Daily Archives: August 16, 2019

August 16 Guilty Feelings

Scripture Reading: Psalm 103:6–12

Key Verse: Psalm 103:12

As far as the east is from the west,

So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

Just when we think we are free of some past sin, the enemy discreetly reminds us from where we came. He places sin around our necks like an albatross. Is it possible to shed those feelings of guilt forever and find spiritual peace?

The motive of the devil is to lie to us so that we become confused and wander away from the narrow path that leads to our heavenly Father. That’s why we must ask the Lord for discernment from the enemy’s lies so that we can put them aside and move forward.

When we ask God to forgive us of any sin we have committed—whether it be in the distant past or just today—He gladly obliges us. Suddenly, the sin that was a barrier in our relationship with God is removed. God never reminds us of our past sins.

David wrote that God removes our sins as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). We know that, yet we still struggle with past sins. In overcoming those feelings of guilt, we must be in constant remembrance that it is God’s grace that brings freedom.

Whenever the enemy brings our past to mind, we can defeat him by recalling our source of forgiveness and reminding ourselves of what God’s Word says: our sins are gone as far as the east is from the west.

Lord, when I am reminded of past sins, I know it is not You who is dangling them under my nose. I renounce the works of the enemy in trying to discourage me.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 239). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

August 16 The Great All

Scripture Reading: John 14:21–23

Key Verse: Hebrews 11:6

Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

  1. A Tozer underscored the vital necessity of reckoning with the unseen reality of God and His power:

The spiritual is real … We must shift our interest from the seen to the unseen. For the great unseen reality is God. “He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). This is basic in the life of faith.

Every man must choose his world … As we begin to focus on God, the things of the Spirit will take shape before our inner eyes.

Obedience to the Word of Christ will bring an inward revelation of the Godhead (John 14:21–23).

A new God-consciousness will seize upon us, and we shall begin to taste and hear and inwardly feel the God Who is our life and our all.

More and more, as our faculties grow sharper and more sure, God will become to us the great All and His Presence the glory and wonder of our lives.

Tozer concluded with this prayer. Lift it as your own today:

Dear Lord, open my eyes that I may see; give me acute spiritual perception; enable me to taste Thee and know that Thou art good. Make heaven more real to me than any earthly thing has ever been.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 239). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

August 16 Shattering Strongholds

Scripture reading: Matthew 4:1–11

Key verse: Psalm 56:2

My enemies would hound me all day,

For there are many who fight against me, O Most High.

To tear down the enemy’s strongholds so you can enjoy the freedom in Christ that belongs to you, you must first restrict his work and influence.

You remember from 2 Corinthians 10:3–5 that you cannot fight him by ordinary means. Bringing every thought captive to Christ is a job for Jesus Christ. Jesus does it for you when you use scriptural principles for warfare.

First, get rid of any objects and materials that belong to Satan. The Bible is clear that astrology and occult practices are Satan’s domain (Deut. 18:10–14; Gal. 5:20). If you have any occult paraphernalia, destroy it at once. It would be a good idea to have a pastor or Christian friend with you as a witness.

Second, pray in Jesus’ name for the stronghold to be shattered. Before you pray, find some Bible verses that pertain to your situation, and use them in your prayer. There is real power in the name and blood of Christ, and Satan cannot stand in the presence of the Son of God.

Always bear in mind that you are not the one doing the binding or crushing of Satan’s influence. Pride or a desire for personal power has no place in battling the evil one. Your liberation lies only in humble faith in the power of Christ. Jesus came to set you free; claim that freedom today.

In the name of Jesus, every stronghold in my life is shattered by the power of the blood! Jesus came to set me free, and I claim that freedom today![1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 239). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

LEAVING CHRISTIANITY: The Unthinkable is Happening

Absolute Truth from the Word of God

I’m sure that many of you know about Joshua Harris, the former pastor  of Covenant Life Church in Maryland, has not only walked away from his ministry – but he has LEFT Christianity AND his wife of 21 years.

Joshua is now marching with LGBTQ parades.  This is shocking, brethren.  But this is a Sign of the End Times.

From Christianpost.com

The Maryland-based megachurch that I Kissed Dating Goodbye author Joshua Harris once led responded to the news of him leaving his faith and his wife, stating that it “hits home personally.”

“These updates are hard to hear. We love Josh and Shannon. For most of us, Josh isn’t just some distant public figure,” wrote Covenant Life Interim Senior Pastor Kevin Rogers in a letter to his congregation, which was posted online on Saturday by author and investigative journalist Julie Roys.

“He’s a beloved former pastor and friend. So this…

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What happened when she ‘supported’ Libya? Chinese media roasts Hillary Clinton over Hong Kong | RT World News

A newspaper operated by China’s Communist Party pulled no punches on Hillary Clinton’s support for Hong Kong protesters, noting her role in past foreign policy debacles ranging from the Iraq War to US intervention in Libya.

“@HillaryClinton has called for support of the rioters in Hong Kong. Let’s see what happened when she ‘supported’ Syria, Libya, Yemen, Iraq,” the People’s Daily tweeted.

The accompanying video shows clips of Hillary Clinton throughout her tumultuous political career, advocating for wars and foreign policy positions that have led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people across the Middle East and North Africa.

The video ends with a photograph of a US Consulate official meeting with Hong Kong activists, and video footage showing demonstrators waving American flags. Washington is now attempting to “intervene” in Hong Kong, the video claims.

Earlier this week, Clinton urged the world to “stand in solidarity” with the Hong Kong protesters as they “speak out for democracy.”

Also on rt.com Hong Kong in US’ crosshairs? No matter where there’s revolution, we’re there, Ron Paul says

Beijing has repeatedly accused Washington of playing an active role in demonstrations that have rocked Hong Kong since March. On Thursday, China’s Foreign Ministry office in Hong Kong accused the US of “conspiring with radical criminal elements and are insanely involved in anti-Chinese criminal cases” in the semi-autonomous territory.

Source: What happened when she ‘supported’ Libya? Chinese media roasts Hillary Clinton over Hong Kong

Weekly Watchman for 08/16/2019

Comments & Questions: A ‘Red Flag’ to Watch

On Fridays we discuss your comments and answer your questions – always looking to God’s Word. Several of you have written in about potential gun control laws and the possible threat of disarming the general public. Should Christians obey such a law? Also:

When pastors tell too many stories or analogies during a sermon, does it take away from God’s Word?

Christian parents needing advice for daughter with an influential lesbian friend.

The Jewish concept of “Minyan”- not “minion” as used in different contexts.

A man overhears women undermining the spiritual authority of their husbands.

Are we on the verge of Christian persecution in America and are Christians and churches prepared spiritually?

You can connect with us at comments@standupforthetruth.com or by texting speak up to 90100.

Daily podcast, relevant articles on issues pertaining to Christians and more can be found on Stand Up For The Truth.

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Would You Give Up Your Life for Christ? Persecution Update

In spite of all the violence in America, and a growing hatred for God and His Word, we are still very blessed as Christians to be Americans because of the religious freedoms we have.  That could be changing. But we have not yet suffered to the point of torture or death for our faith in Jesus Christ.

The same cannot be said for millions of Christians suffering around the world, whose very freedom and life are in danger because of their faith in Jesus Christ.  Todd Nettleton of Voice of the Martyrs joins us to look at our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world who remain faithful to Jesus despite imprisonment, torture and even martyrdom.   Will we be as
faithful to Christ if and when it comes to our shores?

Daily podcast, relevant articles on issues pertaining to Christians and more can be found on Stand Up For The Truth.

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Is God Beginning to Separate the Wheat from the Chaff?

Every time a well-known Christian renounces their faith, we need to remember that God never changes and His Word is still truth! Recently two more prominent believers fell away: Christian Author Joshua Harris, who wrote important books on sexual purity and dating for Christians, and a young leader of Hillsong Music, Marty Harris. Both announced they are no longer Christians.  In our final segments we will look at closer at this pattern of growing apostasy within professing Christianity.

In our first segment, we are joined by Mike Levenhagen of Reclamation Resource Center. He joins us to discuss his journey out of homosexuality by God’s grace, and how we can minister to those suffering with any sinful sexual attraction as well as gender confusion.

Daily podcast, relevant articles on issues pertaining to Christians and more can be found on Stand Up For The Truth.

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The Systematic and Deliberate Dismantling of Western Culture

Daily podcast, relevant articles on issues pertaining to Christians and more can be found on Stand Up For The Truth.

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America in Crisis: Have We Reached a Tipping Point?

To those of us who are older, seasoned Christians perhaps, we see an America today little like we experienced growing up.  Certainly there were problems throughout our history, but nothing like we witness today.  Moral decay, including the murder of 60,000,000 million children through abortion; a public education system that is in lock step with anti-god globalists; a media with no sniff of objectivity and in the tank for the far left; as well as a political party, the Democrats, that has completely sold out to global corporate interests and the radical LBGTQ lobby.

We live in a nation where both our religious freedoms and right to bear arms are increasingly under attack.

Pastor and best-selling author, Carl Gallups joins us to discuss just where America might be headed.  He brings a unique perspective as a pastor, biblical scholar, and former Law Enforcement Official.  Where are we headed and can this slide toward totalitarian government be averted?  If not, what are the responsibilities of disciples of Jesus Christ toward a government that sees us as a threat to its power?

Daily podcast, relevant articles on issues pertaining to Christians and more can be found on Stand Up For The Truth.

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August 16, 2019 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

The Answer for Unbelief

“No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (3:13–17)

Only someone who has been to heaven can truly know what it is like. Yet human beings, short of death, do not have the ability to visit heaven since they are confined to time and space. Thus Jesus said that no one has ascended into heaven (cf. Prov. 30:4) because it is humanly impossible to do so. John declared in the prologue to his gospel, “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him” (1:18). “Not that anyone has seen the Father,” Jesus agreed, “except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father” (6:46). It may be noted that Lazarus was to return from the dead (11:23–24), and after the crucifixion of our Lord, the graves were opened and some saints returned (Matt. 27:52–53). These rare exceptions prove the rule. The other unique event was the visit of the apostle Paul to “the third heaven” (2 Cor. 12:2).

The only one possessing true knowledge of heavenly reality is He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man. God “in these last days has spoken to us in His Son” (Heb. 1:2). He is “the bread of God … which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world” (John 6:33; cf. 6:51). “I have come down from heaven,” He declared in John 6:38, “not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” In John 6:62 He asked, “What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?” In John 8:42 Jesus said to His accusers, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.” John prefaced his account of Jesus’ washing the disciples’ feet with the statement that Jesus “had come forth from God and was going back to God” (John 13:3). Later that same evening in the Upper Room Jesus told the disciples, “I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father” (John 16:28). In His High Priestly Prayer Jesus prayed, “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (John 17:5). To the Corinthians Paul wrote, “The first man [Adam] is from the earth, earthy; [but] the second man [Jesus] is from heaven” (1 Cor. 15:47).

Beginning in verse 14, Jesus appealed to an Old Testament illustration to make His point, further emphasizing that there was no excuse for Nicodemus, an expert in the Scriptures, to be ignorant of the way of salvation. As a type of His sacrificial death on the cross, the Lord referred to an incident recorded in Numbers 21:5–9:

The people spoke against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.” The Lord sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. So the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, because we have spoken against the Lord and you; intercede with the Lord, that He may remove the serpents from us.” And Moses interceded for the people. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live.” And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.

The event took place during Israel’s forty years of wilderness wandering before entering the Promised Land. As a judgment upon the people’s incessant complaining, the Lord sent venomous snakes to infest their camp. In desperation, the Israelites begged Moses to intercede on their behalf. And Moses’ prayerful petition was answered with a display of divine grace, as God showed mercy to His rebellious people. He instructed Moses to make a bronze replica of a snake and raise it above the camp on a pole. Those who were bitten would be healed if they but looked at it, thereby acknowledging their guilt and expressing faith in God’s forgiveness and healing power.

The point of Jesus’ analogy was that just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up (crucified; cf. 8:28; 12:32, 34). The term must emphasizes that Christ’s death was a necessary part of God’s plan of salvation (cf. Matt. 16:21; Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22; 17:25; 24:7, 26; Acts 2:23; 4:27–28; 17:3). He had to die as a substitute for sinners, because “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23), and “without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb. 9:22). Therefore God, “being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us” (Eph. 2:4), “sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9–10). The stricken Israelites were cured by obediently looking apart from any works or righteousness of their own in hope and dependence on God’s word at the elevated bronze serpent. In the same way whoever looks in faith alone to the crucified Christ will be cured from sin’s deadly bite and will in Him have eternal life.

This is the first of fifteen references in John’s gospel to the important term eternal life. In its essence, eternal life is the believer’s participation in the blessed, everlasting life of Christ (cf. 1:4) through his or her union with Him (Rom. 5:21; 6:4, 11, 23; 1 Cor. 15:22; 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 2:20; Col. 3:3–4; 2 Tim. 1:1, 10; Jude 21). Jesus defined eternal life in His High Priestly Prayer to the Father: “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). It is the life of the age to come (Eph. 2:6–7), and believers will most fully experience it in the perfect, unending glory and joy of heaven (Rom. 8:19–23, 29; 1 Cor. 15:49; Phil. 3:20–21; 1 John 3:2).

Verse 16 is undoubtedly the most familiar and beloved verse in all of Scripture. Yet its very familiarity can cause the profound truth it contains to be overlooked. God’s motive for giving “His indescribable gift” of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 9:15) was that He loved the evil, sinful world of fallen humanity. As noted earlier in this chapter, all humanity is utterly sinful, completely lost, and unable to save itself by any ceremony or effort. Thus, there was nothing in man that attracted God’s love. Rather He loved because He sovereignly determined to do so. The plan of salvation flowed from “the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind” (Titus 3:4). “God demonstrates His own love toward us,” wrote Paul to the Christians in Rome, “in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). John wrote in his first epistle, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.… We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:10, 19). Such love is so vast, wonderful, and incomprehensible that John, shunning all adjectives, could only write that God so loved the world that He gave His own Beloved Son (cf. 1 John 3:1). World is a nonspecific term for humanity in a general sense. The statement in verse 17, “that the world might be saved through Him,” proves that it does not mean everyone who has ever lived, since all will not be saved. Verse 16 clearly cannot be teaching universal salvation, since the context promises that unbelievers will perish in eternal judgment (vv. 16–18). Our Lord is saying that for all in the world there is only one Savior (1 John 2:2), but only those who are regenerated by the Spirit and who believe in His gospel will receive salvation and eternal life through Him. (For a more extensive discussion of this point, see my book The God Who Loves [Nashville: Word, 2001], especially pp. 99ff.)

Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:19 used the term world in a similar way: “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not in the sense of universal salvation, but in the sense that the world has no other reconciler. That not all will believe and be reconciled is clear from the pleading in verse 20: “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (For a further discussion of those verses, see 2 Corinthians, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary [Chicago: Moody, 2003]).

There are no words in human language that can adequately express the magnitude of God’s saving gift to the world. Even the apostle Paul refused to try, declaring that gift to be “indescribable” (2 Cor. 9:15). The Father gave His only begotten (unique; one of a kind; cf. the discussion of 1:14 in chapter 3 of this volume) Son—the One of whom He declared, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased” (Matt. 3:17; cf. 12:18; 17:5; 2 Peter 1:17); the One whom He “loves … and has given all things into His hand” (John 3:35; cf. 5:20; 15:9; 17:23, 26); the One whom He “highly exalted … and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name” (Phil. 2:9); the One with whom He had enjoyed intimate fellowship from all eternity (John 1:1)—to die as a sacrifice on behalf of sinful men. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf,” wrote Paul, “so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). In his majestic prophecy of the Suffering Servant Isaiah declared,

He was pierced through for our transgressions,

He was crushed for our iniquities;

The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,

And by His scourging we are healed.

All of us like sheep have gone astray,

Each of us has turned to his own way;

But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all

To fall on Him. (Isa. 53:5–6)

By “sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, [God] condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom. 8:3). To the Galatians Paul wrote, “when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Gal. 4:4–5). Just as the supreme proof of Abraham’s love for God was his willingness to sacrifice his son (cf. Gen. 22:12, 16–18), so also, but on a far grander scale, the Father’s offering of His only begotten Son was the supreme manifestation of His saving love for sinners.

God’s gracious gift of salvation is freely and only available (Rom. 5:15–16; 6:23; 1 John 5:11; cf. Isa. 55:1) to whoever believes in Christ (Luke 8:12; John 1:12; 3:36; 5:24; 6:40, 47; 8:24; 11:25–26; 12:46; 20:31; Acts 2:44; 4:4; 5:14; 9:42; 10:43; 13:39, 48; 16:31; 18:8; Rom. 3:21–22; 4:3–5; 10:4, 9–10; Gal. 2:16; 3:22; Phil. 1:29; 1 John 3:23; 5:1, 13). The free offer of the gospel is broad enough to encompass the vilest sinner (1 Tim. 1:15), yet narrow enough to exclude all who reject Christ (John 3:18). But to those who come to Him on His terms Jesus gave the marvelous promise, “The one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37).

The guarantee given to those who possess eternal life is that they will never perish. Genuine salvation can never be lost; true believers will be divinely preserved and will faithfully persevere (Matt. 10:22; 24:13; Luke 8:15; 1 Cor. 1:8; Heb. 3:6, 14; 10:39) because they are kept by God’s power (John 5:24; 6:37–40; 10:27–29; Rom. 5:9; 8:29–39; 1 Cor. 1:4–9; Eph. 4:30; Heb. 7:25; 1 Peter 1:4–5; Jude 24).

To perish is to receive God’s final and eternal judgment. It is true that God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world; Jesus Himself declared in John 12:47, “I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.” In Luke 19:10 He said, “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost,” and Jesus made a similar statement in Luke 5:31–32: “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” God will judge those who reject His Son (cf. the discussion of v. 18 below); that judgment, however, was not the mission of the Son in His first coming, but the consequence of sinners rejecting Him (John 1:10–12; 5:24, 40).

Jesus’ statement in verse 17 also repudiated the popular belief that when Messiah came, he would judge the heathen and the Gentiles—but not the Jews. The prophet Amos had already warned against that foolish misinterpretation of the Day of the Lord:

Alas, you who are longing for the day of the Lord,

For what purpose will the day of the Lord be to you?

It will be darkness and not light;

As when a man flees from a lion

And a bear meets him,

Or goes home, leans his hand against the wall

And a snake bites him.

Will not the day of the Lord be darkness instead of light,

Even gloom with no brightness in it? (Amos 5:18–20)

The point of Jesus’ coming was not to redeem Israel and condemn the Gentiles, but that the world might be saved through Him. God’s gracious offer of salvation extended beyond Israel to all mankind. Once again, Nicodemus (and by extension the Jewish nation he represented) should have known that, for in the Abrahamic covenant God declared, “I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Gen. 12:3; cf. 18:18; 22:18; Acts 3:25). Gentile salvation was always God’s purpose (Isa. 42:6–8; 55:1).[1]


The Love of God

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

There are many passages in the Bible that have been chosen by some great person or other as a favorite text. John Wesley often said that his favorite verse was Zechariah 3:2: “Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?” David Livingstone preferred the last words of Matthew 28:20: “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” John Newton said that his favorite verse was Romans 5:20: “But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” Luther had Romans 1:17 as his life text: “The righteous will live by faith.” Each of these verses has spoken to some man in his own particular condition and has become for him the greatest text in the Bible. But the verse we come to now is everyone’s text.

There is hardly a place in the world to which the gospel of Jesus Christ has gone that this verse has not become almost instantly known. It is the first verse that translators put into another language. Millions of people have been taught to recite it. It is inscribed on books and buildings. It is reflected in songs. John 3:16! “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” This great verse with its emphasis upon God’s love and the gift of his love in Jesus Christ is stupendous.

In the early 1960s, the great Swiss theologian Karl Barth was in this country for a series of lectures, speaking in Chicago and in Princeton, New Jersey. There were discussion periods occasionally, connected with these addresses, and at one of the discussion periods an American asked a typically American question: “Dr. Barth, what is the greatest thought that has ever passed through your mind?” Barth paused for quite a long time as he obviously thought about his answer. Then he raised his head and said with grace and childlike simplicity:

Jesus loves me! This I know,

For the Bible tells me so.

This is a truth that Christians in all ages have acknowledged, and the more that they have discovered the person of Jesus Christ in the Bible, the more they have realized it.

I want to look at God’s love in this study, our first study of John 3:16, and I want to begin by reviewing some of the verses that speak about it.

A Great Love

The first verses are Ephesians 2:4–5. These are verses in which the apostle Paul speaks of God’s love, saying, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” These verses tell us that God’s love is great.

In preparation for this study I began to think about the term “great” in ways that I had never done before, and I came to the conclusion that we have lessened the force of what God means by the way we use the word. During the week before I wrote this chapter, I had attended a “Current Events Week” at a Christian school. While there I said that some of the points made by the speakers were “great.” After the meetings were over I told the president of the school that I felt that the points made would have a “great” effect on the students in the weeks and months ahead. Later in the week I attended a Young Life banquet in Philadelphia, and I said in that context that the evening was “great,” that the speakers were “great,” that the program of Young Life was “great.” I used the term honestly. Yet none of these things even begins to measure up to what the Bible means when it says that the love of God is great. God is the master of the understatement. Consequently, when he tells us that his love is great, he is telling us that it is so great that it goes beyond our own ideas of greatness or our own understanding.

John 3:16 was the verse through which D. L. Moody learned to appreciate the greatness of God’s love. Moody had been to Britain in the early days of his ministry and there had met a young English preacher named Henry Moorhouse. One day Moorhouse said to Moody, “I am thinking of going to America.”

“Well,” said Moody, “if you should ever get to Chicago, come down to my church and I will give you a chance to preach.”

Moody did not mean to be hypocritical when he said this, of course. He was merely being polite. Nevertheless, he was saying to himself that he hoped Moorhouse would not come, for Moody had not heard him preach and had no idea of what he would say should he come to Chicago. Sometime later, after Moody had returned home, the evangelist received a telegram that said, “Have just arrived in New York. Will be in Chicago on Sunday. Moorhouse.” Moody was perplexed about what he should do, and to complicate matters he was just about to leave for a series of meetings elsewhere. “Oh, my,” he thought, “here I am about to be gone on Sunday, Moorhouse is coming, and I have promised to let him preach.” Finally he said to his wife and to the leaders of the church, “I think that I should let him preach once. So let him preach once; then if the people enjoy him, put him on again.”

Moody was gone for a week. When he returned he said to his wife, “How did the young preacher do?”

“Oh, he is a better preacher than you are,” his wife said. “He is telling sinners that God loves them.”

“That is not right,” said Moody. “God does not love sinners.”

“Well,” she said, “you go and hear him.”

“What?” said Moody. “Do you mean to tell me that he is still preaching?”

“Yes, he has been preaching all week, and he has only had one verse for a text. It is John 3:16.”

Moody went to the meeting. Moorhouse got up and began by saying, “I have been hunting for a text all week, and I have not been able to find a better text than John 3:16. So I think we will just talk about it once more.” He did. Afterward Moody said it was on that night that he first clearly understood the greatness of God’s love.

Infinite Love

The Bible not only says that the love of God is great; it also says that it is infinite. This is what Paul means when he writes in the third chapter of Ephesians that his prayer for Christians is that they “may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:18–19). How can we comprehend the infinite love of God? We can know it, but only in part. We have been touched by his love and bathed in part of it; yet the fullness of such love lies forever beyond us as the vastness of the universe lies beyond the finite, probing eye of man. God’s love is boundless and unfathomable.

One of our seldom sung hymns puts this aspect of God’s love in memorable language. It was written by Frederick M. Lehman; but the final stanza was added to the song afterward, when it was found written on the wall of a room of an asylum by a man who, before he died, had obviously come to know the immeasurable extent of God’s love.

The love of God is greater far

Than tongue or pen can ever tell,

It goes beyond the highest star

And reaches to the lowest hell.

The guilty pair, bowed down with care,

God gave His Son to win:

His erring child He reconciled,

And pardoned from his sin.

Could we with ink the ocean fill

And were the skies of parchment made;

Were every stalk on earth a quill

And every man a scribe by trade,

To write the love of God above

Would drain the ocean dry,

Nor could the scroll contain the whole

Though stretched from sky to sky.

Chorus

O love of God, how rich and pure!

How measureless and strong!

It shall for evermore endure—

The saints’ and angels’ song.

This is our song, if we have come to know in part that great and immeasurable love of God toward us through Christ Jesus.

A Love That Gives

Third, God not only tells us that his love is great and is infinite, he also tells us that his love is a giving love. This is the heart of John 3:16. How much does God love you? God loves you so much “that he gave his one and only Son.”

We are going to be considering the gift of God in the next study, but we do not want to miss even here the great lesson there is in that statement. Once in the early days of my ministry, when I was still working in Washington, D.C., I became interested in the subject of God’s love and discovered as I studied the Bible that there is hardly a verse in the New Testament, in speaking of God’s love, that does not also speak in the immediate context (and sometimes within a space of a few words) of the cross. How do we know that God loves us? Because we are able to love one another a little bit? Because the world is beautiful? Because we value love? Not at all! We know that God loves us because he has given us his only-begotten, his unique, Son. It is in the face of the selfless, self-sacrificing Jesus Christ that we learn of God’s character.

God loves you! Do you know that? God loves you! He has demonstrated that love for you in Jesus Christ!

Unchangeable Love

Finally, God not only tells us that his love is great, infinite, and giving; he also tells us that his love is unchangeable. This is perhaps the most wonderful aspect of all. The heart of the matter is that God loves in such a way that nothing you or I have done or will ever do will alter it.

This is a point made by one of the greatest stories in the Bible, the story of Hosea and his unfaithful wife, Gomer. Hosea was a preacher. One day the Lord came to him and said, “Hosea, I want you to marry a woman who is going to prove unfaithful to you. You are going to love her, but she is going to turn from your love. Nevertheless, the more faithless she becomes, the more faithful and loving you will be. I want you to do this because I want to give Israel an illustration of how I love them. Your marriage will be a pageant. You will play God. The woman will play the part of Israel. For I love Israel with an unchangeable love, and she runs from me and takes other gods for lovers.”

Hosea did as God had told him to do. So the Book of Hosea tells us, “When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, ‘Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the Lord.’ So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son” (Hosea 1:2–3).

At this point of the story God intervened, for he had said that he was going to order each stage of the relationship between Hosea and Gomer. God intervened to give a name to this son. “Call his name Jezreel,” God said. Jezreel means “scattered,” for God was going to scatter the people of Israel all over the face of the earth. After a time Gomer conceived again and bore a daughter. “Call her Lo-Ruhamah,” God said. Lo-Ruhamah means “not pitied.” God was saying that the time would come when he would “no longer show love to the house of Israel” (v. 6). Finally, another son was born and Hosea was told to call him Lo-Ammi. Lo-Ammi means “not my people.” “For,” said God, “you are not my people, and I am not your God.”

If the story stopped at this point the ending would be exceedingly dismal, and the pageant would be illustrating the opposite of the unchangeable love of God. But it does not stop here, and God intervenes again to tell how the story will end. “I am going to change the names of those children one day,” God promised. “I am going to change Jezreel to Jezreel.” It is the same word but with a second meaning, a change from “scattered” to “planted,” because in the ancient world the same gesture by which a man would throw something away was that by which he would plant grain. God was promising to plant the people once again in their own land, as he has done in our own generation. “Moreover,” said God, “I am going to change Lo-Ruhamah to Ruhamah and Lo-Ammi to Ammi because the time is coming when I will again have pity upon those who will have again become my children.” The Bible says, “Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘sons of the living God’ ” (v. 10).

The time came in the marriage when the events that God had foretold happened. Gomer looked around and caught the eye of a stranger. Before long she had left with him, and Hosea was alone.

The life of a woman like that goes downhill. For if she had left Hosea for the company of a man who could give her a Cadillac and a fur coat this year, it is equally certain that the year following, when the first lover had grown tired of her, she would be found with a man who could only give her a fur-lined collar and an Oldsmobile. The year after that she would be in fake fur and a Volkswagen, and the year after that she would be pulling something out of the garbage heap. So it was with Hosea’s wife. The time came when she was living with a man who did not have the means to take care of her, and she was hungry.

“Now,” said God to Hosea, “I want you to go and see that she gets the things she needs, because I take care of the people of Israel even when they are running away from me.” Hosea went and bought the groceries. He gave them to the man who was living with his wife, but he said that Gomer did not even know he had bought them. The story tells us, “Their mother has been unfaithful and has conceived them in disgrace. She said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my food and my water, my wool and my linen, my oil and my drink.’ … She has not acknowledged that I was the one who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil, who lavished on her the silver and gold” (Hosea. 2:5, 8).

Does God love like that? Yes, he does! Have you ever run away from God? Of course, you have! What happened? God paid your bills! If you have been running away from God, do you realize that it is God who gives you the strength to run? Here is a girl who says, “I don’t care if God is calling me into Christian work. I’m going to turn away and marry this young man.” God says, “Who gave you the good looks that made the young man interested?” Another person says, “I want to be famous.” So he goes to New York and writes a book that later becomes a movie. He makes lots of money. But God says, “Who gave you the talent to write the book in the first place? Did not I, the Lord?” You cannot run away from God’s love successfully. You can run, but God pursues you. He steps before you and says, “My child, I am the One who has been providing for you all this time. Won’t you stop running and allow me to take you to myself?”

