Daily Archives: October 25, 2019

October 25 Keys to Successful Parenting

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 6:1–4

Key Verse: Ephesians 6:2

“Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise.

Unfortunately, there are many Scripture passages that are often taken out of context, whereby half the passage is lauded and the rest is hushed or dropped off completely. Ephesians 6:1–4 is such a passage. Certainly, most of us recognize the admonition in verses 1–3 for children to honor and obey their parents. This is obviously an important task, as verse 2 points out, in that this was the first of God’s Ten Commandments to include a promise of blessing if the command is followed.

However, the fourth verse is often left out of our recollection. This equally relevant instruction reads, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (nasb).

Basically, while children should always seek to respect their parents, the parents themselves must strive to be mothers and fathers worthy of that respect. This can be accomplished by placing God as an important part of your family and your private life.

Are there parts of your life about which you do not want your children to know? Does your language, demeanor, or morality change in the presence of your kids? Children not only need to hear God’s instruction; they need to see it as well. Our kids see this dramatically displayed in how we live our lives. From today forward, strive to live a life worthy of the little one in your care.

Lord, I have often failed as a parent. Help me to be an example to my children and all other children to whom I serve as an example.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 312). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

What Is Reformation Day? — Ligonier Ministries Blog

A single event on a single day changed the world. It was October 31, 1517. Brother Martin, a monk and a scholar, had struggled for years with his church, the church in Rome. He had been greatly disturbed by an unprecedented indulgence sale. The story has all the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster. Let’s meet the cast.

First, there is the young bishop—too young by church laws—Albert of Mainz. Not only was he bishop over two bishoprics, he desired an additional archbishopric over Mainz. This too was against church laws. So Albert appealed to the Pope in Rome, Leo X. From the De Medici family, Leo X greedily allowed his tastes to exceed his financial resources. Enter the artists and sculptors, Raphael and Michelangelo.

When Albert of Mainz appealed for a papal dispensation, Leo X was ready to deal. Albert, with the papal blessing, would sell indulgences for past, present, and future sins. All of this sickened the monk, Martin Luther. Can we buy our way into heaven? Luther had to speak out.

But why October 31? November 1 held a special place in the church calendar as All Saints’ Day. On November 1, 1517, a massive exhibit of newly acquired relics would be on display at Wittenberg, Luther’s home city. Pilgrims would come from all over, genuflect before the relics, and take hundreds, if not thousands, of years off time in purgatory. Luther’s soul grew even more vexed. None of this seemed right.

Martin Luther, a scholar, took quill in hand, dipped it in his inkwell and penned his 95 Theses on October 31, 1517. These were intended to spark a debate, to stir some soul-searching among his fellow brothers in the church. The 95 Theses sparked far more than a debate. The 95 Theses also revealed the church was far beyond rehabilitation. It needed a reformation. The church, and the world, would never be the same.

One of Luther’s 95 Theses simply declares, “The Church’s true treasure is the gospel of Jesus Christ.” That alone is the meaning of Reformation Day. The church had lost sight of the gospel because it had long ago papered over the pages of God’s Word with layer upon layer of tradition. Tradition always brings about systems of works, of earning your way back to God. It was true of the Pharisees, and it was true of medieval Roman Catholicism. Didn’t Christ Himself say, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light?” Reformation Day celebrates the joyful beauty of the liberating gospel of Jesus Christ.

What is Reformation Day? It is the day the light of the gospel broke forth out of darkness. It was the day that began the Protestant Reformation. It was a day that led to Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, and may other Reformers helping the church find its way back to God’s Word as the only authority for faith and life and leading the church back to the glorious doctrines of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. It kindled the fires of missionary endeavors, it led to hymn writing and congregational singing, and it led to the centrality of the sermon and preaching for the people of God. It is the celebration of a theological, ecclesiastical, and cultural transformation.

