Daily Archives: December 9, 2019

December 9 The Return of Christ

Scripture Reading: Matthew 24:36–42

Key Verse: Matthew 24:36

But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.

As believers we know that Christ will return to conquer His enemies and establish His kingdom. While there are many details about Christ’s second coming that we do not know, we do know He will come as reigning Judge, King, and Lord. No one can know the exact day or time of Christ’s return. However, we should be watchful for His coming and careful not to neglect what He has called us to do (Matthew 24:36, 42–51).

As His children, our purpose is not only to glorify God but also to share the good news of the gospel with those around us. Don’t allow time to become suspended because you are waiting for Christ to return. At some point, every believer will stand before God in order to give an account for his or her life. Are you doing what God has called you to do? Are you doing it with all your heart?

Regardless of the fears you may have or your ability to accomplish the goals God has established, when you allow God to work in your life, His purpose is accomplished, and you will experience His joy and peace.

Is your life a reflection of God’s unconditional love? Your challenge is to live as if you expect Christ to return at any moment, and to make a difference in someone else’s eternal destination. Pray that God will use you to bring eternal hope to someone today.

Lord, help me to live my life as if You will return any minute, not because of fear but because of a passion to reach others for Christ.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 360). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

December 9 The Great Encourager

Scripture Reading: James 1:1–12

Key Verse: James 1:12

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

Though all that surrounds you seems lost in a misty sea of confusion, God is with you. He never leaves your side. Some may say, “There is nothing wrong in my life.” However, each of us faces times of uncertainty when sorrow or dread covers the pathway before us and leaves us feeling helpless.

There is no greater blessing than beginning and ending each day with Jesus. Don’t let doubts cloud the reality of His indwelling presence in your life. God tests your faith to make sure that it is deeply rooted within His truth. He allows adversity to brush across your life sometimes with great intensity so that the level of your trust will be exposed.

You learn to endure in the testing of your faith. And godly endurance, not human ability, makes you strong. James wrote, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (1:2–4 nasb).

To have the faith that conquers all doubts and fears, you must look to Christ as your Hope and Guide in every situation. Don’t allow yourself to be drawn off course by the criticism or lack of support of others. God is your greatest Encourager, and when your faith is firmly fixed in Him, you can be sure He will lead you to victory.

Almighty God, give me the faith that conquers all doubts and fears. I look to You as my Hope and Guide in every situation. Don’t let me be drawn off course by others. I fix my focus on You.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 360). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

December 9 Take It to the Cross

Scripture reading: Revelation 6:1–17

Key verse: Revelation 6:17

For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?

In 1498, artist Albrecht Durer created his masterpiece woodcutting called The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, a rendering of the horsemen described in Revelation 6. One look at this vivid picture, with the wild-eyed riders wielding swords and trampling people underfoot, conveys a sense of the horror and swiftness of God’s coming judgment on those who reject Jesus as their Savior.

These horsemen are not figments of the apostle John’s imagination, but the very real agents of destruction who will arrive during the seven-year period of the Tribulation. Each represents a set of events not described in detail in this passage, yet they are actual beings whom God will send on a deadly mission.

Terrible as they will be, not everyone will fear the horsemen. Many will remain unrepentant. Instead of falling on their faces, crying out for mercy, these rebellious people will seek the futile option of escape—the same choice many make today when confronted with the truth about Jesus.

God does not reveal events in order to threaten or intimidate. He simply wants you to heed His warning while there is still time. Today, ask Him to reveal to you anything that is standing in the way of your having a wholehearted devotion toward Him. Whatever He shows you, take it to the Cross, and receive His forgiveness and mercy.

Father, please reveal to me anything that is standing in the way of my wholehearted devotion toward You. I want to take it to Your cross and receive Your forgiveness and mercy.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 360). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

December 9, 2019 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

thirty days of Jesus day 12

The Love of God

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

There are many passages in the Bible that have been chosen by some great person or other as a favorite text. John Wesley often said that his favorite verse was Zechariah 3:2: “Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?” David Livingstone preferred the last words of Matthew 28:20: “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” John Newton said that his favorite verse was Romans 5:20: “But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” Luther had Romans 1:17 as his life text: “The righteous will live by faith.” Each of these verses has spoken to some man in his own particular condition and has become for him the greatest text in the Bible. But the verse we come to now is everyone’s text.

There is hardly a place in the world to which the gospel of Jesus Christ has gone that this verse has not become almost instantly known. It is the first verse that translators put into another language. Millions of people have been taught to recite it. It is inscribed on books and buildings. It is reflected in songs. John 3:16! “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” This great verse with its emphasis upon God’s love and the gift of his love in Jesus Christ is stupendous.

In the early 1960s, the great Swiss theologian Karl Barth was in this country for a series of lectures, speaking in Chicago and in Princeton, New Jersey. There were discussion periods occasionally, connected with these addresses, and at one of the discussion periods an American asked a typically American question: “Dr. Barth, what is the greatest thought that has ever passed through your mind?” Barth paused for quite a long time as he obviously thought about his answer. Then he raised his head and said with grace and childlike simplicity:

Jesus loves me! This I know,

For the Bible tells me so.

This is a truth that Christians in all ages have acknowledged, and the more that they have discovered the person of Jesus Christ in the Bible, the more they have realized it.

I want to look at God’s love in this study, our first study of John 3:16, and I want to begin by reviewing some of the verses that speak about it.

A Great Love

The first verses are Ephesians 2:4–5. These are verses in which the apostle Paul speaks of God’s love, saying, “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.” These verses tell us that God’s love is great.

In preparation for this study I began to think about the term “great” in ways that I had never done before, and I came to the conclusion that we have lessened the force of what God means by the way we use the word. During the week before I wrote this chapter, I had attended a “Current Events Week” at a Christian school. While there I said that some of the points made by the speakers were “great.” After the meetings were over I told the president of the school that I felt that the points made would have a “great” effect on the students in the weeks and months ahead. Later in the week I attended a Young Life banquet in Philadelphia, and I said in that context that the evening was “great,” that the speakers were “great,” that the program of Young Life was “great.” I used the term honestly. Yet none of these things even begins to measure up to what the Bible means when it says that the love of God is great. God is the master of the understatement. Consequently, when he tells us that his love is great, he is telling us that it is so great that it goes beyond our own ideas of greatness or our own understanding.

John 3:16 was the verse through which D. L. Moody learned to appreciate the greatness of God’s love. Moody had been to Britain in the early days of his ministry and there had met a young English preacher named Henry Moorhouse. One day Moorhouse said to Moody, “I am thinking of going to America.”

“Well,” said Moody, “if you should ever get to Chicago, come down to my church and I will give you a chance to preach.”

Moody did not mean to be hypocritical when he said this, of course. He was merely being polite. Nevertheless, he was saying to himself that he hoped Moorhouse would not come, for Moody had not heard him preach and had no idea of what he would say should he come to Chicago. Sometime later, after Moody had returned home, the evangelist received a telegram that said, “Have just arrived in New York. Will be in Chicago on Sunday. Moorhouse.” Moody was perplexed about what he should do, and to complicate matters he was just about to leave for a series of meetings elsewhere. “Oh, my,” he thought, “here I am about to be gone on Sunday, Moorhouse is coming, and I have promised to let him preach.” Finally he said to his wife and to the leaders of the church, “I think that I should let him preach once. So let him preach once; then if the people enjoy him, put him on again.”

Moody was gone for a week. When he returned he said to his wife, “How did the young preacher do?”

“Oh, he is a better preacher than you are,” his wife said. “He is telling sinners that God loves them.”

“That is not right,” said Moody. “God does not love sinners.”

“Well,” she said, “you go and hear him.”

“What?” said Moody. “Do you mean to tell me that he is still preaching?”

“Yes, he has been preaching all week, and he has only had one verse for a text. It is John 3:16.”

Moody went to the meeting. Moorhouse got up and began by saying, “I have been hunting for a text all week, and I have not been able to find a better text than John 3:16. So I think we will just talk about it once more.” He did. Afterward Moody said it was on that night that he first clearly understood the greatness of God’s love.

Infinite Love

The Bible not only says that the love of God is great; it also says that it is infinite. This is what Paul means when he writes in the third chapter of Ephesians that his prayer for Christians is that they “may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:18–19). How can we comprehend the infinite love of God? We can know it, but only in part. We have been touched by his love and bathed in part of it; yet the fullness of such love lies forever beyond us as the vastness of the universe lies beyond the finite, probing eye of man. God’s love is boundless and unfathomable.

One of our seldom sung hymns puts this aspect of God’s love in memorable language. It was written by Frederick M. Lehman; but the final stanza was added to the song afterward, when it was found written on the wall of a room of an asylum by a man who, before he died, had obviously come to know the immeasurable extent of God’s love.

The love of God is greater far

Than tongue or pen can ever tell,

It goes beyond the highest star

And reaches to the lowest hell.

The guilty pair, bowed down with care,

God gave His Son to win:

His erring child He reconciled,

And pardoned from his sin.

Could we with ink the ocean fill

And were the skies of parchment made;

Were every stalk on earth a quill

And every man a scribe by trade,

To write the love of God above

Would drain the ocean dry,

Nor could the scroll contain the whole

Though stretched from sky to sky.

Chorus

O love of God, how rich and pure!

How measureless and strong!

It shall for evermore endure—

The saints’ and angels’ song.

This is our song, if we have come to know in part that great and immeasurable love of God toward us through Christ Jesus.

A Love That Gives

Third, God not only tells us that his love is great and is infinite, he also tells us that his love is a giving love. This is the heart of John 3:16. How much does God love you? God loves you so much “that he gave his one and only Son.”

We are going to be considering the gift of God in the next study, but we do not want to miss even here the great lesson there is in that statement. Once in the early days of my ministry, when I was still working in Washington, D.C., I became interested in the subject of God’s love and discovered as I studied the Bible that there is hardly a verse in the New Testament, in speaking of God’s love, that does not also speak in the immediate context (and sometimes within a space of a few words) of the cross. How do we know that God loves us? Because we are able to love one another a little bit? Because the world is beautiful? Because we value love? Not at all! We know that God loves us because he has given us his only-begotten, his unique, Son. It is in the face of the selfless, self-sacrificing Jesus Christ that we learn of God’s character.

God loves you! Do you know that? God loves you! He has demonstrated that love for you in Jesus Christ!

Unchangeable Love

Finally, God not only tells us that his love is great, infinite, and giving; he also tells us that his love is unchangeable. This is perhaps the most wonderful aspect of all. The heart of the matter is that God loves in such a way that nothing you or I have done or will ever do will alter it.

This is a point made by one of the greatest stories in the Bible, the story of Hosea and his unfaithful wife, Gomer. Hosea was a preacher. One day the Lord came to him and said, “Hosea, I want you to marry a woman who is going to prove unfaithful to you. You are going to love her, but she is going to turn from your love. Nevertheless, the more faithless she becomes, the more faithful and loving you will be. I want you to do this because I want to give Israel an illustration of how I love them. Your marriage will be a pageant. You will play God. The woman will play the part of Israel. For I love Israel with an unchangeable love, and she runs from me and takes other gods for lovers.”

Hosea did as God had told him to do. So the Book of Hosea tells us, “When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, ‘Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the Lord.’ So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son” (Hosea 1:2–3).

At this point of the story God intervened, for he had said that he was going to order each stage of the relationship between Hosea and Gomer. God intervened to give a name to this son. “Call his name Jezreel,” God said. Jezreel means “scattered,” for God was going to scatter the people of Israel all over the face of the earth. After a time Gomer conceived again and bore a daughter. “Call her Lo-Ruhamah,” God said. Lo-Ruhamah means “not pitied.” God was saying that the time would come when he would “no longer show love to the house of Israel” (v. 6). Finally, another son was born and Hosea was told to call him Lo-Ammi. Lo-Ammi means “not my people.” “For,” said God, “you are not my people, and I am not your God.”

If the story stopped at this point the ending would be exceedingly dismal, and the pageant would be illustrating the opposite of the unchangeable love of God. But it does not stop here, and God intervenes again to tell how the story will end. “I am going to change the names of those children one day,” God promised. “I am going to change Jezreel to Jezreel.” It is the same word but with a second meaning, a change from “scattered” to “planted,” because in the ancient world the same gesture by which a man would throw something away was that by which he would plant grain. God was promising to plant the people once again in their own land, as he has done in our own generation. “Moreover,” said God, “I am going to change Lo-Ruhamah to Ruhamah and Lo-Ammi to Ammi because the time is coming when I will again have pity upon those who will have again become my children.” The Bible says, “Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘sons of the living God’ ” (v. 10).

The time came in the marriage when the events that God had foretold happened. Gomer looked around and caught the eye of a stranger. Before long she had left with him, and Hosea was alone.

The life of a woman like that goes downhill. For if she had left Hosea for the company of a man who could give her a Cadillac and a fur coat this year, it is equally certain that the year following, when the first lover had grown tired of her, she would be found with a man who could only give her a fur-lined collar and an Oldsmobile. The year after that she would be in fake fur and a Volkswagen, and the year after that she would be pulling something out of the garbage heap. So it was with Hosea’s wife. The time came when she was living with a man who did not have the means to take care of her, and she was hungry.

“Now,” said God to Hosea, “I want you to go and see that she gets the things she needs, because I take care of the people of Israel even when they are running away from me.” Hosea went and bought the groceries. He gave them to the man who was living with his wife, but he said that Gomer did not even know he had bought them. The story tells us, “Their mother has been unfaithful and has conceived them in disgrace. She said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my food and my water, my wool and my linen, my oil and my drink.’ … She has not acknowledged that I was the one who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil, who lavished on her the silver and gold” (Hosea. 2:5, 8).

Does God love like that? Yes, he does! Have you ever run away from God? Of course, you have! What happened? God paid your bills! If you have been running away from God, do you realize that it is God who gives you the strength to run? Here is a girl who says, “I don’t care if God is calling me into Christian work. I’m going to turn away and marry this young man.” God says, “Who gave you the good looks that made the young man interested?” Another person says, “I want to be famous.” So he goes to New York and writes a book that later becomes a movie. He makes lots of money. But God says, “Who gave you the talent to write the book in the first place? Did not I, the Lord?” You cannot run away from God’s love successfully. You can run, but God pursues you. He steps before you and says, “My child, I am the One who has been providing for you all this time. Won’t you stop running and allow me to take you to myself?”

