Daily Archives: November 7, 2019

November 7 Do Not Fear

Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 15:17–24

Key Verse: 1 Samuel 15:24

Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.”

Fear is never a reason to disobey God’s commands. In fact, fear that leads to disobedience is fear that has been wrongly invested.

Saul was misplacing fear when he went against God’s commands out of fear of his men. This is a temptation in the life of every believer. Many times situations or people will be threatening enough for a Christian to question God’s instructions and commands. When God’s will takes the obedient servant into danger, or a situation results in rejection, it is easy to allow fear to paralyze the believer into inaction.

In Matthew 10:28, Jesus said, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Christ contrasted the concerns of this world to eternal matters. He pointed out that the pains and difficulties experienced in the working out of God’s plan are nothing compared to the glorious victory of helping another be saved from the eternal ramifications of sin.

When you find yourself doing God’s will and come upon a frightening situation, do not fear—the God of all creation is your protector.

Lord, the opinion of the crowd is a powerful constraint on doing what is right before You. Be my courage, when I must stand alone.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 326). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

November 7 Recognizing God’s Voice

Scripture Reading: John 10:1–18

Key Verse: John 10:11

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.

In today’s busy, increasingly urban world, many people do not know basic facts about farm animals. If you know something about them, test your knowledge about sheep with these statements, answering true or false.

___ Sheep are able to seek out their own sources of food and water.

___ Sheep help one another when a sheep is wounded or stuck.

___ Sheep are strong and able to carry packs on their back.

___ Sheep are not afraid to graze away from the herd.

___ Sheep will follow anyone who gives them a command.

If you answered true to any of these, you’re wrong! The actual characteristics of sheep are the exact opposite of the ones described here. When Jesus said that we are like sheep, He was not paying us a high compliment.

Sheep are simpleminded, but they respond immediately to the love and tender care of their shepherd—and only their shepherd. Jesus said, “The sheep hear his [the shepherd’s] voice, and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice” (John 10:3–4 nasb).

The sheep have security and direction because they know their shepherd and respond to his commands. Do you know your Shepherd’s voice?

Precious Lord, You give me spiritual food and water, You aid me when I am wounded or stuck, and You carry my burdens. Thank You for being my Shepherd.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 326). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

November 7 Sufficient Provision

Scripture reading: Matthew 14:22–34

Key verse: Matthew 14:31

Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

The storm the disciples encountered in the Scripture was tenacious. Even though several of them were seasoned fishermen, they thought they were about to die. And if that wasn’t enough, they looked out over the raging sea and saw what appeared to be a ghost walking toward them.

How many times have you found yourself in a frightening situation and seen things differently from what they actually were? When you are fighting fear and anxiety, it is easy to be carried away by your emotions.

Jesus sent His disciples on before Him across the Sea of Galilee for a purpose. He knew the storm was coming. He also knew how they would respond to the thundering skies. They trusted Him as their Teacher; now they were going to learn about His lordship. Their faith had to be tested, and nothing tries faith like trouble and difficulty.

When we feel stretched to the limit and have no place to go, Jesus wants us instinctively to run to Him. However, instead of crying out to God, the disciples vainly struggled with oars and sails. They were captivated by fear and did not recognize Jesus even when He crossed over the waves of the sea to save them.

No matter what you face, you can trust Jesus to be your peace amid the storm. When you lay aside your human efforts, you will find His provision infinitely sufficient and true.

You are my peace, O God. You are my provision. You are sufficient for every need today.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 326). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

The faith of Kanye West: Two biblical responses to celebrity conversions — Denison Forum

Kanye West is one of the best-selling artists of all time, with more than 140 million records sold. He has been described as a “rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur, and fashion designer.”

His latest album, Jesus Is King, debuted at No. 1 on the charts. Every song on the album has appeared on Billboard’s Hot 100 this week as well.

His faith is making as many headlines as his albums.

West launched Sunday Service, a Christian worship group, earlier this year. Its first public performance was on Easter Sunday. At a service this past Friday, more than a thousand people reportedly raised their hands to commit their lives to Christ. A pastor who attended the service called it a “new wave of revival.”

West explained the purpose behind Jesus Is King: “Music is my job. That’s why I’m putting out the album. Serving God in everything that I can do is my job. That’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m on the planet is to be in service and in fear, love, and service to God.”

“He’s in the Bible. He’s in prayer.” 

West has struggled with mental health issues over the years, at one point telling David Letterman that he has bipolar disorder. His wife, Kim Kardashian West, told The View that her husband’s new album was instrumental in his becoming a Christian.

“Kanye started this to really heal himself and it was a really personal thing, and it was just friends and family,” she said. “He has had an amazing evolution of being born again and being saved by Christ.” He has reportedly announced that he will only make gospel music going forward.

Criticism has been swift and sharp.

Referring to the financial contributions West is making to Sunday Service, Rolling Stone calls his new album “a megachurch masquerading as a 12-song tax-shelter bar bonanza.” An article in the New Yorker headlined: “Kanye West’s Sunday Service Is Full of Longing and Self-Promotion.” Another writer called the service “a private affair that looks more like a celebrity cult.”

However, the pastor who is traveling with West and speaking at Sunday Service meetings says Kanye West’s new faith is genuine. According to Adam Tyson, West is “living and walking with God.” The pastor has seen noticeable changes in the rapper’s life: “He’s in the Bible. He’s in prayer.”

When Tyson shared the gospel with West at their first meeting, the artist responded: “I’ve been radically saved. I believe that message and I want to get that message out to the world.”

“People want to see him fail at Christianity” 

Our first biblical responsibility to Kanye West and other celebrities who come to Christ is to pray for them. Paul wrote: “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions” (1 Timothy 2:1–2). We are required to pray for each other and for those in positions of cultural influence.

Actress Patricia Heaton, an outspoken Christian, says she is praying for Kanye West because she believes people want to see him fail in his new faith. “It’s very hard,” she explains. “I think when someone of his stature in the industry and someone who has his amount of fame makes that kind of proclamation, people then really watch and scrutinize everything he does to catch him falling down.” She warned that “people want to see him fail at Christianity.”

Writing for Faithwire, Tré Goins-Phillips offers these suggestions as we pray for and encourage celebrity Christians: don’t expect instantaneous maturity; don’t anticipate perfection; stop idolizing fame; allow for missteps; and be understanding and trust God.

“Don’t be like the prodigal son’s brother” 

Our second biblical responsibility to celebrity converts is to serve them by “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).

Pastor Hans Fiene notes that “Christians shouldn’t be afraid of getting burned by Kanye West because our faith isn’t rooted in the fidelity of Christians but the faithfulness of Christ.” As a result, he counsels us, “Don’t be like the prodigal son’s brother.”

The pastor explains: “God has not called you to be Kanye West’s faith auditor. He’s called you to be Kanye West’s brother. So instead of trying to keep him outside the feast of salvation until he’s proven himself worthy, rejoice to enter with him into the feast where all formerly unworthy sinners are invited to eat and drink the worthiness of Jesus Christ.”

As “formerly unworthy sinners,” we are called to help each other live biblically and redemptively: “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness” (Galatians 6:1a). But we are also to “keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted” (v. 1b).

In short, we are to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (v. 2).

“Compassion will cure more sins than condemnation” 

I cannot determine the genuineness of Kanye West’s faith. Or of yours. Or you of mine.

But I know this: How we treat Kanye West tells the unbelievers we know how we will treat them if they join our faith.

Our Father calls us to pray for each other and help each other follow Jesus. And he calls us to model community that expects the best of one another and encourages one another when we fall short.

Henry Ward Beecher noted that “compassion will cure more sins than condemnation.” And it will lead more sinners to the Savior.

Who needs your compassion today?

via The faith of Kanye West: Two biblical responses to celebrity conversions — Denison Forum

The Jeffrey Epstein Story Is A Giant Rats’ Nest That Needs Dogged Investigation — The Federalist

From the media to government bureaucrats to Epstein himself, powerful people are getting away with execrable behavior. It’s time to investigate the Epstein-media-intelligence agency nexus.

Several weeks ago, ABC News anchor Amy Robach was taped talking to her producer off air, expressing her frustration about ABC “spiking” the Jeffrey Epstein pedophilia story. Project Veritas picked up the tape and released it earlier this week. Here’s ABC’s Robach:

I’ve had the story for three years — I’ve had this interview with Virginia Roberts Giuffre [one of Epstein’s victims]. We would not put it on the air. First of all, I was told, ‘Who’s Jeffrey Epstein? No one knows who that is. This is a stupid story.’

NPR had criticized ABC in August for failing to air the interview with Giuffre, who was never told why ABC wouldn’t air it. In the clip, Robach says one reason the interview didn’t run is that Giuffre implicated British Prince Andrew, and the British royal family had “threatened” ABC “a million different ways.”

One of those ways, said Robach, was a threat to cut ABC’s access to British royals William and Kate. In the tape, an off-camera ABC employee said it was “creepy” that ABC would prioritize access to powerful people over telling the truth about Epstein’s predations on young girls. Robach agreed, saying, “Well, then I got a little concerned about why I couldn’t get [the story] on.”

“And then Alan Dershowitz was also implicated in — ’cause of the planes, she [Giuffre] told me everything,” Robach continued. “She had pictures, she had everything. She was in hiding for 12 years. We convinced her to come out. We convinced her to talk to us. It was unbelievable what we had [on Bill] Clinton. We had everything … [including] other women backing it up.”

At the end of the tape, Robach commented on Epstein’s recent death:

So do I think [Epstein] was killed? A hundred percent, yes I do. Because do you want it? He made his whole living blackmailing people. Yep. There were a lot of men in those planes, a lot of men who visited that island, lot of powerful men who came into that apartment.

The ABC employee off-camera then noted that she also didn’t believe the official story — that Epstein died in his jail cell from suicide.

“I knew [it wasn’t suicide] immediately,” Robach concurred. “And they made it seem as though he made that suicide attempt two weeks earlier. But his lawyers claim that he was roughed up by his cellmate around the neck, that was all, like, to plant the seed. And then … that’s why I really believe it. Like, really believe it.”

Robach then talked about Epstein’s co-conspirator, Ghislaine Maxwell, who allegedly groomed the young girls for Epstein and reportedly has “dirt” on all involved:

Well, Ghislaine Maxwell, who I had all sorts of stuff on her too. … And everyone’s like, ‘Who’s that? Who cares?’ She knows everything. She should be careful. She went out and recruited all of these girls. She should watch her back. I’d have security guards all around me.

Robach Situation Reveals Media Malpractice

The whole thing is troubling. Robach tried unconvincingly to walk her comments back. ABC claimed it didn’t run the story because it didn’t meet ABC’s standards.

But three years ago, when ABC News had the story, Epstein was a free man, and girls were still being abused. And this revelation comes on the tail of NBC being credibly accused of trying to kill the Harvey Weinstein story, even while it allowed Matt Lauer’s alleged sexual abuses to go unchecked. Plus these revelations are juxtaposed against a long history of these networks’ eagerness to publish unsubstantiated sexual smears against center-right figures, including Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

The timing of coverage has also been suspect. It’s astonishing to think how frenzied the Epstein coverage was, only to fade into relative oblivion after Epstein’s alleged suicide. The truth is that the media was only interested in the Epstein story when they thought they could tie Epstein’s crimes to President Trump because Trump was friends with Epstein in the 1990s.

According to court documents, though, Trump fell out with Epstein in the early 2000s, allegedly after Epstein was creepy with a towel girl at Mar-A-Lago, which led to Trump kicking Epstein out of the resort. The leftist media, without equally strong evidence, has tried to claim the falling-out occurred over a bidding war to buy an oceanfront mansion.

Either way, Trump and Epstein stopped being friends in the early 2000s. The same can’t be said for Bill Clinton. Other media leftists, including former Clinton White House official and current ABC News personality George Stephanopoulos, also continued to meet Epstein after his pedophilia had been publicly revealed.

Lest the Epstein coverage reveal too much, the media moved on from the Epstein-Trump angle and thus moved on from heavily covering the Epstein story altogether. In fact, much of the media is currently ignoring or downplaying the Robach tape concerning Epstein and ABC News.

That’s the opposite of journalism, especially since the entire Epstein story should keep Americans up at night. That Epstein died by suicide is questionable, according to medical evidence. And other irregularities surround Epstein’s death, including cameras that stopped working and guards that didn’t follow protocol.