So we celebrate Reformation Day. This day reminds us to be thankful for our past and to the Monk turned Reformer. What’s more, this day reminds us of our duty, our obligation, to keep the light of the gospel at the center of all we do.

via What Is Reformation Day? — Ligonier Ministries Blog

October 25 Your Fertility Factor

Scripture Reading: Matthew 13:1–9

Key Verse: Matthew 13:9

He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

The parable of the sower and the seeds is a story about how we listen to God’s Word. Some people are unreceptive, some are so-so, and some are fertile and ready to burst forth with growth. Here are some key ways to enhance your “fertility factor”:

Commit yourself to listening carefully. When you are involved in Bible study, wherever you are, make the conscious decision to keep your ears open and your concentration focused.

Resist all outside clutter. Part of concentration means getting rid of distractions. If you’re at home, don’t position yourself next to the phone or the TV or the refrigerator. Even with all the willpower in the world, you set yourself up for a wandering mind.

Evaluate your spiritual needs right away. When the study session is over, take some time to look back over your notes and determine which points are personally applicable. If the message was especially long or intense and you need to back away for a while, write down a specific time for later to review what you learned.

These tips may seem obvious at first glance, but developing a disciplined routine in Bible study pays off tomorrow as you form good habits. With proper management, good soil becomes productive over the years as nutrients seep in and penetrate each layer.

Precious heavenly Father, make the soil of my life more productive as the nutrients of Your Word penetrate each layer. Enhance my fertility factor.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 312). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

What Are the Pagan Roots of Halloween and Why Should We Care? | CrossWalk

What Are the Pagan Roots of Halloween and Why Should We Care?

What is the origin of Halloween? According to this article, many believe it began with the ‘Summer’s End’ festival, or Samhain celebrated 2,000 years ago as the beginning of the Celtic year. During this festival time, Celtic farmers brought livestock in for the winter and harvested their crops. They sacrificed fruits of the harvest and the best of their flocks to appease pagan gods.

Celts Believed the Dead Could Walk on October 31

Celtic legends taught that fairies cast spells and the dead walked among the living during Samhain. On October 31, these ancient Northern Europeans believed they could visit the dead and discover their future from immortal spirits.

The Celts were highly superstitious and thought these evil spirits could damage crops, possess the living, and spread incurable sickness. That’s why they dressed up in scary costumes and animal hides while hovering in fear around bonfires.

Pagan Roots of Popular Halloween Traditions

Trick-or-Treating also began during Samhain. The tradition was an ancient custom of “souling.” The poor would go from house to house to beg for soul cakes. In return for the “soul cakes” the beggars would pray for family members who had recently died. Soul cakes were round loaves of bread filled with currants.

Pumpkins and Jack-o-Lanterns were also part of Celtic lore. A tale was told that a drunken farmer named Stingy Jack was so wicked that when he died, he restlessly wandered between heaven and hell, unable to enter either one. As he roamed the darkness, he hollowed out a turnip and placed a burning coal inside to light his way.

Celts carved “Jack-o-Lanterns” to guide lost souls home on the eve of Samhain.

Bobbing for apples also has mythical roots. The Celts believed that the practice used to be considered a form of divination. According to NPR, bobbing for apples was a practice where people would dunk their heads in a vat of water and try to bite into floating fruit in a quest to figure out their future spouse. Ladies would mark an apple and toss it into the tub. The thinking was they’d be destined to whoever pulled it out of the water.

In 800 A.D., the Catholic church moved “All Saint’s Day” from Spring to November 1. Hallow’s Mass is November 1, and All Saint’s Day is November 2.

One would think this Catholic celebration would be an opportunity to Christianize Halloween, but it is not.

Author Scott P. Richert, content manager for Sunday Visitor, the largest Catholic publishing company, writes that the purpose of All Souls Day is to pray people out of purgatory by prayer, almsgiving, and the Mass. But purgatory, and praying people out of purgatory is an anti-biblical practice.

How Should Christians Handle Halloween?

First, I believe it is the choice of the Christian parent to allow or disallow children to participate in the festivities. If the children are old enough to understand, I think it’s appropriate to explain the pagan roots of Halloween. It’s a great opportunity to teach what the Bible says about the finality of death, the promise of heaven through Jesus, and the hope of resurrection.

