Daily Archives: August 14, 2019

August 14 The Power of Solitude

Scripture Reading: Psalm 4:1–8

Key Verse: Psalm 4:7

You have put gladness in my heart,

More than in the season that their grain and wine increased.

The phrase “quiet time” has become widely used in Christian circles over the past several years. Preachers preach it, teachers teach it, and prayer warriors rely on it. However, when we say “quiet time,” what are we really thinking?

Most likely, as you read this very passage, you are in the midst of your own quiet time. Perhaps you have soft Christian music in the background, a Bible on the table, and a soothing cup of coffee at your side. Maybe you have a cat nestled at your feet, and a lovely green yard outside the window. What warm and comfortable images!

All of these things are conducive to a refreshing prayer experience, a lengthy discussion with the Lord, or a moment of individual worship. However, even this peaceful scene is full of distractions.

Right now, you are actively reading; in a moment, you will spend a minute or two in prayer. However, this is not true “quiet time.” Your mind is full of thoughts, words, and quiet conversation. Although this time is vital, it is not solitude.

Richard Foster writes, “Without silence, there is no solitude.” A true moment of silence does not involve formulating your next thought or action, but instead is a moment of complete silence. Calm your mind, and even stop praying for a moment. Sit back and listen for a while. You may be surprised by what you hear.

Lord, I am unaccustomed to solitude—the deep silence in which You dwell. Teach me how to quiet the noise around me to hear Your voice.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 237). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

August 14 The Growth Process

Scripture Reading: Philippians 3:7–16

Key Verses: Philippians 3:13–14

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Penelope Stokes acknowledges in Grace Under Pressure:

Just as physical growth takes many years and much struggle, spiritual maturity comes hard as well. It takes time to grow—time to learn and mature—and the process isn’t as simple in reality as it looks on paper.

When we strive against the time necessary for our development, we live in frustration. But when we can relax in God’s timetable for our growth, depending upon His grace for the work His Spirit wants to do in our lives, we can experience the joy and wonder of growth, change, and fruitfulness.

Do you remember as a child being anxious to grow up? It seemed forever until that certain birthday when you would be able to do more things and be treated like a grown-up. Of course, by the time you got there, that age did not seem so old.

Such longings are typical in the Christian life as well, especially when you look at the example of a mature believer whom you admire. It’s okay to look forward to where God is taking your life, as long as you understand that there are no shortcuts.

Paul expressed his balanced desire for maturity this way: “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal” (Phil. 3:13–14 nasb).

Lord Jesus, the growth process often seems long. Spiritual maturity isn’t simple. Help me forget the past and press toward the goal You have set for me.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 237). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

August 14 Satan’s Limitations

Scripture reading: 1 Peter 5:8–11

Key verse: 1 Peter 5:11

To Him [God] be the glory and the dominion forever and ever.

Amen.

While God never wants you to become too focused on thinking about Satan and his role in the world, God does want you to be generally aware of how he operates. The worst position to take is “what I don’t know can’t hurt me.” When it comes to spiritual issues, the very opposite is true.

The Lord has not revealed many details about Satan’s specific abilities, but the Bible helps us understand his goals and his limitations. Satan is not omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent. These are characteristics of almighty God alone. Satan has a limited knowledge of the future, partly because he already dwells in the realm of the eternal. But ultimately, he can know only what God allows him to know.

Satan’s mission is to divide and attempt to destroy the kingdom of God. Of course, he will not be successful; God has already laid forth his judgment and final doom (Rev. 20:10). In the meantime, however, he and his spiritual assistants are trying to do all the damage they can.

Satan can harass and lay snares for believers. That is why Scripture cautions us to be aware and discerning. Satan can never make you do anything wrong, but permitting his influence places you in the pathway of sin and its ill effects.

I reject every influence of Satan over my life today, Lord. I turn from the pathway of sin to the way of righteousness.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 237). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Some Practical Consequences Of Reformed Covenant Theology (1) — The Heidelblog

It is exciting to discover what are sometimes called “the doctrines of grace,” i.e., the teaching that even though by nature we are dead in sins and trespasses, we came to faith because God loved us in Christ from all eternity and the Holy Spirit powerfully brought us to new life and to true faith. It is exciting to know that God the Son loved us and laid down his life intentionally for me and for all his elect, that we are saved by God’s free favor (grace) alone, through faith alone and that faith, in salvation, is nothing but resting, receiving, and trusting Christ and it is a free gift of grace. It is thrilling to learn that through faith the Holy Spirit has united us to the risen Christ, that we are adopted as sons, and that our Savior shall never lose any of those for whom he laid down his life. It is wonderful to learn that our sanctification, i.e., our gradual and gracious conformity to Christ, our dying to sin and living to Christ, is the gracious work of the Holy Spirit. These are glorious biblical and Reformation truths. We rightly celebrate God’s abounding grace. AGR is devoted to making known these wonderful truths as far as the Lord carries the good news across the globe.

The Christ-Confessing Covenant Community

As marvelous as these truths are, however, they are only the beginning of the Christian life. Our new life in Christ must be lived somewhere and Christ has graciously provided even that. He calls that place where we live out and enjoy all these benefits “the church.” In Matthew 16:18 he promised to build “his church” and that the gates of hell would not prevail against his church. He gave the “keys of the kingdom” (16:19) to Peter as a Christ-confessor an anticipation of his office as apostle. In Matthew 18 our Lord instituted a process for dealing with sin in the church. In v. 17 he commanded “tell it to the church.” When he used this noun churchhe assumed that we all knew what he meant. He assumed a certain knowledge of the Old Testament, where the idea behind the church was first revealed and developed. In the Greek translation of the Old Testament (LXX), which influenced the language and thought of the New Testament, the word church (ἐκκλησία) is used. The noun is the very same one that is translated “church” in Matthew 16 and 18. In Deuteronomy 9:10 Scripture says that the Lord gave two stone tablets, on which were inscribed by the finger of God, and on which were written all the world which the Lord spoke to us on the mountain “on the day of the assembly” (ἐκκλησία).1 “The assembly” is the formal, official covenant assembly gathered at the foot of the mountain, at the foot of the Lord, as it were. This expression or a parallel occurs many times in the LXX (see Deut 4:9–10; 18:16; 32:1; Josh 8:35).

