Daily Archives: October 21, 2019

October 21 Decreasing Doubt

Scripture Reading: Job 42:1–6

Key Verse: Hebrews 13:5

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

How should the successful Christian deal with doubt? This question often surfaces during times of tragedy when, for an instant, it may seem to some that God is not present. The Bible, however, tells us that God is always with us, in every circumstance, throughout every moment of our lives. He promises in His Word that He will never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

As humans, the concept of someone who is incapable of disappointing us is hard to grasp. Therefore, our wandering minds often give way to veins of doubt—doubt that God can provide for us, meet our needs, and turn impossibilities into possibilities.

When feelings such as these seek to break your confidence in God, you must take action. Your best defense is His Word. The Bible is our reassurance, our guide to the undeniable truth of God’s love for us and His desire to know us intimately.

If you are not receiving encouragement from your Bible reading, consider purchasing a Bible study tool, such as a topical concordance. Or you might try inviting a friend to become a Bible study partner with you. This will increase your knowledge in a spirit of fellowship. Be sure to select a person who knows the Scriptures and is capable of directing you to God’s truths in times of doubt. As you study the Bible together, your knowledge will increase and thoughts of doubt will decrease.

Lord, when I was a child, I sang that the B.I.B.L.E. was “the book for me.” I still believe that. Draw me to the ways and means to keep Your Word fresh in my heart.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 308). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

October 21 Our Textbook

Scripture Reading: 2 Timothy 3:10–17

Key Verse: Psalm 119:2

Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart!

Noah Webster, the early nineteenth-century scholar most famous for his dictionary, wrote the following in the preface of his American edition of the Bible:

The Bible is the chief moral cause of all that is good, and the best book for regulating the … concerns of men … The principles of genuine liberty, and of wise laws and administrations, are to be drawn from the Bible and sustained by its authority. The man, therefore, who weakens or destroys the divine authority of that Book may be accessory to all the public disorders which society is doomed to suffer … There are two powers only, sufficient to control men and secure the rights of individuals … the combined force of religion and law.

Over the centuries, countless men and women have dedicated and sometimes sacrificed their lives for the cause of bringing God’s Word to people who need it desperately. From translators and linguistic experts to international missionaries, these individuals understood the importance of each person having access to a Bible and being able to read it in his own language.

The best way to cherish the Scriptures is to use them as 2 Timothy 3:16–17 describes, as a living guide for real life. Don’t let it sit on a shelf or by your bed gathering dust. God’s timeless truth has the power to transform your life when you give it the opportunity.

Dear heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word. It has strengthened me. It has kept me. It has changed my life.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 308). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

October 21 God’s Warning System

Scripture reading: Deuteronomy 11:22–25

Key verse: Deuteronomy 28:9

The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just as He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in His ways.

The young family had stepped outside the will of God several months earlier. They stopped attending church regularly, stopped tithing altogether, and gradually decreased in service as their interest in prayer and reading the Bible waned. Slowly, the husband started noticing changes.

Things seemed to wear out more easily, including their bodies. Colds and infections were more frequent. So were trips to the mechanic as the cars continued to have nagging problems. The couple’s investments lagged, even lost ground, as the rest of the economy boomed. Trying to fill the void, they began making unwise financial decisions that further increased their problems, and their marriage started to strain under the duress. Finally, the young couple realized what went wrong: they were leaving out God.

If there is sustained, habitual sin in our lives, it will affect God’s response to our prayers. If He continued to answer all of our prayers despite our sinful conduct, He in effect would be condoning our actions, and a holy God cannot sanction sin. One of the ways God gets our attention is by withholding blessings when there is sin in our lives.

We should always consider it God’s gracious gift, a warning system He has put in place to steer us back within His will.

Dear Lord, thank You for Your warning system that steers me back into Your will. Help me to listen and respond in obedience.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 308). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Russian Foreign Ministry on Anti-Russian Media, Syria, Venezuela and Cuba | Stephen Lendman

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by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)

Merriam-Webster defines journalism as “the collection and editing of news for presentation through the media…a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation.”

The American Press Institute calls the profession “communication that keeps us informed of the changing events, issues, and characters in the world outside,” adding:

Its “purpose is…to provide citizens with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies, and their governments.”

