Daily Archives: December 16, 2019

December 16 The One in Control

Scripture Reading: Mark 9:17–27

Key Verse: Mark 9:23

Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

In today’s Scripture passage, a father brought his demon-possessed son to Jesus. Nothing was more important to this father than to see his son restored, and he knew Jesus had the power to do it.

When he finally reached Jesus, the father experienced a slight falter in his faith. He requested, “If You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us” (Mark 9:22). Jesus, sensing the man’s subtle doubts, replied, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes” (verse 23). Without hesitation, the father realized the disparity between his words and his actions, and he pleaded, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (verse 24).

What an odd statement! What are we to think? Does this man have faith or not? Yet, when we look closer, we realize that this father was crying out in complete, unashamed honesty. He knew that there was no point in attempting to “puff up” his faith before Jesus. Instead, he humbly admitted that, while he did in fact believe in Jesus’ saving power, there were still some things—such as concern for his son—that could interfere with his faith in God.

Do you believe that God has the power to change your life? Do you allow outside influences to affect your faith in Jesus? If so, be honest with God about your fluctuating faith, but always remember that His power does not ebb and flow along with our confidence in Him. Regardless of how we feel, God is always in control—today, tomorrow, and forever.

Lord, thank You that when my faith falters, You do not; that when I am most powerless, Your power remains constant. I believe; help my unbelief![1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 367). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

December 16 Who Is in Charge?

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 5:11–21

Key Verse: Galatians 5:25

If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Have you ever asked a question and gotten the runaround? One person passes you to the next, who passes you to someone else, who calls a representative in another department, and so on. With all that confusion, you wonder who is really in charge.

Paul addressed this issue of authority in Ephesians 5:18 (nasb): “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.” The word filled here is translated from a Greek word meaning “controlled by” or “mastered by.” The question God wants you to ask is, Who is in charge of my life?

Even though the Holy Spirit came to live in you when you trusted Christ as your Savior, He does not necessarily control and guide you. You must first yield to His authority, acknowledging His power as necessary for living as Jesus wants you to live.

The Holy Spirit is His guidance system for your life. A pilot may have the most advanced navigational equipment at his disposal, but it’s useless if he does not turn it on. You must allow the Holy Spirit to turn you in the right direction, trusting in His infallible wisdom.

And this yielding isn’t merely a one-time action; each day you need to make the conscious decision to rely on Him in spite of what your emotions may tell you. Are you ready to let Christ call the shots? He longs to lead you.

O God, regardless of what this day brings, You are in control. Lead me. Guide me. I yield every event of this day to You. You are in charge.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 367). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Fox News’ Greg Gutfeld Mocks Dems’ ‘Imaginary Impeachment’ Charade | LifeZette

Fox News host Greg Gutfeld absolutely nails it.

He went on a hilarious mic-fest of the Dems’ impeachment push against President Donald Trump and he called it exactly what it is — imaginary. 

Gutfeld, the co-host of “The Five” and host of his own show on Fox News, said the Democrats’ effort to push out the president has been the very first impeachment based solely on “imagination.”

Related: Nadler Spins Possible Jump by House Dem to the GOP Over Impeachment

He absolutely annihilates the Dems, in my view, by saying, “When they could find no crime … they steal the plot of minority report … ‘Let’s stop Trump from doing stuff he hasn’t done yet’ … because the stuff they had on him is garbage.”

Gutfeld goes on to explain how “delusional ” Democrats are to create this farce in the first place — and then points to the group of coastal elites who announced the move to impeach as a “sad bunch.”

Again, nails it! 

You can watch the video below:

Gutfeld is right, in my view.

The American people have had it with this impeachment farce.

It’s a waste of taxpayers’ time and money — and it’s the Dems’ way of interfering in the 2020 election, in my opinion.

The bad news for Dems is that Real Clear Politics just came out with its latest polling — and announced that impeachment is officially underwater.

I’d argue that it’s always been underwater — and that Democrats have wanted to impeach the most successful president of our lifetime.

Now, Dems are hoping they can get this done and over with — and that any Americans who are mad at them over this will forget about it by the time the 2020 election rolls around.

A version of this piece originally appeared on WayneDupree.com; this article is used by permission.

Source: Fox News’ Greg Gutfeld Mocks Dems’ ‘Imaginary Impeachment’ Charade

December 16 Evaluation and Reward

Scripture reading: Romans 7:18–25

Key verse: Genesis 18:25

Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?

Concerning the judgment of God, theologian Henry Thiessen explains,

The whole philosophy of the future judgments rests upon the sovereign right of God to punish disobedience and the personal right of the individual to plead his case in court. Though God is sovereign, as judge of all the earth, he will do right (Genesis 18:25). He will do this not in order to submit to an external law, but as the expression of his own character.

The individual will have the opportunity to show why he acted as he did and to know the reasons for his sentence. These are fundamental factors in every righteous government. Insofar as human governments follow this order, they are imitating God’s methods of government.

God’s judgment always fits the crime. He never responds to sin out of His character. His first desire is to save you so that you might enjoy His fellowship for eternity.

In Revelation 16, the judgment of God is poured out on the earth because man has chosen another way—a way opposed to God. In Romans 7:24, Paul asked, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” The answer: only the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 7:25)!

Judgment for the believer is a time of evaluation and reward, but for the nonbeliever it is the beginning of eternal death.

Lord, I praise You for the future You have planned for me—eternal life in Your presence. Help me live today with that hope in mind.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 367). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Articles Of Impeachment Updated To Read ‘Orange Man Bad’ — The Babylon Bee

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The two articles of impeachment leveled against President Trump were originally announced to be abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

These didn’t poll very well, however, so Democrats went back to the drawing board to come up with something that might play well with their base of radicals. Nancy Pelosi announced Monday that the articles of impeachment will now just read, “ORANGE MAN BAD” in giant letters.

“It’s clear, to the point, and honest,” said Pelosi. “We congresspeople aren’t very used to honesty, so we’ll see how this goes. But hopefully, people will see the crime of Trump being a bad orange man definitely rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Pelosi admitted the first two articles they introduced were drummed-up charges and that this one’s “the real deal.”

Trump fired back, pointing out that being a bad orange man isn’t an impeachable offense. “Show me where in the Constitution it says you can’t be a brave man of color and also do bad stuff. It’s not there. You can’t do it. The do-nothing Democrats are EMPTY-HANDED! SAD!”

“ORANGE MAN GOOD! ORANGE MAN GOOD!” he chanted, trying to get his aides to chant along, but they only did so half-heartedly.

via Articles Of Impeachment Updated To Read ‘Orange Man Bad’ — The Babylon Bee

December 16, 2019 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

The Exalted Position Jesus Left

although He existed in the form of God, (2:6a)

Jesus’ humiliating step downward was from the exalted position seen in the truth that He existed in the form of God. Both before, during, and after His incarnation, He was, by His very nature, fully and eternally God. Existed translates a present active participle of the compound verb huparchō, which is formed from hupo (“under”) and archē (“beginning”) and denotes the continuance of a previous state or existence. It stresses the essence of a person’s nature, that which is absolutely unalterable, inalienable, and unchangeable. William Barclay comments that the verb refers to “that part of a [person] which, in any circumstances, remains the same” (The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians. Rev. ed. [Louisville, Ky.: Westminster, 1975], 35).

Jesus Christ eternally and immutably existed, and will forever continue to exist, in the form of God. Morphē (form) refers to the outward manifestation of an inner reality. The idea is that, before the Incarnation, from all eternity past, Jesus preexisted in the divine form of God, equal with God the Father in every way. By His very nature and innate being, Jesus Christ is, always has been, and will forever be fully divine.

The Greek word schēma is also often translated “form,” but the meaning is quite different from that of morphē. As Barclay points out,

Morphē is the essential form which never alters; schēma is the outward form which changes from time to time and from circumstance to circumstance. For instance, the essential morphē of any human being is humanity and this never changes; but his schēma is continually changing. A baby, a child, a boy, a youth, a man of middle age, an old man always have the morphē of humanity, but the outward schēma changes all the time. (Philippians, 35–36)

To the Colossians, Paul expressed the truth of Christ’s deity in these words: “He [Jesus Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Col. 1:15). Speaking of Christ, John opened his gospel with the declaration: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.… And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1–2, 14). Jesus said of Himself, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am” (John 8:58), and later prayed, “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.… Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world” (17:5, 24). The writer of Hebrews reminds us that God “in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power” (Heb. 1:2–3).

In light of the profound reality of Jesus’ full and uncompromised deity, His incarnation was the most profound possible humiliation. For Him to change in any way or to any degree, even temporarily by the divine decree of His Father, required descent. By definition, to forsake perfection requires taking on some form of imperfection. Yet without forsaking or in any way diminishing His perfect deity or His absolute holiness, in a way that is far beyond human comprehension, the Creator took on the form of the created. The Infinite became finite, the Sinless took sin upon Himself. The very heart of the gospel of redemption is that the Father “made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). Although that infinitely marvelous and cardinal gospel truth is impossible to understand, it is necessary to believe.

The example for those who have saving faith in Christ is clear. Because of their relationship to Christ, they have special standing and privilege before God. Through Christ, they are God’s children. “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12); and because they are His children, “when He appears, [they] will be like Him, because [they] will see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2). Although they will always be His servants, He deigns to call them His friends: “I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15). Believers are indwelt by Jesus Christ (Eph. 3:17) and by the Holy Spirit (John 14:17; Rom. 8:9, 11; 2 Tim. 1:14). While on earth, they are the living temples of God (1 Cor. 6:19) and “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Cor. 5:20). They have been divinely “blessed … with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,” chosen “in Him before the foundation of the world,” predestined “to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself” (Eph. 1:3–5). They are “predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29), “called according to His purpose, … justified,” and one day will be glorified (8:28, 30). They are “living stones, … being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ … a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession” (1 Peter 2:5, 9; cf. Rev. 1:6; 5:10; 20:6).

But Christians are God’s children solely by adoption (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5), not by inherent right. Every marvelous blessing and privilege they have is entirely because of divine grace, theirs because of their union with God’s only true eternal Son, Jesus Christ. Therefore, if God’s eternal Son humbled Himself in such an incomparably sacrificial way, how much more should God’s adopted children be determined to live humbly and sacrificially?

It is tragic that, in self-centered disregard both of their Lord’s teaching and example, some Christians take pride in their position as children of God. As “children of the King,” they believe that they deserve to live like royalty, although the King of kings, the Lord Jesus Christ, often had “nowhere to lay His head” (Matt. 8:20; cf. John 7:53–8:1) and commands His followers to “take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matt. 11:29). It is not by accident that the first Beatitude reads: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3).

Step One

did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, (2:6b)

From His exalted position as God, Christ’s first step downward was not to regard equality with God a thing to be grasped. Although He continued to fully exist as God, during His incarnation He refused to hold on to His divine rights and prerogatives. Equality with God is synonymous with the preceding phrase “form of God.” In repeating the declaration of Christ’s true nature and essence, Paul emphasizes its absolute and incontestable reality. It is interesting that isos (equality) is in a plural form (isa, “equalities”), suggesting that Paul may have been referring to every aspect of Jesus’ deity. The term refers to exact equivalence. An isosceles triangle has two equal sides. Isomers are chemicals that differ in certain properties and structure but are identical in atomic weight. In becoming a man, Jesus did not in any way forfeit or diminish His absolute equality with God.

During His earthly ministry, Jesus never denied or minimized His deity. He was unambiguous in acknowledging His divine sonship and oneness with the Father (John 5:17–18; 10:30, 38; 14:9; 17:1, 21–22; 20:28), His “authority over all flesh” and power to “give eternal life” (John 17:2), and His divine “glory which [He] had with [the Father] before the world was” (John 17:5; cf. v. 24). Yet He never used His power or authority for personal advantage, because such prerogatives of His divinity were not a thing to be grasped. That was the choice that set the Incarnation into motion. He willingly suffered the worst possible humiliation rather than demand the honor, privilege, and glory that were rightly His. Nor did He use the powers of His undiminished sovereign deity to oppose the purpose of His Father because the price was too high.

To be grasped translates the Greek noun harpagmos, which refers to something that is seized or carried off by force. It was also sometimes used of a prize or award. Because Jesus already possessed equality with God, the meaning of to be grasped is not taking hold of but of holding on to, or clinging to. He had all the rights and privileges of God, which He could never lose. Yet He refused to selfishly cling to His favored position as the divine Son of God nor view it as a prized possession to be used for Himself. At any time He could have appealed to His Father and at once received “more than twelve legions of angels” to come to His defense (Matt. 26:53). But that would have thwarted His Father’s plan, with which He fully concurred, and He would not do it. Although He was doubtless terribly hungry after fasting for forty days in the wilderness, He refused to turn stones into bread in order to feed Himself (Matt. 4:3–4). Yet He graciously multiplied the loaves and fish so the hungry multitudes might be fed (Mark 6:38–44; 8:1–9).