Churches can use Halloween as a time to build community, to show compassion and to share the message of Christ. Our church celebrates “Boogers and Halloweenies,” where communities in our area hold cookouts and free food for neighbors, while sharing the Good News of Christ.

Many churches around the country have harvest festivals or other events to provide a safe place for families to celebrate.

Communities need to know that Christians are not isolationists. They can welcome trick-or-treaters with ‘Snickers’ and a smile.

Halloween, however, should not be celebrated in ignorance. We need to teach its origins and contrast it with biblical truth.

What Do Our Children Need to Know?

God loves us and sent His Son Jesus to die in our place. When we place our faith in Christ’s death and resurrection, our sins are forgiven and our home is heaven. Death is final. Eternity is real. Jesus is victorious over evil. We can stand secure and unafraid!


headshot of author Dr. Julie BarrierDr. Julie Barrier, along with her pastor-husband, Dr. Roger Barrier, have taught conferences on marriage and ministry in 35 countries. The Barriers are founders and directors of Preach It, Teach It, providing free resources in 10 languages to 5 million visitors in 229 countries. The Barriers pastored 35 years at Casas Church in Arizona, Julie has served as a worship minister, concert artist and adjunct professor at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. She has authored or composed of over 500 published works.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages

Source: What Are the Pagan Roots of Halloween and Why Should We Care?

Faith Alone, Grace Alone, Christ Alone — Ligonier Ministries Blog

Roman Catholics believe salvation is by faith plus works, grace plus merit, and Christ plus our own righteousness. In this brief clip, R.C. Sproul looks at the Reformers’ objections to this view.

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

In the Roman Catholic view, it is faith plus works that gives us justification. It is grace plus merit that gives us justification. It is Christ plus me and my inherent righteousness that gives me justification. That’s the formula in a nutshell. The reformers objected strenuously to this and said, “No.” This is crossed out by the reformers. This is crossed out by the reformers, and my inherent righteousness is crossed out, so that you have faith alone, grace alone, Christ alone.

via Faith Alone, Grace Alone, Christ Alone — Ligonier Ministries Blog

October 25 A Restless Spirit

Scripture reading: Esther 6:1–7:10

Key verse: Esther 6:1

That night the king could not sleep. So one was commanded to bring the book of the records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king.

The night before King Ahasuerus’s edict to destroy all Jews was to be executed by Haman, the king could not sleep. Eventually, he called for the book of records to be read to him. In those records was an account of where Esther’s uncle, Mordecai, had reported an assassination plot on the king’s life. The record reminded the king that Mordecai, a Jew, had saved his life.

In the end, Mordecai and the nation of Israel were saved because God put a stop to Haman’s wicked plan. Haman, not Mordecai or the Jews, was the one executed. How did all of this come about? God gave King Ahasuerus a restless spirit. He could not sleep, so he began searching for answers to what was troubling him.

One of the ways God gets your attention is to give you a restless spirit. Often, in those times when “something is just not right,” God wants you to stop and wait on a word from Him. Inevitably, when you ignore the static in your spirit and continue on your own path, you will only worsen what could have been a much less troublesome situation.

Do you feel that you’re continually striving without really getting anywhere? Do you keep winding up at the same spiritual spot? God will bring you back to that starting point until you agree that His direction will be yours. Then come rest and peace.

Thank You for a restless spirit, Lord, which directs me to Your perfect will. Use it to bring me into conformity to Your will.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 312). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

ANOTHER STOCK MARKET CRASH? Nobel Prize winning economist Robert Shiller sees ‘bubbles everywhere’ | RT – Daily news

Nobel Laureate Robert Shiller, who famously predicted the 2000 and the 2007 stock market crashes, says this time that bubbles are everywhere, including stocks, bonds, and housing.

He told investors in Los Angeles: “There’s no place to go. You just have to ride it out. You invest even though you expect the price to decline.”

Also on rt.com

Beware! Two ‘black swans’ may come out of nowhere & kill stocks this summer, experts warn

The economics professor at Yale University said he sees “bubbles everywhere,” adding that “you get… in a situation where you know it’s going to decline, but you still saved enough to hold you over; you have no choice.”