According to the above definitions, journalism the way it’s supposed to be flagrantly breached by US and and Western establishment media — propaganda bullhorns replacing it, keeping people uninformed and unaware of public policies adversely affecting their lives, welfare and safety.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova (MZ below) slammed anti-Russian rubbish by US establishment media, saying:

It’s “unparalleled. We understand that this is being orchestrated by someone.” US major media turn truth on its head to vilify Russia.

Propaganda operations masquerading as legitimate media and “so-called ‘experts’ ” invent reasons to bash Moscow.

A current “narrative (falsely claims) Moscow is ” ‘attempting to hammer together an anti-West front to smear the positive role of the US and its allies,’ ” said MZ. No positive US-led geopolitical agenda exists anywhere.

Russia and China are rising, the US a nation in decline. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men, along with endless establishment Big Lies won’t change the way things are.

Following days of Turkish cross-border aggression in Syria, MZ said tensions escalated east of the Euphrates river, an area not controlled by Damascus.

“(T)errorists took advantage of the surge of tension and activated their sleeper cells.”

MZ’s report was on the same day as the US/Turkish agreement in Ankara, a scheme to carve up Syria by two nations illegally occupying and controlling parts of its territory — the US and Turkey in the north, Pentagon forces in southern areas bordering Iraq and Jordan.

MZ reaffirmed Russian support for Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, along with stressing the need for diplomatic outreach for restoration of peace and stability to the country —  unattainable objectives as long as bipartisan US hardliners reject them.

Venezuela remains in the eye of the US storm against its sovereign independence, free from imperial control, a status hardliners in Washington want changed — notably seeking control over the country’s world’s largest oil reserves, a prize it’s hellbent for Big Oil to plunder.

Venezuela’s envoy to UNESCO Hector Constant denounced Trump regime economic terrorism, saying:

“We are living in a dangerous time for multilateralism.” White House policies are all about crushing Venezuela’s economy and suffocating its people, wanting the country’s “sustainable development” eliminated.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza denounced the Trump regime’s failed “ferocious campaign” to prevent the Bolivarian Republic from becoming a UN Human Rights Council member — calling the outcome “historic” because US bullying and threats failed.

Pompeo slammed the outcome with a litany of bald-faced Big Lies about Venezuela, ignoring how the world’s leading human rights abuser USA operates globally, exploiting and otherwise abusing ordinary people at home and abroad, along with smashing independent countries to control them.

MZ said “(t)alks continue as part of the national dialogue roundtable, initiated in September between the Bolivarian government and the constructive opposition.”

They’ve gone nowhere because Trump regime hardliners reject democratic resolution of internal differences between legitimate ruling authorities and puppet Guaido’s opposition, the US controlling his actions.

Washington is no “partner” of Russia as MZ and other Kremlin officials pretend, just the opposite.

The Trump regime keeps “play(ing) up the role of the ‘Russian factor’ in Venezuela,” she said, adding:

“(T)he US cannot accept that some Latin American countries continue to protect their positions and stick to their independent domestic and foreign policy even despite the unprecedented sanctions pressure” — notably on Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua.

“At the same time, Washington continues to toughen illegal unilateral sanctions against Venezuela and also Cuba as its closest ally in the region.”

US envoy for regime change in Venezuela, unindicted war criminal Elliot Abrams said more sanctions are coming against the Bolivarian Republic and Cuba.

He threatened secondary sanctions on Russia — for supporting Venezuelan sovereignty.

MZ: “We will continue to cooperate with other responsible members of the international community to help different political forces in Venezuela reach an understanding.”

MZ cited illegal US sanctions on all nations on its target list for regime change, Cuba among them.

New Trump regime sanctions targeted its “bio-pharmaceutical industry, threatening the health of thousands of consumers of Cuban produced medications,” said MZ, adding:

“New (US) restrictions that result in targeted, specific damage to average people have been introduced in addition to continuous pressure on Cuban doctors working abroad and annual multi-million losses for the Cuban pharmaceutical industry due to the containment of research.”

Moscow strongly opposes hostile US actions, including an attempted economic blockade on Venezuela and Cuba — its actions confined to rhetorical criticism, falling on deaf ears in Washington, vital toughness needed to challenge its imperial agenda lacking.