The final act of the drama was approaching. The time came when Gomer sank so low that she was sold as a slave in the city of Jerusalem, and God told Hosea to go and buy her. Slaves were always sold naked. Thus, when a beautiful girl was on sale, the men bid freely and the bidding always went high. Here was Gomer. Her clothes were taken off. The bidding began. One man bid three pieces of silver. Another said five … ten … twelve … thirteen. The low bidders had dropped out when Hosea said, “Fifteen pieces of silver.” A voice from the back of the crowd said, “Fifteen pieces of silver and a bushel of barley.” “Fifteen pieces of silver and a bushel and a half of barley,” said Hosea. The auctioneer looked around for a higher bid. Seeing none he declared, “This slave is sold to Hosea for fifteen pieces of silver and a bushel and a half of barley.” So Hosea took his wife (whom he now owned), put her clothes on her, and led her away into the anonymity of the crowd.

You say, “Is that a true picture of God’s love?” Yes, it is! That is how God loves you. Listen to what the Bible says about it: “The Lord said to me, ‘Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.’ So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley. Then I told her, ‘You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will live with you’ ” (Hosea 3:1–3).

Oh, the greatness of the unchangeable love of almighty God! God loves you and me like that! We are the slave sold under the bondage of sin. We are the one placed upon the world’s auction block. The bidding of the world goes higher and higher. “What am I bid for this person’s soul?” At this point Jesus Christ, the faithful bridegroom, enters the slave market of sin and bids the price of his blood. “Sold to Jesus Christ for the price of his blood,” says Almighty God. So he bought you. He clothed you in his righteousness. And he led you away with himself, saying, “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will live with you.”

God’s Love, Our Pattern

You say “What does that have to do with me?” It has everything to do with you. Are you one who has never known that love, never realized that Jesus Christ loved you like that, that he still loves you? To be touched with such love is to throw yourself at his feet in adoration and marvel that you could ever have violated such a great and unalterable compassion. The Bible tells us that God “commends” such great love toward us (Rom. 5:8). Won’t you allow the hardness of your heart to melt before God’s love and allow Jesus Christ to be your great Savior and bridegroom?

Perhaps you are one who has already done that. You have believed in Christ, but the reality of that love has become distant for you and you have never fully realized that the love of Christ is to become the pattern of your love. He is to be your model. You need to ask whether your love has been great, whether it has the character of that love which is infinite, whether it is a giving love, whether it is unchangeable. Ask it now. Does your love change when the person whom you love does not respond quickly? Or does it hold firm? Do you continue to love when your wife, husband, child, or friend does not seem to see things the way you do and contradicts you? Do you love as Christ loves? You are called to show forth that love; for as others see it they will be drawn to the Lord Jesus.

God’s Greatest Gift

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

It is commonplace in our day to say that God loves men. But many who say this fail to recognize that we know this is so only because of Jesus Christ. How do we know that God loves us? Not because of creation certainly, for the evidence of creation is ambiguous. There are tidal waves and hurricanes as well as gorgeous sunsets. Not because we tend to value love, for not all of us do. Not because love is “wonderful” or “grand” or because it “makes the world go round.” We know that God loves us because he has given his Son to be crucified for us and thereby to bring us back into fellowship with himself. Thus, if the love of God is one of God’s greatest attributes (as we saw in our last study), the gift of Christ is most certainly his greatest gift. For it is through Christ that we come to know God’s love and love God.

Sometime ago I came across a little card upon which someone had printed John 3:16. The verse was arranged almost word by word down one side of the card, and on the other side of the card across from the words of the verse was a list of descriptive phrases, one for each part. The person looking at the card would read: “God (the greatest Lover) so loved (the greatest degree) the world (the greatest company), that he gave (the greatest act) his only begotten Son (the greatest gift), that whosoever (the greatest opportunity) believeth (the greatest simplicity) in him (the greatest attraction) should not perish (the greatest promise), but (the greatest difference) have (the greatest certainty) everlasting life (the greatest possession).” And then over it all, revealing a spiritual perception that was most accurate, there was the title “Christ—the Greatest Gift.”

Have you ever come to appreciate God’s greatest gift to you, the gift of the Lord Jesus Christ? We are going to look at some of the reasons why he is a great gift and why you should believe on him.

God So Loved

The first reason why Jesus Christ is the greatest of God’s gifts is that Jesus is the best God had to give. God so loved the world that he gave the very best.

This truth is seen in several ways in John 3:16. First, it is obvious from the word “only-begotten,” which is used of Jesus. To our way of thinking, this word (it is one word in Greek) refers mainly to physical generation, but it means more than that in the original language. A great deal of theological controversy in the church was once caused by those who took it as simply physical generation; they argued that since the Bible says Jesus was the “only-begotten” Son, there must have been a time before he came into being. In other words, he did not exist from eternity but rather was the first being God created. This was foolish, of course, because the Bible does not teach this and the word does not have this meaning primarily. Primarily the word means “unique.” Jesus is the unique Son of God; there is no one like him, no one who is his equal. Therefore, because Jesus Christ is the very image of God and because there is no one like him, when God gave Jesus, he gave the best gift in the universe.

God also gave the best in another sense. For Jesus Christ is not at all a creature made in the image of God, as man is; he is God incarnate. Consequently, when God gave Jesus he gave himself. To give oneself is the greatest gift anyone can give. Sometime ago I read a story of a minister who was talking to a married couple who were having marital difficulties. There was much hardness and bitterness, coupled with a lack of understanding. At one point the husband spoke up in obvious exasperation. “I’ve given you everything,” he said to the wife. “I’ve given you a new home. I’ve given you a new fur coat. I’ve given you a new car. I’ve given you …” The list went on. But when he had ended the wife said quietly. “That much is true, John. You have given me everything … but yourself.”

We hear that story and we recognize the truth of the principle: the greatest gift that anyone can give is himself. Then we look at Jesus, who is God incarnate, and we recognize that God gave the very best—himself—for us.

An Eternal Plan

The second reason why Jesus Christ is God’s greatest gift is that Jesus was a gift planned from before the foundation of the world. God had always intended to give Jesus. This is why so many of the verses in the Bible speak of God having put Jesus to death. Isaiah 53:10 speaks of the crucifixion eight centuries before it took place, saying, “Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer.” Peter knew this truth. On the day of Pentecost he spoke of Jesus who “was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross” (Acts 2:23). For the same reason the Book of Revelation speaks of Jesus as “the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world” (Rev. 13:8).

We must not think that the entrance of sin into the world through Adam and Eve was an event that somehow caught God by surprise or that it caused God to begin to ponder what he should do to correct it. God knew all from the beginning. Consequently, before he even set the universe in motion, before he created us, he had determined to send Jesus Christ to die for the salvation of our race.

Perhaps the greatest declaration of this principle lies in a poignant story from the life of Abraham, the story of the call of God to Abraham to offer up his son Isaac on Mount Moriah. It is told in the twenty-second chapter of Genesis. I believe that Jesus was referring to this event when he told the Jews of his day, “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56), and that through it Abraham learned that God was to give Jesus Christ to be our Savior.

To see the story in its proper perspective we must begin with the fact that Abraham was an old man by our standards when God came to him to ask him to offer up Isaac. He had been eighty-six years old when his first son, Ishmael, had been born to Hagar, Sarah’s slave girl. He was one hundred years old when Sarah at last gave birth to Isaac. Now Isaac had become a young man, perhaps fifteen years of age or more, and Abraham was more than one hundred fifteen. Moreover, Abraham had loved his son from birth, as any father would, and he now loved him deeply with a love that had grown stronger over the years in which he had seen him grow to young manhood. He loved him doubly, not only because he was the son of his old age, the result of a miracle, but also because he was the son of promise.

At this point God came to Abraham again—as he had many times before—and said to him, “Abraham.”

“Yes, Lord.”

“I am going to ask you to do something.”

“Yes, Lord.”

“I want you to take Isaac, the son of promise, the one through whom you are going to have a great posterity and through whom I am going to send the Messiah—I want you to take this Isaac to a mountain that I will show you and there offer him for a burnt offering. I want you to kill him.”

I do not know the extent of the trial this must have been to Abraham’s faith or how much of the night he wrestled with this great problem. But whatever the struggle was, and however deep, it was all over by the following morning, for the Abraham that emerged in the morning was an Abraham committed to obedience. The story says, “Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about” (Gen. 22:3).

There are many lessons in this story, of course, but there is one in particular that we should see before we go on. On one level at least, the test of Abraham was a test of his devotion to God. Was God going to be everything to Abraham? Or was something else, even God’s gift, going to share and cloud that vision? It was Abraham’s triumph that he did not put the gifts before the Giver.

Isaac can stand for many things that have become quite precious to you. The Chinese evangelist Watchman Nee once wrote, “He represents many gifts of God’s grace. Before God gives them, our hands are empty. Afterwards they are full. Sometimes God reaches out his hands to take ours in fellowship. Then we need an empty hand to put into his. But when we have received his gifts and are nursing them to ourselves, our hands are full, and when God puts out his hand we have no empty hand for him.” When that happens we need to let go of the gift and take hold of God himself. Nee adds, “Isaac can be done without, but God is eternal.”

God Will Provide

Yes, the testing of Abraham was certainly a test of his devotion to God, but it was something else also. It was a spiritual test or, as we could also say, a test of his spiritual perception.

Think of the things Abraham had learned in the years before Isaac’s birth. He had been tempted to think that God would not keep his promises and that a household servant would be his legal heir. God had taught him that the blessing would not come through the household servant. Abraham had once wanted to substitute Ishmael, the son of Hagar, for Isaac—before Isaac was born. But God had told him that the blessing would not come through the son of the Egyptian slave girl. God had shown Abraham through a miracle that the blessing was to come through Isaac, and now God had asked Abraham to kill him.

We must imagine the reasoning that passed through the mind of Abraham in the dark hours of that desert evening. He must have said something like this: “I know that Isaac is the son of God’s promise, and God has shown me time and again that he will not send the blessing through another. Yet, this same God tells me to sacrifice him, to put him to death. How can this be? If I put him to death, as God has demanded, how can God fulfill his promise? How can God do it?” The puzzle was real. But then, as Abraham wrestled with this supreme test of God’s logic, it must have come to him that the God who performed a miracle in bringing about Isaac’s birth was also capable of working a miracle to bring him back from the dead. This was the solution he discovered during the long desert night. Thus, as Abraham started for the mountain in the morning he must have been saying mentally to Isaac, “Come on, boy, we are going to see a miracle. God has asked me to sacrifice you on Mount Moriah. But if God is going to be faithful to his promise, he is going to have to raise you up again from the dead. We are going to see a resurrection.”

Someone may think that I have merely made up this part of the story, but this is the way it happened. The proof of it occurs in at least two parts of the Bible. The first is in the story itself. Abraham had come to the foot of the mountain with the boy, and he was ready to go on without the young men who were with him. As he takes the kindling and he and Isaac prepare to climb the mountain, Abraham says to the others: “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you” (Gen. 22:5). Think of that: we will come back to you. Who would come? Abraham and Isaac! What does that mean? It means that although Abraham believed that he was going to offer the sacrifice, he also believed that God was going to perform a resurrection and that he would be able to come back down the mountain with his boy.

The second proof is Hebrews 11:17–19, which is the full New Testament commentary on the incident. “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, ‘It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.’ Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.” That means that Abraham looked for a resurrection.

Thus far the story has already been great in itself, but the point I wish to make is the point that is found in the sequel. Abraham did go up the mountain, as God had commanded him, and there bound Isaac to the altar. He raised his hand ready to plunge a knife into his son. He would have killed him. But just as the knife was ready to fall, God intervened. God provided a substitute, a ram caught in the bushes. And he said (in effect), “Abraham, you don’t need to sacrifice your son. I never intended that you should go through with it. I only wanted to test your willingness to obey me and to show you in this way what I will do one day for your salvation and for the salvation of all who will believe in my Son, the Messiah.” This, I believe, was the moment in which Abraham saw the day of Jesus Christ and, seeing it, was made glad.

God revealed his ways to Abraham. The Bible says, “Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). So the time came when the events God had planned from before creation and had revealed to Abraham two thousand years beforehand took place. Abraham was only called upon to offer his son. But when the time came for God to offer his Son, the hand that was poised above Christ fell. God put his Son to death, and God’s greatest gift had been given.

The Need of Man

The third reason why Jesus Christ is the greatest of God’s gifts to fallen man is that he is perfectly suited to the needs of fallen man. Nothing else is! What are the needs of man? What are your needs?

Your first need is for a sure word from God, for knowledge of God. Jesus is the answer to that need, for it is Jesus alone who brings us the knowledge of who God is, what he is like, and what he desires for mankind. This is why Jesus is called the Word so many times in John’s writings. Do you want to know what God is like? If so, do not spend your time reading the books of men. Do not think that you will find out by meditating. Look to Jesus Christ. Where will you find him? You will find him in the pages of the Bible. There you will find the strength, mercy, wisdom, and compassion that are the essence of God’s character.

Your second great need is for a Savior. We do not merely have a need for sure knowledge. We have knowledge of many things, but we are unable to live up to our knowledge. We are sinners. Consequently, we not only need a sure word from God, we need a Savior. Jesus is the Savior. He died to save you from sin and from yourself. Do you know him as Savior?

Finally, we have those needs that are part and parcel of living a finite sinful life. What are those needs? One way of looking at them is the way popularized by the American psychiatrist Erich Fromm. Fromm suggests that man is confronted with three existential dilemmas. The first is the dilemma of life versus death. We want to live, but we all die. Jesus is the answer to that problem, for he gives eternal life to all who believe on him. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25, 26). The second of Fromm’s dilemmas is the dilemma of the individual and the group. Jesus is the answer to that problem too, for he has come to break down all walls and to make of his followers one new man which is his mystical body (Eph. 2:14–16). The last of Fromm’s dilemmas is that arising from the conflict between our aspirations and our actual achievements. We all fall short of what we would like to be and believe ourselves intended to be. Jesus is the answer to that problem also, for he promises to make us all that God created us to be in the first place. We are to be conformed to Christ’s image (Rom. 8:29). One of our hymns looks forward to that day when our salvation shall be complete, and declares:

Then we shall be where we would be,

Then we shall be what we should be;

Things that are not now, nor could be,

Soon shall be our own.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the greatest gift that God has ever offered or could ever offer to the human race. Are you indifferent? Or do you respond to the offer, joining the millions of others who have believed in Christ with all their heart and mind and who now say, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift” (2 Cor. 9:15)?[1]


The Greatest Verse in the Bible

John 3:16

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Because so many Americans watch sports events, Christians often attempt to present some kind of gospel witness in stadiums and arenas. Perhaps you have seen the signs, held up in the crowd or posted on a wall. Most commonly, the signs have this short message: JN 3:16. The idea is obviously that people either know or will find out that JN is shorthand for the Gospel of John, and that 3:16 means chapter 3, verse 16. The hope is that great things will happen if people will merely pick up a Bible and read this one verse: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Some people argue that Genesis 1:1 is the most important verse in the Bible: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Others say the Ten Commandments are most important. Significant as it is to learn that our world has a Creator and to know what is right and wrong, however, these truths can be known without the Bible. Nature itself reveals its Maker, and all mankind has an inward conviction about morality. But John 3:16 presents a message that cannot be known apart from the Bible. How does God feel about us, and what has he done, if anything, to help us? There is no greater question and no more glorious answer than that given in John 3:16. Bruce Milne says that it “is a masterly and moving summary of the gospel, cast in terms of the love of God.” Martin Luther called this verse “the Bible in miniature,” because it contains the heart of God’s entire message. This is why John 3:16 is the greatest verse in the Bible.

