Daily Archives: September 16, 2019

September 16 Freedom from Feelings

scripture reading: 1 Peter 1:18–23
key verse: John 17:17

Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.

A formidable enemy of the truth of Christ is feelings. You feel unworthy—even though God says you are made in His image (Gen. 1:26–27) and called by His name (Acts 2:21).

You feel insignificant—even though everything you do can be done to the glory of God and used by Him to accomplish His sovereign purposes (Col. 3:17).

You feel unloved—even though God says He cares for you as a shepherd cares for his sheep (John 10:11).

You must learn sooner or later to move past your feelings and instead lean on the indisputable fact of God’s Word. How can you do that?

The best way is to compile a list of Scriptures dealing with the troubling emotions that beset you. If you are depressed, you should take a week or so to find Scripture passages dealing with God’s joy and His comfort. Then you should write them down so that you can carry them with you.

When these feelings assault you, you should turn to the Scriptures and read them aloud. You should tell the Lord Jesus Christ that you choose to believe His truth rather than your emotions. Then you should praise Him for His answer.

Refuse to budge. Your feelings may linger, but they eventually will crumble under the weight of God’s mighty truth.

Father, sometimes I feel unloved, unworthy, and insignificant. But these are only feelings—not facts. I choose to believe Your truth rather than my emotions.[1]


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

Retail Apocalypse: 2019 Store Closures Already Surpass 2018 | ZeroHedge News

As the economy cycles down through fall, there is new, alarming data by professional services firm BDO USA LLP, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, that indicates retail bankruptcies continue to rise as store closures have already outpaced all of 2018. 

BDO warned that the recent acceleration of the retail apocalypse was primarily due to last year’s weak holiday shopping season.

The rate of bankruptcy filings and store closures this year have jumped to crisis levels, expected to continue into 2020.

David Berliner, who leads business restructuring at BDO, said the trend is rather alarming but could slow into late 2019. “I don’t think the pace of the bankruptcy filings will be as large as it was in the first half,” he added.

BDO found many retailers are dealing with massive debt loads, over expansion due to cheap money, private equity-ownership pressures, and changing consumer behavior. It was the weak consumer in the 2018 shopping season that led to the acceleration of store closures in 2019.

Retail sales in 1H19 were lackluster, due to smaller tax refunds for consumers, trade war uncertainties and tariffs, and inclement weather, which forced many retailers to offer significant discounts, according to BDO.

A new BofA credit card report showed more evidence the economy continued to slow this summer. 

BofA found that retail sales ex-autos fell 0.5% MoM in August, which reversed the 0.9% gain in July, and was not only the first monthly contraction since February this year, but was also the biggest monthly drop in 2019.

Aggregated credit card data for August showed 5 out of the 14 sectors increased, led by strength in cruises and airlines. But it was home goods stores, home improvement stores, sporting goods stores, furniture stores, department stores, and clothing stores that posted YoY losses.

In 1H19, 14 retailers with 25 or more stores filed for bankruptcy, including Payless ShoeSource Inc., Gymboree Group Inc., and Charlotte Russe Holdings Corp., BDO determined. That is up from 13 with 20 or more stores in 1H18.

In the last several months, Charming Charlie Holdings Inc., Barneys New York Inc., A’Gaci LLC, and Avenue Stores LLC have also filed for bankruptcy protection.

BDO said 19 retailers have already announced 7,000 store closures in 1H19 – has already exceeded all of 2018. Payless, Gymboree and Charlotte Russe accounted for at least 3,700 of those closings.

In an earlier report, we detailed how Coresight Research forecasted 12,000 stores would close in 2019.

“If the economy does stumble a little bit, things can get painful,” Berliner said.

“That can have a devastating effect on the weak retailers who can’t afford that sales dip in the holiday season.”

And with that being said, the consumer is unlikely to deliver a blockbuster holiday season for retailers this year. This would mean the retail apocalypse could continue into the 2020 election year, could have negative impacts for President Trump.

Source: Retail Apocalypse: 2019 Store Closures Already Surpass 2018

Corruption of the Church: Immigration, money and power — Capstone Report

As the church declines in numbers, Evangelical & Catholic leaders embrace open borders.

Michelle Malkin: “What will turn your stomach and boil your blood is how much of your own money is being used to rob you, your children, and grandchildren of the blessings of liberty.”

Over the last four years, we’ve detailed the dangerous political game unfolding in evangelical churches. With special focus on the Southern Baptist Convention, we’ve reported the link between George Soros funded organizations promoting open borders and the perversion of biblical teachings on nations, sovereignty, immigration and hospitality. With increasing frequency through Bible studies, podcasts and open letters on immigration, the corruption of Big Eva (institutional evangelicalism) is apparent. If you want to know how it happened, how it continues and why it happened, Michelle Malkin provides the answers in her latest book: Open Borders, Inc.: Who’s Funding America’s Destruction?.

I found the book thanks to a recommendation from Sara A. Carter on Twitter.

The book doesn’t disappoint. It covers the business, the political and the ecclesiastical corruption. It examines the dollars used to influence these entities from conservative business leadership, Libertarians like the Koch brothers and progressives like George Soros.

Michelle Malkin penned an extraordinary book exposing the economic roots of American’s immigration crisis. The book summary provided by the publisher hits on something happening in the church. It declares, “Politicians want cheap votes or cheap labor. Church leaders want pew-fillers and collection plate donors. Social justice militants, working with corporate America, want to silence free speech they deem ‘hateful,’ while raking in tens of millions of dollars promoting mass, uncontrolled immigration both legal and illegal.”

When it makes a claim, it delivers the evidence with useful footnotes. And there are many, which show the financial games at play. It took a significant amount of research to prepare something this thorough.

Nothing less than control of the United States is at stake. “Globalists are doing everything in their power to deny President Donald Trump reelection in 2020,” Malkin explains. She continues by pointing out how this happening, which includes online censorship, “Cultural Marxists and Big Tech social justice warriors cannot compete on a level playing field of ideas, so they are rigging the game to prevent online Trump supporters from influencing voters and correcting false narratives.

Malkin outlines the situation, “National sovereignty is an ‘obstacle’ to be ended, not defended. Walls are ‘un-Christian’ (except for the centuries-old fortifications that surround the Vatican and hallowed churches around the world, of course.) Border-trespassing is a human right. Dissent is ‘hate.’ Chaos and destruction are the ultimate goals.”

Of interest to Christians is what is happening in the church. Malkin provides the details of how the Globalists are changing the church:

“Step Two: Infiltrate the churches. Use guilt to pressure good people to abet the Vatican’s pursuit of power around the world. Twist the words of the Bible to defend reckless sanctuary policies and the lucrative refugee resettlement racket. Rake in billions of dollars to help Catholic operators of shelters across Mexico and Central America. Keep the Church’s books closed and the borders open.”

Malkin’s focus is on the corruption of the Roman Catholic Church. It is understandable. She was raised Catholic, and the church is powerful and run by a thinker corrupted by Liberation Theology.

Malkin is careful to point out the differences between the open border fanatic Pope Francis and other Catholic leaders. Malkin writes,

“The late archbishop Cardinal Giacomo Biffi called for careful vetting of immigrants in Italy to preserve its national culture and character. “The criteria for admitting immigrants can never be just economic,” he argued in 2000. “It is necessary to concern oneself seriously with saving the identity of the nation.” No one has a “right of invasion,” he told two hundred priests, in response to a wave of illegal Muslim immigrants and other non-assimilating foreigners. He warned an Italian minister at the time, “If you really have the good of Italy at heart, and want to spare a lot of suffering, then you can’t allow all the immigrants in.”

However, Malkin doesn’t stop with the infiltration of the Catholic Church. She examines the “infamous” Evangelical Immigration Table and its association with the Soros funded National Immigration Forum. She writes,

“Moving forward, NIF allied with religious conservatives to put a holy glow on open borders. Swartz propped up a faux grassroots initiative of religious conservatives, dubbed the Evangelical Immigration Table, to lobby for the infamous Gang of Eight immigration expansion bill.249 NIF’s newly branded initiative, ‘Bibles, Badges, and Business’ (BBB) lobbies for protecting and expanding refugee resettlement, allowing illegal aliens in the military, and expansion of foreign worker programs to maintain the flow of cheap labor to Big Business. While BBB pays lip service to the federal government’s need to enforce our immigration laws, NIF’s executive director Ali Noorani condemns construction of meaningful border walls and traveled to El Paso, Texas, to declare that ‘our southern border is more secure than ever.’”

We’ve detailed a bit about the Bibles, Badges and Business initiative.

So, why are churches embracing open borders? Malkin’s answer is remarkably similar to what we’ve argued. She writes,

“One answer: in North America, the Catholic Church is losing members at a faster rate than any other denomination, which means less money and less political influence for the Church. Another factor is that illegal alien Catholics in the U.S. earn higher wages than they would at home. Their donations in American collection baskets—and their remittances to family members—mean more money for the Church.”