It is that attitude of selfless giving of oneself and one’s possessions, power, and privileges that should characterize all who belong to Christ. They should be willing to loosen their grip on the blessings they have, which they have solely because of Him. Christians are set apart from the world as children of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. Yet they must not clutch those privileges and blessings. Instead, like their Lord, they must hold them loosely and be willing to sacrifice them all for the benefit of others.[1]


The Truth About Jesus Christ

Philippians 2:6

Who, being in very nature God,

did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.

Having taken a survey of the greatest Christological passage of the Book of Philippians (2:5–11), we settle down now to a verse-by-verse study of the text. In verse 6 Paul writes that before his incarnation Jesus Christ was in the form of God and was God. Phillips paraphrases the verse, “Let Christ Jesus be your example as to what your attitude should be. For he, who had always been God by nature did not cling to his prerogatives as God’s equal.” Who is Jesus Christ? The only adequate answer to that question is one that carries the mind back to Christ’s equality with God before creation and which projects it forward to see him reigning with God and as God forever.

Eternity Past

One summer during a trip around the Mediterranean Sea, a friend and I visited Luxor, the city in upper Egypt where tourists may visit the remains of ancient Thebes, once the capital of Egypt. We began our sightseeing in the company of an old guide who first showed us the great temple of Luxor erected by Amenophis III. On top of one of the tall columns of this temple was a small house, and we were curious about how it got there.

The guide explained that during the last century, before the excavations at Luxor were begun, the area on which we were standing was covered with sand. One local farmer tried to find a solid foundation for his home and scratched about in the sand to find some bedrock on which to build. In time he came upon a smooth surface, and he erected his home here. In the desert where the wind is constantly blowing and where the sand shifts according to the air currents, anything permanent will cause the sand to shift away from it. As the sand drifted away from his cottage the farmer discovered that his house was actually built on a piece of hand carved stone, presumably from an ancient temple. It was only after the excavations had begun that the farmer realized that the stone was a standing column, and after the excavations were completed he found that his home was nearly eighty feet above ground level.

There is a parallel here to some people’s understanding of the Lord Jesus Christ. Many people claim that their lives are built on Jesus Christ, but they may know as little about Jesus Christ as that Egyptian farmer knew about the foundation of his home. Many people will admit Christ’s existence, acknowledge his example, and speak of him as a great religious teacher. These things are true. Yet by themselves they are as misleading as the Egyptian farmer’s belief that he was building his house on bedrock. If you can say no more about Jesus Christ than this, then you have an inadequate understanding of his person. To see him in proper perspective you must push aside the years of human history and catch a glimpse of him coexisting with God the Father from eternity.

The New Testament writers do this frequently. John writes, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God” (John 1:1). John later says that the Word became flesh. But the one who became flesh was no other than the one who existed with God and was God from the beginning. In Colossians Paul speaks of Christ as “the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15). The author of Hebrews writes in a passage that parallels the one in Philippians 2: “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven” (Heb. 1:1–3).

These passages teach that Jesus Christ cannot be understood on the basis of his earthly life alone. Jesus Christ is a man. But he is also God. We must first say that about him.

The Nature of God

These truths are taught in Philippians 2:6 by means of two words that deserve closer study. The first is the Greek word morphe. It occurs in the phrase, “being in very nature God.” This word points both outward to the shape of an object and inward to ask about things that cannot be detected on the surface. As one commentator said, Christ “possessed inwardly and displayed outwardly the very nature of God” himself.

The second word that occurs in Philippians 2:6 of Jesus Christ is isos, meaning “equal.” We have this word in the scientific terms isomer, isomorph, and isometric. An isomer is a molecule having a slightly different structure from another molecule but being identical with it in terms of its chemical elements and weight. Isomorph means “having the same form.” Isometric means “in equal measure.” In Philippians 2:6 the word isos teaches that Jesus is God’s equal.

How quickly these two phrases cut across the lesser confessions of Christ’s deity. Many will admit that Jesus Christ was divine in the sense, so they say, that all people are divine. Many will call him the Son of God in the sense that we are all children of God. The late theologian Paul Tillich can speak of Christ’s “permanent unity with God” in the sense that we all should attain such unity. But this is not the teaching of Scripture. When Christians speak of the person of the Lord Jesus Christ they are not speaking about any such divinity. They are speaking of the eternal and unique Godhead of the Lord Jesus Christ. And they maintain that he exists eternally as the second person of the Godhead and as such is equal with God the Father.

Everything that God Almighty is to me, so also is the Lord Jesus Christ. Is that true for you? It should be, for that is the teaching of the Bible. There is no real knowledge of the Father apart from a knowledge of the Son.

The Glory of God

The teaching of Philippians 2:6 is also conveyed by a phrase used elsewhere that points emphatically to the divine nature, and consequently is also used of Jesus. The phrase is “the glory of God.” Jesus speaks of this glory when he prays: “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began” (John 17:4–5). These verses say four things about glory. First, Jesus possessed a glory before the incarnation. Second, this glory was God’s glory. Third, he did not have it after the incarnation. And fourth, there is a sense in which he did possess it while on earth, for he revealed it by finishing the work that God gave him to do.

How can this be? How can Christ possess God’s glory, renounce it, and yet have it? And what does the phrase “the glory of God” mean anyhow?

In the early years of the Greek language when Homer and Herodotus were writing, there was a Greek verb (dokeo) from which the Greek noun doxa (meaning “glory”) sprang. The Greek verb meant “to appear” or “to seem,” and the noun that came from it then meant “opinion.” From this meaning we get the English words orthodox, heterodox, and paradox for “straight opinion,” “other opinion,” and “contrary opinion.” In time the verb was used only for having a good opinion about some person, and the noun, which kept pace with the verb in this development, came to mean the “praise” or “honor” due to one of whom a good opinion was held. Kings possessed glory because they merited the praise of their subjects. It is in this sense that Psalm 24 speaks of God as the King of glory.

Who is this King of glory?

The Lord strong and mighty,

the Lord mighty in battle.

… The Lord Almighty—he is the King of glory.

Psalm 24:8, 10

At this point, we can see the effect of taking the word over into the Bible and applying it to God. For if a person had a right opinion about God, he was able to form a correct opinion of God’s attributes. The orthodox Jew knew God as all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present, merciful, faithful to his children, holy, just, loving, and so on with all his other perfections. When he acknowledged this he was said to give God glory. God’s glory consists of his intrinsic worth embedded in his character, and all that can be known of God is merely an expression of it.

This understanding of God’s glory is reinforced in the English language by a word that means almost the same thing as glory. This is the Anglo-Saxon word “worth.” It too refers to intrinsic character. The worth of a person is his or her character. The worth of God is God’s glory. Consequently, when people are engaged in praising God they are acknowledging his worth-ship. Since these last two syllables are difficult to say together in English, a number of the consonants have been dropped, and our present word “worship” is the result. Philologically the worship of God, the praise of God, and the giving of glory to God are identical.

It is this glory—a glory that embodies the idea of God’s intrinsic worth and character—that Jesus claimed to share and to have made known to his disciples. What does it mean when the disciples are said to have beheld Christ’s glory at the wedding feast in Cana? It means that the disciples beheld his character and that this was the character of God. If you have seen Jesus in this way, you have seen the Father.

Shekinah Glory

Alongside this conception there is an entirely different meaning of the word glory, which entered the Greek language at a later time only through its contact with Hebrew religion and culture. It is the idea of “light” or “splendor,” and it is found in the Greek language only after the translation of the Old Testament into Greek.

In Hebrew thought any outward manifestation of God’s presence involved a display of light so brilliant that a person could not approach it. This brilliant outward manifestation of God’s presence was described by the word shekinah, and in the Greek Old Testament the word doxa is often used to translate it. This glory was the radiance that was transferred to the face of Moses during the days he spent upon Mount Sinai with God “so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory” (2 Cor. 3:7). It was embodied in the cloud that overshadowed the wilderness tabernacle during the years of Israel’s wandering. Glory accompanied the angels as they appeared to the shepherds to announce the birth of Jesus. It was the glory of Jesus, Moses, and Elijah that the disciples saw on the mount of transfiguration. Glory filled the sky when Jesus appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus, and it left him blinded. It is this glory with which Jesus will be clothed when he returns one day for those who believe in him and who await his coming.

Put these two meanings of the word “glory” together and you have a clear picture of Christ’s oneness with God and of the humbling of himself when he became a man. Before his incarnation Jesus Christ existed with God and was identical with God both inwardly and outwardly. He shared to the full the divine nature, and he was clothed with the splendor that had always surrounded God’s person. During the incarnation Jesus laid aside the outward glory (which would have made it impossible for human beings to approach him) and took the form of a servant. What remained was God’s glory in the inward sense, for even in the flesh Jesus Christ was God and retained all of the divine nature. Finally, in the garden just before his crucifixion, Jesus prayed that he might once more receive the visible glory that he had enjoyed with God before he became man. And he received this when he ascended again into heaven and took his rightful place with God the Father.

If you love the Lord Jesus, the idea of Christ’s glory should evoke praise in your heart. But there is something even more personal than this. If you are a child of God, God is conforming you to the image of Jesus Christ. And this means that since Jesus Christ perfectly manifests God’s glory, you also are to share that same glory—as amazing and as unbelievable as that may seem. Paul writes, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).

In the preceding verses Paul had been speaking of the veil worn by Moses so that the people might not be blinded by his glory. But now, he says, it is different; now there is no veil between the believer and his Lord. You see him in Scripture. And in him you see God’s glory, which means you see God’s character. As you see it, you are changed into the same likeness by the presence of his Spirit in you.

That is not all. One day you will participate even in the visible glory. For the work begun by Christ’s atonement and applied to each believer at the moment of his or her conversion does not remain unfinished but continues through daily victory over sin to the moment when the entire company of the redeemed stands spotless in the glorious presence of the Father. In that day the glorified body of believers will appear as a brilliant jewel, refracting in a million ways the bright radiance of him who is the Father of lights and of his Son in whom is no darkness at all. You and I will not only point to that radiance, we shall also participate in it—to the glory of God.[2]


6 Paul’s argument assumes Christ’s preexistence (see Jn 17:5; Col 1:15; cf. Martin and Dodd, 74–95). “Who, being in the form of God” is the circumstantial use of the participle and is not concessive. The word “form” (morphē, GK 3671; NIV, “nature”) denotes the characteristics and qualities essential to something. Lightfoot, 110, claims it designates Christ’s essential nature as opposed to his exterior nature, and the NIV translation “in very nature God” expresses this meaning. Fowl (Story of Christ, 53–54) argues, however, that it is not “primarily a dogmatic statement about Christ’s nature” but instead refers to his preincarnate status as one of glory, radiance, and splendor, which was associated with the appearance of God.

The meaning of the phrase ouch harpagmon (“not … something to be grasped,” GK 772) is crucial for understanding this verse and has lent itself to differing interpretations: (1) Christ, being in the form of God, was equal to God and considered this status to be his by right and not something he snatched or grabbed; (2) Christ, being in the form of God, was equal to God and did not consider this status a prize to be clutched or held on to for dear life; (3) Christ, being in the form of God, was equal to God and did not consider this status, which he already possessed, to give him a carte blanche for grasping, plundering, or rapacity. This last meaning is judged impossible by some, since the state of being equal to God cannot be considered an “act of robbery” (BDAG, 133). I would argue that this meaning is not only possible but correct.

The word harpagmos means “robbery” or “plunder” and can apply to the spoils of war (Appian, Civil Wars 5.12). The Greek negative ou negates the word it precedes, as it does in every instance in Philippians, and a correct translation should place it before “robbery,” not before the verb: “he considered equality with God not [a means for] plundering.” It refers to taking advantage of something that one already possesses (see R. W. Hoover, “The Harpagmos Enigma: A Philological Solution,” HTR 64 [1971]: 95–119; N. T. Wright, The Climax of the Covenant: Christ and Law in Pauline Theology [Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992], 62–90). Equality with God was widely assumed to mean privilege, power, and glory, as is evidenced by the behavior of the gods and goddesses in Greek mythology, who could do whatever they wanted. Harpagmos represents the epitome of selfishness, which stands in contrast to Christ’s selflessness. This understanding of the phrase comports well with the temptation accounts in the Gospels, where the devil seeks to preempt the Spirit and coax Jesus to use his powers for selfish ends (Mt 4:1–11; Lk 4:1–13). “Not robbery” means that Christ confutes the common assumption that being equal to God entails doing whatever one likes and crushing anyone who gets in the way. Instead, he gave of himself for others and gave until he was empty of everything but love.