The final act of the drama was approaching. The time came when Gomer sank so low that she was sold as a slave in the city of Jerusalem, and God told Hosea to go and buy her. Slaves were always sold naked. Thus, when a beautiful girl was on sale, the men bid freely and the bidding always went high. Here was Gomer. Her clothes were taken off. The bidding began. One man bid three pieces of silver. Another said five … ten … twelve … thirteen. The low bidders had dropped out when Hosea said, “Fifteen pieces of silver.” A voice from the back of the crowd said, “Fifteen pieces of silver and a bushel of barley.” “Fifteen pieces of silver and a bushel and a half of barley,” said Hosea. The auctioneer looked around for a higher bid. Seeing none he declared, “This slave is sold to Hosea for fifteen pieces of silver and a bushel and a half of barley.” So Hosea took his wife (whom he now owned), put her clothes on her, and led her away into the anonymity of the crowd.

You say, “Is that a true picture of God’s love?” Yes, it is! That is how God loves you. Listen to what the Bible says about it: “The Lord said to me, ‘Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.’ So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley. Then I told her, ‘You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will live with you’ ” (Hosea 3:1–3).

Oh, the greatness of the unchangeable love of almighty God! God loves you and me like that! We are the slave sold under the bondage of sin. We are the one placed upon the world’s auction block. The bidding of the world goes higher and higher. “What am I bid for this person’s soul?” At this point Jesus Christ, the faithful bridegroom, enters the slave market of sin and bids the price of his blood. “Sold to Jesus Christ for the price of his blood,” says Almighty God. So he bought you. He clothed you in his righteousness. And he led you away with himself, saying, “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will live with you.”

God’s Love, Our Pattern

You say “What does that have to do with me?” It has everything to do with you. Are you one who has never known that love, never realized that Jesus Christ loved you like that, that he still loves you? To be touched with such love is to throw yourself at his feet in adoration and marvel that you could ever have violated such a great and unalterable compassion. The Bible tells us that God “commends” such great love toward us (Rom. 5:8). Won’t you allow the hardness of your heart to melt before God’s love and allow Jesus Christ to be your great Savior and bridegroom?

Perhaps you are one who has already done that. You have believed in Christ, but the reality of that love has become distant for you and you have never fully realized that the love of Christ is to become the pattern of your love. He is to be your model. You need to ask whether your love has been great, whether it has the character of that love which is infinite, whether it is a giving love, whether it is unchangeable. Ask it now. Does your love change when the person whom you love does not respond quickly? Or does it hold firm? Do you continue to love when your wife, husband, child, or friend does not seem to see things the way you do and contradicts you? Do you love as Christ loves? You are called to show forth that love; for as others see it they will be drawn to the Lord Jesus.

God’s Greatest Gift

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

It is commonplace in our day to say that God loves men. But many who say this fail to recognize that we know this is so only because of Jesus Christ. How do we know that God loves us? Not because of creation certainly, for the evidence of creation is ambiguous. There are tidal waves and hurricanes as well as gorgeous sunsets. Not because we tend to value love, for not all of us do. Not because love is “wonderful” or “grand” or because it “makes the world go round.” We know that God loves us because he has given his Son to be crucified for us and thereby to bring us back into fellowship with himself. Thus, if the love of God is one of God’s greatest attributes (as we saw in our last study), the gift of Christ is most certainly his greatest gift. For it is through Christ that we come to know God’s love and love God.

Sometime ago I came across a little card upon which someone had printed John 3:16. The verse was arranged almost word by word down one side of the card, and on the other side of the card across from the words of the verse was a list of descriptive phrases, one for each part. The person looking at the card would read: “God (the greatest Lover) so loved (the greatest degree) the world (the greatest company), that he gave (the greatest act) his only begotten Son (the greatest gift), that whosoever (the greatest opportunity) believeth (the greatest simplicity) in him (the greatest attraction) should not perish (the greatest promise), but (the greatest difference) have (the greatest certainty) everlasting life (the greatest possession).” And then over it all, revealing a spiritual perception that was most accurate, there was the title “Christ—the Greatest Gift.”

Have you ever come to appreciate God’s greatest gift to you, the gift of the Lord Jesus Christ? We are going to look at some of the reasons why he is a great gift and why you should believe on him.

God So Loved

The first reason why Jesus Christ is the greatest of God’s gifts is that Jesus is the best God had to give. God so loved the world that he gave the very best.

This truth is seen in several ways in John 3:16. First, it is obvious from the word “only-begotten,” which is used of Jesus. To our way of thinking, this word (it is one word in Greek) refers mainly to physical generation, but it means more than that in the original language. A great deal of theological controversy in the church was once caused by those who took it as simply physical generation; they argued that since the Bible says Jesus was the “only-begotten” Son, there must have been a time before he came into being. In other words, he did not exist from eternity but rather was the first being God created. This was foolish, of course, because the Bible does not teach this and the word does not have this meaning primarily. Primarily the word means “unique.” Jesus is the unique Son of God; there is no one like him, no one who is his equal. Therefore, because Jesus Christ is the very image of God and because there is no one like him, when God gave Jesus, he gave the best gift in the universe.

God also gave the best in another sense. For Jesus Christ is not at all a creature made in the image of God, as man is; he is God incarnate. Consequently, when God gave Jesus he gave himself. To give oneself is the greatest gift anyone can give. Sometime ago I read a story of a minister who was talking to a married couple who were having marital difficulties. There was much hardness and bitterness, coupled with a lack of understanding. At one point the husband spoke up in obvious exasperation. “I’ve given you everything,” he said to the wife. “I’ve given you a new home. I’ve given you a new fur coat. I’ve given you a new car. I’ve given you …” The list went on. But when he had ended the wife said quietly. “That much is true, John. You have given me everything … but yourself.”

We hear that story and we recognize the truth of the principle: the greatest gift that anyone can give is himself. Then we look at Jesus, who is God incarnate, and we recognize that God gave the very best—himself—for us.

An Eternal Plan

The second reason why Jesus Christ is God’s greatest gift is that Jesus was a gift planned from before the foundation of the world. God had always intended to give Jesus. This is why so many of the verses in the Bible speak of God having put Jesus to death. Isaiah 53:10 speaks of the crucifixion eight centuries before it took place, saying, “Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer.” Peter knew this truth. On the day of Pentecost he spoke of Jesus who “was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross” (Acts 2:23). For the same reason the Book of Revelation speaks of Jesus as “the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world” (Rev. 13:8).

We must not think that the entrance of sin into the world through Adam and Eve was an event that somehow caught God by surprise or that it caused God to begin to ponder what he should do to correct it. God knew all from the beginning. Consequently, before he even set the universe in motion, before he created us, he had determined to send Jesus Christ to die for the salvation of our race.

Perhaps the greatest declaration of this principle lies in a poignant story from the life of Abraham, the story of the call of God to Abraham to offer up his son Isaac on Mount Moriah. It is told in the twenty-second chapter of Genesis. I believe that Jesus was referring to this event when he told the Jews of his day, “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56), and that through it Abraham learned that God was to give Jesus Christ to be our Savior.

To see the story in its proper perspective we must begin with the fact that Abraham was an old man by our standards when God came to him to ask him to offer up Isaac. He had been eighty-six years old when his first son, Ishmael, had been born to Hagar, Sarah’s slave girl. He was one hundred years old when Sarah at last gave birth to Isaac. Now Isaac had become a young man, perhaps fifteen years of age or more, and Abraham was more than one hundred fifteen. Moreover, Abraham had loved his son from birth, as any father would, and he now loved him deeply with a love that had grown stronger over the years in which he had seen him grow to young manhood. He loved him doubly, not only because he was the son of his old age, the result of a miracle, but also because he was the son of promise.

At this point God came to Abraham again—as he had many times before—and said to him, “Abraham.”

“Yes, Lord.”

“I am going to ask you to do something.”

“Yes, Lord.”

“I want you to take Isaac, the son of promise, the one through whom you are going to have a great posterity and through whom I am going to send the Messiah—I want you to take this Isaac to a mountain that I will show you and there offer him for a burnt offering. I want you to kill him.”

I do not know the extent of the trial this must have been to Abraham’s faith or how much of the night he wrestled with this great problem. But whatever the struggle was, and however deep, it was all over by the following morning, for the Abraham that emerged in the morning was an Abraham committed to obedience. The story says, “Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about” (Gen. 22:3).

There are many lessons in this story, of course, but there is one in particular that we should see before we go on. On one level at least, the test of Abraham was a test of his devotion to God. Was God going to be everything to Abraham? Or was something else, even God’s gift, going to share and cloud that vision? It was Abraham’s triumph that he did not put the gifts before the Giver.

Isaac can stand for many things that have become quite precious to you. The Chinese evangelist Watchman Nee once wrote, “He represents many gifts of God’s grace. Before God gives them, our hands are empty. Afterwards they are full. Sometimes God reaches out his hands to take ours in fellowship. Then we need an empty hand to put into his. But when we have received his gifts and are nursing them to ourselves, our hands are full, and when God puts out his hand we have no empty hand for him.” When that happens we need to let go of the gift and take hold of God himself. Nee adds, “Isaac can be done without, but God is eternal.”

God Will Provide

Yes, the testing of Abraham was certainly a test of his devotion to God, but it was something else also. It was a spiritual test or, as we could also say, a test of his spiritual perception.

Think of the things Abraham had learned in the years before Isaac’s birth. He had been tempted to think that God would not keep his promises and that a household servant would be his legal heir. God had taught him that the blessing would not come through the household servant. Abraham had once wanted to substitute Ishmael, the son of Hagar, for Isaac—before Isaac was born. But God had told him that the blessing would not come through the son of the Egyptian slave girl. God had shown Abraham through a miracle that the blessing was to come through Isaac, and now God had asked Abraham to kill him.

We must imagine the reasoning that passed through the mind of Abraham in the dark hours of that desert evening. He must have said something like this: “I know that Isaac is the son of God’s promise, and God has shown me time and again that he will not send the blessing through another. Yet, this same God tells me to sacrifice him, to put him to death. How can this be? If I put him to death, as God has demanded, how can God fulfill his promise? How can God do it?” The puzzle was real. But then, as Abraham wrestled with this supreme test of God’s logic, it must have come to him that the God who performed a miracle in bringing about Isaac’s birth was also capable of working a miracle to bring him back from the dead. This was the solution he discovered during the long desert night. Thus, as Abraham started for the mountain in the morning he must have been saying mentally to Isaac, “Come on, boy, we are going to see a miracle. God has asked me to sacrifice you on Mount Moriah. But if God is going to be faithful to his promise, he is going to have to raise you up again from the dead. We are going to see a resurrection.”

Someone may think that I have merely made up this part of the story, but this is the way it happened. The proof of it occurs in at least two parts of the Bible. The first is in the story itself. Abraham had come to the foot of the mountain with the boy, and he was ready to go on without the young men who were with him. As he takes the kindling and he and Isaac prepare to climb the mountain, Abraham says to the others: “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you” (Gen. 22:5). Think of that: we will come back to you. Who would come? Abraham and Isaac! What does that mean? It means that although Abraham believed that he was going to offer the sacrifice, he also believed that God was going to perform a resurrection and that he would be able to come back down the mountain with his boy.

The second proof is Hebrews 11:17–19, which is the full New Testament commentary on the incident. “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, ‘It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.’ Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.” That means that Abraham looked for a resurrection.

Thus far the story has already been great in itself, but the point I wish to make is the point that is found in the sequel. Abraham did go up the mountain, as God had commanded him, and there bound Isaac to the altar. He raised his hand ready to plunge a knife into his son. He would have killed him. But just as the knife was ready to fall, God intervened. God provided a substitute, a ram caught in the bushes. And he said (in effect), “Abraham, you don’t need to sacrifice your son. I never intended that you should go through with it. I only wanted to test your willingness to obey me and to show you in this way what I will do one day for your salvation and for the salvation of all who will believe in my Son, the Messiah.” This, I believe, was the moment in which Abraham saw the day of Jesus Christ and, seeing it, was made glad.

God revealed his ways to Abraham. The Bible says, “Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). So the time came when the events God had planned from before creation and had revealed to Abraham two thousand years beforehand took place. Abraham was only called upon to offer his son. But when the time came for God to offer his Son, the hand that was poised above Christ fell. God put his Son to death, and God’s greatest gift had been given.

The Need of Man

The third reason why Jesus Christ is the greatest of God’s gifts to fallen man is that he is perfectly suited to the needs of fallen man. Nothing else is! What are the needs of man? What are your needs?

Your first need is for a sure word from God, for knowledge of God. Jesus is the answer to that need, for it is Jesus alone who brings us the knowledge of who God is, what he is like, and what he desires for mankind. This is why Jesus is called the Word so many times in John’s writings. Do you want to know what God is like? If so, do not spend your time reading the books of men. Do not think that you will find out by meditating. Look to Jesus Christ. Where will you find him? You will find him in the pages of the Bible. There you will find the strength, mercy, wisdom, and compassion that are the essence of God’s character.

Your second great need is for a Savior. We do not merely have a need for sure knowledge. We have knowledge of many things, but we are unable to live up to our knowledge. We are sinners. Consequently, we not only need a sure word from God, we need a Savior. Jesus is the Savior. He died to save you from sin and from yourself. Do you know him as Savior?

Finally, we have those needs that are part and parcel of living a finite sinful life. What are those needs? One way of looking at them is the way popularized by the American psychiatrist Erich Fromm. Fromm suggests that man is confronted with three existential dilemmas. The first is the dilemma of life versus death. We want to live, but we all die. Jesus is the answer to that problem, for he gives eternal life to all who believe on him. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25, 26). The second of Fromm’s dilemmas is the dilemma of the individual and the group. Jesus is the answer to that problem too, for he has come to break down all walls and to make of his followers one new man which is his mystical body (Eph. 2:14–16). The last of Fromm’s dilemmas is that arising from the conflict between our aspirations and our actual achievements. We all fall short of what we would like to be and believe ourselves intended to be. Jesus is the answer to that problem also, for he promises to make us all that God created us to be in the first place. We are to be conformed to Christ’s image (Rom. 8:29). One of our hymns looks forward to that day when our salvation shall be complete, and declares:

Then we shall be where we would be,

Then we shall be what we should be;

Things that are not now, nor could be,

Soon shall be our own.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the greatest gift that God has ever offered or could ever offer to the human race. Are you indifferent? Or do you respond to the offer, joining the millions of others who have believed in Christ with all their heart and mind and who now say, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift” (2 Cor. 9:15)?