In other words, the idea of a formal, public assembly of the Lord’s people before the face of the Lord was well known and well established long before the New Testament. The Apostles continued this way of thinking and speaking. Much of Acts concerns the establishment and practice of the visible, institutional church established by Christ. There was even a synod in Jerusalem (Acts 15) to discuss and sort out some thorny theological and practical problems. The same Jesus who was crucified and raised for our justification poured out his Spirit upon his Apostles and thereby empowered them to serve in his name, in his place, as his ambassadors. Paul described his pre-Christian mission as a persecutor of “the church,” i.e., the Christ-confessing covenant community (Phil 3:6). In Acts 5:11 Luke records that the entire church was afraid after the Holy Spirit put to death Ananias and Sapphira. Many places in the New Testament the noun church refers to the visible assembly, governed by offices, gathered in assembly (e.g., Acts 20:17). The Apostles established the offices of pastor, elder, and deacon to serve the Word, to govern the people, and to serve their basic material needs during difficult times.

No Homeless Christians

We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone to be a part of this visible covenant community. Read more»

via Some Practical Consequences Of Reformed Covenant Theology (1) — The Heidelblog

Can You Prove God Exists? — The Poached Egg Christian Worldview and Apologetics Network

by Arthur Khachatryan

Have you ever found yourself in a discussion or argument with someone about God, and they dared you to prove God exists? Or that Jesus is who he claimed to be? Or that the Bible is the inspired word of God? I’ve seen or heard that hundreds if not thousands of times.  Here’s the thing – “prove” is quite a strong word and does not fit at all in those types of discussions. Can you prove God exists? Yes, and it’s easier than you think, but not in the way many skeptics want it.

What does it mean to “prove” something? Well, it means to show something to be the case. But what is the standard of proof? There are a few to consider but only one is the most reasonable one to use when speaking about the existence of God…

I'm with Clive!FOLLOW THE LINK BELOW TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE:
Can You Prove God Exists?

via Can You Prove God Exists? — The Poached Egg Christian Worldview and Apologetics Network

August 14, 2019 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

The Purpose of Grace

It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. And yet for this reason I found mercy, in order that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience, as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. (1:15–16)

The phrase it is a trustworthy statement is unique to the Pastoral Epistles, appearing five times (cf. 3:1; 4:9; 2 Tim. 2:11; Titus 3:8). These statements were familiar, recognized summaries of key doctrines. That they were common in the church by the time of the writing of the Pastoral Epistles indicates that a well-articulated theology had developed. Paul indeed quotes them as if they were common knowledge. This one and the one in 1 Timothy 4:9 have the phrase deserving full acceptance appended for added emphasis.

The trustworthy statement in 1:15 acts as a condensed articulation of the gospel. In only eight Greek words is found a marvelous summation of the gospel message. Each word is chosen carefully. Christ Jesus is the word order preferred by Paul in the Pastoral Epistles. He uses it twenty-five times compared to six uses of “Jesus Christ.” Bound up in those two words is all that He is. Christ is the anointed King who came to redeem, and became the earthly Jesus at the Incarnation. That He came into the world implies not only His incarnation but His preexistence. Note carefully that it does not say that He came into existence, or that He was created. He existed somewhere else before coming into the world. This phraseology is used frequently by John, who often speaks of Christ’s coming into the world (cf. John 1:9; 3:19; 6:14; 11:27; 12:46; 16:28; 18:37).

The world refers to the world of humanity, blind, lost, and condemned to hell because of its hostility to God (cf. 1 John 5:19). It is into that world of sinners, of darkness and unbelief, that Jesus came. John 3:17 says, “God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him” (cf. John 12:46–47).

Christ’s purpose in coming into this fallen world was to save sinners. Before his birth the angel told Joseph “it is He who will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). In Luke 19:10 our Lord stated the purpose of His coming into the world: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” To save is to deliver from death and darkness, from sin, hell, and judgment. Sinners was a term used by the Jews to describe Gentiles (cf. Gal. 2:15), but our Lord used it to refer to all of fallen mankind (cf. Matt. 9:13). It denotes man’s constant violation of God’s law; men are sinners by nature.

In the realm of sinners, Paul saw himself as foremost of all (cf. 1 Cor. 15:9; Eph. 3:8). Many in our day would hasten to correct Paul’s self-image and restore his self-esteem. But that was a healthy self-view for Paul because it was accurate. It’s hard to imagine anyone worse than a blasphemer of God and persecutor of His church. Such a view of himself also served to keep Paul humble and grateful.

It was for this reason that Paul found mercy. God didn’t save him merely to get him out of hell or into heaven. Nor did He save him to preach the gospel or write the epistles; God could have had others do that. The purpose of salvation, whether Paul’s or ours, is to display God’s grace, power, and patience and produce a true worshiper of God (John 4:21–24). It is for His glory primarily, our benefit is secondary.