The verb “consider” (hēgeomai) recalls the exhortation in v. 3 and intensifies its scope: “Regard others as superior to yourselves in the same way that Christ did not regard equality with God as an opportunity to assert himself over others.” The verb reappears twice in 3:7–8, where Paul recounts how he no longer considers his heritage and achievements as an exceptional Jew as something he can take advantage of before God.[3]


With the relative pronoun “who,” Paul proceeds from the foregoing imperative directly to the narrative about Christ.38 Again, even though the details are not easy, his overall concern seems plain enough. Beginning with Christ’s pre-existence, and by means of a striking “not/but” contrast (in keeping with the similar contrast of vv. 2–4), he portrays two ways of thinking, of “setting one’s mind,” one selfish, the other selfless. Thus he reminds the Philippians that everything Christ did in bringing them salvation was the exact opposite of the “selfish ambition” censured in v. 3.

The sentence begins with a participial phrase, “who being in the ‘form’ (morphe) of God.” Despite some recent interpreters, this language expresses as presupposition what the rest of the sentence assumes, namely that it was the Pre-existent One who “emptied himself” at one point in our human history “by taking the ‘form’ of a slave, being made in the likeness of human beings.” Very likely Paul used the participle rather than the finite verb because of Christ’s always “being” so.42 The participle also stands in temporal contrast with the two aorist participles at the end of the sentence. That is, prior to his “having taken the ‘form’ of a slave” he was already “in the ‘form’ of God.” Moreover, it also stands in contrast in a substantive way with the final participle, “being born/made in the likeness of human beings,” which only makes sense if “being in the morphē of God” presupposes prior existence as God.

But what about morphē? Our difficulties here are twofold:45 discovering what Paul himself intended by this word, and translating it into English, since we have no precise equivalent. The key to understanding the word lies with Paul’s reason for choosing it, which in turn lies with what transpires in the sentence itself. His urgency is to say something about Christ’s “mindset,” first as God and second as man. But in the transition from Christ’s “being God” to his “becoming human,” Paul expresses by way of metaphor the essential quality of that humanity: he “took on the ‘form’ of a slave.” Morphē was precisely the right word for this dual usage, to characterize both the reality (his being God) and the metaphor (his taking on the role of a slave), since it denotes “form” or “shape” not in terms of the external features by which something is recognized,48 but of those characteristics and qualities that are essential to it. Hence it means that which truly characterizes a given reality.

What the earliest followers of Christ had come to believe, of course, on the basis of his resurrection and ascension, was that the one whom they had known as truly human had himself known prior existence in the “form” of God—not meaning that he was “like God but really not,” but that he was characterized by what was essential to being God. It is this understanding which (correctly) lies behind the NIV’s “in very nature God.”50 And it is this singular reality, lying in the emphatic first position as it does, which gives such extraordinary potency to what follows, and therefore to the whole.

That Paul by this first phrase intends “in very nature God” is further confirmed by the clause that immediately follows, which also happens to be one of the more famous cruxes in the letters of Paul. “Being in the ‘form’ of God,” Paul begins. “Not harpagmon did Christ consider to be equal with God,” he adds next. But first a closer look at harpagmon will aid the discussion that follows.

The difficulties are two: its rarity in Greek literature; and where it does appear it denotes “robbery,”53 a meaning that can hardly obtain here. This means that scholars have been left to determine its meaning on the basis either (a) of (perceived) context, or (b) of the formation of Greek nouns, or (c) of finding parallels which suggest an idiomatic usage. Also involved is the question as to whether “equality with God” was something Christ did not possess but might have desired or something he already possessed but did not treat in a harpagmon way.

Although the jury is still out on this question, the probable sense of this word is to be found in one of two refinements—by C. F. D. Moule and R. W. Hoover—of earlier suggestions. The former based his conclusions on the formation of Greek nouns, in which nouns ending in -mos do not ordinarily refer to a concrete expression of the verbal idea in the noun but to the verbal idea itself. In this view harpagmos is not to be thought of as a “thing” at all (“something” to be treated by the verbal idea in the noun). Rather it is an abstract noun, emphasizing the concept of “grasping” or “seizing.” Thus, Christ did not consider “equality with God” to consist of “grasping” or being “selfish”; rather he rejected this popular view of kingly power by “pouring himself out” for the sake of others. In Moule’s terms, equality with God means not “grasping” but “giving away” (272). This view has much to commend it, and in any case, surely points in the right direction in terms of the overall sense of the noun in context.59

The alternative is to see the word as a synonym of its cognate harpagma (“booty” or “prey”), which in idioms similar to Paul’s denotes something like, “a matter to be seized upon” in the sense of “taking advantage of it.” This view has much to commend it and probably points us in the right direction, although it is arguable that the evidence for the interchangeability of harpagmos and harpagma is not as strong as its proponents suggest. In either case, it should be pointed out, the clause comes out very much at the same point.

Back then to Paul’s point with this “not” clause, which is twofold (= two sides of a single concern). First, he is picking up on, and thereby reaffirming, what he said in the initial participial phrase, that Christ before his incarnation was “in very nature God.” This reaffirmation is accomplished by means of two complicated points of grammar, which together make it clear that Paul intends the infinitive phrase (“to be equal with God”) to repeat in essence the sense of what preceded (“being in the ‘form’ of God”). Thus Paul intends (by way of a structured elabortation):

Being in the ‘form’ of God as he was,

Christ did not consider a matter of seizing upon to his own advantage,

this being equal with God we have just noted,

but he emptied himself.”

This, then, is what it means for Christ to be “in the ‘form’ of God”; it means “to be equal with God,” not in the sense that the two phrases are identical, but that both point to the same reality. Together, therefore, they are among the strongest expressions of Christ’s deity in the NT. This means further that “equality with God” is not that which he desired which was not his, but precisely that which was always his.

Second, Paul is thereby trying to set up the starkest possible contrast between Christ’s “being in the ‘form’ of God” and the main clause, “he emptied himself.” Equality with God, Paul begins, is something that was inherent to Christ in his pre-existence. Nonetheless, God-likeness, contrary to common understanding, did not mean for Christ to be a “grasping, seizing” being, as it would for the “gods” and “lords” whom the Philippians had previously known; it was not “something to be seized upon to his own advantage,” which would be the normal expectation of lordly power—and the nadir of selfishness. Rather, his “equality with God” found its truest expression when “he emptied himself.”

What is thus being urged upon the Philippians is not a new view of Jesus, but a reinforcement, on the basis of Paul’s view of the crucifixion, that in the cross God’s true character, his outlandish, lavish expression of love, was fully manifested.69 This is what Paul is calling them to by way of discipleship. The phrase, “not harpagmon,” after all, corresponds to “not looking out for one’s own needs” in v. 4. Here is Paul’s way of saying that Christ, as God, did not act so. Thus, as he has just appealed to them to have a singular “mindset” (phronēte), which will express itself in “humility” as they “consider” one another better than themselves, so now he has repeated the injunction to have this “mindset” (phroneite, v. 5) which they see in Christ Jesus, who did not “consider” (same verb as in v. 4) being equal with God as something to be taken selfish advantage of, something to further his own ends.

We should note finally that many have seen Paul here to be playing on the Adam-Christ theme that appears elsewhere in his letters.72 Most who hold this view understand Christ to be set in studied contrast with Adam, who, “being in God’s image,” considered his “equality with God” as something to be seized. Christ, on the contrary, disdained such “grasping” and did the opposite; as Adam tried to become “like God,” Christ, as God, in fact became man. This is an intriguing analogy, but it must be noted that its basis is altogether conceptual, since there is not a single linguistic parallel to the Genesis narrative. Whether the Philippians would have so understood it without some linguistic clue probably depends on whether Paul himself had used such an analogy at some point in his time with them.[4]


6. The following notes try to give the meaning of the words in the text. See the Additional note (pp. 114–118) for a consideration of the form, style and authorship of the verses.

Being in very nature God looks back to our Lord’s pre-temporal existence as the second person of the Trinity. The verbal form translated being, hyparchōn, need not necessarily mean this, but it seems clear that this sense is the only satisfactory one in the context. rv margin translates ‘being originally’, and this must refer to the pre-incarnate state to which Paul elsewhere makes reference (see Rom. 8:3; 1 Cor. 10:4; 2 Cor. 8:9; Gal. 4:4). ‘The form of God’ (niv margin) may be taken in two ways. The older commentators (e.g. Gifford, Lightfoot, followed by Hawthorne) interpret the term in its philosophical sense as here meaning the essential attributes of God ‘in a sense substantially the same which it bears in Greek philosophy’.8 A newer view suggests that there is a connection between ‘form’, morphē, and the term ‘glory’, doxa. When this fact is applied to the apostle’s teaching on the person of Christ there is ample attestation that he saw in the pre-existent and glorified Christ both the image (i.e. ‘form’) and glory of God (2 Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15); and these terms are rooted in the Old Testament tradition of Adam as created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26–27; cf. 1 Cor. 11:7) and reflecting the divine kabōd or splendour (Ps. 8:5 hints at this) which he subsequently forfeited at the fall.

Equality with God is again a phrase which has been taken in a number of ways. The main issue is whether it is equivalent to being in the ‘form of God’ (Hawthorne), or is to be regarded as something future in the ‘experience’ of the pre-incarnate and incarnate Lord and which he could have attained but refused to do so.

Some writers regard the first possibility as correct in one of two ways. On the one hand, it is held, following Lightfoot, that the pre-incarnate Son already possessed equality with the Father and resolved not to cling to it. Or, on the other view, he had no need to grasp at divine equality because he already possessed it as the eternal Son of God. It is questionable, however, whether the sense of the verb can glide from its real meaning of ‘to seize’, ‘to snatch violently’ to that of ‘to hold fast’; and the second interpretation hardly does justice to the structure of the whole sentence as well as to the force of ‘exalted to the highest place’ in verse 9. Attempting a different approach, Kennedy and those who see as a background here the Genesis story and the temptation presented to Adam to ‘be like God’ (Gen. 3:5) draw the parallel between the first and the last Adam. The former senselessly sought to grasp at equality with God, and through pride and disobedience lost the glorious image of his maker; the latter chose to tread the pathway of lowly obedience in order to be exalted by God as Lord (vv. 9–10), i.e. to be placed on an equality which he did not have previously, because it is only by ‘the suffering of death’ that he is ‘crowned with glory and honour’ (Heb. 2:9, rsv).

Something to be grasped is one translation of the key-word harpagmos which may be taken actively as in av/kjv or passively as in rsv: ‘did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped’. Both versions are linguistically possible. The real difficulty is encountered in the questions: Does it mean that Christ enjoyed equality with God and surrendered it by becoming man, or that he could have grasped at equality with God by self-assertion, but declined to do so and embraced rather the will of God in the circumstances of the incarnation and the cross? Or is the hymn saying that ‘Jesus reckoned God-likeness not to be snatching’ (C. F. D. Moule)?

Here once more, if the key to the text lies in the intended parallel between the first Adam and the second Adam, one of the latter options is to be preferred; and this is the generally prevailing modern view which Stauffer believes has been definitely settled: ‘So the old contention about harpagmos is over: equality with God is not a res rapta … a position which the pre-existent Christ had and gave up, but it is a res rapienda, a possibility of advancement which he declined.’ There is, however, another possibility which may be briefly stated as follows. Harpagmos can have the meaning of ‘a piece of good fortune, a lucky find’. Bonnard takes the illustration of a spring-board (tremplin) with the same essential thought of an opportunity which the pre-existent Christ had before him. He existed in the divine ‘condition’ or ‘rank’ as the unique image and glory of God, but refused to utilize this favoured position to exploit his privileges and assert himself in opposition to his Father.

The key-word harpagmos is here interpreted as the holding of a privilege which opens up the future possibility of advantage if only the possessor will exploit it to his own profit. In his pre-existent state Christ already had as his possession the unique dignity of his place within the Godhead. It was a vantage-point from which he might have exploited his position and, by an assertion of his right, have seized the glory and honour of the acknowledgment of his office. At this point he made his preincarnate choice. He considered the appropriation of divine honour in this way a temptation to be resisted, and chose rather to be proclaimed as equal with God as the ‘Lord’ by the acceptance of his destiny as the incarnate and humiliated one.

This verse has given rise to such diverse opinion that it seems presumptuous to state baldly an interpretation and pass over in silence much that has been suggestively and plausibly written. All we can do here is to pursue one line of enquiry that seems to be the most fruitful for an understanding of these profound words. The association of thought is the Old Testament, and there is an implied contrast between the two Adams. Less probably it has been proposed that the temptation and fall of Satan (see Isa. 14) as interpreted by later Jewish writers is the clue to the passage (so Stauffer).