To All Who Believe

John 3:16–17

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Early in my ministry I talked to a young man about Christianity. He told me that he firmly believed he was a Christian. As we talked further, however, I discovered that although he believed he was a Christian, he did not believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ. For him Jesus was only a man. He did not believe in his atoning death or in the essential or complete reliability of the New Testament documents concerning him. He had not even read most of them. He did not believe in the resurrection of Christ. He did not acknowledge Christ as Lord of his life. I pointed out that all these matters are involved in a person’s being a Christian, but he simply answered that in spite of what I said he still firmly believed in his heart he was a Christian. Such faith was merely acute subjectivity.

What is real faith? This question is important, for although in one sense the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ is as wide as humanity—the Bible tells us that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son”—on the other hand, it is also as narrow as the company of those who have faith in him, for the same verse goes on to tell us that only those who believe on Christ will be saved. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Faith is the indispensable channel of God’s saving grace, according to these and many other verses. Consequently, our understanding of John 3:16 will be incomplete until we deal with the nature of saving faith and seek to apply the truths of this verse personally.

An attempt to deal with the true nature of faith is made necessary merely by the nature of Christianity, for we are told that “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6) and “by grace you have been saved, through faith” (Eph. 2:8). Besides this, however, the study is made particularly necessary for us simply because of the extraordinary emphasis upon faith in the fourth Gospel.

It is true, of course, that if one looks up the word “faith” in an English concordance he will not find the word listed under any book written by the apostle John, except for a single case in 1 John 5:4. But this is merely because John prefers the verb form of the same Greek word (pisteuō rather than pistis), which is generally translated by the word “believe” in our English New Testament. “To believe” in someone and “to have faith” in someone are exactly the same thing. Consequently, it is only when one looks up the word “believe” that he finds out what John says about faith and notices John’s particular emphasis. Actually, we have encountered the word “faith” or “believe” eight times in this Gospel already. It occurred three times in the first chapter and three times more in chapter two. In our present chapter it is used no less than seven times, twice already. All together there are ninety-eight uses of the word in the Gospel’s twenty-one brief chapters. This compares with a combined usage of the words “faith” and “believe” just eighteen times in Mark and only fifty-five times in Romans.

With an emphasis such as this, we need to see precisely what faith is. Moreover, since the blessings of salvation are said to become ours only through faith, and since John claims that the Gospel was written to lead us to faith (John 20:30–31), we are wise to ask how we can exercise faith personally. How does faith operate to make this wonderful salvation mine?

The Nature of Faith

Unfortunately, there is much confusion about the meaning of faith in our day simply because we apply it to people, and people are untrustworthy. Every so often we read detailed reports of some negotiations between labor and management in which the partners are encouraged to work out their demands in good faith. This means that each side is to bargain honestly, believing that the other party is doing likewise. However, when the agreement is reached the first act is to draw up a detailed written agreement each of the parties must sign. Why? Obviously because, although each side wants to believe in the good faith of the other, each also knows that people are untrustworthy and must therefore be bound by written guarantees. The same recognition lies behind the formalities of the marriage ceremony, penalty clauses in building contracts, and many other things.

With this background to the use of the word, it is no wonder that faith has often taken on overtones of wishful thinking and then has been applied to God and to spiritual things with that meaning. The unsaved world thinks of faith as a “pie-in-the-sky” philosophy and prefers only what it can “see” or “hear” or can be assured of “now.”

Similar thinking lies behind any definition of faith that tries to turn it into subjectivity. Actually, this view is probably the most common misunderstanding of faith in our own century due to the impact of existentialism in the church through such thinkers as Rudolph Bultmann, Paul Tillich, Bishop John A. T. Robinson, and others. In such formulations faith becomes merely that which I wish to hold and not something that is related to truth or evidence.

Against these distortions of the meaning of faith, because nothing about men is ever entirely reliable, the Christian must insist that biblical faith is of a different order entirely and that faith in the biblical sense, simply because it is faith in God, is reliable. That is why faith can be “sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” for the Christian (Heb. 11:1). Some have used this verse in support of a “pie-in-the-sky” type of religion but, actually, it teaches the reverse. The word “substance” does not mean “substitute,” as though faith were a substitute for evidence. It means “a title deed to a piece of property.” That is what faith is. God tells us that although none of us has entered fully into the inheritance that is ours through faith, nevertheless, faith is our title to it. Faith is itself the evidence of things not yet fully seen.

I admit that if this were a human title deed, there would still be some room for doubt. In human terms there would still be the possibility that some office clerk could have mixed up the deeds or that he might have sent them to the wrong person. It would be possible for a deed to be issued when there was still a prior claim on the property or a lien against it. However, in dealing with God such errors are impossible. God is omnipotent and infallible. The infallible God gives the deed. The all-powerful God stands behind it. When God calls upon people to believe what he tells them he calls upon them to do the most sensible thing they will ever do in their lives; that is, believe in the only being in the universe who is entirely reliable. That is what John means in his first epistle when he writes: “We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater” (1 John 5:9).

Faith’s Content

What precisely does God call upon us to believe? The answer is that he tells us many things and expects us to believe them all. The Bible is full of them. However, if we want to simplify the matter of salvation to its most basic points we may say that God wants us to believe two things primarily and that he then calls upon us to do a third.

First of all, God asks us to believe that we are less perfect than he is and, therefore, deserve to be separated from his presence forever. Another way of saying the same thing is to say that we are sinners and that God must punish sin. The Bible says that this is precisely why we need a Savior. In fact, John 3:16 says it, for it speaks of the possibility of perishing. If we could somehow get by, if we could somehow rate with God either by being a little less sinful than we are now or by trying harder (“we’re still number 2”), then there would be no need for a Savior. But this is not the case. We are sinful. God is perfect. Consequently, since God cannot tolerate sin, we must admit that we deserve to be separated from him.

Sometimes people object to this teaching because they think that it makes them the same as the worst criminals. In one sense, it does. Both equally need a Savior. Yet that confuses the point. The main point is that God is perfection. Thus, no matter how far short of his perfection we come, we still come short and, coming short, we miss it all.

Several years ago in America a bit of deadly botulism poison was found in a particular brand of vichyssoise soup. This is one of the most deadly poisons known to man, and one person at least died and another was paralyzed before the source of the poison was discovered and the contaminated soup destroyed. Let me ask this question: How much botulism poison was needed to make the soup unsuitable for human consumption? A whole canful? Of course not! Several milligrams? No! The smallest amount of poison would ruin the can. In the same way, God asks you to take his word that you are a sinner, whether small or great, and to believe that sin has ruined you.

The second truth that God asks you to believe is that he loves you in spite of your sin and that he has acted in Jesus Christ to remove that sin and to begin to make you perfect once more by conforming you to Christ’s image. This is the heart of John 3:16 and 17. We are sinners. We deserve to perish. In fact, we are already under God’s condemnation. But John tells us: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” God loves you. Christ died for you. There may be much about this that you cannot now understand. There is much about it that I do not understand. But God wants you to believe that he did this in order that you might not perish but rather enter into his eternal life.

Do you believe these things? Do you believe that you are a sinner? Do you believe God when he tells you that you deserve to perish ultimately? Do you believe that God sent Jesus to die for you and by his death to bring you salvation? If you do, then he calls upon you to do something. He asks you to bring your faith out of the realm of mere intellectual conviction into the area of action, saying, “Yes, Lord, I do believe these things. Thank you for dying for me. I commit my life to you and promise to go in the way you lead me whatever that may involve.” If you will make that commitment, God has already given you eternal life and has begun the transformation that will one day make you like the Lord Jesus Christ forever.

Strong in Faith

I do not want to leave the matter of faith there, important as the point may be. For we have only been talking about the initial moment of saving faith, when faith first seizes upon Jesus Christ as Savior. Faith does not stop there. When the Christian is called to faith in Jesus Christ, he is called to a life of living by faith, a life in which his belief in God is meant to grow stronger as he comes to know God better and to trust him more completely.

Someone is going to say, “But that is what scares me. I know that my faith is not strong, and I am afraid that if I begin to follow Jesus I will faint at some point and want to draw back. My faith is weak.” Praise God that you recognize that! What you must learn, however, is that one of God’s purposes in saving you is to make your faith strong, and for that he will continue to work with you and lead you in every aspect and moment of your earthly life.

Take the faith of Abraham as an example. Abraham is cited many times in the Bible as an illustration of a man who had great faith, but Abraham’s faith did not begin great. The eleventh chapter of Hebrews gives us the progression of this faith as God sees it. Abraham is praised for his faith four times. The first verse on Abraham says, “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going” (v. 8). That was faith, but such faith did not need to be strong. It was only faith in God’s ability to lead the Hebrew patriarch out of Mesopotamia and into Palestine.

Actually, the fact that Abraham’s faith was weak at this point is dramatized by a very interesting detail from his story. When God came to Abraham in Ur of the Chaldees, Abraham was called upon to leave that place, journey up the Mesopotamian river valley, cross over the northern end of the great Arabian desert, and then travel down through the areas that are now modern-day Syria and Lebanon to what is now Israel. The entire journey measured over a thousand miles. Abraham began in the best of faith. Yet when we come to the end of the first chapter of his story, as told in Genesis (Genesis 11), we find that Abraham had stopped at Haran, a little town in Syria. Haran was a long way from Ur, it is true, but it was also a long way from Palestine. Unfortunately, Abraham stayed in Haran until his father died, and it took another call of God to him to get him moving again, this time when he was seventy-five years old. At this point in the story Abraham’s faith was weak, but God’s promises to him were not withdrawn because of it.

Abraham’s faith was not allowed to rest at this initial level. The next verse of Hebrews 11 goes on to say: “By faith [Abraham] made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise” (v. 9). This level of faith was stronger, for it was faith exercised in the face of many dangers and difficulties. During these years, Abraham’s faith grew remarkably.

In verse 11, the author of Hebrews goes on to speak of the faith that both Abraham and Sarah exercised in believing that God would give them a son when both were past the age of being able to have children. Here faith had become strong, for it was a faith based on the assurance that God was able to perform miracles. The fourth and final reference to Abraham’s faith refers to that complete trust in God which he had when God asked him to offer up his son. This was a faith that led Abraham to believe that God was going to perform a resurrection. Hebrews says: “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, ‘It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.’ Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death” (vv. 17–19).

I do not know where you are along this pathway of faith. Perhaps you are one who has not even taken the initial step of believing what God has to say about your sinful condition and about his offer of complete salvation through Jesus Christ. If so, this is where you should begin. God says, “How can you believe in my ability to do miracles in your life, if you cannot even believe the truths that I have to teach about Jesus?”

Perhaps you have begun to walk by faith, but you have found difficulties. That is not strange. God sends storms as well as calm. The difficulties are intended to help you grow strong. Learn to trust him. The God of Abraham is the same today; he can help you as he helped the patriarchs.

Finally, you may be one whom God is asking to believe in miracles. I do not know what the particular miracle may be in your life. It may be a personality trait that God is promising to change. It may be a difficult situation at work or at home. It may involve finances. Whatever it is, you grow strong in faith by learning to trust him. In some of these experiences you may learn something about God’s plans and nature that you would learn in no other way. What is your attitude? Doubtful? Rebellious? Do not let it be. Instead, say, “Yes, Lord, I believe all you are saying. Help me to believe and grow strong.”[2]


The Greatest Verse in the Bible

John 3:16

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Because so many Americans watch sports events, Christians often attempt to present some kind of gospel witness in stadiums and arenas. Perhaps you have seen the signs, held up in the crowd or posted on a wall. Most commonly, the signs have this short message: JN 3:16. The idea is obviously that people either know or will find out that JN is shorthand for the Gospel of John, and that 3:16 means chapter 3, verse 16. The hope is that great things will happen if people will merely pick up a Bible and read this one verse: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Some people argue that Genesis 1:1 is the most important verse in the Bible: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Others say the Ten Commandments are most important. Significant as it is to learn that our world has a Creator and to know what is right and wrong, however, these truths can be known without the Bible. Nature itself reveals its Maker, and all mankind has an inward conviction about morality. But John 3:16 presents a message that cannot be known apart from the Bible. How does God feel about us, and what has he done, if anything, to help us? There is no greater question and no more glorious answer than that given in John 3:16. Bruce Milne says that it “is a masterly and moving summary of the gospel, cast in terms of the love of God.” Martin Luther called this verse “the Bible in miniature,” because it contains the heart of God’s entire message. This is why John 3:16 is the greatest verse in the Bible.

God’s Amazing Love

Another way to see the greatness of John 3:16 is to point out that it presents the Bible’s greatest theme: God’s love for us through Jesus Christ. Naturally, John is not the only biblical writer to extol God’s love, and we can profit from looking at how others describe it.

Paul says that God’s love is great: “God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:4–5). We tend to overuse the word great. We say that we had a “great time” if we enjoyed ourselves at all. If God blesses us a bit in ministry, we say that we had a “great success.” Overused like this, the word great loses some of its force. But when the Bible says that God’s love is great, it means it! We see that God’s love for the world is great in the amazing care he exercised in creating it; nature reveals the marks of the most loving craftsmanship. The Greek word that Paul uses for great (pollein) is used to describe an overflowing harvest or intense emotions. God’s love truly deserves to be called great.

Paul elsewhere describes God’s love as unfathomable. In the third chapter of Ephesians, he prays that believers “may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” (Eph. 3:18–19). What we are to comprehend about the dimensions of God’s love is that they are beyond measure. It is possible to exhaust the love of a spouse, friends, or even parents. But it is not possible to exhaust the love of God. Frederick M. Lehman wrote:

The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell;

It goes beyond the highest star and reaches to the lowest hell.

God’s love is joined to all his other attributes. A great mistake that many make is to pit one of God’s attributes against another. Many of us, for instance, prefer God’s love to God’s holiness. But we must never think that we must or even can choose between the two. God’s holiness is a loving holiness, and God’s love is a holy love. Our generation has spoiled much of the idea of love—particularly romantic love—by joining it with sin. But God does not and cannot do that. His love is joined to holy purposes, and his love for us will have the ultimate result of bringing us to a gloriously holy condition. When I am counseling couples before their marriage, I often hear one of them (usually the bride) say, “I never want to change him!” I always pause, lean forward, look her in the eye, and say, “You will! You will!” God’s love never says, “I don’t want to change you.” Because God’s love is holy, he intends to change us by loving means, so that we will become the holy people that we were always meant to be.