The warning comes on the 90th anniversary of the stock market crash of 1929. In the aftermath, the US and the rest of the industrialized countries spiraled into the Great Depression, the worst and longest economic downturn in the history of the Western industrialized world, lasting until 1939.

Shiller said he expects just 4.4 percent average annual returns in US stocks over the next 30 years. He also raised concerns over bonds, which continue to be one of the hottest asset classes going as investors seek safety.

Also on rt.com

Recession likely to be years away thanks to Trump’s bullish effect on market – Nobel prize winner Robert Shiller

“It [the bond bubble] seems to be related to people not paying enough attention, thinking through the simple logic… this can’t keep going and it’s going to end badly,” he said. “These things may sink at some point.”

Talking about the housing market, the economist said it is in a bubble phase. “It’s like 2005 again… San Francisco and L.A. are already slowing down,” he said, explaining that’s a “bad indicator,” as those markets have been going up for years.

Source: ANOTHER STOCK MARKET CRASH? Nobel Prize winning economist Robert Shiller sees ‘bubbles everywhere’

The Fed Is On Its Last Legs & Foreign Central Banks Are Going For Gold by Ron Paul

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• Ron Paul Liberty Report

The U.S. government & it’s monopoly money-printer known as The Federal Reserve have painted themselves into a bankruptcy corner. Not only are more and more foreign nations rejecting America’s aggressive and militant foreign policy, but they’re also ripping themselves away from the The Fed’s dollar. Foreign central banks are increasingly gravitating to sound money like gold. The Fed is on its last legs. All this and more on today’s Liberty Report!

BOOM! Trump Approval Up to 42% with Black Males — Makes 2020 Election Impossible for Democrats — The Gateway Pundit

This is absolutely devastating news for the Socialist-Democrats.

A recent Hill-HarrisX survey found that President Trump has historic numbers with black voters for any Republican in decades.

According to the poll President Trump has up to a 42% approval rating with

In the last ten presidential election cycles the highest black vote share for a Republican was 12% for Bob Dole in 1996.

If Donald Trump captured 25 percent of the African American vote he would win the 2020 election in a landslide.

black vote democrats

If Republicans were to peel off even 25% of black voters from the Democrat Party — Democrats would be the minority party for decades.
Thank you Donald Trump!

via BOOM! Trump Approval Up to 42% with Black Males — Makes 2020 Election Impossible for Democrats — The Gateway Pundit

Top Senate Democrats Tell Hillary Clinton to Move On: ‘Time for Another Nominee’ | The Epoch Times

After news reports suggested Hillary Clinton might run for president, her former Senate colleagues said she should stay put.

“She’s done a great service to our country and public service, and I supported her wholeheartedly, but I believe it’s time for another nominee,” said Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), reported Politico on Thursday.

“I don’t think it would be good for her,” said Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.). “She’s been through this war once. The Republicans have made a target out of her for 30 years and she’s still going to [be] that same target. I just think it would be tough.”

“That would be a mistake,” claimed Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.). He repeated: “That would be a mistake.”

“Absolutely not,” added Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

“We have a lot of really fantastic candidates out there already. Let’s leave it at that,” the website quoted Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) as saying.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) recently said Hillary Clinton shouldn’t run for president. (Shar Adams/The Epoch Times)

“It’s just my instinct that there’s no way she wants to go through this meat grinder again,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) told the political website.

“It’s hard to know whether the world has passed on or not,” longtime Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) added.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) suggested that she should stay put. (Andrew Harnik/AP Photo)

The responses came after her former aide, Philippe Reines, told Fox News that she isn’t ruling out running for office again after her 2016 defeat against President Donald Trump.

“You know, she ran for president because she thought she would be the best president,” Philippe Reines stated during an Oct. 23 appearance on Fox News’s Tucker Carlson Tonight. “If she still thought that now, if she thought she had the best odds of beating Donald Trump—I think she would think about it long and hard.”

