Daily Archives: November 8, 2019

November 8 Vision Without Boundaries

Scripture Reading: Matthew 28:16–20

Key Verse: Matthew 28:19

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

The idea that nothing is impossible for God is very comforting. Just think about the parting of the Red Sea, the tearing down of the walls of Jericho, and the Resurrection—great overtures that God has accomplished.

However, when it comes to God doing something miraculous through you, you may have doubts. You wonder if God is interested in using you for a great work. Yet when God formed you, He did so with a very special design in mind. And Jesus spoke about His plans in Matthew 28:19 when He told His disciples to make disciples of the whole world. To Jesus, no nation or tribe is excluded from the gospel. God’s desire is for everyone to enter the kingdom of heaven through the blood of His precious Son.

Henry Ford said, “I’m looking for a lot of men with an infinite capacity for not knowing what can’t be done.” That’s what God is looking for too. He seeks believers who know that nothing is impossible with God. He wants disciples who willingly follow with full trust in the Savior. There are no boundaries for what God wants us to do and what He wants us to accomplish.

Lord, give me vision without boundaries. Work in and through me to accomplish Your will.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 327). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

November 8 How to Listen to God

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 30:15–18

Key Verse: Isaiah 50:4

The Lord God has given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to hear as the learned.

The center of the Christian life is a relationship with Jesus Christ—personal, unique, and rewarding. At the core of this relationship is communication—expressing ourselves to God in prayer and His speaking to our spirits.

We must admit, though, we are usually far better at the former than the latter. Listening to God is a realm in which we are sometimes uninformed and frequently uncomfortable. Is that God I am hearing or just the echo of my own thinking? we wonder.

It helps to demystify the terminology. He usually doesn’t speak to us audibly as He did to the Old Testament characters. Today, He speaks through the Scriptures, the sound advice of other Christians, and the presence of the Holy Spirit who lives within each believer. We hear His voice as we meditate on the truth of His Word, listen and sift through the counsel of others, and commit each day to His sovereign control, trusting Him to order our ways and thoughts.

God communicates His will to us so that we might comprehend His truth and be conformed to it. He always takes the initiative to make it happen. Our best move is to quiet our busy souls and allow Him to speak (Isa. 30:15).

There is so much God wants to share with you. He has something to say about everything that touches your life. Who wouldn’t want to hear from Him?

Dear heavenly Father, speak to me through Your Word today. Communicate Your will to me so that I can be conformed to the truth. Quiet my busy soul so that I can hear Your voice.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 327). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

November 10 An Eternal Perspective

Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 4:1–18

Key verses: 2 Corinthians 4:16–18

We do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

In the book Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot, Elisabeth Elliot writes of the last time she saw her husband alive:

Jim slung the carrying net across his forehead, and started for the front door. As he put his hand on the brass handle I almost said aloud: “Do you realize you may never open that door again?”

He swung it open, followed me out and slammed it, striding down the bamboo trail in his usual firm, determined gait. As we reached the strip, the plane was circling to land, and it was only a matter of minutes before Jim kissed me, hopped in beside the pilot, and disappeared over the river. On Sunday, January 8, 1956, the men for whom Jim Elliot had prayed for six years killed him and his four companions.

Jim Elliot’s life was one of total commitment to Jesus Christ. He owned few things of worldly value; however, his was a life of eternal treasure. At the age of twenty–two, he wrote, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

He saw life from a different angle. His goal was to be remembered not as someone who had done a great work but as one who exemplified total love of and devotion to his Savior. Because of his devotion to his Savior, his martyrdom at age twenty–eight remains an inspiration to all who would dare to live and die by the cross of Jesus Christ.

O God, give me an eternal perspective. I want to live and die by the cross of Your Son, Jesus Christ.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 329). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

November 8 Nothing Is Wasted

Scripture reading: John 11:1–45

Key verses: John 11:25–26

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

By the time Jesus reached Bethany, Mary and Martha were overwhelmed by the reality of their brother’s death. Jesus loved Lazarus, too, and He was not ashamed to display His sorrow. God is sensitive to our needs and doesn’t hesitate to weep with us when we hurt.

He also had a greater plan in mind for the sisters and all who were present. He used this tragedy to point others to Himself. Jesus told those who had gathered at the tomb: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die … Did I not say to you that if you would believe, you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:25–26, 40).

You may wonder why a certain tragedy had to happen, but you need never doubt the goodness of God’s sovereign will. He sees the beginning and the end of your life, and only He can transform your tragedies into something of lasting value.

In Jesus Christ, Mary and Martha found the hope of eternal life. Author and speaker Elisabeth Elliot says nothing is a waste with God. He takes everything, even the slightest detail, and works it all together for our good. No matter what you are facing, the Lord has a plan in mind for the future. Tell Him of your doubts, fears, and inadequacies, and He will strengthen and encourage you.