God is almighty, and therefore his is an almighty love. This means that he is able to do all that his love desires for us. J. I. Packer writes that God’s love “has at its heart an almighty purpose to bless which cannot be thwarted.” Who, then, can separate us from this love? Paul asks (Rom. 8:35). “I am sure,” he answers, “that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (8:38–39).

Moreover, as God is unchangeable, so also his love is unchangeable. John Owen writes, “Though we change every day, yet his love does not change. If anything in us or on our part could stop God loving us, then he would long ago have turned away from us. It is because his love is fixed and unchangeable that the Father shows us infinite patience and forbearance. If his love was not unchangeable, we would perish.”

God is eternal, and so is his love. Paul teaches, “He chose us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4). God’s love for us originated in eternity past, and its end flows to eternity future. God says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jer. 31:3). “For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you” (Isa. 54:10). Moreover, as God is sovereign, so is his love. Ephesians 1:4–6 explains, “In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace.” James Montgomery Boice writes, “God’s love is a sovereign love.… His love is uninfluenced by anything in the creature. And if that is so, it is the same as saying that the cause of God’s love lies only in himself.… In Scripture no cause for God’s love other than his electing will is ever given.” This was God’s explanation to Israel for the love he showed the people in the exodus: “It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you” (Deut. 7:7–8).

Finally, we should note that God’s love is infinite. There is no greater proof of this idea than John’s statement that God loved the world. There is an infinite distance between God and this wicked world, but God’s love is infinitely great to span that distance. God tells us, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:9). But he still loves us! Our world has rebelled against God, flouting his authority and mocking his ways. Most people reject God’s rule over their lives. Paul notes, “Although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Rom. 1:21). That is an accurate description of our world today. The distance between us and God is infinite in every way, yet God has loved the world.

When John speaks of “the world,” he is being intentionally provocative. Old Testament Jews believed that God loved them, but rejected the idea that God loved anyone else. Leon Morris explains, “It is a distinctively Christian idea that God’s love is wide enough to embrace all people. His love is not confined to any national group or spiritual elite.” The same is true today. John does not say that God loves religious people or that God loves Christians, but that “God so loved the world” (John 3:16). This is why the message of Jesus Christ is good news for everyone. Romans 5:8 tells us, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

God’s Giving Love

This brings us to the particular point that John 3:16 stresses: God’s love is a giving love. The Greek language has four words for love. The first is storge, which is family love. Whatever they think of each other, family members are to be loyal. The second is eros, which is romantic or sexual love. The third kind of love is philos, which is the love of friendship or attraction. The word philosophy means “a love of wisdom.” This is a receiving love; it is based on what we get and how good something or someone makes us feel. But the New Testament stresses a fourth kind of love, using the Greek word agape. This is a giving love. It is not based on what we receive but on what we give. Agape love has its classic definition in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son.”

The greatness of God’s love for the world is most clearly seen in the gift that he gave: “his only Son.” John says not merely that God loved the world, but that “God so loved the world.” The word so indicates both the manner in which God loved the world—by giving his Son—and the intensity of God’s love for the world. How do we measure God’s love for us? By calculating the infinite value of his precious Son, Jesus Christ.

John refers to Jesus as God’s “only Son.” We are undoubtedly intended to reflect on this truth in light of our love for our own children. Even though we are corrupted by sin, it is natural for us to love our children with great intensity. Mothers exhaust themselves rocking babies to sleep. Fathers spend long hours fixing bikes and playing games that they would have no interest in were it not for their children. Parents weary themselves with extra jobs to clothe and feed and educate their children. To neglect our children, as many do today, is so obviously wrong that it is universally condemned. Nature knows no greater love than that of a parent for his or her child, and Christ is God the Father’s only child. God many times spoke of his love for his Son, and Jesus often basked in the love of his Father. So in giving his only Son, God was truly giving his very heart. John Flavel asks, “Who would part with a son for the sake of his dearest friends? But God gave him to, and delivered him for enemies: O love unspeakable!” God could not possibly love this world more or better than in giving his beloved only Son.

In saying that God gave his only Son, John 3:16 corrects a terribly common mistake in thinking about God the Father. Because Jesus died to satisfy God’s justice, some think God’s love is caused by Christ’s sacrifice and is even reluctant or halfhearted. But John 3:16 teaches exactly the opposite. “The gift of Christ … is the result of God’s love to the world, and not the cause. To say that God loves us because Christ died for us, is wretched theology indeed. But to say that Christ came into the world in consequence of the love of God, is scriptural truth.” God loved this evil world not after but before the Savior came to turn our hearts back to heaven; God’s love is the reason that we can be forgiven and born again to inherit eternal life.

When John says that God “gave” his only Son, exactly what does that mean? According to the Bible, the Father sent the eternal and glorious Son into this world to take our mortal nature, with all the weakness and suffering that involved (see Heb. 2:17). Jesus states thirty-nine times in John’s Gospel that the Father “sent” him into the world with a mission of salvation to perform. God sent him to reveal his truth, to proclaim the good news of salvation, and especially to do the work needed for the salvation of those who believe. J. C. Ryle declares:

Christ is God the Father’s gift to a lost and sinful world. He was given generally to be the Saviour, the Redeemer, the Friend of sinners,—to make an atonement sufficient for all,—and to provide a redemption large enough for all. To effect this, the Father freely gave Him up to be despised, rejected, mocked, crucified, and counted guilty and accursed for our sakes.

This means that when we read that God “gave his only Son,” we should think of the cross where Jesus suffered and died, that we might be forgiven of our sins. So great is his love that if our redemption from sin required the torturous death of his only Son—even the outpouring of his own wrath on his most beloved child—God was willing to give him for this purpose. Jeremiah Burroughs marvels:

Behold the infinite love of God to mankind and the love of Jesus Christ that, rather than God see the children of men to perish eternally, He would send His Son to take our nature upon Him and thus suffer such dreadful things. Herein God shows His love.… It pleased the Father to break His Son and to pour out His blood. Here is the love of God and of Jesus Christ. Oh, what a powerful, mighty, drawing, efficacious meditation this should be to us!”

During the darkest times of World War I, a war that claimed the lives of a shocking number of English sons, a man took his little boy out for a walk at night. The boy noticed that some of the houses had stars in the windows. “That comes from this terrible war, laddie,” the father explained. “It shows that these people have given a son.” They had walked a bit farther when the young boy stopped, and pointed up to the sky where a bright evening star had appeared. He said, “Daddy, God must have given a Son, too.” Leon Morris remarks, “That is it. In the terrible war against evil, God gave his Son. That is the way evil was defeated. God paid the price.”

God’s gift therefore was not only infinite in value, but also perfectly suited to our greatest need. Here again is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” We might prefer that God would do something other than send his only Son to be our Savior. But God’s love addresses our true and greatest need. Whenever the New Testament speaks of God’s love, it almost invariably does so in terms of the atoning work of Christ on the cross. John 3:16 is a typical example. In the previous two verses Jesus told Nicodemus, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life” (3:14–15). That was an allusion to his death on the cross. This, then, is how the world knows God’s love and receives God’s love: not because we are able to love one another a bit; not because there is beauty in the world; but because God sent Jesus to die for our sins. John writes in his first epistle, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world.… He loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9–10).

Receiving God’s Love

The Puritan John Flavel concluded his study of John 3:16 with three keen observations. First, he says, this verse shows us “the exceeding preciousness of souls, and at what a high rate God values them, that he will give his Son, his only Son out of his bosom, as a ransom for them.” Surely this argues—God’s having given his only Son for the saving of souls—that we ought to labor with all our might to bring people to salvation. John 3:16 says that “whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” It is through our witness that they can believe. It is because we take an interest in their souls, because we speak earnestly to them about Jesus, and because we invite them to join us at church and hear God’s Word that souls are saved today. This must apply most urgently to our own children. It is dismaying to see how little interest so many parents take in the souls of their children. Since we love them, and since their souls are so precious to God, we should be especially determined to set them a godly example, to pray with and for them, to teach them God’s Word, and to involve them in the worship and life of the church.

Second, Flavel notes, since God has given us his Son, we may be confident of receiving every other help and mercy we need to endure this life and arrive safely into heaven. Knowing this should give us peace in every storm and confidence in the face of life’s trials. Knowing how much God has already given us—his very best in the person of his own Son—we should trust his love and come to him with a holy boldness in prayer. Paul reasoned, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32). God will not withhold anything we need, having already given his Son, Jesus, so we should not shrink back from asking for and confidently awaiting anything we truly need.

Third, Flavel observes, “If the greatest love hath been manifested in giving Christ to the world, then it follows that the greatest evil and wickedness is manifested in despising, slighting, and rejecting Christ.” There can be no greater condemnation of our hearts than for us to disregard this amazing love of God in giving his only Son to suffer in our place. What does God ask and expect of us? God demands what love always desires: to be received. Jesus said in John 6:29, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” John 3:16’s message is that God calls us to believe on Jesus Christ—to receive his love-gift through personal faith in Jesus. If we believe, he promises us “eternal life.” But if we are so hardened of heart to refuse this matchless gift from God, John warns, the result is that we will “perish.” Having spurned God’s love on the cross, we must receive the just penalty for all our sins and especially for the chief sin of rejecting God’s only Son. As the writer of Hebrews warns us, “How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” (Heb. 2:3).

There is one last application for those who believe in Christ and who are thus born again into eternal life. If God loved us by giving us his Son, we ought to love him with all that we have in return.

Shortly after the end of the American Civil War, a man in farm clothes was seen kneeling at a gravestone in the soldier’s cemetery in Nashville. An observer came up and asked, “Is that the grave of your son?” The farmer replied, “No, I have seven children, all of them young, and a wife on my poor farm in Illinois. I was drafted and, despite the great hardship it would cause, I was required to join the Army. But on the morning I was to depart this man, my neighbor’s older son, came over and offered to take my place in the war.” The observer solemnly asked, “What is that you are writing on his grave?” The farmer replied, “I am writing, ‘He died for me.’ ”

With that same devotion, we should love God for his love in giving Jesus Christ to die for us. Like the farmer in the story, we should make an effort to serve the Lord and give a testimony to his love for us. We should further express our devotion by loving others with the same kind of love that God has shown to us. We are to show a love that the world does not know—a love not based on getting, not one that seeks mainly for ourselves, but a love that says, “God has given to me, so I want to love him by giving to others.” This giving love should beautify our marriages, should enliven our friendships, and should glorify God in the church. This was John’s own application in his first epistle, having spoken first of God’s love for us in the giving of his Son: “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11). If we live out God’s amazing, giving love, that will be our strongest testimony to a loveless world, so that others will learn of God’s amazing love from us, and that by believing in him they, too, will have eternal life.[3]


16. For God so loved the world. Christ opens up the first cause, and, as it were, the source of our salvation, and he does so, that no doubt may remain; for our minds cannot find calm repose, until we arrive at the unmerited love of God. As the whole matter of our salvation must not be sought any where else than in Christ, so we must see whence Christ came to us, and why he was offered to be our Saviour. Both points are distinctly stated to us: namely, that faith in Christ brings life to all, and that Christ brought life, because the Heavenly Father loves the human race, and wishes that they should not perish. And this order ought to be carefully observed; for such is the wicked ambition which belongs to our nature, that when the question relates to the origin of our salvation, we quickly form diabolical imaginations about our own merits. Accordingly, we imagine that God is reconciled to us, because he has reckoned us worthy that he should look upon us. But Scripture everywhere extols his pure and unmingled mercy, which sets aside all merits.

And the words of Christ mean nothing else, when he declares the cause to be in the love of God. For if we wish to ascend higher, the Spirit shuts the door by the mouth of Paul, when he informs us that this love was founded on the purpose of his will, (Eph. 1:5.) And, indeed, it is very evident that Christ spoke in this manner, in order to draw away men from the contemplation of themselves to look at the mercy of God alone. Nor does he say that God was moved to deliver us, because he perceived in us something that was worthy of so excellent a blessing, but ascribes the glory of our deliverance entirely to his love. And this is still more clear from what follows; for he adds, that God gave his Son to men, that they may not perish. Hence it follows that, until Christ bestow his aid in rescuing the lost, all are destined to eternal destruction. This is also demonstrated by Paul from a consideration of the time; for he loved us, while we were still enemies by sin, (Rom. 5:8, 10.) And, indeed, where sin reigns, we shall find nothing but the wrath of God, which draws death along with it. It is mercy, therefore, that reconciles us to God, that he may likewise restore us to life.

This mode of expression, however, may appear to be at variance with many passages of Scripture, which lay in Christ the first foundation of the love of God to us, and show that out of him we are hated by God. But we ought to remember—what I have already stated—that the secret love with which the Heavenly Father loved us in himself is higher than all other causes; but that the grace which he wishes to be made known to us, and by which we are excited to the hope of salvation, commences with the reconciliation which was procured through Christ. For since he necessarily hates sin, how shall we believe that we are loved by him, until atonement has been made for those sins on account of which he is justly offended at us? Thus, the love of Christ must intervene for the purpose of reconciling God to us, before we have any experience of his fatherly kindness. But as we are first informed that God, because he loved us, gave his Son to die for us, so it is immediately added, that it is Christ alone on whom, strictly speaking, faith ought to look.

He gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him may not perish. This, he says, is the proper look of faith, to be fixed on Christ, in whom it beholds the breast of God filled with love: this is a firm and enduring support, to rely on the death of Christ as the only pledge of that love. The word only-begotten is emphatic, (ἐμφατικὸν,) to magnify the fervour of the love of God towards us. For as men are not easily convinced that God loves them, in order to remove all doubt, he has expressly stated that we are so very dear to God that, on our account, he did not even spare his only-begotten Son. Since, therefore, God has most abundantly testified his love towards us, whoever is not satisfied with this testimony, and still remains in doubt, offers a high insult to Christ, as if he had been an ordinary man given up at random to death. But we ought rather to consider that, in proportion to the estimation in which God holds his only-begotten Son, so much the more precious did our salvation appear to him, for the ransom of which he chose that his only-begotten Son should die. To this name Christ has a right, because he is by nature the only Son of God; and he communicates this honour to us by adoption, when we are ingrafted into his body.

That whosoever believeth on him may not perish. It is a remarkable commendation of faith, that it frees us from everlasting destruction. For he intended expressly to state that, though we appear to have been born to death, undoubted deliverance is offered to us by the faith of Christ; and, therefore, that we ought not to fear death, which otherwise hangs over us. And he has employed the universal term whosoever, both to invite all indiscriminately to partake of life, and to cut off every excuse from unbelievers. Such is also the import of the term World, which he formerly used; for though nothing will be found in the world that is worthy of the favour of God, yet he shows himself to be reconciled to the whole world, when he invites all men without exception to the faith of Christ, which is nothing else than an entrance into life.