Previously, we’ve argued that Bible Study materials from organizations associated with the Soros funded National Immigration Forum believe the answer to America’s church decline is to import more immigrants. According to the Ruth and Naomi Project Bible Study Guide (produced for Evangelical Christians),

“Immigrant congregations are growing faster than any other segment of Bible-believing churches in the United States. As the National Association of Evangelicals president Leith Anderson says, ‘Church historians will look back to the beginning of the 21st century and say that immigrants saved American Christianity from decline. And they will observe that Hispanics were the majority and epicenter of that historic renewal.’”

This is something frighteningly like what Sovereign Nation’s reported on its The Causes of Things podcast. According to Michael O’Fallon, church planting experts told the Southern Baptist Convention as far back as 2010 that the future of the SBC would not be rural, white congregations, but rather, hip urban congregations serving immigrants. According to the O’Fallon,

“Way back in 2010 at the Southern Baptist Convention at the Rosen Center Hotel, in a meeting I was part of, and picked up the check for a dinner of prominent Southern Baptist men was where I had first heard of the strategy being hatched that would cooperate with the new Open Border Policies of the Barack Obama Administration,” O’Fallon recalled. “The culture was changing and we the church must be relevant in the coming age if we hoped to exist…More importantly illegal migration was happening in unprecedented numbers and it was only going to increase. There was nothing we could do about it….so we might as well participate.”

Why participate? The benefit of new members to offset the decline of the denomination. It is the same message being spread today to the wider church through the Bible study.

This is chilling.

The Roman Catholic Church is run like a big business. That isn’t shocking to us—the descendants of the Reformation. The business of indulgences outraged Luther.

However, now the big business mentality desperate for numbers and more tithes describes Big Eva just as much as the Roman pontiff.

And that love of lucre is corrupting our theology.

Malkin, Michelle. Open Borders Inc.: Who’s Funding America’s Destruction? . Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

via Corruption of the Church: Immigration, money and power — Capstone Report

12 Reasons to Trust The New Testament — Cross Examined – Christian Apologetic Ministry | Frank Turek | Christian Apologetics | Christian Apologetics Speakers

If you claim to believe the Bible, you better be able to trust that what it says is true. Trusting the Bible means knowing two things. First, that the original authors recorded historically accurate information. And, second, knowing that the Bible we have today contains what the original authors wrote down. “Textual criticism” is the science that analyzes these kinds of issues. It’s a complicated discipline. But the conclusions we can draw from it are simple to understand. Here are 12 reasons you can trust the New Testament manuscripts.

12 Reasons to Trust The New Testament

Multiple, Independent Sources Contributed to It

We tend to think of the Bible as a book. And it is … today. But that book is a collection of letters, poems, and historical documents that span thousands of years of human history. There are really 66 books in the Bible. They were written by about 40 different authors (35 of which we are very confident of). And they offer us a remarkably coherent story from beginning to end. We should judge the new testament manuscripts just like we would any other historical document. And one mark of reliable documentation is that it comes from multiple, independent sources.

We Have Thousands of New Testament Manuscripts

When you have lots of copies of a document, it is easy to compare them and see where variations in the text may occur. For instance, we have about 1800 known copies of Homer’s Iliad. This is by far the most copies of any ancient document. By comparison, the next closest is the writings of Demosthenes at 400 copies. Then there are the writings of Julius Caesar (10 copies), and the Roman historians Tacitus (20 copies) and Pliny (7 copies). No one disputes the authenticity of these manuscripts.

But when it comes to the New Testament, we have 5824 copies in the original Greek. When you count other languages (Latin, Syriac, Coptic, and Arabic), there are more than 20,000!

New Testament Scholar Daniel Wallace puts it this way:

“The average classical Greek writer has less than 20 copies of his works still in existence. Stack them up, and they’re 4 feet high. If you stack up copies of the New Testament manuscripts, they would be over a mile high.”

The Manuscripts Were Written Early

We have good evidence to suggest that most of the New Testament was written before 70 A.D. This is not a unanimous conclusion by any means. But it is reasonable. And it is based on historical facts.

After a Jewish uprising against the Romans that began in 66 AD, the Roman Emperor dispatched his General, Titus, to the region to gain control. A conflict ensued that lasted nearly four years. Finally, in 70 AD, Titus surrounded the city of Jerusalem and attacked. In the end, he destroyed the city and burned the Jewish Temple to the ground.

These are not minor incidents. The Temple was the center of the Jewish culture and the home of Judaism. Yet none of the New Testament authors even mention these events. In fact, John 5:2, contains the following passage: “Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate, a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades.”

John’s description of the Temple is in the present tense. This suggests he wrote these words before the Temple was destroyed. And most scholars believe John’s was the last Gospel written. The other Gospels and the Book of Acts were penned well before it.

The Documents Are a Collection of Eyewitness Accounts

There is no denying the New Testament reads like a collection of eyewitness accounts about the life and teachings of Jesus. But that doesn’t mean it is. Details count. And details are exactly what the New Testament provides.

In his book, I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist, Frank Turek lists 84 specific details documented by classical scholar and historian Colin Hemer. And these occur just in the last 16 chapters of the Book of Acts. They include the names of people, places, and other details that have been confirmed by history and archeology.

Likewise, the Gospel of John contains 59 confirmed details. None of them are the kind of detail someone would fabricate. And there is no other set of ancient manuscripts that contain this level of historically verifiable authenticity.

Non-Christian Sources Confirm the Most Important Details

There are 10 non-Christian sources who mention Jesus within 150 years of his life. These people have no motivation to confirm anything about him. But they verify every detail of what the New Testament says about his life, death, and resurrection. By contrast, only 9 non-Christian sources who mention the Roman Emperor of that time, Tiberius Caesar. And, if you count Christian sources, Jesus gets 43 mentions. Tiberius only gets 10.

There is no reason these non-Christian sources would confirm details contained in the New Testament unless they were actually true.

We Can Reconstruct It Using Just Quotes of Early Church Fathers

Writing between about 95 – 110 AD, three leaders of the Christian Church cited nearly the entire New Testament. These early “Church Fathers” (Clement, Ignatius, and Polycarp) quoted every book in the New Testament except Jude and 2 John. And since they were quoting the New Testament letters, this serves as further evidence that those letters must have existed well prior to 100 AD.

Historical and Archeological Evidence Corroborate It

There are 30 characters mentioned in the New Testament whose names and positions have been verified by history and archeology.

For instance, we have the actual burial box (“ossuary”) that contains the bones of the High Priest, Joseph Caiaphas, who sentenced Jesus to death. And we have the infamous “Pilate Stone.” This engraved sign authenticates the name and title of the Roman Prefect who released Jesus to his trial by the Jewish authorities.

There are plenty of other examples where archaeology has corroborated the claims of the New Testament, including:

  • The Pool of Siloam (John 9:1-12) uncovered in 2004.
  • The Pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-9) excavated in 1888.
  • Syrian Governor Quirinius (Luke 2:1-3) name discovered on a coin and a statue
  • King Lysanias (Luke 3:1) listed on an inscription near Damascus

It Fulfills Ancient Prophecies in Amazing Ways

There are 9 specific Old Testament prophecies that foretell the origin, nature, and life of Jesus of Nazareth. These were written between several hundred and a couple of thousand years before his birth. Yet, they predict the events of his life with deadly accuracy. Daniel 7, Psalm 22, and Isaiah 53 all contain prophecies about his birth, death, and resurrection. These are so accurate many thought they were written after the fact. But the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 put that notion to rest.

In all, Bible scholar J. Barton Payne identified 71 Old Testament prophecies that were fulfilled by Jesus Christ.

It Contains Embarrassing Details

If you were going to make up or embellish a story about a heroic figure and his henchmen, you certainly wouldn’t include details that embarrassed them. But that’s just what the New Testament manuscripts do. His followers are bumbling fools and cowards who doubt his teachings. His disciples — even his own family — consider Jesus to be out of his mind and a deceiver. Some call him a “drunkard” and “demon-possessed.” But, most amazingly, he suffers the worst kind of defeat any devout Jew could ever imagine. He is hung on a tree (the ultimate curse in the Jewish culture) and killed.

These are not the kind of things that anyone would use to convince you that their hero was a God. They are the kinds of things that a writer includes because he is documenting events that actually occurred.

It Includes the Difficult Sayings of Jesus

Along the same lines, the New Testament writers make Jesus a very difficult figure to serve. He sets new — and unattainable — standards for justice, judgment, lust, marriage, finances, and love. Try to imagine a salesman or storyteller who exhorts you to follow him by imposing those kinds of standards on others. It just makes no sense. Unless the writers were telling the truth.

A “Chain of Custody” Confirms The Content of the Originals

The Monastery of Saint Catherine contains the oldest known complete copy of the New Testament. This manuscript is called Codex Sinaiticus because the monastery was located on the Sinai peninsula. Scholars have dated it to 350 AD.

That’s great. But how do we know it contains what the original authors wrote?

J. Warner Wallace, a retired Los Angeles cold-case detective, applies his methods for evaluating evidence to the biblical manuscripts. In his book, Cold-Case Christianity, Wallace connects the dots between the New Testament authors (Paul, John, Peter, Mark) and their students that leads directly to Codex Sinaiticus. Wallace shows that we have a reliable chain of evidence between the words of the oldest copy of the New Testament and the men who wrote the words contained in it.