Suicide or not, even bigger questions remain. As Robach said in the above tape, other people who were complicit in Epstein’s evil appear to be escaping (worldly) justice. Where is Ghislaine Maxwell? If only CNN still thought it could tie Epstein to Trump, Jeff Zucker would be personally paying for Maxwell’s security to get her to testify. If Maxwell remained missing, the search for her would be bigger than the search for that plane.

Investigate the Epstein-Media-Intelligence Agency Nexus

Aside from the media malpractice, our government has been negligent as well. The Epstein story is yet another example of why Americans’ faith in our government is completely broken. Yes, there’s the aforementioned “bungles” at the jail where Epstein spent his final days. But there’s another big question that has seen extremely little coverage.

Trump’s former Labor Department secretary, Alexander Acosta, was the federal prosecutor against Epstein in 2008 (Acosta being Trump’s Labor secretary was the other media angle to get Trump several months ago). Despite both state and federal prosecutors claiming they had a solid case, Epstein got a slap on the wrist — a non-prosecution plea deal in 2007 dropped all other federal investigation of sex crimes with minors and human trafficking.

Acosta deserves blame for that because Acosta gave Epstein that sweetheart plea deal. But when interviewed about Epstein during his vetting process before his Labor secretary nomination, Acosta allegedly told Trump transition team staff that senior Department of Justice officials were to blame for the lenience given to Epstein. According to The Daily Beast:

‘Is the Epstein case going to cause a problem [for confirmation hearings]?’ Acosta had been asked. Acosta had explained, breezily, apparently, that back in the day he’d had just one meeting on the Epstein case [with DOJ officials]. He’d cut the non-prosecution deal with one of Epstein’s attorneys because he had ‘been told’ to back off, that Epstein was above his pay grade. ‘I was told Epstein ‘belonged to intelligence’ and to leave it alone,’ he told his interviewers in the Trump transition, who evidently thought that was a sufficient answer and went ahead and hired Acosta.

Acosta, while still Labor secretary and when asked about this report, issued a textbook non-denial. This is troubling. Given the history of the intelligence agencies, especially the CIA, it is entirely conceivable that the intelligence community ran a blackmail operation via Epstein.

Yet what excuse could possibly exist for this? Young women were irreparably harmed. Often, what the intelligence bureaucracies say is in the interest of national security looks a lot more like a self-interested effort to accumulate power.

Power Must Be Held Accountable

America’s founders thought unaccountable power would always be abused. They were right. And people need to trust their government, at least most of the time, to keep a functioning republic. The media has already moved on from Epstein, but Middle America has not. Unless people in the Beltway want Middle America to totally check out, the Epstein-media-intelligence agency nexus must be investigated. Congress should hold hearings immediately to get to the bottom of this. Attorney General William Barr should also update the public on the progress and exact scope of his investigation.

The questions for Congress and the country to ask include: Is Acosta telling the truth about intelligence community involvement with Epstein? Who told Acosta to back off, and why? Where is Ghislaine Maxwell? What did ABC and other media outlets know, and when did they know it? Who were they covering for? If the intelligence community has such power over journalists, how often does the intelligence community tell newsrooms to kill stories?

For conservatives, the above questions apply, but more remain: The left talks a lot about equality, but what does it say about the leftist establishment when its media has consistently killed or underreported stories to protect the rich, connected, and powerful?

In other words, today’s news isn’t just slanted on a story-by-story basis. It’s slanted in the sense that many important stories never get covered, while small stories get overblown. Should conservatives continue to play this rigged game and treat these networks as left-leaning journalistic endeavors, instead of treating them as full-on opponents? Finally, are the intelligence agencies a threat to liberty, and what happens when even a Republican president, Republican appointees, and a Republican Congress can’t control these agencies?

In the end, it appears America is regressing, and injustice rules the day. The whole thing is reminiscent of the prophet Isaiah:

See how the faithful city has become a harlot! She once was full of justice; righteousness resided within her, but now only murderers! Your silver has become dross, your fine wine is diluted with water. Your rulers are rebels, friends of thieves. They all love bribes and chasing after rewards. They do not defend the fatherless, and the plea of the widow never comes before them. (Isaiah 1:21-23)

Willis L. Krumholz is a fellow at Defense Priorities. He holds a JD and MBA degree from the University of St. Thomas, and works in the financial services industry. The views expressed are those of the author only. You can follow Willis on Twitter @WillKrumholz.

via The Jeffrey Epstein Story Is A Giant Rats’ Nest That Needs Dogged Investigation — The Federalist

A Biblical Guide to (Not?) Calling Out False Teachers — The Messed Up Church

“You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?” -Jesus Christ in Matthew 23:33

“Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those on the outside. Remove the evil person from among you.” -The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 5:11-13

“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” -James 3:1

Have you told someone: “judge not!” or “don’t touch God’s anointed!” when they criticized a particular Bible teacher, pastor or authority figure? Do you think that Christians should accept everybody’s opinion as equally valid, as long as their “heart is in the right place?” Do you believe that when a person has a specific theological belief it’s a personal matter that should be kept “between themselves and God?” Do you think that a person automatically invalidates their ideas if they “don’t seem very loving?”

Afterall, nobody wants to be this person, right?…

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Well, here are some verses from the Bible to give clarity to this issue:

Here’s how Jesus responded to the Teachers of the Law and the Pharisees (the hypocritical religious leaders of His day):

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. 

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.

Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’ You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gift on the altar is bound by that oath.’ You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it.  And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.  In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Go ahead, then, and complete what your ancestors started!

You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

-Matthew 13:13-39

Lesson: Jesus was very angry with the religious leaders because they were adding to God’s Word a bunch of extra rules that made them the “special anointed ones” who alone had access to God. Jesus called them every nasty name in the book because they were hypocrites who had no need for God’s mercy; they believed they were living sinless lives and had earned the favor of God (and they demanded that the “regular people” treat them as religious celebrities). They didn’t care to serve the people-they wanted to show off to the people.

Jesus made this really clear in the beginning of His angry speech:

“Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: ‘The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.’” -Matthew 13:1-4

Here is another passage where we see Jesus acting in a way that might seem “unloving” and “too judgmental” by today’s standards:

“The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. And He made a scourge of cords, and drove all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house will consume me.” The Jews then said to Him, “What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body. So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.

Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing. But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.” -John 2:13-25

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Here’s another occasion where Jesus (violently) clears out the temple:

“Then they came to Jerusalem. And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves; and He would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple. And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a robbers’ den.” The chief priests and the scribes heard this, and began seeking how to destroy Him; for they were afraid of Him, for the whole crowd was astonished at His teaching.” -Mark 11:15-18

Notice that the chief priests and the scribes “were afraid of Him, for the whole crowd was astonished at His teaching?” This is not the meek and harmless Jesus that is depicted so often today. The category of people that get into trouble with Jesus are those who believe they’ve earned favor with God, and who want to profit from their position as religious leaders. Jesus called out the false teachers who believed themselves to be righteous leaders when they were nothing of the sort. He couldn’t let their false teaching prevent people from receiving the gracious gift of salvation that comes from simple faith as a pure gift from God. To be “nice” to these religious leaders would mean that their false teaching would keep people in bondage.

Here’s another Bible passage where Jesus sounded, well, kind of judgmental, narrow-minded and mean…

“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.’” -Matthew 7:15-23

In that passage we hear Jesus clearly telling us to “beware of false prophets, who come to us in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Shouldn’t we take Jesus at His word? To assume that everyone who claims to be a true prophet actually is a true prophet would be disobeying the Lord Himself.

“Hey! I don’t like where this article is going!”

“Hey! I don’t like where this article is going!”

Notice that this applies to people who perform all sorts of miraculous deeds in the name of Jesus?

Jesus did not like it when people demanded to “see a sign” from Him because He knew that they were filled with unbelief. No matter what He would have said (or done) they refused to believe in Him. A lack of belief was the problem, not a lack of miracles!

“Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, ‘Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.’ He answered, ‘A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here.’ -Matthew 12:38-41

But some will say that, yes, Jesus could speak with such certainty because He was God, but since no one else is God, no one else should ever speak that way. They would say now that we’re all part of the Christian church we should just agree to get along in spite of any differences we might have.

The Bible does not speak this way. Specifically, the Apostles (who wrote the New Testament) did not speak this way at all. And we’re not even going to get into the way the Old Testament describes false prophets, for the time being.

A great deal of what is written in the Bible exposes and corrects false teaching!

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“That’s some good stuff right there!” -The Apostle Paul

“That’s some good stuff right there!” -The Apostle Paul

The Apostle Paul wrote (“judgmental,” “mean-spirited,” and “narrow-minded”) stuff like this:

“Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.” -Acts 20:28-31

“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.” -2 Corinthians 11:13-15

“I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” -Galatians 1:6-10

“This was an issue because of the false brothers, who slipped in under false pretenses to spy on the freedom we have in Christ. Their goal was to make us slaves. We refused to give in to them even for a moment, so that the truth of the Gospel would continue with you.” -Galatians 2:4-5

“Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them (mark and avoid them). For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil.” -Romans 16:17-19

“Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.” –2 Corinthians 2:17

“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.” -Ephesians 5:6-13

But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of a brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler-not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those on the outside. Remove the evil person from among you.” -1 Corinthians 5:11-13

For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach, for the sake of sordid gain.” -Titus 1:10-11

“Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind.” -Colossians 2:18

Now here are some things that the Apostle Peter wrote:

“For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” -1 Peter 4:17

“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” 2 Peter 2:1-3

“Regard the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as also our dear leader Paul wrote to you, according to the wisdom that was given to him. He spoke about these things the same way in all of his letters. There are some matters that are hard to understand in his letters, which the ignorant and unstable distort, as they also do with the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” -2 Peter 3:15-16

Now here are some things that James wrote:

“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” -James 3:1

“My brothers, if anyone among you wanders away from the truth and someone turns him back, let it be known that the one who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” -James 5:19-20

Now here are some things that the Apostle John wrote:

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” -1 John 4:1

“For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.” -2 John 1:7-11

Just about the entire book of Jude is written to correct false teachers! Here are just a few verses (and here’s a link to the whole tiny book):

“Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” -Jude 3,4

In conclusion:

The Bible is God’s Word. The Bible is loaded full of warnings against false teachers and false teachings. The Bible even encourages us to name false teachers in order to warn others. Paul publicly rebuked Peter because Peter was denying the Gospel by going back to keeping the Jewish law!

  • “But when Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him in public, because he was clearly wrong. Before some men who had been sent by James arrived there, Peter had been eating with the Gentile believers. But after these men arrived, he drew back and would not eat with the Gentiles, because he was afraid of those who were in favor of circumcising them. The other Jewish believers also started acting like cowards along with Peter; and even Barnabas was swept along by their cowardly action. When I saw that they were not walking a straight path in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, ‘You are a Jew, yet you have been living like a Gentile, not like a Jew. How, then, can you try to force Gentiles to live like Jews?’” -Galatians 2:11-14

  • For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.” -2 Timothy 4:10

  • “…which some have put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.” 1 Timothy 1:19-20

  • “But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some.” -2 Timothy 2:16-18

Here’s the rest of that passage to wrap up this article:

“Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.’

Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. 

The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.” -2 Timothy 2:19-26

via A Biblical Guide to (Not?) Calling Out False Teachers — The Messed Up Church

Mid-Day Snapshot · Nov. 7, 2019

The Foundation

“[The judicial branch] may truly be said to have neither FORCE nor WILL, but merely judgment; and must ultimately depend upon the aid of the executive arm even for the efficacy of its judgments.” —Alexander Hamilton (1788)

Constitution Revitalized by Trump’s Record Judicial Appointments

It has become an underappreciated theme of Trump’s presidency.


Schiff Bloviates on ‘Patriotic’ Impeachment Inquiry

“Whistleblower” attorney exposed as a leftist hack who called for a coup against Trump.


The Golden (Brown) State

California’s environmental mismanagement is taking the state backwards in time.


California Conservatives Departing in Droves

Since 2007, more than a million people have moved out of the Golden State.


Settled Science? Diet and Climate

Bad science has consequences, regardless of what it’s attempting to prove.


A Bogus Study on Concealed-Carry Killings

Permit holders are model citizens who fight crime, not rogues responsible for murders.


Our Patriot Veterans Keep America Great Every Day

To thank a veteran, strive to be a citizen worthy of their sacrifice.


Profiles of Valor: U.S. Army Master Sgt. Matthew Williams

Williams’ actions prevented the enemy from overrunning his task force’s exposed position.