Let us remember, on the other hand, that while life is promised universally to all who believe in Christ, still faith is not common to all. For Christ is made known and held out to the view of all, but the elect alone are they whose eyes God opens, that they may seek him by faith. Here, too, is displayed a wonderful effect of faith; for by it we receive Christ such as he is given to us by the Father—that is, as having freed us from the condemnation of eternal death, and made us heirs of eternal life, because, by the sacrifice of his death, he has atoned for our sins, that nothing may prevent God from acknowledging us as his sons. Since, therefore, faith embraces Christ, with the efficacy of his death and the fruit of his resurrection, we need not wonder if by it we obtain likewise the life of Christ.

Still it is not yet very evident why and how faith bestows life upon us. Is it because Christ renews us by his Spirit, that the righteousness of God may live and be vigorous in us; or is it because, having been cleansed by his blood, we are accounted righteous before God by a free pardon? It is indeed certain, that these two things are always joined together; but as the certainty of salvation is the subject now in hand, we ought chiefly to hold by this reason, that we live, because God loves us freely by not imputing to us our sins. For this reason sacrifice is expressly mentioned, by which, together with sins, the curse and death are destroyed. I have already explained the object of these two clauses, which is, to inform us that in Christ we regain the possession of life, of which we are destitute in ourselves; for in this wretched condition of mankind, redemption, in the order of time, goes before salvation.[4]


16 The heart of the gospel is not a philosophical observation about the character of God as love but a declaration of that redemptive love in action. “For God so loved … that he gave.” The Greek verb is agapaō (GK 26). It is common to discuss three Greek words for love: eros, philia (GK 5802), and agapē (GK 27). The first is used of passionate desire (not found in the NT) and the second of a fondness expressed in close relationships. The third word (agapē) was rather weak and colorless in secular Greek, but in the NT it is infused with fresh significance and becomes the one term able to denote the highest form of love. Bible scholar A. M. Hunter highlights the significance of agapē by noting that while eros is all take and philia is give-and-take, agapē is all give.

Love must of necessity give. It has no choice if it is to remain true to its essential character. A love that centers on self is not love at all but a fraudulent caricature of real love. It is instructive to note that only here in the fourth gospel is a result clause placed in the indicative rather than the subjunctive. Brown, 134, notes that this construction stresses the reality of the result: “that he actually gave the only Son.” The Greek monogenēs (GK 3666) means “of sole descent,” i.e., without brothers or sisters; hence the KJV’s “only-begotten” (from the Latin unigenitus). It is also used in the more general sense of “unique,” “the only one of its kind.” Jesus is the sole Son of God the Father. John refers to believers as “children of God” (tekna, GK 5451; 1:12; 11:52), but Jesus is the only Son (huios, GK 5626).

The object of God’s love is “the world” (kosmos, GK 3180). The giving of his Son was for the salvation of the entire human race. H. Sasse concludes that the cosmos epitomizes unredeemed creation, the universe of which Jesus is the light (Jn 8:12) and to which he comes (cf. TDNT 3:893–94). Any attempt to restrict the word kosmos (GK 3180) to the elect ignores the clear use of the term throughout the NT. God gave his Son for the deliverance of all humanity (cf. 2 Co 5:19). This giving extends beyond the incarnation. God gave his Son in the sense of giving unto death as an offering for sin. The universal scope of God’s love would have appeared novel and quite unlikely to the Jewish reader of the first century. After all, was not Israel the recipient of God’s special favor (cf. Ro 3:1–2; 9:3–5)? True; but in Christ all boundaries had been broken down (Eph 2:11–22). God’s love extends to every member of the human race. He died for all (cf. Ro 5:8; 1 Jn 2:2).

God’s role in redemption was the giving of his Son; the role of human beings is to believe. To believe in Christ is to accept and love him (Jn 1:12; 8:42). The Greek expression pisteuō eis (“to believe into”) carries the sense of placing one’s trust into or completely on someone. Paul’s teaching of believers as being “in Christ” is a theological reflection on the same expression. Those who believe in Christ escape destruction and are given “eternal life.” Barrett, 216, writes that “destruction is the inevitable fate of all things and persons separated from God and concentrated upon themselves.” The love of God has made it possible for people to turn from their self-destructive paths and receive from God the gift of everlasting life. This gospel comes as “good news” to all who, recognizing their plight, receive the priceless gift of God, even Jesus Christ, his Son.[5]


16 God loved “the world” (see Additional Note B, pp. 111–13). The Jew was ready enough to think of God as loving Israel, but no passage appears to be cited in which any Jewish writer maintains that God loved the world. It is a distinctively Christian idea that God’s love is wide enough to embrace all people. His love is not confined to any national group or spiritual elite. It is a love that proceeds from the fact that he is love (1 John 4:8, 16). It is his nature to love. He loves people because he is the kind of God he is. John tells us that his love is shown in the gift of his Son. Of this gift Odeberg finely says, “the Son is God’s gift to the world, and, moreover, it is the gift. There are no Divine gifts apart from or outside the one-born (sic) Son.” It should be noticed that God’s love is for “the world”; in recent times some scholars have argued that John sees God’s love as only for believers, but here it is plain that God loves “the world.” In typical Johannine fashion “gave” is used in two senses. God gave the Son by sending him into the world, but God also gave the Son on the cross. Notice that the cross is not said to show us the love of the Son (as in Gal. 2:20), but that of the Father. The atonement proceeds from the loving heart of God. It is not something wrung from him. The Greek construction puts some emphasis on the actuality of the gift: it is not “God loved enough to give,” but “God loved so that he gave.”78 His love is not a vague, sentimental feeling, but a love that costs. God gave what was most dear to him. For “one and only” see on 1:14, and for “believes” on 1:12 (also Additional Note E, pp. 296–98). The death of the Son is viewed first of all in its revelatory aspect; it shows us the love of the Father. Then its purpose is brought out, both negatively and positively. Those who believe on him do not “perish.” Neither here nor anywhere else in the New Testament is the awful reality behind this word “perish” brought out. But everywhere there is the recognition that a dreadful reality awaits the finally impenitent. Believers are rescued from this only by the death of the Son. Because of this they have “eternal life” (see on v. 15). John sets perishing and life starkly over against one another. He knows no other final state.[6]


16 Here the same question arises as in verse 13. Is Jesus still speaking, or does the Gospel writer now intervene to reflect on what has just been said? This time there is no title “Son of man” to assure us that Jesus is still the speaker, and the conjunction “for” (gar) is one of the characteristic ways of introducing authorial comments or narrative asides in this Gospel. Some English versions, therefore, place quotation marks after verse 15, signaling that Jesus’ speech has ended and that what follows are the Gospel writer’s words. The majority, however (including the most recent versions), extend Jesus’ speech to the end of verse 21, and the wisest course is to follow their example. While few interpreters would seriously argue that Jesus actually uttered the words found in verses 16–21 to Nicodemus and his companions at the first Passover in Jerusalem, Jesus has been introduced as “the Word,” the only Revealer of God. It is fair to assume that once he is so introduced all authoritative revelation in the Gospel comes from him, whether through his own lips or the pen of the Gospel writer. Without a clear notice in the text that his speech is over, the reader should keep on listening as to the voice of “the One who came down from heaven, the Son of man,” for only he can speak of “heavenly things” (vv. 12–13). As we have seen, it is still too early in the Gospel for Jesus to use the pronoun “I” in delivering these oracles of God, as if he is God himself, so the text resorts to first-person plurals (as in v. 11) or to the third person (as here). The conjunction “for” does introduce an explanatory comment, but the comment is Jesus’ own. Jesus builds on the language and thought of verses 14 and 15 to explain precisely why “the Son of man must be lifted up” (v. 14). He confirms that the necessity is divine, grounded in “God,” and God’s love for the world. Having looked at the cross from the human side, by a strange analogy with a snake fastened to a pole, he now places it within the eternal purposes of God. The grammar of the verse reflects this, as Jesus echoes the correlative construction of verse 14 (“And just asso”) with a corresponding one (“God so loved … so that he gave”).

This is the first mention of love in the Gospel of John, and it is rather untypical in that the object of God’s love is “the world” (ton kosmon). Nowhere else in John’s Gospel (or anywhere else in the New Testament!) is God explicitly said to “love” the world, yet it cannot come as a surprise to any reader who remembers that “the world came into being through him” (that is, through the Word, 1:10), and consequently that the world was “his own” (1:11). Jesus has already been identified as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (1:29), and will be identified as “the Savior of the world” (4:42). God’s love for the world, though seldom explicit, is a given. At the same time, God has a unique and specific love for “the One and Only Son.” We have already learned that a “One and Only” shares in a father’s glory (1:14), and that Jesus as God’s “One and Only” is himself God, “right beside the Father” (1:18). Now it becomes explicit that “the One and Only” is God’s “Son” (see 1:34, 49), and that both terms are interchangeable with “Son of man” (vv. 13, 14).

The striking, even shocking, thing about God’s love for the world in relation to God’s love for his “One and Only Son” is that the former takes priority! The verb “to love” (agapan) in this Gospel implies not so much a feeling as a conscious choice. Often it implies a preference for one person or thing or way of life over another.108 The shock of the pronouncement is that here God puts the well-being of “the world” above that of “the One and Only Son.” The notion that God “gave” or “gave up” his only Son points unmistakably to Jesus’ death, confirming the interpretation of “lifted up” (v. 14) as crucifixion. We might have expected “God sent the One and Only Son” (as in 1 Jn 4:9), because “sent” is the operative verb for the mission of Jesus throughout the rest of the Gospel, beginning in the very next verse. But it is important that this first reference to Jesus’ mission specify its purpose as a redemptive mission. The “giving” includes all that the “sending” does and more, for in sending his “One and Only” into the world, God gave him up to death on a cross.111 The analogy that comes to mind is Abraham, and his willingness to offer up his “one and only” son Isaac as a sacrifice in obedience to God (Gen 22:1–14). This analogy, unlike that with Moses and the bronze snake, is never made explicit, but hints elsewhere in the Gospel suggest that what God asked of Abraham was something God himself would do in the course of time. Like the Moses analogy, it has its limits because God is not acting out of obedience to anyone but out of love for the world he has made. But while God’s love is universal, it guarantees eternal life not for the whole world indiscriminately but for “everyone who believes.” The last clause of verse 16 sounds like a refrain, echoing verse 15 with only two small changes: first, it is a matter not simply of “believing” but of “believing in” Jesus; second, to “have eternal life” is further explained by its natural opposite, to “not be lost” (mē apolētai; compare 6:39–40; 10:28; 12:25). This is the first hint of dualism in the discourse. Just as “eternal life” is more than simply the prolongation of physical life, so “being lost” is more than just physical death. It is, as the next verse will show, eternal condemnation and separation from God. There are no “lost sheep” in the Gospel of John (contrast Mt 10:6; 15:24; Lk 15:6), for Jesus’ “sheep” will never be lost and those who are “lost” are not his sheep (see 10:26–28).[7]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). John 1–11 (pp. 112–117). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Boice, J. M. (2005). The Gospel of John: an expositional commentary (pp. 226–245). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Phillips, R. D. (2014). John. (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.) (1st ed., Vol. 1, pp. 167–176). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.

[4] Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on the Gospel according to John (Vol. 1, pp. 122–126). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[5] Mounce, R. H. (2007). John. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, p. 400). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[6] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (pp. 202–204). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[7] Michaels, J. R. (2010). The Gospel of John (pp. 200–203). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

God Demands America Remove ‘In God We Trust’ From Currency — The Babylon Bee

WASHINGTON, DC—According to sources within the federal government, God has filed a petition demanding the United States remove the phrase “In God We Trust” from all of its currency.

Sources confirm the petition lists several reasons for the request, including American culture’s rejection of Biblical values, abandoning prayer in schools, killing 60,000,000 babies, and the rise of the Kardashians. God’s lawyers suggested several other fitting phrases, such as “In Self We Trust,” “In American Empire We Trust,” and “In Money We Trust.”

“‘In God We Trust’ may have been true at one time in their history, but it’s certainly not true now,” a representative for God told reporters. “And you know God, He’s all about the truth. Actually, what am I saying? He IS the Truth.”

“I mean, let’s be real,” the messenger continued, “America hasn’t trusted in God for a hundred years or more, maybe? There was a brief moment after 9/11, but that lasted like a week, tops.”

“What’s wrong with you people!?” the heavenly source concluded, shaking his head in disgust.

At publishing time, atheists across the country were withdrawing their petitions for the same demand when they realized they actually agreed with God about something.

via God Demands America Remove ‘In God We Trust’ From Currency — The Babylon Bee

Christian Rocker Posts Stunning Response to Recent Apostasy of Christian Leaders — Christian Research Network

“It is time for the church to rediscover the preeminence of the Word. And to value the teaching of the Word. We need to value truth over feeling. Truth over emotion. And what we are seeing now is the result of the church raising up influencers who did not supremely value truth who have led a generation who also do not believe in the supremacy of truth. And now those disavowed leaders are proudly still leading and influencing boldly AWAY from the truth.”

(Julie Roys) John Cooper, the lead singer for the band Skillet, posted a stunning response on Facebook yesterday to the recent public renunciations of Christianity by Joshua Harris and then Hillsong songwriter, Marty Sampson. (Sampson has since slightly walked back his initial statement after Dr. Michael Brown posted an open letter challenging Sampson’s assertions.) Below is Cooper’s entire statement, which was also published at Cogent Christianity. I’m reposting it here because it’s so good and so important, I want to make sure everyone who follows this blog sees it. Thank you, John Cooper, for saying what few have the insight or courage to say. God bless you, brother!

“Ok I’m saying it. Because it’s too important not to. What is happening in Christianity? More and more of our outspoken leaders or influencers who were once ‘faces’ of the faith are falling away. And at the same time they are being very vocal and bold about it. Shockingly they still want to influence others (for what purpose?) as they announce that they are leaving the faith. I’ll state my conclusion, then I’ll state some rebuttals to statements I’ve read by some of them. Firstly, I never judge people outside of my faith. Even if they hate religion or Christianity. That is not my place and I have many friends who disagree with my religion and that is 100% fine with me. However, when it comes to people within my faith, there must be a measure of loyalty and friendship and accountability to each other and the Word of God.