It Contains “Undesigned Coincidences” That Verify Its Authenticity

One of the most powerful ways to tell if a story is authentic is to compare how different eyewitnesses tell it. If the accounts are exactly the same, you suspect collusion. If they’re wildly contradictory, you suspect that somebody is lying or that the story just isn’t true. But when two accounts tell the same story from different points of view, that is the hallmark of authenticity. This is especially true if one version inadvertently provides complementary details to another. Some scholars call these “undesigned coincidences.”

As an example, compare Matthew’s account of Jesus’ appearance before the Sanhedrin in Matthew 26:67-68. After they spit in his face, strike him with their fists, and slap him, they say, “Prophesy to us, Christ. Who hit you?” That’s a weird question to ask someone who you just slapped across the face.

Until you read Luke’s account.

In Luke 22:64, we find out that before the Jewish leaders began questioning Jesus, they blindfolded him.

This is a “coincidence” that no one planned. It’s a powerful indication that the accounts are real. And the Bible is littered with these kinds of harmonizing features. Links to detailed resources about these “undesigned coincidences” are available below.

The New Testament Verifies the Old Testament

The reliability of the New Testament is beyond dispute. And that means we can trust its purpose — to give an account of the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus is exactly who he said he was. His resurrection confirmed it. And Jesus certifies what the Old Testament says. That means the Old Testament is also reliable for many of the same reasons.

There are plenty of resources (some offered below) that give more detail about these issues. Check them out. Study them.

You can have confidence in the fact that there are plenty of reasons we can trust the New Testament. And knowing why that is true goes a long way toward helping you own your faith.

Resources

Books on “Undesigned Scriptural Coincidences”

Lydia McGrew, Hidden In Plain View: Undesigned Coincidences in the Gospels and Acts

Eric Lounsbery, J. J. Blunt’s Undesigned Scriptural Coincidences

Books On the Reliability of the Bible

Walter C. Kaiser, The Old Testament Documents: Are They Reliable and Relevant?
F. F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?
Mark D. Roberts, Can We Trust The Gospels?

Recommended resources related to the topic:

The New Testament: Too Embarrassing to Be False by Frank Turek (DVD, Mp3 and Mp4)

Why We Know the New Testament Writers Told the Truth by Frank Turek (DVD, Mp3 and Mp4)

The Top Ten Reasons We Know the NT Writers Told the Truth by Frank Turek (Mp3)


Bob Perry is a Christian apologetics writer, teacher, and speaker who blogs about Christianity and the culture at: truehorizon.org. He is a Contributing Writer for the Christian Research Journal, and has also been published in Touchstone, and Salvo. Bob is a professional aviator with 37 years of military and commercial flying experience. He has a B.S., Aerospace Engineering from the U. S. Naval Academy, and a M.A., Christian Apologetics from Biola University. He has been married to his high school sweetheart since 1985. They have five grown sons.

via 12 Reasons to Trust The New Testament — Cross Examined – Christian Apologetic Ministry | Frank Turek | Christian Apologetics | Christian Apologetics Speakers

16 september (1855) 365 Days with Spurgeon

Storming the battlements

“Go ye up upon her walls, and destroy; but make not a full end; take away her battlements; for they are not the Lord’s.” Jeremiah 5:10

suggested further reading: Galatians 5:25–6:5

We sometimes trust too much in evidences and good works. Ralph Erskine did not say amiss when he remarked, “I have got more hurt by my good works than my bad ones.” That seems something like Antinomianism, but it is true; we find it so by experience. “My bad works,” said Erskine, “Always drove me to the Saviour for mercy; my good works often kept me from him, and I began to trust in myself.” Is it not so with us? We often get a pleasing opinion of ourselves; we are preaching so many times a week; we attend so many prayer meetings; we are doing good in the Sabbath-school; we are valuable deacons; important members of the church; we are giving away so much in charity; and we say, “Surely I am a child of God—I must be. I am an heir of heaven. Look at me! See what robes I wear. Have I not indeed a righteousness about me that proves me to be a child of God?” Then we begin to trust in ourselves, and say, “Surely I cannot be moved; my mountain stands firm and fast.” Do you know what is the usual rule of heaven when we boast? Why the command is given to the foe—“Go up against him; take away his battlements; for they are not the Lord’s.” And what is the consequence? Why, perhaps God suffers us to fall into sin, and down goes self-sufficiency. Many a Christian owes his falls to a presumptuous confidence in his graces. I conceive that outward sin is not more abhorred by our God than this most wicked sin of reliance on ourselves. May none of you ever learn your own weakness by reading a black book of your own backslidings.

for meditation: If pride and boasting are listed as sins of the unbeliever (Romans 1:30; 2 Timothy 3:2), they are just as much sins when the believer falls into them. Our good works should lead others to glorify God (Matthew 5:16) and should surely have the same effect upon us.

sermon no. 38[1]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H., & Crosby, T. P. (1998). 365 Days with Spurgeon (Volume 1) (p. 266). Leominster, UK: Day One Publications.

Monday Briefing September 16, 2019 – AlbertMohler.com

PART I

 Drone Strike in Saudi Arabia: Remember, The World is a Dangerous Place

PART II

 Generation 9/11: The Cold War Generation Gives Way to Generation War on Terror

PART III

 The Horrifying Nature of the War on the Unborn: The Remains of At Least 2,246 Aborted Babies Found at the Home of Infamous Indiana Abortion Doctor

PART IV

 Can Our Society Even Recognize Murder? The Life of the Born Cannot Be Safe When the Life of the Unborn Is Not


DOCUMENTATION AND ADDITIONAL READING

PART I

NEW YORK TIMES

 Two Major Saudi Oil Installations Hit by Drone Strike, and U.S. Blames Iran, by Ben Hubbard, Palko Karasz and Stanley Reed

PART II

WALL STREET JOURNAL

 The 9/11 Generation Comes of Age, by Garrett M. Graff

PART III

PART IV

16 SEPTEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Trusting that Jesus Will Return

When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thessalonians 1:7–8

suggested further reading: Matthew 25:1–13

One of the articles of our faith is that Christ will come again to earth from heaven. He will not come in vain, so in faith we ought to seek the purpose of his coming, which is to come as Redeemer to his own people and to judge the whole world.

The description in our text is given so the pious may understand that God is much more concerned about their afflictions than he is about the dreadfulness of the judgment that awaits his enemies.

One chief occasion of our grief and distress is that we think God is only lightly affected with our calamities. We see how David breaks forth in complaints from time to time when he is consumed by the pride and insolence of his enemies. Hence the apostle brings forward this description of heaven for the consolation of believers. He represents the tribunal of Christ as full of horror so believers may not be disheartened by their present condition of oppression, in which they are proudly and disdainfully trampled upon by the wicked.

What is to be the nature of that flaming fire, and of what materials, I leave to the disputations of people with foolish curiosity. I am content with affirming what Paul had in view to teach: that Christ will be a most strict avenger of the injuries that the wicked inflict upon us. The metaphor of flame and fire (verse 8), however, is abundantly common in Scripture in describing the anger of God.

By mighty angels, Paul means those in whom Christ will exercise his power, for he will bring angels with him to display the glory of his kingdom. Hence, they are elsewhere called the angels of his majesty.

for meditation: Though some believers are overly fascinated with the details of the Lord’s Second Coming, many pay little attention to it and live as if it will not happen. Many people already in New Testament times voiced doubts. Why hadn’t Jesus returned as he said he would? they asked. Yet the Second Coming is one of the articles of our faith and we must wait for it, patiently praying that he will come quickly.[1]


[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 278). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

How Do I Know That God Is for Me? | Ligonier Ministries Blog

God has promised to work everything together for the good of His people. If God is for us, it follows that, ultimately, nothing can stand against us. That is logical. Otherwise, God would not be God. If something could rise up against God and overcome Him, that other thing would be God. God would then prove to be a false god—no God at all. But on the contrary Paul is saying that in the last analysis, nothing can be against us if God is for us.

But this raises the million-dollar question: “Is God for me?” Perhaps even more pointed is the personal question:

“How do I know that God is for me?”

Well, do you know that? How do you know?

Satan is very insistent about this—indeed, he has been insistent on this question from the beginning. He asked it in the Garden of Eden. In fact, his first recorded words are an assault on God’s gracious character (will we never learn how much he hates God and His people?): “Did God put you in this lavish garden and forbid you to eat from any of its trees? What kind of God does that? You don’t think He is really for you, do you, if He does that kind of thing?” (see Gen. 3:1).

You will find this innuendo repeated in various forms and guises throughout your Christian life. You need to have biblical answers to these questions:

  • How do you know God is really for you?
  • Where should you look for the proof that God is for you? Does it lie in the fact that your Christian life has been unbroken happiness? Does it lie in the fact that your Christian life been one of ecstatic joy?

There is only one irrefutable answer to these questions. It cannot be found in our circumstances. It lies only in the provision that God has made for us in Jesus Christ.

This is the whole point of Paul’s question in verse 32. We can be sure that God is for us because this God, the God of the Bible, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up to the cross for us all.

If this is true, Paul affirms, we can be confident He will give us everything we will ever need.

This is the only sure way we can know that God is for us.

