan.

The Scriptures do not guarantee that all will be well according to our human perspective. They do, however, promise that God will work all things for our good. As we learn to trust Him no matter what, He develops within us a deeply rooted confidence in Him. This confidence enables us to lean on His understanding and His ways of working in our lives.

Is God asking you to trust Him unconditionally?

Dear heavenly Father, let me trust You unconditionally—even in difficult times.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 222). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Gospel Coalition Writer/Speaker Comes Out in Full Support of Gay Marriage — Christian Research Network

“The Gospel Coalition believes in Gilson so much that not only is she a contributor at TGC, she is promoted in TGC as an upcoming speaker at TGC Women’s Training Network conference. The Women’s Training Network is The Gospel Coalition’s attempt to undermine Biblical Complementarianism.”

(JD Hall – Pulpit & Pen)  A Gospel Coalition writer and conference speaker has come out in full support of gay marriage at a Cru Conference of college students. She is scheduled to speak at another TGC Conference in September and is a part of TGC Women’s Training Network.

Cru, which serendipitously took Christ out of their name as part of a 2012 re-branding effort, is spreading the Social Gospel to college students instead of the real Gospel and is promoting pro-sodomy sentiments instead of doing evangelism.

Reformation Charlotte wrote about aspects of this in yesterday’s post, Campus Crusade for Christ Teaching Kids that It’s Okay to Be Gay.

The tweet is actually a quotation from Rachel Gilson. Gilson, Reformation Charlotte failed to mention (they’re busy) is a contributor to The Gospel Coalition. We wrote about Gilson in a 2018 post entitled The Gospel Coalition Says Church Should Be ‘Safe Space’ for Homosexuals. In that article for TGC, Gilson demanded that church prioritize the comfort of gays in the church (over their spiritual conviction).  View article →

Research

The Gospel Coalition

Progressive Christianity

via Gospel Coalition Writer/Speaker Comes Out in Full Support of Gay Marriage — Christian Research Network

Oops! MSNBC Post-Debate Poll Finds Only Around 27% of Voters Support Their Open Borders, ‘Free’ Healthcare, Reparations Agenda — The Gateway Pundit

MSNBC asked voters on Tuesday after the first CNN Democratic Presidential Debate what they thought about the Democrat platform for 2020.

What they found was that a VAST MAJORITY of Americans reject their insanity.

Only around 27% of Americans agree with Democrats on:

** Medicare for all (41%)
** Decriminalizing border crossings — Open Borders (27%)
** Free healthcare for illegals (33%)
** Reparations (27%)

Thank God.
Americans are not buying their crazy positions.

What a freak show.

via Oops! MSNBC Post-Debate Poll Finds Only Around 27% of Voters Support Their Open Borders, ‘Free’ Healthcare, Reparations Agenda — The Gateway Pundit

July 31, 2019 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

13. Here the Prophet takes away from the Israelites the hope of pardon, and declares that it was all over with them, for God had now resolved to destroy them. For as God everywhere declares himself to be ready and inclined to pardon, hypocrites hope that God will be propitious to them; and entertaining this vain confidence, they despise his threatenings and boldly rise up against him. Hence the Prophet here shows, that God would hereafter be inexorable to them, because they had too long pertinaciously abused his patience. Woe to them! he says, for they have withdrawn from me: desolation to them! for they have acted perfidiously towards me. There is then no reason, says the Prophet, for them to delude themselves in future with vain confidence, as they have hitherto done; for this has been once for all determined by God—to inflict on them his extreme vengeance, for their defection deserves this.

He then adds, I will redeem them, and they have spoken his against me. They who render the first word in the future tense, think that the Prophet asks a question, “Shall I redeem them? for they have spoken lies against me:” and they think it to be an indefinite mode of speaking—“Should I redeem them, men of no faith; for what good should I do by such kindness?” Others give this exposition—“Though I wished to redeem them, yet I found that this would not be beneficial nor just, because they speak lies against me;” as though God did not express here what he had done, but what he had wished to do. But the past tense is not unsuitable to this place; and we know how common and familiar to the Hebrews was the change of tenses. The meaning, then, will be, “I have redeemed them, and they have spoken lies against me;” that is, “I have often delivered them from death, when they were in extreme peril; but they have not changed their disposition; nay, they have deprived me of the praise due for their deliverance, and they have lived in no way better after their deliverance. Since, then, I have hitherto conferred my benefits to no good purpose, nothing now remains but that I must destroy them.” And this seems to me to be the Prophet’s meaning.

He then declares, in the first clause, that they hoped for mercy in vain from God, because their ultimate destruction was decreed. Then follows the reason for this, because they had foolishly and impiously abused the favour of God, inasmuch as, having been redeemed by him, they yet went on in their own wickedness, and even acted perfidiously towards God, while yet they pretended to act differently. Since, then, there was no change for the better, God now shows that he would spend his favour no longer on men so impious. Now this place teaches how intolerable is our ingratitude, when, after having been redeemed by the Lord, we keep not the faith pledged to him, and which he requires from us; for God is our deliverer on this condition, that we be wholly devoted to him. For he who has been redeemed ought not so to live, as if he had a right to himself and to his own will; but he ought to be wholly dependent on his Redeemer. If, then, we thus act perfidiously towards God, after having been delivered by his grace, we shall be guilty of such impiety and perfidiousness as deserve a twofold vengeance: and this is what the Prophet here teaches.

We indeed know how mercifully God had spared the people of Israel: after they had fallen away into superstitious worship, and had also violated their faith to the posterity of David, the Lord did not yet cease to show to that people many favours notwithstanding their unworthiness. We know also, that under Jeroboam prosperity had attended them beyond all human expectation. But they yet hardened themselves more and more in their wickedness, so far were they from returning to the right way. [1]


13 Verse 13 is one of two places in the book where a cry of woe is pronounced upon Israel (the other is 9:12). It is a rhetorical device used by prophets to call attention to calamity and to lament, and such a cry fits a situation in which a heedless Israel stands culpable before YHWH. The initial basis for Hosea’s “woe” is explicated in the first two bicola of the verse:

A

 

B

 

woe …

they have strayed (nādad)

 

devastation (šōd)

they have rebelled (pāšaʿ).

 

In the bicola the “woe” is reinforced by “devastation,” and the verbs “stray” and “rebel” play the same role.

The use of the verb rebel may have political nuance. It can be used for those who revolt against a political overlord (1 Kgs. 12:19; 2 Kgs. 1:1; 8:20). The connotation of rebelling against an authority or breaking faith with someone carries over to its use in the theological sense of spurning God or rejecting divine instruction. This is the way the term is used in 8:1.

Verse 13 concludes with a colon expressing a supposed condition (that YHWH would redeem Israel) that sadly will not come to pass. The people are portrayed yet a third time in v. 13 in negative terms as speaking “lies” (kĕzābîm). It is also a word that Hosea uses elsewhere (12:1 [MT 2]).[2]


7:13 / Woe in verse 13 clearly marks off verses 13–16 as a separate oracle. Woes were pronounced over those who were doomed or who were already dead, and so this oracle is an announcement from Yahweh that Israel is doomed to die. The reason for the announcement gathers up the two primary sins for which Israel is condemned throughout the book of Hosea: the sin of apostasy, in turning to worship the baals, and the sin of rebellion, in relying on politics and other nations for deliverance (see the introduction).

The depth of Israel’s perfidy is emphasized by the contrasts drawn in the Hebrew:

verse 13c: “I [emphasized with a separate pronoun] would redeem them, but they [again emphasized with a separate pronoun] spoke against me lies.”

verse 15: “And I [emphasized] trained them, I strengthened their arms, but me they regarded as evil.”

The verb rebelled in verse 13b is from the Hebrew pāšaʿ, is frequently found in the prophetic writings, and is the strongest term used for sin in the ot. It is a political term, indicating refusal to submit to authority, e.g., rebellion against a king (cf. 1 Kgs. 12:19). Thus God here accuses Israel of denying his lordship, of being subversive in his kingdom. But the fact that God is Lord over Israel makes judgment on this rebellion necessary, for if God overlooked such revolt, he would not be Israel’s Lord.

God wants to redeem Israel. That is, he wants to buy Israel back from religious slavery to Baal and political slavery to foreign nations. Both hold Israel captive, encompassing the people with a spirit of harlotry (4:12; 5:4) and of adultery (7:4). But when God would redeem his people, they speak lies against God. The term “lies” probably refers to Israel’s false identification of Yahweh with the fertility gods and is intended to characterize what follows in verse 14.[3]


13. fled—as birds from their nest (Pr 27:8; Is 16:2).

me—who both could and would have healed them (Ho 7:1), had they applied to Me.

redeemed them—from Egypt and their other enemies (Mic 6:4).

lies—(Ps 78:36; Je 3:10). Pretending to be My worshippers, when they all the while worshipped idols (Ho 7:14; Ho 12:1); also defrauding Me of the glory of their deliverance, and ascribing it and their other blessings to idols [Calvin].[4]


Ver. 13.—Woe unto them! for they have fled from me: destruction (margin, spoil) unto them! because they have transgressed against me. Of these exclamations, the first is general and indefinite, the second is specific and precise. The thought of coming chastisement calls forth the exclamation of woe; while the second exclamation fixes the character and explains the nature of that woe denounced. In neither case does יְהִי or יָבֹא need to be supplied; the opposite expression is שָׁלוֹם לָהֶם or בְּלָכָה לָהֶם. In assigning the reason, there is a retrospective reference to the figures of the two immediately preceding verses. The word נָדַד with min is employed in relation to birds which, when scared from their nest, fly away. Kimchi thinks it applies to the abstention or withdrawal of the Israelites from Divine service in the national sanctuary in Jerusalem. His comment is: “They fly from me, from the service of the house of my sanctuary, to the service of the calves; and this is a breach of faith and defection from me.” The LXX. translate the beginning of the second clause freely by δειλαῖοι εἰσὶν, equivalent to “they are cowards;” and Jerome by “miseri (maticulose) erunt, et semper timentis ac formidantes.” The cause assigned is their breaking covenant with God, which is expressed by פָּשַׁע, literally, “to break away from,” “tear one’s self loose from.” Though I have redeemed them. This first part of the last clause is rendered (1) as a past by some, as Jerome, who refers it to the redemption from Egypt; thus also the Chaldee: “And I was their Deliverer.” Rosenmüller approves of this, but, instead of restricting it to the deliverance from Egypt, includes their recent deliverance from the Syrians by Jeroboam II. It is (2) better rendered in a voluntative or optative sense: “I would (should like) to redeem them, but they speak lies against (or, concerning) me.” The verb ’ephdem cannot with any propriety be taken for a preterite. Yet they have spoken lies against me; rather, but they on their part have spoken lies concerning me. The prophet had already charged them with lying at ver. 3, and previously at ch. 4:2; but their lies were not confined to their intercourse or dealings with their fellow-men; they spoke lies against or, as the preposition sometimes signifies, concerning God. The lies in question included, no doubt, a denial of his essential Deity or sole Divinity; of his power or willingness either to protect or punish. Or they might consist in their falsehood in drawing near to God with their lips without either true faith or real affection in their hearts; some were directly opposed to the claims of Jehovah, some insincere in his service, and others turned aside to the idolatry of the calves—all, with probably some honourable exceptions, had proved false to his covenant with Israel. The last clause has been taken (3) independently by Ewald, without any considerable alteration of the sense: “I, for my part, would redeem them, but they, on their side, speak lies against me.” Other acceptations, (a) interrogative and (b) conditional, evidently mistake the sense. The whole clause is correctly explained by Kimchi thus: “It was in my heart to redeem them out of their distress; but they speak lies against me, while they say that I know nothing nor exercise any providential care over their actions, whether their actions are good or bad. Therefore I have withdrawn my providential oversight, and have hidden my face from them, and they shall be consumed.”[5]


7:13. This brief unit begins on an ominous note. Woe (’ôy) suggests impending doom (cf. Num. 21:29; Jer. 4:13, 31, “alas”; 48:46), as the next sentence (cf. Destruction to them) clearly shows. The basis for judgment was Israel’s rebellion (cf. Hosea 8:1; 13:16) against the Lord (because they have strayed from Me and because they have rebelled against Me). Despite His desire to save them (God said, I long to redeem them), they had spoken lies against Him. The word for “redeem” (pāḏâh) is used frequently to describe the deliverance from Egypt (cf. Deut. 7:8; 9:26; 13:5; 15:15; 24:18; 2 Sam. 7:23; Ps. 78:42; Micah 6:4). Mays aptly comments, “The God of the Exodus is unchanged in His will, but because of Israel’s lies there will be no exodus’ from the Assyrian danger” (Hosea, p. 111). In this context “lies” probably refers to Israel’s practical denial of God’s redemptive ability, expressed through her attempts to find security through other nations.[6]


7:13 — “ … Though I redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against Me.”