A Final Comment

MZ cited a Rossiya Segodnya news agency study on anti-Russian media propaganda in six Western nations.

In Britain only 1% of around 25,000 articles was positive, in the US just 0.2%, virtually none.

The most despicable anti-Russia propaganda is from CNN, the NYT, CIA-connected Washington Post, UK Daily Express and The Times of Britain.

Anti-Russia disinformation and fake news needs no elaboration. Like crabgrass, it’s everywhere in the US, UK, and other Western countries.

Independent journalists alone report accurately on Russia, other countries, and vital issues — the only sources everyone should follow to stay informed.

Source

Why does 97% of Congress get re-elected each year when Congress has a 17% approval rating?

Something to do with money?

(From Forbes)

…members of Congress own investment stock in, are employed by, and receive retirement pensions from federal contractors to whom they direct billions of taxpayer dollars…

…Here are five case examples detailing the conflict-of-interest among five powerful members of Congress:

Source: Why does 97% of Congress get re-elected each year when Congress has a 17% approval rating?

Are You Born Gay? Former Lesbian and Currently Married Gay Woman Debate — Faithwire

In this age of activism, there is hardly a more controversial question between the church and secular society than this: Are you born gay?

Recently, Anchored North, a faith-based media company, launched a web series called “Honest Discourse” during which two people with opposing views on difficult topics — in this case, homosexuality — debate one another in a respectful way in hopes of finding some semblance of understanding.

Greg Sukert, executive director of Anchored North, told Faithwire earlier this year that, all too often, the conversations seen between a Christian and an unbeliever end up making the religious person look bigoted or uninformed — or both.

With that in mind, Anchored North invited Emily Thomes, a formerly lesbian woman who has since become a Christian and is married to a man, to debate the morality of homosexuality with an LGBTQ activist identified only as Merilou.

The conversation began with the two women telling their own stories, Merilou explaining how she felt rejected and shamed as a young teenager, when she first started expressing her same-sex attractions, because she was raised in a conservative, immigrant household. Similarly, Thomes was raised in a Christian-ish home when she, too, began engaging romantically with other girls.

Ultimately, after Thomes’ engagement to a woman broke off, she found herself at a Bible study, where she was convicted by the contrast between her stated beliefs in Scripture and the lifestyle she was living, which was antithetical to biblical teaching.

“I realized that I was my own standard of truth at that point,” she said. “So that’s how I went from living like I did for so long, to now, where I realize this is what [God] says. I’d much rather look to a creator, perfect God than to myself and my feelings for truth.”

Similar to Thomes before her conversion, Merilou argued her feelings should dictate how she behaves and that, if she has those feelings, they can’t be wrong.

The video then went on from there, when the two women were asked about their feelings on different declarative sentences, one of which was, “Homosexuality is a sin.”

In response, Thomes pointed out that God isn’t a “cosmic killjoy” trying to take away whatever it is that matters most to us. Instead, she said, “He knows what’s good, he knows what’s right. And he says that his design is what’s right, so because it goes against him, that’s what makes it sin.”

You can watch the rest of their conversation in the video above.

via Are You Born Gay? Former Lesbian and Currently Married Gay Woman Debate — Faithwire

Why Has There Been a 56% Increase in Suicide Among Young Americans in Just 10 Years? | The End of the American Dream

If you are in crisis, please call 800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org. You are not alone.

It is very hard to face the future when you don’t have any hope.  Today, our society offers more ways to entertain ourselves than ever before, but it offers very little hope.  Most people spend most of their lives wandering from one thing to another looking for meaning and purpose, and of course most of those journeys come up empty.  We may have a much higher standard of living than any other generation in history, but we are also have the highest rates of addiction, depression and suicide.  As a society, we are deeply, deeply unhappy, and this is especially true for our young people.  In fact, a report that was just released discovered that there was a 56 percent increase in suicide among Americans from age 10 to age 24 in just 10 years

Suicides and homicides are on the rise among children, teens and young adults in America, according to a new report that highlights what experts say is a disturbing trend among the young.

The report, published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that from 2007 to 2017, the rate of Americans ages 10 to 24 who died by suicide rose by 56 percent, from 6.8 deaths per 100,000 persons to 10.6.