Frequently in the closing pages of the Gospel records we are told that the Lord Jesus Christ was “delivered up” (e.g., Matt. 26:15; 27:2, 18, 26). He was handed over by one person or group to another until eventually He was handed over by Pilate to be crucified as a criminal.

But Paul understood that behind every human “handing over” was the purpose of the heavenly Father. He “handed over” (it is the same verb) His own Son to bear the condemnation due to sinners.

Here is the heart of the plan of God and the wonder of the gospel. The best of all men dies as though He were the worst of all criminals. This is not merely a matter of human wickedness destroying a good man. It is the heart of the purpose of God, as Isaiah had long before prophesied (Isa. 53:4–6, 10).

Behind the handing over of the Lord Jesus—by Judas Iscariot, by Herod, by the priests, by Pontius Pilate—stood the purposes of His heavenly Father handing Him over to the cross in order to die in the place of sinners. He bore God’s judgment and wrath against our sin.

What inexpressible love this is.

— Read on www.ligonier.org/blog/how-do-i-know-god-me/

September 16 – Living with liars — Reformed Perspective

Whose mouth speaks vain words, And whose right hand is a hand of falsehood. – Psalm 144:8

Scripture reading: Psalm 144

The Lord’s Day was a blessing – and we needed it. Perhaps you heard exactly what you needed to hear, sang a song your heart really needed, or maybe your experience of God’s grace in a sacrament nourished your heart. But now it’s Monday. Great, back to the land of liars. Oh, is that too harsh? So, the Bible is wrong? Man has “progressed” as the liberals and evolutionists want us to believe? We know the Bible is not wrong and we know that we go back to work among those who are not guilt-stricken when they lie or break a promise. Now what?

Now we are in the day of opportunity! We know it’s wrong to lie, we know God would have us tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth….and that means we get to tell them of Jesus Christ, the way, the truth and the life! Monday is evangelism day. Monday is “tell the truth day.” Try these three ideas: First, tell them, truthfully, that you actually do care about them and their troubles. Most unbelievers will be shocked out of their socks to hear someone does love them. Second, tell them that the whole Bible is true. Don’t argue, just tell. The Holy Spirit will do His work. Third, tell them that you will pray for them. The truth will win out over all lies and we are blessed to be the people of the truth. Speak truth in love.

Suggestions for prayer

Ask God to give you love and concern for your unbelieving neighbor.

This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Harold Miller is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) of Kansas City, Missouri.

via September 16 – Living with liars — Reformed Perspective

US said to accuse Iran of launching cruise missiles, drones at Saudi oil sites | The Times of Israel

Senior administration official says Trump wants Riyadh to acknowledge Tehran behind strikes if it wants help from US

U.S. officials building a case against Iran after massive attack on Saudi | The Jerusalem post

Attack on Saudi was large and sophisticated, satellite images show, and involved numerous drones.

Satellite images released by US officials on Sunday showed the extent of damage on Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq oil processing facility and at Khurais oil field. The images published on Sunday evening clearly show seventeen points of impact on key infrastructure, the US says.

Of note are four points of impact on liquefied petroleum gas storage tanks. This shows extreme precision on the part of the drones or cruise missiles used to strike the oil facilities. ABC News reported on Monday morning that officials now believe a dozen cruise missiles and 20 drones were involved in the attack. This attack is now so sophisticated that the ability of Yemen’s Houthis to carry it out seems unlikely, despite their claim of responsibility. The Houthis are a key ally of Iran. The US has said there is no evidence the strike came from Yemen, which is more than 1,200km away. This means the strike was launched from much closer to the facilities.

Now US President Donald Trump says that Washington is awaiting word from Saudi Arabia and that the US is “locked and loaded.” But the tensions that are rising in the Persian Gulf must be weighed against fears by US allies and the international community that the precision strikes are only the tip of the iceberg. The ability to launch 20 drones and a dozen missiles deep into Saudi territory, within 100km of US bases in Bahrain and elsewhere, is not only a massive escalation, but also means US forces could be targeted.

The developing nightmare for US policymakers and their allies is trying to thread the needle on how to respond. If they say they are “locked and loaded” but once again do not respond, as Trump refrained from doing in June after a US drone was shot down, then the bluff would have been called. But if they respond they risk a regional war stretching from the Gulf of Oman to Iraq and the Persian Gulf.

The US has blamed Iran for sabotaging six oil tankers, for mortars and rockets fired near US bases in Iraq and for the recent attack. In fact the US has now accused Iran of more than 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia. Now all eyes turn to the Kingdom to see how Riyadh will move.

— Read on m.jpost.com/Middle-East/US-officials-building-a-case-against-Iran-after-massive-attack-on-Saudi-601827

September 16, 2019 Morning Verse Of The Day

Positive Hope in Jesus Christ

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”—in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (3:13–14)

Turning again to the positive, Paul reminds the Jewish believers in Galatia of the fact that Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having been a curse for us.

Redeemed is from exagorazō, a word commonly used of buying a slave’s freedom. Christ justifies those who believe in Him by buying them back from their slavery to sin. The price He paid was the only one high enough to redeem all of mankind, the “precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Pet. 1:19).

The curse of the Law was the punishment demanded because no man could keep from violating its demands, but Christ took that curse upon Himself as a substitute for sinners and became a curse for us in His crucifixion, for it is written (Deut. 21:23), “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.”

In ancient Judaism a criminal who was executed, usually by stoning, was then tied to a post, a type of tree, where his body would hang until sunset as a visible representation of rejection by God. It was not that a person became cursed by being hanged on a tree but that he was hanged on a tree because he was cursed. Jesus did not become a curse because He was crucified but was crucified because he was cursed in taking the full sin of the world upon Himself. “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed” (1 Pet. 2:24; cf. Acts 5:30).

That truth was extremely hard for most Jews to accept, because they could not imagine the Messiah’s being cursed by God and having to hang on a tree. First Corinthians 12:3 suggests that “Jesus is accursed” was a common, demon-inspired saying among unbelieving Jews of that day. To them, Jesus’ crucifixion was final and absolute proof that He was not the promised Messiah.

But for those who trust in Him, the two words for us become the two most beautiful words in all of Scripture. Because God sent His Son to bear the penalty for man’s sin, every person who puts his trust in the crucified Savior has had the curse borne for him.

Jesus’ sacrifice was total and for all men, in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. On man’s part, the curse is lifted by faith, which God, on His part and by grace, counts as righteousness on the believer’s behalf, and the river of blessing begins to flow as the rushing water of God’s grace engulfs the believer. Jesus Christ bore the curse, Paul affirms, to bring the blessing of Abraham … to the Gentiles. Salvation was for the purpose of God’s blessing the world. All that God desired for and promised to Abraham of salvation and its benefits would spread to the nations. A coordinate purpose clause is added—so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith (cf. Acts 1:4–5; Eph. 1:13), who comes as the resident, indwelling Person to bless us with power.

All of this blessing is through faith. Justifying faith involves self-renunciation, putting away all confidence in one’s own merit and works. Like the Israelites who had Pharaoh’s pursuing army behind them and the impassable Red Sea in front of them, the sinner must acknowledge his sinfulness and his total inability to save himself. When he sees God’s justice pursuing him and God’s judgment ahead of him, he realizes his helplessness in himself and realizes he has nowhere to turn but to God’s mercy and grace.

Justifying faith also involves reliance on and submission to the Lord. When a sinner sees that he has no way to escape and no power in his own resources, he knows he must rely on God’s provision and power. Finally, justifying faith involves appropriation, as the sinner gratefully receives the free gift of pardon Christ offers and submits to His authority.

Justifying faith does not have to be strong faith; it only has to be true faith. And true faith not only brings salvation to the believer but glory to the One who saves.

When a person receives Christ as Lord and Savior, he receives the promised blessing and the promised Spirit, which Paul describes in Ephesians as being “blessed … with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (1:3). This blessing gives a testimony of praise to “the glory of His grace” (1:6). God receives glory when His attributes are on display, and nowhere is His grace more evident than in the sending of His only Son to be crucified on man’s behalf, the Sinless paying the debt of the sinful. Believers are “raised … up with Him, and seated … with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward [them] in Christ Jesus” (2:6–7).

Men are redeemed in order to exhibit God’s majestic being before all creation. His supreme purpose is to demonstrate His glorious grace against the backdrop of man’s sinfulness, lostness, and hopelessness. The very purpose of the church is to “stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy” and to praise “the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, … [for His] glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever” (Jude 24–25).[1]


13  (a) Christ in his death is described as “having become a curse” (RSV, NASB)—a conclusion Paul arrives at by the use of the rabbinic exegetical principle of “equal category” (already mentioned in regard to v. 12), which in the present instance works in the following manner. In the LXX both Dt. 27:26 (quoted in v. 10) and Dt. 21:23 (quoted in v. 13) begin with words based on the same verbal stem (“curse”): 27:26 pronounces a curse (epikataratos, verbal adjective) upon everyone who fails to render perfect obedience to the law, and 21:23 declares to be accursed (kekatēramenos, perfect participle) everyone who hangs upon a tree (or pole). By bringing these two texts together and interpreting the latter in terms of the former, Paul understands Jesus’ death on the cross (to which a curse was attached according to Dt. 21:23) as a bearing of the curse of God incurred (according to Dt. 27:26) by all who fail to continue in obedience to the law.