How I thank You, Father, that nothing is wasted in Your divine economy. You take everything and work it together for my good.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 327). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Purpose Driven Dismantling of Christianity (Reprise) — Christian Research Network

(Marsha West – Christian Research Network)  Posted below is part 3 of a column I wrote for RenewAmerica in 2011 in which I revealed that religious syncretism (a blending of many different belief systems) has virtually reshaped the visible Church.  I wasn’t alone in pointing out this fact. There were many others in the online apologetics and discernment ministries who were sounding the alarm. In light of what is going on in many churches, it is clear that the warning cry of “discerners” has been largely ignored and now the visible church is in considerable disarray. Not only were we not listened to, we’ve been marginalized, and in some cases we’re even hated, for exposing the apostasy that has changed the face of evangelicalism.

The dismantling of historic, orthodox, biblical Christianity has continued at break-neck speed to the point where the visible Church has become a haven for hirelings and goats who’ve set about butting the sheep out the church’s back door.

My primary focus for part 3 of the series is to show how Gnosticism and Man-Centered Psychology has gotten a firm grip on Christendom.  How did this happen?  In large part it happened because undiscerning Church leaders thought it was a good idea to adopt the Rick Warren “Purpose Driven” marketing strategy to grow their churches.

This short intro sets the stage for part 3 of “Purpose Driven Dismantling of Christianity.”

This overview of what I have termed Syncretism Stew shows a diabolically inspired supermarket of truth and error in the postmodern Church.  What we’re witnessing is a shopping cart overflowing with false teaching.  Aisle 1-Mysticism Madness; aisle 2-Charismatic Confusion; aisle 3-Pentecostal Pandemonium; aisle 4- Enlightened Emergents; aisle 5- Purpose-driven Pragmatism; aisle 6-Secular Strategies…to suck in seekers; aisle 7-Twelve-steps…to “group think”; aisle 8-Preposterous Pop Psychology; aisle 9-Discernment Disintegration; aisle 10-Predatory Pastors.  On and on it goes.

The Body of Christ trusts its Shepherds to feed them healthy nutritious foods, yet many of them are literally starving their sheep to death!  A diet of “Bible Light” does not nourish the soul – it causes spiritual malnutrition!  A shepherd’s job is to lead the flock in Christian life and faith.

ANCIENT GNOSTICISM RESURRECTED

What Paul came up against in the early church was Gnosticism (from the Greek word knowledge) which was a heretical philosophy of religion. The Gnostics were harmful because outwardly they were so similar but what they taught was a complete distortion of the truth.  For one thing, they insisted that important secret knowledge was hidden from most believers. They, of course, were the enlightened ones. The Apostles taught just the opposite: Christ is the only knowledge—the only truth–a believer needs.

In his book The Gnostic Empire Strikes Back, Peter Jones offers this insight into Gnosticism:

In ancient Athens, instead of bookstores and “centers” the discriminating “very religious” shopper was offered altars, all with their own “mysteries,” spiritual techniques, promises of better life from priest or priestess gurus in the “knosis.”… While the early church fathers found proof of the Gnostics’ fraudulent theology in their manifold contradictory systems and opposing doctrines, the Gnostics congratulated themselves on the great richness of their diversity and their tolerance of many approaches to truth. [1]

Jones goes on to say that Gnosticism was a “kaleidoscopic mixture of many varied traditions.”  In a word, syncretism.

Sincere followers of Jesus Christ should have a clear understanding of what has taken place in the Church because the Syncretism Stew they’re ingesting is not the “faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”  Christians are being fed a different Gospel – a counterfeit Christianity.  Sniff the air.  Do you smell the sulfur?  Yes, you do!  A New Kind of Christianity emerged from the pit of hell!

MAN-CENTERED PSYCHOLOGY

Many Christians feel that the church has abandoned them, so they turn to psychology and psychotherapy for help.  “The term psychotherapy — informally known as “the talking cure” — encompasses a variety of approaches to helping people identify, understand, and cope with the dynamics of their mental and emotional states, individually and in social interaction. ” [2]

Most Christians are unfamiliar with infamous psychiatrist Carl G. Jung.  Moreover, they are unaware that Jungian psychotherapy is taught in Christian seminaries.  Even Christians who have heard of him are unaware that Jung was immersed in the occult and did his doctoral thesis on parapsychology and conducted seminars on the teachings of Catholic mystic Ignatius Loyola.  In his article “Confronting Neopaganism in the Culture and the Church,” Peter Jones further enlightens us on Jung:

One writer on Jung says without overstatement that Carl Jung is the Father of Neo-Gnosticism and the New Age Movement. [A contemporary philosopher, Richard Wolin, Distinguished Professor at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, believes that “…since the 1970s Jung’s influence on spiritual currents of the New Age movement has been enormous. It may only be a slight exaggeration to say scratch a witch and underneath you will find a Jungian.

Later in the article Jones says this:

Jung calls Christian orthodoxy “systematic blindness” in insisting that God is outside of man, unaware of “this inner deity revealing itself from the depths of the soul.

Some churches are so enamored with psychology that members are given the Meyers-Briggs personality quiz (based on Jung’s theories) to identify their spiritual gifts and recruited into unbiblical Twelve-step programs.  Believers are seeking help from biblical counseling, “Christian psychologists,” Christian self-help books, and nonChristians such as Oprah, Dr. Oz and Dr. Phil!  The authors are getting rich off Christians who purchase their books!