How do we speak lies against our Redeemer? We lie when we say that He has forgotten about us, that He doesn’t keep His promises, that He plays favorites. Such lies bring us nothing but pain.[7]


7:13 redeem. This term from commercial law meaning “buy back” (Lev. 27:27–31) is used also of Israel’s deliverance from bondage (13:14; Ex. 15:13; Deut. 7:8; 9:26; Mic. 6:4).

lies. This may refer to the false ideas about the Lord that had been imported into Israel’s religion, to insincere words of repentance (6:1–3), or more generally to the broken promises of the covenant.[8]


7:13 The section that begins in 6:1 with a call to return to the Lord and be healed ends here with a lament that Israel had done just the opposite. Woe to them is a declaration of coming judgment (9:12; Is 3:9; Jr 50:27; Jd 11). The term for fled is often used of birds (Is 16:2; Jr 4:25) and can also refer to restless wandering (Pr 27:8). Israel could flee from God in rebellion, but they could not escape destruction. The phrase I want to redeem can also be translated “I redeemed,” referring to the exodus (Dt 7:8; 9:26; Mc 6:4). God’s deliverance should cause his people to declare the truth about him.[9]


[1] Calvin, J., & Owen, J. (2010). Commentaries on the Twelve Minor Prophets (Vol. 1, pp. 267–268). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[2] Dearman, J. A. (2010). The Book of Hosea (p. 212). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[3] Achtemeier, E. (2012). Minor Prophets I. (W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston, Eds.) (pp. 60–61). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, p. 656). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[5] Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). Hosea (p. 207). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

[6] Chisholm, R. B., Jr. (1985). Hosea. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, pp. 1395–1396). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[7] Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (Ho 7:13). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.

[8] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 1246). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[9] Clendenen, E. R. (2017). Hosea. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (p. 1359). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

July 31, 2019 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

REUTERS

President Donald Trump’s repeated calls for easier monetary policy may not
be what’s driving the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates on Wednesday.

Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden and rival Kamala Harris will
stage a rematch of last month’s explosive debate confrontation during Round
2 on Wednesday, with a re-energized Biden promising a more aggressive
approach.

Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders offered an unabashed defense of their
progressive policies during a Democratic presidential debate on Tuesday, as
their more moderate rivals criticized their proposals as unrealistic and
politically untenable.

President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he would look to cut defense costs
in future budgets after ramping up military spending during his first 2-1/2
years in office.

California’s Democratic governor signed a law on Tuesday requiring U.S.
presidential candidates to release five years of tax returns before they
can appear on the state’s ballot, a move aimed squarely at Republican
President Donald Trump.

Ethiopia’s parliament passed a bill on Wednesday to open up the country’s
financial sector to an estimated five million citizens living abroad or
with dual nationality, including allowing them to buy shares in local banks
and start lending businesses.

The European Union ended a standoff with Italy over African immigration on
Wednesday, agreeing to take 116 asylum-seekers rescued at sea last week but
denied permission to go ashore by the country’s right-wing interior
minister.

Employees at 11 restaurants and shops in Beijing selling halal products and
visited by Reuters in recent days said officials had told them to remove
images associated with Islam, such as the crescent moon and the word
“halal” written in Arabic, from signs. The campaign has included the
removal of Middle Eastern-style domes on many mosques around the country in
favor of Chinese-style pagodas.

North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles early on Wednesday,
the South Korean military said, only days after it launched two similar
missiles intended to pressure South Korea and the United States to stop
upcoming military drills.

AP Top Stories

The Trump administration said Wednesday it will set up a system allowing
Americans to legally and safely import lower-cost prescription drugs from
Canada for the first time, reversing years of opposition from federal
health authorities amid a public outcry over high prices for
life-sustaining medications.

A roadside bomb tore through a bus in western Afghanistan on Wednesday,
killing at least 32 people, including children, a provincial official said.

A Ukrainian court has ordered the seizure of a Russian tanker stopped last
week over its alleged involvement in a Ukrainian-Russian naval clash last
year.

An Afghan soldier was responsible for the killing of two American troops a
day earlier, an official told AFP Tuesday, in what appears to be the latest
example of an insider attack.

Russian investigators on Tuesday launched a probe into “mass unrest”, a
crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison, after thousands took to the
streets at the weekend to demand fair elections.

Nicaragua granted citizenship Tuesday to former Salvadoran President
Mauricio Funes, who has been in the country under political asylum since
2016 and is wanted back home on allegations of illicit enrichment and
embezzlement.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday restored federal protections
to grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park, abiding by a
court ruling last year that removal of the bears’ threatened status
violated the Endangered Species Act.

President Donald Trump granted five full pardons Monday to John Richard
Bubala, Roy Wayne McKeever, Rodney Takumi, Michael Tedesco and Chalmer Lee
Williams. The president decided each man was worthy of Executive Grants of
Clemency after “a careful review of the files” of each individual. The full
pardons restore federal rights to the men, including the rights to vote and
bear arms.

BBC

Two mothers in Chicago have been killed in a drive-by shooting as they
stood on a street corner in an effort to deter gun violence.

Hong Kong is now in its eighth week of street protests, which began with
opposition to a controversial extradition bill but have spiraled into wider
opposition to the government and Beijing. As the situation grows yet more
tense, the impact is also being felt overseas, particularly among the
hundreds of thousands of mainland Chinese and Hong Kong students studying
in Australia.

A second person has died of Ebola on the Democratic Republic of Congo’s
border with Rwanda, raising fears the deadly illness could spread.

The leader of a South Korean doomsday cult has been sentenced to six years
in jail for holding her followers captive in Fiji and subjecting them to
violence.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has warned staff to prepare for job cuts in
the coming weeks, saying the airline has 900 too many pilots and cabin
crew.

WND

Talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh is urging voters to keep an eye out for the
Obamas as the 2020 election approaches because the former first couple
believes they still have something to accomplish. That Michelle Obama would
enter the Democratic race hasn’t been ruled out. I wouldn’t know what
percentage to attach to it, a number like 75 percent, 80, I don’t know, but
there’s a decent percentage chance that she gets in this. But not in the
middle of this fray,” he said.

David Gelernter, a famed Yale University professor, has publicly renounced
his belief in Darwin’s theory, calling it a “beautiful idea” that has been
effectively disproven.” The professor is famous for predicting the World
Wide Web.


Mid-Day Snapshot · July 31, 2019

The Foundation

“On every question of construction carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.” —Thomas Jefferson (1823)

Demo Debate 3: Left vs. Far Left

The party’s “moderates” made what might be a last stand against the socialists.


Trump’s Economic Policies Raise Wages for 99%

Americans’ wages are increasing across the board, a new economic report finds.


Leftist Snopes ‘Fact-Checkers’ Hit Conservative Satire Site

The Babylon Bee is satire. Someone should tell the humorless leftists who can’t take a joke.


China Aims to Block Trump Reelection

Beijing is working to prevent the president from winning as a means by which to win the trade war.


Corps Values

Recent misdeeds by military personnel prompt question about rot in the ranks.


Mr. President, Is Baltimore That Bad?

Actually, it’s probably worse than Trump declared in his widely panned tweets.


Video: Free Stuff 2020

Presidential candidates promise expensive new programs. John Stossel adds up the cost.


Video: Trump Campaign Video Slamming ‘The Squad’

The president takes on the Gang of Four by artfully using their own words against them.



Today’s Opinion

Rebecca Hagelin
‘The Squad’ Video Reveals Dark Underbelly That Kellyanne Conway Described
Star Parker
Ownership, Not Government Spending, Will Shrink Wealth Gap
Michelle Malkin
Freedom of Assembly Under Fire
Jonah Goldberg
Congressional Impeachment Show Needs to Be Canceled
Walter E. Williams
Being a Racist Is Easy Today
For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.

Wednesday Top News Executive Summary

Democrat debate, California ballot law, prescription reform, transhumanism, and more.


Wednesday Short Cuts

Notable quotables from Jim Geraghty, Arthur Brooks, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 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 – 7/31/2019

New Ebola case diagnosed in DR Congo’s Goma: health official
A new case of Ebola has been registered in the eastern DR Congo city of Goma, a key transport hub, a Congolese health official said on Tuesday, as the virus death toll rose to 1,790. It is the second case of Ebola detected in the lakeside city of more than two million people, close to the Rwanda border.

‘Amateur’ Capital One Hack Stuns Security Community
The massive data breach at Capital One appeared to be an unsophisticated attack from a single hacker, raising questions about the security of the financial system and insider threats to cloud computing. “The biggest surprise is the amateur nature of the attack,” said John Dickson of the security consultancy Denim Group.

“California Should Be Embarrassed” – State Passes Law Banning Trump From Ballot Unless Tax Returns Released
On Tuesday, Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill requiring President Trump to either release his tax returns or he won’t appear on the ballot in the state.

Jeffrey Epstein Will Be Murdered by “Powerful Friends,” Lawyer Warns
Spencer Kuvin, a lawyer who represented three women during the criminal proceedings against billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein over a decade ago, says Epstein’s attempted suicide last week was likely an attempted hit by someone close to him. “I do question whether it was a true suicide attempt. I mean how do you choke yourself? It doesn’t make any sense,” Kuvin told The Sun newspaper. “There are reports someone came after him but that could just be because he’s a pedophile. Those types of individuals don’t last long in prison.” Kuvin’s warning mirrors what conservative author Ann Coulter said last week when she urged the Bureau of Prisons to move Epstein to a Super Max facility so that “the people who want him dead” won’t be able to hide their role in his child sex crimes.

Turkey expects US to end its support to PKK/YPG
Turkish defense minister has told his U.S. counterpart over a phone call that Turkey expects the U.S. to completely end its support to the PKK/YPG terrorist group. Hulusi Akar said Turkey would be obliged to create a safe zone on its own in case the two countries failed to find a common ground, according to a statement released by the National Defense Ministry on July 29.