In its original OT context the “hanging” doe not refer to hanging as a means of execution but to the hanging of a body on a tree or stake (cf. Dt. 21:22) after execution in some other way, in order to expose the condemned to shame. But in its application to Jesus the “hanging” obviously refers to crucifixion. This, however, is consonant with the fact that already “in many OT passages the Heb. tlh does not refer to the supplementary Heb. punishment but to the customs of hanging, impaling and crucifixion customary elsewhere” and with the application in Jewish law of the principle of Dt. 21:22f. to the hanging of both living persons and of corpses.

The word “curse” in the expression “having become a curse” is evidently used by metonymy: Christ “became a curse” in the sense that he submitted to the curse pronounced by the law of God, or it could be an instance of abstractum pro concreto: “curse” = “bearer of the curse.” It is significant that Paul avoids using of Christ the expression that is used in the LXX of Dt. 21:23 (“accursed by God”): the implication of such an expression would conflict with Paul’s view of Christ’s death as his supreme act of obedience to God’s redemptive will (cf. Rom. 5:19; 2 Cor. 5:19).

(b) Christ’s submission to the curse is said to be “for our sake” or “for us” (RSV). The personal pronoun “us” (hēmōn) is understood by some as referring to Jews only. But it probably includes Gentiles as well, since both alike fail to keep the law perfectly and therefore stand under the curse which the law pronounces; if Gentiles do not possess the Mosaic law (cf. “Gentile sinners,” 2:16), they nevertheless have the equivalent of the law within their hearts and consciences and are in principle subject to its curse (cf. Rom. 2:12–15). It would seem, therefore, an inadequate explanation of Paul’s meaning to say that “it is by the deliverance of Israel from the curse of the Law that God made it possible for the blessing promised to Abraham to extend to the Gentiles”; rather, the Gentiles must themselves be redeemed from the curse before they can receive the blessing of Abraham.64 Moreover, the “we” of v. 14b, which picks up the “us” and “our” of v. 13a, surely includes “the Gentiles” of v. 14a, thus confirming that v. 13a already has Gentiles as well as Jews in view. “For our sake” renders a Greek phrase (hyper hēmōn) which in itself need not mean any more than “on our behalf”; the sense “in our place,” however, is conceded by many scholars as at least a derived meaning warranted here by the context.

(c) By submitting to the curse of the law on behalf of his people, both Jew and Gentile, Christ redeemed them from the law’s curse and condemnation. He neutralized the curse for them, so that they, on whom the curse rightfully falls because of their failure to keep the law, now become free from both its demands and its curse. Christ was able to neutralize the curse because in his death he satisfied the claim of the law by fulfilling it in his life, so that “this liberation from the curse of the Law … confers both an actual and also a legally established freedom.”

Verse 13 thus represents Christ’s death as a vicarious bearing of the curse of the law which delivers his people from the same curse. This is in simple terms Paul’s Christian interpretation of Christ’s death on the cross.69 Like the early disciples before him, after his conversion Paul had to rethink the meaning of the cross. The confession of Jesus’ messiahship involved in his conversion (cf. 2 Cor. 5:16; see above on 1:16a) made it imperative for Paul to explain Jesus’ accursed death on the cross in a way consistent with his glorious resurrection and exaltation; this Paul does by means of the exegetical device explained above.

It has rightly been said that “this use of the text of Deuteronomy [21:23] might be described as a brilliant controversial device.” But it would be wrong to think of Paul’s initial development of it only in connection with controversy. He must have made use of this text himself to refute the early Christians’ claim of a crucified Messiah; now that he was forced by the evidence of Jesus’ resurrection to acknowledge that claim, he was compelled to reconcile its validity with the judgment of the law in Deuteronomy. The solution to the scandal of the cross found in our passage must therefore have occurred to him sooner rather than later in his Christian life. As H. R. Mackintosh put it, “He had no need to await the outburst of controversy; he had a Judaist in his own heart, with whom from the outset he was bound to reach an understanding.”71[2]


13–14 Relying on works of the Torah as the path to righteousness and life, or putting oneself under the yoke of Torah on this side of the Christ event, is ultimately contrary to God’s purposes in Christ—purposes achieved only at the greatest and grisliest cost to Jesus himself: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Torah by becoming a curse on our behalf (because it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone left hanging upon a tree’) in order that the blessing of Abraham might come to the nations in Christ Jesus, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through trust.” Paul speaks here about the purposes of Christ’s death and thereby the benefits that Christ’s death have brought—benefits that are jeopardized where “grace” is set aside (2:21). To prefer slavery to liberation won at great cost alienates the liberator (5:2–4).

Paul quotes an excerpt from Deut 21:22–23, a regulation originally limiting the amount of time an executed criminal’s body should be displayed on a tree or a pole to further degrade that criminal and serve as a warning to others. The regulation stipulated that the body of the deceased criminal was to be buried before nightfall, so as not to defile the land of Israel, “because anyone hung on a tree is under God’s curse” (Deut 21:23 NRSV). Curiously, we do not find Jewish authors connecting the victims of crucifixion with this verse, deducing therefrom that they die accursed. Philo and Josephus refer frequently to crucifixion—Philo, five times (Flaccus 72, 83); Josephus, seventeen times (Antiquities 13.380–81; War 5.449–51), never speaking of the victims as cursed. Blame falls instead upon the perpetrators of these executions: upon Flaccus, Alexander Jannaeus, and the soldiers who crucified refugees fleeing Jerusalem during the siege. Even in the Testimonium Flavianum, the somewhat doctored reference to Jesus in Josephus, there is no mention of curse. Pesher Nahum (4QpNahum fragments 3–4, col. 1, lines 7–8) also recalls the acts of Alexander Jannaeus, who crucified 800 of his enemies (presumably Pharisees, as that party opposed him most virulently), but this text envisions God vindicating the victims against Alexander Jannaeus’s heirs. The Testament of Moses (6.9; 8.1) also speaks sympathetically of faithful Jews who are the victims of crucifixion, clearly not cursed by God for standing by the covenant and being “hung on a tree” as a result. The Temple Scroll, by contrast, does apply Deut 21:22–23 to crucifixion, reversing the order of the killing and the hanging, such that the hanging now becomes the mode of execution (11QTemple 64.6–13). This is perhaps the only text that understands both the “hanging” (on a cross) to indicate the mode of death and God’s curse to fall upon the victim as a result. Crucified Jews were otherwise not widely viewed as automatically cursed apart from the justice of their sentence and execution—hence, the fact that they had indeed been transgressors of such a kind as merited capital punishment and postmortem degradation.88

There is therefore almost no evidence that Deut 21:22–23 figured prominently in Jewish criticism of Christians and their Messiah. It may have been sufficiently problematic that the one proclaimed by Christians as Messiah had been subjected to suffering, degradation, and death, without critics also feeling the need to bring up (or perhaps not perceiving the possibility of applying) Deut 21:22–23. These verses, however, do rise to the fore in Christian texts, which focused in some instances not on the fact of the curse but on the command to bury the crucified victim the same day (as in John 19:31). The passage is also referred to obliquely in Acts 5:30; 10:39; 13:29, texts that focus on Jesus’s innocence. In the resurrection of Jesus, God had personally intervened to vindicate Jesus as righteous (hence not guilty of the capital crime for which he was executed) and not as accursed, overturning the verdict of the Jewish authorities, the Roman enforcers, and (in Christian discourse) the Torah itself.

Paul may introduce the quotation here not because of popular anti-Christian application calling for rebuttal, but because it affords him an opportunity to demonstrate how Jesus’s death announces an end to the rule of the law and its power to curse. The principle of gezera shawa is again operative in the selection and juxtaposition of Deut 21:23 and Deut 27:26:

Cursed is everyone who … (Deut 27:26).

Cursed is everyone who … (Deut 21:23).

Christ suffered crucifixion—was hung upon a tree—so as to die accursed under the Torah, specifically in order to redeem all those who had been born under the threat of Torah’s curse (or who, because of their actual disobedience during their lives, suffered the curse itself). The word translated “redeem” probably carries the sense of “secure the rights to someone by paying a price,” as in the purchase or sacral manumission of a slave.92 The use of this verb anticipates Paul’s depiction of life under Torah as a form of slavery (3:23–25; 4:1–4; 4:21–5:1). Christ made himself an “exchange curse” for all who lived under the threat of curse and brought the authority of Torah to an end by buying out all who lived under its jurisdiction. With the term of Torah—that which separated Jew from gentile—ended, God would now deliver the blessing, promised through Abraham, to “all the nations,” Jewish and gentile alike (3:14).