God’s Amazing Love

Another way to see the greatness of John 3:16 is to point out that it presents the Bible’s greatest theme: God’s love for us through Jesus Christ. Naturally, John is not the only biblical writer to extol God’s love, and we can profit from looking at how others describe it.

Paul says that God’s love is great: “God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:4–5). We tend to overuse the word great. We say that we had a “great time” if we enjoyed ourselves at all. If God blesses us a bit in ministry, we say that we had a “great success.” Overused like this, the word great loses some of its force. But when the Bible says that God’s love is great, it means it! We see that God’s love for the world is great in the amazing care he exercised in creating it; nature reveals the marks of the most loving craftsmanship. The Greek word that Paul uses for great (pollein) is used to describe an overflowing harvest or intense emotions. God’s love truly deserves to be called great.

Paul elsewhere describes God’s love as unfathomable. In the third chapter of Ephesians, he prays that believers “may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” (Eph. 3:18–19). What we are to comprehend about the dimensions of God’s love is that they are beyond measure. It is possible to exhaust the love of a spouse, friends, or even parents. But it is not possible to exhaust the love of God. Frederick M. Lehman wrote:

The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell;

It goes beyond the highest star and reaches to the lowest hell.

God’s love is joined to all his other attributes. A great mistake that many make is to pit one of God’s attributes against another. Many of us, for instance, prefer God’s love to God’s holiness. But we must never think that we must or even can choose between the two. God’s holiness is a loving holiness, and God’s love is a holy love. Our generation has spoiled much of the idea of love—particularly romantic love—by joining it with sin. But God does not and cannot do that. His love is joined to holy purposes, and his love for us will have the ultimate result of bringing us to a gloriously holy condition. When I am counseling couples before their marriage, I often hear one of them (usually the bride) say, “I never want to change him!” I always pause, lean forward, look her in the eye, and say, “You will! You will!” God’s love never says, “I don’t want to change you.” Because God’s love is holy, he intends to change us by loving means, so that we will become the holy people that we were always meant to be.

God is almighty, and therefore his is an almighty love. This means that he is able to do all that his love desires for us. J. I. Packer writes that God’s love “has at its heart an almighty purpose to bless which cannot be thwarted.” Who, then, can separate us from this love? Paul asks (Rom. 8:35). “I am sure,” he answers, “that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (8:38–39).

Moreover, as God is unchangeable, so also his love is unchangeable. John Owen writes, “Though we change every day, yet his love does not change. If anything in us or on our part could stop God loving us, then he would long ago have turned away from us. It is because his love is fixed and unchangeable that the Father shows us infinite patience and forbearance. If his love was not unchangeable, we would perish.”

God is eternal, and so is his love. Paul teaches, “He chose us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4). God’s love for us originated in eternity past, and its end flows to eternity future. God says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jer. 31:3). “For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you” (Isa. 54:10). Moreover, as God is sovereign, so is his love. Ephesians 1:4–6 explains, “In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace.” James Montgomery Boice writes, “God’s love is a sovereign love.… His love is uninfluenced by anything in the creature. And if that is so, it is the same as saying that the cause of God’s love lies only in himself.… In Scripture no cause for God’s love other than his electing will is ever given.” This was God’s explanation to Israel for the love he showed the people in the exodus: “It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you” (Deut. 7:7–8).

Finally, we should note that God’s love is infinite. There is no greater proof of this idea than John’s statement that God loved the world. There is an infinite distance between God and this wicked world, but God’s love is infinitely great to span that distance. God tells us, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:9). But he still loves us! Our world has rebelled against God, flouting his authority and mocking his ways. Most people reject God’s rule over their lives. Paul notes, “Although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Rom. 1:21). That is an accurate description of our world today. The distance between us and God is infinite in every way, yet God has loved the world.

When John speaks of “the world,” he is being intentionally provocative. Old Testament Jews believed that God loved them, but rejected the idea that God loved anyone else. Leon Morris explains, “It is a distinctively Christian idea that God’s love is wide enough to embrace all people. His love is not confined to any national group or spiritual elite.” The same is true today. John does not say that God loves religious people or that God loves Christians, but that “God so loved the world” (John 3:16). This is why the message of Jesus Christ is good news for everyone. Romans 5:8 tells us, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

God’s Giving Love

This brings us to the particular point that John 3:16 stresses: God’s love is a giving love. The Greek language has four words for love. The first is storge, which is family love. Whatever they think of each other, family members are to be loyal. The second is eros, which is romantic or sexual love. The third kind of love is philos, which is the love of friendship or attraction. The word philosophy means “a love of wisdom.” This is a receiving love; it is based on what we get and how good something or someone makes us feel. But the New Testament stresses a fourth kind of love, using the Greek word agape. This is a giving love. It is not based on what we receive but on what we give. Agape love has its classic definition in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son.”

The greatness of God’s love for the world is most clearly seen in the gift that he gave: “his only Son.” John says not merely that God loved the world, but that “God so loved the world.” The word so indicates both the manner in which God loved the world—by giving his Son—and the intensity of God’s love for the world. How do we measure God’s love for us? By calculating the infinite value of his precious Son, Jesus Christ.

John refers to Jesus as God’s “only Son.” We are undoubtedly intended to reflect on this truth in light of our love for our own children. Even though we are corrupted by sin, it is natural for us to love our children with great intensity. Mothers exhaust themselves rocking babies to sleep. Fathers spend long hours fixing bikes and playing games that they would have no interest in were it not for their children. Parents weary themselves with extra jobs to clothe and feed and educate their children. To neglect our children, as many do today, is so obviously wrong that it is universally condemned. Nature knows no greater love than that of a parent for his or her child, and Christ is God the Father’s only child. God many times spoke of his love for his Son, and Jesus often basked in the love of his Father. So in giving his only Son, God was truly giving his very heart. John Flavel asks, “Who would part with a son for the sake of his dearest friends? But God gave him to, and delivered him for enemies: O love unspeakable!” God could not possibly love this world more or better than in giving his beloved only Son.

In saying that God gave his only Son, John 3:16 corrects a terribly common mistake in thinking about God the Father. Because Jesus died to satisfy God’s justice, some think God’s love is caused by Christ’s sacrifice and is even reluctant or halfhearted. But John 3:16 teaches exactly the opposite. “The gift of Christ … is the result of God’s love to the world, and not the cause. To say that God loves us because Christ died for us, is wretched theology indeed. But to say that Christ came into the world in consequence of the love of God, is scriptural truth.” God loved this evil world not after but before the Savior came to turn our hearts back to heaven; God’s love is the reason that we can be forgiven and born again to inherit eternal life.

When John says that God “gave” his only Son, exactly what does that mean? According to the Bible, the Father sent the eternal and glorious Son into this world to take our mortal nature, with all the weakness and suffering that involved (see Heb. 2:17). Jesus states thirty-nine times in John’s Gospel that the Father “sent” him into the world with a mission of salvation to perform. God sent him to reveal his truth, to proclaim the good news of salvation, and especially to do the work needed for the salvation of those who believe. J. C. Ryle declares:

Christ is God the Father’s gift to a lost and sinful world. He was given generally to be the Saviour, the Redeemer, the Friend of sinners,—to make an atonement sufficient for all,—and to provide a redemption large enough for all. To effect this, the Father freely gave Him up to be despised, rejected, mocked, crucified, and counted guilty and accursed for our sakes.

This means that when we read that God “gave his only Son,” we should think of the cross where Jesus suffered and died, that we might be forgiven of our sins. So great is his love that if our redemption from sin required the torturous death of his only Son—even the outpouring of his own wrath on his most beloved child—God was willing to give him for this purpose. Jeremiah Burroughs marvels:

Behold the infinite love of God to mankind and the love of Jesus Christ that, rather than God see the children of men to perish eternally, He would send His Son to take our nature upon Him and thus suffer such dreadful things. Herein God shows His love.… It pleased the Father to break His Son and to pour out His blood. Here is the love of God and of Jesus Christ. Oh, what a powerful, mighty, drawing, efficacious meditation this should be to us!”

During the darkest times of World War I, a war that claimed the lives of a shocking number of English sons, a man took his little boy out for a walk at night. The boy noticed that some of the houses had stars in the windows. “That comes from this terrible war, laddie,” the father explained. “It shows that these people have given a son.” They had walked a bit farther when the young boy stopped, and pointed up to the sky where a bright evening star had appeared. He said, “Daddy, God must have given a Son, too.” Leon Morris remarks, “That is it. In the terrible war against evil, God gave his Son. That is the way evil was defeated. God paid the price.”

God’s gift therefore was not only infinite in value, but also perfectly suited to our greatest need. Here again is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” We might prefer that God would do something other than send his only Son to be our Savior. But God’s love addresses our true and greatest need. Whenever the New Testament speaks of God’s love, it almost invariably does so in terms of the atoning work of Christ on the cross. John 3:16 is a typical example. In the previous two verses Jesus told Nicodemus, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life” (3:14–15). That was an allusion to his death on the cross. This, then, is how the world knows God’s love and receives God’s love: not because we are able to love one another a bit; not because there is beauty in the world; but because God sent Jesus to die for our sins. John writes in his first epistle, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world.… He loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9–10).

Receiving God’s Love

The Puritan John Flavel concluded his study of John 3:16 with three keen observations. First, he says, this verse shows us “the exceeding preciousness of souls, and at what a high rate God values them, that he will give his Son, his only Son out of his bosom, as a ransom for them.” Surely this argues—God’s having given his only Son for the saving of souls—that we ought to labor with all our might to bring people to salvation. John 3:16 says that “whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” It is through our witness that they can believe. It is because we take an interest in their souls, because we speak earnestly to them about Jesus, and because we invite them to join us at church and hear God’s Word that souls are saved today. This must apply most urgently to our own children. It is dismaying to see how little interest so many parents take in the souls of their children. Since we love them, and since their souls are so precious to God, we should be especially determined to set them a godly example, to pray with and for them, to teach them God’s Word, and to involve them in the worship and life of the church.

Second, Flavel notes, since God has given us his Son, we may be confident of receiving every other help and mercy we need to endure this life and arrive safely into heaven. Knowing this should give us peace in every storm and confidence in the face of life’s trials. Knowing how much God has already given us—his very best in the person of his own Son—we should trust his love and come to him with a holy boldness in prayer. Paul reasoned, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32). God will not withhold anything we need, having already given his Son, Jesus, so we should not shrink back from asking for and confidently awaiting anything we truly need.

Third, Flavel observes, “If the greatest love hath been manifested in giving Christ to the world, then it follows that the greatest evil and wickedness is manifested in despising, slighting, and rejecting Christ.” There can be no greater condemnation of our hearts than for us to disregard this amazing love of God in giving his only Son to suffer in our place. What does God ask and expect of us? God demands what love always desires: to be received. Jesus said in John 6:29, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” John 3:16’s message is that God calls us to believe on Jesus Christ—to receive his love-gift through personal faith in Jesus. If we believe, he promises us “eternal life.” But if we are so hardened of heart to refuse this matchless gift from God, John warns, the result is that we will “perish.” Having spurned God’s love on the cross, we must receive the just penalty for all our sins and especially for the chief sin of rejecting God’s only Son. As the writer of Hebrews warns us, “How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” (Heb. 2:3).

There is one last application for those who believe in Christ and who are thus born again into eternal life. If God loved us by giving us his Son, we ought to love him with all that we have in return.

Shortly after the end of the American Civil War, a man in farm clothes was seen kneeling at a gravestone in the soldier’s cemetery in Nashville. An observer came up and asked, “Is that the grave of your son?” The farmer replied, “No, I have seven children, all of them young, and a wife on my poor farm in Illinois. I was drafted and, despite the great hardship it would cause, I was required to join the Army. But on the morning I was to depart this man, my neighbor’s older son, came over and offered to take my place in the war.” The observer solemnly asked, “What is that you are writing on his grave?” The farmer replied, “I am writing, ‘He died for me.’ ”

With that same devotion, we should love God for his love in giving Jesus Christ to die for us. Like the farmer in the story, we should make an effort to serve the Lord and give a testimony to his love for us. We should further express our devotion by loving others with the same kind of love that God has shown to us. We are to show a love that the world does not know—a love not based on getting, not one that seeks mainly for ourselves, but a love that says, “God has given to me, so I want to love him by giving to others.” This giving love should beautify our marriages, should enliven our friendships, and should glorify God in the church. This was John’s own application in his first epistle, having spoken first of God’s love for us in the giving of his Son: “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11). If we live out God’s amazing, giving love, that will be our strongest testimony to a loveless world, so that others will learn of God’s amazing love from us, and that by believing in him they, too, will have eternal life.[2]


16 The heart of the gospel is not a philosophical observation about the character of God as love but a declaration of that redemptive love in action. “For God so loved … that he gave.” The Greek verb is agapaō (GK 26). It is common to discuss three Greek words for love: eros, philia (GK 5802), and agapē (GK 27). The first is used of passionate desire (not found in the NT) and the second of a fondness expressed in close relationships. The third word (agapē) was rather weak and colorless in secular Greek, but in the NT it is infused with fresh significance and becomes the one term able to denote the highest form of love. Bible scholar A. M. Hunter highlights the significance of agapē by noting that while eros is all take and philia is give-and-take, agapē is all give.

Love must of necessity give. It has no choice if it is to remain true to its essential character. A love that centers on self is not love at all but a fraudulent caricature of real love. It is instructive to note that only here in the fourth gospel is a result clause placed in the indicative rather than the subjunctive. Brown, 134, notes that this construction stresses the reality of the result: “that he actually gave the only Son.” The Greek monogenēs (GK 3666) means “of sole descent,” i.e., without brothers or sisters; hence the KJV’s “only-begotten” (from the Latin unigenitus). It is also used in the more general sense of “unique,” “the only one of its kind.” Jesus is the sole Son of God the Father. John refers to believers as “children of God” (tekna, GK 5451; 1:12; 11:52), but Jesus is the only Son (huios, GK 5626).