It was through saving Paul that Jesus Christ could most clearly demonstrate His perfect patience. Makrothumia (patience) means to be patient with people. Paul’s point is that if the Lord was patient with the worst of sinners, no one is beyond the reach of His grace. As an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life, Paul was living proof that God can save any sinner. He was the hupotupōsis, the model, type, or pattern. Those who fear that God cannot save them would do well to consider the case of Paul.[1]


15. It is a faithful saying. After having defended his ministry from slander and unjust accusations, not satisfied with this, he turns to his own advantage what might have been brought against him by his adversaries as a reproach. He shews that it was profitable to the Church that he had been such a person as he actually was before he was called to the apostleship, because Christ, by giving him as a pledge, invited all sinners to the sure hope of obtaining pardon. For when he, who had been a fierce and savage beast, was changed into a Pastor, Christ gave a remarkable display of his grace, from which all might be led to entertain a firm belief that no sinner, how heinous and aggravated soever might have been his transgressions, had the gate of salvation shut against him.

That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. He first brings forward this general statement, and adorns it with a preface, as he is wont to do in matters of vast importance. In the doctrine of religion, indeed, the main point is, to come to Christ, that, being lost in ourselves, we may obtain salvation from him. Let this preface be to our ears like the sound of a trumpet to proclaim the praises of the grace of Christ, in order that we may believe it with a stronger faith. Let it be to us as a seal to impress on our hearts a firm belief of the forgiveness of sins, which otherwise with difficulty finds entrance into the hearts of men.

A faithful saying. What was the reason why Paul aroused attention by these words, but because men are always disputing with themselves about their salvation? For, although God the Father a thousand times offer to us salvation, and although Christ himself preach about his own office, yet we do not on that account cease to tremble, or at least to debate with ourselves if it be actually so. Wherefore, whenever any doubt shall arise in our mind about the forgiveness of sins, let us learn to repel it courageously with this shield, that it is an undoubted truth, and deserves to be received without controversy.

To save sinners. The word sinners is emphatic; for they who acknowledge that it is the office of Christ to save, have difficulty in admitting this thought, that such a salvation belongs to “sinners.” Our mind is always impelled to look at our worthiness; and as soon as our unworthiness is seen, our confidence sinks. Accordingly, the more any one is oppressed by his sins, let him the more courageously betake himself to Christ, relying on this doctrine, that he came to bring salvation not to the righteous, but to “sinners.” It deserves attention, also, that Paul draws an argument from the general office of Christ, in order that what he had lately testified about his own person might not appear to be absurd on account of its novelty.

Of whom I am the first. Beware of thinking that the Apostle, under a pretence of modesty, spoke falsely, for he intended to make a confession not less true than humble, and drawn from the very bottom of his heart.

But some will ask, “Why does he, who only erred through ignorance of sound doctrine, and whose whole life, in every other respect, was blameless before men, pronounce himself to be the chief of sinners? I reply, these words inform us how heinous and dreadful a crime unbelief is before God, especially when it is attended by obstinacy and a rage for persecution. (Philip. 3:6.) With men, indeed, it is easy to extenuate, under the pretence of heedless zeal, all that Paul has acknowledged about himself; but God values more highly the obedience of faith than to reckon unbelief, accompanied by obstinacy, to be a small crime.

We ought carefully to observe this passage, which teaches us, that a man who, before the world, is not only innocent, but eminent for distinguished virtues, and most praiseworthy for his life, yet because he is opposed to the doctrine of the gospel, and on account of the obstinacy of his unbelief, is reckoned one of the most heinous sinners; for hence we may easily conclude of what value before God are all the pompous displays of hypocrites, while they obstinately resist Christ.[2]


15 The first of five “trustworthy sayings” (pistos ho logos, GK 3412, 3364) quoted in the PE is this: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” The added phrase “that deserves full acceptance” (also in 4:9) is also attested in Hellenistic literature (e.g., Philo, Flight 129; Rewards, 13). The present saying is reminiscent of Jesus’ statement in Luke 19:10. While “sinner” in Pharisaic Judaism (Paul’s tradition) referred to those who did not stringently keep the law, particularly Gentiles (cf. Gal 2:15), here—as regularly in Paul—“sinner” is a universal term encompassing Paul and the rest of humanity.

What is more, Paul calls himself “the foremost” (NASB) of sinners. (Note the present tense “I am” and the emphasis on “foremost” in the original.) While some consider the statement a hyperbole exaggerating the apostle’s consciousness of guilt, Paul’s conscience was deeply seared by his past persecution of the church, so that in the manner of true saints he may honestly have believed himself to be quite literally the foremost of sinners (cf. Augustine, Sermons 175. 6–7; Calvin, 29). If so, Paul’s conversion from persecutor of the church to fervent propagator constitutes a paradigm of God’s merciful dealings with human beings (see A. D. Clarke, “ ‘Be Imitators of Me’: Paul’s Model of Leadership,” TynBul 49 [1998]: 354–55). The church father Ignatius may copy the apostle’s self-effacing attitude when he calls himself “the least of the faithful” (Eph. 21.2) and says that he is “not worthy to be called a member” of the Syrian church (Magn. 14).[3]


15  Now Paul lays the capstone of his argument for the authority and relevance of his gospel for this world. He begins with a formulaic appeal to the gospel that urges the hearers to accept his articulation of the gospel as authoritative. The formula, “here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance,” continues the theme of faith/faithfulness in the term translated “trustworthy.” Now the gospel itself comes to be seen as the source of the theme. In the NT it is only in these letters to coworkers that this formula is found. Its stable form (expanded here and in 4:9 by the addition of “and deserving full acceptance”), however, suggests it is either widely known or will be perfectly understood. Its purpose is to authenticate Paul’s immediate expression of the gospel as apostolic and to be accepted as true. Although implicit in each occurrence of the formula, the expansion “and deserving of full acceptance” emphasizes the need for hearers to make an appropriate rational response to embrace and esteem what is said and act accordingly.41[4]