Video: Trump Beats Top Democrats in Swing States

Bill Whittle and Scott Ott discuss some key polling projections of the 2020 election.


Video: The Party of Projection

Democrats are guilty of projection — doing exactly what they accuse opponents of doing.


Today’s Opinion

Victor Davis Hanson
History Has Shown That Socialism Isn’t the Cure
Cal Thomas
Who Needs Spiritual Advisers?
Jeff Jacoby
Leave Adoption Out of the Culture Wars
Ken Blackwell
Free Speech Triumphs at the University of Michigan
Rebecca Hagelin
An Open Letter to Katie Hill

For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.


Thursday Top News Executive Summary

Deep-state coup, tariff agreement, Erdogan visit, school indoctrination, and more.


Thursday Short Cuts

Notable quotables from Jim Geraghty, Andrew McCarthy, Amy Klobuchar, and more.



Today’s Meme

For more of today’s memes, visit the Memesters Union.

Today’s Cartoon

For more of today’s cartoons, visit the Cartoons archive.

Source: “The Patriot Post” (https://patriotpost.us)
Read Online

November 7, 2019 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

The Reminder

If then you have been raised up with Christ (3:1a)

If denotes reality, as in 2:20, and is better translated “since.” Believers having been raised up with Christ is not in doubt. The verb actually means “to be co-resurrected.” It is an accomplished fact. Believers spiritually are entered into Christ’s death and resurrection at the moment of their salvation. Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.” In that verse, the apostle shows the union of the believer with the Lord, so that they have a shared life. Romans 6:3–4 teaches the same truth: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”

The “baptism” here is not into water, but an immersing into the Savior’s death and resurrection. Through their union with Christ, believers have died, have been buried, and have risen with Him. By saving faith they have entered into a new dimension. They possess divine and eternal life, which is not merely endless existence, but a heavenly quality of life brought to them by the indwelling Lord. They are thus alive in Christ to the realities of the divine realm.

Consequently, Christians have an obligation to live consistently with those realities. Paul delineates the specifics of that obligation in Romans 6:11–19:

Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.

This new life is real and powerful, but so is remaining sin. Though it no longer is our master, it can still overpower us if we are not presenting ourselves to God as servants of righteousness. (For a fuller treatment of this rich teaching, see my comments on Romans 6–8 in Romans 1–8, MacArthur New Testament Commentary [Chicago: Moody, 1991].)

Spirituality, as Paul says in Philippians 2:12, is working that inner life out, the process of living the reality of our union with Christ. In Him we have all the resources necessary for living the Christian life (cf. 2 Pet. 1:3). Paul emphasizes the centrality of Christ throughout Colossians 3:1–4. By using such phrases as with Christ (3:1); where Christ (3:1); with Christ (3:3); when Christ (3:4); and with Him (3:4), he stresses again Christ’s total sufficiency (cf. 2:10). Unfortunately, many Christians fail to understand and pursue the fullness of Christ. Consequently, because of not knowing what Scripture says, or not applying it properly, they are intimidated into thinking they need something more than Him alone to live the Christian life. They fall prey to false philosophy, legalism, mysticism, or asceticism.

Paul reminds the Colossians that they have risen with Christ. This is the path to holiness, not self-denial, angelic experience, or ceremony. They are no longer living the old life they lived before their salvation, but possess the eternal life of Christ and have been raised to live on another plane. They must not be ignorant or forgetful of who they are and how they are to live. All sinful passion is controlled and conquered by the power of the indwelling Christ and our union with Him.

The Responsibility

keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. (3:1b, 2)

The present tense of zēteō (keep seeking) indicates continuous action. Preoccupation with the eternal realities that are ours in Christ is to be the pattern of the believer’s life. Jesus put it this way: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). Paul is not advocating a form of mysticism. Rather, he desires that the Colossians’ preoccupation with heaven govern their earthly responses. To be preoccupied with heaven is to be preoccupied with the One who reigns there and His purposes, plans, provisions, and power. It is also to view the things, people, and events of this world through His eyes and with an eternal perspective.

The things above refers to the heavenly realm and hones in on the spiritual values that characterize Christ, such as tenderness, kindness, meekness, patience, wisdom, forgiveness, strength, purity, and love.

When believers focus on the realities of heaven, they can then truly enjoy the world their heavenly Father has created. As the writer of the hymn “I Am His, and He Is Mine” expressed it,

Heav’n above is softer blue

Earth around is sweeter green!

Something lives in every hue

Christless eyes have never seen:

Birds with gladder songs o’erflow

Flow’rs with deeper beauties shine,

Since I know, as now I know,

I am His, and He is mine.

When Christians begin to live in the heavenlies, when they commit themselves to the riches of “the Jerusalem above” (Gal. 4:26), they will live out their heavenly values in this world to the glory of God.

In 3:2, Paul gives instruction on how to seek the things above. He says, Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. Set your mind is from phroneō and could simply be translated, “think,” or more thoroughly, “have this inner disposition.” Once again, the present tense indicates continuous action. Lightfoot paraphrases Paul’s thought: “You must not only seek heaven, you must also think heaven” (St. Paul’s Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon [1879; reprint, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1959], p. 209; italics in the original). The believer’s whole disposition should orient itself toward heaven, where Christ is, just as a compass needle orients itself toward the north.

Obviously, the thoughts of heaven that are to fill the believer’s mind must derive from Scripture. The Bible is the only reliable source of knowledge about the character of God and the values of heaven. Paul describes that preoccupation as being “transformed by the renewing of [your] mind” (Rom. 12:2). In it we learn the true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, and praiseworthy things our minds are to dwell on (cf. Phil. 4:8).

Such heavenly values dominating the mind produce godly behavior. Sin will be conquered and humility, a sacrificial spirit, and assurance will result.

The Resource

where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (3:1c)

The believer’s resource is none other than the One in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge: the risen and glorified Christ, seated at the right hand of God in the place of honor and majesty. The Bible speaks often of Christ’s exalted position. Psalm 110:1 says, “The Lord says to my Lord: ‘Sit at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet.’ ” Jesus told the accusers at His trial that “from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God” (Luke 22:69). In his sermon on the day of Pentecost, Peter told the crowd that Jesus had been “exalted to the right hand of God” (Acts 2:33). Peter and the other apostles described Jesus to the Sanhedrin as “the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior” (Acts 5:31). As he was being martyred, Stephen cried out, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56). Paul describes Jesus as He “who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us” (Rom. 8:34), because God “raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:20). The writer of Hebrews says of Christ, “When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:3). Because of that, “we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Heb. 8:1). He is the One “who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him” (1 Pet. 3:22).

Because of Christ’s coronation and exaltation to the Father’s right hand, He is the fountain of blessing for His people. Jesus told the disciples, “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:13–14; cf. 15:16; 16:23–24, 26). Believers can be assured that what they seek is there, “for as many as may be the promises of God, in Him they are yes” (2 Cor. 1:20).[1]


1 Having reminded the Colossians that they have died with Christ (2:20; cf. 2:12), Paul now reiterates that they have been “raised with Christ” (cf. 2:12). Unlike Christ, they have not been raised bodily. Nevertheless, Paul insists that they have been raised (synēgerthēte, GK 5283, is a liquid aorist passive compound verb [second person plural]) spiritually with Christ by God. Their baptisms served as vivid, tangible reminders of this vital theological principle. If they truly have been raised with Christ via conversion as imaged in baptism, then they should seek “the things above.” They should not devote their attention to the earthly things that characterized the “philosophy”; conversely, they should quest after (“set [their] hearts on”) heavenly things. (“The things above” is synonymous with heaven [so, rightly, Lincoln, 637].)

Why does Paul counsel the Colossians to keep seeking the things above? Is this not dangerous advice with which the promoters of the “philosophy” would agree? Paul does not employ such spatial imagery to affirm the “philosophy” or to encourage visionary activity among the assembly; rather, he commands the Colossians to pursue the things of heaven precisely because this is where Christ is. He is not one among a panoply of heavenly dignitaries; Christ occupies a place of primacy and sovereignty. The resurrected Christ is the ascended Christ who is “seated at the right hand of God.” This depiction of Christ’s session is drawn from Psalm 110:1 (cf. Ro 8:34; Eph 1:20). (To take this metaphoric description literally is a misconstrual of the text.) In enjoining the church to seek the things above and thereby Christ, Paul is encouraging them “to give Christ [who reigns as Lord] an allegiance that takes precedence over all earthly loyalties. His ends are to be their ends; and it follows that the means by which those ends are attained must be his means” (Caird, 202).[2]


1  The readers knew (in theory, at least) that, like their fellow-Christians throughout the world, they had been brought to new life with Christ when they were spiritually dead, that they had been “raised with him through faith in the power of God” (Col. 2:12). On every occasion when they recalled their baptism and its meaning, they ought to be impressed afresh with the reality of their participation in Christ’s death and resurrection, and draw the logical and practical conclusions. If their death with Christ severed the links that bound them to the old world-order, which was trying to impose its dominion on them again, their resurrection with Christ established new links, binding them to a new and heavenly order, to that spiritual kingdom in which Christ their Lord was sovereign.

When Christ’s present position of supremacy is described in the Pauline writings as being “at the right hand of God,” the apostle is usually echoing the language of some primitive confession of faith, presumably familiar to his readers. Christ’s ascension to the right hand of God was an essential and constant element in the earliest apostolic preaching.3 It goes back to the messianic interpretation of Ps. 110:1, one of the most primitive of Christian testimonia. There we find reproduced an oracle of Yahweh addressed to someone whom the psalmist calls “my Lord”: “Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool.”

In the Synoptic Gospels Jesus refers to this oracle on two occasions. During his debate with the scribes of the Pharisaic party in the temple precincts he asked them why they should call the Messiah the son of David since in this psalm David speaks of him as “my lord” (Mark 12:35–37). It is presupposed that they would agree that the person addressed in the divine oracle was the Davidic Messiah. Again, during the inquiry before the high priest and his colleagues which followed his arrest in Gethsemane, he was asked if he was the Messiah, “the Son of the Blessed,” and he replied: “I am; and you will see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of the Almighty, and coming with the clouds of heaven” (Mark 14:61–62). The form of his reply may suggest the sense: “If ‘Messiah’ is the term you insist on using, then I can only say ‘Yes’: but if I am to choose my own form of words, then let me say that you will have the answer to your question when you see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Almighty, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” It was his own chosen form of words—and perhaps in particular his apparent self-identification with the “one like a son of man” who, in Dan. 7:13–14, receives eternal and universal dominion from the Ancient of Days—that enabled his judges to pronounce him guilty of blasphemy. He was claiming, they held, to be the peer of the Most High. But after his resurrection the apostles proclaimed that the enthronement to which he looked forward had actually taken place: Christ was now reigning as king from the right hand of the Almighty, and would continue so to reign until all opposing forces in the universe had submitted to him.7

The apostles knew very well that they were using figurative language when they spoke of Christ’s exaltation in these terms: they no more thought of a location on a literal throne at God’s literal right hand than their twentieth-century successors do. The static impression made by conventional artistic representations of the heavenly session of Christ obscures the dynamic NT picture of the exalted Christ going forth by his Spirit in all the world, conquering and to conquer. What Paul understood by the heavenly session can be gathered from other terms used in his writings to convey the same idea: Christ has been given “the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow … and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil. 2:10–11): he has “ascended high above all the heavens, in order to fill all things” (Eph. 4:10). Because he has been elevated to the position of highest sovereignty over the universe, he pervades the universe with his presence.

This reference to the exaltation of Christ, the seal of divine approval on his saving work, is not introduced here for an ornamental purpose. Paul is about to commence the paraenetic section of his letter, and his paraenetic sections regularly presuppose the content of the apostolic preaching. What God has done for his people in Christ is the grand argument and incentive for Christian living. The apostolic teaching or didache may be distinguished from the preaching or merkabah kerygma, but it is founded on the preaching—and in any case the distinction between the two should not be pressed too sharply. Whatever affinities may be traced between Paul’s ethical exhortations and those of contemporary moralists, their whole emphasis in Paul’s writings depends on their arising directly out of the work of Christ. It is because believers have died with Christ and been raised to new life with him that their conduct is henceforth to be different.