‘The form of God’ (rsv; niv being in very nature God is more an interpretative paraphrase rather than a rendering of en morphē theou) takes us back to the ‘status’ of Christ in eternity. Attempts to deny this aspect come to grief on the requirement (from v. 6b) that the element of choice necessitates a ‘state’ to be left—his pre-temporal glory (John 17:5)—if he is to become incarnate. Yet once we are firm at the point of Christ’s pre-existing we can see how the model of the ‘two Adams’ could have dictated the flow of the passage. Adam in Genesis 1 reflects the glory of the eternal Son of God who from all eternity was ‘with God’ (John 1:1; 17:5) as the exact image of the ineffable and invisible God (Heb. 1:3). The ‘act of robbery’ was attempted as Adam, the son of God (Luke 3:38) and made a little lower than God (Ps. 8:5, niv mg.), asserted himself to be ‘as God’ (Gen. 3:5, 22), i.e. to be lord in his own right and independently of God his maker. But he failed in this aspiration.

The eternal Son of God, however, faced with a parallel temptation, renounced what was his by right, and could actually have become his possession by the seizure of it, viz. equality with God, and chose instead the way of obedient suffering as the pathway to his lordship. The circumstances of this tremendous decision are described in the verses which follow.[5]


2:6 This verse begins the so-called Christ-hymn that is one of the most well-known sections of the entire epistle. The overall structure of the hymn can be broken down into two parts: what Jesus did (2:6–8) and what God did (2:9–11).

The hymn begins with the clause who, though he was in the form of God, referring back to Christ Jesus in the previous verse. By saying though he was in the form of God, Paul is indicating that Christ did something unexpected. His point, then, is that though we might expect someone who was in the form of God to count equality with God a thing to be grasped, he did not. Within a Greco-Roman culture that prized status and the pursuit of honor, it would be surprising that one who was the very form of God did not regard that status as an opportunity for selfish gain.

In saying that Christ was in the form of God, Paul uses a word (morphē) that outside of the two occurrences here in 2:6–7 does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. The range of meaning for morphē ‘includes the concepts of the physical form or shape of someone or something.… In some cases, it can refer to the essential nature of something, but even in these cases, that nature is perceived by the senses.’ By using this word Paul emphasizes that Christ is the visible expression of God Himself, a point made elsewhere in the New Testament (John 1:1–18; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:1–3). Although the Old Testament records numerous accounts where God visibly appears to people in various ways, it also repeatedly notes that no one can see the face of God and live (Exod. 33:20). Yet in Christ we see the very form of God Himself, the visible manifestation of everything that God is in His very essence. From all eternity Christ was the visible expression of the glory of God.20

Even though Christ was in the form of God, he did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped. The verb rendered count (hēgeomai) was used in 2:3 to call the Philippians to count others more significant than themselves; here it describes the intentional decision of the pre-incarnate Christ not to do some-thing. By equality with God Paul means simply that the pre-incarnate Christ was fully and completely God. John 5:18 uses a similar expression when the Jews sought to kill Jesus because by calling God his Father, Jesus was ‘making himself equal with God’. Thus not only was the pre-incarnate Christ the visible expression of God’s glory (i.e., the form of God), but He was also in the fullest sense of the word God Himself (i.e. equality with God).23 Both His visible appearance and His inward nature/essence were divine.

Yet Christ did not regard His status of equality with God a thing to be grasped. The Greek word (harpagmos) behind this translation is so rare that it is difficult to decide how to render it. After weighing all of the available evidence, it seems best to understand harpagmos as ‘something to be selfishly exploited’. Immersed in a Greco-Roman culture that cut its teeth on stories of the gods using their powers and privileges for their own selfish gain, the picture of one who was fully divine deliberately not acting in this manner—indeed, laying aside His divine privileges for the everlasting good of His creatures—would have been a startling contrast to what their native world view taught them.

Paul uses this unusual vocabulary to paint for us a stunning picture of the pre-incarnate Christ, who from all eternity was the visible expression of the Father. Yet despite this exalted position of receiving unceasing worship from the heavenly host, Christ did not consider that exalted position as something to exploit for His own selfish advantage. As Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians 8:9, ‘For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.’ If the Philippians truly share the same mindset of Christ Jesus, it will be demonstrated by a life that sees positions of privilege as opportunities to serve others rather than advance one’s own selfish agenda.[6]


2:6 / If the Philippians are urged to have the same “attitude … as that of Christ Jesus,” how was his attitude shown? It was shown in his humbling himself to become man, in his humbling himself to take the very nature of a servant, in his humbling himself to submit obediently to death—and death by crucifixion at that.

Who, being in very nature God: literally, “being already in the form of God.” Possession of the form implies participation in the essence. It seems fruitless to argue that these words do not assume the pre-existence of Christ. In another passage where Paul points to Christ’s self-denial as an example for his people—“though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9)—his pre-existence is similarly assumed (although there Paul makes his own choice of language, whereas here he uses a form of words that lay ready to hand). Elsewhere in the Pauline writings Christ is presented as the agent in creation: he is the one “through whom all things came” (1 Cor. 8:6; cf. Col. 1:16, 17). Other nt writers agree with Paul in this presentation (cf. John 1:1–3; Heb. 1:2; Rev. 3:14); it is evidently bound up with a primitive Christian identification of Christ with the divine Wisdom of the ot (cf. Prov. 3:19; 8:22–31; also, with “word” instead of “wisdom,” Ps. 33:6). First-century Christians did not share the intellectual problem involved for many today in “combining heavenly pre-existence with a human genetical inheritance” (Montefiore, Paul the Apostle, p. 106).

Various renderings are offered of the next statement: in addition to the niv text, he did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, we have the marginal rendering in gnb, “he did not think that by force he should try to remain equal with God.” But these two renderings do not exhaust the possibilities. “Existing as he already did in the form of God, Christ did not regard equality with God as a harpagmos”—such is the literal force of the words. The interpreters’ crux lies in the Greek noun harpagmos. This noun is derived from a verb that means “snatch” or “seize.” There is no question of Christ’s trying to snatch or seize equality with God: that was already his because he was in very nature God. Neither is there any question of his trying to retain it by force. The point is rather that he did not treat his equality with God as an excuse for self-assertion or self-aggrandizement; on the contrary, he treated it as an occasion for renouncing every advantage or privilege that might have accrued to him thereby, as an opportunity for self-impoverishment and unreserved self-sacrifice.

Several commentators have seen a contrast here with the story of Adam: Christ enjoyed true equality with God but refused to derive any advantage from it in becoming man, whereas Adam, made man in the image of God, snatched at a false and illusory equality; Christ achieved universal lordship through his renunciation, whereas Adam forfeited his lordship through his “snatching.” But it is not at all certain that this contrast was in the author’s mind.[7]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2001). Philippians (pp. 122–125). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Boice, J. M. (2000). Philippians: an expositional commentary (pp. 114–118). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Garland, D. E. (2006). Philippians. In T. Longman III (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 219–220). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] Fee, G. D. (1995). Paul’s Letter to the Philippians (pp. 202–210). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[5] Martin, R. P. (1987). Philippians: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 11, pp. 105–108). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[6] Harmon, M. S. (2015). Philippians: A Mentor Commentary (pp. 205–210). Great Britain; Ross-shire: Mentor.

[7] Bruce, F. F. (2011). Philippians (pp. 68–69). Peabody, MA: Baker Books.

December 16, 2019 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

REUTERS

President Donald Trump’s top trade negotiator praised a “phase one”
U.S.-China trade deal which is expected to nearly double U.S. exports to
China over the next two years, while China remained cautious ahead of the
signing of the agreement.

Republican Donald Trump is likely this week to become the third U.S.
president to be impeached when the Democratic-led House of Representatives
votes on charges stemming from his effort to pressure Ukraine to
investigate political rival Joe Biden.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper on Monday urged Iraqi Prime Minister
Adel Abdul Mahdi to take steps to prevent bases housing U.S. troops from
being shelled, a statement from the premier’s office said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping offered his support for Hong Kong leader
Carrie Lam on Monday, praising her courage in governing the Chinese-ruled
financial hub in these “most difficult” times after months of often violent
anti-government protests.

It sounds counterintuitive, but members of Generation Z will have to focus
on human connections if they want to compete with robots for the jobs of
the future. Born after 1996 on the heels of the millennials, Gen Z is just
entering the workforce. Its members are the first true digital natives, and
their ability to adapt to an automating workplace will likely determine
their success.

AP Top Stories

A Turkish military drone was delivered to northern Cyprus on Monday amid
growing tensions over Turkey’s deal with Libya that extended its claims to
the gas-rich eastern Mediterranean.

President Donald Trump is set to announce the withdrawal of roughly 4,000
US troops from Afghanistan as early as next week, NBC News reported on
Saturday based on conversations with three current and former officials.

Side by side, the Allies and former enemy Germany together marked the 75th
anniversary of one of the most important battles in World War II – the
Battle of the Bulge, which stopped Adolf Hitler’s last-ditch offensive to
turn the tide of the war.

China announced Monday they have arrested more than one person at a
temporary police checkpoint on a mega cross-border bridge, including a Hong
Konger who was reported missing over the weekend by his family. It is the
first time mainland officers have confirmed arrests on the artificial
island that connects an enormous tunnel and bridge system linking Hong Kong
to the cities of Macau and Zhuhai on the other side of the Pearl River
Delta.

Nearly all companies (97%) surveyed in a report released this week by the
Hong Kong Retail Management Association say they have experienced losses
since citywide protests started, with 57% indicating severe drops in
revenue.

The U.S. Supreme Court let stand a ruling that said homeless people have a
constitutional right to sleep on public property outdoors if no other
shelter is available to them.

India says it has successfully tested an interceptor capable of shooting
down ballistic missiles.

Russia said on Friday it was alarmed after the United States tested a
ground-launched ballistic missile that would have been banned under the
Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the RIA news agency reported.

Fresh protests were expected across India on Monday over a new citizenship
law seen as anti-Muslim, after clashes overnight in the capital and days of
unrest in the northeast that left six people dead.

A UN climate summit in Madrid risked failing Saturday after all-night
negotiations between countries left them more divided than ever over on how
to fight global warming and pay for its ravages.

American farmers welcomed the announcement of an interim trade agreement
between the US and China on Friday. But they remain skeptical of President
Donald Trump’s pledge to more than double farm exports to that country.

Human remains discovered last month at a farm outside the city of
Guadalajara have been confirmed as belonging to at least 50 people,
authorities reported.

A Wisconsin judge’s order to boot more than 200,000 people from voter rolls
in the battleground state spurred condemnation from Democrats, amid claims
of voter suppression. In October, the Wisconsin Elections Commission mailed
a letter to 234,000 voters who it thought might have moved, requesting that
they update registration information.

BBC

Authorities in Australia have issued fresh warnings about a “mega blaze”
after it spread beyond containment lines and razed 20 houses near Sydney.
The fire, burning over about 400,000 hectares, has moved further into the
Blue Mountains – a popular tourist area which lies west of the city. It is
a blow to crews who are already battling over 100 fires and bracing for
extreme temperatures this week.

The chief executive of Hallmark Cards has apologized for its decision to
withdraw television advertisements featuring same-sex couples. The
company’s cable network pulled the ads for wedding registry and planning
site Zola under pressure from the conservative group One Million Moms.

A bat used by legendary baseball player Babe Ruth to hit his 500th home run
has been sold at auction for more than $1m. A jersey he wore in the 1920s
and 30s was snapped up for $5.64m at auction in July, making it the most
expensive piece of sports memorabilia ever sold.

WND

The Earth’s magnetic North Pole is travelling at 30 miles per year, an
unprecedented rate and is picking up speed as it moves towards Siberia.

The Supreme Court is being asked to strike down special privileges the city
of Sterling Heights, Michigan, created for a giant mosque that Muslims want
to build in a residential neighborhood. It would be tens of thousands of
square feet and nearly six stories tall.


Mid-Day Snapshot · Dec. 16, 2019

The Foundation

“I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.” —Thomas Jefferson (1820)

Comey Rebuked for False Spin on Horowitz Report

The disgraced former FBI director dismisses serious FISA abuse as just “sloppy mistakes.”


The Rainbow Mafia’s Hallmark Card

The Hallmark Channel first pulled an ad and then reinstated it with a groveling apology.


Climate Change Shakedown Ends in Failure

With the U.S. on the way out of the Paris Agreement, feckless bureaucrats are still fighting.


The Indebted and Indoctrinated Fight to Run the Democrat Party

Boomers backing Biden and Millennials touting Sanders battle for control of the platform.