1:15–16 / Having given this personal word about how the grace of Christ overflowed to a former persecutor, Paul is reminded that what happened to him is in full accord with a (probably) well-known saying, which apparently has roots in Jesus himself (Luke 19:10; cf. John 12:46; 18:37). He begins with the formula here is a trustworthy saying (lit., “faithful is the saying”), which will recur four more times in these letters (3:1; 4:9; 2 Tim. 2:11; Titus 3:8) and which has been the subject of considerable discussion. In this instance, the formula precedes the saying, and the extent of the saying itself is clear. Such is not always the case (e.g., 3:1 and 4:9). Furthermore, nothing quite like it occurs elsewhere in the nt. However, the similar formula, “faithful is God,” is common in Paul (e.g., 1 Cor. 1:9; 10:13; 2 Cor. 1:18) and probably is the source of this present formulation.

The emphasis in Greek, as in niv, lies on the trustworthiness of the saying. This is emphasized further by the addition that deserves full acceptance. There is some ambiguity here about whether there is an intensive (niv, full; cf. rsv, neb, gnb), or extensive (“accepted by all,” Weymouth, Book of Common Prayer), sense to the adjective pasēs. A similar formula in 6:1 that can only be intensive (“worthy of full respect”) lends support to the niv translation; however, a good case can also be made from the context for an emphasis on its being worthy of universal acceptance.

In the saying itself, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, two points are made: Incarnation and Redemption, with the emphasis on the latter. To say that he came into the world, of course, does not in itself necessarily imply pre-existence, but such an understanding would almost certainly have been intended. Here the reason for his coming, and Paul’s reason for including it, is emphasized—to save sinners. Sinners! That was a term common enough in Pharisaic Judaism (Paul’s own tradition). It referred to all those who did not stringently keep the Law, especially Gentiles (even Paul can so use it in Gal. 2:15). But here, and elsewhere in Paul, sinners is a universalizing term. All humanity, both Jew and Gentile, belong together at this one point (Rom. 3:19–20, 23). But Christ came to save such.

Salvation for Paul is primarily an eschatological term; that is, it has to do with human destiny, what happens to people at the end (Gk., eschaton). But such eschatological salvation has already begun in the present in the work of Christ, hence “saving sinners” also means to save them from their present sinfulness. Both the present and future aspects seem to be in view here (cf. v. 16, “believe unto eternal life”).

To personalize the saying, Paul adds of whom I am the worst, not as a form of hyperbole, as some would have it, or because he was morbid about his sinful past, but precisely because of his own experience of God’s mercy and grace. Such statements are to be understood in light of the intersection in Paul’s life of the simultaneous overwhelming sense of his own sinfulness and utter helplessness before God and the fact of God’s grace lavished freely on him and God’s unconditionally accepting him despite his sin. It should also be noted that he says I am, not “I was.” Even one like Hanson who believes the letter to be a forgery admits that this is a “truly Pauline touch.” But it is so, not because of Paul’s abiding sense of sinfulness (as Bernard and others), but because he recognized himself as always having the status of “sinner redeemed.”

With the addition of that last word, of whom I am the worst, Paul is now in position to make his final point in this testimony to God’s grace. The reason for Christ’s saving Paul, the worst of sinners, was that he could thereby set Paul forth as a primary exhibit for all other sinners who would believe on him for salvation. Paul’s point is simple: “If God would—and could—do it to me, given who I was and what I did, then there is hope for all” (cf. 2:3–7). And so he repeats, I was shown mercy, but now adds this new reason.

By saving Paul, Christ Jesus has demonstrated his unlimited patience (or, “the full extent of his forbearance”) in dealing with sinners. Forbearance as a characteristic of the deity in dealing with human rebellion is a thoroughly Pauline idea (Rom. 2:4; 3:25–26; 9:22–23; cf. 2 Pet. 3:9, 15). Such patience is seen in his dealing with me, the worst of sinners, precisely so that Christ might have an example, a prototype, for those who would believe on him and thus also receive eternal life. The Greek for eternal life means not so much life with endless longevity as it does the “life of the coming age,” life that is ours now in Christ to be fully realized at his “appearing” (see 6:12–15; 2 Tim. 4:6–8; Titus 2:11–14).[5]


15. faithful—worthy of credit, because “God” who says it “is faithful” to His word (1 Co 1:9; 1 Th 5:24; 2 Th 3:3; Rev 21:5; 22:6). This seems to have become an axiomatic saying among Christians the phrase, “faithful saying,” is peculiar to the Pastoral Epistles (1 Ti 2:11; 4:9; Tit 3:8). Translate as Greek, “Faithful is the saying.”

all—all possible; full; to be received by all, and with all the faculties of the soul, mind, and heart. Paul, unlike the false teachers (1 Ti 1:7), understands what he is saying, and whereof he affirms; and by his simplicity of style and subject, setting forth the grand fundamental truth of salvation through Christ, confutes the false teachers’ abstruse and unpractical speculations (1 Co 1:18–28; Tit 2:1).

acceptationreception (as of a boon) into the heart, as well as the understanding, with all gladness; this is faith acting on the Gospel offer, and welcoming and appropriating it (Ac 2:41).

Christ—as promised.

Jesus—as manifested [Bengel].

came into the world—which was full of sin (Jn 1:29; Ro 5:12; 1 Jn 2:2). This implies His pre-existence. Jn 1:9, Greek, “the true Light that, coming into the world, lighteth every man.”

to save sinners—even notable sinners like Saul of Tarsus. His instance was without a rival since the ascension, in point of the greatness of the sin and the greatness of the mercy: that the consenter to Stephen, the proto-martyr’s death, should be the successor of the same!