What, then, are the practical implications of being raised with Christ? In the first place, believers have now no private life of their own. Their life is the life of Christ, maintained in being by him at God’s right hand and shared by him with all his people. Their interests must therefore be his interests. Instead of waiting until the last day to receive the resurrection life, those who have been raised with Christ possess it here and now. The new creation12—the “regeneration”—has already begun in them. Spiritually—that is to say, “in Christ”—they belong already to the age to come and enjoy its life.[3]


3:1 Before Paul and Timothy give the exhortation, they provide the theological grounding: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ.” While “since” in the NIV is entirely appropriate in that the condition expresses an assumption, “since” rhetorically diminishes the exhortation dimension of this verse and renders it more into a theological proposition.294 The unit from 2:20 to 3:4 is baptismal theology—in their baptism they were dipped into the death of Jesus and arose from the water in union with him in his resurrection. Baptismal theology cannot be reduced to picturesque language (an inner spirituality) but instead expresses an embodied, washed, sacramental reality.

The core gospel of the apostles was the four-line story of Jesus found in 1 Cor 15:3–5: Christ died, was buried, was raised, and appeared, and one could “double-click” on “Christ” or “died” to find a fifth line, that “he lived.” The apostolic gospel noticeably opens up the gospel, not at the second but at the third “chapter” in that story, that is, at his resurrection (e.g., Acts 2:24, 31, 32; 3:15; 4:10; 10:40; 13:30, 33, 34, 37; 17:31). The declaration of Jesus’s resurrection leads in gospel preaching to its implication: repent, believe, be baptized, and now walk in the newness of life. The gospel declares these four or five events in the life of Jesus, and the gospel also summons us to enter into the death and the resurrection of Jesus: into the death in order to die to sins, and into the resurrection in order to walk in new-creation life. We are summoned to enter into what has already happened, as in Eph 2:4–6: “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.”

Scholars have raised more than a question or two about the presentness of resurrection in Colossians and Ephesians, suggesting in fact that the difference between the present realization in the Prison Epistles and the future resurrection of the earlier Paulines (e.g., 1 Corinthians) indicates different authorship. The emphasis in Colossians and Ephesians is noticeable. However, Romans (which we think is written after Colossians) also has co-resurrection in the making (Rom 6:4, 11). Few doubt Paul wrote Philippians—some would agree it is from the same time period as Colossians—and there is precious little difference between the theology of Phil 3:19–21 and our text in Colossians. Furthermore, even in Colossians 3:4 we have an indication of a future glorious transformation. So I agree with Wilson, who writes, “If our author has indeed gone beyond Paul’s own teaching, he has not gone very far.”298

The exhortation based on co-resurrection is now given: “Set your hearts on things above” (3:1b), and then “above” is defined as “where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (3:1c). Far from a summons to an un-or otherworldliness, this exhortation calls the Colossians to live in the world on the basis of the rule of Christ over all the powers. That is, as F. F. Bruce wrote, because they have been raised with Christ, “the believers have now no private life of their own.… Their interests must … be his interests.”302

As Paul sought, following a vision, to cross the Aegean Sea (Acts 16:10) and as the Athenians sought for God (17:27), so Paul believes followers of Jesus ought to seek: not for their own glory (Gal 1:10; 1 Thess 2:6; 1 Cor 10:33; Phil 2:21) or their own way (1 Cor 13:5) but instead for justification in Christ (Gal 2:17), for spiritual gifts so they can build up the church (1 Cor 14:12), for “glory and honor and immortality” (Rom 2:7), and in our paragraph, for “things that are above” (Col 3:1). The NIV adds heart in “set your hearts on things above.” If in reading the NIV one distinguishes seeking with the heart in this text from seeking with the mind in 3:2, one has inferred too much. This text summons the believer to seek or to set one’s will/mind/heart on things above, but the NIV’s “heart” is not in the text. By making it the object of the imperative, it makes the focus fall on what is not there and on us instead of what is there and what is not us—“things above.” Furthermore, adding “heart” here runs the risk of rendering the meaning as an affection or an emotion, when will (Rom 2:7) and mind (cf. 1 Cor 1:22; Rom 10:3) are just as likely at work. Rather than “set your hearts on” I prefer it be rendered “seek,” as in the Lord’s words in Matt 6:33.

Vexing many interpreters is the precise meaning of “things above,” a spatial equivalent of “heaven” or “sky” (e.g., Acts 2:19). Jewish apocalyptic literature, such as 2 Baruch, uses “above” in a similar manner (4:2–7; 51:8–12; cf. 4 Ezra 7:26; 13:36). Parallel to this apocalyptic literature sits Paul, who can speak of a “Jerusalem above” (Gal 4:26) and an eschatological vocation for those who are faithful (Phil 3:14: “heavenly call”). Now to Colossians 3:1, 2: the first instance refers to where Christ rules, whereas the second is a stark contrast to the earth, where the powers of sin rule. As such, the term takes on three dimensions: cosmological (the present heaven, sometimes called paradise, is above and counters the earthly as in v. 2; cf. 1:5, 16, 20, 23; 4:1), eschatological (the heaven above will be the kingdom of God on earth; cf. 1:22, 28; 3:3–4, 6, 24; Rev 20–22), and ethical (a life shaped by the rule of Christ; cf. Col 3:5–17; Phil 4:8). There is evidence for each dimension in Colossians itself, and it is therefore highly likely that, by “things above,” Paul means a way of living constituted not by the stoicheia and skia but by the rule of Christ above, whose rule will become a reality on earth in the future. But we need to be reminded, as Andrew Lincoln has observed, that instead of beginning where his opponents began (on earth) in order to get into the heavenlies, Paul begins in the heavenlies and reconfigures the earth. In other words, Paul reconfigures the heavenlies around Christ—who created them and now rules over them (Col 1:15–20)—and this reconfiguration has at least one foot standing on apocalyptic beliefs. As such, the command urges a profoundly countercultural posture in the world because it taps into a new kind of power, thus contradicting the “self-help schemes the ascetics are offering.”309

In “seated at the right hand of God” we enter into the profundity of early Christian Christology. Two options need to be considered: first, Christ rules at the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:33–36; 1 Cor 15:25; Eph 1:20; Heb 1:3, 13; 10:12, 13; 1 Pet 3:22; Rev 3:21; 22:1–3), and from that location he also intercedes (Rom 8:34; Heb 7:25; 1 Pet 3:22). Which option is in mind in the “set your hearts on things above” in Col 3:1? The former is widespread in earliest Christian thinking and makes far more sense of Colossians. “Seated at the right hand of God” evokes rule and takes us to Dan 7 (Matt 19:28; 25:31), Ps 110:1 (cf. Mark 12:36 and pars.), and 1 Cor 15:25. It is clear that this text, at least implicitly, critiques the rule of Caesar; it is not so clear that the author explicitly has Caesar in mind. Christ seated as ruler evokes Col 1:16, 20 and 2:10, 15 (cf. 1 Cor 15:20–28), and it also implies that Jesus conquered the powers. It is possible that this expression also evokes deity, since no one but God sits in the heavens (cf. Dan 7:10).

To back up now: on the basis of their co-resurrection with Christ, the Colossians are to seek to participate in new-creation life by directing their faith and lordship toward the Christ, who rules all of creation. That rule is not yet visible to all but someday will be (3:4). To seek the things above, then, means to live a life on earth under the resurrected King Jesus as the Lord of all creation, with the implication that Caesar is not their true lord.[4]


New position (v. 1)

The Colossian believers have died positionally in Christ. This happened at conversion. The verb expresses what has already taken place: ‘if then you were raised with Christ …’ Believers on conversion are transferred from the kingdom of Satan to the kingdom of God (1:13) and now belong under its kingdom laws, partake of its kingdom privileges and are possessors of its God-given gifts. Conversion begins the process of sanctification. After conversion holiness is not optional. With ascension theology comes the ascension life of holiness (v. 5ff.) with its accompanying humility (v. 8) and honesty (v. 9), etc. Believers share fully in the resurrection life of our risen Lord Jesus Christ and his victory over the flesh, the world and Satan.[5]


3:1 / As with a number of other “ethical” sections (cf. 3:5; Rom. 12:1; Eph 4:1), Paul begins with the word “therefore” (oun). The niv since, then, has the similar effect of tying Paul’s ethical instruction and theological thought together. These believers have been raised with Christ. On the basis of that fact they are to set their hearts on the things above. The verb set is a strong imperative and is a good translation of zēteō, which means to seek, examine, or search something out with the desire to possess. Those things above, both here and in 3:2, are not identified. They may be the virtues of the Christian life that Paul commends in 3:12–16 in contrast to the “earthly” things mentioned in 2:20–23 and 3:5–9 (cf. Phil. 3:19).

Above (i.e., heaven, cf. gnb), where Christ is seated at the right hand, should not be understood as some geographic place in the cosmos. The language here, as elsewhere (Matt. 6:20; Eph. 1:3; 2:6; 3:10), is figurative rather than literal; it designates a quality of existence, not a place of being. By above, Paul means that unseen realm of spiritual reality, the eternal world in contrast to a world that is earthly and transitory.

Through baptism into Christ, the believer participates in that spiritual and eternal realm in which Christ has been exalted and enthroned (Eph. 1:20; Phil. 2:9–11). This reminds the Colossians that they already share this exaltation with Christ. It is not merely a future inheritance, because “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6).[6]


1. Consistency requires that believers live in conformity with the fact that they were raised with Christ, who is not only the Object of their faith (chapters 1 and 2) but also the Source of their life (chapters 3 and 4). Of course, the line between these two divisions is not sharp. There is considerable overlapping. There is, however, a difference in emphasis.

Between Colossians 3 and that which precedes there is a close connection. The opening words of Col. 3, If then you were raised with Christ, resume the thought already expressed in 2:12, 13, “raised with him … made alive with him,” and are the counterpart of 2:20, “If with Christ you died to the rudiments of the world.…” The Colossians, it will be recalled, were beset by the danger of relapsing into paganism with its gross sensuality, etc., as is clear from 2:23 and 3:5 ff. The wrong solution of their problem was refuted in chapters 1 and 2, especially the latter. It was indicated that there is no material cure for a spiritual ill, that neglect of the body will never heal the soul’s sickness but will aggravate it, that heaven-born individuals cannot gain satisfaction from earth-born remedies. Christ, he alone, is the answer, Christ in all the fulness of his love and power, as already implied in both chapters 1 and 2, and set forth with even greater clarity and directness now (chapter 3), in a series of pastoral exhortations. If, then, the Colossians were corporately raised when Christ was raised and with him, as previously explained (see on 2:12, 13, 20), why should they seek salvation or fulness anywhere apart from him? Why should they resort to broken cisterns when the Fountain is at hand? Christ’s resurrection, followed by his ascension and coronation, guarantees their pardon and provides for their purity. To this Savior they had surrendered themselves when they had embraced him by faith. The cleansing power of Christ’s blood and Spirit had been signified and sealed to them in baptism. The supply of grace remains plentiful. Right now—they need not wait until the day of the Parousia!—they are raised with Christ. They possess within themselves the life of the resurrection. Let the power of Christ’s resurrection, therefore, be experienced by them in an ever increasing degree. Let their union with the exalted Christ transform their entire life: mind, heart, and will (Phil. 3:10). Let them seek the things that are above, where Christ is. The verb seek implies persevering effort; hence, the rendering, “Be constantly seeking,” is not incorrect. This seeking, moreover, is more than a seeking to discover. It is a seeking to obtain (cf. Matt. 6:33; 13:45). The emphasis, though, is not on the seeking but on the object sought. A precise rendering would be, “the things that are above [placed forward for emphasis] be constantly seeking.” Seeking to obtain is a common activity, but seeking to obtain the right treasures is not nearly so common, and therefore requires emphasis. These things that are above are the spiritual values embedded in the heart of the exalted Mediator in glory, whence, without loss to himself, they are bestowed upon those who humbly ask for them and diligently seek them (Matt. 7:7; 1 Cor. 12:11; Eph. 1:3; 4:7, 8). As the context indicates, the apostle has reference to such realities as tenderheartedness, kindness, lowliness, meekness, longsuffering, patience, the forgiving spirit, and above all love (3:12 ff.). Surely, if the hearts of believers are filled with such bounties there will be no room for fleshly indulgence. Here, then, is the true solution.

The Colossians can be assured of the fact that their exalted Christ has both the right and the power to bestow whatever gifts are needed, for he is seated at the right hand of God (Ps. 110:1, a phrase applied by Christ to himself in Matt. 22:41–46; 26:64; Mark 12:35–37; 14:61, 62; Luke 20:41–44; 22:66–70), clothed with majesty and honor.