America’s No. 1 … in Single-Parent Households

A growing blight on U.S. culture is the number of children growing up in single-parent homes.


What’s in a (Muslim) Baby Name?

The top 10 list of baby names in America has a new entry: Muhammad.


Boston Tea Party

On Dec. 16, 1773, “radicals” from Boston threw 342 chests of tea into Boston Harbor.


The Bill of Rights

Today is the anniversary of the 1791 ratification of the first 10 Amendments to our Constitution.


Black People Reprimanded for Leaving Democrat Party

The political lynch mob is out to get any black American who thinks for himself.


Video: Students Love Medicare for All … Until Hearing What’s in It

College students in Washington, DC, were dismayed by the facts about Medicare for All.


Video: Clinton Tops Biden in New Poll

After years of disappointment, crowned by the 2016 #HillaryFAIL, why can’t Democrats let it go?



Today’s Opinion

William Federer
Bill of Rights: ‘Restrictive Clauses’ to Stop Federal Congress ‘Abuse of Its Powers’
Hans von Spakovsky
Trump’s Impeachment Would Mean a Senate Trial. Here’s How That Would Work.
Jeff Jacoby
Actually, Class Warriors, Skyrocketing Inequality May Be a Myth
Imprimis
‘Faith and Reason Are Mutually Reinforcing’
Burt Prelutsky
Beware the Unelected!
For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.

Monday Top News Executive Summary

Congress’s high-stakes week, MAGA achievements, antifa violence, and more.


Monday Short Cuts

Notable quotables from Joe Biden, Eric Holder, Adam Schiff, 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 – 12/16/2019

Brazil announces intent to transfer its embassy to Jerusalem in 2020

Brazil opens trade office in Jerusalem, hailed as harbinger of embassy move

Canada has abandoned Israel at the United Nations. Why?

Sa’ar: There will be no Palestinian state in the heart of Israel

Likud hopeful Sa’ar says two-state solution with Palestinians is an ‘illusion’

MKs spar over whether panel to weigh PM immunity can be formed before election

Hamas threatens to end ceasefire if Israel doesn’t ease restrictions on Gaza

Sudan will close office of terrorist groups Hezbollah, Hamas

Netanyahu: Hezbollah will pay a price if it attacks Israel

For second night, violent protests rock Lebanese capital

Lebanese burn ruling parties’ offices after night of clashes

Turkey’s Erdogan meets Libyan leader as regional tensions rise

Turkish lawmakers set to sign off on Libya military support deal

Erdogan threatens to shutter 2 strategic US military bases

Amnesty revises up Iran protest crackdown death toll to 304

Egypt’s al-Sisi says militias hold Libyan government ‘hostage’

Libyan National Army says advancing toward Tripoli

Citizenship Amendment Act: Unrest erupts in Delhi

Six dead in India as protests spread over ‘anti-Muslim’ law

New York Times: US ‘secretly expelled’ Chinese officials who entered ‘sensitive’ military base

Chinese premier says Hong Kong not yet out of its ‘dilemma’

Hong Kong protests flare ahead of Xi meeting with city leader

Calm broken as clashes break out in Hong Kong malls

Vietnamese immigrants rally behind Hong Kong protesters, pushing for democracy in Asia

‘Let’s get this done’: US special envoy urges North Korea to restart nuclear talks

UK’s PM Johnson plans big shakeup of government, civil service: Reports

Brexit law to return to parliament before Christmas: UK official

UK election result ‘divinely inspired,’ says senior UK rabbi

Comey: ‘Real sloppiness’ in Russia probe, but no misconduct

Washington bracing for impeachment as battle lines harden

Democrats seek Bolton, Mulvaney as witnesses for Trump impeachment trial

Judiciary Committee’s minority blasts articles of impeachment report, ‘anemic case’

Trump Slams Fox News for ‘Trying Sooo Hard to Be Politically Correct’ Like ‘Commiecast MSNBC’

Israelis develop ‘self-healing’ cars powered by machine learning and AI

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Tobelo, Indonesia

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Kiblawan, Philippines

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Whakatane, New Zealand

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits the Pacific-Antarctic Ridge

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits the Southeast Indian Ridge

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Yerba Buena, Argentina

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near San Antonio de los Cobres, Argentina

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Tanlad, Philippines

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 24,000ft

Sangay volcano in Ecuador erupts to 22,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 15,000ft

Two dead, tens of thousands of homes without power as storms hit France

Strange Things Are Happening In The Waters Along The West Coast, And Fish Are Starting To Disappear

Pharma empire behind OxyContin now selling overdose cure

Hallmark to reinstate same-sex marriage commercial it pulled

Everyone welcome? Gay soccer fans prepare for Qatar 2022 World Cup

How the Salvation Army is trying to change its ‘anti-LGBTQ’ reputation

World’s largest coalition of religious leaders urged to be ‘moral conscience’ of nations


Apostasy Watch

Mike Ratliff – Christian Freedom and Antinomianism

NAR False Signs and Lying Wonders Strategy to Deflect Discernment

A Bethel Redding School Masquerading as an Assemblies of God Bible Institute?

John Gray defends character, announces new Relentless Church campuses for Greenville and Atlanta

Local Pastor charged with possession of child pornography

Ouija Angel Boards

After Pulling Lesbian Kissing Ad, Hallmark Apologizes to Homosexuals and Vows to Run More Gay Ads

How the Salvation Army is trying to change its ‘anti-LGBTQ’ reputation

Pope Francis/Vatican Launch eRosary to Help Bring About “World Peace”

Over 1,000 Christians in Nigeria killed by Fulani, Boko Haram in 2019: NGO report


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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 16 Your Kinsman–Redeemer

scripture reading: Luke 1:68–79
key verse: 1 Corinthians 6:20

You were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Throughout the Old Testament, there were constant foreshadowings of a divine Redeemer who would deliver people from bondage and captivity. Perhaps the most interesting facet of Old Testament redemption was the kinsman–redeemer, which allowed a close family member to rescue a relative through payment of his or her debts.

The New Testament carryover is clear. Jesus is our Kinsman. He became flesh and blood so that He might share in our humanity, becoming the Son of man as well as the Son of God. By becoming human, He identified with humankind, being tempted in all things as we are, yet remaining without sin.

However, the deity of Christ provided the only acceptable price for deliverance from sin—the shedding of Christ’s blood at Calvary. No one except Christ could pay the enormous, adequate price. No one except Christ could deliver us from sin’s grip.

The Redeemer has come as your Kinsman, made like you so that He could pay the price as your Deliverer. He alone could purchase you from the marketplace of sin and bring you into the kingdom of God. Your Redeemer came. Your Redeemer lives.

Jesus, You became flesh and blood and shared in my humanity. You identified with me, being tempted as I am, yet without sin. You died in my place. Thank You for coming.[1]

 

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

December 16: ADVENT WEEK THREE – DAY TWO – Taking on Guilt

Because what is at stake for Jesus is not the proclamation and realization of new ethical ideals, and thus also not his own goodness (Matt. 19:17), but solely his love for real human beings, he can enter into the communication of their guilt; he can be loaded down with their guilt.… It is his love alone that lets him become guilty. Out of his selfless love, out of his sinless nature, Jesus enters into the guilt of human beings; he takes it upon himself. A sinless nature and guilt bearing are bound together in him indissolubly. As the sinless one Jesus takes guilt upon himself, and under the burden of this guilt, he shows that he is the sinless one.

Lord Jesus, come yourself, and dwell with us, be human as we are, and overcome what overwhelms us. Come into the midst of my evil, come close to my unfaithfulness. Share my sin, which I hate and which I cannot leave. Be my brother, Thou Holy God. Be my brother in the kingdom of evil and suffering and death.

Sermon for Advent Sunday, December 2, 1928

Then someone came to him and said, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Matthew 19:16–19[1]

 

[1] Bonhoeffer, D. (2010). God is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas. (J. Riess, Ed., O. C. Dean Jr., Trans.) (First edition, pp. 36–37). Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

16 december (1855) 365 Days with Spurgeon

Heaven

“The things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

suggested further reading: Matthew 26:26–29

One of the places where you may most of all expect to see heaven is at the Lord’s table. There are some of you, my dearly beloved, who absent yourselves from the supper of the Lord on earth; let me tell you in God’s name, that you are not only sinning against God, but robbing yourselves of a most inestimable privilege. If there is one season in which the soul gets into closer communion with Christ than another, it is at the Lord’s table. How often have we sung there:

“Can I Gethsemane forget?

 

Remember thee and all thy pains,

 

Or there thy conflicts see,

 

And all thy love to me,

 

Thine agony and bloody sweat,

 

Yes, while a pulse, or breath remains,

 

And not remember thee?

 

I will remember thee.”

 

And then you see what an easy transition it is to heaven:

“And when these failing lips grow dumb,

And thought and memory flee;

When thou shalt in thy kingdom come,

Jesus, remember me.”

O my erring brethren, you who live on, unbaptised, and who receive not this sacred supper, I tell you they will not save you—most assuredly they will not, and if you are not saved before you receive them they will be an injury to you; but if you are the Lord’s people, why need you stay away? I tell you, the Lord’s table is so high a place that you can see heaven from it very often. You get so near the cross there, you breathe so near the cross, that your sight becomes clearer, and the air brighter, and you can see more of heaven there than anywhere else. Christian, do not neglect the supper of your Lord; for if you do, he will hide heaven from you, in a measure.

for meditation: When you come to the Lord’s Table, do you look forward to the future in anticipation as well as to the past in gratitude (1 Corinthians 11:26)?

sermon no. 56[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H., & Crosby, T. P. (1998). 365 Days with Spurgeon (Volume 1) (p. 357). Leominster, UK: Day One Publications.

A “Market” That Needs $1 Trillion In Panic-Money-Printing To Stave-Off Implosion Is Not A Market | Zero Hedge

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

It was all fun and games enriching the super-wealthy but now the karmic cost of the Fed’s manipulation and propaganda is about to come due.

A “market” that needs $1 trillion in panic-money-printing by the Fed to stave off a karmic-overdue implosion is not a market: a legitimate market enables price discovery. What is price discovery? The decisions and actions of buyers and sellers set the price of everything: assets, goods, services, risk and the price of borrowing money, i.e. interest rates and the availability of credit.

The U.S. has not had legitimate market in 12 years. What we call “the market” is a crude simulation that obscures the Federal Reserve’s Socialism for the Super-Wealthy: the vast majority of the income-producing assets are owned by the super-wealthy, and so all the Fed money-printing that’s been needed to inflate asset bubbles to new extremes only serves to further enrich the already-super-wealthy.

The apologists claim the bubbles must be inflated to “help” the average American, but that claim is absurdly specious. The majority of Americans “own” near-zero assets that earn income; at best they own rapidly-depreciating vehicles, a home that doesn’t generate any income and a life insurance policy that pays off only when they pass away.

The average American uses the family home for shelter, and so its currently inflated price does nothing to improve the household income: it’s paper wealth, and we’ve already seen how rapidly that paper wealth can vanish when Housing Bubble #1 popped. (Housing Bubble #2 is currently sliding toward the edge of the abyss.)

Were legitimate price discovery allowed, the asset bubbles would pop, and the real-world impact on the average household that owns essentially zero income-producing assets would be minimal. Their overvalued house would fall in half, but since it still functions as shelter, the actual economic impact is minimal. As for the life insurance company’s losses–where’s the benefit today of an “asset” that only pays out when you die?

Meanwhile, the super-wealthy own stocks, bonds, companies and commercial real estate, all of which generate income. The rich get richer in two ways: their assets generate small fortunes in income (unearned income is what separates “the rich” from everyone else) and thanks to the Fed’s constant goosing of asset prices, their paper wealth has multiplied.

The dirty little secret that nobody dares whisper lest the whisper trigger a self-reinforcing avalanche is that this Fed-manipulated “market” is illiquid: if any serious selling were to arise, there wouldn’t be enough buyers to stave off a complete implosion of the bubbles.

The Fed’s game is to create the illusion of liquidity by being the buyer of last resort, only now the Fed is the only buyer. This is the toxic consequence of the Fed’s 12 long years of Socialism for the Super-Wealthy: thanks to the Fed’s destruction of price discovery, the super-wealthy no longer worry about liquidity, so leverage is the name of the game.

The Super-Wealthy can gamble with hundreds of billions to stripmine the economy and not worry about whether a buyer will actually pay the overvalued price of the asset, because they can count on the Fed to step up and panic-money-print whatever sums are needed to maintain the illusion of liquidity.