Don Matzat puts forth the threat that modern psychology poses to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and suggests that:

Christian denominations who are concerned by the intrusion of modern psychology into their ranks should appoint a standing-committee made up of apologetic researchers, experts in the occult, and orthodox pastors and lay-people who are academically trained in psychology. It would be the task of this committee to do the research that most busy pastors are unable to do and to offer to the church their conclusions and opinions concerning some of the deceptive offerings of modern psychology.  [3]

MAN-CENTERED SELF-ESTEEM

Standing before a crowd of devout Muslims with the Grand Mufti, I know that we’re all doing God’s work together. Standing on the edge of a new millennium, we’re laboring hand in hand to repair the breach.

I believe in positive thinking. It is almost as important as the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  — Robert Schuller

Robert Schuller [who died in 2015], host of the “Hour of Power” weekly television show, is known for possibility thinking. “For Schuller — faith’ is a power of the mind and ‘God’ is merely a placebo that helps one ‘believe’ and thereby activate mind power. For example, on an Amway tape, Schuller exults, ‘You don’t know the power you have within you! … You make the world into anything you choose.’ It is Babel again, only in a more sophisticated form. The power of thinking becomes the magic stairway that leads to the paradise where all one’s wishes can be fulfilled — nothing but an ‘evangelical’ form of Christian Science or Science of Mind! (6/93, The Berean Call).”

In the early days of his ministry Dr. Schuller used mass communication such as radio, television, and creative marketing techniques to find out what people wanted in a church. What he discovered was that nonbelievers did not want to hear about sin and salvation; they wanted their emotional needs met. This was right up Schuller’s alley, as he believes sin is a lack of self-esteem. To accommodate the emotionally needy crowd he reinterprets God’s Word to conform to his self-esteem philosophy.

Schuller’s marketing methods laid the foundation for the Church Growth movement. He claims to have launched the megachurch movement through his Institute for Successful Church Leading.  Schuller chirped:

Here ministers are inspired to believe in their dreams and to present the good news of the gospel in positive terms. And some of those students are well-known. Bill Hybels now pastors the largest church, I think, in the United States, the Willow Creek Community Church. Bill has often said that there probably would not be a Willow Creek Church if he hadn’t been able to come to our pastor’s institute here. I’m so proud of him.” Rick Warren was also a frequent visitor of the Institute.  “And there’s Rick Warren, a pastor who today is phenomenal. He came to our institute time after time.”[4]

Robert Schuller is a popular preacher and influences many people. Nevertheless, he’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Why? Because he bases his theology on what people want to hear rather than God’s Word.

“Schuller’s false teaching,” warned David Cloud, “is an extremely serious matter in light of his wide influence. His was the most popular religion television broadcast in America for many years. His books sell by the millions. He appears with presidents. His self-esteem Christianity has been adopted by multitudes. These believe they are Christians; they attend churches; but in reality they worship a false christ and follow a false gospel. Robert Schuller and his mentor, the late Norman Vincent Peale, are two of the key culprits in promoting this error.”

HOW TO GROW A CHURCH MAN’S WAY

Rick Warren, mentioned in part 2, is the author of the best-selling books, “The Purpose Driven Church” and “The Purpose Driven Life,” was inspired by Robert Schuller’s success. According to PurposeDrivenLife.com, Warren’s books “are known for explaining theology in understandable ways and have been translated into more than 50 languages. Dr. Warren says he teaches theology without using theological terms and telling people it is theology.”

On Saddleback.com we learn that more than 200,000 church leaders from around the world have been trained in Saddleback’s purpose-driven philosophy.

It was Robert Schuller’s success that led Rick Warren to the founder of modern management, the late Peter Drucker.  Warren went to Drucker for advice.  “Under Drucker’s tutelage, Warren’s own success as a spiritual entrepreneur has been considerable. Saddleback has grown to 15,000 members and has helped start another 60 churches throughout the world. Warren’s 2001 book, The Purpose-Driven Life, is this decade’s best seller with 19.5 million copies sold so far and compiling at the rate of 500,000 per month. [5] (Update: PDL has sold 25 million copies and is the best-selling hardback book in American history.)

Drucker believed that business and nonprofit partnerships cannot work “unless they are seen as investments focusing on results – primarily social rather than financial results – achieving clear, and preferably measurable results.”

Rick Warren said of Peter Drucker: “[H]e’s my mentor. I’ve spent 20 years under his tutelage learning about leadership from him.”  He also learned how to go about building a megachurch from Drucker. Was building megachurches really necessary, though?  Do we really need 25,000 people attending one church?  Is a small church less effective than a large church?  Our Lord Jesus Christ made it clear that He would build (grow) a church:

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Mat 16:18). (Emphasis added)

Largely due to the popularity of Rick Warren’s purpose-driven books, the Church Growth movement has swept through Christendom like a Kansas tornado, ushering in a ‘new paradigm’ of transformational leadership to meet the challenge of the new Century.  Not everyone is on board including conservative Christians who caution that, “Purpose-driven is a ‘one size fits all’ plan and program.  It is the ultimate ecumenical tool.”