When Paul speaks of Christ as cursed by virtue of hanging upon a cross, it is unclear whom he regards to be doing the cursing. He has omitted the phrase “by God” in his citation of Deut 21:23, which may be an indication of his desire to suggest that not God, but Torah, pronounces Jesus accursed. As a result, Torah itself would appear to have been ranged against God and God’s Messiah by virtue of pronouncing the latter “cursed” when, in fact, he was the first human being to experience the ultimate blessing of resurrection from the dead (the sign of God’s vindication of the righteous person). It is also possible, however, that Paul assumes—and knows that his readers would assume—the curse pronounced in Torah to be pronounced by God. In this case, Paul would regard Jesus as willingly enduring God’s curse in order to redeem those laboring under the curse of the law, with God, however, nevertheless also affirming Jesus to have been righteous and to have died to advance God’s own salvific purposes for all peoples. In either understanding, returning to the Torah-observant way of life as a means to acquittal before God entails placing oneself back under the slavish existence from which Christ redeemed that individual by dying accursed on the cross—and thus also entails a “setting aside of God’s favor” (2:21), a repudiation of this death on the person’s behalf by repudiating its beneficial consequences.[3]


Christ a curse for us (v. 13)

In what is without question one of the most remarkable statements in the New Testament on the death of Christ, Paul says in verse 13, ‘Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” ’ (ESV). The cross was a scene of redemption, an idea with which Paul’s first-century readers were more familiar than we are today. To redeem someone (a slave, for example) was to secure his or her freedom by the payment of a price. And it was in order to redeem us, to secure our freedom from the curse of the law, that Jesus died on Calvary.

What a price he paid for it! He redeemed us from the curse of the law, says Paul, by ‘becoming a curse for us’ (v. 13). The penalty of our law-breaking was transferred to him. For a wrath-deserving people he became the wrath-bearer, an accursed one, bearing the curse that should have been borne by us.

In confirmation of that, Paul quotes yet another Old Testament Scripture (Deut. 21:23): ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.’ When a criminal under Old Testament law was put to death by being hanged on a tree it pointed to the fact that he or she was under the curse of God. The nailing of Jesus to the cross symbolized the very same thing. Frequently in the New Testament the cross of Calvary is thought of and spoken of as a tree (Acts 5:30; 13:29; 1 Peter 2:24). That is because the Christ who died there was under the curse of God—redeeming us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.[4]


3:13 / Paul believes that the change in the relationship between law and faith within Judaism results from Christ’s death, which Paul interprets in various ways throughout his letters. As M. D. Hooker has noted, none of the images Paul uses to speak about the cross “is complete in itself” (Not Ashamed of the Gospel: New Testament Interpretation of the Death of Christ [Carlisle: Paternoster, 1994], p. 45). Here it serves the apostle’s purpose to interpret Christ’s death as one in which Christ became a curse. This description should be understood in the context of the following scriptural quotation. Paul uses metonymy: Christ did not become as the law is (the curse of the law); Christ took on the position of those under the law—he became accursed. Citing Deuteronomy 21:23, Paul describes Christ’s death as one who was accursed, cut off from his people and from God. This place of curse is one that Paul and others were in until Christ redeemed them. Through his death Christ delivered believers from the “curse of the law” and thereby severed the relationship between faith in him and law. There is no need to follow law, for those who believe in Christ are released from law.

The quotation from Deuteronomy 21:23 contains the word “curse,” as did the first quotation (3:10, citing Deut. 27:26). In the scriptural context of each quotation the word “curse” indicates exclusion from the community. In Deuteronomy 27:26 all the people say “amen” to the curse, thereby affirming their stand against the behavior cursed and their willingness to shun anyone disobeying the law. The context of the Deuteronomy 21:23 quote is instruction about the burial of a criminal’s corpse: when someone is convicted of a crime punishable by death and so executed and hung on a tree, the corpse must not remain all night upon the tree but should be buried that day, for “anyone hung on a tree is under God’s curse.” The exposed corpse of a dead criminal would defile the land God gives as an inheritance. The language of curse in relation to Christ’s death serves Paul’s point of emphasizing that through the Galatians’ faith in the death of Christ (3:1) they already are descendants of Abraham (3:7). He affirms that Christ’s death released believers from the curse of potentially being excluded from the people of God and effected inclusion within the people of God for those in Christ.

Paul’s use of Deuteronomy 21:23, in which the cursed person is a criminal deserving death, and his statement that Christ’s death was in our stead (for us), make plain that Paul thinks that Christ died for our sins. Nevertheless, Paul does not say explicitly that Christ died for our sins; he does not state directly that Christ’s death was a “sin offering” (cf. Rom. 8:3–4). The mechanics of salvation are beyond the rational realm. It is probably best to take Paul’s words as metaphorical. He seeks to explain his conviction that Christ’s death has effected the end of the law and opened the way for all to benefit from being the people of God. Paul’s focus is not on the manner in which Christ’s death made salvation available but on the fact that salvation is in Christ, apart from the law, and that those who believe in Christ are now incorporated into Christ.

Paul’s use of the first person plural pronoun us does not indicate that the Galatians had been following the Jewish law before they came to faith in Christ. In fact, we know that they had been pagans (4:8). Rather, Paul is describing the stages of God’s salvation plan, which he will describe in more depth in the subsequent verses. Before Christ everyone, Jew and pagan, was in slavery to the law (cf. 3:23), for whether one was a Jew or a pagan, there was no other way to deal with sin than through the law one knew (cf. Rom. 2:14). The ancient world understood law in a general sense to be that which reflected justice. As Aristotle says, “ ‘The just’ therefore means that which is lawful or that which is equal and fair” (Eth. nic. 5.1.8 [Rackham, LCL]). Law was a way of measuring and achieving justice. By broadening the field to speak about law in general Paul asserts that the Galatians have already followed the law. This is an effective rhetorical strategy, for the conclusion is plain that through believing in Christ crucified (cf. 3:1), the Galatians have already once turned from following law.[5]


The Alternative of Faith (verses 13, 14)

This second alternative introduces Jesus Christ. It tells us that Jesus Christ has done for us on the cross what we could not do for ourselves. The only way to escape the curse is not by our work, but by His. He has redeemed us, ransomed us, set us free from the awful condition of bondage to which the curse of the law had brought us. Verse 13: Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us. These are astonishing words. As Bishop Blunt put it: ‘the language here is startling, almost shocking. We should not have dared to use it. Yet Paul means every word of it.’ In its context, in which it must be read, the phrase can mean only one thing, for the ‘curse’ of verses 10 and 13 is evidently the same curse. The ‘curse of the law’ from which Christ redeemed us must be the curse resting upon us for our disobedience (verse 10). And He redeemed us from it by ‘becoming a curse’ Himself. The curse was transferred from us to Him. He took it voluntarily upon Himself, in order to deliver us from it. It is this ‘becoming a curse for us’ which explains the awful cry of dereliction, of God-forsakenness, which He uttered from the cross.

Paul now adds a scriptural confirmation of what he has just said about the cross. He quotes Deuteronomy 21:23: for it is written, ‘Cursed be every one who hangs on a tree’ (verse 13b). Every criminal sentenced to death under the Mosaic legislation and executed, usually by stoning, was then fixed to a stake or ‘hanged on a tree’ as a symbol of his divine rejection. Dr. Cole says the quotation means ‘not … that a man is cursed by God because he is hanged, but that death by hanging was the outward sign in Israel of a man who was thus cursed’. The fact that the Romans executed by crucifixion rather than hanging makes no difference. To be nailed to a cross was equivalent to being hanged on a tree. So Christ crucified was described as having been ‘hanged on a tree’ (e.g. Acts 5:30; 1 Pet. 2:24), and was recognized as having died under the divine curse. No wonder the Jews at first could not believe that Jesus was the Christ. How could Christ, the anointed of God, instead of reigning on a throne, hang on a tree? It was incredible to them. Perhaps, as Bishop Stephen Neill suggests, when Christ crucified was preached, Jews would sometimes shout back ‘Jesus is accursed!’, which is the dreadful ejaculation mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:3.

The fact that Jesus died hanging on a tree remained for Jews an insurmountable obstacle to faith, until they saw that the curse He bore was for them. He did not die for His own sins; He became a curse ‘for us’.

Does this mean that everybody has been redeemed from the law’s curse through the sin-bearing, curse-bearing cross of Christ? Indeed not, for verse 13 must not be read without verse 14, where it is written that Christ became a curse for us, that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. It was in Christ that God acted for our salvation, and so we must be in Christ to receive it. We are not saved by a distant Christ, who died hundreds of years ago and lives millions of miles away, but by an existential Christ, who, having died and risen again, is now our contemporary. As a result we can be ‘in Him’, personally and vitally united to Him today.

But how? Granted that He bore our curse, and that we must be ‘in Him’ to be redeemed from it, how do we become united to Him? The answer is ‘through faith’. Paul has already quoted Habakkuk: ‘he who through faith is righteous shall live’ (verse 11). Now he says it himself: ‘We … receive the promise of the Spirit through faith’ (verse 14).