If the “market” is so healthy, why is the Fed panic-money-printing over $1 trillion in a few months? Please glance at the charts below: the Fed has printed $213 billion in repos and $336 billion for asset purchases in the blink of an eye, and the Fed has promised to panic-print another $200+ billion in repos and another $300+ billion in asset purchases, for a grand total of over $1 trillion in panic-money-printing.

Why has the Fed been forced to panic-money-print $1 trillion to stave off an implosion of their phony “market”? Moral hazard is coming home to roost, and the Fed is having a full-blown panic-attack because the Super-Wealthy (banks, corporations, financiers) have no fear that liquidity could dry up and markets go bidless, i.e. buyers disappear and there’s nobody left to buy their overvalued assets at bubble valuations.

If you want to understand how liquidity can dry up overnight and bids disappear, please read Mandelbrot’s book The Misbehavior of Markets: A Fractal View of Financial Turbulence. The point Mandelbrot makes here is that markets are intrinsically unstable and prone to sudden, chaotic turbulence. In a legitimate market with intact price discovery, buyers and sellers understand risk cannot be reduced to zero and so they trade accordingly.

But in our bogus Fed-controlled “market,” buyers and sellers are supremely confident the Fed will always buy assets regardless of price, and so they trade accordingly: There are no limits on leverage, derivative positions, credit lines, stock buy-backs or currency (FX) swaps: the Fed has been reassuring the legalized looters that the sky is the limit, go ahead and gamble hundreds of billions of dollars, we’ll buy your overvalued assets if things get dicey.

And so the tissue-thin “market” is fundamentally illiquid, and hence the Fed’s sudden panic-money-printing of $1 trillion, which is roughly equivalent to the entire GDP of Indonesia.

The Fed’s thorough destruction of price discovery and its elevation of moral hazard have created a monster that is about to devour the Fed’s phony facade of a “market”. It was all fun and games enriching the super-wealthy but now the karmic cost of the Fed’s manipulation and propaganda is about to come due, and few of the “market’s” supremely complacent and confident participants are prepared for the unraveling of the Fed’s illusion of liquidity.

If you want an analogy, try a population of rats that have proliferated on an island, and now the ravenous horde has consumed the last remaining bits of food. You can work out what happens next.

— Read on www.zerohedge.com/markets/market-needs-1-trillion-panic-money-printing-stave-implosion-not-market

Monday Briefing December 16, 2019 – AlbertMohler.com

PART I

 A Fundamental Realignment of British Politics: Transformative National Election Reshapes the UK Political Landscape

PART II

 A Huge New Generation Gap: U.K. Election Shows That Young Voters Are Headed Left… Far Left

PART III

 Judiciary Committee Votes to Advance Articles of Impeachment Against President Trump Along Partisan Lines: The Stage Is Now Set for the House Vote

PART IV

 Where Did All the Money Go? Missing Money Is Just Further Evidence of How Strange We Humans Really Are

DOWNLOAD MP3


DOCUMENTATION AND ADDITIONAL READING

PART I

WALL STREET JOURNAL

 A British Test for the Populist Revolution, by Gerard Baker

WALL STREET JOURNAL

Boris Johnson Joins Trump in Redefining Conservatism, by Stephen Fidler and Gerald F. Seib

PART II

THE LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS AND POLITICAL SCIENCE

 Young cosmopolitans and the deepening of the intergenerational divide following the 2019 general election, by James Sloam and Matt Henn

PART IV

Thirty Days of Jesus Repeat: Day 21, Shepherd — The End Time

This section of verses that show Jesus’ life are focused on His earthly ministry. We’ve seen Him as servant, teacher, and now shepherd.

thirty days of Jesus day 21

Ligonier: In the bosom of the Shepherd, Isaiah 40:11 devotional

Spurgeon’s Devotional on Isaiah 40:11

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

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
Day 14: Propitiation
Day 15: The gift of eternal life
Day 16: Two Kingdoms
Day 17: Jesus’ Preeminence
Day 18: Jesus is highest king
Day 19: Jesus emptied Himself
Day 20: Jesus as Teacher

via Thirty Days of Jesus Repeat: Day 21, Shepherd — The End Time

No, Trump Hasn’t Waged The ‘Most Sustained Assault On Press Freedom In History’ — The Federalist

From the Alien and Sedition Acts to the Pentagon Papers, Chris Wallace ignores basic history by claiming Trump has made ‘the most direct sustained assault on freedom of the press in our history.’

Chris Wallace has had it with President Trump. The respected Fox News host on Wednesday accused the president of waging an unprecedented war on press freedom.

“I believe that President Trump is engaged in the most direct sustained assault on freedom of the press in our history,” Wallace said at the Newseum, a media museum in the nation’s capital.

It’s no surprise the line drew applause from those in attendance. Trump’s bitter war with the press is well documented. Unfortunately, Wallace’s comments only give credence to the president and his defenders, who charge that the DC press corps is in the “fake news” business.

History shows there is a long, messy tradition of American presidents quarreling with the press. Sometimes, however, presidents took more stringent actions that directly infringed on press freedom. Thomas Jefferson famously despised newspapers—and “the malignity, the vulgarity, and mendacious spirit of those who write for them”—but it was his predecessor who took the most chilling actions against freedom of the press.

During the Quasi-War with France (1798-1800), John Adams signed the Alien and Sedition Acts, which essentially made it a federal crime to criticize Adams or the Federalist-led government. The legislation resulted in the arrest, prosecution, and conviction of many prominent figures, including Philadelphia Aurora editor Benjamin Franklin Bache, who had accused Adams of monarchical ambitions and called the president “blind, bald, crippled, toothless [and] querulous.” Bach died of yellow fever while awaiting trial.

Abraham Lincoln might be America’s most revered president, but entire books have been written about his complicated relationship with the press, which reached a fever pitch in summer 1861, when hundreds of newspapers and editors were menaced by federal agents, Union troops, and unruly mobs. So many Democratic editors and other anti-Republican voices ended up imprisoned at Fort Lafayette in New York Harbor that the facility eventually became known as “the American Bastille.”

Within a week of the outbreak of World War I, Woodrow Wilson created by executive order the nation’s first “ministry of information,” which Boston University professor Christopher B. Daly described as a “propaganda machine.” That same year, Wilson signed the Espionage Act, which can be used to prosecute journalists covering leaks and undermines efforts to report on government secrets. The legislation was used by the Obama administration to prosecute at least 10 people, more than all previous administrations combined.

Finally, let’s not forget Richard Nixon, who attempted to stop The Washington Post and The New York Times from publishing the Pentagon Papers, which exposed inconvenient truths about the Vietnam War.

Are Words Worse than Actions?

Press freedom is one of the most cherished and important rights in the Constitution. There’s a reason the Founders guaranteed it in the First Amendment of the Constitution. “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost,” Jefferson wrote in a 1786 letter to Dr. James Currie.

For all his bluster and harsh language toward the press, Trump has done little to encroach on the press’s actual freedom. No meaningful legislation curtailing press freedom has been signed or proposed. No concerted effort to prosecute leakers has occurred, despite the flood of leaks damaging the president.

In truth, what Wallace describes as Trump’s “direct sustained assault on freedom of the press” is mostly the president bickering over how he is covered. This is not to say Trump’s Twitter outbursts are desirable, appropriate, or benign. Government officials’ words carry power and can have a chilling effecton speech, especially when that official holds the most powerful seat in the land. (No chilling effect seems to be evident in this case, however, perhaps because the press relishes the spat as much as the president seems to.)

Appropriateness aside, Trump’s cries of “fake news” are not as egregious as the legislative and executive actions many of his predecessors have taken, which included passing unconstitutional legislation, broadening federal powers, and using the machinery of government to imprison journalists and shutdown publishers.

By forgetting these basic historical events—the Alien and Sedition Acts and the Pentagon Papers are taught in most introductory  American history courses—Wallace will no doubt win favor from his peers, many of whom are outraged at the president’s hostility toward them. But criticism of the press is not suppression of the press or an actual “assault on freedom.” And by making such dubious claims, Wallace only further erodes trust in media and gives ammunition to those crying “fake news.”

Jon Miltimore is the Managing Editor of FEE.org. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter. Jon’s reporting has been cited in TIME magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and CNN. He has bylines in The Washington Times, The Washington Examiner, and the Daily Caller. He previously served in editorial roles at The History Channel magazine, Intellectual Takeout, and Scout. He is a former reporter for the Panama City News Herald, and served as an intern in the speechwriting department of George W. Bush.

via No, Trump Hasn’t Waged The ‘Most Sustained Assault On Press Freedom In History’ — The Federalist

The Foundation for the Joy of Christmas — Ligonier Ministries Blog

Along with the great theologian and philosopher Anselm of Canterbury we ask the question, Cur deus homo? Why the God-man? When we look at the biblical answer to that question, we see that the purpose behind the incarnation of Christ is to fulfill His work as God’s appointed Mediator. It is said in 1 Timothy 2:5: “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself ….” Now, the Bible speaks of many mediators with a small or lower case “m.” A mediator is an agent who stands between two parties who are estranged and in need of reconciliation. But when Paul writes to Timothy of a solitary Mediator, a single Mediator, with a capital “M,” he’s referring to that Mediator who is the supreme Intercessor between God and fallen humanity. This Mediator, Jesus Christ, is indeed the God-man.

In the early centuries of the church, with the office of mediator and the ministry of reconciliation in view, the church had to deal with heretical movements that would disturb the balance of this mediating character of Christ. Our one Mediator, who stands as an agent to reconcile God and man, is the One who participates both in deity and in humanity. In the gospel of John, we read that it was the eternal Logos, the Word, who became flesh and dwelt among us. It was the second person of the Trinity who took upon Himself a human nature to work out our redemption. In the fifth century at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, the church had to fight against a sinister teaching called the Monophysite heresy. The term monophysite is derived from the prefix mono, which means “one,” and from the root phusis, which means “nature” or “essence.” The heretic Eutyches taught that Christ, in the incarnation, had a single nature, which he called a “theanthropic nature.” This theanthropic nature (which combines the word theos, meaning “God,” and anthropos, meaning “man”) gives us a Savior who is a hybrid, but under close scrutiny would be seen to be one who was neither God nor man. The Monophysite heresy obscured the distinction between God and man, giving us either a deified human or a humanized deity. It was against the backdrop of this heresy that the Chalcedonian Creed insisted Christ possesses two distinct natures, divine and human. He is vere homo (truly human) and vere Deus (truly divine, or truly God). These two natures are united in the mystery of the incarnation, but it is important according to Christian orthodoxy that we understand the divine nature of Christ is fully God and the human nature is fully human. So this one person who had two natures, divine and human, was perfectly suited to be our Mediator between God and men. An earlier church council, the Council of Nicea in 325, had declared that Christ came “for us men, and for our salvation.” That is, His mission was to reconcile the estrangement that existed between God and humanity.

It is important to note that for Christ to be our perfect Mediator, the incarnation was not a union between God and an angel, or between God and a brutish creature such as an elephant or a chimpanzee. The reconciliation that was needed was between God and human beings. In His role as Mediator and the God-man, Jesus assumed the office of the second Adam, or what the Bible calls the last Adam. He entered into a corporate solidarity with our humanity, being a representative like unto Adam in his representation. Paul, for example, in his letter to the Romans gives the contrast between the original Adam and Jesus as the second Adam. In Romans 5, verse 15, he says, “For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.” Here we observe the contrast between the calamity that came upon the human race because of the disobedience of the original Adam and the glory that comes to believers because of Christ’s obedience. Paul goes on to say in verse 19: “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.” Adam functioned in the role of a mediator, and he failed miserably in his task. That failure was rectified by the perfect success of Christ, the God-man. We read later in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians these words: “And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man” (1 Cor. 15:45).

We see then the purpose of the first advent of Christ. The Logos took upon Himself a human nature, the Word became flesh to effect our redemption by fulfilling the role of the perfect Mediator between God and man. The new Adam is our champion, our representative, who satisfies the demands of God’s law for us and wins for us the blessing that God promised to His creatures if we would obey His law. Like Adam, we failed to obey the Law, but the new Adam, our Mediator, has fulfilled the Law perfectly for us and won for us the crown of redemption. That is the foundation for the joy of Christmas.

This post was originally published in Tabletalk magazine.

via The Foundation for the Joy of Christmas — Ligonier Ministries Blog

Biblical “Faith”: Trusting What Can’t Be Seen on the Basis of What Can — Cold Case Christianity

The Christian concept of “faith” is often either misunderstood or deliberately misrepresented by skeptics and critics of Christianity. Christians are not called to believe blindly. In fact, the Christian worldview is an evidential worldviewgrounded in the eyewitness testimony of those who saw Jesus provide evidence of His Deity. Sometimes Christians contribute to the misunderstanding by failing to see the evidential nature of Christianity and the reasonable nature of “faith”. As I teach on this topic around the country, Christians often offer this passage in the Book of Hebrews to defend a definition of blind faith:

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval.