“My conclusion for the church (all of us Christians): We must STOP making worship leaders and thought leaders or influencers or cool people or ‘relevant’ people the most influential people in Christendom. (And yes that includes people like me!) I’ve been saying for 20 years(and seemed probably quite judgmental to some of my peers) that we are in a dangerous place when the church is looking to 20 year old worship singers as our source of truth. We now have a church culture that learns who God is from singing modern praise songs rather than from the teachings of the Word. I’m not being rude to my worship leader friends (many who would agree with me) in saying that singers and musicians are good at communicating emotion and feeling. We create a moment and a vehicle for God to speak. However, singers are not always the best people to write solid bible truth and doctrine. Sometimes we are too young, too ignorant of scripture, too unaware, or too unconcerned about the purity of scripture and the holiness of the God we are singing to. Have you ever considered the disrespect of singing songs to God that are untrue of His character?  View article →

Research

Joshua Harris

Hillsong

Discernment

via Christian Rocker Posts Stunning Response to Recent Apostasy of Christian Leaders — Christian Research Network

RenewAmerica Newsletter for August 16, 2019

August 15, 2019
President links China’s response to chances of trade deal
MARKET WATCH — President Donald Trump suggested a “personal meeting” with China’s President Xi Jinping to discuss the escalating crisis in Hong Kong and warned China it must respond “humanely” to the protests if it wants to strike a trade deal…. (more)


August 15, 2019
His controversial decision to engage with Kim Jong Un is the right one
HUMAN EVENTS — President Trump’s recent statements about ongoing diplomatic efforts with North Korea revived tired and predictable criticism from all sides. The establishment insisted, yet again, that Trump was legitimizing a racist, totalitarian, and murderous regime…. (more)

August 15, 2019
WASHINGTON TIMES — The Trump administration moved Wednesday to expand faith protections for federal contractors, the latest front in the ongoing battle between LGBTQ groups fighting discrimination and employers seeking to operate in accordance with their religious principles…. (more)


August 15, 2019
PROJECT VERITAS — A Google insider who anonymously leaked internal documents to Project Veritas made the decision to go public in an on-the-record video interview. The insider, Zachary Vorhies, decided to go public after receiving a letter from Google, and after he says Google allegedly called the police to perform a “wellness check” on him…. (more)


August 15, 2019
DAILY WIRE — On Tuesday’s episode of “The Andrew Klavan Show,” Klavan talks about how CNN defended Chris Cuomo when he threatened to throw a man down a flight of stairs. Video and partial transcript below:… (more)


August 15, 2019
DAILY MAIL — Jeffrey Epstein had a bizarre portrait of Bill Clinton in a dress hanging in his Manhattan mansion, DailyMailTV can reveal. The picture depicting the former president apparently lounging on a chair in the Oval Office, wearing red heels and posing suggestively in a blue dress redolent of Monica Lewinsky was in a room off the stairway of the Upper East Side townhouse…. (more)


August 15, 2019
He only ‘worked at the White House for 11 days…I don’t really know what to make of it’
IJR — White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham clocked Anthony Scaramucci during her first television interview since the new White House role. Scaramucci – – who recently claimed President Donald Trump was damaging “the fabric of our society” – – went after the president once again, telling Eric Bolling on “America This week” late Wednesday that Trump is “nuts” and “completely crazy.” He also claimed that Trump was “mentally declining.”… (more)


August 14, 2019
DAILY CALLER — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has outraised all other freshmen representatives so far in 2019, but nearly all of her reported contributors to her reelection campaign live outside her congressional district, a Daily Caller News Foundation analysis of Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings found…. (more)

August 14, 2019
NATIONAL REVIEW — Attorney General William Barr on Tuesday ordered that the warden of the federal prison where billionaire and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein apparently committed suicide over the weekend be reassigned and that two guards who were responsible for Epstein be placed on leave…. (more)


August 14, 2019
Andy Schlafly says #MeToo movement’s interest in case may help uncover the truth
ANDY SCHLAFLY — The #MeToo movement takes on the Deep State over the Epstein scandal, and the shadow government may have finally met its match. The outrage by feminists against Jeffrey Epstein for evading justice while allegedly providing underage girls to powerful men has even the New York Times demanding answers…. (more)

August 14, 2019
Conspiracy theory of all conspiracy theories
BREITBART — Actor Alec Baldwin claimed that financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was killed by the Russian state, which Baldwin said is now “in charge of everything” as a result of the Trump presidency…. (more)

August 14, 2019
Google, Facebook under probe
WORLDNETDAILY — Amid an investigation of alleged anti-competitive practices, and widespread complaints among consumers of political bias and privacy violations, the chairman of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday that a breakup of the tech giants could be the right remedy…. (more)


August 13, 2019
WORLDNETDAILY — Evangelist Franklin Graham is praising an American politician for his “guts.” And he’s encouraging his Facebook followers to pray that a state mandate for LGBT indoctrination will be overturned. Graham wrote, “Love this guy – he’s got a lot of guts!” Graham explained that Mayor Alfonso Cirulli of Barnegat Township in New Jersey “is coming under fire for saying that the LGBTQ agenda is ‘an affront to Almighty God.'”… (more)

August 13, 2019
LLOYD MARCUS — The next day after the horrific El Paso and Dayton shootings, I boycotted media. As expected, Democrats and fake news media were despicably giddy, thrilled for another opportunity to push for disarming law-abiding gun owners and falsely demonize Trump and his supporters. I boycotted media because I could not stomach wimpy Republicans and never-Trumpers running to microphones to surrender to anti-American leftists’ spin of the facts. I thought, “I am not going to allow cowards supposedly on our side to raise my blood pressure.”… (more)

August 13, 2019
JERRY NEWCOMBE — Everyone is scratching their heads trying to figure out what has gone wrong when disturbing stories break of more attacks by young men killing strangers at random. We are reeling as a nation in the wake of these mass shootings and wondering what has gone wrong…. (more)

August 13, 2019
SELWYN DUKE — With leftists seeking to blame the El Paso shooting on President Trump, guns, white people, and whatever other boogieman will help score political points, a simple fact should be understood: Murder is a Democrat thing…. (more)

August 13, 2019
NEWSMAX — Attorney General William Barr staunchly defended the work of law enforcement Monday – – promising to push for new legislation to swiftly carry out the death penalty for suspects who commit mass shootings or kill police officers, while also taking aim at prosecutors who “style themselves as ‘social justice’ reformers.”… (more)


August 13, 2019
WASHINGTON TIMES — Attorney General William Barr said Monday there were “serious irregularities” at the Manhattan jail where wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein was found dead over the weekend, and he vowed to get to the bottom of the situation…. (more)


August 13, 2019
NEWSMAX — Thirty percent of registered voters say mental illness is to blame for mass shootings in the United States, according to a new Hill-HarrisX poll published Monday…. (more)

August 13, 2019
Homeschool activists create campaign to restore victimized family
BOB UNRUH — The Texas Home School Coalition is distributing a video and a petition to restore a family whose 4-year-old son was seized by state officials without apparent legal justification. The Facebook video describes how Drake Pardo, the health-challenged son of Ashley and Daniel, was taken from his family by Child Protective Services…. (more)

August 11, 2019
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — Recently, a coalition of 75 organizations including Planned Parenthood, National LGBTQ Task Force, the ACLU, and the National Abortion Federation released a 116-page blueprint outlining a policy agenda aimed at advancing policies for women and children in the name of “sexual and reproductive health care, rights, and justice.” However, after reading over the policies, one quickly realizes that they would substantially harm American families without bringing forth “rights” or “justice.”… (more)

August 11, 2019
LIFE SITE NEWS — The left has no problem with hiding behind activist teenagers, but will scapegoat a right-wing one if she criticizes them. YouTube, Google’s sister company, deplatformed a 14-year-old conservative girl after she made a video criticizing Pride Month. Her channel has been completely banned from YouTube…. (more)

August 11, 2019
DENNIS PRAGER — The president of the United States, Donald Trump, never said there were “fine” Nazis or Ku Klux Klansmen. This is one of the two great lies of our time – – the other being that all Trump supporters are racists – – and perhaps in all of American history. I cannot think of a lie of such significance that was held as truth by so many Americans, by every leading politician of one of the two major political parties and disseminated by virtually the entire media…. (more)

August 11, 2019
BREITBART — Former Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairwoman Donna Brazile said in a conversation with Fox News contributor Guy Benson on Friday that President Donald Trump “had nothing to do” with the mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas…. (more)

 

Recession worries and the ‘yield curve inversion’: How and why to trust the sovereignty of God — Denison Forum

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The stock market fell more than eight hundred points Wednesday, the largest one-day drop of the year. It rebounded somewhat yesterday to finish up nearly one hundred points, but concerns about the global economy persist.

The decline Wednesday was precipitated by a “yield curve inversion” that made headlines when it occurred for the first time since 2007. What is this? Why does it matter?

Is a recession coming?

The Washington Post explains that an “inverted yield curve” occurs “when the interest rates on short-term bonds are higher than the interest rates paid by long-term bonds.” In other words, “people are so worried about the near-term future that they are piling into safer long-term investments.”

According to the Post, “the yield curve has inverted before every US recession since 1955, suggesting to some investors that an economic downturn is coming.” The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco has also stated that the yield curve “has a strikingly accurate record for forecasting recessions.”

However, there are also strong reasons to believe the economy will not go into a recession. The labor market is strong—the economy added 164,000 jobs in July as employers say this is a “golden age” to get a job or to ask for better pay and benefits.

One expert stated as recently as July 26, “I don’t see any warning signs right now. It’s hard to be against the economy when the consumer is in such good shape.” Another expert added, “I wouldn’t forecast a recession just on the yield curve. I would want to see other signals that point to that, but we’re not seeing them right now.”

We may just be experiencing the challenges typical of the stock market in August. Many economists think a recession, if and when it comes, might be relatively mild since American households are in stronger financial shape than before the Great Recession. And the Washington Post notes that yield curves have typically inverted an average of eighteen months before the start of a recession.

The “miracle over Ramensk”

The news reminds us daily that the future is impossible to predict.

A man with no family in El Paso invited the community to his wife’s funeral later today. She was one of the twenty-two people killed in the August 3 mass shooting.

Our nation has been focused on the massacres in El Paso and Dayton, but Wednesday’s attack on police in Philadelphia marked the fifteenth mass shooting in America since those tragedies. Seventy-one people have been wounded or killed.

A man competing in a taco-eating contest at a minor league baseball game in Fresno, California, died Tuesday night after he began choking on his food. In a statement Wednesday, the team’s president said the organization was “devastated” by the man’s death.

There’s good news in the news as well. Scientists have discovered a new cure for the deadliest strain of tuberculosis, a disease that has now surpassed AIDS as the world’s leading infectious cause of death. The new drug was approved Wednesday by the FDA.

And a Russian plane carrying 233 passengers made a remarkable landing in a cornfield outside Moscow after striking a flock of birds shortly after takeoff. Up to seventy-four people were injured, but no one was killed. State television called the event the “miracle over Ramensk.”

Three facts to claim

Predicting the future is obviously relevant to those who invest in the stock market. We all want to know if another shooting is coming and where. We’d obviously avoid an activity that could be life-threatening, even at a baseball game, or an airplane that we knew was going to make an emergency landing.

But followers of Jesus have a countercultural way to view the future and its challenges. God’s word teaches us three relevant facts:

First, we should expect challenges in our fallen world.

Jesus warned us, “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). Scripture teaches that “we must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22 NIV). Stock markets and airplanes will fall. Sinners will sin and haters will hate. “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).

Second, we can trust the future we cannot see to the God who can.

When David was fleeing from Saul and dwelling with the Philistines (1 Samuel 21:10–15), he complained to God: “My enemies trample on me all day long, for many attack me proudly” (Psalm 56:2). But then he testified: “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” (vv. 3–4). Then he added a statement we can all claim today: “This I know, that God is for me” (v. 9).

Third, our peace in the storm is a powerful witness to a secular age.

“When you go through a trial, the sovereignty of God is the pillow upon which you lay your head.”

—Charles Spurgeon

David Platt noted, “The sovereignty of God is the only foundation for worship in the midst of tragedy.” Such worship shows a skeptical culture that our faith is empowering and our God is real.

Charles Spurgeon: “When you go through a trial, the sovereignty of God is the pillow upon which you lay your head.”

Where will you lay yours tonight?


Read our latest contributor article: Jim Quigley with Freedom Farm Ministries shares about his 12-Step experience in “What is the missing step in every 12-Step program?” It helped him, but it wasn’t quite enough. So what proved truly transformational for him?

via Recession worries and the ‘yield curve inversion’: How and why to trust the sovereignty of God — Denison Forum

Larry C. Johnson: The Unraveling of the Failed Coup to Take Out Trump — The Gateway Pundit

There are many moving pieces in the drama surrounding the Deep State attempt to kill the Trump Presidency. God Bless Judicial Watch. I think most of the key evidence that has surfaced came courtesy of Tom Fitton, Chris Farrell and their team of tireless workers.

I want to bring you back to Mr. Felix Sater. He was part of Bayrock, which worked closely with Donald Trump’s organization and, most importantly of all, was an FBI Confidential Human Source since December of 1998.

Thanks to Judicial Watch we have a new dump of Bruce Ohr emails, which include several from his wife, Nellie. There are 330 pages to wade thru (you can see them here). There is one item in particular I encourage you to look at:

On December 5, 2016, Bruce Ohr emailed himself an Excel spreadsheet, seemingly from his wife Nellie Ohr, titled “WhosWho19Sept2016.” The spreadsheet purports to show relationship descriptions and “linkages” between Donald Trump, his family and criminal figures, many of whom were Russians. This list of individuals allegedly “linked to Trump” include: a Russian involved in a “gangland killing;” an Uzbek mafia don; a former KGB officer suspected in the murder of Paul Tatum; a Russian who reportedly “buys up banks and pumps them dry”; a Russian money launderer for Sergei Magnitsky; a Turk accused of shipping oil for ISIS; a couple who lent their name to the Trump Institute, promoting its “get-rich-quick schemes”; a man who poured him a drink; and others.

The spreadsheet starts on page 301. If you search the document for the name Felix Sater, he will pop up. Now here is the curious and, I suppose, reassuring thing about this document–Nellie Ohr did not have a clue that Felix Sater was an active FBI informant. We can at least give the FBI credit for protecting Sater’s identity from Nellie Ohr and, more importantly, her husband, DOJ official Bruce Ohr.

If you want to have more fun, search the pdf using the term “BAYROCK.” You will discover that Nellie Ohr, like a female Don Quixote, is searching desperately to link Trump and Sater to dirty Russian money. What she does not suspect is that Sater was being used, via his company Bayrock, to try to gain access to Russians who were potential targets of the FBI.

One point is clear–she uncovered no evidence implicating Trump working with the Russians, either thru Felix Sater or one of the other “suspects” she exhaustively listed.