The object of God’s love is “the world” (kosmos, GK 3180). The giving of his Son was for the salvation of the entire human race. H. Sasse concludes that the cosmos epitomizes unredeemed creation, the universe of which Jesus is the light (Jn 8:12) and to which he comes (cf. TDNT 3:893–94). Any attempt to restrict the word kosmos (GK 3180) to the elect ignores the clear use of the term throughout the NT. God gave his Son for the deliverance of all humanity (cf. 2 Co 5:19). This giving extends beyond the incarnation. God gave his Son in the sense of giving unto death as an offering for sin. The universal scope of God’s love would have appeared novel and quite unlikely to the Jewish reader of the first century. After all, was not Israel the recipient of God’s special favor (cf. Ro 3:1–2; 9:3–5)? True; but in Christ all boundaries had been broken down (Eph 2:11–22). God’s love extends to every member of the human race. He died for all (cf. Ro 5:8; 1 Jn 2:2).

God’s role in redemption was the giving of his Son; the role of human beings is to believe. To believe in Christ is to accept and love him (Jn 1:12; 8:42). The Greek expression pisteuō eis (“to believe into”) carries the sense of placing one’s trust into or completely on someone. Paul’s teaching of believers as being “in Christ” is a theological reflection on the same expression. Those who believe in Christ escape destruction and are given “eternal life.” Barrett, 216, writes that “destruction is the inevitable fate of all things and persons separated from God and concentrated upon themselves.” The love of God has made it possible for people to turn from their self-destructive paths and receive from God the gift of everlasting life. This gospel comes as “good news” to all who, recognizing their plight, receive the priceless gift of God, even Jesus Christ, his Son.[3]


16 God loved “the world” (see Additional Note B, pp. 111–13). The Jew was ready enough to think of God as loving Israel, but no passage appears to be cited in which any Jewish writer maintains that God loved the world. It is a distinctively Christian idea that God’s love is wide enough to embrace all people. His love is not confined to any national group or spiritual elite. It is a love that proceeds from the fact that he is love (1 John 4:8, 16). It is his nature to love. He loves people because he is the kind of God he is. John tells us that his love is shown in the gift of his Son. Of this gift Odeberg finely says, “the Son is God’s gift to the world, and, moreover, it is the gift. There are no Divine gifts apart from or outside the one-born (sic) Son.” It should be noticed that God’s love is for “the world”; in recent times some scholars have argued that John sees God’s love as only for believers, but here it is plain that God loves “the world.” In typical Johannine fashion “gave” is used in two senses. God gave the Son by sending him into the world, but God also gave the Son on the cross. Notice that the cross is not said to show us the love of the Son (as in Gal. 2:20), but that of the Father. The atonement proceeds from the loving heart of God. It is not something wrung from him. The Greek construction puts some emphasis on the actuality of the gift: it is not “God loved enough to give,” but “God loved so that he gave.”78 His love is not a vague, sentimental feeling, but a love that costs. God gave what was most dear to him. For “one and only” see on 1:14, and for “believes” on 1:12 (also Additional Note E, pp. 296–98). The death of the Son is viewed first of all in its revelatory aspect; it shows us the love of the Father. Then its purpose is brought out, both negatively and positively. Those who believe on him do not “perish.” Neither here nor anywhere else in the New Testament is the awful reality behind this word “perish” brought out. But everywhere there is the recognition that a dreadful reality awaits the finally impenitent. Believers are rescued from this only by the death of the Son. Because of this they have “eternal life” (see on v. 15). John sets perishing and life starkly over against one another. He knows no other final state.[4]


16 Here the same question arises as in verse 13. Is Jesus still speaking, or does the Gospel writer now intervene to reflect on what has just been said? This time there is no title “Son of man” to assure us that Jesus is still the speaker, and the conjunction “for” (gar) is one of the characteristic ways of introducing authorial comments or narrative asides in this Gospel. Some English versions, therefore, place quotation marks after verse 15, signaling that Jesus’ speech has ended and that what follows are the Gospel writer’s words. The majority, however (including the most recent versions), extend Jesus’ speech to the end of verse 21, and the wisest course is to follow their example. While few interpreters would seriously argue that Jesus actually uttered the words found in verses 16–21 to Nicodemus and his companions at the first Passover in Jerusalem, Jesus has been introduced as “the Word,” the only Revealer of God. It is fair to assume that once he is so introduced all authoritative revelation in the Gospel comes from him, whether through his own lips or the pen of the Gospel writer. Without a clear notice in the text that his speech is over, the reader should keep on listening as to the voice of “the One who came down from heaven, the Son of man,” for only he can speak of “heavenly things” (vv. 12–13). As we have seen, it is still too early in the Gospel for Jesus to use the pronoun “I” in delivering these oracles of God, as if he is God himself, so the text resorts to first-person plurals (as in v. 11) or to the third person (as here). The conjunction “for” does introduce an explanatory comment, but the comment is Jesus’ own. Jesus builds on the language and thought of verses 14 and 15 to explain precisely why “the Son of man must be lifted up” (v. 14). He confirms that the necessity is divine, grounded in “God,” and God’s love for the world. Having looked at the cross from the human side, by a strange analogy with a snake fastened to a pole, he now places it within the eternal purposes of God. The grammar of the verse reflects this, as Jesus echoes the correlative construction of verse 14 (“And just asso”) with a corresponding one (“God so loved … so that he gave”).

This is the first mention of love in the Gospel of John, and it is rather untypical in that the object of God’s love is “the world” (ton kosmon). Nowhere else in John’s Gospel (or anywhere else in the New Testament!) is God explicitly said to “love” the world, yet it cannot come as a surprise to any reader who remembers that “the world came into being through him” (that is, through the Word, 1:10), and consequently that the world was “his own” (1:11). Jesus has already been identified as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (1:29), and will be identified as “the Savior of the world” (4:42). God’s love for the world, though seldom explicit, is a given. At the same time, God has a unique and specific love for “the One and Only Son.” We have already learned that a “One and Only” shares in a father’s glory (1:14), and that Jesus as God’s “One and Only” is himself God, “right beside the Father” (1:18). Now it becomes explicit that “the One and Only” is God’s “Son” (see 1:34, 49), and that both terms are interchangeable with “Son of man” (vv. 13, 14).

The striking, even shocking, thing about God’s love for the world in relation to God’s love for his “One and Only Son” is that the former takes priority! The verb “to love” (agapan) in this Gospel implies not so much a feeling as a conscious choice. Often it implies a preference for one person or thing or way of life over another.108 The shock of the pronouncement is that here God puts the well-being of “the world” above that of “the One and Only Son.” The notion that God “gave” or “gave up” his only Son points unmistakably to Jesus’ death, confirming the interpretation of “lifted up” (v. 14) as crucifixion. We might have expected “God sent the One and Only Son” (as in 1 Jn 4:9), because “sent” is the operative verb for the mission of Jesus throughout the rest of the Gospel, beginning in the very next verse. But it is important that this first reference to Jesus’ mission specify its purpose as a redemptive mission. The “giving” includes all that the “sending” does and more, for in sending his “One and Only” into the world, God gave him up to death on a cross.111 The analogy that comes to mind is Abraham, and his willingness to offer up his “one and only” son Isaac as a sacrifice in obedience to God (Gen 22:1–14). This analogy, unlike that with Moses and the bronze snake, is never made explicit, but hints elsewhere in the Gospel suggest that what God asked of Abraham was something God himself would do in the course of time. Like the Moses analogy, it has its limits because God is not acting out of obedience to anyone but out of love for the world he has made. But while God’s love is universal, it guarantees eternal life not for the whole world indiscriminately but for “everyone who believes.” The last clause of verse 16 sounds like a refrain, echoing verse 15 with only two small changes: first, it is a matter not simply of “believing” but of “believing in” Jesus; second, to “have eternal life” is further explained by its natural opposite, to “not be lost” (mē apolētai; compare 6:39–40; 10:28; 12:25). This is the first hint of dualism in the discourse. Just as “eternal life” is more than simply the prolongation of physical life, so “being lost” is more than just physical death. It is, as the next verse will show, eternal condemnation and separation from God. There are no “lost sheep” in the Gospel of John (contrast Mt 10:6; 15:24; Lk 15:6), for Jesus’ “sheep” will never be lost and those who are “lost” are not his sheep (see 10:26–28).[5]


THE LOVE OF GOD

John 3:16

‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.’

All great men and women have had their favourite texts, but this has been called ‘everybody’s text’. Herein for every one of us is the very essence of the gospel. This text tells us certain great things.

(1) It tells us that the initiative in all salvation lies with God. Sometimes Christianity is presented in such a way that it sounds as if God had to be pacified, as if he had to be persuaded to forgive. Sometimes the picture is drawn of a stern, angry, unforgiving God and a gentle, loving, forgiving Jesus. Sometimes the Christian message is presented in such a way that it sounds as if Jesus did something which changed the attitude of God to men and women from condemnation to forgiveness. But this text tells us that it was with God that it all started. It was God who sent his Son, and he sent him because he loved the world he had created. At the back of everything is the love of God.

(2) It tells us that the mainspring of God’s being is love. It is easy to think of God as looking at human beings in their heedlessness and their disobedience and their rebellion and saying: ‘I’ll break them: I’ll discipline them and punish them and scourge them until they come back.’ It is easy to think of God as seeking human allegiance in order to satisfy his own desire for power and for what we might call a completely subject universe. The tremendous thing about this text is that it shows us God acting not for his own sake but for ours; not to satisfy his desire for power, not to bring a universe to heel, but to satisfy his love. God is not like an absolute monarch who treats each individual as a subject to be reduced to abject obedience. God is the Father who cannot be happy until his wandering children have come home. God does not smash people into submission; he yearns over them and woos them into love.

(3) It tells us of the width of the love of God. It was the world that God so loved. It was not a nation; it was not the good people; it was not only the people who loved him; it was the world. The unlovable and the unlovely, the lonely who have no one else to love them, those who love God and those who never think of him, those who rest in the love of God and those who spurn it—all are included in this vast inclusive love of God. As St Augustine had it: ‘God loves each one of us as if there was only one of us to love.’[6]


16. For God so loved the world that he gave his Son, the only-begotten, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.

God’s infinite love made manifest in an infinitely glorious manner, this is the theme of the golden text which has endeared itself to the hearts of all God’s children. The verse sheds light on the following aspects of this love: 1. its character (so loved), 2. its Author (God), 3. its object (the world), 4. its Gift (his Son, the only-begotten), and 5. its purpose (that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life).

The conjunction for establishes a causal relation between this and the preceding verse. We might paraphrase as follows: the fact that it is only in connection with Christ that everlasting life is ever obtained (see verse 15) is clear from this, that it has pleased God to grant this supreme gift only to those who repose their trust in him (verse 16).

  1. Its character

The word so by reason of what follows must be interpreted as indicating: in such an infinite degree and in such a transcendently glorious manner. Great emphasis is placed on this thought.

So loved. The tense used in the original (the aorist ἠγάπμσεν) shows that God’s love in action, reaching back to eternity and coming to fruition in Bethlehem and at Calvary, is viewed as one, great, central fact. That love was rich and true, full of understanding, tenderness, and majesty.

  1. Its Author

So loved God (with the article in the original: ὁ θεός, just as in 1:1 where, as has been shown, the Father is indicated). In order to gain some conception of the Deity it will never do to subtract from the popular concept every possible attribute until literally nothing is left. God is ever full of life and full of love. Take all human virtues; then raise them to the nth degree, and realize that no matter how grand and glorious a total picture is formed in the mind, even that is a mere shadow of the love-life which exists eternally in the heart of him whose very name is Love. And that love of God ever precedes our love (1 John 4:9, 10, 19; cf. Rom. 5:8–10), and makes the latter possible.

  1. Its object

Now the object of this love is the world. (See on 1:10 and note  where the various meanings have been summarized.) Just what is meant by this term here in 3:16? We answer:

  1. The words, “that whoever believes” clearly indicate that the reference is not to birds and trees but to mankind. Cf. also 4:42; 8:12; 1 John 4:14.
  2. However, here mankind is not viewed as the realm of evil, breaking out into open hostility to God and Christ (meaning 6, in note ), for God does not love evil.
  3. The term world, as here used, must mean mankind which, though sin-laden, exposed to the judgment, and in need of salvation (see verse 16b and verse 17), is still the object of his care. God’s image is still, to a degree, reflected in the children of men. Mankind is like a mirror. Originally this mirror was very beautiful, a work of art. But, through no fault of the Maker, it has become horribly blurred. Its creator, however, still recognizes his own work.
  4. By reason of the context and other passages in which a similar thought is expressed (see note , meaning 5), it is probable that also here in 3:16 the term indicates fallen mankind in its international aspect: men from every tribe and nation; not only Jews but also Gentiles. This is in harmony with the thought expressed repeatedly in the Fourth Gospel (including this very chapter) to the effect that physical ancestry has nothing to do with entrance into the kingdom of heaven: 1:12, 13; 8:6; 8:31–39.
  5. Its gift

“… that he gave his Son, the only-begotten.” Literally the original reads, “that his Son, the only-begotten, he gave.” All the emphasis is on the astounding greatness of the gift; hence, in this clause the object precedes the verb. The verb he gave must be taken in the sense of he gave unto death as an offering for sin (cf. 15:13; 1 John 3:16; especially 1 John 4:10; Rom. 8:32: John’s gave is Paul’s spared not). On the meaning of the only begotten, see on 1:14. Note that the article which precedes the word Son is repeated before only begotten. Thus both substantive and adjective receive emphasis. We hear, as it were, the echo of Gen. 22:2, “Take now thy son, thine only son, whom thou lovest, even Isaac.…” The gift of the Son is the climax of God’s love (cf. Matt. 21:33–39).

  1. Its purpose

… in order that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.

God does not leave mankind to itself. He so loved the world that his Son, the only begotten, he gave, with this purpose: that those who receive him with abiding trust and confidence may have everlasting life. Though the Gospel is proclaimed to men of every tribe and nation, not every one who hears it believes in the Son. But whoever believes—whether he be a Jew or a Gentile—has everlasting life.

The words “… should not perish” do not merely mean: should not lose physical existence; nor do they signify: should not be annihilated. As the context (verse 17) indicates, the perishing of which this verse speaks indicates divine condemnation, complete and everlasting, so that one is banished from the presence of the God of love and dwells forever in the presence of a God of wrath, a condition which, in principle, begins here and now but does not reach its full and terrible culmination for both soul and body until the day of the great consummation. Note that perishing is the antonym of having everlasting life.

“… but have everlasting life.” (On the meaning of life see on 1:4.) The life which pertains to the future age, to the realm of glory, becomes the possession of the believer here and now; that is, in principle. This life is salvation, and manifests itself in fellowship with God in Christ (17:3); in partaking of the love of God (5:42), of his peace (16:33), and of his joy (17:13). The adjective everlasting (αἰώνιος) occurs 17 times in the Fourth Gospel, 6 times in I John, always with the noun life. It indicates, as has been pointed out, a life that is different in quality from the life which characterizes the present age. However, the noun with its adjective (ζωή αἰώνιος) as used here in 3:16 has also a quantitative connotation: it is actually everlasting, never-ending life.