President Trump Meets with Pastors about Inner City Problems: Alveda King Says ‘We Have a President Who’s Listening’
The employment rates are up in every community, including the black community. The historically black colleges and universities under this president are being blessed. The babies in the womb. The sick and poor and elderly are being blessed. We have an opportunity to continue to be blessed, and we have a president who’s listening. And I was glad to pray with him today.” -Alveda King

John Ratcliffe: AG William Barr will deliver justice to any Obama officials who committed crimes
A top Republican investigator said accountability is coming for any of those individuals who may have committed crimes during the Trump-Russia investigation. With the Justice Department conducting a review of that operation, Rep. John Ratcliffe said during a Fox News interview Sunday that he trusts Attorney General William Barr and Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz to provide answers. And while Ratcliffe said he does not want to prematurely accuse any specific person of a crime — as Democrats have done with President Trump — he stressed that it is clear crimes were committed by people during the Obama administration, including government officials.

The coming of persecution for Christian Americans
the Washington Examiner reported that Pastor Andrew Brunson said he was “astounded at the speed with which the U.S. is imploding” and that he predicts persecution of Christians will follow. Brunson is the evangelical Presbyterian missionary to Turkey who spent two years in a Turkish prison. Brunson made his remarks about the coming of persecution for American Christians during an interview at the Western Conservative Summit, held every year by the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University.

End Times Complacency Spreading Through The Church
Coming on the heels of World War II, the rebirth of Israel, the Six Day War, and widespread societal upheaval, many were convinced the rapture would take place before the end of the decade. But the 1970’s came and went, and Jesus did not return. Then, in the 1980’s and 1990’s, numerous bible prophecy books with titles like “Countdown to Armageddon” and “Final Warning” sold all over the world. Yet Jesus didn’t come. End Times Burnout, The Bible Said This Would Happen.

Trump to host Arab leaders at peace summit before Israeli election – report
The Trump administration will host an Israeli-Palestinian peace summit at Camp David before Israel’s September elections…Jared Kushner is planning to…invite the Arab leaders during his trip to the Middle East which starts on Thursday with a stop in Jerusalem. The summit…at Camp David…President Donald Trump will lay out his vision for peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in general terms, the Wednesday report said.

Zarif: Iran to reduce nuclear deal commitments unless Europe protects it
Iran is set to further cut its commitments to its international nuclear deal unless its European partners move to protect it from U.S. sanctions by ensuring it can sell oil and receive income, its foreign minister told state television on Wednesday. “Under current circumstances and if no action is taken (by the Europeans) we will take the next step (in cutting commitments),” Mohammad Javad Zarif said…

China orders Arabic, Muslim symbols taken down in Beijing
Authorities in the Chinese capital have ordered halal restaurants and food stalls to remove Arabic script and symbols associated with Islam from their signs, part of an expanding national effort to “Sinicize” its Muslim population. Employees at 11 restaurants and shops in Beijing selling halal products …said officials had told them to remove images associated with Islam, such as the crescent moon and the word “halal” written in Arabic, from signs.

Ebola crisis: Second case confirmed in DR Congo border city of Goma
A second case of Ebola has been detected on Democratic Republic of Congo’s border with Rwanda, raising fears the deadly illness could spread. The case was confirmed in the city of Goma, home to two million people, authorities said. More than 1,600 people have died of Ebola in DR Congo since the outbreak began in August 2018 but those have been in more remote areas.

North Korea fires two ballistic missiles in second missile launch in a week
North Korea has fired two short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast, according to South Korea’s military, the second such launch in a week. The two missiles were launched from the Wonsan area early on Wednesday. Last week’s launch was the first such action since US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met in June.

ISIS Warns of Terror Strikes in San Francisco, New York, London
The ISIS terrorist organization is threatening to launch new attacks in San Francisco, New York, and London, according to new warning messages posted on the group’s social media channels. The messages…feature the three cities and call for adherents of the terror group’s radical ideology to “kill them all,” according to copies of the warnings obtained by the Middle East Media Research Institute, or MEMRI, a group that monitors jihadi networks.

America’s Housing Affordability Crisis Spreads to the Heartland
Low mortgage rates and thriving employment should be the recipe for a strong housing market. Instead, they’re deepening America’s affordability crisis. What began on the coasts, in areas like New York and San Francisco, is now radiating into the nation’s heartland, as well as to cities from Las Vegas to Charleston, South Carolina. Entry-level buyers are scrambling to purchase homes that are in short supply, sending values soaring.

Neuroscientists decode brain speech signals into written text
Doctors have turned the brain signals for speech into written sentences in a research project that aims to transform how patients with severe disabilities communicate in the future. The breakthrough is the first to demonstrate how the intention to say specific words can be extracted from brain activity and converted into text rapidly enough to keep pace with natural conversation.

Egyptian, Jordanian leaders meet ahead of Kushner’s visit
Jordan’s King Abdullah ll met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to arrive at a united position on the Trump Administration’s proposed plan to bring peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Just days before an American team is set to visit the Middle East, the two leaders met in Cairo to discuss “relations between the two countries and ways to promote levels of joint cooperation,” according to a statement from the Jordanian government.

Swiss Funding Freeze in Wake of UNRWA Corruption Allegations Piles On Palestinian Refugee Agency’s Woes
Switzerland confirmed on Tuesday that it was temporarily freezing funding for UNRWA — the United Nations agency dedicated solely to Palestinian refugees and their descendants — following the emergence of an internal report that accused the agency’s top management of systematic corruption and abuse.

Bipartisan Senate bill to inquire about creation of US-Israel cyber-security center
U.S. Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) introduced Tuesday a bill to require the U.S. State Department to investigate potential benefits of establishing a joint U.S.-Israel cybersecurity center.

“California Should Be Embarrassed” – State Passes Law Banning Trump From Ballot Unless Tax Returns Released
“… it’s unconstitutional and it opens up the possibility for states to load up more requirements on candidates in future elections. ”

Pompeo: US will maintain Strait of Hormuz, as Iran continues to reject talks
“We are gonna keep it open,” said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “Countries from all across the world who have a vested interest in keeping those waterways open will participate.”

40 Percent of Americans Believe in Creationism and Reject Evolution, Gallup Poll Finds
The nation’s universities and the mainstream media may be promoting evolution, but a large percentage of Americans still isn’t buying it. Forty percent of Americans say they believe “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so,” according to a Gallup poll released July 26. It is an increase from 38 percent in 2017, the last time Gallup asked the question.

Pakistani Christian in hiding because of blasphemy accusations pleads with UN to help
A Pakistani Christian refugee accused of blasphemy is facing renewed death threats after his location in Thailand was revealed on social media this month. But he and his family continue to face hurdles in their years-long effort for resettlement with no end in sight.

California Lawmakers Pass Resolution Blaming Religious People for High Suicide Rates in the LGBT Community
Lawmakers in California have passed a resolution that singles out the state’s religious communities and forces them to fully support LGBT individuals.

Black Moon is coming Wednesday: What that means
We’ve seen all kinds of interesting phases of the Moon, from “Super blood Moons” to “full worm supermoons” to even the stunning Strawberry Moon.

Crackdown Coming? China Gathers Forces On Hong Kong Border Amid Unrest
Comes after Beijing charged that unrest is “creation of the US”


Headlines – 7/31/2019

Trump to lead peace conference at Camp David with Arab leaders before Israeli election, during which he will outline his peace plan

Greenblatt and Hook: Israeli-Palestinian peace would be Iran’s worst nightmare

Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’ Is Getting Even Better for Israel

Abbas: Israel destroying all opportunities for peace

PA premier: Without a two-state solution, Israel will suffer ‘demographic death’

US envoy: Trump peace plan will encourage Palestinian ‘autonomy’

Egypt muzzles media on US peace plan

Ocasio-Cortez Suggests Palestinians ‘Have No Choice But to Riot’ Against Israel

Netanyahu’s West Bank plan: 6,000 settlement homes, 700 Palestinian homes

Swiss Funding Freeze in Wake of UNRWA Corruption Allegations Piles On Palestinian Refugee Agency’s Woes

Israel’s UN envoy urges world to defund UNRWA over alleged misconduct

Israeli Embassy in Finland Vandalized

Church of the Apostles discovered near Sea of Galilee, archaeologists say

Israel said to hit Iranian sites in Iraq, expanding strikes on missile shipments

Iraq is on the brink of an abyss again – ISIS is working on a comeback

ISIS urges followers to carry out attacks in major Western cities

Trump to hold off on tightening limits on Iran’s nuclear work

U.S. Struggles to Get Help from Europe As Iran Plans Military Moves with Russia, Seeks Support from China

Trump asks Germany to help protect vessels in Gulf

Pompeo: US will maintain Strait of Hormuz, as Iran continues to reject talks

Iran, UAE to hold maritime security talks

Zarif: Iran will cut nuclear deal commitments further unless Europe acts

Bus strikes roadside bomb in Afghanistan, 32 killed, including children

UN says more Afghan civilians killed in 2019 by Afghan, U.S. and allied forces than terror groups

Sri Lanka gives free visa to boost tourism after bomb blasts

North Korea fires unidentified projectiles for second time in week

China Covertly Subverting Trump Reelection

Brazilian prisoners seen playing soccer with rivals’ severed heads

Judge dismisses DNC hacking lawsuit against Trump team, says claims ‘entirely divorced from the facts’

Trump: Tweeting is ‘my only form of defense’

California Requires Trump to Release Tax Returns for Spot on Primary Ballot

2020 Democrats keep shifting left. Moderates fret they’ll shift even further at next debate

Elizabeth Warren says Trump is advancing ‘environmental racism,’ ‘economic racism,’ ‘health care racism’

Trump prods Federal Reserve to make ‘large’ cut to interest rates

Political pressure complicates Fed’s expected rate cut

America’s Housing Affordability Crisis Spreads to the Heartland

Capital One Breach Casts Shadow Over Cloud Security

Hacked Highways? Connected Cars Could Gridlock Entire Cities, Study Warns

US issues hacking security alert for small planes

Drone makes first commercial delivery in The Bahamas

Forget props and fixed wings. New bio-inspired drones mimic birds, bats and bugs.

Israeli Seismologist Warns of Fatal Earthquakes Resulting from Water Drills Up North

5.9 magnitude earthquake hits near La Libertad, El Salvador

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Isangel, Vanuatu

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Ile Hunter, New Caledonia

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits Southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Gazion, Greece

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Okhotsk, Russia

Karangetang volcano in Indonesia erupts to 25,000ft

Karymsky volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 24,000ft

Sangay volcano in Ecuador erupts to 23,000ft

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 22,000ft

Popocateptl volcano in Mexico erupts to 21,000ft

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 15,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 15,000ft

Kerinci volcano in Indonesia erupts to 15,000ft

Sheveluch volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 13,000ft

Two hurricanes, one a Category 4, are moving toward Hawaii

Hurricane Center gives tropical wave in the Atlantic 40% chance of becoming cyclone

Minnesota Weather: Temperatures Dip To 37 Degrees In International Falls, Breaking 121-Year-Old Record

Report: Never Mind the Rain, Drought is Possible in Caribbean

Siberian Wildfires Swell to Crimea-Sized Area, Authorities Say Extinguishing Them Is ‘Pointless’

A-listers flock to Google summit in private jets, mega yachts to talk climate change

China’s pig herd predicted to shrink by 50% due to swine fever

Human-animal hybrids to be developed in Japan after ban controversially lifted

Planned Parenthood and ACLU sue Missouri over 8-week abortion ban

Now Even Funerals Are Livestreamed – and Families Are Grateful

California Lawmakers Pass Resolution Blaming Religious People for High Suicide Rates in the LGBT Community

Weightlifter Hubbard becomes lightning rod for criticism of transgender policy

Woman accused of urinating on potatoes at Walmart turns herself in: report


Apostasy Watch Daily News

Judgment: The biblical explanation for insanity, evil, and disintegration of human souls

The Disappearance of Justice, Truth, and Whatever Glue Had Once Held Us Together

Willow Creek publicly closes chapter on Bill Hybels with call for him to ‘repent’ as needed

Southern Baptist Blog Says, “Trump is Racist” And You Should Not Vote for Him

Jury finds Katy Perry’s hit ‘Dark Horse’ copied Christian rap song ‘Joyful Noise’

Campus Crusade For Christ Teaching Kids That It’s Okay to be Gay

More churches are checking the national sex offender registry. Is it helping?