This comforting truth of the ascension of the Lord and his coronation at the Father’s right hand, as a Fountain of blessing for his people, was foreshadowed in the Old Testament (Ps. 8, as interpreted in Heb. 2:1–8; Ps. 68:18, as explained in Eph. 4:7, 8; Ps. 110:1, as has been shown; Isa. 53:12). It was frequently referred to by the Lord himself (see, in addition to the Gospel-passages in the preceding paragraph, John 14:1–4; 14:13–18; 16:7; 17:5; 20:17). It was from the very beginning one of the basic themes in the preaching of the church (Luke 24:50–53; Acts 1:6–11; 2:33–36; 3:21; 5:30, 31; 7:56; Rom. 8:32–34; Eph. 1:20–23; 4:7, 8; Phil. 2:9–11; 3:20, 21; 1 Tim. 3:16; Heb. 1:1–3, 13; 2:1–8; 4:14–16; 8:1, 2; 9:11, 12, 24; 10:12; 1 Peter 3:21, 22; Rev. 1:12–18; 12:5–12).

Those that seek to obtain these “things that are above” are not chasing phantoms but are gathering priceless treasures. They are not the kind of people who forget about their duty in the here and now. On the contrary, they are very practical, for the graces that have been enumerated enable them not only to gain victory upon victory in their struggle against fleshly indulgence but also to be truthfully “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (Matt. 5:13, 14).[7]


3:1. Colossians 3:1–4 is a hinge between the primarily doctrinal section of chapters 1–2 and the primarily practical section of chapters 3–4. These verses conclude the polemic against the false teachers with further exaltation of the supremacy of Jesus, and they provide the starting point for the alternative to the false teaching with exhortation to make Christ central in all areas of life.

The false teachers at Colosse have attacked the supremacy and sufficiency of Jesus Christ. They have made him less than fully God and have attempted to seduce believers into thinking that genuine spirituality is to be found in obtaining more knowledge, keeping more rules, or having more experiences. In chapter 2, Paul told us the truth about Christ (he is fully God) and Christians (we are given fullness in him). Now we learn the truth about Christians and spirituality.

Genuine spiritual experience begins with understanding our identification with Christ. Paul tells believers that they have been raised with Christ. The believer eagerly anticipates the future bodily resurrection mentioned in Romans 8:11 and 1 Corinthians 15:22–23, 50–55. This is not, however, what Paul has in mind here. This reference to resurrection refers to a past event: we have been raised. The reference is to our identification with Jesus in his death, burial, and resurrection. Paul referred to this earlier in 2:12–13 and in Romans 6:1–10. He means that because of our identification with Jesus we have been granted new life which gives us the capacity to live a new kind of life. That new kind of life will be described in detail in the following verses.

The reality of our resurrection with Jesus should produce in us new motivations and new minds. Paul tells us that since we have been raised we are to set [our] hearts on things above. Believers are being urged literally to seek, pursue with diligence things above.

Paul continues his Christ-centered focus by assuring us that Christ is above, seated at the right hand of God. In contrast to the false teachers who demoted Jesus, Paul reminds us that Jesus is seated in the position of honor, majesty, and authority.[8]


3:1. Since believers have not only died with Christ but have also been raised with Christ (cf. Rom. 6:8–10; Col. 2:12–13), they should set their hearts on things above. That is, believers’ lives should be dominated by the pattern of heaven, bringing heavenly direction to their earthly duties. “Set” (zēteite) means “to seek or strive for earnestly” (cf. Rev. 9:6; 1 Cor. 7:27). Fixing their attention decisively toward “things above” involves centering their lives on the ascended (Eph. 4:10), glorified (John 17:5; Phil. 2:9) Christ, who is seated at the right hand of God (Ps. 110:1; Luke 22:69; Acts 2:33; 5:31; Rom. 8:34; Eph. 1:20; Heb. 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1 Peter 3:22). This is His seat of divine authority because He has defeated the forces of evil and death (Heb. 2:14–15).[9]


3:1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. The If of this verse does not express any doubt in the mind of the Apostle Paul. It is what has been called the “If” of argument, and may be translated since: “Since then you were raised together with Christ.…

As mentioned in chapter 2, the believer is seen as having died with Christ, having been buried with Him, and having risen with Him from among the dead. The spiritual meaning of all this is that we have said goodbye to the former way of life, and have entered upon a completely new type of life, that is, the life of the risen Lord Jesus Christ. Because we have been raised with Christ, we should seek those things which are above. We are still on earth, but we should be cultivating heavenly ways.[10]


3:1. Paul’s letter to the Colossians may be divided into two parts: chaps. 1 and 2 which deal with doctrine, and 3 and 4, which deal with application. The first of the commands given in the application section is, seek those things which are above. To do this, one must turn away from the things which are below or here on earth (see v 2). Paul has in mind the worldly principals of men he has just highlighted in chap. 2. The things … above are naturally found in Christ, who is now sitting at the right hand of God. Reminding the Colossians of where Christ is right now, Paul is again showing the falsehood of the view that angels are somehow closer to God the Father than the Son is.[11]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1992). Colossians (pp. 126–130). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Still, T. D. (2006). Colossians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 322). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Bruce, F. F. (1984). The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians (pp. 132–134). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[4] McKnight, S. (2018). The Letter to the Colossians. (N. B. Stonehouse, F. F. Bruce, G. D. Fee, & J. B. Green, Eds.) (pp. 289–293). Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[5] McNaughton, I. S. (2006). Opening up Colossians and Philemon (p. 57). Leominster: Day One Publications.

[6] Patzia, A. G. (2011). Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon (p. 70). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[7] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Colossians and Philemon (Vol. 6, pp. 139–141). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[8] Anders, M. (1999). Galatians-Colossians (Vol. 8, pp. 326–327). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[9] Geisler, N. L. (1985). Colossians. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, pp. 679–680). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[10] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2007). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[11] Leach, S. R. (2010). The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Colossians. In R. N. Wilkin (Ed.), The Grace New Testament Commentary (p. 920). Denton, TX: Grace Evangelical Society.

November 7 Rekindling Your Wick

scripture reading: Psalm 51
key verse: Psalm 51:15

O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.

Most Christians sincerely desire to love God and please Him. Although if we are honest, we feel distant and detached from God at times.

Perhaps you have become entrapped in the hectic pace of work, school, family, or other meaningful obligations. Your times of communion with Christ have diminished.

Perhaps you have been ensnared by a sinful habit that you will not abandon, and your guilt is so overwhelming that you are ashamed to approach Christ. Whatever the reason for your broken intimacy with God, there is good news. Jesus waits to embrace you now in the arms of unconditional, divine love.

Stop today, take a deep breath, admit your misplaced priorities, and begin again to seek the kingdom of God. It may take time for feelings of intimacy to return, but fellowship can again be sweet.

If you have sinned, your guilt is washed away by the blood of the Cross. Confess your sin, receive His infinite forgiveness, and ask Christ to restore your soul. Once you are saved, no sin can keep you outside the love of God. He never condemns you.

God’s mercies are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness. Return to Him, and the Spirit of God will rekindle your dimly burning wick.

Sometimes I feel distant from You, Lord. Rekindle my dimly burning wick. Renew our intimate fellowship.[1]

 

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

7 november (1858) 365 Days with Spurgeon

The Christian’s heaviness and rejoicing

“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations.” 1 Peter 1:6

suggested further reading: Philippians 2:25–30

“Though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness.” It does not say, “Though now for a season you are suffering pain, though now for a season you are poor”; but “you are in heaviness;” your spirits are taken away from you; you are made to weep; you cannot bear the pain; you are brought to the very dust of death, and wish that you might die. Your faith itself seems as if it would fail you. That is the thing for which there is a ‘need be’. That is what my text declares, that there is an absolute ‘need be’ that sometimes the Christian should not endure his sufferings with a gallant and a joyous heart; there is a ‘need be’ that sometimes his spirits should sink within him, and that he should become even as a little child, smitten beneath the hand of God. Ah! Beloved, we sometimes talk about the rod, but it is one thing to see the rod, and it is another thing to feel it; and many a time have we said within ourselves, “If I did not feel so low spirited as I now do, I should not mind this affliction;” and what is that but saying, “If I did not feel the rod I should not mind it?” It is that breaking down of the spirit, that pulling down of the strong man, that is the very festering of the soreness of God’s scourging—the blueness of the wound, whereby the soul is made better.

for meditation: Whenever you are overwhelmed by such distress, remember that your Saviour also experienced it on your behalf (Mark 14:33–34). He knows what it is like and can help you (Hebrews 2:18; 4:15–16).

sermon no. 222[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H., & Crosby, T. P. (1998). 365 Days with Spurgeon (Volume 1) (p. 318). Leominster, UK: Day One Publications.

Thursday Briefing November 7, 2019 – AlbertMohler.com

PART I

 Elections in Kentucky, Virginia, and Mississippi: What Do These Votes Say about the Future Shape of America?

PART II

 From Red to Purple to Blue: How Changing Demographics and Urbanization in Virginia Explain the State’s Political Transformation

PART III

 Saving Humanity by Reducing Humanity? 11,000 Scientists Call for Reduction of Human Population Because of “Climate Emergency”

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DOCUMENTATION AND ADDITIONAL READING

PART III

7 NOVEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Called to Suffer

Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God. 2 Timothy 1:8

suggested further reading: Acts 5:17–42

Let us not deceive Jesus Christ in the testimony we owe him by closing our mouths when it is needful to maintain his honor and the authority of his gospel. When we see people afflicted for the cause of God, let us join with them and help them in their affliction. Let us not be shaken by the tempests that arise, but let us always remain constant in our purpose and stand as witnesses for the Son of God, seeing he is so gracious to use us in such a good cause.

Let us mark well whether men suffer for their sins or for the truth of God. When we see those who are oppressed, we must not despise them lest we do injury to God, but we must ascertain for what cause they suffer. If they have walked in good conscience and are blamed and tormented because they serve God, this is enough to remove whatever the wicked world can say against them. Therefore Paul says, Be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel.

No person would not willingly escape affliction, for this is human nature. Though we confess without pretense that God bestows a singular grace when he enables men to bear affliction and maintain his cause, yet not one of us would not willingly draw his neck out of persecution. For we must look at the lesson given by Paul, who says that the gospel brings troubles. Jesus Christ was crucified and his teaching is joined with many miseries. He could, if it pleased him, cause his teaching to be received without any resistance. But the Scripture must be fulfilled: “Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies” (Ps. 110).

for meditation: We are called to be witnesses of Jesus Christ in this world, no matter what the cost. This can be very difficult to incorporate into our Christian life, but it is necessary if we are to take up our cross and follow him. In what ways has God made you “partaker of the afflictions of the gospel”?[1]

 

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 330). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

How To Spot Heresies And False Doctrines | What Christians Want To Know

False doctrines and heresies are on the uptick today, and it’s only going to get worse, so how can you spot false doctrine when you hear it or read it?

Satan’s Ministers

Sometimes it’s hard to identify false teachings or heretical doctrines. There is such a thing as the doctrines of demons, and Satan himself can appear as an angel of light in his sinister ministers, but a half-truth is still a whole lie. When a majority of the doctrine is biblically sound, it’s hard to pick out those hidden errors. The Apostle Paul was concerned about the Corinthian Church being deceived, saying “I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (1 Cor 11:3). Indeed they were. Even today, many proclaim themselves as a prophet or an apostle of God, but Paul warns that “such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ” (2 Cor 11:13). We shouldn’t be surprised that these deceivers are still around today, because “even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Cor 11:14). To Paul, “it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds” (2 Cor 11:15), and it shouldn’t surprise us either. There actually may be more false teachers out there today than there are biblically sound ones. To be forewarned is to be forearmed, and our means to be prepared is through the Word of God.

Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

Know the Word

How can we know when something’s counterfeit when it looks like the real thing? The FBI have experts who have memorized and study the larger denominations, like one-hundred dollar bills, fifties, twenties, and so on. By having every tiny detail committed to memory, they can easily discern a counterfeit from the real thing. Their success is based upon hours and hours of observing and memorizing every minute image, detail, and mark, so that when they see a counterfeit, they recognize it almost immediately. The Gospel is big business for some, particularly those wolves in sheep’s clothing, as they fleece the flocks. The point is, you don’t counterfeit gum wrappers…you counterfeit that which is valuable, and many today are peddling the gospel through such satanic ways as “seeds of faith,” “naming it and claiming it,” “buy this book,” and even asking God to 

“enlarge their borders,” but does the Bible teach such a thing? What they do is take a single text and rip it out of context, only to create a pretext, and a false one at that!