“She’s not, she hasn’t foreclosed the possibility, I guess,” Carlson responded. “No, she has not,” Reines said.

(L) Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during the Time 100 Summit event on April 23, 2019, in New York. (Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images) (R) Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard speaks during the fourth U.S. Democratic presidential candidates 2020 election debate in Westerville, Ohio, on Oct. 15, 2019. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

This week, Clinton tussled with Democratic candidate Tulsi Gabbard, alleging that the Hawaii congresswoman is a Russian asset.

“I’m not making any predictions but I think they’ve got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate,” Clinton said, referring to Gabbard, as reported by Fox News. “She’s the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far.”

Other news reports, which cited anonymous sources, have recently claimed that Clinton hasn’t yet ruled out running again.

Meanwhile, there have been reports saying that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, 77, is aiming to run for the nation’s highest office. Names like Disney CEO Bob Iger, former Secretary of State John Kerry, and former first lady Michelle Obama have also been reportedly wanting to run.

Source: Top Senate Democrats Tell Hillary Clinton to Move On: ‘Time for Another Nominee’

Mark Levin: ‘Trump gets treated worse than a terrorist or mass murderer’ | FOX news

Life, Liberty & Levin” host Mark Levin was in rare form Thursday night blasting House Democrats over their impeachment inquiry.

“So, Nixon and Clinton got treated fairly,” Levin said on “Hannity.” “Trump gets treated worse than a terrorist or mass murder.”

GOP STORMS SECURE ROOM ON CAPITOL HILL, DISRUPTING DEPOSITION

Levin who read passages from the Clinton impeachment inquiry showcasing why he believes that Democrats are treating President Trump unfairly, accusing Democrats trying to push an impeachment trial in the 2020 general election.

“I hear some of these legal…analysts out there going on and on about that’s the next stage. No, I’m afraid not. You didn’t have an official vote on an impeachment hearing, “Levin said. “This entire thing is the Democrat Party in the House seizing control of the instrumentalities of the House bastardizing the impeachment clause in order to drive a trial into the general election.”

The radio host also dismissed the testimony earlier in the week of diplomat Bill Taylor.

“We have testimony from William Taylor, who the Hell is William Taylor,” Levin said. “All of a sudden he’s the great William Taylor, because Adam Schiff has annointed his such.”

https://video.foxnews.com/v/embed.js?id=6097538166001&w=466&h=263Watch the latest video at foxnews.com

Levin also blasted the media for their hypocrisy and their unwillingness to cover what he described as the House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff’s “secret” impeachment inquiry.

“Where are these press organizations today when it comes to Adam Schiff keeping the press out of the these secret testimony? These secret hearings? They don’t much give a damn anymore, do they?” Levin said.

 

Source: Mark Levin: ‘Trump gets treated worse than a terrorist or mass murderer’

Subscription war on ‘fake news’: WaPo, NYT ousted from White House, federal agencies told to follow lead | RT USA News

Trump has unleashed an unprecedented attack on the free media (or shown fake news its place) – depending on which side you’re on – by cancelling White House subscriptions to the WaPo and NYT, telling federal agencies to do so too.

No love is lost between US president and a large part of the American journalistic community. Trump repeatedly derided them as “fake news” and “enemies of the people.” He was accused in response of being a man-child and a wannabe dictator.

The president’s criticisms were not always without merit, considering how many times the coverage of the Russiagate saga turned out to be inaccurate or even completely false, and always in the same anti-Trump direction.

Also on rt.com

‘Fake news’ is okay if it’s about #RussiaGate: Top 7 fake ‘collusion’ stories the media pushed

This week, Donald Trump delivered his latest salvo against the critical US press, announcing his desire to cancel subscriptions for the printed versions of the New York Times and the Washington Post, two of his most consistent detractors. “They’re fake,” he explained to Fox News host Sean Hannity on Monday. Neither newspaper was delivered to the White House on Thursday morning, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Trump administration is now strongly urging federal agencies to drop their subscriptions too.

“Not renewing subscriptions across all federal agencies will be a significant cost saving – hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars will be saved,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told the WSJ without offering further details.