I am—not merely, “I was chief” (1 Co 15:9; Eph 3:8; compare Lu 18:13). To each believer his own sins must always appear, as long as he lives, greater than those of others, which he never can know as he can know his own.

chief—the same Greek as in 1 Ti 1:16, “first,” which alludes to this fifteenth verse, Translate in both verses, “foremost.” Well might he infer where there was mercy for him, there is mercy for all who will come to Christ (Mt 18:11; Lu 19:10).[6]


Ver. 15.—Faithful is the saying for this is a faithful saying, A.V. Faithful is the saying (πιστὸς ὁ λόγος). This formula is peculiar to the pastoral Epistles (ch. 3:1; 4:9; 2 Tim. 2:11; Titus 3:8), and seems to indicate that there were a number of pithy sayings, maxims, portions of hymns or of catechetical teaching, current in the Church, and possibly originating in the inspired sayings of the Church prophets, to which the apostle appeals, and to which he gives his sanction. The one appealed to here would be simply, “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.” This, St. Paul adds, is worthy of all acceptation—by all, and without any reserve. Acceptation (ἀποδοξῆς); only here and ch. 4:9, in connection with the same formula. The verb ἀποδέχομαι occurs in Luke 8:40; Acts 2:41; 15:4; 18:27; 24:3; 28:30. It contains the idea of a glad, willing acceptance (see note on Acts 2:41). So doubtless ἀποδοχή also means “hearty reception.” I am chief; in respect of his having been “a blasphemer, a persecutor, and injurious.” That great sin was indeed freely forgiven by God’s grace, but it could never be forgotten by him who had been guilty of it. “Manet alth mente repostum” (comp. Eph. 3:8).[7]


15. Moreover, what holds for Paul holds for all saved sinners. Hence, there is first the statement of a truth applicable to all sinners whom Christ came to save. This is followed immediately by a clause of personal appropriation. Reliable (is) the saying, and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world sinners to save, foremost of whom am I.

Paul’s saying with respect to the glorious purpose of Christ’s first coming, this is the theme of the marvelous declaration which may be regarded as the very core of the gospel, its sum and substance. (It is comparable to John 3:16, on which see N.T.C.).

The saying is viewed from three aspects: 1. its reliability, 2. its contents, and 3. its personal appropriation.

  1. Its reliability

Simple and great, like a granite rock, stands the word reliable, at the head of the sentence, without any connecting particle. It indicates that the proposition which it introduces has sustained the very crucial, fiery test of experience. It is not a mere formula but a considered judgment. It has been passed from mouth to mouth, as such sayings have the habit of doing, and, having embedded itself in the heart of the Christian community, where all the fears, hopes, struggles, and joys of these early Christians played around it, has survived gloriously. It has, in fact, become a sparkling epigram, a pithy, current commonplace, demanding and receiving the immediate, spontaneous, and enthusiastic assent and endorsement of all believers who hear it. The saying is the testimony of Christian experience, and is now also the utterance of the Holy Spirit.

The Pastorals contain five of these reliable sayings: 1 Tim. 1:15; 3:1; 4:8, 9; 2 Tim. 2:11–13; Titus 3:4–8. Although the clause, “Reliable is the saying,” occurs only in these five passages of the Pastorals, and exactly in that form nowhere in the other ten epistles, this does not give anyone the right to conclude that Paul cannot have written the Pastorals. Surely no reason can be shown why the one who wrote, “Reliable (is) God,” (1 Cor. 1:9) and “Reliable (is) the One who calls you,” (1 Thess. 5:24) could not have written the grammatically exactly similar statement, “Reliable (is) the saying.”

The famous saying, having been subjected to the flames of persecution and ridicule of Satan, had emerged from this crucible more sparkling and glorious than ever. Though not even four decades had elapsed since the death of the Savior, it had become even at this early date an unshakable conviction, “worthy of full acceptance,” that is, entitled to wholehearted and universal personal appropriation with no reservations of any kind (or as we say colloquially “with no strings attached”).

  1. Its contents

The saying is, “That Christ Jesus came into the world sinners to save.” Something should be said, first, about the form of this statement; then, about its meaning.

As to the form, it is asserted by several commentators that the saying is distinctly Johannine, since only John speaks of the Savior as “coming into the world.” Some, even among those who regard Paul as the author of the Pastorals, proceed farther, and do not hesitate to connect this Johannine character of the language with the fact that the destination of 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy was Ephesus (where Timothy was carrying on his work as Paul’s special envoy), the very headquarters of John! Accordingly, it is maintained that Timothy and the membership of the Ephesian church (on the assumption that the epistle was also read to the church), having become used to John’s style, through his labors in their city, would appreciate such phraseology more than would believers who lived elsewhere.

However, this representation is open to the following objections:

  1. The name “Christ Jesus” is Pauline rather than Johannine (it is never found in John’s writings, often in Paul’s).
  2. It would seem altogether probable that the apostle John did not reach Ephesus until after Paul’s death, hence also after the date of composition of 1 Timothy. The fact that Peter had received his “inheritance” in the heavens, and Paul his “crown” may have induced John to take charge of the orphan churches of Asia Minor. When we surmise that John reached Ephesus in the year 67 or 68, we cannot be far amiss (see also N.T.C. on John, vol. I, p. 29). But Paul wrote 1 Timothy in the year 63 or 64!
  3. To a considerable extent the phraseology is, indeed, Johannine, but only in this sense that John has preserved and transmitted it. He did not coin it! It was Jesus himself who, according to the Fourth Gospel, again and again referred to himself as having “come into the world” (John 3:19; 9:39; 12:46; 16:28; 18:37). His earliest disciples learned it from him and copied it. Hence, it is not surprising that “the disciple whom Jesus loved” began to use it (John 1:11); and so did others, for example, Martha (John 11:27). Accordingly, here in 1 Tim. 1:15 Paul is simply making use of the Savior’s own way of speaking about himself, and is employing language which, having been adopted from his lips by the earliest disciples, had been spread far and wide. It is only natural—in view, for example, of the close contact between Jerusalem and Ephesus, and of the “scattering” of the disciples due to persecution—that the saying had also reached Ephesus. And in this connection it is not at all improbable that the great apostle John, before leaving Palestine, had contributed his share toward perpetuating it.