Context is King

It sounds good when peole quote the Bible, but they never seem to find the proper context, and context is king in reading the Bible. Dr. John MacArthur says that we should never read only a few verses, or even the paragraph to draw meaning out of it. He says we should really read the chapter, and in fact, the entire book to find out the whole context. In that way, we know what the Lord is saying to us…otherwise, we’re only getting “sound bite” verses that they can easily build a doctrine around. These sound good and look good, but so did the fruit on the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. We all know how that turned out, so feelings are a poor judge of truth. Know the Word well enough and you can spot the phony, sometimes immediately.

Glory to God

If any church or believer focuses more on the gifts of the Spirit than the fruit of the Spirit, then that might be a problem. We should be more interested in the fruits than the gifts, since it is by our fruit people will know whether we are His or not. It will be by our love for one another and not our gifts, that people will know we’re Jesus’ disciples (John 13:34-35). Also, ask yourself, does the teaching bring glory to God? If Jesus is not the central focus at worship, them something or someone else is. For some, it’s the gift of tongues which sometimes dominates worship services. Sometimes it’s the music that can become a show and draw card for the church and not the Holy Spirit Who draws people to Christ. We must realize that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12), and these“spiritual forces of evil” would love nothing more than to fill the pulpit, and indeed they have. If the teaching of the Word (preaching) and music do not glorify God, and in fact, glorify the speakers or musicians and singers, then Jesus is not being worshipped. And if Jesus is not being worshiped, He is not being glorified in that Church. God must always be glorified in our worship, our words, and our walk. If it doesn’t bring glory to God, then I have to question it, since God seeks to be glorified, which means none to us (Psalm 115:1).

Conclusion

To know the counterfeit, you must know the Word. When you have a question about teaching or a verse being used in a teaching, make sure to pray about it; read the accompanying verses before and after the verse…and better yet, read the whole chapter. As far as biblical doctrine goes; if it’s new, it’s not from God; if it’s from God, it’s not new. Paul warned, as if he was speaking about our day, “that in the last days there will come times of difficulty” (2 Tim 3:1). Just as men and women opposed Moses who received the Law directly from God, “these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind [will be] disqualified regarding the faith” (2 Tim 3:8). It will be because they oppose the truth. They mix truth with error for their gain. They might want you to tithe or be baptized in order to be saved. One thing they won’t do is to seek out the truth because the truth afflicts them and their unsaved audiences. Paul said the day will come when “people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions” (2 Tim 4:3). I believe that day has come. Even Isaiah the Prophet looked ahead to a time when people would say, “Do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions” (Isaiah 30:10). One thing for sure; the Word of God will afflict the comfortable, but it will comfort the afflicted. That’s as it should be.

Here is some related reading for you: How Can We Recognize False Doctrines?

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

— Read on www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/how-to-spot-heresies-and-false-doctrines/

November 7 – A new tongue — Reformed Perspective

“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you.” – Romans 1:8–10

Scripture reading: Romans 1

Paul thanks God. He doesn’t thank the church for their faith. Rome was an active church; they had an active faith. They were a mission-oriented church. They were worldly in a good sense as a light to the world.

Paul swears to God that He will serve this church, hopefully by coming to preach the gospel and in prayer. But isn’t swearing prohibited? Didn’t Jesus say that we cannot make oaths? If so, what are we to say about all the Old Testaments saints who swore? What about Jesus, Who often testified, “Truly, Truly, I say to you.” That is an oath formula. What about Paul who made several oaths in Acts and in his epistles? Jesus did not condemn oaths. He condemned the unlawful use of oaths. He condemned lying. In context, the Jews would swear by lesser things, other than Yahweh, by His throne or heaven. In their legalism they found a loophole to get out of oaths, “I don’t have to honor that agreement, because I didn’t swear by God’s name.” As it says in James 5, let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no. Jesus condemned lying. Oaths are proper and good. An oath is nothing else but an appeal to God that we are telling the truth, “So help me God.” That formula is important for it recognizes that vengeance belongs to the Lord. It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the Lord, “so tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”

Suggestions for prayer

Pray for your tongue that it speaks truth, justice, and peace.

This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Jared Beairdis the church planter and pastor of Covenant Reformed Church(URCNA) in Missoula, Montana, USA.

via November 7 – A new tongue — Reformed Perspective

November 7, 2019 Morning Verse Of The Day

9 In the first year of Darius, the son of Ahasuerus, from the offspring of the Medes, who became king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans— 2 in the first year of his kingship I, Daniel, observed in the scrolls the number of the years that it was that were to be fulfilled according to the word of Yahweh to Jeremiah the prophet for the devastation of Jerusalem—seventy years.
3 Then I turned my face to the Lord God to seek him by prayer and pleas for mercy, in fasting and in sackcloth and ashes. 4 And I prayed to Yahweh my God, and I made confession and I said, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, keeping the covenant and loyal love with those who love him and with those who keep his commandments, 5 we have sinned and we have done wrong and we acted wickedly and we rebelled and have been turning aside from your commandments and from your ordinances. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors and to all the people of the land.

Harris, W. H., III, Ritzema, E., Brannan, R., Mangum, D., Dunham, J., Reimer, J. A., & Wierenga, M. (Eds.). (2012). The Lexham English Bible (Da 9:1–6). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.


Daniel 9:1–6

Jeremiah’s “Seventy Years”

Big Idea Yahweh faithfully fulfills his prophetic word and keeps his covenant with his people, whether for blessing or for judgment.

Understanding the Text

The Text in Context

Daniel 9 is woven into the book’s overall literary structure in several ways. First, it advances the chronology of chapters 8–12. Second, it forms the middle of Daniel’s final concentric Hebrew section, which is framed by the parallel units of chapter 8 and chapters 10–12. Third, it covers the same long-range time period as Daniel 2 and 7, aligning the “four kingdoms” with the “seventy sevens.” Fourth, it is the third of four apocalyptic visions. Fifth, it is an “appearance” vision, like its parallel in Daniel 10–12 (see table 1).

The Hebrew mar’eh, “appearance, vision” (9:23; 10:1) differs slightly from the Aramaic hezu and Hebrew hazon (used in the earlier “symbolic” visions; 2:19; 7:1; 8:1)—the latter more broadly connoting a “vision.” By this shaping, the author associates the “seventy sevens” of Daniel 9 with the Jewish suffering under Greece in the final “appearance” vision of Daniel 10–12.

Against this backdrop, 9:1–27 can be divided into three pericopes: the setting and beginning of Daniel’s prayer (9:1–6); the remainder of Daniel’s prayer regarding God’s righteousness, Israel’s sin, and a plea for mercy based on Yahweh’s name (9:7–19); and the appearance vision proper (9:20–27). Within this context, 9:1–6 divides into three parts: a historical marker and reference to Jeremiah’s “seventy years” (9:1–2), Daniel’s response of mourning (9:3), and Daniel’s confession of God’s covenant and Israel’s failure (9:4–6).

Historical and Cultural Background

The phrase “son of Xerxes” (9:1) most likely refers to Cyaxares, Darius’s Median, maternal great-grandfather (see “Additional Insights” following the unit on 5:18–31), who unified his loosely affiliated tribes into a kingdom in 625–585 BC. Cyaxares’s throne name can be abbreviated as Xerxes.

Table 1: Appearance Visions of Daniel 9 and 10–12

Settings: Darius’s first year and Cyrus’s third year

 

9:1–2

 

10:1

 

Recipient’s/seer’s fasting and prayer

 

9:3–19

 

10:2–3

 

Angel’s appearance

 

9:20–21

 

10:4–9

 

Word of assurance

 

9:22–23

 

10:10–11:1

 

Recipient’s/seer’s vision proper

 

9:24–27

 

11:2–12:3, 5–8, 10–12

 

Charge to recipient/seer

 

 

12:4, 9, 13

 

Expressing one’s grief through fasting, wearing sackcloth, and putting ash or dust on the head was practiced in ancient Canaan and Assyria. Fasting took away the pleasure of eating, sackcloth was coarse and uncomfortable to wear, and ash or dust reminded the mourner of the results of death or other occasions of grief.

Daniel’s appeals to God’s covenant recall Hittite and Assyrian treaties (second–first millennia BC) between kings (suzerains) and vassals. These agreements typically included a preamble, a historical prologue, stipulations, and a conclusion containing instructions, witnesses, and consequences for disobedience. The book of Deuteronomy reflects this format (see the sidebar “God’s Covenants and Kingdom” in the unit on 2:31–49).

 

Daniel puts on sackcloth as he confesses the sins of the people of Israel. In the ancient Near East, wearing sackcloth was the conventional sign of mourning. This end panel from the sarcophagus of King Ahiram shows grieving women wearing sackcloth (tenth century BC).

Key Themes of Daniel 9:1–6

▪     Daniel realizes that Darius’s rule ends the “seventy-year” exile predicted by Jeremiah.

▪     Daniel affirms that God keeps his covenant of love with those who love and obey him.

▪     Daniel confesses that the exiled Judeans have failed to keep God’s commandments.

 

Interpretive Insights

9:1 In the first year of Darius … who was made ruler. The longer reference to Darius’s Median ancestry (literally, “a son of Xerxes, a seed of Media”) reinforces the importance of this kingdom in Daniel’s theology. Mention of his first year is repeated in 9:2a to emphasize the end of Babylon’s rule. Although the Hebrew verbal denominative malak—literally, “was made king” (NIV: “ruler”)—may suggest Darius was a subordinate under Cyrus, it might also refer to God’s sovereignty over his appointment (Dan. 2:21).

9:2 I, Daniel understood from the Scriptures. The emphatic first person occurs in each of Daniel’s four apocalyptic visions. Although Daniel does not “understand” (bin) these visions (e.g., 8:27; 12:8), he does “understand” Jeremiah’s prophecy. The NIV’s “Scriptures” (seper) is more precisely “document, letter, or scroll,” the same word used in Jeremiah 29:1 to describe the “scroll” (NIV: “letter”) Jeremiah sends to the exiles announcing the “seventy years.” Jerusalem’s “desolation” (harbah) is also mentioned in Jeremiah 25:18 (NIV: “ruin”) regarding the Babylonian exile, which begins as Jeremiah writes. The “seventy years” in Daniel 9:2 becomes the point of reference for the “seventy ‘sevens’ ” of years in 9:24–27 (see the sidebar).

Judah’s “Seventy Years” of Exile

The temple’s “seventy years” of desolations can be measured in two ways: from its destruction to its rebuilding (586–516 BC) or from the first exile to the first return (605–538 BC). The first calculation is well documented in the Old Testament (destruction: 2 Kings 25:9; 2 Chron. 36:19; Jer. 52:13, 17–23; rebuilding: Ezra 6:15; Hag. 1:4, 7–9; Zech. 1:12; 7:5). This time frame may also find support in Daniel’s first and last Hebrew sections (Dan. 1; 10–12), which are dated to Nebuchadnezzar’s first year (605 BC) and Cyrus’s third year (535 BC).

But the second computation, even though a rounded number, seems to be the focus in Daniel—especially in chapter 9. First, in Daniel 1, Nebuchadnezzar brings Daniel to Babylon in 605 BC. Second, in the same year, Jeremiah 25:11–12 predicts the exile’s “seventy years.” Third, in 597 BC, Jeremiah sends a letter containing this information to the Jewish exiles (Jer. 29:1–14). Fourth, during the Jews’ return in Cyrus’s first year (538 BC), 2 Chronicles 36:20–21 connects the “seventy years” with Israel’s neglected sabbatical years (cf. Lev. 25:1–7; 26:33–35) as a fulfillment of Jeremiah’s words. Fifth, Daniel 1–6 and 9 reflect the transition from 539 to 538 BC.

 

the word of the Lord. This phrase occurs nearly seventy times in the book of Jeremiah, signaling the authority of Yahweh’s revelation to his prophet (Jer. 29:20). The divine name Yahweh (“Lord” [or “God”], using small capitals, in English translations) is the only personal “name” for God in the Old Testament. Special covenantal significance is attached to it in God’s words to Moses in Exodus 3:13–15 and 6:2–5. In Daniel, the name occurs only in this chapter (9:2, 4, 8, 10, 13, 14, 20). Yet its emphasis here provides a point of reference for God’s covenant faithfulness during the struggles of Daniel 8 and 10–12.