Is anyone out there going to argue when I say that it looks like what we are doing for our young people as a society is definitely not working?

We appear to be rapidly running in the wrong direction, and yet our leaders just keep pushing us even further down the same road.

I was particularly horrified to learn that the report had found that the suicide rate for Americans from age 10 to age 14 had “almost tripled” between 2007 and 2017…

When broken down by age groups, the suicide rate for those aged 10 to 14 almost tripled between 2007 and 2017. For teenagers 15 to 19, the rate surged 76 percent in that decade.

For 20- to 24-year-olds, the rate of suicides has been increasing from 2000 to 2017, at a rate of 36 percent.

How can things get that much worse in just 10 years?

Sometimes people criticize me for being “too negative” about our society.  But the truth is that I am often not being negative enough.  Kids are killing themselves at an astounding rate because our society is feeding them an endless series of lies and giving them absolutely no hope for the future.  Our society is deeply, deeply broken, and if we continue going down the same path we are going to continue to get similar results.

According to the report, it has gotten to the point where suicide is now “the second leading cause of death” for Americans from the age of 10 to the age of 24…

Suicide was the second leading cause of death among Americans ages 10 to 24 in 2017, according to the report. And homicide ranked third for those ages 15 to 24 that same year.

We have completely and utterly failed our young people, and it is because we are teaching them the wrong things.

Oh, we love to think that we have everything together, but the truth is that we are a complete mess and we are passing on our flawed views to the next generation with devastating results.

In addition to an unprecedented rise in suicide, rates of depression among our young people are escalating dramatically as well

Since 2014, millennials (or people who turned 23 to 38 in 2019) have seen a 47% increase in major-depression diagnoses. “Deaths of despair,” or dying from suicide, alcohol, and drugs, increased in the millennial population in the last 10 years, and they are more likely to report feeling lonely than other generations.

For Gen Z, the mental illness crisis continues. In 2017, 13% of teens reported having experienced at least one major depressive episode in the past year, Pew Research Center reported. In 2007, when more millennials were teens, that number was just 8%.

It shouldn’t be surprising that this is happening.  We teach our kids that they came from monkeys and that the only thing they have to look forward to at the end is to return to the dust from whence they came.  In between, we offer them all sorts of temporary pleasures that don’t give them any sort of lasting meaning and purpose in order to pacify them and to keep them from asking too many hard questions.  Because if you start asking hard questions, you quickly find out that virtually every major system in our society is broken.  But we urge our young people to work really hard so that someday they can take their places as important cogs in a machine that is rapidly steamrolling toward oblivion.

If you only read that last paragraph, you would probably come to the conclusion that I am a deeply depressed individual.

But that is not true at all, and that is only because I have fundamentally rejected the lies that society tries to feed all of us.  My wife and I are not down, we are not depressed, and we are not on any pills.  Life is meant to be lived with great hope and great purpose (#ad), and not too long ago I spent an entire year of my life talking to voters and trying to point this nation in a fundamentally different hope-filled direction.

If you want to escape the pit of despair that is swallowing countless other Americans, the solution is not hard to find.

We were all created for a purpose, and we were put on this planet for such a time as this.

Unfortunately, the entire behavioral matrix that society has constructed is designed to pull you away from your true purpose.

Our education system, the mainstream media, our entire entertainment industry and most of our national leaders are trying to take you in a direction that only leads to depression, despair and death.

It can be exceedingly difficult to break free from that matrix, but once you do you will discover a level of freedom that you never even dreamed was possible.

Source: Why Has There Been a 56% Increase in Suicide Among Young Americans in Just 10 Years?