Is the writer of Hebrews commending a form of blind faith in which we simply hope for “things not seen”? No. The author is encouraging his readers to continue to trust in the promises of God, in spite of the fact they haven’t yet been fulfilled (and might not even be fulfilled in their lifetimes). This trust in “things not seen” is not unwarranted, however. The promises of God are grounded in what God has already done. In other words, the author of Hebrews is asking his readers to trust what can’t be (or hasn’t yet been) seen, on the basis of what can be (or has been) seen.

To make this point clear, the writer of Hebrews offers a short list of historic believers who trusted God’s promises for the future on the basis of what God had done in the past: Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph are described as believers who “died in faith, without receiving the promises” (verse 13). The promises of God were yet “things not seen”. In spite of this, these believers held firm to the promises of God on the basis of what they had seen. The author of Hebrews demonstrates this point with perhaps the best example of a believer who possessed a reasonable, evidential faith: Moses.

Hebrews 11:24-27
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen.

Moses repeatedly responded obediently (albeit sometimes reluctantly) to the yet unseen promises of God on the basis of what he had already seen God do in his life. In fact, years later when the Israelites complained or expressed doubt, Moses told them to move forward toward promises yet unseen on the basis of the evidence God had already given them:

Exodus 13:3
Moses said to the people, “Remember this day in which you went out from Egypt, from the house of slavery; for by a powerful hand the Lord brought you out from this place.

Deuteronomy 5:15
You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day.

Deuteronomy 7:18
You shall not be afraid of them; you shall well remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt:

Deuteronomy 15:15
You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today.

Deuteronomy 24:18
But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and that the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I am commanding you to do this thing.

Moses was the supreme example of a man who had a deep, reasonable trust based on the evidence God had provided him. His faith wasn’t blind, it was evidentially reasonable. He had seen God in the burning bush, watched how God used him in front of pharaoh, saw miracle after miracle, and witnessed the power of God. On the basis of this evidence, his confidence grew and Moses was ultimately transformed from a coward to a champion.

Christianity is grounded in the evidence of the eyewitness gospel accounts. These documents make claims about the history of the First Century and the birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. As such, these claims are both verifiable and falsifiable. As we grow in our confidence related to the reliability of the Gospels, our reasoned trust in what they claim (and what they promise) will also grow. The gospels describe many “things not seen”. God is immaterial and invisible, and many of the promises of God are yet unfulfilled. But we can trust the things we can’t see on the basis of the things we can. We can move in faith toward the future on the basis of what God has demonstrated in the past.

via Biblical “Faith”: Trusting What Can’t Be Seen on the Basis of What Can — Cold Case Christianity

16 DECEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Accepting our Guilt

Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first. Galatians 4:13

suggested further reading: 2 Corinthians 10

Above all else, we must know ourselves as we really are. How can we do this? By examining what is written and engraved upon our consciences. If we are not aware of any wrongdoing, let us be on our guard, for none of us are competent when it comes to judging ourselves.

God has given us some ability to judge our own actions, but it is safer to accept condemnation, even of a fault that we are unaware of, than to resist it without thorough consideration of the extent of our guilt. Many people simply shut their eyes or blindfold themselves so they do not have to admit their baseness. When they are told to repent of a sin, they bolt at the first opportunity.

If they are so depraved, there is no hope for them; they will not be convinced of their sin even if they are told of it a hundred times over. They wipe their mouths as a gesture of self-justification. Though they are acting like little children, they do not much care because they revel in what they do since they are so hardened in sin and corruption.

Let us beware of ever becoming so stubborn; for it is our responsibility to judge our own shortcomings in truth and without hypocrisy. We need a spirit of humility to be submissive and to overcome all our pride. Then nothing will prevent us from freely confessing our failings to God. This is what we are to remember from this passage.

for meditation: Humility is the mother of submission and acceptance of guilt. Humble people are not easily offended but often admit they are far worse than their critic makes them out to be. The critic only sees their outward appearance, but they themselves know something of the wretchedness of their own wicked heart. Let us remember two things: first, no matter how we are criticized, we are never criticized as much as our sin merits, even if we are innocent of the accusation leveled against us; second, if we have Christ, who, being innocent, suffered infinitely more for our sake than we shall ever suffer for his sake, we have more than enough to cope with any trial (1 Cor. 10:13; 2 Cor. 4:7–12). Drink deeply of the love of Christ, find your delight in the triune God, and you will conquer pessimism and be able to love your critic (Ps. 37:4).[1]

 

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 369). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

December 16 – Picture #2: Water – Reformed Perspective

“Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” – John 4:13-14

Scripture reading: Exodus 15:22-27

The Israelites escaped from Egypt and safely crossed the Red Sea. But they were not in the Promised Land yet. A vast wilderness now stood before them. Sand, sand and more sand. Scorching heat. Some poisonous snakes too. But no food. Rarely any water. This would be no picnic! But God was with them.

They traveled for three full days without finding any water. Then, when they finally did find water, they found it was too bitter to drink. Since the desert is a drink-or-die environment, this was a state of emergency.

Knowing that God graciously brought the Israelites out of Egypt, you would think they would believe God would continue to take care of them throughout their wilderness journey. But no! They doubted, disbelieved and grumbled. Yet God responded with grace. He told Moses to throw a piece of wood into the bitter water and suddenly it became sweet. Grace for grumblers. What a God!

The next stop was at the oasis of Elim. The twelve springs and seventy palm trees symbolize the fullness of God’s provision. Twelve springs, one for each tribe; seventy palm trees, one for each of Israel’s elders. Full provision for the full number of God’s people.

This life-giving water in the wilderness was a picture of Jesus. He says, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink…. The water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 7:37; 4:14b).

Suggestions for prayer

Thank God that the waters of His sin-cleansing, eternal life-giving grace flow in an unending stream and are available free of charge through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.

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

— Read on reformedperspective.ca/december-16-picture-2-water/

December 16, 2019 Morning Verse Of The Day

Jesus, the Worker

John 9:4

“As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.”

The subject of the following study is work, particularly Christian work. And the example for that work is none other than that great worker, the Lord Jesus Christ. In the words we are studying he speaks about his work and gives direction to our own. The text is the fourth verse of John 9: “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.”

To understand the force of this text we must take it in the context of the chapter, for it follows upon a speculative question that had been asked of Jesus by the disciples. The group had come upon a man who had been blind from birth, and the disciples had asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” In other words, the disciples (who had not yet learned to look on men as Christ looked on them, as people to be loved) saw the man as a philosophical problem, and they were at once ready to debate it. Suffering is related to sin, they reasoned. The man is suffering; therefore sin is involved. So, whose sin is it? This was the line of their thinking.

To Jesus, however, the man was above all a man and, more than that, one on whom he had compassion. So instead of entering deeply into their question—he could have written a book about it—he answered them briefly, while at the same time setting about to heal the man born blind. It is in this connection that he spoke of his work, stressing that he must be about it. He added that the night was coming when no man could work.

We are to learn from this, as Spurgeon said, that “the Savior has a greater respect for work than he has for speculation.” Questions are good. There are answers to such questions. Jesus gives them. But there is an eternity to ask and answer questions. What counts now is to work, for the working time is limited and the workers are few. God had sent Jesus to work. He was determined to do that work. If you are a Christian, God has also given you work to do. The conclusion is that you should set about doing that work with the same determination.

A Need to Work

The verse itself is most instructive, however, and the first thought it brings before our minds is the necessity of working. This is indicated by the first phrase, in which Jesus said, “We must do the work.”

The necessity of working is something that is found throughout Christ’s ministry, and it is related to the will of God for him. Indeed, it is almost a leit motiv of Christ’s teaching. The earliest recorded utterance of Jesus makes this point. His parents had taken him to Jerusalem for the Passover when he was twelve years old, and when they left to return to Nazareth Jesus stayed behind in the temple. Joseph and Mary thought he was with the others in their company. When they discovered he was missing, they went back to Jerusalem and, after much searching, found him. He was discussing doctrine with the leaders of the people. “Son, why have you treated us like this?” asked his mother.

Jesus replied, “Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49).

Years later Jesus began his public ministry and, early in that ministry, came to Capernaum. In Capernaum he cast out demons and healed Peter’s mother-in-law who was sick with a fever. As a result of these miracles, many in Capernaum and the area around it urged him to remain with them. But Jesus answered, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent” (Luke 4:43). In other words, he felt the divine necessity to work in his preaching.

On another occasion a short man named Zacchaeus climbed a tree in order to see Jesus as the crowd in which Jesus was walking passed by. Jesus knew the need of this man’s heart and soul. So he stopped at the tree, looked up, and said to the man; “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19:5).

Jesus referred to the lifting up of the brass serpent in the wilderness in speaking to Nicodemus, saying, “Even so must the Son of man be lifted up” (John 3:14). He said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day raised to life” (Luke 9:22). Later he told his disciples, “Other sheep I have, that are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd” (John 10:16). From the beginning of his ministry to the end, Jesus felt a necessity of obedience to the will of God to be resting upon him.

There is another reason why Jesus felt compelled to work. The first was obedience to the will of God. The second, which is no less important, is the need of men. In John 8 we read about Jesus being driven out of the temple area. We would feel it to be all right if we found Jesus thinking primarily about his own needs and problems. But he is not. For as soon as he is outside the temple area, by the very gate of the temple, he spots a blind beggar and is immediately taken up with his need and problems. The heart of the Lord Jesus Christ went out to him. Moreover, it was always this way with Jesus. Wherever he looked there were sheep to be gathered and souls to be won. So he worked; the need of men compelled him to it.

It is no different today. Today the need is also great. Men and women are perishing in our time without the gospel and without Christ. They fill our cities and our countryside. There are the poor, the lonely, the outcasts of our society. The need is there. Who will reach them? Will you? Do you feel that you must work? Jesus felt it and, as a result, was a blessing to all who knew him. What have we done to be a blessing to those who are in need?

A third source of the necessity that Jesus felt to work was undoubtedly the love for others that filled him. Jesus loved others; hence, he had to go out of his way to work for them.

Do we love others? Or do we see them only as problems, as the disciples saw the man who had been born blind? Do we love others enough to help them? Or do we merely give lectures? There is an illustration of what ought to be done in Christ’s story of the loving father and the prodigal son. The son had taken his share of the father’s inheritance and had gone off to another country where he had wasted it on low living. When it was gone he returned home and found his father waiting. He said, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” The father said—well, what did the father say? Or, to make it more personal, what might we have said had we been the father? Is it not true that we would have been ready first of all to give lectures and to ask questions? “Where have you been?” we might have asked. “What have you been doing? What happened to your good clothes? And where is your money? Don’t you know that you have wasted it all, and that it was half of my estate? Waste is not good. You have not played the role of a good steward, even less that of a faithful and loving son. What are we to do with you? What could you possibly expect to receive from me now?” These are the questions and comments we might have made, but this was not the course taken by the father. Instead, he threw his arms about the neck of his son and kissed him—he knew it all anyway, you see—and said, “Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found” (Luke 15:22–24).

The story is given to show the love of God the Father and of the Lord Jesus Christ for sinners, and it should be our pattern. Is the man or woman who is steeped in sin repulsive to you? His sin is no less repulsive to the Lord Jesus. Jesus loves him anyway, even to the point of having died in his place. This love should move us. The love of the Lord Jesus Christ should constrain us. It should constrain us to work for the other person’s salvation.

Specialized Work

There is a second lesson that comes from Christ’s words about work. It is the specialized nature of the work, which Jesus indicates by the next phrase in the sentence. “I must do the work of him who sent me.” It was the work of God (and only that) that Jesus felt compelled to do, while it was yet day.

There are many people who can take the first part of this verse and say with great honesty and enthusiasm, “I must work.” But there are few who can say, “I must do the work of him who sent me.” Take as an example a man who is determined to get ahead in business. He rises early in order to get to the office before most of the other employees. He puts in a long day, skipping coffee breaks, even having his lunch sent in to him. After the others leave, he stays; it is late when he finally starts home. At night he is thinking about his business and planning for the next day. What time and what skill he puts into getting ahead in his work! How strong is his desire! It is a proper desire, of course. If a man wants to get on in the world, he must work. Hard work is good for a person. We would never want to encourage any active man to be idle. And yet—this is the point—Jesus came into the world not to get ahead in business or to get rich, but rather to do the work of him who sent him. It was upon this that he set his desire and bent every activity.

Do we apply the same discipline and enthusiasm that we have in other areas of our lives to the work of God?