In order to receive this everlasting life one must believe in God’s only begotten Son. It is important, however, to take note of the fact that Jesus mentions the necessity of regeneration before he speaks about faith (cf. 3:3, 5 with 3:12, 14–16). The work of God within the soul ever precedes the work of God in which the soul cooperates (see especially 6:44). And because faith is, accordingly, the gift of God (not only with Paul, Eph. 2:8, but also in the Fourth Gospel), its fruit, everlasting life, is also God’s gift (10:28). God gave his Son; he gives us the faith to embrace the Son; he gives us everlasting life as a reward for the exercise of this faith. To him be the glory forever and ever![7]


[1] Boice, J. M. (2005). The Gospel of John: an expositional commentary (pp. 226–239). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[2] Phillips, R. D. (2014). John. (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.) (1st ed., Vol. 1, pp. 167–176). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.

[3] Mounce, R. H. (2007). John. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, p. 400). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (pp. 202–204). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[5] Michaels, J. R. (2010). The Gospel of John (pp. 200–203). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[6] Barclay, W. (2001). The Gospel of John (Rev. and updated., Vol. 1, pp. 160–161). Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press.

[7] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to John (Vol. 1, pp. 139–142). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

The New Gnostics in Today’s Church — Lighthouse Trails Inc

T

By Bill Randles
(Author of the new release, War Against the Saints)

I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. (1 John 2:21)

The church is undergoing perhaps her final assault from within, as she has been beset with a new wave of Gnostics who have entered in.

What is Gnosticism? One definition of Gnosticism states:

Gnosticism was built on Greek philosophy that taught matter was evil and the Spirit was good. . . . So-called “Christian Gnostics” said since matter was evil, God could not really incarnate in a human body; He only appeared in human form and only appeared to suffer, but basically, it was an illusion. . . .

Prior to Christianity, the Gnostics taught that man is composed of body, soul, and spirit. The body and the soul are man’s earthly existence and were considered evil. Enclosed in man’s soul is the spirit, a divine substance of man. This “spirit” was asleep and ignorant and needed to be awakened. It could only be liberated by a special knowledge that would be later called “illumination.”1

The apostle Paul saw that Gnostic influences were coming into the church, and he addressed them in his epistles (Colossians 2:8-23, 1 Timothy 1:4, 2 Timothy 2:16-19, and Titus 1:10-16).

Gnostics (“knowing ones”) redefined the knowledge of God (i.e., what it means to know and communicate with God). They were elitists who sought “deeper knowledge” than that which is revealed in God’s Word. Gnostics despised doctrine, dismissing it as mere head knowledge.

They held forth a view of “salvation” which was, in fact, merely a self-realization rather than the rescue from sin and judgment through the blood of Jesus (which the Bible says is the only means of atoning for sin).

Gnostics believed that self-realization wasn’t for every Christian but only available to elite Christians who are let in on the secret knowledge (the so-called “secrets of the kingdom” available only to the initiated). The same attacks are presently being launched as dogma also. The “dry, dusty doctrines of another day” are being jettisoned by the “new” Gnostics of today who eagerly covet “new revelation” or “present truth.”

Gnostics influenced me early in my walk with Jesus. I was given a pack of Kenneth Copeland and Kenneth Hagin teachings and entered into the “deep revelations” of the Word Faith heresy. I learned such “revelations” as the following: the believer is just as much an incarnation as Jesus was, faith is a force, and we all can learn to use the laws of faith to get what we need. (If this were true, we wouldn’t need God; we would simply learn the laws of faith and control it like the force. )

The deepest, darkest core of the Gnostic teaching was that we believers are in “God’s class of being.” In other words, “we are little gods” who just don’t realize it yet.

According to the modern Gnostics, Jesus Himself was a man of faith upon whom the Holy Spirit came. He knew all of the laws of faith, which was why He could die on the Cross. Anyone could do so if he or she had the same “revelation knowledge” as Jesus.

Kenneth Copeland, the Word Faith preacher, is certainly one of today’s Gnostics. Here is a sampling of some of his teachings:

Every prophet that walked the face of the earth under the Abrahamic covenant could have paid the price if it were a physical death only. When He said “It is finished” on that cross, He was not speaking of the plan of redemption. The plan of redemption had just begun; there were still three days and three nights to be gone through.2

The Spirit of God spoke to me and He said, “Son, realize this. Now follow me in this and don’t let your tradition trip you up.” He said, “Think this way—a twice-born man whipped Satan in his own domain.” And I threw my Bible down . . . like that. I said, “What?” He said, “A born-again man defeated Satan, the firstborn of many brethren defeated him.” He said, “You are the very image, the very copy of that one.” I said, “Goodness, gracious sakes alive!” And I began to see what had gone on in there, and I said, “Well now you don’t mean, you couldn’t dare mean, that I could have done the same thing?” He said, “Oh yeah, if you’d had the knowledge of the Word of God that He did, you could have done the same thing, ’cause you’re a reborn man too.”3

What blasphemy! A whole generation of Christians has been swept away and corrupted on the deepest level by accepting this man’s unbiblical teachings.

John Wimber was a Quaker who came into the charismatic movement. He eventually taught a famous course at Fuller Seminary, MC510 “Signs, Wonders, and Church Growth,” which launched a “signs and wonders” movement that spread Gnostic teachings throughout the Earth. Eventually, this movement became the Vineyard Fellowship.

Of interest is that Wimber taught that a “paradigm shift” in thinking was necessary to bring the church into “power evangelism.” In my book, Weighed and Found Wanting, I explain:

Wimber, Kraft, White and Williams, as well as many other Third Wave teachers, have been calling for a “paradigm shift” for some time now . . .  A paradigm shift is a total exchange of your world view! . . . What is the shift? It is from a primarily Western, rational, logical, objective point of view to an Eastern, subjective, experiential paradigm. Haven’t we been subtly taught over the years that the Western mind set is cold, calculated, rational, based on just the observable facts? On the other hand, allegedly, the Eastern is mystical, from the heart, and based on experience?

Wimber teaches, “We must remember always that the Bible was written in the Middle East, not with rational assumption, that we bring to it as we try to understand it, but with an experiential assumption.”4 I interpret him to be saying that the Bible is not so much an objective book, but a subjective one. Not so much for understanding God mentally, but for experiencing Him intimately.

In another tape, Wimber explains: “You tell someone from the Far or Middle East that cotton only grows in warm semi-arid climates. England is cold and wet. [Ask them] Does cotton grow in England? The answer you’ll get is, ‘I don’t know, I haven’t been to England.’” Or, “I can’t say unless I’ve been there, (experience).”5 This is the new paradigm, a down playing of doctrine or “head knowledge” in favour of mystical experience. Another variation of this is, “God is bigger than His written word,” translated, God wants to bring you into experiences that aren’t in the limits of scripture. Just knowing God “doctrinally” is not sufficient, you now must have self-authenticating experiences. All of these attitudes are the end result of the New Paradigm. This is the shift from primarily objective to subjective thinking in our approach to truth.6

Perhaps the premier proponent of Gnosticism in the evangelical and charismatic church these days is Bill Johnson, the senior pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, California. Johnson’s church is the current version of the Toronto Airport Vineyard and Brownsville Assembly of God pilgrimage sites where people influenced by Gnosticism come to “experience” God.

Through Bethel and most notably through their worship team (a popular rock band called “Jesus Culture”), Bethel reaches hundreds of thousands with its Gnostic message of anti-doctrinal, experience-based, New Age-emulating  “power” evangelism.

I believe Bethel literally represents the final stages of the apostasy, the slide into the occult which I wrote about in the revised version of my book, Beware the New Prophets.

Here is an example of this redefinition of Christianity and the knowledge of God in occult terms promoted by Gnostics such as those associated with Bethel. An article in The Christian Post titled “Bethel Responds to Christian Tarot Cards Controversy” reported that Bethel “was accused of working with a Melbourne, Australia-based group known as Christalignment, which claims to have worked with many churches in that country to do such readings.”7 According to the article, Bethel denied using “Christian tarot cards.” The article stated:

Bethel admitted the leaders of Christalignment, Ken and Jenny Hodge, are connected with several of their church members as the Hodges are the parents to church evangelist Ben Fitzgerald, and said the church leaders “have a value for what they are seeking to accomplish.”

“They (Christalignment) stand in agreement with the Scriptures that all occult practices (like tarot cards) have no place in the Kingdom and should not be used,” Bethel said in a statement.

Christ Alignment staff describe themselves as “trained spiritual consultants,” and say on their website that they “draw from the same divine energy of the Christ spirit.”8

Christ Alignment staff further stated that,

We practice a form of supernatural healing that flows from the universal presence of the Christ. We draw from the same divine energy of the Christ spirit, as ancient followers did and operate only out of the third heaven realm to gain insight and revelation.9

Satan has seduced large segments of the professing church into Gnosticism and the occult. Like King Saul in the last desperate hours of his life, some have gone into darkness seeking power and a “word” of comfort, having already rejected the true Word of God.

Endnotes:

  1. Mike Oppenheimer, “What is Gnosticism?” (Let Us Reason Ministries, http://www.letusreason.org/Current48.htm).
  2. Kenneth Copeland, “What Satan Saw on the Day of Pentecost,” audiotape #BCC-19, side 1.
  3. Kenneth Copeland, “Substitution and Identification,” 1989, tape #00-0202, side 2.
  4. F.V. Scott, “John Wimber and the Vineyard Ministries” (Passport magazine), p. 19.
  5. John Wimber, “Ministering in England” Audio Tape (Media Spotlight Report); John Goodwin, “Testing the Fruit of the Vineyard” (Media Spotlight Report, 1990).
  6. Bill Randles, Weighed and Found Wanting: Putting the Toronto Blessing in Context (St. Matthews Publishing, 1995), p. 81.
  7. Anugrah Kumar, “Bethel Church Responds to ‘Christian Tarot Cards’ Controversy” (Christian Post, January 6, 2018; https://www.christianpost.com/news/bethel-church-responds-christian-tarot-cards-controversy-212796.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Ibid.

(photo from istockphoto.com; used with permission)

via The New Gnostics in Today’s Church — Lighthouse Trails Inc

“It Would Be Unconstitutional for Trump to be Impeached on Current Record – an Utter Abuse of Congress!” – Democrat Harvard Attorney Alan Dershowitz — The Gateway Pundit

Democrat Harvard Attorney Alan Dershowitz says the current impeachment process taking place in the Democrat-led House is unconstitutional.

Dershowitz said,

“It would be unconstitutional for President Trump to be impeached on the current record. It would be an utter abuse of the power of Congress. The constitution sets out four criteria for impeaching a President; treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors. Unless one of those criteria is met, Congress does not have the authority to impeach, and if they do, their impeachment would be void.”

Watch the latest video at foxnews.com

Later in his discussion with Mark Levin on FOX News on Sunday night, Dershowitz said that the President could take the impeachment to court but not likely till the Democrat’s articles are drafted or after they are presented for a vote in the House. Then the President would have the ability to take the Democrat’s farcical impeachment to the courts for a determination that it is unconstitutional and void.

This is consistent with our position reported previously here on this Schiff sham –

President Trump may have the Democrats exactly where he wants them in regards to their bogus impeachment related to a Ukraine hoax.

The President encouraged them to hurry up and in so doing they are exposing themselves to numerous actions that are unconstitutional.  If the President wants to, and he’s a fighter, he could take them to court on numerous activities and he’s likely win. He would also put the whole sham on hold and with a judgement from the courts the whole process would slow down. This could prevent him from being impeached in this horrible activity from the corrupt Democrats in the House and their cohorts in the Deep State.

Earlier this week President Donald Trump dropped a bomb upon arrival in London. Trump threatened to go to the US Supreme Court to stop the unconstitutional impeachment proceedings.

President Trump: Just landed in the United Kingdom, heading to London for NATO meetings tomorrow. Prior to landing I read the Republicans Report on the Impeachment Hoax. Great job! Radical Left has NO CASE. Read the Transcripts. Shouldn’t even be allowed. Can we go to Supreme Court to stop?

President Donald Trump is right.

The Democrat Impeachment process is Unconstitutional:

** President has no due process
** President has no right to confront the witnesses
** President has no right to bring forward witnesses
** President has not been convicted or indicted of any crime of any kind
** Rep. Adam Schiff was a witness, investigator, the prosecutor, the judge and jury
** Rep. Nadler will take over and declare himself the lead investigator, prosecutor, the judge and jury
** Rep. Schiff determined which questions could be asked
** Rep. Schiff determined which questions could be answered
** Rep. Schiff denied Republicans their right to call witnesses
** Rep. Schiff is withholding evidence — The ICIG interview and testimony in the Capital dungeon still has not been released
** Rep. Schiff refuses to call in the alleged whistleblower to testify
** Rep. Schiff and his team met with several witnesses (including the whistleblower) before the whistleblower even filed his report
** President Trump has NO IDEA who he is being accused by!
** The whistleblower has NO firsthand knowledge of President Trump’s phone call – nor do all but one of the witnesses
** Democrats are trying to prosecute impeachment for a thought crime and the president’s “intent” — Something impossible to prove

Many others believe the Democrats’ impeachment effort is unconstitutional.

It looks like another Democrat attorney has the courage to call this what it is – unconstitutional.

The President has a great case in regards to the unconstitutional Democrat impeachment process, investigation and indictment.

via “It Would Be Unconstitutional for Trump to be Impeached on Current Record – an Utter Abuse of Congress!” – Democrat Harvard Attorney Alan Dershowitz — The Gateway Pundit

Becoming a Millionaire on a Pastor’s Salary — Christian Research Network

“To establish reasonableness, a compensation consultant or committee will study what similar churches or non-profits pay their officers. However, a troubling trend has emerged of pastors’ salaries being compared to those of big business CEOs and famous celebrities.”

(Barry Bowen – Trinity Foundation) Through best-selling books and excessive compensation, a growing number of pastors are becoming millionaires. Let’s take a look at one of them.

Thirty-one years ago James MacDonald and a small team of believers started Harvest Bible Chapel (HBC). The church grew rapidly and launched new multi-site campuses in the Chicago suburbs. MacDonald also reached a large radio audience after launching his media ministry Walk in the Word.

With assistance from his church and ministry staff, MacDonald became a prolific author. Moody Publishers, LifeWay Press and others published MacDonald’s Bible studies.

HBC fired MacDonald in February 2019 after radio show host Mancow Muller broadcast an audio clip of MacDonald discussing the idea of planting child pornography on Christianity Today President Harold B. Smith’s computer.  MacDonald was furious because Christianity Today published an article that didn’t defend him for suing Christians critical of his actions.