The Gospel According To Jesus, Grace, Salvation, And Sanctification — Abounding Grace Radio

Since the 1970s and 80s the Dispensational-evangelical world has been involved in a running controversy over “the Lordship of Christ.” On one side are those Dispensationalists allied with Lewis Sperry Chafer, Charlies Ryrie, and Zane Hodges, who assert that so long as one has “accepted Jesus as Savior” it is not absolutely necessary for one to accept him “as Lord” also. In effect, in the unhappily named, so-called, “free grace” view, acknowledging Christ as Lord is a second-blessing reserved for more mature Christians as a second blessing. Under this approach one sees the doctrine of the so-called “carnal Christian,” i.e., one who has walked forward at a revival meeting and prayed the so-called “sinner’s prayer” but whose life remains essentially unchanged. According to one estimate, 2.2 million people “came forward” at Billy Graham rallies over the years. Were 2 million people actually converted, i.e., granted new life by the Holy Spirit and given true faith in Jesus and empowered by the Spirit to begin to put to death the old man and to be made alive in the new man? No one but God knows certainly but experience suggests that it is possible to “walk the aisle” in an “altar call” or respond to an evangelistic invitation at one’s front door without much evident change in one’s life. This is nothing less than antinomianism, the denial of the abiding validity of the moral law as the norm for the Christian life. The confessional Protestants have condemned antinomianism since Luther first coined the word in the 1520s. All the Reformed Churches confess the abiding validity of the Ten Commandments (the moral law) as the norm for the Christian life. The Chafer-Ryrie-Hodges view is also a denial of the moral necessity of sanctification as the ordinary, Spirit-wrought fruit and evidence of salvation (justification and sanctification). All of this contradicts the plain teaching of Scripture as confessed by the Reformed Churches.

In response, another set of Dispensationalists, led by John MacArthur, argued for “Lordship Salvation.” The seminal book for this movement is The Gospel According to Jesus: What Does Jesus Mean When He Says “Follow Me”? the first edition of which was published in 1988. The book was revised in a second edition in 1994 and that edition was reprinted with a new subtitle (What Is Authentic Faith?) in 2008. The best, most favorable, definition of Lordship Salvation comes not from MacArthur himself but from Packer in his foreword. He wrote, “That man should not separate what God has joined is a truth about more than marriage. …God has joined faith and repentance as the two facets of response to the Savior and made it clear that turning to Christ means turning from sinned letting ungodliness go. “…Lordship salvation” is a name for they view that upholds these unites” (1st edition, p. ix). He continues by discussing Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ rejection of the Sandemanians, who “chose to keep works out of justification” and who defined faith as nothing more than assent to propositions (ibid).

Since the publication of the book, the controversy has continued to simmer flaring up now and then. There appears to be another flare up. For a brief background and analysis of this controversy please take 30 minutes to listen to this interview I did with my colleague, Mike Horton, who edited a significant volume in response to the controversy, Christ The Lord: The Reformation and Lordship Salvation (1992). This volume contains a collection of essays including contributions by Horton, Kim Riddlebarger, Bob Strimple, and two essays by Paul Schaefer, which I found particularly helpful, among others. The volume also contains a critique by B. B. Warfield of L. S. Chafer’s doctrine of sanctification. This critique is invaluable. This book is perhaps the definitive response to the controversy but strangely is not included in the bibliography in the updated editions of The Gospel According to Jesus (hereafter GAJ).

What Was The Gospel In 1988?

One of the more remarkable aspects of the 1st edition of GAJ  is the inclusion of two forewords by two notable Reformed figures, J. I. Packer, an evangelical Anglican minister, a scholar of Richard Baxter, and notable both for his own teaching and for his introduction to John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. He is also somewhat notorious for his ecumenical projects in the UK and in North America, the most famous of which was his involvement in Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) and his signature on two more or less ambiguous documents on justification, which themselves produced a split among evangelicals and helped to give rise to the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, which was devoted to preserving and teaching the old Reformation doctrines of justification and sanctification. Here are some resources on this controversy. The first president of that group was James Montgomery Boice, who found himself opposed to Packer over ECT. Before ECT, however, he also wrote a foreword commending the book and siding with MacArthur against Chafer, Ryrie, and Hodges.

From a confessional Reformed perspective, however, there were some significant problems with the 1st edition of GAJ. Most significant of all was that MacArthur did not spend much time on the doctrine of justification by grace alone, through faith alone. Secondly, in both editions, there are places where it seems as if our good works make faith what it is. The traditional way of articulating this doctrine is “faith formed by love” (fides formata caritate). In other places, however, sanctification and good works seem to be regarded as fruit and evidence. It is, however, even in the later editions (e.g., the 2009 reprint of the 2nd edition) marked by relative a lack of clarity on some important issues. This is due to the fact that the work was part of an intra-Dispensational argument. MacArthur selectively invokes Reformed writers here and there (e.g., Louis Berkhof and Geerhardus Vos) but they serve as appendages or draftees in what is for them an extramural argument. Berkhof and Vos lived, worshiped, and taught in the confessional Reformed world. Both of them were Dutch Reformed and grew up with the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), which, had both sides in this debate learned and followed, might have done us all much good. More about this in a moment.