Shifting gears, there are two very important pieces recently posted at The Conservative Tree House that I encourage you to read:

Quirky Angle – Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne: 2016 FBI Activity Was “Political Espionage”…

Federal Judge Completely Rejects DOJ Argument – Orders ‘Archey Declarations’ (Descriptions of Comey Memos) Released…

The first piece focuses on CEO Patrick Byrne and the role he played in trying to entrap and portray Marina Butina as a Russian agent.  What is not emphasized in the piece, and it is something I want to direct you to, is that the idea or impetus to launch the investigation of Butina came courtesy of Christopher Steele, who was relaying rumor and conjecture to Bruce Ohr. You can find this information in the Bruce Ohr 302s that Judicial Watch also secured.
Marina Butina was unfairly and unjustly portrayed and prosecuted as a Russian intelligence agent. It was a damn lie. I do not ever want to hear another American complaining about an American State Department or CIA employee who is entrapped and unfairly prosecuted in Russia. We have done the same damn thing that we have accused the Soviets of doing. The same thing. It is shameful.
The second piece is the ultimate feel good piece. Kudos to its author, Sundance. He details how a Federal Judge, infuriated by the FBIs stupidity and mendacity, tells the Bureau to go pound sand. The FBI is frantically trying to prevent the Archey Declarations from being revealed thanks to a lawsuit brought by CNN (finally, CNN did something right). The Archey Declarations provide a detailed description of the memos written and illegally removed from FBI Headquarters by that sanctimonious twit, Jim Comey.

More shoes will be dropping in the coming days. It appears that Inpector General Horowitz is going to present at least one report on Jim Comey and one report on the FISA abuse by the FBI. FBI Director Christopher Wray reminds me of one of the workers in the bowels of the Titanic who was furiously shoveling coal into the doomed boilers of the sinking ship. The FBI, like the Titanic, is in trouble.

Finally, Gateway Pundit’s Joe Hoft put up an important piece today (see here). Here is the bottomline, and keep this in mind as you read the piece, on June 20, 2016 the FBI signed off on a deal with Hillary Clinton’s attorney’s that gave Hillary’s team the right to destroy computers and emails. It also gave immunity to all of the people on Hillary’s team that participated in obstruction of justice. On that same day, Jim Comey signed off on a separate memo that decided not to prosecute Hillary Clinton. The fix was in more than a month before Jim Comey appeared on camera to try to explain why he was not recommending prosecution of Hillary for putting Top Secret information on her unclassified server.

Jim Comey lied when he declared that could not prove “intent.” I am sure that those of you who have never held a clearance and handled Top Secret material probably believed that lie. But anyone who knows how the TS system is set up knows that the ONLY WAY, I repeat, the ONLY WAY to put TS material on an unclassified server is to do so intentionally. There is no way to do this mistakenly.

via Larry C. Johnson: The Unraveling of the Failed Coup to Take Out Trump — The Gateway Pundit

Can a Person Be 100% Sure of His or Her Salvation? — Ligonier Ministries Blog

Is it possible to know with certainty that we are saved? From one of our Ask R.C. events, R.C. Sproul clarifies our Scriptural mandate to pursue assurance of salvation.

To get real-time answers to your biblical and theological questions, just Ask.Ligonier.org.

via Can a Person Be 100% Sure of His or Her Salvation? — Ligonier Ministries Blog

Lot’s of Good Stuff — The Watchman’s Bagpipes

As busy as I have been lately with doctor appointments and playing for funerals, I still try to get daily reading taken care of, all the while collecting links to articles I feel need sharing.  So here are the links I’ve been collection since the last time I posted “good stuff.”
Mark’s Gospel and Pentecostal snake-handling.
Are We Called to Literally Eat Christ’s Flesh and Drink His Blood? Excellent examination of the Papist heresy of transubstantiation.
Where Did Jesus Say, “I Am God; Worship Me”?  Interesting examination comparing Muslim teachings with the Bible.  However, I do think Jesus’ “I am” statements should have been included in this examination of Scripture.
Perhaps we should agree that reparations should be paid?
From the Mary of the Bible to the Mary of Manifold Devotions. Good examination of Catholic idolatry of Mary.
Really, there is no such thing as a “gay Christian.” Christians do not identify themselves by their sexual desires.
I’ve looked through this site just a bit (recommended to my by another blogger) and it seems to have some good information.
I LOVE this article and how it addresses what I’ve said all along — that infants who die are indeed saved.
Don’t forget about the “pickle juice.”
Some good information about the Christian Science cult.
The feminist lies to discern and avoid.

via Lot’s of Good Stuff — The Watchman’s Bagpipes

The Left’s Rival Gospel of Contemporary Marcionism — Juicy Ecumenism

While it may seem that religion is more deeply involved in politics today than in past generations, in truth, politics has become a theological struggle. It is not unreasonable to see contemporary American politics as a struggle between a fully Biblical religion and one that takes it point of departure from the second century heretic Marcion of Sinope.

Historically, American civilization attempted to be fully Biblical. From the explicitly religious basis of much of colonial America (Congregationalism in New England, Anglicanism in the South), the new American nation thrived and grew with formal disestablishment of religious bodies which had a real intensity of religious life. The Second Great Awakening of the early nineteenth century was surely the greatest religious event in American history. America was widely considered a “Christian nation,” with no substantial objection to religious influence in public life, as long as it fell within a broad Protestant consensus. The late nineteenth century saw the appearance of a radical attack on this consensus involving Biblical criticism, the geology of Charles Lyell, and biological evolution. Along with the post-Civil War urban, industrial society this attack began the secularization of the educated classes, while the mass of Americans remained spontaneously oriented to traditional Christianity. The civil religion inaugurated at the American founding thus remained unaffected, since neither the liberalized leadership nor the populace objected to it.

The Progressive Era of the early twentieth century focused the country on social and personal well-being as an objective of government, in addition to the government’s historic and perennial role of properly maintaining public order. The expansion of this vision in the New Deal of the 1930s and (in itself) the Great Society of the 1960s did not much affect America’s religious and cultural consensus. Civil religion was still broad enough to claim the allegiance of orthodox Christians and religious liberals. But the attempt to add the sexual revolution to the American consensus, and firmly separate traditional Christianity from public life (e.g., eliminating prayer at public functions and specifically Christian symbols from public property) has left the nation with an identity crisis. It is a crisis driven by people who are at the pinnacles of culture in colleges and universities, the legal profession, and the entertainment industry (if the last category can be considered a “pinnacle”), but it remains grave, affecting the lives of millions of Americans.

Economic security and employment, race relations, medical care, education, immigration, and foreign involvements are all part of contemporary politics, but what really moves politics is a war of gospels. America’s bipartisan politics, which once focused on competition in how to best address problems using classical, Lockean/Jeffersonian liberalism, with a background of traditional Christianity providing life’s meaning, has become conflict between two parties with different gospels. One is the party of the old consensus, the other advances a liberalism altered to include a theme of liberation from traditional authority.

As mentioned above, the essence of new, rival gospel might best be described as a kind of Marcionism. The historical Marcion advanced what he thought was the true gospel of Jesus and Paul, denying that the God of Israel was the true God because of his wrath, contending that God is a deity of only love and compassion. With far greater honesty than Enlightenment liberals and their successors, Marcion saw the need of canon reduction for what he wanted to do, eliminating the entire Old Testament and a large part of the New. Only part of the Gospel of Luke and ten of Paul’s epistles were included in what he claimed was the true canon. But the contemporary Marcionism of the Left must do the same thing if its advocates are to use the Bible to support their agendas of social and personal liberation. The orthodox canon is criticized as prescientific, to a considerable degree inaccurate in its truth claims, in some considerable measure inauthentic (not written by claimed authors), and ethically deficient in its descriptions of God’s actions and law. It may still contain the same documents as the precritical canon, but after anyone has accepted these criticisms, it is open to re-interpretation in light of a controlling idea of liberation, justified by the Bible’s evident concern for deliverance from oppression.

Scholars have differed on whether ancient Marcionism was a form of Gnosticism. But there was certainly a commonality between the two in strong Platonic influence, a philosophical deity markedly different from the passionate, acting God of the Old Testament, the latter of which appears instead as a “demiurge” by whom the material world was created, and Docetism (denial of a material body) with respect to Jesus Christ. Because of all this, it is easy to see the importance (and the righteousness) of spiritual reality as against material. In line with this, Marcion denied the Second Coming of Christ. Thus the creation is not to be redeemed. As for the individual, what truly matters is one’s spiritual life, not the life of the body. This well accords with the contemporary passion for finding personal identity, with self-definition put above criticism, and has been called a kind of “new Gnosticism.” The nonjudgmental God of Marcion agrees well with the self-defining self, and the self-defining self agrees well with belief in the self as a spiritual reality, independent of the body. The emphasis on spiritual reality as key in defining the self also ironically makes possible judgments (although necessarily arbitrary and subjective) about who is a person (thus destroying the equality of human beings). Finally, the “new Gnosticism” (and the closely related, if distinct Marcionism) agree with the old Progressive focus of the early twentieth century on education and self-improvement (in contrast to repentance from sin) as the way of salvation.

One aspect of ancient Marcionism might not strike the average person as characteristic of today’s social liberalism. Only the celibate were admitted to baptism, although Marcionism survived for several centuries. But perhaps today’s “progressives” are not as far along in their thinking as Marcion was. Sexual liberation has meant the destruction of the real categories of male and female – perhaps sexual pleasure will eventually be discovered to be inherently dominatory of the “other,” and thus oppressive.

But people in fact do have to acknowledge reality beyond themselves, and their wishes and desires. To have any finally firm footing, we really need basis in a reality beyond this world, and by the grace of God Christians understand that the Holy Spirit led the apostles into all the truth (Jn. 16:13). We know from Jesus Christ that the Holy Spirit spoke in Scripture (Mk. 12:35-37), and thus that in Jesus’ gospel, both testaments are a true revelation from God. The Biblical God is there whether we agree with him or not. He indeed heard the cries of the Israelites in Egypt, but this was important because he was there independently of what we might want. The law he gave as a way to life does not, because of our condition as sinners, give life, but Jesus practically set aside only its ceremonial, not moral, precepts (Mk. 7:1-23).

Jesus’ ethical teachings, starting with the Sermon on the Mount, are taken by modern Marcionites as an attack on authority (religious and otherwise), and as being the true gospel of Jesus. But Jesus’ teachings do not overthrow the Old Testament moral law, nor the commands of Christ himself and the apostles. They are instead commands to piety, humility, obedience, and evangelism. The true gospel is salvation from sin and the wrath of God through Jesus death and resurrection, and requiring repentance from sin for forgiveness of sin (as the Bible defines sin) (Lk. 24:44-49).

When Biblical quotations or ideas drawn from the Bible are used to advance revolution in a “progressive” sense, whether political revolution (twentieth century) or social revolution (twenty-first), a new Marcionite gospel is being advanced, which says that salvation consists in liberation (people getting what they want). Opposition to the gospel of liberation causes “harm,” it is “hurtful,” it is “mean.” But whether people deserve what they want must depend on some standard outside themselves, and the revolutionary gospel recognizes none.

The new Marcionite gospel, when it is heard, must be challenged with the Biblical gospel of deliverance from sin. In the Bible God has compassion on penitent sinners (Lk. 18:10-14), but condemned impenitent sinners (Lk. 13:1-5). It is true that Jesus came to save the world rather than condemn it, but “condemnation” in that sense refers to a judicial sentence. It would have been ludicrous for Jesus to ask the woman taken in adultery whether she had been “condemned,” or for her to respond that no one had “condemned” her if Jesus had only meant accused or threatened. She clearly was condemned in the everyday sense the word is used. Similarly, Jesus also condemned the woman at the well for having had five husbands, living with a man who was not her husband, while he also implicitly rebuked her for not worshiping God in spirit and truth.

In the coming months and the next several years, the ever intensifying political conflict over the true gospel can be expected to reach a fever pitch. Faithful Christians can expect to hear much passion about Jesus as a friend of the oppressed (without mentioning that he said all must repent), one who called out religious authorities (without mentioning that his criticism was of their hypocrisy, not the law of God they advanced), and of God as a God of love and mercy and not severity and condemnation. We have heard it for generations – it is as old as theological liberalism itself, and the gospel of Marcion, arguably the first liberal. But it is crucial, both for the indifferent public that rarely thinks of the Bible, and for young people unfamiliar with the Biblical gospel, to hear the new Marcionite gospel challenged with the truth.

via The Left’s Rival Gospel of Contemporary Marcionism — Juicy Ecumenism

Skillet’s John Cooper Explains Why He Wrote Hard-Hitting Facebook Post on Leaders Rejecting Faith — Faithwire

During an interview with CBN News, John Cooper, the frontman of Christian rock band, “Skillet,” has expanded on his reasons for penning a hard-hitting Facebook post, written in response to a pair of former Christian leaders who have openly rejected their faith.

Two high profile renouncements of faith have shaken the Christian world in recent days, with “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” author Joshua Harris taking the atheist plunge first, followed by Hillsong worship leader Marty Sampson declaring that he is “genuinely losing his faith.”

Speaking to CBN News, Cooper explained that he wrote the post “not to attack anybody,” but because he was “sad and depressed” that people who had influenced his life were falling away from the faith.

“I just want to make a call to the Church to grab hold again to the preeminence of the word of God and the absolute truth that Jesus is the way,” he declared.

Cooper admitted that he did not expect his post to get so widely read when he wrote it out of a place of profound disappointment. “I’m just pleading for the church to come back to the gospel,” he said, “to come back to the truth of the word of God that never changes.”

The rocker also warned against the dangers of Christian celebrity culture, which he said too often champions those with talent, gifting them a huge platform and bestowing upon them an enormous amount of power.

“If you look the right way, if you sing the right way, if you sound the right way, you can become an extremely powerful person in today’s culture,” he said, “because, unfortunately, the church is looking to be entertained.”

While freely admitting that he himself is someone who has been blessed with an influential position (Skillet has sold over 11 million records), Cooper was humble enough to recognize his limitations as a leader. “I don’t want to be the person that people listen to, I want the word of God to do that — there are people who are gifted and anointed from God to share the word… that’s who I want to see us elevate,” he explained.

“Everybody is so confused about what truth is,” Cooper lamented. “And the Church is supposed to be invading culture with the Kingdom of God. Instead, we are letting culture invade the church — that’s not the way we are supposed to do it.”

“Jesus is the only thing in this world that will never change. Everything else is gonna fall away and chance, but His word stands forever.”

You can read Cooper’s original Facebook post in full below:

Ok I’m saying it. Because it’s too important not to. What is happening in Christianity? More and more of our outspoken…

Posted by John L. Cooper on Tuesday, August 13, 2019

via Skillet’s John Cooper Explains Why He Wrote Hard-Hitting Facebook Post on Leaders Rejecting Faith — Faithwire