A recently published audit of HBC revealed that MacDonald was being compensated extravagantly. The church’s compensation committee approved almost $4 million in compensation for MacDonald from 2015 through 2017.

In 2017, MacDonald was approved to receive $1,387,500 in salary and benefits.   View article →

Research

James MacDonald

 

via Becoming a Millionaire on a Pastor’s Salary — Christian Research Network

December 9, 2019 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

REUTERS

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet President Donald Trump during talks with his U.S. counterpart in Washington on Tuesday.

Paul Volcker, the towering former Federal Reserve chairman who tamed U.S. inflation in the 1980s and decades later inspired tough Wall Street reforms in the wake of the global financial crisis, died on Monday at the age of 92

The Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee will formally hear evidence of wrongdoing against President Donald Trump on Monday, as it moves toward a likely vote on whether to approve formal impeachment charges.

Russia was banned from the world’s top sporting events for four years on Monday, including the next summer and winter Olympics and the 2022 soccer World Cup, for tampering with doping tests.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Monday the Islamic republic is ready for a full prisoner exchange with the United States, tweeting: “The ball is in the US’ court”.

Teen activist Greta Thunberg turned a spotlight on the struggles of the world’s indigenous peoples against climate change on Monday, appearing at a U.N. summit alongside other young campaigners furious at the West’s failure to tackle the crisis.

Tighter government climate regulations by 2025 could wipe up to $2.3 trillion off the value of companies in industries ranging from fossil fuel producers to agriculture and car makers, an investor group warned in a report.

The Dutch national anti-terrorism agency (NCTV) has downgraded the threat of a terror attack in the Netherlands for the first time since 2013.

More than two dozen people were feared missing, a day after a volcano that is a tourist attraction suddenly erupted off the coast of New Zealand’s North Island, killing at least five people and injuring up to 20.

U.S. state attorneys general, led by New York and California, deliver opening arguments Monday in a bid to stop T-Mobile U.S. from buying Sprint Corp in a trial that highlights disagreements between federal antitrust enforcers, who are Republican, and Democrats in powerful states.

The number of Egyptians switching to dual-fuel vehicles is accelerating as the government pushes motorists to use cheaper, cleaner and plentiful natural gas.

AP Top Stories

With speeches and salutes, veterans and officials on Saturday commemorated the 78th anniversary of the 1941 sneak attack by Japan on Pearl Harbor, which brought a previously reluctant United States into World War II. Later in the day, the remains of Lauren Bruner, who died in September aged 98 and was among the last sailors rescued from the Arizona after it exploded into flames, was interred in the wreckage.

A crackdown on illegal immigration has sharply curbed the number of Central Americans and others trying to enter the United States. But Mexicans, who have not been bound by some of the same restrictions, have been showing up at the border in greater numbers, in many cases fleeing the escalating violence in their country.

The Saudi national who fatally shot three people at a Florida Navy base Friday bought his gun legally even though people designated as “nonimmigrant aliens” are not typically allowed to do so, NBC News reported.

Russia plans to establish an air defense “dome” across its polar region by arming all of its Northern Fleet’s Arctic divisions with S-400 missile batteries, a Russian naval commander said.

The Russia fleet in 2019 will take delivery of 23 new surface vessels, two new submarines and three new aircraft, Russian president Vladimir Putin announced. The numbers on their face are impressive. But in fact, most of the surface ships are small warships and support vessels.

China on Monday defended its vast network of re-education camps in Xinjiang and said it would continue “training” residents, following explosive government document leaks detailing surveillance and control of the region’s Uighur population.

Pope Francis named Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle on Sunday to a major global Vatican post in a move likely to increase the Filipino’s chances of one day being elected pope himself.

ND -Burleigh County – home to about 95,000 people and the capital city of Bismarck – could become the first local government to stop accepting refugees since President Donald Trump issued an executive order making it possible.

BBC

Finland’s Sanna Marin is to become the world’s youngest prime minister at the age of 34.

Auctioneers have unveiled what is believed to be the largest private collection of whisky ever to go on public sale. More than 3,900 bottles of primarily single malt Scotch will be sold by online whisky auction specialists Whisky Auctioneer next year. The “perfect collection” includes very rare bottles from The Macallan, Bowmore and Springbank distilleries. Its collective value has been estimated at a hammer price of $9.2-10.5m.

President Donald Trump has delayed plans to legally designate Mexican drug cartels as terrorist groups on the request of his Mexican counterpart, Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

WND

No child is too young to learn about death for Allah, becoming a martyrs receiving “Dark-Eyed Virgins” as a reward in paradise, according to the Palestinian Authority. Palestinian Media Watch said such a message was broadcast on World Children’s Day on an official PA TV children’s program that addresses children as young as preschoolers.

Page after page, the names stack up: 629 girls and women from across Pakistan who were sold as brides to Chinese men and taken to China. The list, obtained by The Associated Press, was compiled by Pakistani investigators determined to break up trafficking networks exploiting the country’s poor and vulnerable.


Mid-Day Snapshot · Dec. 9, 2019

The Foundation

“Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. What is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” —James Madison (1788)

Pending IG Report on FISA Abuse — Beware Media Spin

Michael Horowitz’s long-awaited report on FBI FISA abuse is due out today.


The Pensacola Attack and Training Foreign Military Personnel

Some question the wisdom of hosting this military training, but it’s quite valuable.


Hospitals Sue to Keep Healthcare Prices Secret

After Trump moved to help consumers, the healthcare cartel responded with a lawsuit.


NATO: No Longer Relevant?

Some say the 70-year-old alliance is losing its relevance, focus, and raison d’être.


The Trump Administration’s Economic Returns

Perspective for Pelosi’s warnings about how “civilization is at stake in this election.”


Buttigieg, the Hard-Left ‘Moderate’

The South Bend mayor claims to be middle-of-the-road, but he’s pretty radical.


Leftmedia Laments ‘Too White’ Dem Field

True political diversity is more interested in ideas and policy than the race of a candidate.


Surge in Black Voter Support for Trump

Prophecy fulfilled? Polls show that the president is earning the votes of the black community.


Video: The Continuing Impeachment Saga

Democrats are inadvertently keeping Joe Biden’s sins in the national conversation.


Video: $1 Billion to House the Homeless

That’s how much Los Angeles is spending, and it’s failing to solve the problem.


Today’s Opinion

Guest Commentary
Trump Is Orchestrating NATO’s Revival
Hans von Spakovsky
Democrats’ Weak Impeachment Case Not Strengthened by Anti-Trump Law Professors
Ryan T. Anderson
‘Fairness for All’ Is Well Intentioned but Inadequate and Misguided
Kathryn Jean Lopez
The Kamala Harris Example
William Federer
Pearl Harbor Attacked: ‘December 7, 1941 — A Date Which Will Live in Infamy!’

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


Monday Top News Executive Summary

IG report, defining impeachment, overly optimistic picture in Afghanistan, and more.


Monday Short Cuts

Notable quotables from Anthony Hopkins, Jerry Nadler, Elizabeth Warren, 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.

Headlines – 12/9/2019

Luxembourg said pushing for EU states to recognize Palestine

Trump: if Jared Kushner can’t achieve peace in Middle East, ‘it can’t be done’

Trump: Israel has never had a better friend in the White House

Trump tells pro-Israel conference that some US Jews don’t love Israel enough

US envoy vows Israel will no longer be ‘punching bag’ at UN

Gantz: Elections can still be averted, but no forgiveness for corruption

Sa’ar met with cheers and boos at Likud summit; party scraps primaries for slate

Biden: Netanyahu Is Drifting to the ‘Extreme Right’ to Stay in Power

Website slammed for offering Holocaust-themed novelties

Yemen’s Houthi rebels threaten to attack Israel

PM: We will act against Iran even without European support

Several said killed in airstrikes on Iranian-controlled weapons depots in Syria

Katz says military strike to stop Iran remains ‘an option’

Iran says new budget, Russia loan will ‘stop US, Israel’ from weakening Tehran

US Imposes Sanctions on Iraqi Militia Leaders Linked to Iran

‘Hilarious’: Iraq leaders laugh off new US sanctions

Two rockets land near Baghdad airport targeting US forces

Protests grip Baghdad and southern Iraq despite rising toll

UN urges Iraqi President to ‘protect’ protesters’ right to demonstrate freely

Report: At least 5 pro-Iranian men killed in strike on Syria-Iraq border

Consultations to choose new PM in protest-hit Lebanon delayed

FBI says it presumes base shooting was terrorism; gunman was angry at US, Israel

Saudi gunman tweeted against US before naval base shooting

Saudi military training in US under scrutiny after base attack

Trump’s defense of Saudis grows more isolated after deadly shooting on military base

Will Ukraine’s Zelenskiy and Russia’s Putin give peace a chance?

Fears of Russian interference hit U.K. election as Reddit bans accounts after U.S. trade talks leak

Hong Kong unrest hits 6-month milestone, protesters’ demands see little response from government

Some 800,000 at Hong Kong protest march: Organizers

China tells government offices to remove all foreign computer equipment

Trump warns Kim has ‘everything’ to lose through hostility

Trump warns Kim could lose ‘special relationship’ after North Korea claims ‘important’ test at missile site

Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro, Once Thought Ripe for Ouster, Looks Firmly in Place

Church nativity depicts Jesus, Mary and Joseph as family separated at border

Record number of African migrants at U.S.-Mexico border

Trump halts plan to designate Mexican drug cartels as terrorists

Democrats zoom in on Trump impeachment charges this week

Trump: Democrats changing impeachment guidelines hours before next hearing

Nunes blasts Schiff for ‘blatant disregard’ of impeachment rules; blames ‘vendetta’ against Trump

Lindsey Graham torches Schiff over impeachment tactics: He ‘is doing a lot of damage to the country, and he needs to stop.’

‘This whole Ukrainian stuff is a joke’: Graham says Senate won’t allow ‘circus’ impeachment

The Indispensable Man: How Giuliani Led Trump to the Brink of Impeachment

Musk’s defamation win may reset legal landscape for social media

Trade war goes digital: countries eye tariffs on Internet economy

DHS scraps Trump-ordered plan for mandatory facial scans at US points of entry after privacy advocates, lawmakers raise concerns

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Samara, Costa Rica

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Salamanca, Chile

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near East End, Cayman Islands

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 34,000ft

Popocateptl volcano in Mexico erupts to 20,000ft

Sangay volcano in Ecuador erupts to 20,000ft

Santa Maria volcano in Guatemala erupts to 16,000ft

Nevados De Chillan volcano in Chile erupts to 16,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 15,000ft

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 15,000ft

Sakurajima volcano on Japan erupts to 13,000ft

White Island volcano eruption: One dead, others missing in New Zealand

Rescuers save 8 people from submerged vehicles as roads flood in southern Israel

Temperatures to soar across Melbourne and Sydney

Wildfires Turn Sydney’s Surroundings Into an Inextinguishable Orange Furnace

Several dead, hundreds of homes burned in Australia’s ‘mega fire’

Samoa Bans Kids from Church as Measles Outbreak Kills 63

Elizabeth Warren says she’ll wear Planned Parenthood scarf to her inauguration

Breakthrough or a threat?: Research on genetics of same-sex behaviour ignites ethical debate

LGBT activists reveal how movement gained power, changed laws

Mandatory UK Sex Education Program Teaches 6-Year-Olds to Touch Themselves


Apostasy Watch

Mike Ratliff – Pragmatism and Mustard Seed Faith

The New Gnostics in Today’s Church

Popular NAR Cultist, Reinhard Bonnke Dies at 79 Years Old

John Gray’s Relentless Church receives lease termination notice; Ron, Hope Carpenter allegedly want church back

Tim Keller Says the Gospel Was Not Spread in the Early Church Through Preachers, But “Life Examples”

An Update on Michael Brown’s Investigation Into the Todd Bentley Scandal (And It’s Banana’s)

Joel Osteen, Kanye West to Host Massive Evangelical Event at Yankee Stadium

Why Holy Land Christians are leaving Bethlehem, birthplace of Jesus

Canadian Church of Atheism denied charitable status after court finds it’s not a religion

Why More Latinos’ are Leaving the Catholic Church For Islam


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

December 9 Cultivating Spiritual Endurance

scripture reading: 2 Timothy 4:6–9
key verse: Acts 27:25

Take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me.

For runners, the most discouraging moments are about halfway through the race. They are tired and drained, and the prospect of growing even wearier is sometimes enough to cause them to quit.

All of us face those times in our Christian experience. We start joyfully at salvation and run with eagerness as we learn new biblical principles. Then we come to a point where the feelings fade, the blessings seem to dwindle, and our commitment level fluctuates.

It is at this point that determination and endurance are developed. We read the Scriptures because we know the value of their priority, not because we always gain obvious, immediate benefits.

The determination to continue comes from the knowledge that God has set the course for you. Yesterday’s troubles, today’s problems, and tomorrow’s circumstances are all a part of the pilgrimage. Together, they form the course God has chosen. In addition, you run because God will reward you in the end. There is a finish line. Your exhaustion and perplexity will be over. You will be in the Lord’s presence forever.

Before giving up, remember that the Lord Jesus Christ is cultivating your spiritual endurance.

Almighty God, foster endurance in me—the kind it takes to finish the race. When feelings fade, blessings dwindle, and my commitment level fluctuates, give me the determination to persevere.[1]

 

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

9 december (1855) 365 Days with Spurgeon

The Exodus

“And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the self same day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.” Exodus 12:41

suggested further reading: 1 Corinthians 10:1–11

It is our firm conviction and increasing belief, that the historical books of Scripture were intended to teach us spiritual things by types and figures. We believe that every portion of Scripture history is not only a faithful transcript of what did actually happen, but also a shadow of what happens spiritually in the dealings of God with his people, or in the dispensations of his grace towards the world at large. We do not look upon the historical books of Scripture as being mere rolls of history, such as profane authors might have written, but we regard them as being most true and infallible records of the past, and also most bright and glorious foreshadowings of the future, or else most wondrous metaphors and marvellous illustrations of things which are verily received among us, and most truly felt in the Christian heart. We may be wrong—we believe we are not; at any rate, the very error has given us instruction, and our mistake has afforded us comfort. We look upon the book of Exodus as being a book of types of the deliverances which God will give to his elect people; not only as a history of what he has done, in bringing them out of Egypt by smiting the first-born, leading them through the Red Sea, and guiding them through the wilderness, but also as a picture of his faithful dealings with all his people, whom by the blood of Christ he separates from the Egyptians, and by his strong and mighty hand takes out of the house of their bondage and out of the land of their slavery.

for meditation: Are you getting as much out of the Old Testament as you should? It is full of the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 24:27)! While it may be wrong and confusing to see types in every verse or action, if you major on the types which are identified and applied in the New Testament you cannot go far wrong.

sermon no. 55[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H., & Crosby, T. P. (1998). 365 Days with Spurgeon (Volume 1) (p. 350). Leominster, UK: Day One Publications.