That MacArthur expressed himself unhappily in the 1st edition should not be a controversial observation since he himself acknowledged as much and revised the book significantly (e.g., by adding a chapter on the doctrine of justification). Even in the second edition, however, infelicities of expression remain. Further complicating things is the fact that many of MacArthur’s adherents (including some in the confessional Reformed world) continue to speak the way MacArthur spoke in 1988 rather than in the way the spoke in 1994. For its adherents, “Lordship Salvation” is the gospel. For adherents (including MacArthur himself) of (the 1st or 2nd) edition, any dissent “Lordship salvation” is regarded as heresy. Lest this seem like hyperbole, consider his quite recent remarks aimed at an old family friend, which he first made in a chapel message and then repeated at a recent conference. This video explains what happened and offers some analysis and criticism.

For more background on John Fonville’s history with and exodus out of the theology, piety, and practice of “Lordship Salvation” toward the Reformation listen to this interview with John Fonville and AGR’s Chris Gordon.

How The Reformation Avoids Both Sides

The Dispensational “Free Grace” movement quoted Luther. The “Lordship Salvation” advocates quote Luther, Calvin et al but neither side is deeply rooted in the Reformation. Dispensationalism is a nineteenth-century movement with its own theology, piety, and practice and it is not that of the Reformation. Dispensationalists on both sides should not simply assume that the Reformers read the Bible as they do. They did not.

For the Reformed Churches, there is no question whether repentance is a necessary fruit of new life just as there is no question whether true faith is a necessary fruit of new life (regeneration). We have what we call an “order of salvation” (ordo salutis: God elects his people, in Christ, unconditionally from all eternity. Christ accomplished redemption for his people and and God the Holy Spirit sovereignly applies the work of Christ to his people by effectually calling them to new life (regeneration), and granting them true faith (knowledge, assent, and trust), justification, and through faith union Christ. The Spirit also grants them adoption and sanctification. In the words of the Westminster Shorter Catechism defines justification as “an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.” It defines sanctification as “the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.” As Shorter Catechism 25 says, God’s grace produces in believers renewal “in the whole man.” God’s Spirit graciously enables believers “to die unto sin and live unto righteousness.” Good works are the fruit of God’s gracious justifying work for us and of his equally sanctifying—saving—saving work in us.

In the Belgic Confession (1561), the Reformed confess about progressive sanctification: “We believe that this true faith, produced in man by the hearing of God’s Word and by the work of the Holy Spirit, regenerates him and makes him a “new man,” causing him to live the “new life” and freeing him from the slavery of sin.” Free salvation does not make men “”cold toward living” a pious and godly life. As the Belgic says, “quite to the contrary, “true faith…so works within them that apart from it they will never do a thing out of love for God but only out of love for themselves and fear of being condemned.” Indeed, long before the “Lordship Salvation” controversy, the Reformed were confessing that it is “impossible for this holy faith to be unfruitful in a human being, seeing that we do not speak of an empty faith but of what Scripture calls “faith working through love,” which leads a man to do by himself the works that God has commanded in his Word.” “Faith working through love” is a direct quotation of Galatians 5:6, which the medieval church and Rome corrupted to become “faith formed by love. Good works do not make faith but true faith does produce good works, including repentance.

In contrast to the way MacArthur speaks in GAJ (both editions), repentance is not treated in the Reformed confessions as “the gospel” but rather is treated under sanctification, which is a necessary consequence of the gospel. Heidelberg Catechism 88 says:

88. In how many things does true repentance or conversion consist?

In two things: the dying of the old man and the quickening of the new.