Montana – Ten Commandments Park Vandalized

Too busy for church? There’s an app for that

British police pay $3,000 to street preacher for wrong arrest, taking away Bible

Boko Haram Suspected in Funeral Attack that Killed 65


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

July 31 Will You Answer the Call?

scripture reading: Luke 24:44–51
key verse: Acts 1:8

You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

For a moment he studied the crowd moving toward the front of the church. Then with sweaty palms and a nervous feeling in the pit of his stomach, he stepped out into the aisle. As he walked to the front of the church, the words of “Have Thine Own Way” comforted him.

Standing at the altar, he suddenly felt a small hand slip inside his. In looking down he saw the face of his seven–year–old daughter. “I will go for Jesus, too, Daddy,” she said and beamed a smile. As he lifted his eyes, he saw his wife holding their eighteen–month–old son. She said, “Darling, we’ll all go for Him.” He knew the moment meant total surrender to the will of God.

But so much had happened in the past. So many tears. So many words spoken in haste and anger. Could Jesus see past the years spent in sin and denial? Could God really be calling them to carry the light of His gospel halfway around the world?

Yes. God uses people with hearts turned toward Him. Past sins and failures are forgiven. He abides in the immediacy of the moment. When we open our hearts in obedient faith to His will, He uses us. Jesus has a job for you to do, and no one else can take your place.

Will you go for Him? Will you answer His call?

Yes, Lord, I’ll answer the call. I’ll leave the past behind. Send me. Use me. I’m ready to go.[1]


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

31 july (1859) 365 Days with Spurgeon

The meek and lowly One

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek, and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28–30

suggested further reading: Matthew 21:1–17

Christ on earth was a king; but there was nothing about him of the exclusive pomp of kings, which excludes the common people from their society. Look at the eastern king Ahasuerus, sitting on his throne. He is considered by his people as a superior being. None may come in unto the king, unless he is called for. Should he venture to pass the circle, the guards will slay him, unless the king stretches out the golden sceptre. Even Esther, his beloved wife, is afraid to draw near, and must put her life in her hand, if she comes into the presence of the king uncalled. Christ is a king; but where is his pomp? Where the janitor that keeps his door, and thrusts away the poor? Where the soldiers that ride on either side of his chariot to screen the monarch from the sight of poverty? See thy King, O Sion! He comes, he comes in royal pomp! Behold, Judah, behold thy King cometh! But how cometh he? “Meek and lowly, riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass.” And who are his attendants? See, the young children, boys and girls! They cry, “Hosannah! Hosannah! Hosannah!” And who are they that wait upon him? His poor disciples. They pull the branches from the trees; they cast their garments in the street, and there he rides on—Judah’s royal king. His courtiers are the poor; his pomp is that tribute which grateful hearts delight to offer. O sinners, will you not come to Christ? There is nothing in him to keep you back. You need not say, like Esther did of old, “I will go in unto the king, and if I perish, I perish.” Come and welcome! Come and welcome! Christ is more ready to receive you than you are to come to him. Come to the King!

for meditation: The character of the King should be reflected in the character of his subjects (Matthew 5:3, 5, 10). 3 John 9, 10 describes exactly what is not called for!

sermon no. 265[1]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H., & Crosby, T. P. (1998). 365 Days with Spurgeon (Volume 1) (p. 219). Leominster, UK: Day One Publications.

31 JULY 365 Days with Calvin

Defining our Nature

For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. Romans 5:17

suggested further reading: Genesis 3

It may be useful to note here the differences between Christ and Adam. First, by Adam’s sin we are not condemned through imputation alone, as though we were punished only for the sin of another. Rather, we suffer his punishment because we ourselves are also guilty. As our nature is polluted in Adam, we are regarded by God as having committed sin. But through the righteousness of Christ, we are restored in a different way to salvation; for it is not accepted for us because it is in us, but because we possess Christ himself with all his blessings given to us through the bountiful kindness of the Father. Hence the gift of righteousness is not something that God endows us with, as some absurdly explain, but is a free imputation of righteousness. In this, the apostle plainly declares what he understands by the word grace.

Second, the benefit of Christ does not come to all men. Adam has involved his whole race in condemnation, the reason for which is indeed evident. As the curse we derive from Adam is conveyed to us by nature, it is no wonder that it includes all of humanity. But if we are to participate in the grace of Christ, we must be engrafted in him by faith. To partake of the miserable inheritance of sin, it is enough for us to be human, for sin dwells in all flesh and blood. But to enjoy the righteousness of Christ, it is necessary for us to become believers, for participation in him is attained only by faith.

for meditation: Thomas Goodwin pictured two giants who represent mankind: one is Adam and one is Christ. Every single person is hooked to the belt of one of these two giants. By nature, we are all hooked onto the belt of the first Adam. His fall became our fall. Paul teaches us in Romans 5 that the guilt of Adam’s sin is imputed to us and the pollution of his sin is inherited by us. By grace, the Holy Spirit unhooks us from the belt of the first Adam by regeneration and hooks us onto the belt of the Second Adam, Jesus Christ. Christ then becomes our representative head with the Father, and we, by grace, learn to live out of him. To whose belt are you hooked now?[1]


[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 231). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

July 31 – The way to victory – Reformed Perspective

“As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city.” – Joshua 6:20

Scripture reading: Joshua 6:8-21

God’s strategy for defeating Jericho was completely unrealistic. You can’t defeat a city with walls so thick that you can build a house into them, by having a parade around it. Israel was going to look absolutely foolish; it would show that they had no strategy – that they didn’t know what they were doing.

Do you recognize the logic of these instructions? What did Israel have to do? In a way, we say, They didn’t have to do anything. You can hardly call that waging war, just marching and shouting. Exactly. God said, Take heart from everything that I have done to show you that I am with you. Believe that I have come to judge My enemies and to give the land to you.

The way to victory for Israel was by working out their faith in God’s promises, by following God’s strange strategy. God has promised us victory over the world in the very same way. John wrote, This is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (I John 5:4-5) We have to work out our confidence that Jesus is the Son of God by preaching the gospel, taking up our cross and following Him. The world will think we’re fools, but that’s what Jericho thought too, before the walls fell down. Take heart, said Jesus; Ihaveovercometheworld.

Suggestions for prayer

Thank God that Jesus Christ has overcome the world, that by faith, we already now share in His victory, and when He comes again, we will share fully and eternally in His victory.

This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Dick Wynia is the pastor of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, Ontario.
— Read on reformedperspective.ca/july-31-the-way-to-victory/

Apostasy and How it Happens | Ligonier Ministries

I can still recall the conversation although it took place more than three decades ago. A shocked friend asked, “Have you heard that Sarah is no longer a Christian?” What was so alarming to my friend was that Sarah had been one of the most influential, and apparently fruitful, members of her Inter-Varsity group. What would those who had been influenced by her witness to Christ say, or do? Would they be shaken to the core and now doubt their own Christian faith? After all, the person who had pointed them to Christ no longer trusted Him.

On occasion we wonder if an individual really has been converted. And sometimes we have an inexplicable, ill-defined sense that something is missing. But we cannot read the heart. Even so, we hear of friends—whose faith we never doubted—turning away from Christ.

Apostasy is the old, vigorous word to describe this abandonment of Christ. The New Testament church was familiar with it. It was a major concern of the author of Hebrews. That is why he wrote the often-discussed words of Hebrews 6:4–6: Those once enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, become partakers of the Holy Spirit, tasted the good Word of God and the powers of the coming age—if they fall away cannot be renewed again to repentance.

Some in the early church thought that the phrase “cannot be renewed” meant that those who stumbled could not be received back into fellowship. But our author does not have the penitent in mind. Rather, he is thinking of those whose hardness of heart blocks the way to the Cross and proves irreversible.

It has been said that there is no more powerful or detailed description of the true Christian in the New Testament than in the words of Hebrews 6:4–6. That is surely a breathtaking statement in the light of what is said about the first readers a few verses later. The author is confident of something “better” in them—the very things that accompany salvation (6:9). The implication is that, however powerful the experiences described in 6:4–6 may be, these are not the definitive marks of a Christian. They may be present when genuine faith is absent. In fact, Hebrews is telling us that which is possible to experience without actually being a Christian.

Something must be missing therefore from this list of influences and experiences. What Hebrews has already said about an earlier generation brings it to light: “the gospel was preached … to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith” (Heb. 4:2 NKJV). There was no real trust in Christ, the crucified, risen, and reigning Savior.

The truth and the power of the Gospel were experienced. But “experience” in itself is not regeneration unless gospel grace penetrates into the heart. Hebrews 6:4–6 makes no mention of the crucified One being trusted and sin being rejected. Rather, despite rich spiritual experiences, heart unbelief and rejection of Christ, crucifying Him ourselves, are grimly possible.

The solemn fact is that none of us can tell the difference between the beginning of backsliding and the beginning of apostasy. Both look the same. So what are the tell-tale signs of this sickness unto death? Are there early symptoms that might alert us to our spiritual danger?

Hebrews 6:8–12 suggests three things we should look out for. First, we should look for the presence of “thorns and briars” (v. 8). Here Hebrews echoes the words of our Lord in the Parable of the Soils. In some soils (hearts) the good seed of the Word is planted and seems to take root. But in fact the soil is infested with weeds that strangle the fruit of the good seed. “The cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mark 4:19 NKJV).

Second, we should look for the absence of “things that [always] accompany salvation” (v. 9). What are these “things”? They are, surely, the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22–24). Paul interestingly contrasts verbally the fruit of the Spirit with the works of the flesh. These marks of grace are the natural outcome of regeneration. Furthermore, the Cross has a central place in such a life, for “those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions” (Gal. 5:24 NKJV).

The third thing is perhaps the most alarming: The failure to show “diligence” and a tendency to become “sluggish” (vv. 11–12). Earlier the writer had warned how easy it is just to “drift away” (Heb. 2:1). But this drifting happens slowly, and it often goes unnoticed.

Yes, apostasy happens. Sometimes the catalyst is flagrant sin. The pain of conviction and repentance is refused, and the only alternative to it is wholesale rejection of Christ. But sometimes the catalyst is a thorn growing quietly in the heart, an indifference to the way of the Cross, a drifting that is not reversed by the knowledge of biblical warnings.

So perhaps a personal health check is in order. And today would be the wisest time to do it.

This post was originally published in Tabletalk magazine.
 