9 DECEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Offering our Works in Christ

For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. Galatians 2:19

suggested further reading: Ephesians 2:8–22

We can serve God freely and boldly, even though our consciences accuse us and we know we are full of sin.

How is this possible? Well, we are not grounded upon our own merits but purely upon the mercy of God. Because of this, we know that God accepts our works, even though much is wrong with them. God thus says by the mouth of the prophet that he will receive the service we render as a father accepts the works of his child (Mal. 1:6).

Picture a child who is seeking to obey his father. When the father asks the child to do something, he will accept what the child does, even though the child may not understand what he is doing. The child may even break something in the process, yet the father will not fret about the broken object when he sees his child’s affection and willingness to obey.

But if a man hires a servant, he expects that servant to perfectly perform his task because he is going to receive wages and therefore cannot afford to ruin what has been committed to his hands. If the task is not done well, the master will not be content with it.

In speaking of the days of gospel grace, our Lord says that he will accept our service just as a father accepts the obedience of his child, even if what is done is of no value. He shows himself bountiful and kind to us by accepting what we do as if it were fully pleasing to him, even though there is no inherent merit or worth in our works. Thus, we can have the freedom and the courage to serve God, knowing that God will bless all that we do for him because whatever is wrong with our offerings is washed away in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

for meditation: The heart of the Christian gospel is the understanding of how good works function in the Christian life. They do not merit or preserve eternal life. Rather, they are the feeble offerings of a grateful soul saved by grace. They are pleasing to our dear heavenly Father only because they are cleansed in Christ’s blood and thus fit for the Father’s service. Praise God for this great mercy and privilege.[1]

 

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 362). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

Thirty Days of Jesus Repeat: Day 14, Propitiation — The End Time

Further Reading

GotQuestions: What is Propitiation?

Ligonier Ministries: What Do Expiation and Propitiation Mean?

Bible Hub Topical Bible- Propitiation

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thirty Days of Jesus Series-

Introduction/Background
Day 1: The Virgin shall conceive
Day 2: A shoot from Jesse
Day 3: God sent His Son in the fullness of time
Day 4:  Marry her, she will bear a Son

Day 5: The Babe has arrived!
Day 6: The Glory of Jesus
Day 7: Magi seek the Child
Day 8: The Magi offer gifts & worship
Day 9: The Child Grew
Day 10: The boy Jesus at the Temple
Day 11: He was Obedient!
Day 12: The Son!
Day 13: God is pleased with His Son

via Thirty Days of Jesus Repeat: Day 14, Propitiation — The End Time

December 9 – Enoch & Lamech: where loyalty leads — Reformed Perspective

By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, ‘and was not found, because God had taken him’; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” – Hebrews 11:5

Scripture reading: Genesis 4:13–5:6,18-24

The spiritual fault-line established in Genesis 3:15 divided humanity into two sides: Satan’s side and the Saviour’s side. Where does loyalty to Satan lead? Where does loyalty to the Saviour lead? Let’s see by looking at the lives of two individuals who stand seven generations down the line on opposite sides of the fault-line.

Why seven? Because the Bible uses the number seven not only to specify quantities, but also to symbolize fullness or the full extent of something. The life of the seventh man in Cain’s line and the life of the seventh man in Seth’s line shows us where our loyalties ultimately lead.

Seven generations down Cain’s line is Lamech (Genesis 5:18). Lamech defies God’s norm for marriage by taking two wives. He kills a man who wounded him and memorializes the murder by composing a poem about it. Multiple wives. Murder. What a mess! That’s where loyalty to Satan leads.

Enoch is the head of the seventh generation in Seth’s line (Gen.5:18). His life shows us where loyalty to the Saviour leads. Enoch walked with God, meaning he obeyed God’s commands. As a result, he was ushered into the presence of God without experiencing physical death.

Lamech and Enoch stood on opposite sides of the spiritual fault-line. As seventh in their respective lines, they symbolize the full extent of where one’s loyalty leads. Loyalty to Satan leads to eternal death. Loyalty to the Saviour leads to eternal life. Where does your loyalty lie?

Suggestions for prayer

Pray that God would give you a heart that deeply loves Jesus and is wholeheartedly devoted to Him, for He is a Master worthy of our deepest love and loyalty!

This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God DevotionalRev. Brian Zegers has been serving the Lord by working with Word of Life Ministry as home missionary to the Muslim community in Toronto, Ontario since 2015.

via December 9 – Enoch & Lamech: where loyalty leads — Reformed Perspective

Monday Briefing December 9, 2019 – AlbertMohler.com

PART I

 The Clash Between Religious Liberty and the New Sexual Liberty Continues: Fairness For All Legislation Introduced on Friday

PART II

 The Infectious Logic of the Fairness For All Act: Why This Proposed Legislation Actually Weakens the Case for Religious Liberty

PART III

 Getting in Line with the Sexual Revolution: The Problem of a Theology of Subsequent Revelation


DOCUMENTATION AND ADDITIONAL READING

PART I

PART II

Grace-Fueled Obedience Is Absolutely Necessary for Christlikeness | Ligonier Ministries

Can you imagine a Christian couple actually praying about living together before marriage? Can you fathom a young woman who professes Christ even bothering to pray about whether she should marry an unbeliever? Can you grasp a Christian businessman having to pray about whether he should tell the truth in a transaction? When the Word of God is so clear, praying to discern God’s will becomes a convenient excuse—or even a prolonged filibuster—to avoid doing what Scripture commands.

Many who profess Christ today emphasize a wrong view of grace that makes it a free pass to do whatever they please. Tragically, they have convinced themselves that the Christian life can be lived without any binding obligation to the moral law of God. In this hyper-grace distortion, the need for obedience has been neutered. The commandments of God are no longer in the driver’s seat of Christian living, but have been relegated to the backseat, if not the trunk—like a spare tire—to be used only in case of an emergency. With such a spirit of antinomianism, what needs to be reinforced again is the necessity of obedience.

For all true followers of Christ, obedience is never peripheral. At the heart of what it means to be a disciple of our Lord is living in loving devotion to God. But if such love is real, the acid test is obedience. Jesus maintained, “If you love me,you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Genuine love for Christ will always manifest itself in obedience.

This does not mean that a Christian can ascend to sinless perfection. This will never be realized this side of glory. Neither does it imply that a believer will never disobey God again. Isolated acts of disobedience will still occur. But the new birth does give a new heart that desires to obey the Word. In regeneration, God says:

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezek. 36:26–27)

In this heart transplant, God causes the believer to pursue Spirit-energized obedience. The Apostle John agrees when he writes, “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments” (1 John 2:3). In the new birth, the elect are granted saving faith, and they immediately begin to walk in “the obedience of faith” (Rom. 1:5). There is no timelapse between the time of conversion and when one begins to obey Christ. The exercise of saving faith is the first step of a life of obedience. When Jesus preached, “Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:14–15), this was issued as an urgent imperative. The gospel is more than an offer to be considered—it is a word from God to be obeyed. John writes, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life” (John 3:36). In this verse, believing in Christ and obeying Him are used synonymously. Simply put, true faith is obedient faith. Our obedience of faith is not the grounds upon which God declares us righteous, but it reveals our faith to be genuine.

At the moment of conversion, we transfer our allegiance from our old master, sin, to a new Master, Jesus Christ. Paul explains, “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (Rom. 6:16). Here, the Apostle quotes a general axiom in life, namely, that slaves live in obedience to their ruling master. In conversion, there is an exchange of masters, a relinquishing of our old bondage to sin for a new loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul further stresses this truth: “You who were once slaves of sin have became obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, became slaves of righteousness” (Rom. 6:17–18). Everyone is a slave, either of sin or of righteousness. Before conversion, we were slaves of sin and lived in obedience to sin. But in conversion, we became slaves of Christ and live in obedience to Him.

Throughout one’s Christian life, John claims that genuine believers will continue to “keep his commandments.” “Keep” is in the present tense, indicating an ongoing obedience throughout the entirety of a believer’s life. Here is the perseverance of the saints. All who are born again will pursue obedience to the end. “Commandments” is plural, indicating obedience to the full spectrum of the divine requirements. Following Christ does not allow for selective obedience. Rather, we must obey all the commandments of God, not merely the convenient ones.

When John says believers “keep” the commandments, this pictures a guard or watchman watching over a priceless treasure. In like manner, the one who knows God will keep a sharp watch over all that His Word requires. “And his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3), but they are a blessing (Ps. 1:1). Every step of heart-prompted obedience leads to experiencing abundant life in Christ. Conversely, every step of disobedience takes us away from the joy of divine goodness.

Far from being optional, grace-fueled obedience is absolutely necessary for Christlikeness. Is there any need to pray about whether or not to obey God’s Word? You just need to obey.

This post was originally published in Tabletalkmagazine.

— Read on www.ligonier.org/blog/grace-fueled-obedience-absolutely-necessary-christlikeness/

December 9, 2019 Morning Verse Of The Day

1 While those in the ark may have been safe, they had not yet been saved. The author does not finish the story of the flood until Noah and his family are safely on dry ground (v. 14) and have offered a sacrifice. Those safe in the ark have to wait (“a hundred and fifty days,” 7:24) for God to send deliverance. The same author passes over the four hundred years that Israel waited in Egypt (Ex 1:7; 2:24b) and then the forty years of waiting in the wilderness (Nu 14:33–34) in order to focus on the moment of God’s deliverance. That moment comes after four hundred years, when “God remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” The story of Noah and the flood passes over the “hundred and fifty days” of waiting in the ark and proceeds immediately to the moment that “God remembered Noah and all … that were with him in the ark.”

The description of God’s rescue of Noah fore shadows God’s deliverance in the Exodus. “God remembered [wayyizkōr ʾelōhîm] his covenant” (Ex 2:24) and sent “a strong east wind” (berûaḥ qādîm ʿazzâ) to dry up the waters before his people so that they “went through … on dry ground [bayyabbāšâ]” (Ex 14:21–22); so also in the story of the flood, “God remembered” (wayyizkōr ʾelōhîm) those in the ark and sent a “wind” (rûaḥ ʿal-hāʾāreṣ) over the waters so that his people might come out on “dry ground” (yābešâ hāʾāreṣ, vv. 1, 14).

Such verbal, thematic, and structural parallels are not coincidental. The author of Genesis, who frequently seizes on wordplays (e.g., 11:9) and turns of phrase within narratives (e.g., 21:6), most certainly saw the parallels suggested by these narratives and deliberately highlights their similarities. God’s past redemptive works prefigure his redemptive work in the present and the future.[1]


1  The story now takes a dramatic turn. Indeed, a pivotal point is reached with the first clause of v. 1: God remembered Noah. The text does not say that God remembered Noah’s righteousness and obedience. Had it gone that way, then 8:1 would have scored the point that Noah was spared principally because of his character, a character that merited deliverance. Nor does the text state that God recalled his earlier words to Noah about a forthcoming covenant (6:18). That would reduce the activity of God to simply a psychological flashback. By trimming the description of the divine remembrance as much as possible, the point is made that when all appears helpless God intervenes to prevent tragedy. For God to remember someone means that God extends mercy to someone by saving that person from death (8:1; 19:29) or from barrenness (30:22).

In this one clause, then, the subject and the verb are more crucial than the object. The significant thing is that God remembered. The closest immediate parallel to this clause is Gen. 19:29, “he (God) remembered Abraham.” No less than seventy-three times in the OT is “remember” (zāḵar) used with God as the subject. Most often (18 times) it is followed by the preposition le, “to,” demonstrating that God’s remembrance is interpreted more as “an action directed toward someone, rather than as a psychological experience of the subject.” Here we have the finite form of the verb followed by the sign of the accusative, ʾeṯ (see also 19:29; 30:22).

God’s remembrance of Noah spurs him into sending a wind over the earth that starts the process of the drying out of the land. One need only recall that Heb. rûaḥ translates as both “spirit” and “wind” in order to decipher here a blatant connection with 1:2. At creation, or just prior to creation, the divine rûaḥ hovers majestically, restraining the waters. Here the divine rûaḥ brings about the evaporation of the waters of judgment.[2]


8:1 — Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters subsided.

God always “remembers” His people, not merely to recall their existence or names, but to act in grace toward them … even if they must wait for Him to act.[3]


8:1 But God remembered Noah. God’s covenant with Noah brought provision and protection in the midst of severe judgment. The remnant was preserved and God initiated steps toward reestablishing the created order on earth. the waters subsided. God used the wind to dry the ground; evaporation returned water to the atmosphere.[4]


8:1 God remembered Noah. This marks the turning point in the flood story. When the Bible says that God “remembers” someone or his covenant with someone, it indicates that he is about to take action for that person’s welfare (cf. 9:15; 19:29; 30:22; Ex. 2:24; 32:13; Ps. 25:6–7; 74:2). All life on the land having been destroyed, God now proceeds to renew everything, echoing what he did in Genesis 1. God made a wind blow over the earth. The Hebrew word for wind, ruakh, is also sometimes translated “Spirit” (e.g., 1:2; 6:3). While the context normally enables the reader to distinguish ruakh meaning “wind” from ruakh meaning “Spirit,” the present verse intentionally echoes 1:2.[5]


8:1 God remembered The Hebrew verb used here, zakhar, is often translated “remember,” but in reference to God, it conveys “thought about” or “turned attention to” (compare 19:29; 30:22). God’s purpose for the flood is accomplished, so He turns His attention back to Noah and the ark.[6]


8:1 God remembered Noah. The Hebrew expression indicates action based on a previous commitment (9:15; 19:29; 30:22; Ex. 2:24; 6:5; Luke 1:72, 73), not merely mental recall.

wind. The Hebrew word here is the same one for “Spirit” in 1:2, recalling the original creation account and introducing God’s first re-creative act renewing the earth out of the waters (8:1–12:9 note). Successive re-creative acts mirroring the original creation follow: the gathering of the waters (vv. 2–5; cf. 1:6–9), the placing of birds in the heavens (vv. 6–12; cf. 1:20–23), the establishment of dry ground (v. 13; cf. 1:9–12), the emergence of animals and humans upon the earth to multiply (vv. 16–19; cf. 1:24–27), and the divine blessing (9:1–3; cf. 1:28–30).[7]


8:1 The expression that “God remembered” does not imply that He had forgotten. It is a figure of speech meaning that God acted on the basis of His promise to save Noah (cp. 19:29; Ps 105:42).[8]