The gospel is the announcement by Jesus and his apostles of what Christ has done for us, outside of us (extra nos), which has necessary consequences for our sanctification, out of which flow good works. The gospel is that Christ justifies sinners. “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life” (Rom 5:10). We are not justified because we are good. We are good, to the extent we become good in this life, because we have been freely justified and saved. Repentance is necessary but it is necessary as a consequence of our new life. The dead cannot and therefore do not repent. It is only those who have been given new life and true faith, who are united to Christ by the Spirit, who repent. Believers repent constantly, daily. It is impossible for the impenitent to be saved.

So we confess that good works proceed “from the good root of faith” and that they are “good and acceptable to God, since they are all sanctified by his grace. Yet they do not count toward our justification—for by faith in Christ we are justified, even before we do good works. Otherwise they could not be good, any more than the fruit of a tree could be good if the tree is not good in the first place.”

We do good works not in order to be saved but because we have been saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. I use the verb “saved” advisedly because we confess in Belgic Confession Art. 34 “Christ is our Red Sea” and the Red Sea is the paradigm for salvation in the Old Testament, wherein Yahweh graciously, sovereignly delivered a stubborn, sinful, stiff-necked people from condemnation. It is a picture of our salvation in Christ. If our salvation rested to any degree on our good works, we confess, “we would always be in doubt, tossed back and forth without any certainty, and our poor consciences would be tormented constantly if they did not rest on the merit of the suffering and death of our Savior.”

In short, there are three parts to the Christian faith: Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude (Heidelberg 2; Romans [all]). We must know from the law how great is our sin and misery. We know from the gospel how we have been redeemed from all our sin and misery, and finally how we ought to live thankful lives of gracious obedience, in union with Christ. The so-called “Free Grace” Dispensationalists are wrong. Sanctification is not a second blessing. There is no such thing as “carnal Christians.” There are only sinners graciously saved who are being gradually and graciously sanctified. The “Lordship Salvation” doctrine errs by failing consistently to distinguish the law from the gospel, the uses of the law, the order of salvation (ordo salutis), the three parts of the faith, justification from sanctification, and faith from repentance. To distinguish is not to separate but the whole Protestant Reformation rested on these distinctions and because the Dispensationalists are not deeply rooted in the Reformation neither side in this debate seemed to know to how articulate these issues in a consistently Protestant, Reformation way.

R. Scott Clark

via The Gospel According To Jesus, Grace, Salvation, And Sanctification — Abounding Grace Radio

World in flames: why are protests raging around the globe? | RT World News

Protests and demonstrations have rocked every corner of the world in recent days, with tax hikes, corruption and supposed environmental injustice all raising public anger. But why have they spread?

Watching the news over the last week, one would be convinced that the world has devolved into a series of flashpoints, with corrupt governments across the political spectrum facing the wrath of their enraged citizens. To be fair, that’s not far from the truth.

Four continents have seen anti-government demonstrations over the last week, many of them sparked by seemingly innocuous taxes or changes to the law. In Lebanon, protesters have set Beirut ablaze in response to a proposed fee of 20 cents per day on internet voice calls, dubbed the “WhatsApp tax.” Chileans set metro stations on fire following a $1.17 increase in public transport fares, and the streets of Ecuador are filled with rubble after a planned removal of fuel subsidies triggered mass unrest.

Elsewhere, perennial corruption has the West African nation of Liberia in a state of near-constant protest; a change to presidential term limits in Guinea caused deadly riots; Mexicans are demonstrating against corruption and drug cartel violence; and masked rioters in Hong Kong are still rallying against their government, months after the withdrawal of the Chinese extradition bill that sparked their anger.

Europe, meanwhile, has seen a general strike and mass marches in Barcelona following the jailing of Catalonian independence leaders on Monday. Dutch farmers have also shut down the country’s motorways after the government introduced new emissions regulations; and in France, already rocked by almost a year of ‘Yellow Vests’ demonstrations, thousands of firefighters have marched for more funding and better working conditions.

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Protests can break out over a relatively minor issue, before spiralling into national crises. French President Emmanuel Macron learned this the hard way last November, when demonstrations over a fuel tax hike turned into a nationwide rejection of his corporate-friendly policies. Likewise, Lebanon’s “WhatsApp tax” was simply the final straw for protesters, who have now called for “the downfall of the regime,”  following years of perceived government ineptitude.