Cathy Lynn Grossman of USA Today informs us that, “Warren is part of the ultra-conservative Southern Baptist Convention, and all his senior staff sign on to the SBC’s doctrines, such as the literal and infallible Bible and exclusion of women as senior pastors.”  [6]

Rick Warren an ultra-conservative?  I laid that myth to rest in Part 2.

Ultra conservative Christians are sometimes referred to as “fundamentalist.”  Speaking at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, May 23, 2005, Warren made the following statement regarding Christian fundamentalism:

Now the word ‘fundamentalist’ actually comes from a document in the 1920s called the Five Fundamentals of the Faith. And it is a very legalistic, narrow view of Christianity, and when I say there are very few fundamentalists, I mean in the sense that they are all actually called fundamentalist churches, and those would be quite small. There are no large ones.  I am an evangelical. I’m not a member of the [ultra-conservative] religious right and I’m not a fundamentalist …Today there really aren’t that many Fundamentalists left; I don’t know if you know that or not, but they are such a minority; there aren’t that many Fundamentalists left in America.

Are the “five fundamentals” a legalistic, narrow view of Christianity?  No!  The term fundamentalist came from a series of books called “The Fundamentals” that was published from 1910-1915.  Actually the series did not promote “five fundamentals” but rather dozens of fundamentals. The Five Fundamentals of Faith that have been accepted by Christians throughout history are: 1) the Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, 2) the Virgin Birth of Christ, 3) the doctrine of Penal Substitutionary Atonement, 4) the bodily resurrection of Jesus, 5) the inerrancy of Scripture.

If someone is indeed a Christian, he or she cannot deny the essential doctrines of Christianity as this is what separates Christianity from other religions.

Further, the USA Today article informs us (not on purpose) that Warren’s pastor-training programs promote ecumenism.  Catholics, Methodists, Mormons, Jews and ordained women and anyone who can breathe are welcome.  “I’m not going to get into a debate over the non-essentials [trivials].  I won’t try to change other denominations. Why be divisive?’ he asks, citing as his model Billy Graham, ‘a statesman for Christ ministering across barriers.” [7]

Why be divisive?  Rick Warren is being divisive by teaming up with New Age occultists for his weight loss program The Daniel Plan…serving on the advisory board of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation (Blair is a Fabian Socialist)…offering PDL training to apostates and cultists so that they’ll achieve phenomenal success in spreading their message.   

I’ll close this with an excerpt from Purpose-Driven “No Matter What it Costs” :

Rick Warren was interviewed by The Dallas Morning News before he spoke at the Global Day of Prayer event, held on May 15, 2005. He was asked:

“You’ve become a very popular public speaker. As you’ve traveled, have you noticed any local differences in how your message is received?”

His response was:

Not at all.… It’s cross-cultural – I get letters from Hindus, from Muslims. [The Purpose Driven Life] didn’t get niched as a religious book.

Read Part 1 & Part 2

Footnotes:

  1. The Gnostic Empire Strikes Back: The Old Heresy for the New Age, page 20—By Peter Jones, professor of New Testament at Westminster Seminary California
  2. Psychology and the Church (Part One): Laying a Foundation for Discernment–By Bob and Gretchen Passantino
  3. The Intrusion of Psychology into Christian Theology–By Don Matzat
  4. Setting Richard Abanes Straight on my Rick Warren “Attack” –By Ken Silva
  5. Peter Drucker On LeadershipBy Rich Karlgaard
  6. “This evangelist has a ‘Purpose’”–By Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY,
  7. Ibid.

Copyright by Marsha West, 2011.

via Purpose Driven Dismantling of Christianity (Reprise) — Christian Research Network

Rich Liberal Joy Behar Tells Don Jr.: “I Don’t Care About Jobs as Long as Trump is in the White House” (VIDEO) — The Gateway Pundit

What an amazing show! Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle joined the far left cast on “The View” on Thursday.

It was a stunning example of why you can never trust the liberal media.

And Donald Trump Jr. was just AMAZING! It took real guts and patience to sit through those vicious attacks coming from all sides.

Including this gem from one of The View co-hosts who pieced together two separate sections of the Trump transcript with President Zelensky to make it look like the US President brought up Joe Biden!

These people are such liars.

Donald Trump Jr. was flawless in this hostile environment as we previously reported about Joy Behar in blackface.

There was one very significant segment which most all ignored.

At one point Donald Trump Jr. talked about the great economy and the jobs his father created, while the rest of the mob focused on “character and tweets” and such.

Joy Behar said to that, “I don’t care about the jobs, so long as Trump is in the White House.”

Imagine, they don’t care about millions of people to have jobs, so long as they get rid of the president they loathe.