Also on rt.com

Trump campaign threatens to SUE CNN for ‘unfair, unfounded, unethical & unlawful’ attacks on president

It’s not clear if this promise of a scorched earth bombing, targeting the two newspapers’ bottom line, would be as comprehensive as it may be. If it is, WaPo and the Times would obviously lose not only subscription fees but also some of the clout they have with advertisers, if the print editions are expelled from coffee tables and stands in places of power across the US.

On the other hand, the Trump administration has a record of backtracking on the decisions taken over the president’s feud with the media, like reinstating White House credentials of CNN reporter Jim Acosta in November last year. Some people, including WaPo columnist Megan McArdle, suggested the move may even benefit the newspapers, since Americans would rush to defend the free press by subscribing more.

The US journalistic community is taking a stance of indignant outrage in response to Trump’s treatment of the two newspapers.

“I have no doubt the hard-working reporters of the New York Times and Washington Post will continue to do quality journalism regardless of whether the president acknowledges he reads them,” said Jonathan Karl, the president of the White House Correspondents’ Association and chief White House correspondent for ABC News.

Pretending to ignore the work of a free press won’t make the news go away or stop reporters from informing the public and holding those in power accountable.

It’s worth noting that cancelling subscriptions to the WaPo and the Times doesn’t mean federal workers won’t be able to read them. Both papers offer free online access to anyone with an email using a ‘.gov’ or ‘.mil’ domain.

For the record, expressing disdain for the press in this way is not unprecedented for a US president. John F. Kennedy did the same thing with the New York Herald Tribune in response to what he saw as unfair coverage by the Republican-leaning paper. The subscription was renewed after tempers cooled.

Source: Subscription war on ‘fake news’: WaPo, NYT ousted from White House, federal agencies told to follow lead

Russian Political Prisoner Maria Butina to Be Freed by the US | Stephen Lendman

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Written by Subject: Russia

Russian Political Prisoner Maria Butina to Be Freed by the US

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

US dirty war on Russia by other means takes many forms — including arrest and detention of its nationals — falsely charged, prosecuted, and imprisoned for political reasons.

Russia’s envoy to the US Anatoly Antonov earlier accused Washington of “unjustly hunting for Russian citizens not only in the US but in other countries too.”

Police state America operates like similar regimes worldwide — extrajudicially against targeted individuals, subjected to show trials or none at all, declared guilty by accusations, followed by harsh gulag mistreatment.

Maria Butina was guilty of being a Russian national in the US at the wrong time.

Arrested by the FBI in July 2018, she was detained without bond, falsely charged with operating as an unregistered Russian agent.

She’s a private citizen with no Kremlin connection, no evidence suggesting otherwise. Accusations against her were fabricated.

She’s a visa-approved American University graduate, earning a master’s degree in international relations, “not an agent of the Russian Federation,” her lawyer Robert Driscoll earlier explained, adding:

She’s “not a proxy for any of the serious and substantial issues that our country has with Russia right now.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova denounced her arrest, detention, and mistreatment, calling it part of the campaign in America to “stoke Russophobic hysteria.”

Despite innocent of bogus charges against her and posing no flight risk, she was denied bail, largely held in suffocating solitary confinement, and given no proper medical care – aiming to break her will by gross mistreatment.

Last December, her lawyers and federal prosecutors struck a plea bargain. Despite guilty of no wrongdoing, she pleaded guilty to “conspiracy” against the US (sic), said she acted as a foreign agent which she’s not, and agreed to cooperate with federal authorities in return for leniency.

Since wrongfully imprisoned, she endured brutalizing physical and emotional mistreatment, amounting to torture.

Under constitutionally banned “cruel and unusual punishment,” most people will say anything to stop pain and suffering.

Butina and other wrongfully imprisoned Russian nationals are victims of US imperial contempt for the rule of law and fundamental rights of everyone.

In April, she was unjustifiably sentenced to 18 months imprisonment for political reasons.