And, while Chilean students kicked off the fare-hike protests earlier this month, violent anti-government riots have since broken out, with at least eight people killed in arson and looting attacks, and the military were called out to enforce a curfew.

It’s contagious

So why has unrest seemingly erupted all over the world at once? According to a University of Arizona study, protest is contagious. The study’s authors found that “violent domestic conflicts spread between countries via spillover effects and the desire to emulate events abroad.” Non-violent movements too spread across borders in a similar fashion, with the researchers noting that “observation of collective action abroad” inspires would-be protesters at home.

The Chinese government has pointed the finger squarely at Hong Kong for inspiring similar protests elsewhere. An editorial in the state-run Global Times on Sunday accused the Hong Kong demonstrators of “exporting revolution to the world,” while former Chinese diplomat Wang Zhen wrote in the Beijing News that “the disastrous impact of a ‘chaotic Hong Kong’ has begun to influence the Western world.”

Though the Chinese government has its own political reasons to publish articles condemning the Hong Kong movement, the accusation that the protesters there are “exporting revolution” is spot-on, at least if the University of Arizona study is to be believed.

A minefield

Dealing with mass unrest is a minefield for governments. Though the respective governments of Lebanon, Chile, Ecuador and Hong Kong have all canceled the measures that angered the public in the first place, protests have only intensified. This presents decision-makers with a dilemma: signal weakness by doing nothing, or inflame tensions further with a police crackdown.

Former Madison, Wisconsin Police Chief David Couper literally wrote the book on handling protests. In ‘Arrested Development,’ Couper wrote that he would instruct his officers to “get in close, talk, stay in contact” with demonstrators, as he found that “the further the police positioned themselves from people in the crowd, the greater the chance the crowd would depersonalize them.”

Similarly, former Washington DC Police Chief Jerry Wilson told author Radley Balko that he would hide his riot-control teams away on buses until needed, as the mere presence of heavily-armed cops “didn’t prevent confrontation, it invited it.”

This cautious approach has not been taken by Chile, whose president Sebastian Pinera declared “We are at war against a powerful enemy, who is willing to use violence without any limits,” and summoned up thousands of troops to patrol the streets. Nor has it been taken by Ecuador’s Lenin Moreno, who announced the “militarization” of the capital, Quito, and authorized “the use of public force” to clear the streets of protesters.

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While the state cannot allow destruction and looting, a heavy-handed crackdown can backfire, as happened in France when images of wounded and maimed protesters gave the Yellow Vests a new issue to rally around, and mired the government and police forces in legal action.

Moreover, giving in to the protesters’ demands is one thing, but it’s another when rival groups of demonstrators demand clashing measures. While Dutch farmers are fuming at being labeled a climate change threat and punished with new nitrogen emissions regulations, Extinction Rebellion eco-activists took to the streets of more than 70 cities worldwide – including Amsterdam – to demand more of precisely the same kind of regulations, up to a complete abolition of livestock farming.

Contagious, difficult to control, and often contradictory, the season of unrest gripping much of the world presents governments – even those that acquiesce to their citizens’ demands – with few easy solutions.

Source: World in flames: why are protests raging around the globe?

This Is Not Luther or Calvin. This Is Jesus. — Ligonier Ministries Blog

Unless you are born again, you cannot see the kingdom of God. In this classic clip, R.C. Sproul explains that this message of salvation is Jesus’ message.

This Reformation Month, watch a short video every day on the history and insights of the Protestant Reformation. And don’t forget that for this month only, you can request your free digital download of R.C. Sproul’s video teaching series Luther and the Reformation plus the ebook edition of The Legacy of Luther, edited by R.C. Sproul and Stephen Nichols at ligm.in/Reformation. Offer ends October 31, 2019.

Transcript

The thing that I want to get across to you is this, that unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Now let me just stop for a minute. That’s not Billy Graham, and it’s not R.C. Sproul, and it’s not some television evangelist making that declaration. It is not Augustine, it’s not Aquinas. It’s not Athanasius, it’s not Luther, it’s not Calvin, it’s not Edwards. It is Jesus. The founder of the Christian faith, who is now making a statement that calls attention to something that is necessary for every human being.

via This Is Not Luther or Calvin. This Is Jesus. — Ligonier Ministries Blog