9:3 So I turned to the Lord God. The title “Lord” (’adonay, “lord, master, sir”) speaks to God’s sovereignty, a central theme in Daniel (cf. 1:2; 2:47; 5:23). It should not be confused with “Lord” (small capitals), which is the covenant name for God in this chapter. The phrase better translates as “my Lord, the [one true] God,” emphasizing the personal nature of Daniel’s plea. The irony of Daniel’s reaction is striking. Understanding from Jeremiah 25:1–14 and 29:1–14 that the exile is to end with Babylon’s fall, one would expect praise, thanksgiving, and festive celebration. Instead, Daniel’s pleading, prayer, petition, fasting, sackcloth, and ashes suggest that he is concerned, rather than relieved, by this knowledge. His adoption of these habits of crisis and mourning sets the tone for his prayer in 9:4–19.

9:4 I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed. The reader is also surprised by Daniel’s passionate confession, begging the question of the nature of his remorse. Even though he is a “mere mortal” (8:17; NIV: “son of man”) with shortcomings like anyone else, none of these appear in his book.

Lord … who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him. A strong particle of entreaty (‘anna‘, “ah now!”) appears before “Lord” (omitted in the NIV), accentuating the fear of the Lord reflected in “great and awesome God.” Further, the two terms for “love” (NIV) reflect different Hebrew words. The first (hesed) denotes “mercy, kindness, steadfast love, loyalty,” while the second (’ahab) is related to “affection, friendship.” This theologically balanced declaration appears in Exodus 20:4–6; Deuteronomy 5:10; 7:9; and Nehemiah 1:5—all regarding God’s “steadfast mercy” pledged to Israel in the Mosaic covenant. The identical wording suggests that Daniel is citing Deuteronomy 7:9. The explicit conditionality of this statement, in relation to the Judean exiles at this time, troubles him.

9:5–6 we have sinned. Six verbs expose Israel’s failure: sinning, doing wrong, acting wickedly, rebelling, turning away, and not listening. Five more complete the list in 9:7–14. The mention of the torah gives this comprehensive indictment its point of reference. Reading these charges with the statement about God’s covenant (9:4) reveals the question implied in Daniel’s petition: Will God restore Israel after exile in spite of their overwhelming failure? Reference to God’s “servants the prophets” points to Jeremiah, whose ministry was characterized by rejection (Jer. 25:3). The repetitive “we” and the form of the verbs suggest that Israel’s failure has persisted until the day of Daniel’s plea. The history of their disobedience encompasses every stratum of Israelite society: kings, princes, ancestors, and people of the land (cf. Jer. 1:18; 44:21).

 

Daniel also comes before the Lord with fasting and ashes. To sprinkle dust or ashes on the head was a way to publicly express grief and mourning in the ancient Near East. In this Egyptian tomb painting, a mourning woman puts dust on her head as a sign of her sorrow (Tomb of Nebamun, ca. 1350 BC).

Theological Insights

Daniel 9:1–6 exposes three facets of God’s revelation to, and relationship with, his people. First, God fulfills his prophetic word spoken through his faithful prophets. Second, the sovereign Lord Yahweh is faithful to keep his covenantal promises and to show both mercy and justice toward his chosen people. Third, God’s people of the covenant are, in turn, responsible for loving God and keeping his commandments, if they wish to know the personal blessings of his covenant.

Teaching the Text

  1. God fulfills his prophetic word. Much emphasis is placed on the visions of Daniel that point to a distant future. However, it would be equally helpful to draw your listeners’ attention to the predictions of Jeremiah that point to this moment in Judah’s exile. Help your audience to understand the significance of Israel’s corporate sin for centuries and how this led to the separate exiles of Israel and Judah—especially the latter with its focus on Jerusalem, the temple, and David’s dynasty. Point your listeners’ attention to the unusual response of Daniel as the “seventy years” are drawing to a close. Encourage them to identify with his concerns. Paying close attention to this chapter’s introduction informs our understanding of the essential message of its enigmatic conclusion.

 

Rembrandt’s oil painting titled Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem shows Jeremiah mourning as Jerusalem burns. Although Jeremiah spent much of his life prophesying this event, he also brought words of hope and mercy from the Lord. Jeremiah 24:5–7 says, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Like these good figs, I regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I sent away from this place to the land of the Babylonians. My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.’ ”

  1. God’s covenantal mercy. God’s promises assure us that we can trust him to show us mercy as his people. Daniel understands the promise of the “seventy-year” exile that Jeremiah predicts, and he lives to see its fulfillment. The exile ends with Judah receiving God’s covenantal mercy in their partial return to the land. Use either Jeremiah 25 or 29 as an example of God’s promise regarding the exile’s end. When applying these texts to Daniel 9:1–6, focus on the aspect of the promise Jeremiah emphasizes: the fall of Babylon at the end of the “seventy years” and Judah’s restoration. Remind your listeners that wicked empires eventually receive a just punishment for their failure to acknowledge God, and that God does his part in bringing covenantal blessings to his people.
  2. God’s covenantal accountability. God’s promises also warn us that he will keep his people accountable regarding their fidelity to him. Refer your listeners to Jeremiah 29:11–14 to show this aspect of God’s character. There, Jeremiah’s promise of restoration is inseparably linked with the people seeking God with all their heart. Daniel reminds his readers of the original stipulation in the torah to love and obey God if they wish to know his blessing (Deut. 7:9). By way of application, avoid the temptation to emphasize God’s promise in a way that marginalizes our human responsibility—or vice versa. While assuring your listeners of God’s faithfulness, remind them that obedience before God is essential to knowing his blessing.

What not to teach. First, avoid the temptation to discuss in too much detail the identity of King Darius in comparison to King Cyrus. His mention here is intended to mark the setting of this chapter, which is clearly the first year after Babylon fell. Second, this is not a place to debate Calvinism versus Arminianism. Instead, acknowledge that this text teaches God is sovereign and humans are responsible before him.

Illustrating the Text

God’s promise to fulfill his prophetic word is like a parent’s promise to a child

Human Experience: Those who have had the privilege, responsibility, and challenge of raising children appreciate the importance of keeping their word. It builds for children such life-shaping virtues as trust, discipline, integrity, dependability, honesty, and respect. Sometimes promises are freestanding, such as responding to a child’s wish for a special gift on her or his birthday. But sometimes promises are more complex and connected with achievements or behavior. For example, college students might be promised a special trip upon graduation if they maintain their GPA. Here, the promise is twofold: (1) if the grade is made, parents are bound by oath to deliver the goods; but (2) if the grades are insufficient, the “promise” still must be kept—no trip. The virtues learned from parents keeping both positive and negative aspects of their “word” are the same—and God always keeps his word.

The Old Testament roles of priest and prophet illustrate God’s mercy and justice

Bible: Jeremiah. A simple, twofold biographical sketch of Jeremiah’s life can be easily reconstructed from his book. From his conception he is destined by God to serve as both priest and prophet, though he is trained as a priest from birth and called as a prophet much later (Jer. 1). The Old Testament role of priest—a generational inheritance—speaks of God’s mercy, as priests intercede with God on behalf of the people. But Jeremiah’s radical calling as an Old Testament prophet diametrically opposes the family tradition. Prophets speak to the people on God’s behalf, often bringing words of impending judgment for sin. The latter role dominates Jeremiah’s life, resulting in his rejection by his own people, in addition to much personal trouble, sorrow, and shame—even tempting him to forsake his prophetic calling (Jer. 20). This instructive tension reveals the broken heart of God in bringing exile on Judah and Jerusalem.

God’s blessing in covenantal relationship implies the obedience of his people

Culture: In the history of political theory, the concept of the “social contract” (argued in different nuances by seventeenth- and eighteenth-century philosophers, including Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau) asserts that “a contract” (much like a biblical covenant) is formed when one party consents to relinquish some freedoms and submit to an authority, receiving in return the protection of that authority. For example, in American government, citizens consent to certain stipulations on their part (such as obedience to the law), and they implicitly receive with their obedience the benefits provided by the state (such as foreign defense or the building and maintenance of roads). However, disobedience is a failure to follow through on the agreement and results in consequences (for example, fines or imprisonment). God’s interaction with his people is similar in that the protection and blessing of God imply the expectation of obedience from his people as inherent to their covenant relationship.[1]

 

[1] Pierce, R. W. (2015). Daniel. (M. L. Strauss & J. H. Walton, Eds.) (pp. 146–151). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Core Christianity | 2 Places in the Bible that Teach Jesus Is God

Jesus of Nazareth carries many titles; an enlightened teacher, a wise sage, the most famous figure in history, the list goes on. Regardless if one is a follower of his teaching, he is admired by the world. However, our view of Jesus can often be obscured by his universal admiration and the normalization of Judeo-Christian values in the culture. We are so used to seeing his words embroidered on decorative tapestries that it is easier to see him as a good example than it is to grasp the significance of who this carpenter from Nazareth claimed to be; namely, God.

There are many Bible passages that teach us the deity of Christ (cf. John 1:1; John 1:18; John 20:28; Romans 9:5; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1:8; 2 Peter 1:1), however, I will primarily focus on passages that showcase how Jesus shares the same role as God.

Human-Agent, or God-Man?

Something astounding in Jesus’ ministry is that he accomplishes what God the Father promised to accomplish. In Isaiah 45:5-7, it says, 

I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the LORD, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things.

The context of this passage is that Yahweh, the LORD, is going before King Cyrus to destroy idols and to judge the nations. The passage goes on to say that God does this so thateveryone may know that it is he, the God of Israel, who is the true Lord of all. The rest of Isaiah 45 demonstrates this point further by explaining that people from other nations will come and swear to who the Lord is (Is. 45:14; v. 13-25). This is the question that is on trial in Isaiah 45: who is the Lord? The answer is Yahweh, the God of Israel. The point is that the role of “theLord” cannot be delegated to mere human beings, nor can it be entrusted to human prophets with a divine and enlightened message. No human agent working on God’s behalf will do. This role of “the Lord” belongs to God himself. What is astounding, then, is how Jesus fits into all of this:

“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:8-13).

So, if the nations are said to confess that the name of the true Lord is the God of Israel (Is. 45:14), and Jesus is the same Lord of the Jews and Greeks (Rom. 10:9-13), there seems to be two different “Lords” doing the same thing. Yet, Paul sees no contradiction here. In Romans 10:12, Paul draws upon Isaiah 28:16 and Joel 2:26-27, both of which show that 1) Yahweh alone is God, 2) he alone is to be believed in, and 3) belief in him will not put us to shame. And yet, even as Paul is quoting these passages, he attributes them to Jesus Christ (cf. Phil. 2:9-11; Acts 4:12).

It is the confession and belief in Jesus’ name that saves us and does not put us to shame (Rom. 5:1-5). If the LORD in Isaiah 45 is who the nations will confess and swear to, and if we must confess that Jesus is the true Lord in order to be saved (Rom. 10:9), then Jesus’ role and identity is the same as God’s. Paul is not replacing Yahweh with Jesus, nor is he saying Jesus is acting as a mere human agent of God. No, Paul is saying Jesus, the Son, is to be identified with the God of Israel. Jesus and the Father are distinct, but they are one God. To call on and believe in God for salvation is to call on and believe in Jesus Christ.

The Eternal Son

Once again in Paul’s writings, we see the inclusion of Jesus in the divine identity of God. In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul addresses issues in the community of the church by going back to Theological Truths 101: knowing God and loving God:

But if anyone loves God, he is known by God. Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist (1 Corinthians 8:3-6).

The question here is not whether you know things about God, but if God knows you- and we all know that God is one, Paul says. Paul is affirming Old Testament monotheism by referring to Deut 6:4, called the Shema: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.”  Paul affirms that this should be common knowledge for the church. It was important for Israel to know that the God who is one was their God. Likewise, it was also essential for the New Testament church to understand that the God of Israel was also their God. 

Now notice what Paul says in 1 Cor. 8:5-6, “there are many so called gods…for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” The one God isthe one Father and the one Son. This is why Paul can say Jesus “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him” (Col. 1:15-16).

He can say this about Jesus and then say about the Father, “for from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever” and not at all be inconsistent (Rom. 11:36). Why? Because Jesus and the Father are one God:

When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed…. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one (John 17:1-5, v. 11b).

Conclusion

So, why does this all matter in the first place? Because people are wondering what God is really like and we are tired of people telling us about him. If Jesus is merely another prophet, a wise sage, or an enlightened teacher, he is just another person telling us things about God. But if we recognize the truth of the divinity of Christ, then we realize the beautiful truth that in the scriptures, we not only encounter someone telling us about God, we encounter God himself. As a professor once told me, “There is no resource of God that we have not come to in Jesus. In Christ, we come to all the power and all the wisdom of God.” 