Here is the video.

via Rich Liberal Joy Behar Tells Don Jr.: “I Don’t Care About Jobs as Long as Trump is in the White House” (VIDEO) — The Gateway Pundit

President Trump Impromptu Remarks Departing White House – Video…. — The Last Refuge

Chopper pressers are the best pressers. Early this morning President Trump stopped to answer questions from the assembled press pool as he departed the White House for Atlanta, Georgia. High Energy. [Video Below, Transcript Will Follow] [Transcript] –

via President Trump Impromptu Remarks Departing White House – Video…. — The Last Refuge

November 8, 2019 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

1 Paul calls on the Galatians to act on the freedom they have in Christ. He appeals to them not to allow themselves to be persuaded to take up “again” the yoke of slavery. Whereas in their recent past they had been enslaved to “those who by nature are not gods” (4:8–9), in this instance Paul has in mind slavery to the Judaizers’ interpretation of the law (cf. 3:23). The verse begins grammatically in a rather abrupt manner, with no transitional phrase or particle connecting it to what has preceded. But Paul’s statement about freedom here echoes the expression “of the free woman,” which occurs throughout the latter portion of chapter 4 (cf. 4:22, 23, 30, 31). And in fact, Paul has emphasized freedom throughout Galatians (1:4; 2:4, 5; 3:26–28), so much so that freedom has been called the “basic concept underlying Paul’s argument throughout the letter” (Betz, 255). In a bold declaration of the result of the gospel, then, Paul exhorts the Galatians fully to appropriate the new identity they have in Christ.

Since it is true that they are free in Christ, the Galatians are now told to “stand firm” in that freedom. The means of achieving this “standing firm” is to resist being ensnared by the “yoke” of the law (cf. Ac 15:10–11), and thus having their freedom compromised by returning to slavery. The Galatians were in danger of doing just that if they continued to follow after the message of the Judaizers (cf. Martyn, 446–47).[1]


1  This syntactically independent verse (a single sentence in the original)—with no connective particle to mark its relation to what precedes or follows—is in the nature of a “bridge verse” or “transition paragraph” (cf. AV, RSV, NEB, NIV). It is on the one hand a summary of 4:21–31, if not also of chapters 3–4 as a whole, or even of 2:14–4:31 or 1:6–4:31, and on the other an introduction to the exhortations of chapter 5.

Here the note of freedom is struck again before the exhortation is sounded: by offering up his life in substitutionary death for us (3:13; 4:4) Christ has set us free te eleutheria. The Greek phrase is probably to be taken, not as dative of purpose or destination (as in NEB),55 but as dative of instrument or description (RV “with freedom”), because (a) the article used with the noun marks the “liberty” as something specific (cf. AV, “the liberty wherewith …”), that is, the freedom Paul has been speaking of, and (b) for the idea of purpose or destination Paul employs a different expression in 5:13 (ep’ eleutheria; cf. Rom. 8:21, eis tēn eleutherian).

The freedom referred to is freedom from subservience to the law, “the freedom belonging to the heir, the natural son, the child of the free woman.” Hence the Galatians must stand firm in this freedom and refuse to submit again to “a yoke of slavery” (RSV, NASB, NIV). The “yoke” was used in current Jewish parlance in an honorable sense for the obligation to keep the law of Moses, and the Judaizers may well have urged the Galatians to “take the yoke of the law” upon themselves. But Paul bluntly points out that the ordinances of the law as demanded by the Judaizers constitute a slave’s yoke, so that he uses the word in the bad sense of an imposed burden, like slavery (cf. Acts 15:10; 1 Tim. 6:1). Here the principle of justification by faith is clearly involved, for freedom from the law means for the Christian first and foremost freedom from the law as a means of justification (and secondarily as a principle of life).

In this verse we are introduced to an essential aspect of Paul’s understanding of Christian salvation: the relation between the theological indicative and the ethical imperative. The two are concisely juxtaposed here: the indicative states that Christ has set believers free with the gift of freedom that is proffered in the gospel; the imperative imposes upon them the task of preserving that freedom or rather of continuing in that freedom. We shall have occasion to comment again on this question of the indicative and the imperative in Paul in connection with 5:6 and, more fully, 5:26.[2]


1 Paul’s urgent goal for this communication is stated most clearly here as Paul directly appeals to his converts to choose against the course of action that the rival teachers promote: “Christ freed us to live in a state of freedom; maintain your stance, therefore, and do not again place your neck under a yoke of slavery.” This is not just a transitional verse, though it also effects an admirable transition by displaying the connection between the “indicative” of what God has done for the Galatians (the subject matter of 3:1–4:7; 4:21–31) and the “imperative” that the Galatians must now live out in light of God’s favor and gifts (preserving their “freedom” as children of God and heirs of the promised Spirit, and as people who have been redeemed from slavery to the principles and powers of this age). More important, the verse articulates the principal exhortation toward which all of the preceding argumentation has been leading. Its importance is highlighted by its syntactic isolation from what precedes and follows: “No particle or conjunction binds it to what precedes, and no conjunction or particle in 5:2 connects verse 1 to what follows.” The most pressing need, according to Paul, is for the Galatians to decide in favor of holding onto their freedom rather than putting their necks under Torah’s yoke or the yoke of any other worldly system of rules and values ever again.