As to the meaning of the expression, the combination “Christ Jesus” has already been explained (see N.T.C. on 1 Thess. 1:1, and footnote  in the present Commentary). The fact that this divinely anointed Savior “came into the world” indicates not merely a change of location, a “descent” from one place to another (from heaven to earth), but a change of state and of moral and spiritual environment. Hence, it implies the supreme sacrifice, the climax of condescending grace. From the infinite sweep of eternal delight in the very presence of his Father, Christ was willing to descend deeper and deeper into the realm of sin and misery. (The “coming into the world” includes incarnation, suffering, death.) In the original the word sinners immediately follows the word world; hence, not as most versions have it, “… came into the world to save sinners,” but “… came into the world sinners to save.” The juxtaposition of world and sinners shows that world is an ethical concept. For the meaning of world see also N.T.C. on John 1:10, 11, including footnote 26. The Lord of glory, so pure and holy that before his presence even the most consecrated men fall down as though dead (Rev. 1:17; cf. Is. 6:1–5), voluntarily entered the sphere to which he does not seem to belong, namely, the sphere in which the curse reigns. The reason for his entrance into this realm of sin is given in the words “sinners to save.” This shows that the paradoxical coming was, after all, fully justified and gloriously motivated.

It took a former Pharisee to pour full and terrible meaning into that word sinners. As Pharisees saw it, even to eat with sinners was scandalous (Mark 2:16; Luke 5:30; 15:1, 2). With a sinner a prophet was not supposed to have any dealings (Luke 7:39). When the Pharisees wanted to heap insults upon Jesus, they would call him “a glutton, a drinker, a friend of (tax-collectors and) sinners” (Luke 7:34). They divided mankind into two groups: “the righteous,” which was tantamount to saying, “ourselves,” and “sinners,” that is, “everybody else,” “the riffraff,” “the scum,” “the people of the soil,” “those who do not know the law.” The Holy Spirit through Paul takes this opprobrious epithet “sinners,” and applies it to all persons who are brought under conviction through the proper use of God’s law. For them, for them alone, Christ Jesus came (Matt. 9:13; Luke 15:7; 19:10):

“Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,

Weak and wounded, sick and sore;

Jesus ready stands to save you,

Full of pity, love, and power;

He is able, He is able,

He is willing, doubt no more;

He is able, He is able,

He is willing, doubt no more.

“Come, ye weary, heavy-laden,

Bruised and mangled by the fall;

If you tarry till you’re better,

You will never come at all;

Not the righteous, not the righteous,

Sinners Jesus came to call.

Not the righteous, not the righteous,

Sinners Jesus came to call.”

(Joseph Hart)

If those in Ephesus who were using the law unlawfully were ever going to be saved, they would have to experience a fundamental change. These “righteous” persons would have to become “sinners” before God. Thus it is seen that verse 15 stands in close connection with everything that precedes (not only with verses 12–14 but also with verses 3–11).

It was to save sinners that Christ Jesus came into the world. He did not come to help them save themselves, nor to induce them to save themselves, nor even to enable them to save themselves. He came to save them!

In Paul’s writings the expression to save means:

NEGATIVELY

 

POSITIVELY

 

to rescue men from sin’s:

 

to bring men into the state of:

 

a    guilt (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14)

b    slavery (Rom. 7:24, 25; Gal. 5:1) and

c    punishment:

 

a    righteousness (Rom. 3:21–26; 5:1)

b    freedom (Gal. 5:1; 2 Cor. 3:17) and

c    blessedness:

 

(1)        alienation from God (Eph. 2:12)

(2)        the wrath of God (Eph. 2:3)

(3)        everlasting death (Eph. 2:5, 6)

 

(1)        fellowship with God (Eph. 2:13)

(2)        the love of God “shed abroad” in the heart (Rom. 5:5)

(3)        everlasting life (Eph. 2:1, 5; Col. 3:1–4).

 

Note that over against each evil stands a corresponding blessing. To be saved, then, means to be emancipated from the greatest evil, and to be placed in possession of the greatest good. The state of salvation is opposed to the state of “perishing” or being “lost.” Cf. Luke 19:10; John 3:16.

  1. Its personal appropriation

“… Christ Jesus came into the world sinners to save, foremost of whom am I.” This final clause (beginning with the word “foremost”) has caused a wider variety of interpretation than almost any other in Paul’s writings. The difficulty is this: it does not seem right that one who himself declares that before his conversion to the Christian faith he had lived according to the strictest sect of his religion as a Pharisee (Acts 26:5), should now call himself “chief of sinners.” For various interpretations which I reject, and the reasons why I reject them, see the footnote.

Complete objectivity in exegesis demands that we state that the immediate context would seem to leave room for only one explanation, and that this explanation is the very one which the ordinary student of Scripture in reading his Bible, in quiet meditation, and also in song, generally gives to it. When the apostle, his heart troubled by the vivid recollection of the gruesome deeds of the past, gives written expression to the deeply rooted conviction and the poignant sorrow of his inner soul, and states, “Christ Jesus came into the world sinners to save, foremost of whom am I,” he must have meant, “Of all sinners whom Christ Jesus came into the world to save, I am the greatest.”