Moreover, notice that Jesus was not selective in the works he felt compelled to accomplish. He did not pick and choose. Rather, he said, “We must do the work of him who sent me.” That is, “We must do all of them.” There were works of preaching and of praying, of rebuking and of suffering, finally, even of dying. But whatever they were and whether they were either personally appealing or unappealing—we remember that in the Garden of Gethsemane he sweat as it were great drops of blood as his soul shrank in horror from the spiritual suffering of the cross—Jesus determined to do all of them. Have we? Or have we pulled back from that which is distasteful? There is no doubt that much Christian work remains undone simply because of this: that all Christians have not yet learned that each believer is personally to do the works—all the works—of him who sent him.

Shortness of Time

Third, Christ’s words about work also teach us about a limitation of the time allotted to work and, therefore, also about time’s shortness. Jesus indicated this by saying, “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me.”

These words are striking in the mouth of the Lord Jesus Christ, much more so than if they had been spoken by any mere man or woman. Christ is the timeless God. He lived in eternity past and will be living throughout eternity future. If anyone could have postponed work, surely it was the Lord Jesus. Yet we see him concerned for the moment and aware that the moment was passing. If that is true for Jesus, how much more true is it for us who are entirely creatures of time and for whom time is quickly passing!

Time is passing for ourselves, first of all. We are here today, studying our Bibles, listening to a radio broadcast. But there is not an ounce of assurance that we will be here tomorrow. Death may come. At the very least sickness may be upon us, and the opportunities for service that we have today may be over. Or, again, even if we remain in good health, the time of opportunity may pass for the one to whom we should be bringing the gospel or whom we should be serving.

Are you a preacher? If so, you will not preach to that same congregation for long. Some will die this year, more the next. What are you waiting for? What hinders you from preaching the full counsels of God with all the depth, maturity, and enthusiasm of which you are capable? Richard Baxter once said, “I preach as though I ne’er might preach again, and as a dying man to dying men.” That should be your standard.

Are you a Sunday school teacher? If you are, the principle applies to you also. You will not have your children long. You have them for a little less than sixty minutes a week and for less than a year. What will you teach them in that time? What will they learn? For some it may be the only time in their lives in which they will have opportunity to hear about God’s love for them in Christ and of his great plans for them. For some it may be the only time in which they will have an opportunity to memorize Scripture.

Are you a mother or a father? Then these truths are for you also. Now is the time to train your children. You must begin while they are young. You will not have them for more than twenty years, and they will be malleable to your teaching for even less than that. You must lead them to faith in the Savior. You must teach them the ways of God with men and help them to develop Christian character. God will not hold you guiltless if you fail to do this; for you are responsible for them, and the time is passing. In this as in other areas “night is coming, when no one can work.”

The Night, the Night

Finally, and as a result of this last phase, we must consider the end of things historically. True, there is an end of life for each of us, for those to whom we witness and for ourselves. But it is also true that the night comes in history, so that opportunities for work that a particular age offers can be ended. Today there are great opportunities. How long will they last? Who knows but that a new dark age may soon be upon us?

In an address given on the occasion of his installation as Visiting Professor of Theology at Eastern Baptist Seminary in Philadelphia, Dr. Carl F. H. Henry spoke of the frightening rise of a new barbarianism in our age. “The barbarians are coming,” said Henry, as he likened today’s onrush of paganism to the barbarian conquest of Christian Rome. They are coming in science, through the misuse of new discoveries. They are coming in communications, as men discover ways to manipulate public opinion for bad ends. They are coming in the religious realm, as institutional Christianity increasingly gives way to the occult, the cults, and Satanism. “Obscure the vitalities of revealed religion,” said Henry, “detour churchgoers from piety and saintliness, and in the so-called enlightened nations not only will the multitudes soon relapse to a retrograde morality, but churchgoers will live in Corinthian immorality, churchmen will encourage situational ethics, and the line between the Christian and the worldling will scarce be found.”

The night is coming. Jesus said it is coming, and we can sense that it is so. But this is not all we can say. The night is coming? Yes! But Jesus is also coming. And so, the barbarians do not have the future to themselves. The Lord is returning to judge the barbarism and receive his own. One day we must stand before him. That is our hope. We rejoice! At the same time we recognize that it is also a day of reckoning. Have we worked for Jesus? Have we invested those talents that he has given us? God grant that we may and that one day we may hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”[1]


4 Using the universal symbols of light and darkness, Jesus says that as long as daylight lasts, it is crucial that he and his disciples continue to do the work of the one who sent him. Night is coming, and no one can work when darkness falls. The day of which Jesus speaks represents the years of his life on earth, and the coming night the time of his departure from this world. Obviously we are dealing with an aphorism and should not understand Jesus as saying that, once he left this world, Christian ministry was over.

Some copyists, troubled by the plural pronoun “we” (hēmas) with which the Greek text of v. 4 begins, substituted the singular “I” (eme), thus restricting to Jesus alone the work that God had sent him to do (so KJV, NKJV). While it is true that the redemptive work of the cross was carried out solely by Jesus, it does not follow that believers have no share in the task of taking the message to the world. In a larger sense, it is perfectly true that we, along with Jesus, must do the work of the one who sent him.[2]


4 Both “we” and “must” are important. Jesus is not speaking only of what he must do; his followers share with him the responsibility of doing what God directs (specifically Jesus has said that it is “the work of God” for people to believe on him whom God sent, 6:29). And “must” reminds us that this is not simply what is advisable or expedient. There is the thought of a compelling necessity (see the comments on 4:4, and for Jesus’ obedience those on 4:34). As happens so often in this Gospel, God is characterized in terms of his sending of Jesus (see on 3:17). That is the critical event, and John does not let us lose sight of it. It is a reminder in this context also of the fact that the works in question do not originate here on earth. They are heaven-sent works that we must do. And there is an urgency about doing them, for the opportunity will not always be present. “Night is coming”: the remorseless passage of time removes the present opportunity.[3]


4 So which interpretation is correct? Do “the works of God” have to do with the spiritual life of the man born blind, or with the mission and miracles of Jesus? Verses 1–3, as we have just seen, point to the former, while verses 4–5 accent the latter. “We must work the works of the One who sent me as long as it is day,” Jesus continues, “Night is coming when no one can work” (v. 4). Having spoken generally of “the works of God” (v. 3), Jesus now seems to call attention to his own mission, and especially the healing he is about to perform. “The One who sent me” is by now a familiar phrase with reference to Jesus’ mission (see, for example, 4:34; 5:24, 30; 6:38; 7:16, 28, 33; 8:26, 29), but what is surprising is the plural “we must” (ἡμᾶς δεῖ) with which verse 4 begins: that is, “We must work the works of the One who sent me.” It is commonly argued that Jesus is here enlisting or inviting his disciples (and by extension the readers of the Gospel) to join him in working the works of God, but the difficulty is that the disciples play no part whatever in the blind man’s healing or in his coming to faith. In fact, from this point on they disappear from the story. More likely, by “we”23 Jesus means himself and the blind man, as if to say, “He and I must work the works of the One who sent me as long as it is day.” In this case a distinction must be made between the way in which Jesus “works the works of the One who sent me,” and the way in which the blind man does so. Jesus clearly does so by carrying out his mission, that is, by healing the blind man. But how does the blind man “work the works” of God? Jesus was asked just that question three chapters earlier in Capernaum: “What shall we do that we might work the works of God?” (6:28), and he said, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom that One sent” (6:29). There is no reason to suppose that Jesus would have answered the blind man any differently, and in fact the question of belief will emerge explicitly in the last encounter between the two (9:35–38).

The other striking feature of the pronouncement (in addition to the plural “we”) is its urgency: “We must,” Jesus insists, “work the works of the One who sent me as long as it is day,” adding the cautionary note that “Night is coming when no one can work.” Even those who understand “we” to refer to Jesus’ disciples or to the readership of the Gospel know that they are on shaky ground applying this pronouncement to the church’s mission in the present age. On such a view, “day” would be the time allotted for the proclamation of the Gospel, and “night” the time of judgment when it is too late for sinners to repent (as perhaps implied in the gospel song, “Work, for the Night Is Coming”). Most of the New Testament, by contrast, sees the present as “night” and the “day of the Lord” as just that, “day” (see Rom 13:12; 1 Thess 5:1–11; 2 Pet 1:19). The only way to give the pronouncement an application to the present is to view it in generalized human terms, with “day” as a person’s lifetime on earth, and “night” as senility or death.

More to the point, as most interpreters recognize, is Jesus’ sense of his own time limitations in the Gospel of John. He has already told his mother, “My hour has not yet come,” with the implication that there was still time to act. Later he told his brothers, “My time is not yet here” (7:6), implying that his decisions and his itinerary were in God’s hand. Still later, the Gospel writer commented, not once but twice, that “his hour had not yet come,” implying that it was drawing near (7:30; 8:20). Jesus himself reinforced the first of these notices with the comment, “Yet a short time I am with you, and I go to the One who sent me” (7:33), and the second similarly with the words, “I go and you will seek me,” and “Where I go you cannot come” (8:21). Now he is saying it again, in different words. Time is running out, but there is still a window of opportunity, not just for Jesus but for his disciples (see 11:9–10; 13:33; 16:16), and for all who hear his word (see 12:35–36), in this instance the blind man. Jesus will not be “passing by” again (see v. 1). When “day” turns into “night” (see 13:30), with the arrest and execution of Jesus, it will be too late for him. Therefore, “We,” says Jesus, “—he and I together—must work the works of the One who sent me as long as it is day. Night is coming when no one can work.”[4]


4. Before healing the man, Jesus made a general statement about the importance of carrying out the works of God while it was still possible to do so: As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no-one can work. Jesus was sent into the world to do the work given him by the Father to do (4:34; 5:36; 17:4). He associated his disciples with him in doing this work (‘we must do the work of him who sent me’). Jesus’ work was to reveal the Father through his teaching and actions/miracles (1:18). For Jesus, night would fall and the opportunity for work in the world would cease when he was betrayed by Judas, arrested, tried and crucified. Before ‘nightfall’ he was determined to continue his work, unhindered by the machinations of his enemies (cf. 11:7–11).

Verses 3 and 4, punctuated as they are in the niv (and most other English versions and modern Greek texts), present an unattractive theodicy. They imply that God allowed the man to be born blind so that many years later God’s power could be shown in the restoration of his sight. However, it is not necessary to read the text in this way. Two things need to be noted. First, the words ‘this happened’ have been added by the niv translators and there are no corresponding words in the Greek text. Second, early Greek manuscripts of the NT were not punctuated; later editors added the punctuation. Rendered literally and without punctuation 9:3–4 would read, ‘Jesus replied neither this man sinned nor his parents but so that the works of God may be revealed in him it is necessary for us to work the works of him who sent me while it is day night is coming when no-one is able to work.’ It is possible to punctuate this so as to provide the following translation: ‘Jesus replied, “Neither this man sinned nor his parents. But so that the works of God may be revealed in him it is necessary for us to work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no-one is able to work.” ’ Punctuated in this way, the text implies not that the man was born blind so that the works of God may be revealed in him, but that Jesus had to carry out the work of God while it was day so that God’s work might be revealed in the life of the man born blind.[5]


9:4 / We … him who sent me: There was a tendency in ancient manuscripts to remove the seemingly inappropriate discrepancy between the plural and singular: i.e., either “I must do the work of him who sent me,” or “we must do the work of him who sent us.” The more difficult reading found in the text is probably correct; the second variant (in which both pronouns are plural) is also difficult, but its wording “him who sent us” is so uncharacteristic of the style of John’s Gospel as to make it suspect. “He who sent me” is a fixed Johannine expression, equivalent to “the Father.” Its very fixity is what seems to have created the discrepancy between singular and plural in a sentence in which Jesus draws his disciples into the urgency of his own calling.

The plural we has the additional effect of giving Jesus’ statement a secondary application beyond what he (or probably even the Gospel writer) intended. Christians sometimes apply the text to their own mission in the world between the resurrection of Jesus and his future returning, or Parousia. The night … when no one can work is then understood as the time after his Parousia, when the mission is complete (cf., e.g., the hymn, “Work, for the Night Is Coming”). But day and night are not used in that way either in John’s Gospel or elsewhere in the nt (to the contrary, cf., e.g., Rom. 13:12; 1 Thess. 5:1–11; 2 Pet 1:19).[6]


[1] Boice, J. M. (2005). The Gospel of John: an expositional commentary (pp. 693–698). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[2] Mounce, R. H. (2007). John. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, pp. 490–491). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 426). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[4] Michaels, J. R. (2010). The Gospel of John (pp. 542–544). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[5] Kruse, C. G. (2003). John: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 4, pp. 218–219). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[6] Michaels, J. R. (2011). John (pp. 163–164). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.