Representing the Greek text more woodenly in English, we would read “for freedom Christ freed us.” The prepositional phrase is fronted for emphasis. “Freedom” is the destination or purpose behind Christ’s liberating action.12 Adolf Deissmann found this expression used in documents recording “sacral manumission,” a procedure for freeing a slave in which a slave was liberated from his or her human master, with “ownership” passing to a particular god. Hence, Paul is saying that Christ freed us from bondage to the demonic stoicheia in order to allow us to live as free persons (“for freedom”), though still in service to the God and Father of Jesus (as Paul will go on to develop in 5:13–6:10). Freedom speaks here of the new quality of relationship with God and the new level of personal responsibility that comes from being sons and daughters who have come of age (4:1–7).

Indicative and imperative play an important role here in Paul’s argumentation (see excursus “Indicative and Imperative in Paul” on pp. 473–76). The word “therefore” in 5:1b signals that this verse as a whole presents itself as an enthymeme, an abbreviated form of syllogistic argument (often simply a statement supported by a single explicated rationale). The action being urged in the imperative clause is presented as the logical conclusion (5:1b) derived from the premise that opens the verse (5:1a). Audiences would be trusted to supply, often intuitively, the missing premise or premises that completed the syllogism (see Aristotle, Rhetoric 2.21.2). Paul has given significant attention in the preceding chapters to establishing the premise “for freedom Christ set us free.” While the language of freedom and slavery was most prominent in the immediately preceding allegory of the Sarah and Hagar story (4:21–31), freedom, slavery, and release from enslavement (or confinement) have been focal topics in 2:4–5; 3:23–25; and 4:1–11. In the first passage, Paul simply describes his and his converts’ state as freedom enjoyed “in Christ”; in the latter two he speaks of God’s purposes and the specific results of Christ’s death as ending a period of slavery (whether under Torah or under other regulatory principles) and bringing liberation to those who have trusted in Jesus.

What would the audience need to supply in order for the argument to work, that is, in order to effect the all-important transfer of assent to the premise (“Christ freed us to live in a state of freedom”) to assent to the conclusion (“Keep standing firm and do not again take up a yoke of slavery”)? The audience would readily recognize “freedom” as a good and “enslavement” as an evil, potentially supplying “freedom is better than slavery” as the premise that completes the syllogism, or the even more general premise that “good things are to be preserved wherever possible.” The implicit argument would thus utilize the deliberative topic of expediency.17

Paul has also set up the audience, however, to think in terms of costly acts of beneficence and the obligations of beneficiaries. The supporting arguments that will immediately follow (5:2–4) move explicitly in this direction. By stating “Christ freed us” (5:1) rather than “you are free,” Paul invites the audience to remember that this condition of freedom was conferred on the believers at significant personal cost to Christ, who “gave himself on account of our sins” (1:4), who “loved me and gave himself for me” (2:20), who “became a curse on our behalf” by being left hanging on a cross (3:13). The addressees would thus also be poised to complete the syllogism by drawing on their awareness of what is appropriate in response to costly gifts and exceptional benevolence (e.g., “that which cost the giver so dearly must be dearly preserved”). The audience would infer its obligation to protect and preserve this state of freedom that was conferred on them at such personal cost to Christ. This implicit premise would utilize the deliberative topic of what is just, which includes “repaying one’s benefactors” appropriately (Anaximenes, Rhetoric to Alexander 1421b38–40; see also Pseudo-Cicero, Rhetoric for Herennius 3.3.4).

Paul has facilitated his audience’s assent to his proposal by strategically labeling the course of action he wishes for them to reject as submission to a “yoke of slavery.” This is a striking way for a Jew to describe the Torah-observant way of life promoted by the rival teachers, but it is potentially effective in nurturing aversion to that way of life. Jewish authors used the image of the yoke to speak about their submission to the Torah (m. Ber. 2:2), but this is a yoke that brings freedom from more oppressive burdens. Rabbi Nehunya ben Haqqaneh, a slightly later contemporary of Paul, is reputed to have said: “From whoever accepts upon himself the yoke of Torah do they remove the yoke of the state and the yoke of hard labor” (m. ʾAbot 3.5; Neusner). Wisdom teachers like Ben Sira and Jesus used the image of taking on a yoke as they invited people to learn wisdom from them (Sir 51:26; Matt 11:29). In Ben Sira’s case at least, “wisdom’s yoke” is the equivalent of Torah’s yoke. In all such instances, the “yoke,” while signaling submission, is nevertheless beneficial. Paul assures that his hearers will understand the image negatively by describing it as a “yoke of slavery.”21 This yoke is a burden that brings no benefit and, more specifically, is a burden that God does not wish for people to continue to bear—to such an extent that he even sent his Son to die to redeem people from every “yoke of slavery.”