— Read on www.ligonier.org/blog/apostasy-and-how-it-happens/

July 31, 2019 Morning Verse Of The Day

Be Right with God

Be on guard for yourselves (20:28a)

The first priority for anyone involved in spiritual leadership is his own relationship with God. Effective ministry is not mere outward activity; it is the overflow of a rich, deep relationship with God. As John Owen wisely observed,

A minister may fill his pews, his communion roll, the mouths of the public, but what that minister is on his knees in secret before God Almighty, that he is and no more. (Cited in I. D. E. Thomas, A Puritan Golden Treasury [Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1977], 192)

No one is ready to face the pressures and responsibilities of ministry who is not right with God. Those pressures, as well as the demand to set the example, require that leaders constantly be on guard (Mark 13:9; Luke 21:34).

The first step in being on guard is self-examination. After a whole chapter of exhortation to the young preacher (1 Tim. 4:1–15), Paul summed up what he had said by calling Timothy to examine himself (verse 16): “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things; for as you do this you will insure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.” He charged Timothy to scrutinize his life and doctrine to make sure both honored God. Such was crucial to his own perseverance and to the salvation and perseverance of others. Paul expressed that same truth in his second letter to Timothy:

Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if a man cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. (2 Tim. 2:20–21)

In a house there were vessels for dishonorable uses, such as garbage and other waste. There were also vessels for honorable uses, such as food and drink. Only clean ones of high quality were fit for honor. Since God uses clean and holy instruments, vessels of honor, self-examination and forsaking sin are essential for leaders. Although God does bless His truth in spite of the preacher, He does not bless the unholy leader, no matter what title, position, or office he might hold.

In a powerful passage from his classic work The Reformed Pastor, Richard Baxter gives a stirring call for pastors to examine themselves:

Take heed to yourselves, lest you live in those sins which you preach against in others, and lest you be guilty of that which daily you condemn. Will you make it your work to magnify God, and, when you have done, dishonour him as much as others? Will you proclaim Christ’s governing power, and yet contemn it, and rebel yourselves? Will you preach his laws, and wilfully break them? If sin be evil, why do you live in it? if it be not, why do you dissuade men from it? If it be dangerous, how dare you venture on it? if it be not, why do you tell men so? If God’s threatenings be true, why do you not fear them? if they be false, why do you needlessly trouble men with them, and put them into such frights without a cause? Do you “know the judgment of God, that they who commit such things are worthy of death”; and yet will you do them? “Thou that teachest another, teachest thou not thyself?” Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, or be drunk, or covetous, art thou such thyself? “Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?” What! shall the same tongue speak evil that speakest against evil? Shall those lips censure, and slander, and backbite your neighbour, that cry down these and the like things in others? Take heed to yourselves, lest you cry down sin, and yet do not overcome it; lest, while you seek to bring it down in others, you bow to it, and become its slaves yourselves: “For of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought into bondage.” “To whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness.” O brethren! it is easier to chide at sin, than to overcome it. (The Reformed Pastor [Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1979], 67–68)

Personal holiness is the requirement of true and powerful spiritual leadership. God calls for holiness that is not just outward, in the eyes of men. Paul had that outward virtue even before his salvation, when he described himself as blameless as to the law (Phil. 3:6). But he called it “rubbish” (v. 8) compared to true righteousness. True holiness is inward, so that one can say with Paul, “For our proud confidence is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you” (2 Cor. 1:12).

Shepherd the Flock

and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. (20:28b)

After making sure that his own life (and consequently that of his family, 1 Tim. 3:4–5) is in order, a leader’s second priority is the spiritual care of his flock. Positively, that care involves the feeding and leading of all the flock. The metaphor of a flock and a shepherd is often used to describe God’s relationship to His people. It is an apt one, since sheep are helpless, timid, dirty, and in need of constant protection and care. The Old Testament frequently describes Israel as God’s flock (Pss. 77:20; 78:52; 80:1; Isa. 40:11; 63:11; Jer. 13:17; 23:2–3; 31:10; Ezek. 34:2ff.; Mic. 2:12; 5:4; 7:14; Zech. 10:3), and the New Testament pictures the church as a flock with the Lord Jesus Christ as its Shepherd (John 10:1ff.; Heb. 13:20; 1 Pet. 2:25; 5:2–4).

Jesus Christ, the Chief Shepherd (1 Pet. 5:4), has taken His flock and divided it into many smaller flocks (cf. 1 Pet. 5:2, “the flock of God among [or apportioned to] you”; 1 Pet. 5:3, “those allotted to your charge”). The Holy Spirit sovereignly raises up overseers, or undershepherds, who are responsible to shepherd their flocks. Shepherd is from poimainō, a comprehensive term encompassing the entire task of a shepherd. The most important part of that task, however, is to feed. In John 21:15–17, Jesus three times instructed Peter to care for His sheep. The second time He used poimainō, but the first and third times boskō, which has the more restricted meaning of “to feed.” Obviously, then, the primary task of an undershepherd of the Lord’s flock is to feed the sheep. Sadly, many undershepherds today fail to do that, seemingly content to lead their sheep from one barren wasteland to another. The tragic result is a spiritually weak flock, ready to eat the poisonous weeds of false doctrine, or to follow false shepherds who deceitfully promise them greener pastures, while leading them to barren desert.

Since sheep are followers, the shepherds’ task also involves leading the flock. They must set the direction for the sheep to follow. The New Testament knows nothing of congregational rule; instead it commands believers to “obey your leaders, and submit to them” (Heb. 13:17). Paul reminded the Thessalonians that their pastors were given “charge over you in the Lord” and were to be appreciated, esteemed, loved, and followed without conflict (1 Thess. 5:12–13). God has committed the leadership of the church to the overseers (elders, pastors). Those who serve faithfully are to be doubly honored (1 Tim. 5:17); those who fall into sin are to be publicly rebuked (1 Tim. 5:20). It is a sobering realization that elders will someday give an account to God for how they lead those committed to their charge (Heb. 13:17).

The motive for such high standards of leadership lies in the fact that the church belongs not to men, but to God (cf. 1 Pet. 5:2). Church leaders have a stewardship over His property and must discharge that stewardship faithfully (cf. 1 Cor. 4:2). Further, the church is the most precious reality on earth, since the ultimate price was paid for it when the Lord Jesus Christ purchased it with His own blood (cf. 1 Pet. 1:18–19). That demands that every leader treat the church as the precious fellowship that it is. God is a spirit and has no body, hence no blood. Yet Paul can say that God as much as purchased the church with His own blood because he “believed so strongly in the deity of Jesus Christ and His essential unity with the Father that [he] hesitated not to speak of His sacrifice on Calvary as a shedding of the blood of God” (G. T. Stokes, “The Acts of the Apostles,” in W. Robertson Nicoll, ed., The Expositor’s Bible [New York: A. C. Armstrong and Son, 1903], 2:419).

The Lord Jesus Christ set the example of loving concern for the church that all leaders must follow. In Ephesians 5:25–27, Paul describes Christ’s sacrificial love for the church:

Christ … loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless.

The undershepherd must have the same concern for the purity of the church as did the Great Shepherd. Paul certainly did. To the Corinthians he wrote, “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin” (2 Cor. 11:2). Those undershepherds who truly value the church will shepherd their flocks by feeding them the Word of God and faithfully leading them.[1]


28. Take heed, therefore. He doth now apply his speech unto them, and by many reasons showeth that they must watch diligently, and that he is not so careful but because necessity doth so require. The first reason is, because they be bound to the flock over which they be set. The second, because they were called unto this function not by mortal man, but by the Holy Ghost. The third, because it is no small honour to govern the Church of God. The fourth, because the Lord did declare by an evident testimony what account he doth make of the Church, seeing that he hath redeemed it with his blood. As touching the first, he doth not only command them to take heed to the flock, but first to themselves. For that man will never be careful for the salvation of other men who will neglect his own. And in vain shall that man prick forward other to live godlily, who will himself show no desire of godliness. Yea, that man will not take pains with his flock who forgetteth himself, seeing he is a part of the flock. Therefore, to the end they may be careful for the flock to them committed, Paul commandeth and warneth that every one of them keep himself in the fear of God. For by this means it should come to pass, that every one should be as faithful towards his flock as he ought. For we said that Paul reasoneth from their calling, that they be bound to take pains in the Church of God, whereof they have the government. As if he should say, that they may not do whatsoever they like best, neither are they free after they be made pastors, but they be bound publicly to all the flock.

The Holy Ghost hath made you overseers. By the very word he putteth them in mind, that they be placed, as it were, in a watch-tower, that they may watch for the common safety of all men. But Paul standeth principally upon this, that they were not appointed by men, but the charge of the Church was committed unto them by God. For which cause they must be the more diligent and careful, because they must give a straight account before that high seat of judgment. For the more excellent the dignity of that Lord and Master whom we serve is, the more reverence do we give him naturally, and the reverence itself doth sharpen our study and diligence.

Moreover, though the Lord would have ministers of the word chosen from the beginning by the voices [suffrages] of men, yet doth he always challenge the government of the Church to himself, not only to the end we may acknowledge him to be the only governor thereof, but also know that the incomparable treasure of salvation doth come from him alone. For he is robbed of his glory if we think that the gospel is brought unto us, either by chance or by the will of men, or their industry. But this doth Paul attribute peculiarly to the Spirit, by whom God doth govern his Church, and who is to every man a secret witness of his calling in his own conscience.

Concerning the word overseer or bishop, we must briefly note this, that Paul calleth all the elders of Ephesus by this name, as well one as other. Whence we gather, that according to the use of the Scripture bishops differ nothing from elders. But that it came to pass through vice and corruption, that those who were chief in every city began to be called bishops. I call it corruption, not because it is evil that some one man should be chief in every college or company; but because this boldness is intolerable, when men, by wresting the names of the Scripture unto their custom, doubt not to change the tongue of the Holy Ghost.

To govern the Church. The Greek word ποιμαινειν doth signify to feed. But by a fit similitude it is translated unto every kind of government. And we have said that this is the third argument drawn from the excellency of the function; as the same Paul telleth Timotheus elsewhere, that he take heed and see how he ought to behave himself in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth. As if he should say, that there is no time to be idle in such a weighty calling, and that those are less excusable whom God hath made stewards of his family, the higher that degree of honour is, unless they be correspondent to so great dignity, that is, unless they do their duty diligently. Now, if bishops or overseers be made by the Holy Ghost, to the end they may feed the Church, the hierarchy of Papistry is ridiculous, wherein bishops being proud of their (painted sheath and) vain title, do not so much as once meddle with the function of teaching, no, not for fashion’s sake.

Which he hath purchased. The four reasons, whereby Paul doth carefully prick forward the pastors to do their duty diligently, because the Lord hath given no small pledge of his love toward the Church in shedding his own blood for it. Whereby it appeareth how precious it is to him; and surely there is nothing which ought more vehemently to urge pastors to do their duty joyfully, than if they consider that the price of the blood of Christ is committed to them. For hereupon it followeth, that unless they take pains in the Church, the lost souls are not only imputed to them, but they be also guilty of sacrilege, because they have profaned the holy blood of the Son of God, and have made the redemption gotten by him to be of none effect, so much as in them lieth. And this is a most cruel offence, if, through our sluggishness, the death of Christ do not only become vile or base, but the fruit thereof be also abolished and perish; and it is said that God hath purchased the Church, to the end we may know that he would have it remain wholly to himself, because it is meet and right that he possess those whom he hath redeemed.