8:1 Remembered does not suggest that God had ever forgotten about Noah; when used of God, “remember” suggests the initiation of a miraculous, saving act of God. Other instances of God “remembering” as the first step in providing divine help for his people include his intervention in the lives of Lot (19:29), Rachel (30:22), and the Israelites in Egypt (Ex 2:24). Using language that reflects God’s initial act of creating the universe (Gn 1:2), God caused (Hb) ruach—“Spirit” or wind—to pass over the waters of the earth. Immediately the water began to subside.[9]


1. And God remembered Noah—The divine purpose in this awful dispensation had been accomplished, and the world had undergone those changes necessary to fit it for becoming the residence of man under a new economy of Providence.

and every living thing … in the ark—a beautiful illustration of Mt 10:29.

and God made a wind to pass over the earth—Though the divine will could have dried up the liquid mass in an instant, the agency of a wind was employed (Ps 104:4)—probably a hot wind, which, by rapid evaporation, would again absorb one portion of the waters into the atmosphere; and by which, the other would be gradually drained off by outlets beneath.[10]


Ver. 1.—And God. Elohim, i. e. God in his most universal relation to his creatures. The supposition of two different accounts or histories being intermingled in the narrative of the Flood (Bleek, Eichhorn, Hupfeld, Kalisch, Alford, Colenso) is not required for a sufficient explanation of the varying use of the Divine names. Remembered. From a root signifying to prick, pierce, or print, e. g., upon the memory; hence to remember. “Not that there is oblivion or forgetfulness with God, but then God is said to remember when he showeth by the effects that he hath taken care of man” (Willet). He remembers man’s sins when he punishes them (Ps. 25:7; cf. 1 Kings 17:20), and his people’s needs when he supplies them (cf. Neh. 5:19). The expression is an anthropopathism designed to indicate the Divine compassion as well as grace. Calvin thinks the remembrance of which Moses speaks “ought to be referred not only to the external aspect of things (i. e. the coming deliverance), but also to the inward feeling of the holy man,” who, through grace, was privileged to enjoy “some sensible experience of the Divine presence” while immured in the ark. Noah,—cf. the Divine remembrance of Abraham and Lot (ch. 19:29), the request of the Hebrew psalmist (Ps. 132:1)—and every living thing,—chayyah, or wild beast (vide ch. 1:25; 7:14)—and all the cattle that was with him in the ark. A touching indication of the tenderness of God towards his creatures (cf. Deut. 25:4; Ps. 36:6; 145:9, 15, 16; Jonah 4:11). As a proof that God remembered the lonely inmates of the ark, he at once takes steps to accomplish their deliverance, which steps are next enumerated. And God made a windruach. Not the Holy Ghost, as in ch. 1:2 (Theodoret, Ambrose, LXX.—πνεῦμα), nor the heat of the sun (Rupertus); but a current of air (ἄνεμος), which “would promote evaporation and aid the retreat of the waters” (Murphy):—the ordinary method of driving away rain and drying the ground (vide Prov. 25:23); the special instrumentality employed to divide the waters of the Red Sea (Exod. 14:21)—to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged, or began to grow calm, after a period of commotion (cf. Esther 2:1; 7:10)—the first stage in the returning of the waters. Καὶ ἐκόπασε τὸ ὕδωρ, and the water grew tried (LXX.). Cf. ἐκόπασεν ὁ ἄνεμος, Matt. 14:32; Mark 4:39; 6:51.[11]


[1] Sailhamer, J. H. (2008). Genesis. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Genesis–Leviticus (Revised Edition) (Vol. 1, pp. 126–127). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Hamilton, V. P. (1990). The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17 (pp. 299–300). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[3] Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (Ge 8:1). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ge 8:1). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[5] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 64). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[6] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ge 8:1). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[7] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (pp. 21–22). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[8] Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J. P., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (p. 18). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

[9] Bergen, R. D. (2017). Genesis. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (p. 19). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

[10] Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, p. 22). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[11] Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). Genesis (p. 124). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

$200 to worship Jesus? – WND

(SPUTNIK NEWS) At the end of November, the artist premiered his first brainchild Nebuchadnezzar, an opera based on the biblical tale of the Babylonian King’s transition from a wicked, imperious ruler to a true believer who finds salvation in Christianity.

It seems that Kanye West really intends to follow in the footsteps of Verdi, Bizet, and Rossini, well, at least in quantity. He has announced a new Christian-themed opera that will debut on 8 December in Miami, thirteen days after the singer premiered his previous opera, but Ye’s fans, who are usually ready to support his every creative endeavour, are not happy about it…

Read the full story ›

— Read on www.wnd.com/2019/12/200-worship-jesus/

9 Dec 2019 – Rapture Ready News

Christian groups back new LGBT civil rights bill that protects religious institutions
 A new bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives Friday backed by faith groups seeks to extend federal discrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity while providing protections for individual and institutional religious objectors to homosexuality.

Emma Thompson foresees people eating pets for ‘protein’ due to ‘climate crisis’ 
Fido and Sylvester could be in big trouble, according to Emma Thompson. The actress issued a strong warning on Thursday of an impending “climate crisis” so dire that people will have no choice but to eat their own pets.

Victoria Falls dries to a trickle after worst drought in a century
For decades Victoria Falls, where southern Africa’s Zambezi river cascades down 100 metres into a gash in the earth, have drawn millions of holidaymakers to Zimbabwe and Zambia for their stunning views.

MERRY CHRISTMAS! Trump Praises: “Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”
During the annual lighting of the White House Christmas tree this year, President Donald Trump made good on his promise to bring “Merry Christmas” back to America. He then doubled down by referring the Jesus Christ as “God” and “Our Lord and Savior”.

‘Mega-fire’ burns out of control just north of Sydney, Australia
More than eight bushfires have merged to form a “mega-fire” which is now raging out of control across a swath of land just north of Sydney. Firefighters said it will take weeks to control, but will not be contained without heavy rains.

Landmark Study Shows Half of Cancer Patients are Killed by Chemo — NOT Cancer
No matter how much doctors push the treatment, chemotherapy might not be the best option in the fight against cancer, as a new study shows up to 50 percent of patients are killed by the drugs — not the disease, itself.

Televangelist Fraud Kenneth Copeland Is So Surprised By Inside Edition Reporter That He Winds Up Telling The Truth And Exposing Himself
This video starts at a fairly high level of uncomfortability, and as it proceeds, flies right off the charts like an exploding thermometer from those old cartoons. Kenneth Copeland receives a surprise visit from Lisa Guerrero of Inside Edition, asking him questions about his lavish lifestyle and previous comments he has made about his followers being ‘demons’. Copeland by turns stutters before lapsing into silence, lashes out in a frenzied rage, and concludes with some very hard to watch hand kissing combined with some rather creepy comments that were intended to be compliments. You’re watching Kenneth ‘Crazy Eyes‘ Copeland at his finest, showing us the demon that he truly is.

Elton John Biopic ‘Rocketman’, First Major Film With Gay Sex Scenes, Was Partially Funded By The Vatican Through Their Centurion Global Fund
The Roman Catholic Church, under the direction of Pope Francis and the Vatican, has finally begun to step into its prophetic destiny as the Whore of Babylon, and 2019 has been a banner year towards realizing that goal. Pope Francis has made breathtaking progress with the creation of the One World Religion of Chrislam, as he has been gathering together the finest elements of Laodicean Christianity, paganism, Islam, and the LGBTQ+P for Pedophile Movement. It is that last group we will be discussing today. Why? You might want to sit down for this one, it connects the Vatican with Elton John and new movie ‘Rocketman’.

Muslim Ilhan Omar Recites Islamic Prayer To Allah At Catholic Church In One World Religion Chrislam Service Attended By Over 25 Members Of The 116th Congress
Everywhere you look now, the One World Religion of Chrislam is coming together, orchestrated by some of the most-people religious figures of our day. At the top you have Pope Francis with his Chrislam covenant called the “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” document that he has already had major players from Islam and Buddhism sign off on.

— Read on www.raptureready.com/2019/12/09/9-dec-2019/

Is God an Egomaniac for Asking Us to Worship and Praise Him? | Crosswalk.com

Is God an Egomaniac for Asking Us to Worship and Praise Him?

Let’s get to the heart of the matter right off the bat. As finite and fallen creatures, we cast God in our own image. In such darkness, we cannot even begin to imagine the extent and perfection of His glory, His mercy and His love (see 1 Corinthians 2:9).

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.― William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

Fallen Ego is Found in Us, Not in Him

 In his book, Reflections on the Psalms, C.S. Lewis observes how God’s demand that we praise Him makes Him appear, at first glance, to be “The Great Egomaniac:”

 “When I first began to draw near to belief in God and even for some time after it had been given to me, I found a stumbling block in the demand so clamorously made by all religious people that we should ‘praise’ God; still more in the suggestion that God Himself demanded it. We all despise the man who demands continued assurance of his own virtue, intelligence or delightfulness; we despise still more the crowd of people round every dictator, every millionaire, every celebrity, who gratify that demand. Thus a picture, at once ludicrous and horrible, both of God and His worshippers, threatened to appear in my mind…

I did not see that it is in the process of being worshipped that God communicates His presence to men. It is not of course the only way. But for many people at many times the ‘fair beauty of the Lord’ is revealed chiefly or only while they worship Him together…

To see what the doctrine really means, we must suppose ourselves to be in perfect love with God — drunk with, drowned in, dissolved by, that delight which, far from remaining pent up within ourselves as incommunicable, hence hardly tolerable, bliss flows out from us incessantly again in effortless and perfect expression, our joy is no more separable from the praise in which it liberates and utters itself than the brightness a mirror receives is separable from the brightness it sheds. The Scotch catechism says that man’s chief end is ‘to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.’ But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.”

An Invitation to Praise is an Invitation to Joy

Lewis concludes by pointing out that the praise of anything or anyone is a major cause of joy in life. And thus, God’s call to praise Him is in a certain sense an opportunity to experience the consummate joy possible for mankind. 

As Lewis eventually realizes, the command to praise God is for our benefit.

In a certain sense even the question about God’s seemingly egocentric call to worship is a reflection of our own self-focus and penchant for judging the heart of the God we do not know. 

In truth, we are projecting our own egocentricity through the lens of a fallen world, often as an excuse for rejecting the Beautiful One – the glorious One who created us. 

Praising God Corrects the Problem of Man’s Fallen Ego

 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the Cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)

Praising God also humbles and refines us, repointing us to the innocent love for God that Adam & Eve enjoyed before the Fall (Genesis 3:8-19).

It re-fixes our eyes upon Him and reaffirms His glorious reality in a world that denies He even exists (Hebrews 11:6), that He is flawlessly good (Psalm 18:30), and that He is who He says He is – the one and only God and the only means of salvation (John 14:6).

Praise and worship of God overturns the lies about His character that are continuously sown by the god of this age and his world system (2 Corinthians 4:4; John 8:44; John 14:30; Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 6:12; Revelation 9:11; Revelation 12:9-12; 1 Peter 2:11; 1 Peter 5:8).

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/digitalskillet

Additional Powerful Benefits to Praising God

Blesses: It brings down the blessing and glory of God on our behalf (Exodus 23:25; Matthew 6:33).

Attracts: It attracts the angels, who surround and guard us (Psalm 34:7; Hebrews 1:14; 12:1; Psalm 125:2; Psalm 91:11; Isaiah 52:12).

Conquers: It is spiritual warfare, designed as a battle weapon against the forces of bondage and darkness. The prophet Jeremiah wrote:  “Sing to the Lord! Praise the Lord! He rescues the oppressed from the power of evil people” (Jeremiah 20:13).

Defends: Our praise of Him as our defender in some way releases Him to defend us (Exodus 15:1-18; Psalm 10:17-18; Isaiah 51:22; Deuteronomy 10:17-18, Deuteronomy 10:21).

Unifies: It places us in union with the Church, both in heaven and earth and unifies our souls and spirits as one body (Romans 12:4-5; 1 Corinthians 12:13, 1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:25; 5:29-32).

Opens: Believing what we cannot see opens the eyes of our heart to the revelation of our purpose, the glorious inheritance that awaits us and God’s incomparably great power that is available to us when we believe (Ephesians 1:18-19).

Lifts: It lifts us up to the heavenlies, where we are seated with Christ – a buffer of faith that lessens our times of doubt and trouble and exposes the deceptions that surround us on this fallen earth (Ephesians 2:6-7).

Delivers: Sometimes, praise of God brings deliverance from suffering and healing to the body (James 5:13-14).

Why Else Should We Praise God?

Scripture instructs us to praise Him (Deuteronomy 32:3; Psalm 30:4; Psalm 33:1; Psalm 68:19; Psalm 89:1; Psalm 92:1; Psalm 103:1; Psalm 107:8; Psalm 138:5; Psalm 145:3; Daniel 2:20).

It is an honor for us (Psalm 149:9) that in some mysterious way allows us to enter His gates and His courts (Psalm 100:4).

It is our sacrifice to Him in response to His sacrifice for us on the Cross and the resulting saving grace given to those who believe in Him (Hebrews 13:15; Ephesians 1:6-8). 

We praise Him for His unending and glorious attributes, such as declared by the psalmist in Psalm 106:1: “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever” and Psalm 115:1: ”to Your name give glory, for the sake of Your steadfast love and faithfulness.”

Further, it is for the glory of God, a witness to the world that reveals the “wondrous things that He has done” (Psalm 75:1).

And truly…it is the purpose of life!

You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)

In Him we were chosen…in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:6, Ephesians 1:11-12)

Have you noticed that most of the benefits of praising and worshipping God are centered on His desire to bless us?

The Most Important Reason to Praise God

Because what we sing in praise and worship is true!

We have been given the gift of praise and worship because what we sing is true, and truth must be proclaimed. Not only as a corrective to the lies and deception that surrounds us today, but because of God’s great mercy toward us when we were hopelessly lost in sin.

God cannot lie. He is, in fact, the author of absolute and perfect truth (John 14:6)! He is glorious, mighty, loving, long-suffering and all of the other traits that the Scriptures attribute to Him. 

He also created us and died to pay the penalty for our sins so that we could be rescued from a sentence of death (Romans 5:8). He is worthy of our praise. 

He is worthy of ALL praise! 

One sage wrote: “Praise is a vital part of a life surrendered to God, and it gives credit where credit is due” (Psalm 107:8). God is therefore completely justified in demanding worship.

This was my experience in coming out of great darkness, and it can be yours as well.


Dr. David Kyle Foster (M-Div, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; D-Min, Trinity School for Ministry) is the author of Love Hunger, Transformed Into His Image and The Sexual Healing Reference Edition. You can listen to his twice-weekly podcast by going to: www.charismapodcastnetwork.com/show/purepassion.

Photo Credit: ©Pexels/Katii Bishop

— Read on www.crosswalk.com/church/worship/is-god-an-egomaniac-for-asking-us-to-worship-and-praise-him.html