At the time, Russian lower house’s State Duma International Affairs Committee chairman Leonid Slutsky denounced her persecution and mistreatment, saying:

“The vaunted American justice in Butina’s case is an example of modern political inquisition. All charges were fabricated.”

“The entire process is clearly politicized, starting with the fact that she was detained on the eve of the meeting of the Russian and US presidents in Helsinki, and it was hardly a coincidence.”

Her 18-month sentence included nine months already served. On October 25, she’ll be released and deported to Russia unless US dark forces decide to brutalize her longer.

Before sentencing in April, she said “I came to the United States not under any orders, but with hope, and now nothing remains but penitence.”

On return to Russia, she’ll be treated like a human being again, her rights respected, polar opposite her police state mistreatment in the US.

Russia’s US envoy Anatoly Antonov explained that despite no legal obstacles preventing her from returning home on release Friday, manufactured issues could delay her departure.

When home on Russian soil after her horrific ordeal, she’ll be able to breathe free for the first time since it all began.

Source: Russian Political Prisoner Maria Butina to Be Freed by the US

Unconditional Election: Why Some Believe and Others Remain in Their Sin | Credo Magazine

The new issue of Credo Magazine focuses on Dort at 400. The following is an excerpt from Cornelius Venema’s article, “Unconditional Election: Why Some Believe and Others Remain in Their Sin.” Cornelis Venema (PhD, Princeton Theological Seminary) is President and Professor of Doctrinal Studies at Mid-America Reformed Seminary. He is the author of numerous books including But for the Grace of God: An Exposition of the Canons of DortChosen in Christ: Revisiting the Contours of PredestinationThe Promise of the FutureThe Gospel of Free Acceptance in Christ: An Assessment of the Reformation and ‘New Perspectives’ on Paul, and Christ and Covenant Theology: Essays on Election, Republication, and the Covenants


Even as He chose us in Him [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved. (Eph. 1:4-6)

The importance of the teaching of unconditional election, the first main point of doctrine affirmed in the Canons of Dort, cannot be overstated. As J. I. Packer once put it, the doctrine of election preserves the simple gospel truth that “God saves sinners.” Sinners do not save themselves. Only God saves, and he does so out of his undeserved love and free decision to grant his people salvation in Christ—and that “before the foundation of the world”! By affirming this, the Synod of Dort preserved the biblical teaching that salvation is by grace alone. And at the same time, the Synod of Dort provided a sure footing for confidence in God’s invincible grace in Christ.

The Arminian Doctrine of Conditional Predestination

To appreciate the Canons’ teaching on unconditional election, it is important to remember that they were articulated in a specific historical context. The Synod of Dort was convened to address the controversy that broke out in the Reformed churches of the Netherlands in response to the teaching of James Arminius (1560-1609) and his followers, the “Remonstrants.”[1] Arminius, a brilliant student of Theodore Beza, Calvin’s successor in Geneva, initiated the controversy during his tenure as a pastor of the Reformed church in Amsterdam and subsequently as a professor of theology at the University of Leiden.

Shortly before his death in 1609, Arminus summarized his teaching on election in two important works, his Public Disputations and Declaration of Sentiments.[2] In these works, Arminius expressed serious objections to the Reformed view of unconditional election as it was set forth in Article 16 of the Belgic Confession.[3] According to this Article, the salvation of those whom God mercifully elects in Christ depends entirely upon God’s gracious purpose of election, and not upon any human merit or achievement. Only God saves, and he does so out of his undeserved love and free decision to grant his people salvation in Christ—and that “before the foundation of the world”! Click To Tweet

Contrary to the consensus of the Reformed churches, Arminius argued for what is most aptly described as a doctrine of “conditional election.” In his Declaration of Sentiments, Arminius summarized his teaching by distinguishing four decrees within God’s eternal mind and will. Though Arminius formulated these four decrees in a highly “scholastic” and theological manner, his position can be simply stated in four points:[4]

First, God eternally and absolutely wills to save all fallen sinners, and therefore has decreed to appoint his Son Jesus Christ as the Mediator and Savior of all who are lost. The first and foundational decree of God expresses his universal and gracious intention to save all fallen sinners without exception upon the basis of Christ’s atoning work.