Notwithstanding, we must also remember, that all mankind are the bond-slaves of Satan until Christ set us free from his tyranny, gathering us into the inheritance of his Father.

But because the speech which Paul useth seemeth to be somewhat hard, we must see in what sense he saith that God purchased the Church with his blood. For nothing is more absurd than to feign or imagine God to be mortal or to have a body. But in this speech he commendeth the unity of person in Christ; for because there be distinct natures in Christ, the Scripture doth sometimes recite that apart by itself which is proper to either. But when it setteth God before us made manifest in the flesh, it doth not separate the human nature from the Godhead. Notwithstanding, because again two natures are so united in Christ, that they make one person, that is improperly translated sometimes unto the one, which doth truly and in deed belong to the other, as in this place Paul doth attribute blood to God; because the man Jesus Christ, who shed his blood for us, was also God. This manner of speaking is called, of the old writers, communicatio idiomatum, because the property of the one nature is applied to the other. And I said that by this means is manifestly expressed one person of Christ, lest we imagine him to be double, which Nestorius did in times past attempt; and yet for all this we must not imagine a confusion of the two natures which Eutychus went about to bring in, or which the Spanish dog, Servetus, hath at this time invented, who maketh the Godhead of Christ nothing else but a form or image of the human nature, which he dreameth to have always shined in God.[2]


28 On those elders, then, lay a weighty responsibility. The Holy Spirit had entrusted them with the charge of the people of God in Ephesus; they had to care for them as shepherds cared for their flock. It may be implied that their commission to take pastoral responsibility for the church had been conveyed through prophetic utterances, in which the direction of the Spirit was recognized. The word translated “guardians” is the word from which “bishop” is derived,63 but to use that word here might give it an official flavor which would be an anachronism. If their commission was received through prophetic utterances, they received it no doubt because they were known to be those on whom the requisite qualifications for this work had been bestowed—and bestowed by the same Spirit whose will was declared by the prophetic utterances. Their responsibility was the greater in that the flock which they were commissioned to tend was no other than the church of God which he had purchased for himself (an echo here of Old Testament language)—and the purchase price was nothing less than the life-blood of his beloved Son.66[3]


28. Take heed … unto yourselves—Compare 1 Ti 3:2–7; 4:16; 6:11.

and to all the flock—Compare Heb 13:17. Observe here how the personal is put before the pastoral care.

over … which the Holy Ghost hath made you—Compare Jn 20:22, 23; Jn 20:22, 23, Eph 4:8, 11, 12; Rev 3:1. (Ac 14:23 shows that the apostle did not mean to exclude human ordination).

overseers—or, as the same word is everywhere else rendered in our version, “bishops.” The English Version has hardly dealt fair in this case with the sacred text, in rendering the word “overseers,” whereas it ought here, as in all other places, to have been “bishops,” in order that the fact of elders and bishops having been originally and apostolically synonymous, might be apparent to the ordinary English reader, which now it is not [Alford]. The distinction between these offices cannot be certainly traced till the second century, nor was it established till late in that century.

to feed the church of God—or, “the Church of the Lord.” Which of these two readings of the text is the true one, is a question which has divided the best critics. The evidence of manuscripts preponderates in favor of “the Lord”; some of the most ancient Versions, though not all, so read; and Athanasius, the great champion of the supreme Divinity of Christ early in the fourth century, says the expression “Church of God” is unknown to the Scriptures. Which reading, then, does the internal evidence favor? As “Church of God” occurs nine times elsewhere in Paul’s writings, and “Church of the Lord” nowhere, the probability, it is said, is that he used his wonted phraseology here also. But if he did, it is extremely difficult to see how so many early transcribers should have altered it into the quite unusual phrase, “Church of the Lord”; whereas, if the apostle did use this latter expression, and the historian wrote it so accordingly, it is easy to see how transcribers might, from being so accustomed to the usual phrase, write it “Church of God.” On the whole, therefore, we accept the second reading as most probably the true one. But see what follows.

which he hath purchased—“made His own,” “acquired.”

with his own blood—“His own” is emphatic: “That glorified Lord who from the right hand of power in the heavens is gathering and ruling the Church, and by His Spirit, through human agency, hath set you over it, cannot be indifferent to its welfare in your hands, seeing He hath given for it His own most precious blood, thus making it His own by the dearest of all ties.” The transcendent sacredness of the Church of Christ is thus made to rest on the dignity of its Lord and the consequent preciousness of that blood which He shed for it. And as the sacrificial atoning character of Christ’s death is here plainly expressed, so His supreme dignity is implied as clearly by the second reading as it is expressed by the first. What a motive to pastoral fidelity is here furnished![4]


Ver. 28.—Take heed for take heed therefore, A.V. and T.R.; in for over, A.V.; bishops for overseers, A.V.; purchased for hath purchased, A.V. Take heed, etc.; προσέχετε ἑαυτοῖς, peculiar to Luke (ch. 5:35; Luke 12:1; 17:3; 21:34). Now follows the weighty charge of this great bishop to the clergy assembled at his visitation. With the true feeling of a chief pastor, he thinks of the whole flock, but deals with them chiefly through the under-shepherds. If he can awaken in these individually a deep concern for the souls committed to their charge, he will have done the best that can be done for the flock at large. The first step to such concern for the flock is that each be thoroughly alive to the worth and the wants of his own soul. “Take heed unto yourselves.” He that is careless about his own salvation will never be careful about the souls of others (comp. 1 Tim. 4:16). In the which the Holy Ghost, etc. Ἐν ᾧ, no doubt, does not strictly contain the idea of “over which;” but the idea of authoritative oversight is contained in the word ἐπίσκοπος, and therefore the rendering of the A.V., and of Alford’s A.V. revised, is substantially correct. Perhaps the exact force of the ἐν ᾧ is “among which,” like ἐν ἡμῖν (ch. 2:29, and elsewhere). The call and appointment to the ministry is the special function of the Holy Ghost (John 20:22, 23; ch. 12:2; Ordination Service). To feed; ποιμαίνειν, the proper word for “tending” in relation to τὸ ποίμνιον, the flock, as ποιμήν, the pastor, or shepherd, is for him who so feeds the flock of Christ (see John 10:11, 16; 21:17; Heb. 13:20; 1 Pet. 5:2, 3). St. Peter applies the titles of “Shepherd and Bishop of souls” to the Lord Jesus (1 Pet. 2:25). St. Paul does not use the metaphor elsewhere, except indirectly, and in a different aspect (1 Cor. 9:7). The Church of God; margin, Church of the Lord. There is, perhaps, no single passage in Scripture which has caused more controversy and evoked more difference of opinion than this. The T.R. has τοῦ Θεοῦ, but most uncials have τοῦ Κυρίου. Kuinoel asserts that the reading τοῦ Κυρίου rests on the authority, besides that of the oldest manuscripts, of the old versions, and of many of the most ancient Fathers, and says that it is undoubtedly the true reading. Meyer, too, thinks that the external evidence for τοῦ Κυρίου is decisive, and that the internal evidence from the fact that ἐκκλησία τοῦ Κυρίου occurs nowhere else in St. Paul’s writings, is decisive also. But on the other hand, both the Codex Vaticanus (B) and the Codex Sinaiticus (א), the two oldest manuscripts, have Θεοῦ (Θυ). The Vulgate, too, and the Syriac have it; and such early Fathers as Ignatius (in his Epistle to the Ephesians) and Tertullian use the phrase, “the blood of God,” which seems to have been derived from this passage. And Alford reasons powerfully in favour of Θεοῦ, dwelling upon the fact that the phrase ἐκκλησία τοῦ Θεοῦ occurs ten times in St. Paul’s writings, that of ἐκκλησία τοῦ Κυρίου not once. The chief authorities on each side of the question are: (1) in favour of τοῦ Κυρίου, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Bornemann, Lange, Olshausen, Davidson, Meyer, Hackett, as also Grotius, Griesbach (doubtfully), Westein, Le Clerc, and others; (2) in favour of τοῦ Θεοῦ. Bengel, Mill, Whitby, Wolf, Scholz, Knapp, Alford, Wordsworth, etc., and the R.T. It should be added that the evidence for τοῦ Θεοῦ has been much strengthened by the publication by Tischendorf, in 1863, of the Codex Sinaiticus, and in 1867 of the Codex Vaticanus, from his own collation. The result is that τοῦ Θεοῦ seems to be the true reading (see the first of the two collects for the Ember weeks in the Book of Common Prayer). With regard to the difficulty that this reading seems to imply the unscriptural phrase, “the blood of God,” and to savour of the Monophysite heresy, it is obvious to reply that there is a wide difference between the phrase as it stands and such a one as the direct “blood of God,” which Athanasius and others objected to. The mental insertion of “the Lord” or “Christ,” as the subject of the verb “purchased,” is very easy, the transition from God the Father to God incarnate being one that might be made almost imperceptibly. Others (including the R.T.) take the reading of several good manuscripts, Διὰ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ ἰδίου, and understand τοῦ ἰδίου to be an ellipse for τοῦ ἰδίου υἱοῦ, the phrase used in Rom. 8:32; and so render it “which he purchased by the blood of his own Son.” Οἱ ἰδίοι, his own, is used without a substantive in John 1:11. This clause is added to enhance the preciousness of the flock, and the responsibility of those who have the oversight of it.[5]


28. “Keep watch over yourselves and the entire flock over which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers to shepherd God’s church which he purchased with his own blood.”

  • “Keep watch over yourselves and the entire flock.” Paul gives a charge to the Ephesian elders, who must assume pastoral responsibilities in the local church. He begins by telling them to keep watch over themselves; that is, they have to be spiritual examples for the members of the church. He exhorts them to put their minds to work in watching themselves (compare 1 Tim. 4:16).

In addition, the elders have the task of caring for the spiritual needs of “the entire flock.” Paul uses imagery borrowed from the agricultural society of his day. This is rather unusual for Paul, whose educational training kept him from any intimate knowledge of sheepherding. Yet he knew that Jesus had frequently alluded to the shepherd and the sheep.42 And when Peter wrote his epistle, he called Jesus the Chief Shepherd under whom elders serve as overseers and shepherds of God’s flock (1 Peter 5:1–4).

  • “Over which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.” This clause introduces two significant points. First, Paul states that the Holy Spirit has appointed the elders as overseers. Perhaps Paul is referring to a specific ceremony that marked their appointment (compare 14:23). Next, he uses the term overseers as a synonym for “elders” (see v. 17). The task of the overseer is to be a shepherd (compare Num. 27:16–17) like Jesus Christ:

Oversight means loving care and concern, a responsibility willingly shouldered; it must never be used for personal aggrandisement. Its meaning is to be seen in Christ’s selfless service which was moved by concern for the salvation of men.

Both Paul and Peter describe the responsibilities of an overseer in their respective epistles. Paul lists a number of qualifications for anyone who aspires to the office of elder/overseer (1 Tim. 3:1–7; Titus 1:6–9), and Peter similarly specifies the duties of an elder (1 Peter 5:1–4). Both apostles use the terms elder and overseer interchangeably.

  • “To shepherd God’s church which he purchased with his own blood.” This clause presents difficulties, for the expression God’s church can be translated “church of God/Christ” or “church of the Lord.” The first expression is common in the New Testament; it occurs twelve times apart from Acts 20:28. Conversely, although the reading the Lord’s church does appear in a number of excellent Greek manuscripts, that reading occurs nowhere else in the New Testament and only seven times in the Septuagint. On the basis of the scriptural evidence, I am inclined to adopt the reading the church of God.