Faith is laying hold of Jesus Christ personally. There is no merit in it. It is not another ‘work’. Its value is not in itself, but entirely in its object, Jesus Christ. As Luther put it, ‘faith … apprehendeth nothing else but that precious jewel Christ Jesus.’ Christ is the Bread of life; faith feeds upon Him. Christ was lifted up on the cross; faith gazes at Him there.[6]


13. The penitent sinner does not need to despair, however. To be sure, he is by nature under the curse of the law, as has been indicated. From this pitiable situation he is unable to deliver himself. But God has provided the remedy: Christ redeemed us—Gentiles as well as Jews (see verse 14)—from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us. Christ purchased us free from the curse of the law. He bought us back from the sentence of condemnation which the law pronounced on us and from the punishment of eternal death which it exacted (Gen. 2:17; Deut. 30:15, 19; John 3:36; Rom. 5:12; 8:1; Eph. 2:3). He rescued us by the payment of a ransom (Exod. 21:30), the ransom price being his own precious blood (1 Cor. 6:20; 7:23; Rev. 5:9; cf. 1 Peter 1:18, 19). He became a curse—that is, “an accursed one”—for us.

It is, indeed, difficult to conceive of the majestic Christ as being accursed. What! Jesus anathema? In the face of 1 Cor. 12:3 how would one dare to say that? This becomes all the more a problem when we consider that we generally—and rightly—associate the curse with sin, and Christ had no sin (Isa. 53:9; John 8:46; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Peter 2:22). The only solution is the one supplied by the beautiful words of Isa. 53:6: “Jehovah laid on him the iniquity of us all”; cf. also verses 10–12. Christ’s curse-bearing, then, was vicarious: “Him who knew no sin he made to be sin for our sake, in order that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). This eminently scriptural truth of Christ’s substitutionary atonement is being denied by ever so many people. It has been called “butchershop theology.” Nevertheless, not only is it taught here in Gal. 3:13 in unmistakable language but it is the doctrine of Scripture throughout (Exod. 12:13; Lev. 1:4; 16:20–22; 17:11; Ps. 40:6, 7; 49:7, 8; Isa. 53; Zech. 13:1; Matt. 20:28; 26:27, 28; Mark 10:45; Luke 22:14–23; John 1:29; 10:11, 14; Acts 20:28; Rom. 3:24, 25; 8:3, 4; 1 Cor. 6:20; 7:23; 2 Cor. 5:18–21; Gal. 1:4; 2:20; Eph. 1:7; 2:16; Col. 1:19–23; Heb. 9:22, 28; 1 Peter 1:18, 19; 2:24; 3:18; 1 John 1:7; 2:2; 4:10; Rev. 5:9; 7:14).

In support of the idea that Christ became a curse for us Paul appeals to Deut. 21:23: for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanging on a tree.” In its Old Testament context, however, that passage does not refer to death by crucifixion, which was not known among the Israelites as a mode of capital punishment. It refers, instead, to the custom according to which after a wrong-doer had been executed, his dead body was nailed to a post or tree. But if, in the sight of God, the hanging of a dead body was a curse, how much more would not the slow, painful, and shameful death by crucifixion of a living person be a curse, especially when that dying one was experiencing anguish beyond the power of description! See Matt. 27:46.[7]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1983). Galatians (pp. 78–79). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Fung, R. Y. K. (1988). The Epistle to the Galatians (pp. 147–151). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[3] deSilva, D. A. (2018). The Letter to the Galatians. (N. B. Stonehouse, F. F. Bruce, G. D. Fee, & J. B. Green, Eds.) (pp. 293–296). Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[4] Campbell, D. (2009). Opening Up Galatians (pp. 56–57). Leominster: Day One Publications.

[5] Jervis, L. A. (2011). Galatians (pp. 91–92). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book.

[6] Stott, J. R. W. (1986). The message of Galatians: Only one way (pp. 80–82). Leicester, England; Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[7] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Galatians (Vol. 8, pp. 130–131). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

Core Christianity | The Battle for Good: Evil and the Christian Life

Christians have a dangerous enemy. 

In the book of Ephesians, Paul spares no effort in describing the seriousness of our opposition. We don’t wrestle with flesh and blood but against the rulers, the authorities, the cosmic powers of this present darkness (Eph. 6:12). If that sounds scary, it is because it is meant to. The devil is a very real, very powerful opponent, far too powerful for us to take on in our own strength. This is a salutary reminder to people in our Western context, who are inclined to ridicule the idea of a literal devil.

Many find the idea of a cosmic being whom we can’t see, feel, or touch and who promotes evil in this world unthinkable. Of course, the devil in whom they don’t believe is, in their minds, often not the biblical figure but a rather ridiculous image with hooves and horns. Who could seriously believe in that creature? It is convenient for the devil when people don’t believe in his existence. Then he can pursue his nefarious schemes unsuspected and undetected. 

Yet who doubts the reality of evil in this universe? Almost everyone agrees that some things are not merely tragic but genuinely evil. Gassing millions of Jews in the death camps of Poland is evil. Press-ganging young African children into an army, getting them high on drugs, and then sending them into battle is evil. Trafficking women in the sex industry is evil. Where does all this evil in the world come from? Man’s natural inhumanity to man hardly seems a sufficient explanation for evil on this scale. Is it possible that there is another factor, a supernatural spiritual dimension, to all of this moral depravity?

If you believe that the universe you see around you is all there is, then you have no rational basis on which to be shocked and outraged at evil. What we call “evil” must then be interpreted simply as an emotional response within us to dangerous things, triggered by evolutionary biology. But the Bible has a richer and deeper explanation for the sad world we find ourselves in, an explanation that allows us to recognize the profound reality of evil and the invisible spiritual forces that lie behind its constant reappearance in different shapes and forms.

The Ephesians to whom Paul was writing were not modern materialists. They were very well aware of the spiritual forces around them, as people in other parts of the world continue to be. Yet even to them, Paul makes a point of highlighting the power of the opposition we face: “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness” (Eph. 6:12).

Some of the terms that Paul uses here may have been in use in Ephesus as titles for various spiritual beings; Ephesus was a hotbed of occult interest, as Acts 19:18–19 makes clear.[1] To these people, already convinced of Satan’s reality, Paul strongly underlines the power of the opposition that faced them—the same power that faces us. To use Peter’s language, Satan “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8).

Christians fight a spiritual battle. 

Of course, adding to the imbalance in this wrestling match is the fact that although our opponents are not flesh and blood, we are. We are not principalities and powers or cosmic rulers but ordinary flawed, fallen, flesh-and-blood mortals. You might think that we have no business engaging in this combat; in the language of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, it is hobbits against orcs, an unequal contest. Yet this is exactly the battle in which we are engaged. Serving in the Lord’s army is not an option reserved for those particularly devoted to God. The choice is not whether you will be a Christian soldier or a Christian civilian but whether you will be a prepared Christian soldier or an unprepared one. And an unprepared soldier of flesh and blood will not be able to stand against the scale of the spiritual forces ranged against him or her.

What is more, this conflict takes place in the midst of “this darkness.” In many respects, the dark world in which we live is Satan’s playground. There are tempting sights, sounds, and tastes in this world that dazzle and allure us into sin. There is much around us that seems desirable and many powerful temptations that find a ready ally in our flesh. Earthly objects are very real to us, while heavenly realities seem ethereal and intangible. Satan also has centuries of experience as a tempter, knowing exactly which temptations are most likely to draw our individual human nature into sin, whether giving ourselves to a particular form of excess or to a subtle self-exalting pride that flows from a belief in our own righteousness. The powerful combination of the world, the flesh, and the devil is inevitably overwhelming, left to ourselves. 

This is why Paul doesn’t merely say, “Bring the armor of God along with you on the off chance that you might need it.” Rather, he says, “You will need it; so put it on.” As a skilled tempter, Satan also knows how to use the difficulty of the combat to his own advantage. As a child, I used to watch the science fiction program Dr. Who. Some of the doctor’s opponents I particularly remember from those early days were the Cybermen. These terrifying bionic creatures loudly proclaimed, “Resistance is useless,” sending me scurrying behind the sofa week after week. In the same way, the devil often seeks to frighten us into submission, shouting at us, “Resistance is useless!” He pretends to even greater power than he has, presenting a particular temptation to us as utterly irresistible. He says to you: “You can’t help yourself. It’s the way you were made. You need this sin to be happy. What is the point of resisting? You know you are going to lose in the end, so you might as well just give in now.”

God arms Christians for the battle. 

To combat this strategy, we need to understand the scale of the provision God has given us. Paul’s desire is that we should be able to stand against the schemes of the devil, and to that end he begins by outlining God’s far greater power. Even before he introduces the opposition forces, Paul tells us that we are to be strong in God’s awesome, magnificent power, a power that is beyond compare. The words Paul uses here in Ephesians 6:10 are an echo of the same Greek words that he used in Ephesians 1:19 to describe the power of God that raised up Christ.[2] In other words, the power with which we have been equipped for our struggle against sin and Satan is the very same power that brought Christ back from the dead. 

This is not just the power that would be required to raise someone like Lazarus from the dead (see John 11:1–44). Raising the physically dead is no big deal, comparatively speaking. Yet the power of God is great enough to raise Christ from the dead, Jesus Christ who was buried in death under the full weight of God’s wrath against sin—the sin of every one of his people throughout all ages, including you and me. This power of God not only raised Jesus Christ back to life but lifted him to the heavenly realms, so that he is now seated at the right hand of the Father in glory. There is real power, far greater even than the terrifying power ranged against us! The one who is in us is greater than the one who is in the world (1 John 4:4).