So Paul exhorts the Galatians not to “bear again a yoke of slavery,” signaling once more his equation of the Torah that dominated Jews alongside the stoicheia that dominate gentiles (4:8–11). The gentile Christians among the Galatians formerly bore the enslaving yoke of the latter; for them to turn to the Torah is to return “again” to an enslaving yoke. While Paul’s characterization of the Torah contrasts sharply with his contemporary Jews’ assessment of the same, his position on the ethnic law code of the Jewish people as enslaving would resonate with popular Stoic philosophy. The philosopher and statesman Dio Chrysostom, who was born about the time Galatians was written, defined freedom as “the knowledge of what is allowable and what is forbidden, and slavery as ignorance of what is allowed and what is not” (Discourses 14.18). Freedom is not autonomy, nor is it absolute license to do what one wishes in every situation (14.3–6), but rather an opportunity to conform to the absolute law of God. Slavery, in contrast, consists in being unclear on the laws God has laid down for humankind, and in being bound instead by ever-multiplying human-made laws (80.5–7). For Dio, following local, ethnic, national laws while remaining ignorant of “the ordinance of Zeus” is “the grievous and unlawful slavery under whose yoke you have placed your souls” (80.7). Paul now classes the Torah with such second-rate law codes, calling it also a “yoke of slavery,” relegating it to the period of humanity’s ignorance of the law of God written on the heart by the Spirit.[3]


5:1 / The means by which the Gentile Galatians have become children of the free woman is through Christ. This is another way of saying what Paul said earlier—that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law” (3:13). Paul declares that the purpose of Christ’s work was for freedom. The concept of freedom, which is a basic theme of Galatians, is connected throughout Paul’s letters primarily with freedom from: freedom from the law (Rom. 7:3–4), from sin (Rom. 6:18–22), or from death (Rom. 8:2). Freedom is also equated with the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:17) and is used as a way to describe the Christian life (Gal. 2:4). In an expansive command, Paul directs his readers to stand firm against the influence of the rival evangelists. Underscoring the point he has made repeatedly, Paul charges his converts not to put themselves in a position of submitting to a yoke of slavery. To such a fate, Paul warns, his readers’ attraction to the alternative gospel leads.

Throughout the letter Paul has described the adding of law to faith and the Galatians’ former life (4:8–9) as enslavement, which is why he can warn that the Galatians’ attraction to the rival evangelists’ message will mean that they are slaves once again.[4]


5:1

  1. Maintain your freedom!

5 1 For freedom Christ has set us free; continue to stand firm, therefore, and do not be loaded down again with a yoke of slavery.

  1. For freedom Christ has set us free. There is every reason to agree with modern versions when they print Gal. 5:1 as a little paragraph all by itself, the first paragraph of a new chapter. That something new begins here is clearly evident from the contrast between the argumentative style of the earlier chapters, including the immediately preceding context, and the hortatory language that begins here in 5:1. Having been taught that in Christ we are free, we (here specifically the Galatians) are now encouraged to maintain that freedom (verse 1) and to interpret and apply it properly (verse 13 ff.). But this very statement also indicates the close connection between chapters 4 and 5. The truth stated and vigorously defended in the preceding chapters is applied to life in chapters 5 and 6.

That the idea of freedom is very much in the foreground is clear not only from verse 1 but also from verse 13 ff. The question arises: Just what does Paul mean when he speaks of freedom? It implies first of all deliverance. This deliverance is sometimes conceived of as rescue from the guilt and power of sin (Rom. 6:18); hence, from an accusing conscience (Heb. 10:22), from the wrath of God (Rom. 5:1; cf. Heb. 10:27), and the tyranny of Satan (2 Tim. 2:26; cf. Heb. 2:14). Nevertheless, although all of this is probably implied in Paul’s use of the term here in Gal. 5:1, 13, the context indicates that he is thinking particularly of freedom from “the law,” that is, deliverance from the curse which the law pronounces upon the sinner who had been striving—unsuccessfully, of course—to achieve his own righteousness (Gal. 3:13, 22–26; 4:1–7), but has now, by grace, turned to Christ and salvation in him. Cf. Phil. 3:4–9. For God’s chosen one this freedom includes rescue from the results of the law’s inability to make alive what is dead (Gal. 3:21). Implied is also freedom from fear, the fear that arises from a. the erroneous idea that both the moral and the ceremonial law must be strictly obeyed if one is to be saved, and b. the oppressing awareness of inability to meet this demand (Gal. 3:23; 4:21–31; Rom. 7:24–8:2).

Deliverance is, however, a negative concept, though the positive is clearly implied. Freedom is more than deliverance. It is a positive endowment. What the law could not do God has accomplished through Christ and the Spirit (Rom. 8:3, 4). Positively, then, freedom, as Paul sees it, is the state in which a person is walking and living in the Spirit (Gal. 5:25), so that he produces the fruit of the Spirit (5:22, 23), and with joy and gratitude does the will of God (5:14; Rom. 8:4), in principle fulfilling the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2), even “the law of liberty” (James 1:25). This liberty amounts to delighting in the law of God in one’s inmost self (Rom. 7:22). The person who is truly free no longer acts from constraint but serves his God willingly, with cheerfulness of heart. Freedom of access to the Father is implied, of course, for the blessing of which Paul speaks is enjoyed by sons (Gal. 4:6; Rom. 8:15).