Second, God eternally and absolutely wills to receive into favor all fallen sinners who repent and believe, and to leave under his wrath all who remain impenitent and unbelieving. Though God eternally and absolutely wills the salvation of all, he also wills to save only those who choose to believe and persevere in believing and to damn those who choose to remain in their sin and unbelief.

Third, God eternally wills to appoint the means by which fallen sinners are able to come to faith and repentance. These means include the ministry of the Holy Spirit, who uses the Word and sacraments to invite fallen sinners to respond to the gospel in the way of faith and repentance. The actual salvation of fallen sinners depends upon their willingness to meet the “conditions” of the gospel invitation.

And fourth, God eternally decrees to save those particular persons whom he foreknows will believe and persevere in believing in response to the gospel; and he eternally decrees to damn those whom he foreknows will choose not to believe and persevere in believing. The election and actual salvation of some fallen sinners rests upon God’s foreknowledge of their free choice to believe and to persevere in faith.

Arminius’ fourth point clearly draws out the implications of the preceding three points for the doctrine of election. Though God wills absolutely and antecedently to save all fallen sinners, he wills relatively and consequently to save only those particular persons whom he foreknows would believe and to damn those whom he foreknows would not.[5]

The basis for God’s decree to save and damn “certain particular persons” is his foreknowledge of the way these persons freely (independently) choose to respond to the gospel call. The ultimate condition and ground for the actual salvation of sinners rests upon the free choice of some to believe and to persevere in faith.

On the one hand, God’s universal will and intention to save all fallen sinners is frustrated or thwarted in the case of all those who persistently refuse to respond in faith to the invitation of the gospel. And on the other hand, God’s decision to save the elect is dependent upon, or in consequence of, their choice to believe and to persevere in doing so.[6]

Read Cornelius Venema’s entire article in the new issue of Credo Magazine: Dort at 400.


Endnotes

[1] Arminius’ followers are commonly designated “Remonstrants” because they presented their views in the form of a Remonstrance or formal petition to the civil authorities in 1610. This Remonstrance presented the Arminian view in the form of five opinions. The five main points of doctrine articulated in the Canons are, accordingly, a reply to each of these opinions. For a helpful treatment of the historical background to and resolution of the controversy at the Synod of Dort, including a translation of this Remonstrance, see Crisis in the Reformed Churches: Essays in Commemoration of the Great Synod of Dort 1618-1619, P. Y. De Jong, ed. (2nd ed.; Grandville, MI: Reformed Fellowship, Inc., 1968 [2008]).

[2] Public Disputations, in The Works of James Arminius [hereafter: WJA], trans. James Nichols and William Nichols (London: 1825, 1828, 1875; reprint, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1986), 2:80-312; and Declaration of Sentiments of Arminius, delivered before the States of Holland, in WJA 2:580-732.

[3] Article 16 declares: “We believe that, all the posterity of Adam being thus fallen into perdition and ruin by the sin of our first parents, God then did manifest Himself such as He is; that is to say, merciful and just: merciful, since He delivers and preserves from this perdition all whom He in His eternal and unchangeable counsel of mere goodness has elected in Christ Jesus our Lord, without any respect to their works; just, in leaving others in the fall and perdition wherein they have involved them­selves.”

[4] See Declaration of Sentiments, in WJA, 1:653-54, for Arminius’ more scholastic statement of these four points.

[5] Richard A. Muller, “Grace, Election, and Contingent Choice: Arminius’ Gambit and the Reformed Response,” in The Grace of God, the Bondage of the Will, ed. Thomas R. Schreiner and Bruce A. Ware (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1995), 274: “According to this doctrine, God genuinely wills that which he knows will never happen, indeed, what he wills not to bring about!”

[6] Muller, “Grace, Election, and Contingent Choice,” 266: “… if the salvation of human beings rests on divine foreknowledge, the human being is clearly regarded as the first and effective agent in human action.”

Source: Unconditional Election: Why Some Believe and Others Remain in Their Sin