Another difficulty, however, remains. What is the meaning of the literal translation with the blood of his own? If we translate the phrase “with his own blood,” which most translations have adopted, we confuse the meaning of the sentence. The context mentions the Holy Spirit and God, to whom the word blood fails to apply. Perhaps the suggestion to say that “his own” is a variant of “his beloved” or “his one and only [Son]” is a step toward solving the matter.

  • “God’s church which he purchased.” God bought his universal church with the blood of his Son. He paid an incalculable price to save a people for himself through Christ’s death on the cross. Writes Donald Guthrie, “The idea of the death of Christ being a purchase price is a distinctive emphasis in Paul’s epistles.” Indeed, Paul tells the Corinthians, “You were bought at a price” (1 Cor. 6:20; 7:23; and see Ps. 74:2; Rev. 5:9).[6]

20:28. Paul gave three reasons that the elders must be vigilant. First, they were appointed by the Holy Spirit. Paul did not explain how the Spirit revealed their appointment. Second, the church was God’s. It did not belong to Paul or any other individual. Third, God purchased the church with His own blood, or better, “the blood of His own [Son].” Here “His own” refers to Jesus, not God the Father. It is possible that Jesus here was called God. He was called by the title Theos elsewhere in the NT (e.g., Jn 1:1, 18; Rm 9:5), but the NT writers were careful to avoid blending these unqualified statements of Jesus’ deity with strictly human attributes (such as blood). One never finds, for example, statements like “the cross of God” or “God was crucified at Calvary,” or “God died and rose again” (for a detailed discussion of this text, and for this understanding, see Murray J. Harris, Jesus as God: The New Testament Use of Theos in Reference to Jesus [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1992], 137–141). And it is unlikely that the reference is to the blood of God the Father, who, as a spirit, does not have blood. Paul’s point in making this statement may implicitly have reminded these elders that the church they oversaw belonged to God, not to them.

The word overseers (episkopoi) in secular Greek meant “[those who have] the responsibility of safeguarding or seeing to it that something is done in the correct way” and was adopted for use in the church to describe those who provided supervision and leadership (BDAG, 379). It is a virtual synonym for elders (presbyteroi, v. 17), which is literally “an older man,” but had a specialized meaning that designated a church leader by his physical and spiritual maturity. These terms both signify the same office, namely that of “pastor.” Though “pastor” (poimen) is not used in Ac 20, the related verb poimaino (“to shepherd”) is found in v. 28. This suggests that those who are pastors are also elders and overseers in the church, and that pastor is not an office that differs from elder or overseer.[7]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1994). Acts (Vol. 2, pp. 222–225). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Calvin, J., & Beveridge, H. (2010). Commentary upon the Acts of the Apostles (Vol. 2, pp. 253–257). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[3] Bruce, F. F. (1988). The Book of the Acts (pp. 392–393). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[4] Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 209). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[5] Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). Acts of the Apostles (Vol. 2, pp. 146–147). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

[6] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles (Vol. 17, pp. 732–733). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[7] Marty, W. H. (2014). Acts. In The moody bible commentary (p. 1723). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

Core Christianity | 10 Predictive Prophecies Fulfilled in Jesus

Fulfilled prophecy is one of the most powerful and common evidence for the Christian faith. There are Old Testament prophecies that foreshadow New Testament realities, such as Christ being the Passover lamb (Exodus 12:21/1 Corinthians 5:7).

And there are also predictive prophecies that point forward to the coming Messiah. Here are ten of my favorites that uniquely point to Jesus:

1. Pre-existent and Divine

Micah 5:2 predicts that the Messiah—a “ruler”—shall come forth from Bethlehem “whose goings forth are from old, from everlasting.” In other words, a future ruler would be everlasting, which means he must pre-exist. Col. 1:17 affirms that Jesus was “before all things.”

2. A Prophet

Deuteronomy 18:18 describes a future prophet whom God would speak through. This prophet was expected to perform miracles like Moses and to lead people to follow God. Jesus was a miracle-working prophet like Moses (Matt. 21:11).

3. Of the Line of Jesse and the House of David

Jesse was the father of David the king of Israel. Jewish commentators expected the Messiah to come from this genealogical line (Is. 11:1-3). The Apostle Paul affirms that Jesus descended from David (Rom. 1:1-3).

4. A Judge

The prophet Isaiah described a coming judge—the Lord—who would save Israel (Is. 33:22). The Messiah was to personally exercise judgment. And as the Apostle Paul explains, Jesus is ultimately that judge (2 Tim. 4:1).

5. King

Some leading rabbinic commentators who addressed Psalms 2:6 have claimed that it spoke first of David and then of the Messiah, both of whom were anointed king by God. Jesus was accused of being such a king, even though his kingdom was different than they expected (Matt. 27:37).

6. Special Presence of the Holy Spirit

The Messiah was expected to have a special anointing of the Holy Spirit (Is. 11:2). In his baptism in the Jordan River, the Spirit of God uniquely descends on Jesus and the Father affirms he is His “beloved Son.”

7. Preceded by Messenger 

According to some leading rabbinic commentators, Isaiah 40:3 describes the Messiah—the “Lord”—who would be preceded by a messenger. The Gospel of Mark begins by citing both Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3 to indicate John the Baptist is the messenger preparing the way for the Messiah.

8. Ministry of Miracles

The prophet Isaiah predicted that when the Messiah comes, the blind shall see, the deaf shall hear, the mute shall speak, and the lame shall walk again (Is. 35:5, 6). And this is exactly what Jesus did (Matt. 9:5).

9. He was to Enter the Temple

Malachi predicts that the Messiah will powerfully come to the Temple after God sends His messenger. Matthew describes how Jesus entered the Temple and overturned tables and drove out money-changers (Matt 21:12).

10. He Was to Enter Jerusalem on a Donkey

The prophet Zechariah predicted that the Messiah would enter Jerusalem “mounted on a donkey.” And according to Luke, this is exactly what Jesus did (Luke 19:35-37).

Admittedly, some of these predictive prophecies have greater evidential value than others. And of course, there are many objections raised against the points mentioned here, which my father and I address in the updated Evidence that Demands A Verdict.

Still, when all the predictive prophecies are considered, along with types and foreshadows in the Hebrew Scriptures, a powerful case can be made that Jesus is the expected Messiah.

This content originally published here. Used with permission. 
— Read on corechristianity.com/resource-library/3/1383

Stop Judging | Bible Thumping Wingnut Network

Stop judging. Jesus taught that, so it’s really important to stop judging. Judge. Jesus said we should judge right after He said not to judge, so it’s really important to judge. How can these things be?

It turns out that the Lord means for us to stop judging “by mere appearances” and, instead, “judge with right judgment” (John 7:24). That makes sense. We’ll make wrong judgments if we jump to conclusions, but we’re going to need to make a lot of judgments just to exist in this world, so the real issue is our moral obligation to make right judgments.

So, that leads to the question I would like to address: “Are Christians judgmental?“. I’m writing this article to those who answer “yes”, because, in my judgment, those who accuse Christians of being judgmental are themselves judging by mere appearances. If you say “Christians are judgmental”, here’s why you should stop with that, and receive the good news that follows.

To prove the point that judging is necessary, consider the judgments you are making right now as you read. “Do I like this article? Is it worth reading, or is it too long? Do I care what this guy has to say?” 

Rest assured, you began forming your judgments about this article the moment you began to read and synapses began firing in your brain. It’s likely you even had your mind made up about this article—whether or not you generally approve of it—before you began to read it, based upon who the author is to you. If I were your pastor, and you voluntarily sat under my teaching of God’s Word on a weekly basis, then you would be largely predisposed to judge this to be a trustworthy article. But my intended audience here is those who happen to think that Christians tend to be judgmental people, so some of your judgment of this article is based upon judgments you formed about me as a Christian even before you started reading the article. 

Now, to label someone “judgmental” is to criticize their character. The adjectival form of the noun “judgment” is not merely a statement of the fact that the person makes judgments, which is only a function of having a brain. To call someone a “judgmental Christian” doesn’t mean that this Christian is able to decide between different brands of orange juice at the grocery store. It means that this Christian has the morally repugnant tendency of looking down upon others who hold views different than their own. Judgmental connotes a major character flaw. 

So, for the sake of all that is tolerant and woke, may I ask you to open your mind for this 5-minute read? Perhaps the narrative that “Christians are judgmental” is a mere judgement by appearance. If, in your judgment, Christians are judgmental, I’m asking you to not follow your heart on this one (Numbers 15:39), but read on, because the narrative isn’t right, and I can prove it. If you’re concerned to not be judgmental yourself, stop judging by mere appearances and judge with right judgment.

Let me begin by agreeing that Christians make a lot of unpopular judgments:

Non-Christian religions are false.

LGBTQ behaviors are sinful.

Heterosexual behaviors outside of marriage are sinful.

Socialism is evil.

Abortion is murder.

These judgments are hard, but are Christians judgmental for making them? Before shouting “Yes!” at your cell phone or computer, reserve your judgment until you’ve heard my side of the story. Due process demands that you do. “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” (Proverbs 18:17). You’ve heard the accusation of judgmentalism levied against Christians who hold these views, but are you willing to hear our defense? We agree that these judgments are hard, but hard is not the same as judgmental.

Second, before I offer my defense, consider the kinds of judgments I am not defending:

All denominations besides mine are false.

Tattoos are inherently sinful.

All dancing is from the devil.

Drinking alcohol is always wrong.

Other races are lesser.

Sadly, there are Christians who make these judgments. That doesn’t make them judgmental. It makes them wrong—in some cases disgustingly so. I’m not here to defend them. Among the thousands of born-again evangelical Christians that I know, I can’t think of one who believes any of those 5 things. So, it’s a safe assumption that such judgments are not coming from us but are vestiges of an imperfect past or are caricatures of the kind of judgments the Christians of today make. Let’s be honest, it’s judgments like the first 5 I listed—and especially the LGBTQ one—that has the world calling Christians “judgmental” today.

Those two caveats stated, my defense to the charge that Christians are judgmental rests on the logical assertion that all moral judgment requires a standard, and Christians have the right one. To condemn anything as wrong in any way, whether it be racist, bigoted, dishonest, hateful, judgmental, or whatever, is to say that it fails to meet the standard. But by what standard are we to judge morality?

John Locke advanced the enlightenment view that has shaped the West—namely, that human reasoning—basic common sense—gives us the standard. Democracy builds on this idea by claiming that the moral sensibilities of the majority will be the standard upon which a moral society can be built. I support democracy, but after the West has just experienced the bloodiest hundred years in human history, and now with opinions of moral right and wrong more divided than ever, is the Lockian standard of morality really tenable?

Whereas enlightenment thinkers begin with the fundamental assertion that morality is based on human reasoning, Christians begin with the Bible as our moral compass. That is not to say that logic has no place in our moralizing. We believe that knowledge of right and wrong was built into the human conscience (Romans 2:15) when God made us all in His image (Genesis 1:26). But something went drastically wrong when humankind fell from innocence (Genesis 3), so the human conscience has become far from infallible. There are noetic effects to sin. We all have fallen natures, so even our ability to reason about morality is fallen, hence our need for God to tell us what is right and wrong. Since we’re made in the image of God, consciences can dole out flashes of light, but because we’re fallen creatures that are prone to corrupt thinking, only special revelation from God can light up the room.