Content adapted from The Whole Armor of God by Iain M. Duguid. This article first appeared at Crossway.org; used with permission. 

Notes

  1. ^ See Clinton E. Arnold, Power and Magic: The Concept of Power in Ephesians (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1992), 14.
  2. ^ The ESV’s “Be strong” and “the strength of his might” represent three Greek words: , , and .

— Read on corechristianity.com/resource-library/3/1499

09/16/19 Praise Him | ChuckLawless.com

READING: Psalm 146-150, 1 Corinthians 15:50-16:24

Over the years, I’ve traveled through much of the world working with Christ-followers. I’ve met some who had very few possessions. Many had very little food. It’s hard to remember anyone who had transportation other than their feet or a bicycle. In some cases, these believers served under threat of persecution. Still, all of these believers seemed to have at least one thing in common: they always knew to praise the Lord regardless of what they were facing.

That’s why I think of them every time I read the final psalms in this book. Here, the psalms echo with “Praise the Lord”—and the final song is nothing but praise. Indeed, the concluding verse of psalm 150 is most appropriately an ending to this book: “Let everything that breathes praise the Lord. Hallelujah!” (Psa 150:6). I pray that I’ll learn to praise the Lord like my brothers and sisters around the world do. 

PRAYER: “God, I praise You!”   

TOMORROW’S READING:  Proverbs 1-3, 2 Corinthians 1:1-2:4

— Read on chucklawless.com/2019/09/09-16-19-praise-him/

The Power of Proper Thinking (Part 2 of 2) – Programs – Truth For Life

Relativism, a popular philosophy in the current culture, claims there’s no such thing as right or wrong—only what’s right for you. Does this philosophy actually hold up to scrutiny? Discover the answer when you listen to Truth For Life with Alistair Begg. 
Listen…

GTY Blog Post – Rejecting Sinful Desires

Hunger for God’s Word is incompatible with the desire for sin. That’s why the apostle Peter calls us to reject sinful desires—they are deadly obstructions to a healthy biblical diet. He writes, “Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word” (1 Peter 2:1–2).

Peter says we must take a look at our lives and start shedding sinful thoughts and activities. The Greek verb he uses here (apotithēmi) refers to stripping off soiled garments. It conveys the same idea Paul had in mind when he wrote: “But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices” (Colossians 3:8–9). In the early church, believers would be baptized in their old clothes, and when they came out of the waters they would be given new clothes to put on. The process was symbolic of the fact that salvation marked the shedding of all that was old and the putting on of all that was new. Peter depicts a similar idea in the language he uses here.

Having begun our new lives in Christ, we must shed whatever is still hanging on from our residual fallenness. We need to identify these lingering elements of the old life as direct hindrances to our desire for God’s Word. They spoil our spiritual appetites, as the stench of the old contaminates the fragrance of the new.

To help with the shedding process, Peter identifies several sinful categories that might linger in our lives. The first he mentions is “all malice.” This isn’t malice in the narrow sense we usually think of; it’s not merely evil intentions directed toward another person. The word here (kakia) serves as an all-inclusive term for wickedness. It encompasses everything base, disgraceful, and wretched. It is the general, pervasive malignancy of the flesh, out of which evil behaviors emerge. Peter is referring to the generic, inherited wickedness common to all people. First and foremost, that is what believers must eliminate if we are going to have a proper desire for the Word.

To that, Peter adds “all deceit.” The Greek word dolos was used to describe the bait on a fishhook. Here it refers to all forms of deception, dishonesty, guile, treachery, and falsehood. Whereas wickedness speaks to general, open sin, deceit is by nature more discreet. Peter is describing the secret, hidden ways we sin against and take advantage of others. Believers must not traffic in such deceptions. Duplicity is incompatible with a hunger for God’s truth.

Continuing on the theme of secret sin, Peter also charges believers to put off “hypocrisy.” This refers to any pretense or insincerity, anything phony or inconsistent. Believers must be genuine in all they say and do. God’s Word has no tolerance for those who practice hypocrisy.

Peter points to another sin believers must eliminate: “envy.” Believers must not resent the prosperity of others or covet their possessions. This category also includes the hatred, bitterness, grudges, and conflicts that corrupt relationships in this ruined world. Peter is talking about the kinds of interpersonal sins that inhibit our usefulness to the kingdom and stifle our appetite for God’s Word.

Finally, Peter commands his readers to put aside “all slander.” He uses an onomatopoeic word (katalalias) to describe slanderous whispers and tattling behind another’s back. It also includes defamation, disparagement, malicious gossip, or any other attempt to tear down others.

There is a natural progression to the sins Peter describes. He starts with the broad sense of general wickedness and corruption that produces deceit and deception. Deceit leads to hypocrisy, while hypocrisy, in turn, masks envy. And festering envy will inevitably lead to slander.

Peter wants the opposite for God’s people. In the previous chapter, he urges his readers to “fervently love one another from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22). In order to do that, Christians have to weed out the wickedness that lingers from their former, sinful selves. They need to look inside at the nature of their hearts, uncovering the secret sins of deceit and hypocrisy. And they must bring an end to the sins that poison and corrupt their relationships with others, like envy and slander. Peter wants believers to identify and eliminate all the filthy rags of the flesh. God’s people must faithfully confess and repent of the sin that remains in their lives, pleading with Him to remove it.

If you don’t have that kind of hunger for the cleansing, refining work of the Word, you need to carefully examine your life to see if there is sin hindering your desire.

We understand that true repentance is the work of the Holy Spirit. But the Spirit does not perform that work in the lives of unwilling people; we have to cry out for Him to bring about repentance in us. And an essential element of that cleansing, refining work is the Word of God (John 15:3). We need to cultivate a desire for Scripture and the work it accomplishes in us. We need to hunger to learn its truths, to receive its joys and its convicting realities. We need to eagerly and attentively sit under its teaching and study it for ourselves as though our spiritual lives depend on it—because they do.

 

(Adapted from Final Word)

— Read on www.gty.org/library/blog/B190916

GTY Blog Post – The True Source of Spiritual Life

People don’t always do the things they know they should. Whether it’s eating vegetables, paying bills promptly, or getting to bed on time, some people’s everyday actions defy what they know to be best. That’s often the same for believers with our Bibles. God’s people may recognize the importance of feeding on God’s Word even while we allow it to gather dust on the shelf.

That’s why the apostle Peter exhorts his readers: “Therefore, putting aside all malice and deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word” (1 Peter 2:1–2).   

First Peter 2:1 begins with the word “Therefore,” linking the Apostle’s exhortation to the foundational reality that should fuel our hunger for God’s Word—Peter’s prior statements, specifically, verses 23–25 of chapter 1, where he writes,

You have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. For, “All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word which was preached to you. (1 Peter 1:23–25)

Peter wants us to understand that it was the incorruptible, imperishable Word of God that has saved us and transform us into new creations.

To grasp the full weight of what Peter is saying, we need to remember our spiritual destitution prior to regeneration. We possessed unrepentant hearts that were “more deceitful than all else and . . . desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). In Romans 3, Paul uses quotes from the Old Testament to describe how comprehensive our depravity was: “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one” (Romans 3:10–12). He sums up the corruption of that rebellious state: “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18). Not only were we incapable of escaping our depravity, we were unwilling to do so. Before the Spirit did His illuminating work through the Word, we had no fear of the Lord or of the due penalty of our sins.

From that horrendous state, Peter says we “have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). Peter identifies this Word as the source of our spiritual transformation. Borrowing a metaphor from the life of Christ, Peter describes the Word as an imperishable seed. Just as Jesus explained to His disciples in Matthew 13, a faithful sower cast seed onto soil prepared by the Spirit, and the seed bore fruit (Matthew 13:3–23). Describing the Bible’s transforming power, James says, “In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures” (James 1:18). Referring to the saving work of the Word, John writes in his gospel, “These have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31). And in response to all that Scripture has already accomplished in our lives, Peter charges us to cultivate a hunger for it.

Why? Because the power of God’s Word does not fade, diminish, or wither (1 Peter 1:24). It is the source of both our transformation and our sanctification. It is our spiritual sustenance (Matthew 4:4). It gives us stability and security: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24). Scripture is “the word of [God’s] grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32). It is “the word of life” (Philippians 2:16). Regarding its power, the writer of Hebrews says, “The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). God’s living Word, active and powerful, saves, sustains, and sanctifies His people.

Believers recognize the Word for what it is and for what it does in their lives. Writing to the Thessalonians, Paul said, “For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Scripture was instrumental in our salvation, and it continues to perform God’s work in us. Moreover, we know it accomplishes God’s work without fail.

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10–11)

If we want to experience God’s supernatural work in our lives, we must understand that the Holy Spirit accomplishes it only through His Word. He has ordained no other means, no momentary emotional or existential experience that can catapult us to some greater spiritual maturity. We cannot set aside our Bibles and expect His sanctifying work to continue uninterrupted. God saved us through the power of His Word, and its work is not finished. We must increase our hunger for His truth, knowing it is the sole source of our spiritual lives and the only means by which the Spirit conforms us into the image of His Son.

(Adapted from Final Word)

— Read on www.gty.org/library/blog/B190913