Such true freedom is therefore always a freedom plus. It is with freedom as with justification. See p. 98. When an accused man is declared not guilty, he is free. Likewise when a slave has been emancipated, he is free. But the judge or the emancipator does not, as a rule, adopt the acquitted individual as his son. But when the Son makes one free, he is free indeed (John 8:36). He then rejoices in the glorious liberty of sonship, with all that this implies as to “access,” right to the inheritance, etc.

Paul emphasizes that it was Christ himself—not our own merits or our own deeds—that set us free. He did it by becoming a curse for us (Gal. 3:13); hence, by his blood (Heb. 10:19, 22); and he did it and is constantly doing it through his Spirit (Gal. 3:2, 3, 14; 4:6, 29; cf. Rom. 8:4). Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (2 Cor. 3:17).

The thoroughly human Paul expresses himself in a manner which could almost be described as containing a bit of humor when he says, “For freedom Christ has set us free,” as if to say, “Is it not ridiculous to imagine that Christ would have opened for us the gate of our prison—at such a cost!—merely to transfer us to another prison? Surely, he set us free in order that we might indeed be and remain free!” Continued: continue to stand firm, therefore (cf. 2 Thess. 2:15). Perseverance in the fight against re-enslavement is here prescribed. The Galatians had been running beautifully (5:7), but they had failed to carry on. They had, in fact, reversed their course. What Paul is saying, then, is that over against the opponents they should stand firm and should so continue. This standing firm is not that of a well-nigh unassailable fenced-in statue, but rather that of a tree firmly rooted in the midst of the raging storm. Even better, it is that of the soldier on the field of battle, not fleeing but offering stout resistance to the enemy and defeating him (Eph. 6:10–20). The very fact that it was no one less than Christ himself who had set the Galatians free, so that by standing firm, they are voluntarily continuing in the sphere of his activity, should encourage them; hence, “Continue to stand firm, therefore.” The crown of valor is victory (Matt. 10:22; Rev. 2:10).

Paul adds: and do not be loaded down again with a yoke of slavery. Peter had spoken about an unbearable yoke (Acts 15:10). He was referring to the yoke of the law, including its many regulations, augmented subsequently by man-made “traditions.” Under that yoke Israel had groaned. The Galatians, mostly of pagan origin (4:8), had been similarly subjected to rules and regulations pertaining to their former pagan religion. Ramsay speaks of “a highly elaborate system” of such burdensome stipulations, prevalent in Galatia. Hence, what the apostle is saying is that those who were delivered from this unbearable yoke of paganism should certainly not try to shoulder another similar yoke, that of Judaism. See also on 4:9. Having escaped from one ritualism are they now going to bow before another? Rather, let them flee for refuge to him whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light (Matt. 11:29, 30).[5]


1. The assertion (verse 5:1a). Verse 1, which should be read in a translation other than kjv, is in two distinct parts. The first part, which many look upon as the final statement of the preceding paragraph, is transitional. It summarizes the argument which has preceded and prepares the reader for the exhortation which follows. For freedom did Christ set us free (verse 1a, asv). The manner of expression may be intended to emphasize the completeness of the liberty believers have in Christ. Weymouth’s rendering brings this out: “Christ has made us completely free.” However, it is probably better to follow the asv. The thought then is that Christ has liberated us for the purpose of freedom.

The freedom of which the apostle is thinking is that which has been under discussion in the preceding chapter, namely, freedom from the law of Moses. This of course does not mean that the Christian is free from the moral demands of the law. It does mean that he is freed from its curse (3:13, 24), and from the deadening power of its rule.[6]


[1] Rapa, R. K. (2008). Galatians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, pp. 620–621). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Fung, R. Y. K. (1988). The Epistle to the Galatians (pp. 216–217). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[3] deSilva, D. A. (2018). The Letter to the Galatians. (N. B. Stonehouse, F. F. Bruce, G. D. Fee, & J. B. Green, Eds.) (pp. 410–414). Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[4] Jervis, L. A. (2011). Galatians (pp. 126–127). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book.

[5] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Galatians (Vol. 8, pp. 191–193). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[6] Vaughan, C. (2005). Galatians (p. 93). Cape Coral, FL: Founders Press.

With Approval from Vatican: Canaanite Idol ‘Moloch’ Put on Display in Rome — Christian Research Network

“The statue of Moloch was erected nine days prior to the opening of the Amazon Synod, which was plagued with controversy from the beginning after a ceremony in the Vatican Gardens involving the pagan goddess “Pachamama” was held in the presence of Pope Francis and top-ranking prelates.”

(LifeSiteNews)  A reconstruction of a pagan idol who demanded child sacrifice was stationed at the entrance of Rome’s Colosseum as part of a secular historical exhibition.

The presence of the idol raised particular concern among Catholics, as it was erected nine days before the Amazon Synod and the subsequent scandal over the veneration of the Pachamama idol at the Vatican.

The statue of Moloch, worshipped by both the Canaanites and the Phoenicians, is part of an exhibit dedicated to Ancient Rome’s once-great rival, the city of Carthage. The large-scale exhibition, titled Carthago: The immortal myth, runs until March 29, 2020.  View article →

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