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— Read on corechristianity.com/resource-library/3/1469

11/07/19 Older Men — ChuckLawless.com

READING: Jeremiah 30-31, Titus 2-3

I’m probably not as old as the “older men” Paul was likely considering in today’s reading from Titus, but I’m old enough to know that the text speaks to my life either way. Older men are to be, in Paul’s terms to Titus, “temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance” (Titus 2:2). The words suggests that we must be:

  • sober-minded, having good judgment
  • respectable, carrying ourselves with dignity
  • sensible and self-controlled (important enough that Paul stresses this characteristic for younger women [2:5], younger men [2:6], and all believers [2:12])
  • exhibiting commitment to personal faith, love, and endurance in our walk with God

The sense of this text is that the older men are to walk like Paul walked, running the race well to the finish line. Paul could with integrity give this direction to Titus because he (Paul) had been walking this walk.

Here’s a case where the Word again just convicts my heart. It challenges me to ask how I live today, and it requires me to consider the depth of my commitment to follow God the rest of my life. May all of us older men be found faithful to the end.

PRAYER: “Help my generation to keep running the race well, Lord. We need Your help every step of the way.”

TOMORROW’S READING:  Jeremiah 30-31, Titus 2-3

via 11/07/19 Older Men — ChuckLawless.com

November 8, 2019 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

REUTERS

Public impeachment hearings for President Donald Trump next week will mark
a historical moment in political television both because of the high stakes
and how people will watch the proceedings.

The top United Nations court rules on Friday on whether it has jurisdiction
to hear a case brought by Ukraine against Russia over Moscow’s alleged
support of pro-Russian separatists in the Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

The average annual compensation for non-executive directors at S&P 500
companies rose 2 percent to $304,856 last year, topping $300,000 for the
first time and 43 percent higher than it was 10 years ago, according to a
new report released by executive headhunters Spencer Stuart. But thanks
largely to stock grants some earned a lot more than that.

China is scouring the world for meat to replace the millions of pigs killed
by African swine fever (ASF), boosting prices, business and profits for
European and South American meatpackers as it re-shapes global markets for
pork, beef and chicken.

Tariffs could be lifted amid the U.S.-China trade deal if an agreement is
reached, a White House spokeswoman said on Friday, citing optimism about a
final pact but giving no further details.

Angry kin of nine American citizens massacred in a suspected gangland
ambush in northern Mexico urged the government to accept U.S. help to
destroy drug cartels that one grieving relative described as being “as bad
or worse than ISIS.”

AP Top Stories

Of 250 glaciers studied, all had retreated except one: Taku Glacier. The
Taku Glacier north of Juneau, Alaska, one of the world’s thickest mountain
glaciers is finally succumbing to global warming, a new analysis reports.
But an analysis shows Taku has lost mass and joined the rest of the
retreating glaciers.

As 850 Mexican local, state and federal security personnel prepared to raid
a big state prison near the U.S. border, criminals inside orchestrated a
wave of chaos outside the walls in Ciudad Juarez. Ten people were killed in
various incidents around the city Tuesday night and early Wednesday as
criminals tried unsuccessfully to create a diversion or pressure
authorities to stop the raid, officials said. “At least eight of these
murders were tied to the diversion issue.”

The opposition leader put in charge of Philippine President Rodrigo
Duterte’s war on drugs said on Friday it was time to reassess a campaign
that was fraught with senseless killings and had failed to curtail a
staggering rise in addiction.

Vietnam will inspect all phones imported from China, such as Huawei and
Xiaomi models. At issue is whether the Chinese-made phones come with
preinstalled navigation apps that use maps reflecting Chinese territorial
claims rejected by Hanoi, such as the expansive nine-dash line claims in
the South China Sea that overlap resource-rich maritime areas Vietnam says
are within in its exclusive economic waters. The U.S. has said the area
under dispute could contain oil and gas reserves worth $2.5 trillion.

A university student in Hong Kong who fell during weekend protests has
died, marking the first student death as fallout widens from
anti-government demonstrations that have disrupted the city.

China on Thursday jailed nine people for selling fentanyl to Americans, the
result of a landmark joint probe, and pledged further co-operation
following President Donald Trump’s fury at Beijing’s perceived inaction
against Chinese suppliers fueling the deadly US opioid crisis.

In an extremely unusual case, South Korea deported two North Korean
fishermen on Thursday after determining they had killed 16 other crew
members on their boat and then fled to South Korean waters, Seoul officials
said.

Iranian forces shot down a foreign drone over the port city of Mahshahr in
southern Khuzestan.

The mayor of a city in Bolivia was beaten, dragged through the streets
barefoot, covered in red paint and had her hair forcibly cut by a crowd of
masked protestors on Wednesday in what appears to be the latest outburst of
political violence after a contested election last month.

Parents of babies and toddlers will be required to use special alarmed
child seats under a new law in Italy, in response to a spate of children
dying in cars from extreme heat. Parents who fail to buy the alarmed car
seats, or buy alarm attachments, face fines of up to €326 and five
points being docked from their driving license.

BBC

The UN has said that if an Ethiopian locust infestation is not brought
under control then the crop-devouring insect could “invade” neighboring
countries.

At least 14 woolly mammoth skeletons have been uncovered in Mexico in traps
built by humans about 15,000 years ago. The two pits in Tultepec north of
Mexico City are the first mammoth traps to be discovered, officials said.

US President Donald Trump has told ministers from Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan
that he will “cut the ribbon” at the inauguration of the controversial
Grand Renaissance Dam when it is completed.

At least five people have been killed and hundreds more injured in an
earthquake in north-western Iran, officials said. The 5.9-magnitude tremor
struck in the early hours of Friday in East Azerbaijan province, Iran’s
Seismological Center said.

WND

President Donald Trump will make history on Monday when he will become the
first sitting president to attend the New York City Veterans Day Parade.

China is exporting drones that it advertises as having lethal autonomy to
the Middle East, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said. It’s the first time
that a senior Defense official has acknowledged that China is selling
drones capable of taking life with little or no human oversight.

An Obama-appointed federal judge in New York struck down a Trump
administration rule that enabled health-care providers, on religious
grounds, to refuse to perform abortions services.

An undercover investigation by BBC News Arabic has found that domestic
workers are being illegally bought and sold online in a booming black
market.


Headlines – 11/8/2019

Nadler: Conditioning US Assistance to Israel is ‘Wrong’

Hamas Leader Taunts Israel’s Political Crisis

Commentary: Who will lead the Palestinians after Abbas?

Jordan bans Israeli farmers from border enclave

Jordan said to reject extending lease on border lands, but offer compensation

Cyprus signs $9 billion gas extraction deal with Israel’s Delek, other firms

Surprise! Israeli Natural Gas Fields Much Larger than Expected

Top Secret Israeli Oil Firm to Pay $30m for Catastrophic Spill in Landmark Case

Ex-Labour MP: Corbyn unfit, poisoned party with ‘anti-Jewish racism’

Holocaust survivor given police escort in Italy after threats

Pompeo in Halle: World must work together to fight antisemitism

Israel joins US, Brazil as lone backers of Cuba embargo at UN

Shin Bet says it thwarted over 450 terrorist attacks in 2019

Israel’s restraint comes with a price

Netanyahu: ‘Iran is a threat to the whole world – time to wake up’

Netanyahu: Iran lied about its nuclear program, IAEA confirms

Netanyahu: Europe ‘must stop stalling,’ confront Iran over its nuclear program

Middle East: The Anti-Iran Revolution is Well Underway

US warns Iran could be positioning for ‘rapid nuclear breakout’

IAEA accuses Iran of evading attempts to probe uranium production – report

Saudi Arabia calls on Iran to fully cooperate with UN nuclear watchdog

IAEA: Iran not cooperating with probe of nuclear warehouse

IAEA disputes Iran claim that inspector tested positive for explosives

Iran winning Middle East struggle with its use of proxies, report says

US-led coalition launches operation to protect Gulf waters

Iranian air defenses shoot down drone over country’s south, local media reports

Iranian military chief: ‘Enemies’ using protests in Iraq, Lebanon to harm Iran

Iraqi forces kill 10 protesters in Baghdad and Basra

UN chief condemns live fire at Iraqi protesters as ‘disturbing’

Iraqi PM: We are working on budget to help manage Iraq’s economy

No sign of new cabinet as Lebanese leaders meet, bank curbs continue

Ex-Lebanese PM questioned over how $11 billion was spent

In major reshuffle, Jordan PM moves to push IMF-led economic reforms

Russia deploys military helicopters to patrol Syria-Turkey border

Erdogan threatens to open Europe gates for refugees

France’s Macron claims NATO experiencing a ‘brain death’ in wake of US troop movements in Syria

Syrian Kurdish Refugees Say Kurdish Forces Tried To Prevent Them From Fleeing To Iraq

State Department defied White House to lift hold on Ukraine aid, William Taylor told House investigators

Ukraine envoy had ‘clear understanding’ on quid pro quo, but no firsthand knowledge of Trump plans: transcript

Democrats discussing multiple articles of impeachment against Trump

Trump’s Top Aides Clash Over Impeachment as House Probe Expands

Former Trump adviser Bolton threatened to sue if subpoenaed to testify in impeachment probe: committee

Bolton willing to defy White House and testify if court clears the way, according to people familiar with his views

Trump pushes back on report that he wanted Barr to clear him on Ukraine in news conference: ‘Totally untrue’

Trump’s allies want to ID the whistleblower, who may learn the price of speaking out

Lawyer for Ukraine whistleblower sends White House cease and desist letter to stop Trump’s attacks

Watch: ‘The View’ Versus Donald Trump Jr.: Loud, Low Blows, Politics, Scandals And Great TV

A book written by an anonymous White House official claims that staff react to Trump’s tweets like finding your ‘elderly uncle running pantsless across the courtyard’

NY Governor Cuomo Signs Bill Prohibiting Churches, Nonprofits From Endorsing, Opposing Political Candidates

New York Fed Adds $115.14 Billion in Short-Term Liquidity to Markets

Dow, S&P 500 end at record highs even as conflicts emerge in Washington over new deal with China to cancel tariffs in stages

The White House is sharply divided over proposal to remove some China tariffs, report says

China and U.S. ‘agree to phased rollback’ of extra trade war tariffs

Charges: Chinese surveillance goods illegally sold to US

China kicks off work on 6G technology after 5G launch: State media

AI that was deemed too dangerous to be released has now been released into the world

Iran earthquake: ‘significant casualties likely’ after 5.9 tremor hits north-west

Iran Earthquake Kills At Least 5, Injures More Than 300

5.9 magnitude earthquake hits near Hihifo, Tonga

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits the South Indian Ocean

5.2 mangitude earthquake hits near Lorengau, Papua New Guinea

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Sulangan, Philippines

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Pondaguitan, Philippines

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits the Southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 24,000ft

Sakurajima volcano Japan erupts to 22,000ft

Popocateptl volcano in Mexico erupts to 20,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 15,000ft

Manam volcano in Papua New Guinea erupts to 15,000ft

Sangeang Api volcano in Indonesia erupts to 10,000ft

Tropical Cyclone Matmo is reborn as Bulbul – A rare overland passage by a tropical cyclone brings a threat to India and Bangladesh

Typhoon Nakri to make landfall in South- Central region of Vietnam

Freak hailstorm rips through Riverland, causing significant crop damage, South Australia

Drought ravages southern Africa, officials say 45 million at risk of hunger

Orangutan granted ‘personhood’ settles into new Florida home

Trump administration must provide mental health services to migrant families, federal judge says

Statue of ancient god of child sacrifice put on display in Rome

New Pro-Abortion Campaign Calls Killing Babies an “Act of Love and Compassion”

Judge Strikes Down HHS Rule Protecting Healthcare Professionals Who Decline to Perform Abortions

Georgia State Lawmaker Proposes Making Gender Transition Surgery for Minors a Felony

From ‘Schitt’s Creek’ to ‘Batwoman,’ LGBTQ characters on U.S. TV are at an all-time high

Christian Comedian John Crist Cancels 2019 Tour Dates After Reports of Sexting, Harassment, Manipulation

World Evangelical Alliance General Assembly opens with call to Christians to finish the Great Commission


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“A simple layman armed with Scripture is to be believed above a pope or a council without it…” – Martin Luther