Into the darkness of depraved humanity, God spoke His Word through the writings of prophets and apostles. That special revelation—the Old and New Testaments of the Bible—gives us God’s standard of morality. It is objective truth.

Now, before you give up on this argument for the simplistic reason that you don’t believe the Bible, consider the alternative. Apart from there being this God who has spoken, there is no such thing as morality. If humans are evolved fish that emerged without purpose from a primordial soup, then how one fish treats another fish doesn’t matter at all. Nothing is morally right or wrong in any objective sense. Furthermore, if there is a God, but that God has not spoken, then humanity would remain in just as much darkness as would be the case if there were no God at all. God’s character would in that case be the objective standard, but having no access to know what that standard is, humanity would still be groping in the dark.

So, my argument is that the Bible is the true standard of moral authority. Moreover, raising the stakes on this proposition, if the Bible were not the standard revealed by God, then there would be no knowable standard and there would be no basis for anyone ever making a moral claim. It would be meaningless to shame someone for racism, sexism, bigotry or judgmentalism. There could be no such thing—not objectively speaking. There could only be the emoting of walking fish, or a crybaby saying “I don’t like what you do”. Without the Bible, there is no standard.   

If you really hate the judgmental things people say, then you better fall in love with the God who speaks. Without His Word, there is no standard, so you’re standing on mush as you push against the moral evils you see in this world. This world will feel like one frustration after another to you unless you get this footing.

For Christians to make judgments that non-Christian religions are false, LGBTQ behaviors are sinful, heterosexual behaviors outside of marriage are sinful, socialism is evil, or abortion is murder is merely to exposit what the Bible obviously says. The Bible is absolutely clear about each of these things. Anyone who disagrees about that can contact me to set up a public moderated debate where the folly of your disagreement will be shown for what it is. But the point is that Christians are merely agreeing with the standard. To make judgments based on the Bible is not judgmentalism but fidelity to the God who spoke. The standard-less accusations of those who disagree now carry the burden: By what standard are you assessing anything as morally wrong?

Therefore, seeing as how Christians are not judging by mere appearances, but are making right judgments based upon the standard of the Bible, Christians are not judgmental for espousing our unpopular views. 

Those who make accusations against Christians in this regard are offered forgiveness for this on the basis of the shed blood of Jesus. Repent of this mistreatment of God’s children. Repent of violating and disparaging the law of God. Repent of autonomous reasoning that places oneself on the throne and regards the God who made you as irrelevant, like some relic of the past.

Jesus allowed Himself to be brutally beaten, mocked, ridiculed, hung upon a cross, and left to die in order to pay the penalty of sin on behalf of anyone who will turn to Him in repentance and faith. Place your faith in the resurrected Christ who offers salvation to all who repent and believe.

This offer is also extended to those who claim to be Christians but who reject the absolute authority of the Bible. It is impossible to retain Jesus while denying His Word. If His Word does not abide in you, then you do not remain in Him (John 15:7). 

Perhaps you think that you became “woke”, while “fundamentalists” remain asleep. You fancy yourself to be more sophisticated and mature than “them”. But when you cut loose from Biblical authority, you lost with it everything that is genuinely Christian. How do you know that the reason for Jesus’ dying was to make propitiation? How do you know that He rose for our justification? How do you know anything about Jesus or His way of salvation apart from the Bible? You don’t. You are adrift. You no longer have a standard. You are in the same boat as the God-haters. You are adrift at sea with them, even if you think you’re retaining your Christian “tradition”. Unless you repent, you have no part with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Read more blogs by Jeff Kliewer  HERE

The echo chamber of the world claims that Christians are judgmental. I ask those who make that claim to stop judging us by the subjective baseless preferences of your own random moral compass. Stop judging by mere appearance and make a right judgment.  

— Read on biblethumpingwingnut.com/2019/07/30/stop-judging/

07/31/19 One Among Many — ChuckLawless.com

READING: Job 28-29, Acts 23:11-24:9

More than forty people agreed together that they would kill Paul. In fact, they not only plotted together, but they also agreed that they would “neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul” (Acts 23:12). So strongly committed were they to this task that the original language implies that they invoked a curse on themselves if they did not succeed. Their plot was an elaborate one, suggesting they had given forethought to how they might secure Paul’s presence, ambush him, and take his life.

Once again, I’m fascinated by the apparent ease with which evil spreads from person-to-person. I doubt all forty men came up with the same idea at the same time; rather, somebody must have devised the plan, enlisted others, and convinced them to join the plot. My hunch is that as the group grew larger, it was easier to convince others to make the same vow. Sinful attitudes snowball through crowds – and, frankly, the growing number of participants probably also explains why word about the plot got out.

Against that growing crowd was Paul’s nephew, who told Paul about the plot and eventually secured his transfer. This young man was only one man among many, but his stand for right made a difference. May we, too, choose to do right even when the crowds outnumber us.

PRAYER: “God, grant me grace and strength to always stand up for right.”

TOMORROW’S READING:  Job 30-31, Acts 24:10-27

via 07/31/19 One Among Many — ChuckLawless.com

The Tragedy of Apostasy – Refresher | The Cripplegate

Anyone who has been in local church ministry for any amount of time is well-acquainted with disappointment. Things like criticism, gossip, and less-than-ideal fruit are normal. And, in some sense, you get used to that.

But there is one thing that never gets easier: when an individual who has professed Christ, immersed in the local church, and served in ministries, departs from the faith. AKA, “apostasy.” John Owen defined apostasy as “continued persistent rebellion and disobedience to God and his word,” or “total and final and public renunciation of all the chief principles and doctrines of Christianity.”

As our leadership team has had to grapple with this, we wanted to share a few things we’ve learned from the tragedy of apostasy.

— Read on thecripplegate.com/the-tragedy-of-apostasy-refresher/

John Solomon: Christopher Wray’s FBI is Fighting in Court to Cover For Team Comey’s Russia Hoax — The Gateway Pundit

Christopher Wray

Wray needs to go.

Christopher Wray’s FBI is fighting like hell in court to stop the public release of a number of documents the State Department sent to FBI agents from dossier author Christopher Steele.

The FBI argued in court that giving up the small number of documents will give up sources and methods to our enemies and terrorists.

“We know that terrorist organizations and other hostile or foreign intelligence groups have the capacity and ability to gather information from myriad sources, analyze it and deduce means and methods from disparate details to defeat the U.S. government’s collection efforts,” an FBI official swore in an affidavit supporting the request to keep the documents secret.

The FBI official argued against the conservative watchdog group Citizens United’s request to release the Kavalec memos and asserted, the FBI can’t afford to “jeopardize the fragile relationships that exist between the United States and certain foreign governments.”

In May, award-winning investigative journalist John Solomon obtained memos from a high-ranking government official who met with former British spy Christopher Steele in October of 2016, who determined that Steele’s ‘dirt’ on Trump was inaccurate and likely leaked to the media.

State Department official Kathleen Kavalec flagged this in memos and handwritten notes just 10 days before the first FISA warrant on Trump campaign advisor Carter Page was granted.

Multiple sources confirmed to John Solomon that Kavalec’s red flag on Steele was immediately sent to a senior FBI official.

The email from State Department official Kathleen Kavalec was sent to Special Agent Stephen Laycock (his name was initially redacted), then the FBI’s section chief for Eurasian counterintelligence, 8 days before the first FISA warrant was granted on Carter Page.

In November of 2018, FBI Director Christopher Wray named Stephen Laycock Assistant Director for the Directorate of Intelligence.

And now Wray’s FBI is fighting to keep these documents under wraps.

One of the documents Kavalec downloaded is about the conspiracy theory spread by the liberal media (and Hillary Clinton) that pings between Trump Tower server and Alfa Bank in Russia might be secret communications between Trump and Putin — of course this has been thoroughly debunked and even Mueller poured cold water on this story.

This story is not classified and has been discussed in a hearing by Mueller so why is the FBI hiding the documents?

Via John Solomon of The Hill:

And if that wasn’t enough, the bureau actually claimed that “FBI special agents have privacy interests from unnecessary, unofficial questioning as to the conduct of investigations and other FBI business.”

In other words, agents don’t want to have to answer to the public, which pays their salary, when questions arise about the investigative work, as has happened in the Russia case.

The FBI’s July 10 court filing speaks volumes about Director Christopher Wray’s efforts to thwart the public understanding of what really happened in the FBI’s now-debunked Russia collusion probe.

On its face, the FBI’s behavior in the Citizens United case isn’t about protecting national security secrets. It’s about protecting the bureau’s reputation from revelations its agents knew derogatory information about Steele and his work before they used his dossier to support a surveillance warrant targeting the Trump campaign and failed to disclose that information to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).

Read John Solomon’s full report here.

via John Solomon: Christopher Wray’s FBI is Fighting in Court to Cover For Team Comey’s Russia Hoax — The Gateway Pundit

Watson Video: Madworld | Frontpage Mag

Taking pride in degeneracy.

In this new video, Paul Watson discusses an expanding culture of lunacy and, along with it, the growing acceptance of shamelessness, failure and degeneracy. Don’t miss it!

— Read on www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/274445/watson-video-madworld-paul-joseph-watson

July 31 For the love of God (Vol. 2)

Judges 14; Acts 18; Jeremiah 27; Mark 13

 

if the prophecy in jeremiah 27 takes place early in the reign of Zedekiah (27:1), there are still years to go before Jeremiah is vindicated. At this point King Jehoiachin and the aristocracy have already been transported to Babylon, leaving behind Zedekiah and a ruling remnant. But far from being warned by these recent setbacks, Zedekiah and the ruling oligarchy want to be heroes and take on the Babylonian might. God instructs Jeremiah to provide both a verbal warning and an object lesson, not only to Zedekiah but also to the emissaries of the surrounding little nations and city-states (27:1–3, 12). They are all in the same boat: if they submit to the Babylonian superpower, they will be spared; if they rebel, they will be crushed and destroyed. The God of Israel is sovereign over all the nations; the pagan states would do better listening to him than to all of their own diviners, pagan prophets, and mediums (27:9–10). Of course, most listened to their own religious establishment. Nevertheless, after the tragic events unfolded, doubtless some individuals were a little more impressed by the God of Israel than before these events. He was the only one who had gotten the future right.

For some years I have been keeping odd essays and books that predict the future. These are written by astrologers, various futurologists, and self-proclaimed prophets. Of course, they do not all work on the same premises. Futurologists tend to project current trends into the future and infer what will take place. The best of them also make some allowances for reactions to current trends. Astrologers and self-proclaimed prophets claim some sort of external perspective. I have been keeping these projections for enough years to know that their track record is not good. Inevitably they get some things right—they make many predictions, and they cannot always be wrong. Nevertheless, picking an essay at random out of my files, I consult what one expert predicted in 1968 regarding the state of religion in Canada in twenty-five years, i.e., 1993. Among his predictions: the Catholic Church will be ordaining women; church attendance in the nation will be down by about 60 percent; a new Billy Graham will appear, “more charismatic, more hypnotic in his sway over the masses, than Graham himself”; the crucial public ethical issue will not be abortion or capital punishment but sterilization of the mentally retarded and brain transplants. And much more of the same. Many of us are familiar with the widely disseminated prophecy that predicted massive revival in the West by a set date (now long past).

Brothers and sisters, do not fear them, listen to them, or respect them. Fear and hear the words of the Lord.[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.