In fact, he not only states but emphasizes that no one else than he himself is “the chief of sinners.” In the original he reserves for the first personal pronoun singular a place at the very end of the clause. I can see no good reason for radically changing this word-order. The translation should be, “of whom foremost am I,” or “foremost of whom am I.” Paul fixes the attention upon himself as a clear illustration of the depth of human sin, in order that in verse 16 he may return to that wonderful theme on which he has just dwelt (see verses 12–14), namely, the exaltation of the power of divine grace, mercy and longsuffering.

This interpretation of the disputed clause not only suits the context but is also in line with what Paul says about himself elsewhere:

“For I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God” (1 Cor. 15:9).

“To me, the very least of all saints, was this grace given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8).

In both these cases, just as here in 1 Tim. 1:15, the apostle is making a comparison between himself and other people whom Christ came to save (whether they were destined to become apostles or believers not clothed with any special office), and he makes the humble confession that he is the least of all saints, the foremost (or “chief”) of sinners whom Christ came to save.

Taken in that sense and as a description of what Paul felt, the words of the familiar hymn are entirely correct:

“Chief of sinners though I be,

Jesus shed his blood for me;

Died that I might live on high;

Lives that I may never die.”

(William McComb)

That the apostle, who certainly knew his own past, was able in all sincerity to describe himself as being “of sinners foremost” is less difficult to grasp if the following facts are borne in mind:

When, years before this, Paul for the first time heard the good tidings of salvation in Christ, he disbelieved. This disbelief he shared with many. Had his attitude to the Christian faith remained on this level, namely, one of unbelief, he would probably never have called himself, “of sinners foremost.” However, he became a persecutor, and not only “a” persecutor but the most bitter persecutor of all! His entire soul was wrapped up in the work of annihilating the church. He breathed threats and slaughter (Acts 9:1). Ruthlessly he bound and imprisoned both men and women. He did not confine his efforts to Jerusalem but was bent on uprooting the new religion wherever it was found, even if this would necessitate a trip all the way to Damascus. He was busy persecuting God’s people “unto death,” as he himself subsequently declared (Acts 22:4, 5). Had his plan succeeded, the church would have been smothered in its very birth; God’s eternal decree would have been annulled; and Satan would have triumphed. Indeed, so very great was his sin that, had it not been done in ignorance (see on verse 13), it would have been unpardonable. Accordingly, when the apostle now says, “… sinners to save, foremost of whom am I,” we must not begin to attenuate the meaning of “foremost.” We should permit this glorious confession to stand within its own context, without either adding to it or subtracting anything from it.

Paul writes “am I,” not “was I.” This indicates that even now, years after his conversion, he deeply regrets his past. Besides, even a fully pardoned sinner is a sinner.[8]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1995). 1 Timothy (pp. 32–33). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentaries on the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon (pp. 38–41). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[3] Köstenberger, A. (2006). 1 Timothy. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 506–507). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] Towner, P. H. (2006). The Letters to Timothy and Titus (p. 143). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[5] Fee, G. D. (2011). 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (pp. 52–54). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[6] Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 406). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[7] Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). 1 Timothy (p. 5). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

[8] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Pastoral Epistles (Vol. 4, pp. 75–82). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

Project Veritas: Leaked Google Documents Prove Tech Giant is Censoring: Rush Limbaugh, Gateway Pundit, Newsbusters, MRCTV, Daily Caller, etc. — The Gateway Pundit

In November 2018 The Guardian reported on  group of Google employees who published an open letter calling on their employer to cancel its plans to build a censored search engine for China.   Google employees were very upset that Google’s Project Dragonfly would allow the Chinese government to blacklist certain search terms.

But their blacklist operations were not just in China.

It is obvious that Google, Facebook and Twitter are using their own political blacklists to censor and diminish traffic to prominent conservative publishers and their supporters.

If you search Google for prominent conservative voices including: Mike Cernovich, Joe diGenova, Jack Posobiec or Gateway Pundit you will see hit pieces and biased attacks.

The Gateway Pundit is one of the largest, most accurate and most influential publishers in the country today.  But earlier this year if you searched Google for “Gateway Pundit” the first item that popped up was a hit piece on The Gateway Pundit followed by several more links that smeared our website.

You had to go to the fifth item before you could even find a link to our website.

On Wednesday Project Veritas released leaked documents from a Google insider that shows The Gateway Pundit, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Newsbusters, American Thinker, MRCTV, American Lookout, Twitchy, Daily Caller, Natural News, The Rebel Media, LifeNews, BizPac Review, YoungCons and many others are being targeted, censored, blacklisted and silenced by Google.

It doesn’t matter if you are pro-Tump or a Never Trumper– as long as you are conservative you made their list.

According to Project Veritas this is a “Manual list of sites” excluded from appearing as Google Now stories.

via Project Veritas: Leaked Google Documents Prove Tech Giant is Censoring: Rush Limbaugh, Gateway Pundit, Newsbusters, MRCTV, Daily Caller, etc. — The Gateway Pundit

Guess Who China Is Blaming For The Riots In Hong Kong? | ZeroHedge News

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

This is not going to end well.

As a result of our ongoing trade war, U.S. relations with China were already rapidly deteriorating, but now the chaos in Hong Kong threatens to completely wreck them.  Violence between political protesters and riot police is making headlines all over the globe, and as you will see below, the Chinese are squarely blaming the United States for what is happening.  On Tuesday, flights at Hong Kong International Airport were canceled for a second day in a row, and riot police stormed the airport in an attempt to evict the thousands of protesters that were occupying it.  This resulted in extremely violent clashes, and you can see raw video of one of these confrontations right here.  Needless to say, the Chinese government is extremely alarmed by these developments.  According to ABC News, one top official told the press that these protests in Hong Kong “have begun to show signs of terrorism”…

The clashes appeared to represent an escalation 10 weeks after the protest’s massive, peaceful beginnings in early June, when hundreds of thousands marched in the semi-autonomous city against a now-suspended extradition bill. A Chinese official said Tuesday that protesters “have begun to show signs of terrorism,” and China appeared to be weighing a crackdown on the democratic movement.

Bolstered by anger over the crackdown by Hong Kong police, the protests has grown more confrontational in recent weeks and reached new levels last Monday with a city-wide strike that disrupting traffic and hundreds of flights.

It appears to be just a matter of time before a major crackdown happens.  It is being reported that China has been moving troops toward Hong Kong, and the Chinese are also now refusing to allow U.S. warships to make stops in Hong Kong.  Apparently they are afraid that the presence of U.S. warships may escalate the situation, and so they don’t want to take any chances.

And it may be a very long time until the U.S. Navy is able to use Hong Kong ports in the future.  At this point, the Chinese have concluded that “external foreign forces” are responsible for the protests in the city, and the finger of blame is being pointed directly at the United States.  The following comes from NPR

Along with its increasingly strident rhetoric, Beijing has encouraged conspiracy theories now popular within China that the protests were instigated and funded by the United States. In a second press conference last week, China’s office on Hong Kong blamed “external foreign forces” for the protest, citing several meetings U.S. leaders had with Hong Kong pro-democracy advocates in Washington this spring.

The ideas have gained significant support in mainland China: when a prominent international relations commentator dismissed theories of CIA support for the protests as an unfounded conspiracy, he was vilified as a traitor by online bloggers.

Most Americans are not deeply angry with China, and so they don’t understand why they would be deeply angry at us.  But it is critical for us to understand that the Chinese now consider the United States to be enemy #1, and anti-American sentiment is constantly being fueled by official statements from the Chinese government.  For example, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying recently told the press that the Hong Kong protests are “somehow the work of the US” and she warned that those who interfere in Hong Kong “will only get themselves burned”

“As you all know, they are somehow the work of the US,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a press conference in Beijing.

Hua added that China would “never allow any foreign forces” to interfere in the semi-autonomous city, and warned that “those who play (with) fire will only get themselves burned.”

And it certainly doesn’t help that officials from the United States have been spotted meeting with key organizers of the Hong Kong protests.  In fact, Chinese state media has used this fact as evidence that the protests “have been sponsored by the US”

Chinese state media has run multiple editorials blaming the US for the chaos. The state-run tabloid Global Times alleged Monday that there had been “unprecedented levels of contact” between Hong Kong pro-democracy leaders and Western governments.

“It is an open secret in Hong Kong that the forces protesting the extradition bill have been sponsored by the US,” the paper said.

When a photo of State Department official Julie Eadeh meeting with a group of Hong Kong protesters was posted on social media, it immediately went viral.  All over China there were cries that the U.S. was trying to start a revolution in Hong Kong, and anti-American sentiment rose to an entirely new level.

Whether it is justified or not, it would be difficult to overstate how angry the Chinese are right now.  At this point there is so much anger that even one of the most respected news anchors in the entire country used an expletive when talking about the United States during his news broadcast

One of the most remarkable anti-American eruptions came last week when Kang Hui, one of China’s most recognized television news anchors, attacked the United States on-air as a hegemon that bullied and threatened others.

“They stir up more troubles and crave the whole world to be in chaos, acting like a ****-stirring stick,” Mr. Kang said on the usually stolid 7 p.m. national news program on CCTV, China’s state broadcaster. The expletive quickly became one of the most-searched-for phrases on Chinese social media.

Of course the protesters in Hong Kong aren’t exactly being shy about their fondness for the United States.  They have been filmed waving American flags and singing the U.S. national anthem.  They had been hoping for more support from President Trump, but so far Trump has taken a decidedly neutral stance, and he seems frustrated that the Chinese have been blaming him for what is taking place

“Many are blaming me, and the United States, for the problems going on in Hong Kong. I can’t imagine why?” Trump tweeted Tuesday. He added: “Our Intelligence has informed us that the Chinese Government is moving troops to the Border with Hong Kong. Everyone should be calm and safe!”

In separate remarks to reporters, Trump said: “The Hong Kong thing is a very tough situation. I hope it works out peacefully. I hope nobody gets hurt. I hope nobody gets killed.”

As with so many other things in life, perception is often more important than reality, and what really matters in this situation is that the Chinese are 100 percent convinced that the United States is behind the Hong Kong protests.

There is probably nothing that President Trump or other U.S. officials could do to dissuade them from believing this, and that means that anti-American sentiment inside China is likely to continue to intensify as long as the Hong Kong protests continue.

Needless to say, this is going to make a trade deal even less likely, and that is really bad news for the entire global economy.

The two largest economies on the entire planet are now engaged in a high stakes confrontation, and the outcome is going to have very serious implications for every man, woman and child on the entire planet.

Sadly, most Americans are still entirely clueless about what is really going on.  Most of us still seem to believe that everything is going to work out just fine somehow, and I wish that was actually true.

Source: Guess Who China Is Blaming For The Riots In Hong Kong?

Satellite pics show more than 500 Chinese military vehicles in soccer stadium near Hong Kong border | RT

Satellite images have reportedly captured more than 500 Chinese military vehicles stationed in and around a soccer stadium close to the Hong Kong border in what is believed to be a response to days of violent protests.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Source: Satellite pics show more than 500 Chinese military vehicles in soccer stadium near Hong Kong border